The Ultimate Guide to Eliminating Snails from Your Aquarium

The Ultimate Guide to Eliminating Snails from Your Aquarium

09/04/2024 Off By Tanya


Dealing with snails in your aquarium can be a frustrating experience for many fishkeepers. While some snails can be beneficial, others can quickly multiply and become a nuisance, wreaking havoc on your tank’s ecosystem. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the different types of snails that commonly infest aquariums, the reasons behind their presence, and most importantly, how to effectively get rid of them.

Understanding the Types of Aquarium Snails

Before we dive into eradication methods, it’s essential to understand the different types of snails that can inhabit your aquarium. While some snails, like Malaysian Trumpet Snails, can be beneficial by aerating the substrate, others, like the notorious Ramshorn and Pond Snails, can reproduce rapidly and overwhelm your tank.

Discover the Malaysian Trumpet Snail, a beneficial freshwater aquarium inhabitant! This image showcases a single Malaysian Trumpet Snail, characterized by its elongated spiral shell and distinct stripes.

Reasons for Snail Infestation

Snails can enter your aquarium through various means, such as on live plants, decorations, or even fish. Overfeeding can also contribute to their proliferation, as leftover food becomes a food source for snails. Poor water quality and overstocking can further exacerbate the problem, creating an ideal environment for snails to thrive.

Methods for Eliminating Snails

1. Less Food

Fish keeping veterans know that the easiest way to lessen the number of snails is to feed less fish food. Despite their rapid reproduction cycle, snails can only create new babies if they have enough sustenance. Therefore, only feed enough food that can be completely consumed by your fish within a few minutes. Smaller meals also means that your fish create less waste for the snails to snack on. Also, higher quality foods like live, frozen, and freeze-dried foods are more likely to be completely eaten by the fish, leaving very few remnants for the snails.

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Not only do snails feed off leftover food, but they also eat algae and dying plant matter. Make sure to regularly prune your plants and scrub off algae whenever you clean the fish tank. Also, use an aquarium siphon to gravel vacuum the substrate and remove excess mulm or organic debris that the snails can use as food sources.

2. Control Algae

Algae is another major food source for pest snails. It’s even possible that you really don’t realize how much of an algae problem you have because the snails are eating it every day. Cutting back on algae can be another struggle for aquarists.

There are lots of strategies out there for how to deal with algae, and most of them have merit. But, the single biggest thing that you have to do to control algae is to control the light.

Doing more water changes and other forms of removing excess nutrients from the water are definitely helpful, but the number one thing that fuels algae is light.

If you put bright light over water with almost no nutrients in it, some form of algae will still grow. But, put nutrient filled water under dim light, and algae won’t grow at all. The light makes all the difference.

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I highly recommend putting your lights on a timer so you can better control how many hours of the day they’re on.

You may also need to add a dimmer to your light so they’re not so intense.

Algae control is another long term strategy that will slowly get rid of snails and help keep them from coming back.

3. Snail Eaters

Pest snails are actually in high demand if you own a snail-eating fish because they provide a lot of essential nutrients and enrichment for the animal to display its natural hunting behavior.

Almost all freshwater pufferfish – from the tiny pea puffer to the massive Mbu puffer – love to eat snails, and the crunchiness of the snail shells can help grind down puffer teeth and prevent them from getting too long.

Many loaches – such as clown, zebra, yoyo, and dwarf chain loaches – can use their pointy snouts to poke into snail shells and slurp out the insides. Certain larger animals like oscars and turtles also enjoy a good meal of mollusks, so don’t forget to save some for them.

Finally, some aquarists employ the services of the assassin snail – a 1-inch (2.5 cm), carnivorous snail that specifically targets other snails as its primary diet.

4. Trapping Pest Snails

Some species like Malaysian trumpet snails are nocturnal and like to burrow in the substrate, so it can be harder to collect them from the tank. In those cases, attract the snails by using some delicious vegetables as bait.

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Drop a piece of cucumber, zucchini, carrot, or lettuce into the aquarium overnight, and by the next morning, the vegetable should be covered in snails for you to remove. Some hobbyists like to put the food in a DIY snail trap (e.g., a container with holes in the lid that are big enough for the snails to enter but too small for fish to pass) so that the snails cannot easily leave even after they get full.

This image demonstrates how to use a slice of cucumber as bait in a simple snail trap.

Preventative Measures

Snails and snail eggs most commonly hitchhike into the aquarium on the stems and leaves of live plants. No matter how diligent a greenhouse is, the forces of Mother Nature will invade their tanks with lifeforms like algae, snails and damselfly larvae.

These pesky freeloaders get into the water at commercial aquaculture facilities and then ride along into individual aquariums when plants are brought home.
Sometimes, snail eggs can ride in with fish from the pet store, especially if any little pieces of substrate or plant got scooped up as well.

Only tissue culture plants can be guaranteed to be snail, algae and insect free. Using only tissue culture plants will limit your choice of species, but it will help keep your tank from being invaded.

To prevent future infestations, practice good aquarium maintenance, such as regular water changes, proper feeding, and quarantine new plants and fish before introducing them to your tank.


Dealing with snails in your aquarium can be a challenging task, but with the right approach, it is possible to eliminate them and restore balance to your tank. By understanding the types of snails, the reasons for their infestation, and implementing effective removal methods, you can enjoy a snail-free aquarium once again.