5 Easy Ways to Get Rid of Aquarium Pest Snails
Bladder, ramshorn, and Malaysian trumpet snails are often called pest snails in the aquarium hobby because they reproduce very quickly and are difficult to remove once introduced to a fish tank. They can be found in your aquarium by hittingchhiking on aquatic plants, or at the bottoms of fish bags purchased from a pet shop.
Are pest squid bad for fish tanks? They are an integral part of aquatic ecosystems and can be useful in aquariums. They eat algae, clean up uncooked fish food, remove fish waste and feed the snail-eaters in your aquarium. These snails will not harm your live fish or plants, but they do keep your aquarium clean by consuming any dead animals or sickly leaves.
Even though they are known as “pest snails,” ramshorn snails are often kept by fish keepers for their cleaning abilities and beautiful color variations.
These many benefits aside, some people don’t like the idea of having too many snails covering every surface in their fish tank. To keep your aquarium snail population under control, try one of these 5 proven methods.
Method #1: Less Food
Fish keepers who have experience with fish keeping know that the best way of decreasing the number snails is to eat less fish food. Snails can only reproduce quickly if they have enough food. You should limit the amount of food you give your fish to ensure that they can eat all of it in a matter of minutes. Also, smaller meals mean that snails will have less to eat. Higher quality foods, such as frozen, live, and freeze-dried food, are more likely to be consumed by the fish. This leaves little for the snails.
The bladder snail is an herbaphrodite, which can reproduce sexually and produce viable eggs, even though there are no other snails.
Snails not only eat leftover food but also consume algae and other dying plant matter. You should prune your plants regularly and get rid of any algae when cleaning the fish tank. Use an aquarium siphon for gravel vacuuming to remove any mulm and other organic debris the snails may eat.
Method #2: Manual Removal
Slowly starving the snails can take a while, so speed up the process by physically removing snails whenever you get a chance. The simplest technique is to just use your hands and pick them out one by one. If the snails are small enough, some people use a length of siphon hose to suck them up into a bucket during water changes. To easily grab the snails from aquarium walls while you are passing, use a snail catcher.
The Dennerle Snapper is a clever tool that allows you to capture small snails on fish tanks walls.
Method #3: Snail Trap
Some species, such as the Malaysian trumpet snails, are nocturnal. They prefer to burrow under the substrate and it can be difficult to get them out of the tank. You can attract snails with delicious vegetables. Place a piece of cucumber or zucchini, carrot, or lettuce in the aquarium overnight. The snails will then be able to eat the vegetable the next day. Some hobbyists like to put the food in a DIY snail trap (e.g., a container with holes in the lid that are big enough for the snails to enter but too small for fish to pass) so that the snails cannot easily leave even after they get full.
Malaysian thunder snails (also called MTS) are extremely resilient and can survive for several months in dry, used gravel.
How do you humanely kill a snail after you catch them? Feed your extra snails to snail-eating fish (see our list below), give them to other hobbyists who own snail eaters, or crush them for a quick death.
Method #4: Snail Eaters
Pest snails are actually in high demand if you own a snail-eating fish because they provide a lot of essential nutrients and enrichment for the animal to display its natural hunting behavior. Nearly all freshwater pufferfish, from the small pea puffer to large Mbu puffer, love snails. The crunchiness of snail shells can also help to reduce puffer teeth and keep them from growing too long. Many loaches, such as clown, dwarf, yoyo, and zebra, can use their pointed noses to get into snail shells and take out the insides. Oscars and turtles are also big fans of mollusks so make sure to get some. Finally, some aquarists employ the services of the assassin snail – a 1-inch (2.5 cm), carnivorous snail that specifically targets other snails as its primary diet.
Assassin Snails (Anentome. helena), ambush other snails and eat them, even if they are larger.
Method #5: Quarantine
If you are determined to ban pet snails from your home, remember the saying “An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.” Carefully inspect any new plants, and manually remove all snails and snail eggs. Some people run their plants under running water to help wash away any unseen hitchhikers. Place the plant in a tank filled with light and fertilizers. Continue to remove any snails. Snail eggs can take 1-4 weeks to hatch, depending on the species and water temperature, so this process requires some patience.
Although this quarantine plan may not be bulletproof, it is better to take a steady and slow approach than resorting to chemical treatments such as bleach or aquarium salt. It can be difficult to find an exact dosing concentration that is strong enough to kill snails and snail eggs but won’t harm more sensitive plants like vallisneria or cryptocoryne plants.
Bladder, ramshorn and ramshorn snails conceive multiple babies from their egg sacs. Malaysian trumpet snails are able to give birth to young children.
If you’re interested in some clean-up crew members besides snails, don’t forget to read our article for the top 10 helpful animals we recommend in freshwater tanks.