Will Snails Eat Algae? {Which Is The Best Algae Eating Snail?}

Do you want to find the best algae eaters for your aquarium? Will snails make the list and which types are the best to stock for algae cleaning purposes? In this article, we’ll discuss the topic of snails eating algae.

Will Snails Eat Algae? Yes. Most types of snails eat algae along with decaying plant matter, organic debris, diatoms and detritus. They will not eliminate algae altogether, but will do their part to keep it under control. 

Will Snails Control Algae?

Algae can quickly become a problem in your tank. Once you offer enough light and nutrients, your tank could get infested with algae blooms. There are many underlying issues that cause algae to get out of control.

Your snails alone will not be able to eradicate all the algae in your tank. Most aquatic snails maintain algae levels with the amount they consume, but too much algae will also cause your snail population to multiply.

Overcrowded tanks, too much debris, decaying plant matter and warmer temperatures will create algae issues that your snails may not be able to handle alone. More algae cleaners or an all out tank bleaching might be necessary if your algae has gotten out of hand.

Do Freshwater Snails Eat Hair Algae?

The stringy gunky and hairy forms of algae are unsightly and grow very quickly. Hair algae traps some of your  aquatic life and prevents sunlight from reaching your other plants.

Most algae eaters do not tend to get after hair algae. Thankfully, you can choose to stock common Nerite snails to attack this problem. They are known to help by eating hair algae in your tank.

How Do I Use Snails To Control Algae?

Snails are a simple method of keeping algae growth from getting out of hand. They are not the solution to your algae problem, but will act to remedy and treat algae overgrowth in your tank, the substrate and the tank’s glass.

Certain snails are better at eating algae than others. It’s best to do your research on picking the right snails for your tank to help keep algae growth low and acceptable.

Which Snails Are The Best Algae Eaters?

There are thousands of varieties of snails in the wild. