Pest Snails in the Aquarium

by That_FishLady

For some people, pest snails are one of the most frustrating fish problems. Pest snails multiply quickly, which can make it hard to see your fish through the glass.

What are pest snails?

There are several different snail species that are considered pests in the aquarium. The most common ones that create Fish Problems are trumpet and ramshorn snails.

They are not directly harmful to your fish, however they can completely destroy any live plants that you may have. For the most part, these snails are considered pests for an aesthetic reason -- after all, an aquarium overrun with hundreds of snails is difficult to see into! They also increase the amount of waste put into the water since they consume large quantities of food continuously.

How to Get Rid of Pest Snails

Or at least reduce the number of snails in your fish tank!

1. Do not overfeed your fish!

Overfeeding your fish also gives the snails something to eat. If you give your fish too much food you will find that you will having a thriving snail population! You really only need to feed your fish once a day, unless they are growing babies.

2. Use vegetables to collect them.

You can easily get rid of large numbers of snails by using pieces of vegetables as a trap. Just take a piece of frozen zucchini or squash, pop it in the microwave with some water for a few seconds, and then toss it into the aquarium after you have turned out the lights. All you have to do is wait for the snails to start eating it - as a plus, your fish will benefit from the extra veggie treat!

3. Use snail-eating fish to your advantage.

There are quite a few different species of fish that enjoy eating pest snails. One of the most popular ones is the clown loach. However, keep in mind that clown loaches get pretty large so if you have a smaller tank you should pick a smaller species of loach. Please note that loaches are considered scaleless fish, so they cannot tolerate full doses of medication like your other fish.

Final Words on Pest Snails

For the most part, you shouldn't worry too much about having the occasional pest snail hitch a ride back to your aquarium. They do have the potential to overpopulate your tank pretty quickly, but there are also some very effective (and easy!) ways to keep their numbers down. That being said, please don't try to use snail removers sold at the store - while they are very effective at killing snails, they also seem to be pretty good at helping you kill your fish too!

The best thing you can do to prevent pest snails from showing up is to always be very diligent when you are adding fish - NEVER let any of the bag water get into your aquarium, especially if there is any loose gravel in the bag.

Updated: 06/02/2011, That_FishLady
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terry on 07/27/2012

If you are never going to have another type of shell fish in the tank copper works very well. They sell drops with copper or you can use a clean piece of copper piping. Just place it in your tank and watch the snails die off. If you plan on having shell fish later or move to salt water at a later date. The copper can latch onto the glass and come out later and kill off wanted shell fish or coral in salt water tanks. The copper pipe worked very well in my small 5 gallon tank.

Cace on 06/02/2011

I've never owned fish and didn't realize that snails could so quickly get out of hand. Very informative!

That_FishLady on 06/02/2011

Thank you! I'm probably one of the few people that doesn't mind trumpet snails, I think they're an excellent clean up crew as long as they don't get out of hand. Unfortunately, it can happen pretty quickly.

cosmopinkice on 06/02/2011

This is great information. In the past, someone gave me some trumpet snails. It didn't take long for them to override my aquarium. These tips are much needed!

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