A regulated snail population in a home aquarium is healthy and beneficial. They clean the aquarium’s walls and eat leftover food, dead fish, and rotten plants. Some of them even have a decorative value. However, these slow-moving underwater inhabitants could one day become excessively numerous. Ramshorn snail and Melania are notorious for causing problems. We’ll show you how to take action with the snails in the aquarium and how to get rid of them, as well as what kind of harm they can cause.
Why there are so many snails in my aquarium?
It’s one thing when you get a couple of snails on purpose, and they quickly swamp the aquarium. It’s a different story if you have no idea where they came from in the first place.
Snail eggs, along with untreated, purchased aquarium plants, fall into the aquarium and can hide in the bottom of the substrate. Many of the species are hermaphrodites, meaning they can reproduce without a partner. They are not only extremely fertile, but also extremely resilient, being unafraid of temperature changes, contaminated water, or a temporary lack of food. After a month, just one or two random shells are enough to produce hundreds of offspring.
Snails are difficult to eradicate, so it is preferable to take preventative measures.
First and foremost, disinfect the plants, driftwood, and other decorative elements that you have purchased. To do so, soak them in a potassium permanganate solution (10 mg per 1 liter of water). If there are any eggs, even 10 minutes is enough time for them to die.
Second, don’t feed the fish too much. Snails eat food that has sunk to the ground, allowing them to grow and multiply more quickly.
What are the risks associated with too many snails?
Everyone who cares about their indigenous underwater world should know how to get rid of small snails in the aquarium. Snail overabundance can cause a slew of issues all at once:
- The aquarium’s aesthetics will be affected. Snails irritate fish by excreting mucus that accumulates on the walls, as well as obstructing the view to the aquarium.
- Snails have a voracious appetite. They eat a lot of food, leaving the bottom-dwelling fish hungry.
- Snails spread infections and bacteria, promoting fish disease.
Snails are believed to prey on small fish and young animals, as well as being capable of destroying all plants. These, however, are urban legends. Snails only feed on sick and dying underwater creatures. Plants, on the other hand, are too tough for them to eat. Snails only eat soft (often dying) plant leaves when they run out of other options like algae.
5 Ways to Get Rid of aquarium snails
After ensuring that an abundance of snails does not result in anything good, it’s time to figure out how to get rid of them.
Method #1: Restart the aquarium
Cleaning and disinfecting the aquarium completely is an effective way to get rid of snails.
Complete cleaning and disinfection of the aquarium is the most radical method of getting rid of small snails in the aquarium. It’s simple to say, but difficult to do… You must relocate the fish, drain the water, boil all decorations, boil the bottom substrate, and either plant new plants or disinfect existing ones. In a strict sense, we’re talking about reopening the aquarium.
The method produces good results, but it is not fish-safe. The ecosystem will take some time to stabilize, which is a huge burden on the underwater inhabitants.
Method #2. Anti-snail chemistry
Chemistry is another effective way to get rid of Melania or Ramshorn snails in the aquarium. To destroy them, all you have to do is pick the right tool and follow the instructions. However, the method has two disadvantages at the same time. First, chemistry will upset the ecosystem’s balance, posing a threat to the health of the fish tank’s inhabitants. Second, it is critical to catch dead snails on a regular basis so that they do not decompose and contribute to the spread of infection or increase of nitrates.
Copper is found in a variety of anti-snail chemicals. It is poisonous to snails as well as other invertebrates. As a result, shrimp and crayfish should be kept in a separate container while treating the aquarium. It’s also safer to remove the fish from the aquarium.
A copper sulfate solution (0.3 g per 10 liters of aquarium water) can be used as an alternative to the chemicals in pet shops. Turn on the air circulation after adding the substance, and after 4 hours, you can catch dead snails and completely change the water. Only plants should be left in the aquarium when using copper sulfate, as they may contain snail eggs. Simultaneously, there’s a chance that some copper-sensitive plants will perish.
Method #3. Natural enemies
Predatory fish or larger snails can help you get rid of small snails in your aquarium. For example, the Helena snail enjoys eating its relatives and sucking them out of their shells with its proboscis. It only eats adult animals and is uninterested in young ones. At least one Helena per 10 liters of water is recommended.
Snail eggs can be removed with the help of catfish. Turn over driftwood and decorative elements from time to time to help them cope with the task because snail “caviar” is frequently deposited here.
Dwarf gourami, clown loach, paradise fish, and tetradon will help control or completely destroy uninvited snail guests. When it comes to predatory fish, however, you should always be cautious. After all, they can eat not only snails but also more decorative underwater kingdom inhabitants. Some of them bite off the fins and tails of their peaceful neighbors, while others are capable of destroying the young of small fish.
Keep in mind that not Helena snail, not predatory fish didn’t get hired by you. As a result, don’t hold your breath for “guarantees” from them. They’ll take their time eating all the snails. Whether or not this is suitable for you is a different matter. Also, keep in mind that a well-fed fish will not bother hunting for snails, so keep the predatory fish slightly hungry.
Method #4. Bait-traps
Another option for getting rid of snails in the aquarium is to use traps, which are available at pet stores. The plan is as follows: the bait (potatoes, boiled cabbage, and beef) is placed in a small container and lowered to the aquarium’s bottom for the night. Many snails fall into it, and the bait is removed and cleaned the next morning.
If you have catfish, this strategy might not work. They’ll eat the bait, and the snails will spread once more. In this case, you’ll need to create structures that allow the snails to crawl inside but not out.
Method #5. Collecting by hand
Hand collection of large specimens is possible. This method works well in conjunction with the establishment of natural snail enemies.
Snail collection by mechanical means is time-consuming, especially if the snails are caught in a thicket of plants. However, unlike launching predators or the use of chemicals, they do not put the fish in mortal danger. Start with the largest specimens and work your way down to the smaller ones. Small snails can be crushed against the walls of the aquarium. As a result, you provide more food for the fish. If the catch is done on a regular basis, the method is effective in reducing the number of snails. And, if you’re lucky, you might be able to completely eliminate the unwanted visitors.