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 snails in fish tank?

Do you have pest snails in fish tank? They may not seem like a big deal at first, and you might even appreciate them being a part of your underwater paradise. However, snails can breed exponentially so while one or two snails might be cute, you will be less than pleased when you have a tank full of the little critters.

They might even outnumber your fish, which isn't what you want after setting up your fish tank

Still, it's important to note that snails aren't always a nuisance. In fact, they can be quite beneficial. But to learn more about the snails in fish tank, keep reading.

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Snail in fish tankSnail in fish tank

How Do Snails Get In The Fish Tank?

Snails don't slither into your home and do a deep dive into the fish tank from your nearest shelf! They usually get into the fish tank via the aquarium plants you have bought or from the gravel you may have brought in from the outside. 

Snails can be noticeable so you may be able to spot them before putting anything into the fish tank. 

However, snail eggs are less noticeable and as such, you may accidentally add them to the tank before they hatch. 

Are snails good or bad?

Despite being known as "pest snails," they can actually be quite useful. 

They eat algae and other debris, break down fish waste, and can be used as food for snail-eating fish. 

They don't actually harm your fish so you may decide to keep the snails you find, especially as they can do a good job of cleaning up your fish tank. 

However, they can become a problem if they grow in number, partly for aesthetic reasons and partly because they can clog the filter intake tube. They might also eat any soft-leafed plants in the tank if they start to get hungry. 

So, while snails aren't altogether bad, it's usually in your best interests to remove them. 

How To Remove Snails From Your Fish Tank

Your first instinct might be to buy some kind of chemical from your pet store to kill the snails. However, this is a bad idea as not only could you harm your fish but you might also infect the water in your tank. There are other ways to remove snails, and these include the following:

Remove the Snails By Hand

A simple option is to put your hand in the tank and take them out manually. If you struggle to find them, perhaps because they are hiding beneath a plant, you could drop a piece of lettuce into your tank. 

Snails love lettuce and will usually flock to it (don't expect high speeds), so you can expect to find the majority of them feasting on it within a few hours. At this point, you can remove the lettuce, throw it away, and safely deposit the pest snails elsewhere. 

If you don't have any lettuce, carrot and cucumber are good alternatives, especially if you put them in a snail trap (a container with holes in the lid that are big enough for snails and too small for fish). If the snails get too full, they will be less likely to leave the trap, so you can simply scoop it out and dispose of the snails within. 

add Snail Eating Fish

Certain types of fish will make a meal of the pest snails milling around your fish tank. These can include Clown Loach, Yoyo Loach, Betta Fish, Cory Catfish, Gourami, and Goldfish. 

When choosing fish, you should research which species to put in your tank. You don't want to put your existing fish in harm's way by choosing fish that aren't compatible, as this could be a bigger issue than your snail problem. 

It's also worth noting that fish can be quite fickle, so they might ignore the snails, or they might only eat a few of them. For this reason, you may want to consider the other suggestions we have given if you have no luck after adding them to your tank.

Aquarium SnailAquarium Snail

Add More Snails

Okay, we know this sounds counterintuitive. You are trying to get rid of your pest snails, not add more of them.

However, appropriately named Assassin snails can be added to your tank to dispose of any pests and these are safer to use than snail-eating fish that may eat your existing fish or become their prey. 

If you intend to keep Assassin snails in your tank, they will need food after their supply of snails has run out. Fish flakes, blood worms, and protein-rich supplements that you should be able to buy from your fish store are all good food sources for these miniature carnivores. 

Assassin snails do breed so you may end up with more than you expect in your tank. However, as they breed very slowly, you are unlikely to consider them a pest.

And besides, as you add more plants to your fish tank, you may get more pest snails, so it's worth having a few Assassin snails around to deal with them. 


When pest snails get into your fish tank, they will start to reproduce quickly and could become a problem for you. Your best course of action is to always check and wash the plants you buy, as you may be able to get rid of them before they enter your tank. 

If pest snails do get into your tank, you need to consider your next course of action. As some breeds of snail can be beneficial, you may decide to keep them, but do your research first to know which type of snails have taken up residence. 

Consider our suggestions if you do have a snail problem and act quickly to avoid a fully-fledged infestation. After all, we are sure a snail tank is not what you had in mind when you looked into buying a fish tank!

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