Ways to get rid of Aquarium Pest Snails

What? Are there aquarium pest snails? But I am considering keeping some snails. How can I know one is a pest? Are all snails really harmful to fish tanks? Could someone help me with this issue?

Don’t freak out. In this article, everything will be revealed to you.

(Image of a fish tank infested with Malaysian snails)

First of all, we need to clarify one thing that not all snails are regarded as harmful to fish tanks. In fact, they are quite useful in aquariums and a natural part of the aquatic ecosystem. They benefit you more than you may think of. Snails eat algae, clean up leftover food, break down fish waste, and are even delicious meals to snail-eaters in your tank. Problems occur when their population is not under your control (due to fast reproduction) to the extent that it may cause harm to other inhabitants in the tank. 

This time, you will spot its presence all over the tank, scooting on the substrate, hiking on live aquatic plants, attaching to aquarium walls. Believe us, it is really annoying to see them everywhere. Moreover, the overpopulation now places a burden on biological filtrations as well as clog filter intake tubes, which make the balanced environment for fish threatened.


What are aquarium pest snails?


Every snail qualifies for the criteria of quick reproduction and being difficult to remove once introduced to a fish tank. The typical and mostly seen aquarium pest snails are Bladder, Ramshorn, and Malaysian trumpet snails.

(Image of Ramshorn snails)

Despite that, not all snails are prolific breeders that will easily overpopulate your aquarium. Considering the benefits they may bring (including their exotic patterns) to the tank community, it is still recommended keeping some snails in aquariums, but only when you learn and research that snail thoroughly before introducing them.

Find more choice of snails on our website SplashyFishStore/FreshwaterSnail

How do the snails get in my aquarium?

There is only one answer: you put them in whether deliberately or accidentally.

We will not discuss the former as it itself is the reason. For the latter, you may wonder how. How can I accidentally put them in my tank? The most common way is hitchhiking. Snails make use of live aquarium plants or decorations to successfully penetrate your tank. You then make an excuse that: “No, no, I have noticed it carefully and did not find any snails thereon or even any single unusual object. How could they become the shelters for snails?” Simply, in most cases, it may not be the snails you should look for, it is about their eggs, little tiny eggs that are hard to notice by bare eyes.

That is also the reason why every fishkeeper must quarantine the object they intend to put in fish tanks before doing so.

(Image of Bladder snails)

Ways to get rid of aquarium pest snails

Method 1: Quarantine

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. You should not let the snails have their chances at the start. Quarantine is the best and most effective method to eliminate pest snail infestation. 

Nonetheless, the process takes quite a long time. Quarantine means you put the said objects in a separate tank and carefully examine them for a certain time. Normally, snail eggs take around one to four week(s) to hatch, so that the estimated period of quarantine. Once you see the snails, you remove them by hand or using a snail trap/ snail catcher.

Some aquarists use chemicals (like bleach or aquarium salt) to eradicate these irritated animals. However, you should be careful of doing so, especially if you are inexperienced. Chemicals normally contain considerable substances that may cause harm to live aquarium plants. Further, it is relatively difficult to find an exact dosing concentration which is strong enough to kill snails and snail eggs without affecting sensitive plants.

Method 2: Pick it out by your hands

You have not heard it wrongly. Taking the snails out of your aquarium by hand is a common method frequently applied by many fishkeepers. It is basic, easy to perform, and takes little time to remove the snails. 

You see a certain number of snails when passing by your fish tank, and you patiently take them out one by one. If the snails are too small to handle, you could use a length of siphon hose to suck them up into a bucket during water changes.

The only weakness of this is that you cannot eliminate all of the snails at once. Because there are still some hiding themselves from your notice (such as in corners of rocks, or on the back side of the plant leaves). When the time comes, they again reproduce with fast speed and soon overpopulate the tank. Nevertheless, if you are patient enough to apply this technique regularly, the number of the snails does fall down impressively.

Method 3: Snail catcher, snail trap

The devices are not strange to the fishkeeping community. You can easily find them in the aquarium market or at fish stores nearby. Snail trap, like its name, lures the snails towards it and once full, you take the trap out of the fish tank together with those snails. Snail traps force the unseen to be seen, like Malaysian trumpet snails. The species are nocturnal and tend to burrow in the substrate, so it can be harder to notice and collect them from the tank. By setting up the trap at night, by the next morning, you will be impressed by the number of snails existing in your tank.

Some fishkeepers use the similar technique instead of snail trap, bait. Most snails like vegetables. Simply drop a piece of cucumber, zucchini, carrot, or lettuce into the aquarium and you will get the same result.

For those snails that enjoy climbing on the aquarium walls, you can consider snail catcher. Slowly drag the snail catcher across the aquarium glass and guide the snails through the rollers and into the trap to remove unwanted snails.

Method 4: Less food

In order to survive, snails need to feed on sufficient food. So reducing the amount of food they consume somehow could reduce the number of snails in the tank. The question is what food aquarium pest snails eat.

As mentioned at the beginning of this article, snails are interested in leftover food. Other sources that snails may feed on are algae and dying plant matters. In order to cut it off, you should only feed enough food that can be completely taken in by your fish within a few minutes. Besides, take more notice while cleaning fish tanks. Make sure you regularly prune your plants and scrub off algae whenever you clean the fish tank. Further, vacuum the substrate carefully to remove excess organic debris that could be the targeted food source of the snails.

Method 5: Snail-eaters

Snails do have natural enemies. They are regarded as snail-eaters. Loaches and pufferfish are the potential candidates for the title. Almost all freshwater pufferfish love to eat snails. And the same applied to loach species from clown, zebra, to yoyo. Some snails can eat snails too. The most common one is the assassin snail. The 1-inch carnivorous snail specially deems other snails as its delicious primary diet.

Things are easier said than done because introducing a new species to the tank needs your thorough research before carrying out. Whether snail-eaters get along well with the tank community, whether they are able to live in the already-set water conditions, etc. Those are the concerns one must figure out carefully when approaching this method.

Method 6: Clean everything

As for us, to come to this method, your tank’s situation must be desperate. Clean everything means you take a deep hygiene of the tank by taking everything out and cleaning one by one. It seems you start setting up a new tank but use the old stuff. If you go for the option, remember to dry every item before restocking the tank.

We cannot say which method is better. It appears to us that you should try them together to get the best result. Because each one has its own weaknesses, yet the weaknesses of this method could make up the weakness of the others.

Splashy Fish Store believes fish-keeping should bring joy rather than concern. We are happy if you find the above information useful to you.

If you are looking for the beloved fish, visit our store. At Splashy Fish Store, we supply a wide range of live freshwater species and aquarium supplies which come from reliable sources. We further guarantee that all of our live aquarium species will go through the quarantine process for a period of 14-day before sale. We care about the quality and strive to provide you the best we can.