Pond Snails In My Aquarium

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Ramshorn snails - these come in many shapes, sizes and colors


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Example Common Pond Snail Types


  1. Physa acuta - Bladder snail or Acute bladder snail
  2. Lymnaea stagnalis - Great pond snail
  3. Planorbella duryi - Red-rimmed melania or Ramshorn snail
  4. Planorbis corneus - Common ramshorn snail
  5. Radix spp. - Marsh snails or Radix snails
  6. Planorbarius corneus - Great Ramshorn or Ram's Horn Snail
  7. Stagnicola spp. - Marsh Snails
  8. Bithynia tentaculata - Faucet Snail or European Mystery Snail
  9. Gyraulus spp. - Gyraulus Snails
  10. Helisoma spp. - Coil Snails or Ramshorn Snails

In short, the answer is that it depends.  Most people in the aquarium hobby will suggest they are a bad thing, and that is mostly because of their population growth rates. Although they could be considered beneficial to any aquarium due to their scavenger nature and extreme hardiness.

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Reasons why you might want pond snails

  1. Natural Waste Management: Pond snails are detritivores and help clean up organic waste and debris in the aquarium. They consume leftover fish food, decaying plant matter, and other organic materials, contributing to the overall cleanliness of the tank.
  2. Algae Control: Certain species of pond snails, such as Ramshorn snails, have an appetite for algae. They can help keep algae growth in check by consuming it from various surfaces in the aquarium. This can assist in maintaining clearer water and a more visually appealing tank.
  3. Ecosystem Balance: Nutrient recycling by pond snails helps maintain a balanced ecosystem in the aquarium. It supports the natural nutrient uptake, utilization, and recycling processes within the aquatic environment. This contributes to a healthier and more sustainable system by preventing nutrient imbalances, excessive algae growth, and water quality issues.
  4. Natural Behavior and Aesthetics: Watching Pond snails go about their daily activities, such as grazing, exploring, and reproducing, can be fascinating and add to the natural dynamics of the aquarium. They can also add visual interest with their unique shapes and colors.
  5. Food Source for Other Inhabitants: Pond snails can serve as a valuable food source for certain fish species or other aquatic animals in the aquarium. Predatory fish, loaches, pufferfish, or aquatic turtles may find pond snails to be a nutritious part of their diet, allowing for a more diverse and natural feeding behavior.
  6. Consumption of dead livestock: we have all had it happen to us where a random fish passes away, and we don’t notice it because it happened behind a rock or a plant. Having snails will remove the possibility of the fish slowly decaying over the next week, risking an ammonia spike. Instead, the snail will consume and break down the fish into energy and waste, which has a lower chance of creating an ammonia spike. 
  7. Initial tank cycle: if you want to speed up a tank cycle, consider adding pond snails. They usually are very hardy and can handle initial tank ammonia spikes. That makes them perfect for uncycled tanks that still need to develop their beneficial bacterial population. 
  8. Aerate Substrate: Some pond snails have the ability to move the substrate and release any built-up CO2 or nitrogen bubbles.  If these bubbles build up for too long, it might cause a problem for your tank in the future whenever the substrate gets disturbed. This could result in tank fatalities if the build-up was released in large quantities. 
  9. Low Maintenance: Snails are generally low-maintenance creatures. They are hardy and adaptable, making them suitable for beginner aquarists or those looking for low-maintenance aquarium inhabitants. Snails do not require specific feeding schedules or complicated care routines, making them relatively easy to care for.
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Reasons you might not want pond snails in your aquarium.

