People love their fish aquariums because they get to watch their beautiful fish roam around.
Why would anyone want to put an ugly snail in their fish tank in the first place, just to make their fish look more beautiful?
Well, actually…. snails are natural scavengers, but in the aquarium world, you could call them cleaners.
Since experienced and beginning aquarists alike are looking for natural ways to clean their fish tanks, it is only natural to wonder if snails and fish can live together?
Snails and fish can live together as long as the fish aren’t aggressive and eat the snails. Snails and fish can only live together as long as you don’t let the population of snails in your tank get out of control as some snails breed a lot and snails do create waste of their own which can harm the tank.
Okay, now that we have identified that fish and snails can live together we need to answer the next most important question…
What Snails Can Live With Fish?
Anybody with experience in aquariums knows there are two types of aquariums, freshwater, and saltwater. So in essence, you could say, there are freshwater snails and saltwater snails.
Let’s start with freshwater snails…
Our favorite saltwater snails are mystery snails. They are attractive and you will notice better water quality shortly after adding them. They are great for planted tanks, keeping to themselves, and will get along with your other critters.
Our second choice is nerite snails. These guys are small so they are great for smaller aquariums. They are also hardy as far as snails go, so they are fine in a wide range of water parameters.
They also look great with a wide range of shell patterns to choose from that are fun to watch along with your fish.
They are great for planted tanks but need a softer sand substrate to keep from scratching themselves.
Others to consider:
Very easy to take care of. Love to eat algae.
Love to scavenge the take and easy to get along with other critters since they avoid them altogether.
The reason apple snails aren’t one of our favorites is that they get carried away when it comes to eating plants, especially plants that aren’t very durable.
If you have a lot of live plants, you should choose one of our favorites. If you absolutely love to have apple snails, some people actually feed them their own fish food to keep them full so they don’t go after plants.
These snails are pretty awesome but for other reasons than the normal aquarium snail.
They are actually meat eaters and will eat other snails.
They aren’t practical if you want other snails in your tank but they are attractive and great if you do have an over-infestation of snails.
These snails are a tad bit unique since they are so big at around 3-5 inches and unique in appearance.
They are also known for being slow, even for a snail!
They will move around your substrate if it is soft and are great algae eaters!
These guys are fun to watch with their curled shell appearance that looks like a ram’s horn, which is where they get their name.
Good algae eaters that are constantly cleaning your tank.
Ivory gives away these white colored snails
These snails are great cleaners and easy to take care of so they are great for beginners.
They can live in a wide range of water parameters but they only work at night so they are hard to observe. They would mainly be for cleaning and not for the aesthetic value of watching them crawl around.
Black Devil Snails
Opposite the ivory snails are these black snails that some people love because they stand out.
They are one of the bigger snails, growing up to 3.5 inches.
Despite their size, these snails are one of the fastest or least slow for a snail haha.
They are great because they won’t cause overpopulation issues.
Gold Inca Snails
These snails are perfect if you like their golden color.
They grow around an inch so they can be kept in smaller tanks, are great cleaners, and are easy to get along within a community tank.
Some aquarium keepers hate these snails because they are at the top of the list of pest snails that will reproduce and overrun your tank.
On the bright side, they aren’t very big, great cleaners will thrive in most tanks, and leave other aquarium critters alone.
Another bad thing with these guys is their small size can cause them to get caught in filters, so you will have to control your water current speed or put some type of screen to keep them out.
Japanese Trapdoor Snail
These guys are great because they can live longer than other snails.
They have a unique appearance, are smaller, and clean your tank 24/7. Great Choice!
Our favorite saltwater snails are turbo snails. These guys will keep your aquarium spotless from the top to the bottom.
Our second favorite is astraea snails.
These snails are smaller, only reaching about an inch when they are grown.
They are great cleaners and will scour your entire tank, even algae, although they leave green hair algae alone, so you will need another snail if you have green hair algae in your tank.
They are peaceful snails, so they are easy to get along with.
Awesome colors like a bumblebee but not a normal tank cleaner like other snails.
They are meat eaters so they are mainly for the aesthetic value of watching them swim around
If you don’t have live plants bumblebee snails can help eat leftover meaty fish foods or decomposing parts of dead fish or invertebrates.
They are smaller growing only to about 1/4 of an inch.
These snails are great since they burrow and move the substrate which helps aerate it.
They also love to eat algae that grow on the glass and on live rock.
They are a smaller snail that looks like a turban and so named.
Smaller snails that are usually attached to live rock that people put in their aquarium.
They grow up to an inch and are great algae-eating snails that will also dig up your substrate to keep it aerated.
