How Did Snails Get In My Fish Tank?

Nick Durante
by Nick Durante
Credit: Shutterstock / Arunee Rodloy

The sight of snails in your fish tank can be so annoying, especially when their population keeps growing. At first, they may seem cute, but they can negatively affect your fish. So, how did snails get in my fish tank?

Snails typically get in fish tanks because their eggs are often hidden on plants and aquarium decorations. That’s why you must wash plants before you put them in your fish tank to remove egg clusters. You can easily remove eggs by hand or put predators, like Yoyo Loaches in your aquarium to eat the snails.

Keep your aquarium clean and change the water at least twice each month to keep snails out. Follow along as we explore how snails get in your fish tank and highlight ways to remove them.

Why Are There Snails In My Fish Tank?

Snails most commonly get into fish tanks via eggs on aquarium plants. The eggs are hard to detect, and many pet stores that sell plants don’t even know they’re there. Eventually, the snails will grow, eat the food in your tank, and even reproduce.

Snails can even embed eggs in decorations that pet stores sell. The sight of snails in your fish tank can be unnerving, but it’s not necessarily an emergency. That said, snails can affect the balance, lifestyle, and even health of the fish in your tank.

Are Snails Bad For Fish Tanks?

Snails can be bad for fish tanks if they become overpopulated. Much like fish, snails consume the oxygen in your tank. Eventually, they can consume too much oxygen and it will affect your fish.

Excessive ammonia can accumulate in the tank if the snails become overpopulated. That can stress your fish and cause illness that can lead to death. Granted, a few snails in your fish tank shouldn’t cause a problem if you keep the glass and rocks clean.

However, you can’t guarantee that the snails won’t quickly reproduce and throw off the nitrogen balance. Snails don’t typically eat the plants but are likely to eat the food that’s meant for your fish.

How To Remove Snails From Your Fish Tank

Your fish tank isn’t doomed if it’s full of snails, and you can remove them in several ways. Whether it be by hand or with traps, it’s easier to get snails out of your fish tank than you thought.

1. Remove Them By Hand

The easiest way to get snails out of your fish tank is to manually remove them. This can be hard if you have a deep tank, but it’s necessary. You can fish them out with a small net or stick.

That said, it’s much easier to simply pull the snails out of your tank by hand. Make sure to wash your hands thoroughly before you put them in the tank. The last thing you want is to introduce harmful bacteria to your fish tank.

You may have to repeat the process several times, as you won’t likely get each snail at once. After all, snails lay small eggs that are hard to detect if you don’t know what to look for.

2. Avoid Overfeeding

Overfeeding your fish is bad for many reasons, and that includes snail overpopulation. Food settles at the bottom of your tank when you overfeed your fish. This gives the snails in your tank the perfect chance to eat and grow.

The food can also rot and raise the nitrate level in your fish tank, and that’s dangerous. Only put enough food in the tank for the fish to be able to eat it within 5-10 minutes. Any more than that will likely float to the bottom of the tank, and the snails will eat it.

3. Introduce Snail Predators

Snails have many natural predators, and many of them thrive in fish tanks. Whether it be Yoyo Loaches or Pea Puffers, you can find several predators that can get rid of snails for you. That said, you must make sure they are compatible with the other fish in your tank.

It’s also important to make sure they will thrive under your tank’s conditions. Everything from pH level to tank volume affects how well a fish will adapt to your aquarium.

4. Trap Them

You can easily trap snails in your fish tank to humanely remove them. All you need is a small plastic container and some food, such as bread or carrots. Put some food in the plastic container and poke some holes in the lid.

Make sure the holes are big enough for snails to crawl inside. They won’t be able to get out if you poke the holes inward toward the bottom of the container from the top. Keep in mind that you must make sure the holes aren’t big enough for your fish to enter.

Leave the container for several hours, or even overnight, then take it out later. It should be full of snails, which you can now humanely dispose of. This will keep your fish happy and healthy.

5. Wash Your Plants

It’s all too easy to buy new plants for your aquarium and put them in your fish tank right away. Unfortunately, that’s how many people get snail infestations in their aquariums. You can largely avoid this if you wash your plants when you buy them.

Carefully rinse each part of the plant and inspect it for snail eggs. They are small and easy to miss, but the water should wash them away. This will also ensure the plants are clean, so they don’t contaminate your fish tank.

6. Use Lettuce

Snails love lettuce, and you can use that to your advantage to get them out of your fish tank. This may not work for everyone, but it’s a quick and simple way to remove many snails at once. Simply place a big piece of lettuce at the top of your fish tank and let it float.

Your fish may examine it at first, but they won’t bother with it for long. Eventually, snails will approach it and attach themselves to the lettuce. Wait until the lettuce gets covered with snails, then pull it out of the tank.

The lettuce will likely sink to the bottom of the tank, but it may float depending on the size. This lets you quickly and humanely remove many snails at once. Next, you can simply take the snails outside or quarantine them.

7. Scrub Your Tank

It’s hard to get rid of all the snails in your fish tank until you scrub it. There’s a good chance that there are still snail eggs somewhere in your tank even if the adult snails are gone. The only way to get rid of them all is to perform a water change and scrub your tank.

Most people change the water in their tanks at least twice a month. Ideally, you should replace 10%-25% of the water each time. You may have to change up to 50% of the water in extreme cases if the tank is filthy and imbalanced.

Carefully clean the tank as you change the water. It’s much easier to do it this way as the water level will be much lower. Scrub the plants, decorations, rocks, substrate, and glass to remove snail eggs. Not only will you get rid of eggs, but your fish tank will be much cleaner.

Summing It Up

Snails get into fish tanks via eggs that are embedded in plants and aquarium decorations. You can manually remove them or introduce predators like Pea Puffers that naturally eat snails. Otherwise, you can simply perform a water change and carefully scrub each surface in your tank to remove eggs.

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Nick Durante
Nick Durante

Nick Durante is a professional writer with a primary focus on home improvement. When he is not writing about home improvement or taking on projects around the house, he likes to read and create art. He is always looking towards the newest trends in home improvement.

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