Snails in your freshwater aquarium can be good for the tank because they work as a cleanup crew, but they reproduce quickly. One minute you have a couple of pond snails in your tank, and the next, they’ve taken over everything.
You want to get rid of the pond snails in your aquarium, but you also don’t want to hurt the fish in the aquarium in the process.
In this guide, we’ll give you a few methods for ridding your tank of pond snails without hurting the colorful fish you want to keep.
Where Do Pond Snails Come From?
Pond snails are often introduced into a tank by the very people who later want to get rid of them. They become a problem when they’re not kept in check. These tiny mollusks are hermaphrodites, meaning they are both female and male. Any two pond snails can mate, and both can lay several dozen eggs apiece. Once those eggs hatch, you have hundreds to deal with, and they will keep multiplying—if you don’t step in.
However, introducing them to the tank as a cleanup crew isn’t the only way these critters can get into your tank. They come with decorations and plants and remain unseen until it’s too late and you’re overrun. Sometimes they even come with the water.
Are Pond Snails Bad for Your Aquarium?
Almost all tanks have a couple of pond snails, and they are, in fact, good for your aquarium. These snails help keep the tank clean by eating algae, fish poop, and even rotten plants. In other words, your tank will be a whole lot cleaner with a couple of pond snails on the job, at first.
Even though they can add to the décor of your tank, they’ll soon take over, and your tank will begin to look a whole lot less appealing.
So, while pond snails can be good for your aquarium, you need to manage them before they become a problem. If you’re reading this guide, then you’re probably already fighting what you feel is a losing battle. Never fear; in our next section, we’ll give you some methods that will help you win your fight against pond snails.
Chemical and Natural Methods
There are two ways to get rid of the pond snails in your tank. You can use natural methods or chemical methods.
Natural methods are less expensive and will take longer to work, according to how badly your tank has been invaded. Many natural methods won’t get rid of the pond snails altogether, but they can help get them under control.
Chemical methods work faster; however, there’s the risk of these methods hurting your fish, and that’s something most fish keepers don’t want.
In this guide, we’ll be talking about natural methods that won’t hurt the other inhabitants of your tank.
The 6 Steps to Get Rid of Pond Snails
1. Identify the Cause of the Infestation
Before you try the methods below, it’s a good idea to try and identify what’s causing the infestation to begin with. There are two possible causes: Either you’ve been giving your pond snails too many snacks and didn’t even know it, or you haven’t been changing your water as often as you should.
Either of these will throw the balance of the tank off and result in a pond snail infestation.
Once you’ve identified the cause, it’ll be time to move onto the methods in our next section.
2. Manually Remove Them
The most natural way to get rid of an infestation of pond snails in your tank is by taking the time to manually remove them DIY style. This works just like it sounds. You manually pick the pond snails out of your tank every time you see one. The only problem with this method is that pond snails are nocturnal creatures, so unless you stay up all night watching for them, it’s possible you might miss a few, and your infestation will continue.
3. Use Snail Traps
If you don’t have time to sit and pick them out of your tank, or you’re just not a DIY type of person, there are snail traps you can purchase that will do the job for you. The traps are like food bait, then when the pond snail goes after the food, they get trapped on top of the trap, and all you have to do is remove them. It’s a safe, natural method of eliminating pond snails that won’t hurt your fish.
The snail traps are easy to use, inexpensive, and reusable.
4. Use Food Bait
You can also trick your pond snails with food bait. For example, you can put a piece of cabbage, a ripe banana skin, a piece of lettuce, or a slice of cucumber into the tank and let it stay there overnight. When you wake up the next morning, the food should have snails all over it, and all you’ll have to do is carefully remove the food from the tank.
You can also put the food bait of your choice into a soda bottle, which makes it harder for the pond snails to leave once they’ve entered, and certainly makes it easier to retrieve and clean up the following day.
The method of setting out food bait is up to you. Whichever you choose, you’re going to have to repeat the process every night until your pond snail infestation is gone, or at least under control.
5. Reduce Pond Snails’ Food Source
Nine times out of 10, an infestation of pond snails in an aquarium comes from overfeeding. Pond snails feed on the leftover food in the bottom of your tank, so if you’re overfeeding your fish, your pond snail population will soon be completely out of control.
Try not to leave any leftover food in the tank so that the pond snails have nothing to feed on. Also, change the water more frequently to get rid of that excess food, install some fast-growing plants, and use a gravel vacuum cleaner after every feeding to get rid of the leftovers.
You can also buy an algae scraper and use it regularly to get the algae out of the tank, which is something pond snails feed on as well.
6. Introduce Snail Eating Predators
If none of the methods above have eliminated or reduced your pond snail population, then the next step is to introduce snail-eating predators into your tank. Pond snails have more than a few natural predators who would love to live in your snail-infested tank and have dinner waiting whenever they want it.
There are certain species of fish that eat pond snails. Some of these fish are listed below.
While these fish are great for eating the pond snails in your tank, it’s best not to just add them without first doing your research. You need to make sure that the fish you choose is compatible with the fish you keep in your tank already, or they could do more harm than good.
There are also other snails that prey on pond snails as well that you can introduce to your tank to get rid of your pond snail infestation. For example, assassin snails have clear females and males in their species, so if you buy the males, then you can get rid of your pond snail infestation easily.
Introducing three to six assassin snails to your tank should do the trick.
Prevention of Pond Snail Infestations
The first thing you need to do to prevent a future pond snail infestation is to clean your tank from top to bottom. While it’s the last thing most fish keepers want to do, it’s necessary to keep the infestation away. Empty and refill your tank, then clean and dry everything so you don’t have any pond snails lingering.
Keeping the algae under control, changing out your water frequently, and not overfeeding your fish will help you to prevent pond snail infestations in the future as well.
This concludes our guide on how to get rid of pond snails without hurting your fish. If none of these natural methods work for you, then it could be time to try chemical methods. However, if you decide to go this route, you should talk to a trained fish keeper so that you can take every precaution when doing so to keep your fish from being harmed in the process.
Featured Image Credit: Fauzan Maududdin, Shutterstock