How to Prevent Aquarium Snail Infestation

Written by ruby bayan
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How to Prevent Aquarium Snail Infestation
Prevent Aquarium Snail Infestation (Photo by Ruby Bayan)

Aquariums can become severely compromised by snail infestations. Some fishkeeping enthusiasts appreciate snails in their tanks, but many regard them as intruders and pests. Luckily, prevention and elimination of snail overpopulation is possible. Here are some tips and suggestions.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Lettuce leaves
  • Snail-eating fishes

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  1. 1

    Understand that snails are not always a "bad thing" because they help reduce algae from aquarium walls and décor, and contribute to the stabilization and ecology of the tank. They become intrusive when they overpopulate the tank because they can carry disease, upset the water balance and ultimately become an eyesore.

  2. 2

    Drop one or two lettuce leaves into the aquarium just before turning off the lights at night. The snails will feast on the leaves overnight. In the morning you can take the leaves out together with the attached snails. Repeat as necessary.

  3. 3

    Add snail-eating fishes to your tank to help control snail infestation. Provided that you are keeping a good-sized community tank you can add a small school of loaches (like the clown or yoyo loach). They appreciate feeding on invertebrates and will gladly search the substrate for snail eggs and juveniles. Depending on the type of fish community you have, you might consider keeping cichlids (like angelfish and gourami) that will gladly have snails for dinner.

  4. 4

    Practice prevention rather than cure. Make sure that you don't introduce snails into the tank. Wash all aquatic plants thoroughly before introducing them into your aquarium. Gently run your fingers along the leaves and stems to ensure there are no snails or snail eggs attached. Snail eggs will look like clumps of transparent or translucent gel. They are easy to wash off.

  5. 5

    Be wary of hand-me-down tanks, plants and substrate. Always wash and dry previously owned aquarium setups. Snails and snail eggs will survive in a moist environment, so be sure that sand, gravel and other preowned substrate are completely dried, preferably in an oven or under the sun to eliminate possible snail carryovers.

Tips and warnings

  • Snails multiply quickly when there is an abundance of food in the tank. They feed on food left uneaten by the fishes. One way to control snails is to either feed the fish with just the right amount of food or to conscientiously remove leftovers a few minutes after feeding time.
  • If your fishes are omnivorous you can have them feed on the snails. When you see a snail climbing up the aquarium wall, crush it with a pencil or chopstick and let the fishes prey on it.
  • Do not crush snails with your finger because the shell could cut your skin and give you an infection.

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