If you have a snail problem in your aquarium you might be interested in adding fish that eat snails to help reduce the snail population in your fish tank. Luckily there are a few different types of fish that you can get that will help control a pest snail infestation.
In most cases, a snail-eating fish won’t totally eradicate all of the snails from your tank depending on their species. Some fish will voraciously go after snails, while others will only eat snails occasionally.
Assassin Snails (Buy Online) are usually a much better option than fish if you really want to kill off pest snails in your tank.
Tropical Fish That Eat Snails
You do need to keep a few things in mind before you consider using a fish to get rid of snails in a fish tank. Here are a few quick points to think about before you add a snail-eating fish to your fish tank.
Some fish that are known to eat snails might be too large to house in your fish tank. It might seem like a good idea to get one of these fish to handle your snail problem, but they can quickly outgrow your tank
Certain snail-eating fish also need to be kept in brackish water, which means they might not be compatible with the water parameters in your tank.
Some snail-eating fish might also not get along with the other fish in your tank, so you need to be sure that any snail-eating fish you get is compatible with the fish you already have in your tank.
Overall, you should be careful before adding any new fish to your aquarium. Especially if you’re just trying to solve a pest snail problem. It’s always a better idea to address the root cause of a snail infestation before you add a fish that eats snails to your tank.
Most snail infestations are usually due to overfeeding and a lack of tank maintenance. If you feed your fish more than they can eat that can lead to uneaten food building up on the bottom of the tank.
Leftover food is what usually drives a large snail infestation, and it’s quite easy to remedy by simply feeding your fish less often, and by using a gravel vacuum (Buy Online) to remove any uneaten food from your aquarium’s substrate.
List of Freshwater Fish That Eat Snails
List of Saltwater Fish That Eat Snails
In the following sections, you can read more about each one of the fish listed above. All of the fish below will eat snails, but they might not be suitable for your tank. Just make sure that before you buy any fish that you can provide them with a suitable environment and meet their dietary needs.
Freshwater Fish That Eat Snails
The Clown Loach (View Price) is one of the best freshwater fish that eat snails that you can add to your tank. However, these fish do grow to about a foot in length, and they need to be kept in schools of six or more, so they need to be kept in a large tank (100+ Gallons).
Clown Loaches are excellent scavengers and they will scour every surface looking for tasty morsels throughout your whole tank. You can be sure they will eat every snail they come across, and they will even pull double duty by consuming any uneaten food off the bottom of your tank.
The Yoyo Loach (View Price) is a great alternative to a Clown Loach if you have a smaller tank. They only grow to a maximum size of about six inches, so they will easily fit into most community aquariums. They also have the same voracious appetite for snails as a Clown Loach, so they will make short work of the snail problem in your tank.
You’ll want to keep Yoyo Loaches in a small school of six or more fish since they do better in groups, so it’s a good idea if you want to keep them that you have at least a 55-gallon tank.
You also want to make sure that you supplement their diet with sinking pellets that are made for bottom feeders since they spend most of their time scavenging for food on the substrate. Once your snail problem subsides you’ll also need to make sure they get a well-balanced diet since they’ll have less naturally occurring food to eat.
Green Spotted Puffer
The Green Spotted Puffer Fish (View Price) is one of the few pufferfish you can keep in a fresh/brackish water fish tank. These fish don’t get along with most other fish, so they usually can’t be kept in a community tank. And while they can live in “freshwater” when they are young, they will need to be kept in brackish water once they mature.
Pufferfish have strong bony plates in their mouths that have evolved to crush and grind down hard shells. Pufferfish actually need to constantly eat hard-shelled food to grind down this bony plate in their mouth. If they don’t keep this plate ground down it can overgrow their mouth and protrude from their face.
That means green spotted puffers will need to eat snails constantly. And if they do eradicate your snail problem you’ll need to keep buying snails or raising them to keep your puffer fish healthy.
Overall, Green Spotted Pufferfish is one of the best fish that eat snails, but their special care requirements limit their usefulness. That means they are a great fish to keep on their own merits. But they aren’t the best option to deal with a pest snail problem since they need to be kept in brackish water and they make poor community tank mates.
Goldfish (View Price) will eat snails if they can fit them in their mouth, but they aren’t the best fish to get if you have a snail problem in your tank. In most cases, only larger adult goldfish will even attempt to eat snails, and small goldfish won’t even bother with the snails in your tank.
Goldfish are also a cool water species so they won’t do well in the warmer waters of a tropical community tank. They also produce a lot of waste and they are very messy eaters, so they might actually increase the number of snails in your tank.
If you’re already keeping fish that don’t need a heater then a goldfish should do fine in your tank. As long as the water temperature in your tank stays below 74 degrees Fahrenheit, and you already have goldfish compatible tank mates
Do Gouramis Eat Snails?
Gouramis (View Price) usually won’t eat large adult snails, but they have been known to nibble on small snails that can fit in their mouths. They usually won’t have any impact on a snail infestation, and in most cases, they won’t even bother eating snails if they have something better to eat.
Keeping gouramis can also be a challenge since they can be mildly aggressive and they can stress and bully weaker fish. Male gouramis also don’t get along, so you can only keep one male gourami in a single fish tank.
Bala Sharks (Buy Online) are large predatory fish that will consume snails and almost anything else they can fit in their mouths. Even though they do eat snails they really aren’t the best choice for controlling a snail problem in your tank.
Bala Sharks get extremely big and they can grow to over 15-inches in length. That means they should only be kept in large aquariums (200 + Gallons) so they have plenty of room to swim. They also don’t get along with most other fish, and they will make a quick meal out of the smaller fish in your tank.
The Assassin Snail (View Price) might not be a fish, but it is one of the most efficient snail hunters you can add to your tank. Just as their name implies assassin snails have evolved to kill and eat snails. They also will consume uneaten food and other detritus, so they won’t starve if they kill all the other snails in your tank.
Assassin snails primarily hide in the substrate waiting for their prey. When another snail passes by they will latch on to them and eat them right in their shell. They are very fond of eating trumpet snails, and ramshorn snails and they will even eat snail eggs.
Assassin snails might have a harder time with large mature snails. The only time an assassin snail might take on a larger snail is if they are very hungry, or if they’ve run out of younger snails to eat.
Assassin snails also won’t attack other members of their own species, and they won’t eat assassin snail eggs. They sometimes will attack and eat shrimp fry and other small crustaceans, so you might not want to keep them in a shrimp breeding tank.
Saltwater Fish That Eat Snails
Saltwater Puffer Fish
The Porcupine Puffer (View Price) and the Dog Face Puffer (View Price) are some of the most efficient snail-eating fish that you can add to a saltwater tank. These fish love to eat any hard-shelled invertebrates including clams, snails, and sea urchins.
Pufferfish are not a reef safe fish, so you should only use them in a fish only tank. They also need to be kept in a relatively large tank, and they are messy eaters and they produce a lot of biological waste.
Most pufferfish will eradicate a snail problem very quickly, so you’ll need to supply them with clams or even get more snails to keep them well-fed and healthy. For this reason, they might not be the best choice for most people if they just want to control a pest snail problem in their saltwater tank.
Wrasses like the Six Lined Wrasse (View Price) love to eat small invertebrates. They are always on the lookout for snails and crustaceans to eat so you do need to be careful if you have any other invertebrates in your tank.
Wrasses can also be aggressive towards other fish, so you should always make sure that they are only kept with compatible tank mates. Luckily there is a wide range of different wrasse species available (Learn More) so it should be easy to find one that will work well in your tank.
Triggerfish like the Clown Trigger (View Price) will make short work of a snail problem in a saltwater tank. Triggerfish also have specialized jaws like pufferfish that allow them to easily crush hard-shelled invertebrates.
Triggerfish can be very aggressive though, and they do get quite big so it’s a good idea to keep them in a large aquarium with suitable tank mates. They also can be quite aggressive when they search for food so they aren’t always “reef safe”.
How To Get Rid of Snails in a Fish Tank
The following sections will help if you need a few more ideas on how to get rid of snails in a fish tank. Fish that eat snails might help with a snail infestation, but they usually won’t eat all of the snails in an aquarium.
In most cases, you’ll need to take a multi-pronged approach if you want to totally eradicate the snail population in your fish tank.
Chemicals That Kill Snails
Chemical products like Seachem Cupramine Copper (Buy Online) make it easy to take care of a snail infestation inside your fish tank. Copper is toxic to most invertebrates, and it will quickly kill off snails even if they are hiding in the substrate.
You won’t be able to use copper-containing products if you have other invertebrates in your aquarium like shrimp or clams. Copper can also cause problems for fish if you overdose your tank, so you’ll need to be sure that you follow the dosing instructions accurately.
Snail Traps (Buy Online) are another easy way to capture and remove pest snails from your fish tank. These traps come with bait that will lure a snail into the trap, and once they enter the trap they won’t be able to escape.
Snail traps can help reduce the population of snails in an aquarium, but they might not be as effective against snails that like to live in the substrate. However, traps can make up one part of a good snail control strategy along with gravel vacuuming and proper tank maintenance.
Vegetable Bait for Snails
Snails are naturally attracted to decaying vegetation, which means you can use this to your advantage and use vegetables as snail bait. All you’ll need to do is put a big leaf of lettuce or cabbage into your tank and wait until the snails take the bait. Then you can easily remove the snails that are feeding on the leaf by simply removing it from your tank.
Manual Removing of Snails
Large adult snails can easily be removed from the tank every time you do a water change. This can help reduce the snail population in a mildly infested tank. If you have a massive snail problem this usually won’t do much, but it’s worth the effort if you can’t use chemicals or add snail-eating fish to your tank.