Here is everything you need to know about snails and your fish tank so you can make an informed decision about which snails you want, which ones you need, and which ones you should definitely avoid.
Why Would I Want Snails In My Tank?
There are some good reasons as to why you should have a certain few types of snails in your freshwater fish tank (This is our favorite snail (It does not reproduce and it's a great algae eater).
Freshwater aquarium snails are often used in order to clean up debris in fish tanks. They like to eat things like old fish food, algae, and even fish faeces. This means that a fish tank with snails has to be cleaned a lot less than one without snails.
|Nerite Snail||Does Not Reproduce||9.6/10|
|Assassin Snail||Eats Other Pest Snails||9.1/10|
|Ivory Snail||Algae Eater||8.8/10|
|Ramshorn Snail||Algae Eater||8.5/10|
Are Snails Good or Bad For Fish Tanks?
There are a few things that you need to know about snails and fish tanks, for instance some snails are better to have in your fish tank than others.
Some snails do serve a good productive purpose, those being the ones that you have put in there yourself, but there are also snails that can creep their way into your tank all by themselves, and those are usually unwanted bad ones.
There are even snails that can be bought for your fish tank which aren't ideal for certain situations. Let’s take a look at some of the different snails that you can get.
11 Common Types Of Freshwater Aquarium Snails / Identification
There are quite a few different kinds of freshwater aquarium snails that you can find for purchase.
Types of Freshwater Snails
That being said, there are also quite a few different aquarium snails that might just find their way into your fish tank by accident.
Some of the most common types of aquarium snails that can be found are ones such as;
- The Pond Snail.
- The Assassin Snail.
- The Trumpet Snail.
- The Ramshorn Snail.
- The Nerite Snail.
- The Rabbit Snail.
- The Ivory Snail.
- The Japanese Trapdoor Snail.
- The Mystery Snail.
- The Gold Inca Snail.
- Zebra Nerite Snail.
All of these snails are commonly found in aquariums and can usually be bought in pet stores, but not all of them serve the same functions and not all of them are good. Some of these snails will have a detrimental effect on your fish tank and won’t do you or your fish any good.
Let’s take a look at each of these snails a little more in depth in the following sections to find out just which ones you want in your aquarium and which ones you don’t want there.
Recommended Freshwater Aquarium Snails For Your Tank
The Trumpet Snail
Some people don’t like having this snail in their fish tanks because it does multiply quickly; it’s a hermaphrodite and that means it can self-multiply. Moreover they like to hide in the sand or whatever material is in the bottom of the fish tank, so once you have some, it is really hard to get rid of all of them.
However their population levels can be quite easily controlled by removing all but one that you see. However there are more positive aspects to this snail than negative aspects, so in the long run it’s a good choice.
One of the reasons as to why the trumpet snail is great for aquariums is because they eat algae like no tomorrow. If you have been cleaning algae out of your fish tank then this snail will take care of that for you. Another big problem that these snails solve is substrate aeration.
Deadly pockets of anaerobic gasses can build up in the substrate (sand or fine rocks at the base of the tank), and these things can kill fish. Trumpet snails, because they like to burrow in the substrate, aerate it and release or decompose these deadly pockets of gasses so that they won’t kill your fish.
The Assassin Snail
Now as the name implies, these snails do eat other snails, which his actually why many people prefer to have them in their fish tanks. They are great for controlling other unwanted snail populations because they will eat them. You need to be careful when adding this snail to your fish tank because they don’t actually eat algae or clean the tank, but they will take care of other snail problems.
Also, these snails reproduce sexually, meaning that they can’t self-multiply, so their populations are quite easy to control. Many people also like these snails because they look neat too. Keep in mind that you should only get this snail if you need to control the population of other snails.
The Ivory Snail
The Ivory Snail is another good community snail to put in a fish tank because they don’t multiply very quickly, they don’t eat aquarium plants, and they don’t eat other snails.
Ivory snails are more than happy to eat algae and other leftovers like spare fish food. These snails are great for cleaning fish tanks.
The Nerite Snail
This is a great snail to have in freshwater aquariums because they don’t actually reproduce in freshwater aquariums.
Moreover, they spend all of their time in search of algae on hard surfaces and in the substrate of the aquarium. They are some of the best fish tank cleaning snails around.
The Mystery Snail
These are great snails to have because they love to feast on everything including uneaten fish food, algae, and other forms of debris found in fish tanks.
One thing that needs to be said is that they are good at escaping from fish tanks, so they are only recommended for fish tanks that have a lid on them.We Recommend The DELUXE Mystery Snail live COMBO PACK from Amazon.
The Gold Inca Snail
Many people like the gold Inca snail because it is a great tank cleaner. They have a huge appetite and they love to eat everything from algae and fish food, to vegetables as well. These are perhaps some of the best snails when it comes to keeping the tank clean.
Keep in mind that if these snails don’t find enough food they may begin to eat the live plants that are in the aquarium, but as long as they have enough algae and other food sources that shouldn't be a problem. Also, they don’t multiply very quickly so that’s another bonus.
Bad Aquarium Snails That You Do Not Want In Your Tank
The Pond Snail
This is one of those types of snails that you probably don’t want in your fish tank for a number of reasons. While they may be ideal for outdoor ponds, as the name implies, they are not a type of snail that you want indoors in your tank. This snail is most often found in aquariums after buying new plants that have the snails attached to them.
First of all, these snails are hermaphrodites, which means that they can reproduce by themselves. Therefore, while one pond snail may not be a huge issue, they can multiply very quickly leaving you with dozens of pond snails infesting your fish tank. The largest problem with these snails is not necessarily that they reproduce like bunny rabbits, but the fact that they love to eat.
Once the snails start reaching high numbers they will begin to look for anything to eat. Pond snails, once having multiplied sufficiently, are known to start eating all of the plants in a fish tank. This is definitely not a snail that you want in your fish tank because they just end up eating all of the plants in the tank, so if you find any, remove them as quickly as possible.
The Ramshorn Snail
The only reason that people ever want this snail in their fish tanks is because it is very colorful and looks pretty neat. Other than their neat look there is no real reason to have these things in your fish tank. These snails will eat algae, but they will also eat fish food, meaning that you need to feed your fish more in order to keep them well fed.
That being said, their numbers can be controlled by not over feeding the fish. However, this snail shouldn’t be in your fish tank because they are almost impossible to get rid of once they are there and there are other snails that will do the same job without eating all of the fish food.
The Rabbit Snail
These snails are pretty much useless to have in a freshwater fish tank. First of all, they don’t really clean the tank very well because they don’t eat very much, so if anything they produce more waste than they get rid of.
Also, these snails reproduce in fresh water aquariums which means that they can over run it quite quickly and leave you with a big snail infestation.
How To Care For Freshwater Snails
Snails are indeed a very useful creature to have in any aquarium, especially because they clean up gunk and clean the glass at the same time.
However, one thing that many people don’t seem to consider is how to take care of them. Well, thankfully, taking care of freshwater snails is quite easy.
- Feeding is one of the most important things to keep in mind. Generally speaking, the snails will just eat algae, plant matter in your aquarium, and maybe even some old fish food. If there is not enough food in the tank, simply provide them with some small fish parts or bottom feeder tablets.
- Another thing to remember is that most freshwater snails require a balanced, neutral, and stable pH level, so be sure to always test and treat the water in your aquarium.
- Something else to keep in mind is that no matter what, you should never have more than 20 snails in a 1 gallon tank, and that is if there are no fish present.
- Moreover, most snails require the water temperature to be between 72 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit, so that is always something that needs to be regulated too.
- Snails need a soft substrate as they have a soft underbelly, so they require soft sands, not gravel.
Commonly Asked Questions
What Is The Best Snail For An Aquarium?
There are lots of aquarium snail types out there dozens in fact, so choosing the best one for your fish tank can be a challenge.
If you are a beginner, one of the best types of snail to get is the nerite snail, as they are fairly easy to maintain and they do a great job at keeping aquariums clean too.
They look pretty cool and they love eating algae too. Some other good aquarium snails include assassin snails, Malaysian trumpet snails, and Japanese trapdoor snails.
Do Snails Clean Fish Tanks?
Yes, in fact this is one of the main reasons why people get aquarium snails, because they do a pretty darn good job at cleaning fish tanks. More than anything, snails are known for eating several types of algae which can grow in aquariums.
Algae is not a good thing to have in a fish tank, and snails are little algae vacuums. There are some snails which eat a ton of algae and others which don’t like it so much, so if you want something to clean your tank, be sure to get the right kind of aquarium snail.
What Do Snails Eat In An Aquarium?
Well, more than anything, snails love to eat algae, which is a boon because fish tanks should not have algae in them. However, snails will also munch on other foods too, things such as certain aquatic plants, some fruits and vegetables, and even fish food.
They aren’t too picky in this sense and are really easy to feed. If you have a fair amount of algae growth in the fish tank, you might not even need to feed the snails at all.
How Long Do Aquarium Snails Live?
Now, this does somewhat depend on the type of aquarium snail you get, but generally speaking, they do all have fairly similar lifespans. In good water conditions, with lots of healthy food, an aquarium snail can live for up to 10 years, sometimes even a bit longer.
In the wild, snails don’t live too long because they often get eaten, but in aquariums, with no natural predators, anywhere from 3 to 10 years is possible.
What Do Snail Eggs Look Like?
Snail eggs look like little blobs of jelly. Snail eggs are fairly small, very small in fact, and they are usually always laid in clumps, which results in a patch of snail eggs that looks like a bunch of little jelly balls clumped together.
In terms of color, this will depend on the specific type of snail, but more often than not these eggs will be translucent, and you should be able to see some grey or brown matter on the inside, which is the baby snail.
How Many Snails In A 20 Gallon Tank?
What you need to know here is that how many snails you put in your aquarium depends not only on the size of the tank, but also on the amount of fish, plant matter, and other conditions too.
If you have lots of fish, and various factors which create larger algae blooms, you will need more snails.
Generally speaking, a 10 gallon tank will do fine with 2 snails, or even just 1, so a 20 gallon tank could handle around 3 or 4 snails, maybe 5 if you want a professional cleanup crew.
Do Snails Eat Fish Poop?
Snails do enjoy eating fish food, algae, produce, and plant matter, but from time to time, they have been known to eat fish detritus, otherwise known as fish poop.
Although, that said, they will go for the tastier stuff first. Some snails are better known for eating fish poop than others, but for the most part, they do stick to real food before going for fecal matter.
Snails For Sale, Where Should I Buy Them?
You are best off buying snails from your local aquarium or pet shop, mainly because you can actually take a close look at them and see what you are getting, plus these places will generally have a better selection too.
Some fishing bait shops will also carry snails, which is great if you want a larger quantity. The other option is online but with buying online you cannot take a closer look at them so just be sure to buy from a reputable seller if you go down that route.
Keep in mind that the types of snails you get will depend on the fish tank, the fish, and the amount of cleaning that the tank needs. For example, some people may want assassin snails (you can buy them here) to control the population of other snails, while some people may not want them because they only have beneficial snails. The choice is really up to you in terms of which freshwater aquarium snails that you need.