They will breed but are easier to keep control of since they leave their eggs in long strings that can easily be spotted to removed or eaten by other tankmates.
Donkey’s Ear Abalone
One of the bigger saltwater snails that will any detritus, algae, etc.
Fighting Conch Snail
One of the larger snails, they can reach up to 3-5 inches.
Great cleaners that also dig up the substrate to keep it aerated.
Gold Ring Money Cowrie
These snails are towards the bottom of the list because they can grow up to 5 inches and knock stuff over in your tank.
Banded Trochus Snail
Great cleaners that love algae but are usually covered in it because they are so slow, even for a snail.
They have awesome maroon and black colors when you can see them.
Like other large snails they tip over easy but these snails are great at turning themselves back over, so they can be fun to watch.
These snails are very popular since they are small, hardy cheap, and easy to get along with.
At night they are great cleaners that will clean up everything.
These unique snails gather together during the day and stay in the same area. They also can store water under their shells and crawl out of your tank!
You will need an aquarium lid if you have these guys in your tank.
Best Tankmates For Snails
- neon tetras
- honey gourami
- red cherry shrimp
- ghost shrimp
- blue velvet shrimp
Frequently Asked Questions About, “Can Snails and Fish Live Together?
Should I Put Snails In My Fish Tank?
- Most snails help keep your tank clean by eating detritus such as fish poop, decaying plant matter, leftover fish food and even feed on algae. As long as you have the right type of snails in your tank, some people like them for their scavenging habits.
- Some snails will forage and aerate the soil in your aquarium.
- Some snails, believe it or not, are actually attractive, so they can add to the aesthetic value of your fish tank when you and your guests are watching the critters move around.
- The biggest Bonus: Kids love them! You can take a break from babysitting when the kiddos are busy watching the snails
Will Snails Hurt My Fish?
- Snails can get inside filters and inlet valves, clogging them up. You will need to make sure there are screens to keep them out.
- Snails cause waste of their own so if there are too many, they can cause a biological imbalance which will limit how many fish you can have in your tank. This includes dead snails which just add to the amount of ammonia in your tank.
- Snails like to eat anything decomposing, especially plants. If their food supply gets too low, they have been known to start eating the live parts of plants which can kill them, although live plants are usually their last source of food.
- Some fish owners have noticed snails trying to munch on their fish if they have a disease and decomposing parts.
- Sometimes snails come on live plants that people put in their tanks. When chemicals are used to remove the snails, fish can also be harmed.
Will Fish Eat My Snails?
Some fish will eat snails such as:
- Yoyo Loach
- Striped Raphael Catfish
- Clown Loach
- Dwarf Chain Loach
- Bala Shark
- Zebra Loach
- Cory Catfish
- Green Spotted Puffer
- Betta Fish
Of course, this is not necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes snails come into the tank because they were on live plants that someone bought and put in their tank.
They can overrun the tank and become a problem. Sometimes people put a fish like a ‘puffer’ in their tank on purpose to help eat the snails and get rid of them.
If you have fish in your aquarium that eat snails, you can always try to add shrimp that your fish won’t eat since shrimp are known for cleaning detritus as well.
Why Is My Snail Eating My Fish?
If a snail is eating your fish, it likely knows your fish is sick and about to die so they are already trying to eat it as if it were waste in the tank.
It could also be a meat-eating snail that doesn’t belong in a tank. Maybe it came on a live rock or plant that you put in the tank.
Snails for aquarium use do not attack live healthy fish.
Snails Gone Bad? How To Remove Overpopulated Aquarium Snails
Sometimes snails come attached to live plants that people buy and put in their tanks.
It may not seem like a big deal, but sometimes the snails lay eggs everywhere, hatch, and overpopulate the tank.
You may have to remove them or control their population at some point.
Critters That Eat Snails: If the snails are small or if their shells are soft enough, you can crush them and leave them as food for fish or other snails.
Remove By Hand: You can take them out and put them in another aquarium or try to sell them.
You Can Put Fish That Eat Snails: You can get some pufferfish and put them in your tank. There is a list of snail-eating fish above but pufferfish are the main fish that eat snails.
Lettuce: You can put a piece of lettuce in your tank. The snails will attach to the lettuce, enabling you to remove many of them at once.
Assassin Snails: Yes, these snails actually eat other snails and won’t overpopulate your tank!
I hope we have shown you that snails can live together.
If you are worried about overpopulation, get some of the snails that don’t reproduce at all or just reproduce a little bit.
It just takes a little experimentation. If you get some snails that don’t reproduce but they aren’t removing enough algae, just add some more of the same.
If your snails overpopulate, then just go through the necessary steps to remove them. Don’t worry, you can do it!