How To Get Rid Of Snails In Aquarium: 3 Pest Removal Tips

how to get rid of snails in aquarium
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Pest snails have often been introduced to an aquarium accidentally when adding new plants and livestock from one tank to another. Just one snail or a couple of snail eggs is all it takes.

Actually…

Aquarium snails can be a real annoyance in your fish tank, oftentimes they breed quickly seemingly tanking over the tank.

If you find yourself with too many snails and wondering how to get rid of snails in your fish tank, there are lots of options for fixing that problem. I am sure there will be a solution that works for you.

Stop Overfeeding

feeding fish with flakes

If you simply reduce the amount you feed, the snail population will starve and die. Overfeeding is bad for your fish, it’s bad for your aquarium water quality and it causes snails to reproduce quickly as they eat the uneaten fish food.

I spent over a year trying to manage my snail problem. I was constantly wondering how to get rid of snails in my aquarium. All of the other solutions helped a little but never cleared up my tank.

When I reduced feeding the snail population was almost completely gone within 2 weeks.

Manually Removing Snails

Many aquarists will tell you that the fastest way to start controlling a pest snail population is manual removal. This combined with reduced feeding will solve the problem in no time.

How To Remove Snails From Aquarium By Hand

snails in aquarium

Pond snails, bladder snails, and ramshorn snails all breathe with lungs and an air pocket as a result they have to go to the surface to breathe. You can remove a lot of snails very quickly just by removing any that you find at the waterline.

You can take this method a step further by using a net, siphon, or other tools to gather aquarium snails you see anywhere in the tank. If you see snail eggs you can remove those as well.

How To Setup Snail Traps

Another common method of removing snails is to trap snails. A very simple trap is made by putting a small piece of vegetable or lettuce leaf in the tank overnight and removing it once it’s covered in snails.

You can also buy glass snail traps or make a DIY snail trap. Usually, they are made by putting small holes in the top of a container so that small snails can fit but fish cannot then add some lettuce leaf or other bait and put it inside your fish tank.

Here is a short video demonstrating how to make and use a cheap DIY snail trap.

This method can be more effective on Malaysian trumpet snails as they burrow in the substrate and come out to eat at night.

Adding Predators That Eat Snails And Snail Eggs

There are lots of options for predators that kill aquarium snails, some do well with other fish and some do not. Let’s take a look at some of my favorite options.

Assassin snails

I love assassin snails, they are brightly colored with a yellow and black spiral shell. The assassin snail is a carnivorous snail that primarily eats other snails.

Assassin snails require a mate to breed so you can keep just one assassin snail and it will never breed. If you do keep more than one they will not breed quickly like other snails, rather they will breed very slowly. You can stock up to 2 per 5 gallons.

Snail Eating Fish

fish eating snail

Adding a new fish to your aquarium can be a big deal, make sure that whatever fish you buy is one you will be happy to keep and properly care for even after the snail problem is taken care of.

Some popular options for small community tanks are dwarf chain loaches, zebra loaches, amazon puffers, and dwarf cichlids. These are all great options for almost any tank. For larger tanks clown loaches and larger cichlids are also popular but are too large for the average tank.

Predator fish can be aggressive, make sure that whatever fish you buy to eat snails is safe with any fish that you already have.

Keeping Your Aquarium Clean

Snails feed off organic waste like decaying plant matter, leftover fish food, and even fish waste.

removing decaying plants in an aquarium

Removing large decaying plant parts and vacuuming the gravel during water changes will prevent snails from overbreeding by removing their food source.

This will also keep your tank looking nice and your fish healthy.

How To Kill Snails In A Fish Tank With Chemicals

If you are wondering how to kill snails in your fish tank, there are several commercial products available. They use copper to poison snails, if you buy these please read the instructions carefully and make sure you are aware of the risks.

Any chemical product or water additive should be considered the last resort and even then only if you hate snails and don’t mind the risk. I don’t use these products at all.

There is a chance that some chemical solutions will hurt your fish or plants and if you keep shrimp or other inverts anything that kills snails will kill them too.

It is not hard to keep a snail population under control and having a few snails is good for your aquarium, they will devour leftover food, and their waste fuels beneficial bacteria and biofilm.

For these reasons, I would never recommend using a chemical product in your aquarium.

Preventing A Snail Infestation

snail in an aquarium

If you don’t want snails in your aquarium the best option is to never get them in your tank, to begin with.

Proper Quarantining

When you buy new plants, you can quarantine those plants for a couple of days giving any snail eggs a chance to hatch and any small snails a chance to be identified. When you are confident that your plants are clean you can move them into the main tank.

Chemical Treatment

When you purchase new plants or anything that was recently inside another aquarium you can soak the plants in water that is treated to kill snails and snail eggs and then move the plant into your main tank after.

Depending on what chemical you use this method poses a varying risk to plants, and if you leave too many chemicals on the plant it can contaminate your aquarium water so be sure to rinse your plants.

Common chemical options are bleach, copper sulfate, alum, and hydrogen peroxide. It is better to use chemicals on plants outside of your tank than it is to put chemicals in your aquarium water.

Conclusion

Now you know how to get rid of snails in a fish tank, just remember having a few snails is good for your aquarium.

The snail population will fluctuate with available food meaning that if you don’t overfeed and you keep your aquarium clean you should never have a snail problem.

If for any reason you end up with a boom in your snail population, manually removing them or adding snail predators should be enough to keep the population under control.

If you do not want any pest snails in your aquarium there are chemical options although it is safer and easier to prevent snails than it is to get rid of snails.

Last Updated: July 28, 2022

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