Almost a year ago I bought myself a tropical fish tank, a few tropical fish and some plastic plants to decorate it. Recently I decided to switch from plastic plants to the real-thing and purchased a few aquarium plants such as Echinodorus Rosea from my local aquarium centre. The plants were in good health and made the tank look much more authentic.
A week or so after adding the plants to the tank I noticed a few snails started appearing. I’d been warned by a friend that this might happen and assured by the sales assistant that all the plants they sold where clear of snails and snails’ eggs (he was wrong, oh so wrong!).
At first I really didn’t mind the new additions to the tank, but after a short while it started getting crazy. There were (and still are) hundreds of little Ramshorn Snails all over the tank. On the glass, on the plants, on the ornaments, on the bogwood, on the pump and on the filter.
Now it’s got to the stage where the snails almost outnumber the gravel!
Snails are asexual. This means they reproduce without the need for a partner. One snail in your tank can reproduce many more.
How to get rid of snails in a fish tank
If you are looking for a natural solution for getting rid of snails in a tropical aquarium there are a few options open to you:
When I spoke to the guy at the aquarium centre about my snail infestation he suggested I use Zebra Loaches to eat the snails. They’re bottom feeders and quite shy. They sounded like a good option until he said they should be kept in small groups of at least three to five. The tank I have is 60 litres and the Zebra Loaches, as they grow, would need much more space than my tank provides.
Further online reading suggests his guidance was incorrect. Most articles I’ve read recommend keeping Zebra Loaches in groups of at least five.
If your tank is large enough to accommodate Zebra Loaches then I would seriously consider them. They’re a really nice looking fish that get on well with most others. An alternative loach is the YoYo Loach or the Clown Loach (another beautiful fish). Either of these should do a good job of depleting the snail population in your tank. Before you buy though, visit a local aquarium centre and speak to an expert to see if they are compatible with your set-up.
2) Lettuce, cucumber or fish-food
There are two ways to use food to rid your tank of snails…
a) Place a small piece of lettuce or cucumber, or a small amount of fish food in a small jar filled with aquarium water, then place the jar at the bottom of your aquarium. Leave it for a few hours (or overnight). When you come back to tank the jar should be filled (hopefully!) with snails. Take the jar from the water and get rid of the snails.
b) The second method is almost exactly the same, but you don’t use fish food or a jar, just the lettuce or cucumber. Place it at the bottom of the tank and weigh it down with gravel or something similar and remove it when the snails are feasting on it.
The biggest problem with these methods is that they won’t get rid of all the snails in one go. You will have to keep repeating the process.
3) Snail eating snail – The Assassin Snail
These are what I chose for my tank. I bought four. They are quite slow-growing and will not breed as quickly as the Ramshorn Snails taking over my tank. This is not a quick method and, depending upon the size of the snail population and the size of your tank, it may take several weeks or months to see an improvement. I’m also using cucumber to get rid of the snails.
Best of luck to you!
I hope this article has provided you with some natural solutions for ridding your freshwater fish tank of snails.