  1. Overpopulation: Pond snails have a high reproductive rate, and under favorable conditions, their population can quickly multiply. This can lead to an excessive number of snails in the aquarium, causing overcrowding and competition for resources. Overpopulation could also cause damage to some pumps and other aquarium equipment when they suck up to many snails. Some of the larger snails might also get stuck in pipe work if given the chance. Plant Damage: Some pond snail species feed on live aquatic plants. While they may help control decaying plant matter, they can also consume healthy plant leaves, leading to aesthetic damage and potentially inhibiting plant growth.
  2. Rapid Growth: The rapid growth of pond snail populations can result in increased waste production. This can lead to a buildup of organic matter and nutrient imbalances in the aquarium, affecting water quality and potentially causing algae blooms or a need to conduct more water changes.
  3. Competition for Food: With a growing population, pond snails may consume more than just decaying matter. They can compete with other tank inhabitants, such as fish or shrimp, for food sources, potentially leading to inadequate nutrition for these organisms. This is normally rare because they are very slow moving but should affect other slow-moving species or scavenger / cleanup crew members. 
  4. Aesthetics and Cleanliness: In larger numbers, pond snails can detract from the visual appeal of the aquarium. Their presence may be seen as unsightly, especially if the snail population becomes overwhelming. 
  5. Hitchhikers and Introducers of Disease: Pond snails can inadvertently enter an aquarium as hitchhikers on live plants or other tank decorations. They can also introduce diseases or parasites that might affect other tank inhabitants. Some examples would be Trematodes, Monogeneans, Nematodes, Protozoa and Cestodes.
  6. Rapid Reproduction: Pond snails reproduce asexually, meaning a single snail can produce offspring without a mate. This reproductive ability contributes to their population explosion potential, making it challenging to control their numbers once they establish a strong presence. This can be combated with lowering the amount you feed, but this can be difficult for newer aquarium keepers to successfully implement. 
  7. Eat Eggs: If you are trying to breed fish snails will defiantly eat their eggs, making it almost impossible to breed in a tank with pond snails.
  8. Laying Egg Sacks: Many of these snails will lay eggs on the glass and on your decorative hardscape. This could be very unsightly and undesirable. Fish will not eat or pick at this egg because they are protected by a layer of mucus, which could also be unsightly. 
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How to avoid getting pond snails in your aquarium?

Quarantine New Additions: Before introducing new plants, decorations, or aquatic animals to your aquarium, quarantine them separately for a period of time. This allows you to observe and address any potential snail presence before introducing them to the main tank.

Inspect Live Plants: Thoroughly inspect any live plants you plan to add to your aquarium. Look closely at leaves, stems, and roots for any signs of snails or their eggs. Remove any snails manually before placing the plants in your tank.

Land Quarantine: This is the process of growing your plants outside of your aquarium while not submerged. Many plants can be grown in very moist conditions and do not need to be fully submerged. The pond snails will be able to survive in moist conditions for a while but not for long periods of time. The plants will likely be able to last longer in these conditions than the snails. 

Once you have them, it will be almost impossible to remove them without emptying the tank and letting everything fully dry out. Or the more extreme route is to use chemicals to nuke the tank. 

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If I can’t remove them, how can I control the problem?

Manual Removal:

  • Inspect the tank and remove snails manually whenever you spot them. You can use a net or your hands (with gloves) to pick them out.
  • Check plants, decorations, and substrate carefully, as snails often hide in these areas.
  • Perform regular maintenance and clean the tank, removing any visible snails and their egg clusters.

Reduce Feeding:

  • Limit the amount of food you provide to your fish and other tank inhabitants to minimize excess food waste that attracts snails.
  • Feed smaller quantities that can be consumed within a few minutes, removing any uneaten food promptly.

Snail Traps:

  • Place snail traps, such as specialized traps available in pet stores or DIY traps like a lettuce leaf or cucumber slice, in the tank overnight.
  • Snails are attracted to these food sources, and you can remove the traps along with the trapped snails the next morning.

Control Population with Predators:

  • Introduce snail-eating fish or invertebrates to your aquarium that can help naturally control the snail population. Species such as certain loaches, pufferfish, or assassin snails can be effective in consuming pond snails.
  • However, carefully research and consider the compatibility of these predator species with your existing tank inhabitants and their specific care requirements.


Which is the easiest option to control the population?

The easiest option with the least amount of work is to add a natural predator to solve the problem. 

The most popular options you should investigate are. 

These are Assassin snails - a natural predator of other snails


  1. Assassin Snails (Clea helena): These snails are natural predators of other snail species, including pond snails. They actively hunt and feed on snails, making them an effective option for snail control. However, keep in mind that assassin snails may also prey on small shrimp or other small invertebrates.
  2. Clown Loaches (Chromobotia macracanthus): Clown loaches are known to have an appetite for snails. They can be effective in reducing pond snail populations, but they do require a larger aquarium and specific care requirements. These fixes are extremely active and need lots of swimming space, not to mention they get a whopping 12 inches long! 
  3. Dwarf Pufferfish (Carinotetraodon travancoricus): Dwarf pufferfish are small, charismatic fish known for their ability to eat snails. They have strong beaks that can crush snail shells. Keep in mind that pufferfish are carnivorous and may require a specific diet and water conditions. These fish are great for nano tanks but often need to be species-only tanks due to their aggressive nature and fin-nipping ability. 
  4. Yo-Yo Loaches (Botia almorhae): Yo-Yo loaches are another species that can consume pond snails. They have a natural inclination for snail hunting and can help control snail populations in the aquarium. Like other loaches, they have specific care requirements and should be housed in appropriate-sized tanks for 20 gallons or more. These are some of the smaller loaches topping out at a whopping 5 inches, but remember they are schooling fish, so you will need a few. 
  5. Dwarf Chain Loaches (Yasuhikotakia sidthimunki): These small loaches are often sought after for their snail-eating abilities. They have a strong appetite for small snails and can be effective in keeping snail populations in check.
  6. Botia loaches (Botia spp.): Various species of Botia loaches, such as Botia striata or Botia kubotai, have been observed to eat snails. These guys are also similar to the previously mentioned Yoyo loaches, but this guy will get bigger around the 6-inch mark. They have similar care requirements to other loaches and can be effective snail hunters.
  7. Gouramis (Trichogaster spp.): Some gourami species, such as the Three Spot Gourami (Trichogaster trichopterus), have been known to consume small snails. While not solely snail-eaters, they may help control snail populations to some extent. These guys won’t be very good for any nano tanks, but might be useful for a 20 gallon tank since they could reach 6 inches in size. 
  8. Goldfish (Carassius auratus): Goldfish are omnivorous and opportunistic eaters. They may consume snails as part of their diet, particularly small snails. However, remember that goldfish require larger tanks and specific care needs. The amount of care these fish require are often underestimated! 
  9. Zebra Loach (Botia striata): Zebra loaches are known for their snail-eating habits. They actively hunt and consume small snails, including pond snails. They are a schooling fish, so make sure to grab six or more fish. These fish also tend to wedge their selfies between tight spaces, which is exactly what you are going to want to catch hiding snails.
YoYo Loach -  - another natural predator

Some fish on rare occasion will eat snail but likely won’t control the population. 

  1. Swordtails (Xiphophorus spp.): Swordtails are omnivorous fish that primarily feed on vegetable matter but may also consume small snails if given the opportunity. They likely won’t eat them in large enough numbers to make a dent in the population.
  2. Mollies (Poecilia spp.): Mollies are another omnivorous fish species that may occasionally eat small snails, including pond snails. This sometimes happens because they are very aggressive feeders and, if not fed enough, might look for other sources.
  3. Cherry Barb (Puntius titteya): While primarily insectivores, cherry barbs have been observed to eat small snails as part of their diet.
  4. Rainbowfish (Melanotaenia spp.): Some rainbowfish species have been known to eat small snails, especially when they are small enough to fit in their mouths.
  5. Rosy Barb (Pethia conchonius): Rosy barbs are known to occasionally consume small snails as part of their omnivorous diet.
  6. Betta Fish (Betta splendens): While bettas primarily consume small insects and insect larvae, they have been known to eat small snails, including pond snails, if presented as part of their diet. This is rare in the aquarium setup but can happen from time to time. 
  7. Corydoras (Corydoras paleatus): While primarily bottom-dwelling scavengers, dwarf Corydoras have been known to eat small snails on occasion, but this is normally rare if the snail is still able to move and able to retract back. 

Although many fish won’t eat these snails in a natural aquarium environment, most fish will eat a snail if its shell has been destroyed. Having the shell destroyed leaves the snail exposed to being eaten, and most fish are opportunistic feeders, so if it can fit in their mouth, they would probably eat it. So, if you are willing to manually catch and crush the snails shell you can leave the body in the aquarium for your fish to get a cool little snack. 

In conclusion, whether pond snails are considered good or bad for your tank depends on your specific goals and preferences as an aquarium owner. Ultimately, the perception of pond snails as good or bad depends on personal preferences. If you have a planted tank and want natural cleaning and nutrient recycling, pond snails can be beneficial. However, if you prefer a snail-free tank or have delicate plants that may be susceptible to snail damage, you may consider managing or removing the snails from your aquarium. Regular monitoring and appropriate population control measures can help maintain a balance that suits your specific needs and preferences. 

As aquarium owner I would give pond snails a thumbs up as long as you have the ability to manage them. 






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Author's Name: rtorres
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