Pond snails, Ram Horn snails, and Trumpet snails can be a big menace for fish tanks or aquarium owners because they reproduce rapidly and quickly overrun a fish tank. However, not all snails are a menace. The Mystery snail and Nerite snail are available fish stores are a welcome addition to a fish tank because they do not multiply rapidly.
Once the aquarium becomes infested with fast multiplying snails, it is difficult to eradicate them. However, here are some things one can do to keep them down.
How did snails end up in the aquarium?
Upon setting up, there was no sign of snails in your aquarium. Snails usually find their way into the tank via the aquarium plants, as eggs on the plant or grown snails. At times they are ferried to the aquarium through the transport bag, that was used to carry fish after being caught at the store.
It takes some eggs or a stray snail and your aquarium is teeming with snails.
Why are they so many?
Snails multiply in no time because most snail species don’t need a mate for reproduction. Each snail fertilizes its eggs, and a weeks later it has several off-springs.
Snails spend most of the time under the substrate, and therefore if you see one during the day, you might be under the false impression that they aren’t many. At night they come out to look for food, and that one snail might be an indication of dozens if not more hiding in the gravel with each of them self-fertilizes, and in no time their numbers mushroom out of control.
Do you need to control them?
Aquarium snails may not cause any immediate detrimental harm to your freshwater fish tank, but if their numbers increase, unchecked they could start being a nuisance.
They naturally feed on decaying vegetation and other forms of detritus and to an extent, they are beneficial for your tank.
Many aquarium owners purchase snails like apple snails, Nerite snail, and Trumpet snail which, aid in controlling the organic waste build-up in their tanks. Once they are done consuming existing algae growth and build-up detritus, they may begin consuming your aquarium live plants.
The aquarium snails can also be a nuisance in the sense that, after investing your money and time to set up a healthy freshwater aquarium, the last thing you need to see is dozens of snails taking over your tank walls and creeping all over creating an eyesore. They end up covering your tank decorations and creep into filter intake tubes, which could prevent the filter from functioning properly.
You can still win the battle against snails though their secret weapon is reproducing rapidly and unabated mostly.
Methods to eradicate snails
Use a lettuce
Snails love lettuce leaves and can be tricked into coming out by placing a lettuce leaf to the aquarium glass before retiring for the night. By morning, the leaf will be teeming with snails feasting on it, and all you need to do is remove it out from the tank and properly dispose of it.
This method can only control their numbers down, but can’t eradicate them.
Introduce snail eating fish
Another method is to introduce snail-eating fish into the aquarium. Clown loach and Yo-Yo loach love snails and will go through the gravel in search of snails. Loaches will even explore the substrate in their snail hunt.
Labyrinth fish, like the Bettas and Gouramis, though not as dramatic as loaches, will eat snails, but will not go chasing them down into the gravel and substrate.
Another way of dealing with snail infestation in the aquarium, which is considered the most effective, safe, and affordable method is introducing Helena’s predatory snails into the aquarium.
They are carnivores and eat other types of snails. They can significantly reduce the number of aquarium snails and even exterminate them. They don’t reproduce as fast as the other snails and once they exterminate other snails, they revert to a normal snail diet.
Consider chemicals that kill snails
A chemical method is also an option. These are commercial concotions containing copper, which are introduced to aquariums to mitigate snails. Caution must be observed to use at the correct amount to avoid harming the fish. This method is not highly recommended.
Lastly, avoid having a lot of food leftovers for snails to feed on. Starving the snails will reduce their numbers drastically.
Snail eggs are tiny and hard to see, making it difficult to prevent them from finding their way into your tank.
Soak plant – It is advisable to soak all new live plants in a salt bath for 10 to 15 minutes before introducing them into the aquarium.
The short exposure to saltwater and proper rinsing afterward shouldn’t pose any risks to the plants and aquatic life in the tank.
Other methods of prevention are:-
Alum solution -Mix a gallon of water and two alum tablespoons. Soak live plants for up to three days, then rinse thoroughly before introducing them into the aquarium.
Potassium permanganate –Soak in a solution constituting one gallon of water and a half tablespoon of Potassium Permanganate for 15 minutes, and rinse well before planting in the tank.
Alternatively, look for guaranteed snail-free live plants online and at your local pet shop. They don’t come cheap and might cost up to three times more than regular live plants.
Bleach -Mix a solution of one gallon of water and one or two cups of bleach. Soak plants for only five to seven minutes, then remove from the solution and soak in normal water with the dechlorinating agent for another five minutes and rinse properly before introducing them into the aquarium.
Bleach may damage fragile plants but is highly effective way of killing snail eggs.
It is beneficial for an aquarium to host a small population of snails because they eat algae and food left over by the fish. It is when this small population of snails mushroom that things tend to spiral out of control.
Avoid a snail infestation in your tank or aquarium by soaking and rinsing your aquarium live plants before planting them into your tank.