Snails Do I Want Them in My Fish Tank

Snails can be a helpful addition to your home aquarium, or they can reproduce like rabbits and take over the entire tank!

Have you been wondering if you want to add snails to your freshwater aquarium? If so, there are some things you need to know about snails. They can be a great addition to a tank, as they work well as scavengers. They eat algae, which draws many people to adding them to the tank. But be careful! The antennae of some snails make a tasty snack to some fish, which causes them not to come out of their shells, and they will eventually starve to death. Other species of snails will multiply out of control in your tank, and eventually starve to death because there is not enough food for them.

Tank Conditions

If you do want to have snails in your tank, it is recommended that you add them to a tank that has hard water and is slightly alkaline. The shells will not survive low pH water chemistry. You will notice gaps in new shell growth if the water is too acidic. If you harden the water, the snails can recover from these types of problems.

Types of Snails

There are several types of snails on the market. On popular species is the Mystery or Apple snail. They are great for breeding tanks, because their droppings promote the growth of infusoria, which is one of the first foods for baby fry. These snails, with the exception of the Mystery snail, will eat all of the plants in your tank, so do not put them in a planted tank. They will get around the size of a tennis ball with the proper conditions and a large enough habitat.

The Malaysian live bearing snail is a small snail with a long cone-shaped shell. These snails dig into the substrate for their food, which is great because they clean waste that other scavengers leave behind. They are nocturnal, so you will not see much of them during the day, as they will stay buried in the substrate. They reproduce quite well. If you have one Malaysian snail, you will quickly have more! You will be quite surprised if you check on your tank in the night, for there will probably be hundreds of these tiny snails on the glass of your tank. This snail does not bother plants.

Ramshorn snails are snails that can end up in your aquarium by being accidentally transferred with a new fish. Their shells look like a spring. These snails are black, but there is also a red variety. They are a problem for most fish tanks, though. They breed profusely leaving an ugly ball of jelly-like eggs. They also eat most of the food the fish are supposed to be getting, and they eat other fish's eggs.

Japanese live bearing snails are the final of the regulars that show up in an aquarium. This is a large snail that gives birth to live young. It does not eat plants, but the high temperatures of most tropical aquariums are too warm for these snails. They work well in a tank meant for cold-water fish, such as goldfish.

If you think you want to add snails to your tank, then think through these different types of snails and see if there is one that will fit your needs as an aquarium owner. Keep in mind that they may reproduce quickly. Have a plan for this if it happens in your tank! Other than that, if you have a hard-water tank, snails could be a welcome addition to help keep the tank clean!