How do I know if my snail is hibernating or dead?

Photo of author
Written By Fun Fish Tanks

I Love my Fishes 

Snails are among the most popular additions to an aquarium. If you are aiming to elevate the appearance of your aquarium, snails make your aquarium look beautiful.

They are inclined towards the cleaning of the aquarium as well and can clean off the algae quite efficiently. Although most of the time snails might appear to be motionless and lifeless. Seeing them motionless is not an unusual sight when it comes to snails. 

Upon seeing them being motionless, one will always think that it has demised. But that is not always the case. Sometimes they can just be sleeping.

So let us move on to how to know whether the snails are sleeping or they are dead.

How to tell if your aquarium snail is dead or just hibernating ? 

How do I know if my snail is hibernating or dead?

Snails do sleep sometimes, and you might’ve seen them not showing any movement for longer periods. So you might be confused about whether they are sleeping or dead.

After a good sleep, the snail will resume wandering around the tank. After their sleep is over, they will go back to looking for food. Your snail is probably sleeping, hibernating, or relaxing if it isn’t moving and is still clinging to the aquarium glass or decorations. 

Whereas if your snail is at the bottom of the tank and not stuck to any kind of surface in addition to being motionless, then it can be dead. A dead snail would just drop off the glass and lay on the substrate upside down contrary to when it is sleeping. 

Do snails sleep?  

Snails are capable of taking a rest or just sleep after a meal. As the snails are asleep after their eating and all, they sleep and the food gets digested as well.

And after hours, or days, it can be any, they get off from their sleep and go around in search of food again around the tank. 

How to tell if the aquarium snail is dead? 

It is easy to know when the snails are dead in your aquarium. Although, as snails don’t show any kind of movement most of the times and they sleep after finishing their meal, so them being motionless is not always the indication of them being dead.

So don’t panic only by observing the motionless behavior of the snail. 

There are ways by which you can make sure that the snail is dead for good. 

Examine the snail 

The first thing you would want to do to recognize a dead snail from the tank is to examine and scrutinize the snail properly. If the snail’s body is restlessly hanging out of its shell or if the snail’s body is missing from its shell, it is a clear indication of the death of the snail.

The trapdoor of the snail helps us make sure if the snail is dead or not. Just look for the trapdoor. If it is not closed, the snail is dead. For if the snail was alive, then the trapdoor would be closed.

Check for foul smell 

Everyone knows anything dead gives out a foul smell. So in the case of snails as well, you can rely on the odor to indicate if it is dead. As the snail decomposes within the shell after it dies, emitting a foul smell is a given.

So you can grab the snail and give it a whiff. When you get a repellant smell similar to something being dead for some time, then the snail is gone. If you cannot detect any smell from the snail’s shell, then you can try and smell the foot of the snail or the lower part of the snail.

This part gives out a foul smell if the snail is dead. But a foul smell on the foot is not always because of its death, but the poor quality of the water as well. 

Also, when a snail is dead the ammonia levels can increase in your tank. So test the water and after removing the dead snail, remember to perform water changes.

Give the snail a small touch 

As you already know, snails retract immediately when you touch them. So this can be applied to an aquarium snail as well.

So you touch them with your hands or use something to touch the snail. After you’ve touched the snail, if the snail doesn’t retract its body, then it is dead. 

Check is the body has shrunk 

A snail’s body appears to become shrunk if it dies. So you can check that as well to know if it is dead. So if you suspect any snail of being dead, you can grab the shell and check its body. If the body has shrunk, you might want to remove the snail from the tank. 

How long can the snails sleep for? 

As you already know that the snails can sleep. The amount of time that they can sleep for is something to be curios about. Well, the span of time that they can sleep for can depend on the species they belong to. Snails can sleep for days and weeks. Although the average time that they sleep for is about 13 hours. 

Also if you happen to disturb its sleep, don’t worry, they will sleep again when the time comes and it wont harm them much. But its not good to disturb them too much. 

Do snails float when they die? 

Snails can float, but there are several to why snails float in an aquarium. Some of the reasons are: 

When the air gets trapped in their shells. 

The conditions of the water are improper. 

They want to move from one place to another faster, most of the time for food. They can be dead. 

Although the reason for floating is not usually because they are dead. Nevertheless, if you’re intimidated by seeing the snails float in your tank, then you can check them. Just poke them and wait for their retraction into their shells. If they do not retract to their shell, and don’t show any movement, they might be dead.

What to do with a dead snail? 

If you are sure that your snail is dead, the only thing left to do is to remove them immediately from the tank and throw them away. For if a dead snail is left in the tank it will release ammonia as it decomposes. 

Can a dead snail kill fish? 

A dead snail is somewhat harmful to a fish. A dead snail can release ammonia into the water column, and as we all know ammonia is toxic to fish. Although one snail dying might not be that harmful to your fish. But if a bunch of snails is dead in your aquarium, it might prove to be fatal to your fish with the build-up of ammonia.


It is pretty easy to tell the difference between a sleeping snail and a dead snail. Although most of the time, you will doubt a motionless snail to be dead. But it is not, they can be sleeping on the glass panes of the aquarium or stuck to ornaments and kinds of stuff. A dead snail falls to the bottom of the tank and cannot stick to a surface. Nonetheless, there is nothing harm in checking. If you feel like a motionless snail is dead, you can poke it, and if it is not dead it will immediately show some movement. You can also check for rancid smells.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: