Natural Ways to Get Rid of Snails in Fish Tanks

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A few snails can help keep your aquarium clean, but too many become a nuisance to your fish. Snails breed rapidly and can transform into full-blown infestation in no time. Chemical snail killers are available at retail, but you can control snails in your home aquarium with other means.

Manual Removal

No option is more natural than removing snails by hand. You won't need to purchase chemical products or snail predators. Although you probably won’t eliminate all the snails in your tank this way, picking them out by hand is a good solution for controlling small numbers of snails. Another option is to crush the snails against the side of the tank, which will make them viable food for fish who otherwise couldn't get to the meat through the shells.

Predator Fish

Several types of fish specifically eat snails. Introducing such fish will help keep the natural balance of the tank so there aren’t too many snails. Puffer fish and certain types of loaches are good snail predator options. Puffers can become aggressive toward other fish, though, so consider your entire aquarium environment before adding new fish. Clown and yoyo loaches will eat the snails right out of their shells. Remove the shells with a net.

Bait and Trap

Snails are attracted to decaying plant material and algae, so set a trap to gather the snails together. This is a variation of manual removal. Use a lettuce leaf as bait and the snails will flock to it. Place the lettuce in a small glass jar, fill it with aquarium water, and sink it to the bottom of the tank overnight. The jar will fill with snails; remove them in the morning. Repeat nightly until most of the snails are gone.

Prevention

Keeping snails out of your fish tank is easier than trying to find a solution once they are taking over. For one thing, snail eggs are hard to see, but you can help eliminate them by cleaning new plants that you plan on introducing to the tank. Soak the plants in saltwater for 15 minutes, then give them a good rinse in fresh water before introducing them to the aquarium. This should destroy eggs that are hanging on without doing harm to the plants.

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    Kimberly A. Smith has been a freelance writer for two years. She graduated from the University of California at Davis and the California Culinary Academy, then pursued a career baking wedding cakes. During her time at CCA, she received certification in nutrition and food safety. She currently attends the University of Oregon School of Law.