Many a time, aquarists go through this particular problem of excessive snails in their aquarium. These uninvited guests can be a huge nuisance for fish keepers. A single snail can establish a vast colony of its companions in no time. Getting rid of these snails out of the aquarium is quite a task and requires patience and experience.
So in this article, we will provide you all the beneficial tips to eradicate these agents from your aquarium.
Let’s dig into this guide without further delay!!
How I ended up with snails in my aquarium?
The biggest question that arises is where these snails came from?
The source of these organisms is vital to determine the proper method to eradicate them. Commonly the following are the main reasons why you ended up with snails in your freshwater aquarium.
Through the fish bag:
One of the most common and significant ways of introducing these snails in your aquarium is through fish bags. When the fish supplier adds fish in the bag from its tank, it might contain snails. When you add this fish to your aquarium, you can are introducing these snails to your aquarium.
Thus, it is crucial for the supplier as well as the buyer to be cautious of these things.
Attached with decorations:
Moreover, the decorations, ornaments, artificial rocks, and caves that we add to our aquarium for boosting its aesthetics can be loaded with snails. Thus, fish keepers are frequently advised to clean the decorations before putting them in your aquarium thoroughly.
In addition, you should avoid using secondhand decorations or ornaments for your tank. The old stuff could have snail eggs and can be a source of snail entry in the aquarium.
Attached with the gravel substrate:
Another quite common mode of entrance is through the substrate. These organisms can be a part of the substrate, mainly gravel. This way, a huge number of snails can become a part of your aquarium ecosystem.
So, it’s crucial for the fish keeper to carefully clean the substrate, mainly gravel, to eliminate these notorious agents.
Through the aquarium filter:
Aquarium filters contain substances that promote the growth of snails. Old or secondhand water filters could contain snails in them.
Once these filters are used again, they can be a source of snail transmission in that aquarium.
Thus, it is strictly prohibited to use old filters, and if used, you be cleaned first with a new foam sponge.
With other aquarium equipment:
Another possible way of snail entry in your aquarium is through equipment like a fishnet, siphons, or vacuum cleaner. Thus one should be cautious about cleaning them before using them.
One way or another, once these snails are inside your aquarium, they reproduce at tremendous rates. They can increase in number to such a limit that they can hinder the growth of your aquarium fish.
We will discuss their adverse effects in detail later.
For cleaning purposes:
Some fish keepers deliberately load their tanks with snails to maintain a natural debris cleaner. Some snails help clear out the organic waste, debris, and decaying plant matters.
Which types of snails are harmful to aquarium fish?
Several snail varieties are pretty dangerous when kept in aquariums with other fish species. Such species can grow rapidly and reproduce profusely, ultimately destroying the whole aquarium ecosystem.
Following is a list of snail species that you should avoid.
- Malaysian Trumpet Snails (Melanoides tuberculate)
- Tadpole snails (Physidae spp.)
- Apple snails
- Bladder Snails
- Pond Snails
These species are considered harmful as they add tons of waste to the aquarium, eat away the live plants, reproduce in large quantities, and be invasive. It’s in the best interest of the aquarist to stay away from these varieties of snails.
Which types of snails can be kept as pets in an aquarium?
Not all the snails in the aquarium are hazardous for your aquarium. Some of the species of snails can be kept as pets, and they are harmless to other aquarium inhabitants.
The snail species that can be kept as pets are the following.
- Zebra Nerite Snails (Neritina natalensis)
- Tiger Nerite Snails (Vittina Semiconica)
- Japanese Trapdoor Snails (Cipangopaludina japonica)
- Horned Nerite Snails (Clithon corona/diadema)
- Mystery Snails (Pomacea bridgesii)
These ornamental snails are the best options for your aquarium. They are easy to take care of and don’t bother their fellow tankmates much.
How snails affect freshwater fish?
Although these organisms don’t directly affect fish, they threaten your aquarium inhabitants in several ways. When fish keepers introduce snails into the aquarium to clear away the dead and decaying organic matter, it can become a huge nuisance in the future.
Consuming Live Plants:
Once these snails have cleared away the debris, which is done in no time, they start consuming live plants. Their growth rate is tremendous, as mentioned above. Your tank will be densely packed with them in a short period.
Destroying the Filtration System:
They can even crawl their way into the water filter to get food, ultimately destroying the aquarium’s filtration system.
This way, your tank fill soon be filled with snails eating away the live plants and a nonfunctional filter, both putting unnecessary stress over your fish.
Snail Colonies in the Substrate:
Another critical thing about snails is that they can hide in the substrate. Usually, snails bury themselves under layers of substrate and only come out at night. This technique makes it difficult for the fish keepers to access the worsening condition correctly. Moreover, this ability makes it even harder to remove them altogether.
Tips to get rid of snails in the aquarium:
It is a little troublesome for removing the snails from the aquarium and requires lots of effort and experience, but it is for sure doable. Following are the tried and tested methods to free your aquarium of these organisms.
Manually Remove the Snails:
One of the easy and relatively inexpensive methods of snail removal is to remove them by hand. Once you notice one of them crawling, stick your hand inside and grab it, and you are good to go.
Moreover, you can also use a fish net, siphon, or vacuum to get them out.
This method is relatively easy and manageable.
It is cost-friendly, as it costs you nothing but a few instruments.
Manually removing the snails will not affect your fish somehow, and this is all that a fish keeper wants.
But this method has many limitations. Firstly, it’s time-consuming, requires patience, and not feasible for a large number.
Above all, the biggest drawback to this method is that most snails are nocturnal and only come out at night. So it is nearly impossible to remove them entirely.
Some of them could be hiding in filters or pipes and are left unnoticed. These hidden snails will, later on, become the cause of another snail infestation.
Natural Snail Traps:
There are several natural snail traps, but here we are going to discuss one of the most common and effective ones. All you need is a lettuce leaf and leave it in the middle of the tank on the substrate at night. As snails are attracted to vegetative organic matter, so you will notice the lettuce leave loaded with snails in the morning. Now all you need to do is to throw that leaf with the snails outside.
Continue this method for as long as none of them is left. Once your lettuce leaf is intact in the morning with no snail, it’s your indicator that there are no more snails in your aquarium.
- Very effective.
- Cost friendly.
- It poses no threat to your fish.
- It is time-consuming.
- There will still be eggs of snails inside.
- Can’t eradicate the snails hiding in filters or pipes.
Artificial Snail Traps:
There are artificial snail traps available in the markets these days. To use these traps, all you need to do is load these traps with excess fish food. Leave the trap in the middle of the tank at night and wait for the magic.
You will notice the trap filled with snails; once they are inside, they can’t leave it. Throw the snails out and repeat the process until there are no more snails in the trap.
- Very cost-effective.
- Convenient to use and handle.
- It has no adverse effects on your fish or plants.
- Just like natural traps, these are time-consuming.
- The hidden snails will be left inside the tank.
- The eggs will be left inside, which can cause recurrent infestation.
Snail Killing Chemicals:
There are many different types of snail killer chemicals available in the market these days. However, they are pretty effective in killing snails but are also hazardous for many fish species. Moreover, these chemicals can kill all types of invertebrates, including the beneficial nitrifying bacteria. This will fill your tank with decaying organic matters and huge amounts of ammonia. Such a tank is no more than a death sentence for your fish.
If by any chance, some chemicals are safe for your fish (Copper Sulphate), the dead snail population will disturb your aquarium eco-balance to a limit that is beyond repair. These foul-smelling dead bodies of snails will accumulate a tremendous amount of ammonia in your tank, putting unbearable stress upon your fish.
- This method is quick and less time-consuming.
- It can eradicate all the snails with their eggs and even those which are hiding in filters.
- It can prove hazardous for your fish.
- It can kill the beneficial nitrifying bacteria leading to ammonia overload.
- Your tank can even need recycling after this.
Snail Eating Fish:
Well, to our surprise, some fish can consume snails. Isn’t it surprising, just like algae-eating fish species, that some snails-eating species maintain the balance in the ecosystem? Snail-eating fish species are following.
- Yoyo Loach
- Clown Loach
- Stripped raqheal catfish
- Bala shark
These natural killer fish can eat away the notorious snails rendering your tank snail-free.
- They are pretty effective in removing snails.
- This method poses little to no harmful effect on your fish.
- Do not disturb the natural eco-balance of the aquarium.
- There will be no foul-smelling dead bodies of snails in the aquarium.
- This method is just a little costly and time taking.
- Snails hiding in the filters or pipes will be left there.
Snail Consuming Snails:
To our surprise, nature has its ways of dealing with this problem. There are natural snail-eating snails that are mainly responsible for keeping the snail population in check.
Due to their unique ability to consume their kind, these snails are named “Assassin Snails.”
These snails include
- Malaysian Trumpet Snails
- Ramshorn Snails
- Pond Snails
- rosy wolfsnail (Euglandina rosea)
- These snails do not pose any threat to your fish or live plants.
- These can efficiently remove harmful snails from the aquarium.
- They do not disturb the natural balance of the aquarium.
- They can even eat the snail eggs as well.
- This method is not cost-effective.
All in one Approach:
You can even start multiple methods like using the snail traps and snail-eating fish together. This will speed up the process, and your tank will be free of snails in a short time.
Methods to prevents snails from entering the aquarium:
The best way to deal with snail infestation is never to let it happen. Many things can help prevent this from happening.
- Avoid overfeeding
- Avoid overcrowding
- Clean all the stuff before putting it in an aquarium.
- Keep the new fish in a quarantine tank for some time.
- Carefully chose snails for tank cleaning, even if it’s for beneficial purposes.
- Keep a check on the snail population.
- Thoroughly clean the substrate, especially gravel, before adding it to the tank.
- Weekly vacuuming is necessary; make sure to scrape the sides of the tank as well, as most of the snails are usually located on the sides of the tank, sticking to the walls.
Frequently Asked Question (FAQs):
The answer is the snail eggs that are left behind. Even if you remove all the snails from the aquarium, some eggs will still be attached to the substrate, decorations, or plants. These tadpole snail eggs are the reason behind recurrent snail infestation.
There are several ways of snail entry in aquariums; some of them are mentioned above. Common ways of snail introduction are the following.
In a fish bag, attached with decorations, as a part of the equipment, hidden in the substrate.
Some snails like Zebra Nerite Snails (Neritina natalensis), Tiger Nerite Snails (Vittina Semiconica), and Japanese Trapdoor Snails are pretty beneficial for a fish tank. These snails can clean the tank by eating away the debris, decaying dead organic matter, and degrading plant materials.
Thus, these snails are in the best interest of the natural ecosystem and aquarium eco-balance.
Snail infestation in a fish tank is a natural phenomenon as aquariums are the best place for food, shelter, and breeding. Although complete elimination of snails from aquarium requires time, effort, and experience, there are multiple ways to do that.
This article described the origin, harmful effects, and methods to remove snails effectively.
We hope this guide will help you deal efficiently with snail infestation. Best of luck with your aquarium!!!