How to limit the proliferation of aquarium snails?

Welcoming freshwater snails in your aquarium can be a choice: presenting a great visual variety, they are good algae eaters who can coexist with fish or shrimp. But they can also have arrived in your bin without you wanting to, without you knowing how. They can then become a real source of concern because their population is deemed to be difficult to control. Also, if you are looking for advice to limit their proliferation, reading this article will be very useful for you.

Know who you’re dealing with

Here are the most common types of snails.

The ampullary are large snails with colors ranging from yellow to red or brown. They eat the remains of food, some algae and the corpses of dead fish. Peaceful, they are eaten by carnivorous fish. These snails need good water quality. If so, they reproduce. Unlike most snails, ampullaria are not hermaphrodites. For there to be reproduction, there must therefore be a couple. They lay their eggs outside the water in small, easily spotted pink-yellow clusters. After hatching, they are easily eaten. These snails generally do not pose a problem with overpopulation.

The melanoids are snails that are easily recognized by their spiral conical shell. The size of these snails is smaller than that of the ampullaria: they are 1 to 2 cm in length. They are very useful in an aquarium because they dig the soil all day and dig tunnels, which aerates it, limits the build-up of organic waste and improves the insertion of plant nutrients. In addition, they feed on waste and algae, without touching plants.

The planorbs are snails with a round, flat shell, brown, orange or black in color. They often arrive in the aquarium uninvited, through the plants. Despite careful rinsing, the eggs remain attached to the plant. These snails feed on waste and leftover food. It is the amount of food that promotes their reproduction: the more they have to eat, the more clusters of eggs they lay. If they reproduce too much, they become harmful.

The Lymns are small snails with a shell, the shape of which is reminiscent of a drop of water. They are often used to limit the proliferation of algae. Smaller individuals do, but larger ones can cause problems in an aquarium because they attack plants, without eating a lot of waste.

The physes have a brown, pointed shell. These are snails that eat algae or plants in poor condition. When they appear, they multiply until the population regulates itself, especially in the presence of fish. However, sometimes they become too numerous. In particular, aquarists may complain about the excessive presence of their droppings.

The behavior of snails in aquariums

In general, all snails are useful and participate in the balance of aquariums because they feed on waste, algae, fish corpses and aerate the soil. Like any form of life, a snail adapts to its environment. Some populations, like that of melanoids, self-regulate when there is no longer enough food. They are ultimately good indicators of the health of your aquarium.

The sudden disappearance of a colony of snails is a sign of a serious and sudden imbalance in the environment. Their migration to the surface can signal a lack of oxygen. The proliferation of snails is therefore also the sign of an imbalance in the environment with two main orientations:

  • poor aquarium maintenance,
  • overabundance of food and organic waste.
  • to siphon the ground with a vase or a small vacuum cleaner,
  • to remove dead plants, to cut diseased or damaged leaves from your plants.
  • remove the corpses of decaying animals as soon as you see them,
  • renew the water at the right frequency,
  • ensure the low level of nitrates and nitrites.

Overpopulation can also negatively impact your aquarium: as the waste is no longer sufficient, the snails feed on plants.

The reflexes to adopt to avoid the proliferation of snails

The basis of the aquarium hobby is to maintain its aquarium well to ensure constant balance. This consists in particular each week:

You must also:

To limit the proliferation of snails, the main lever is that of the food. The quantity of food is the first parameter to be controlled in aquarium keeping: the greatest source of imbalance is often the overabundance of food because it has multiple harmful consequences. When you give your fish too much to eat, too much food goes uneaten, resulting in water pollution. And when it comes to snails, this is the main cause of their proliferation, especially in planorbes. When distributing food, it must be completely consumed within 3-4 minutes. If it is more, it is because the quantities distributed are too large.

To avoid introducing new snails or eggs into the aquarium, the careful cleaning of plants is a minimum. But this is not always enough because the eggs are not always visible and their grip on plants is very strong. Disinfection, although more effective, poses the problem of potential weakening of plants. If you want to adopt this method, get potassium permanganate from a pharmacy, make a solution of one gram per liter of water. Take 5 ml of this solution and dilute it further in ten liters of clean water. You can then place the new plants there for half an hour. When removing them, rinse them thoroughly under running water before placing them in the aquarium.

Methods to decrease the snail population

Snail trapping is the most effective solution fast to limit their excess. There are commercial solutions, but they don’t always work. In general, the use of chemicals brings more problems than solutions because their introduction into the tank very often creates imbalances. In addition, the method is not suitable if you have small groundfish such as corydoras or ancistrus.
The easiest way is to choose a small piece of plant from your own pantry (cucumber slice, salad, etc.) that you pocket before putting it into the aquarium. After a while, the snails gathered on the bait. All you have to do is remove the group with a dip net.

Some aquarists testify to the introduction of fish identified as good snail eaters. This is the case with botias or tetraodons. However, you have to be an informed aquarist to turn to this type of method. Indeed, we must be sure that the introduction of such fish is compatible with the medium you have already created. Are the pH and hardness of the water in your tank suitable for the needs of these fish? Can your baccalaureate still welcome new individuals? Are they compatible with the fish already present? Botias received in poor conditions for them can become aggressive and develop diseases.

If you ever ticked all the boxes, know that there is no half measure: these fish will eliminate until the last one snails in the aquarium. Is this really what you want, considering the fact that the presence of snails in an aquarium is not without its advantages, as we have seen above?

The aquarium hobby is a art of balance. Rigorous and regular maintenance is certainly the best way to maintain this balance. The fact of asking questions before acting, to define precisely what are the objectives that you want to achieve with your aquarium are good reflexes to adopt.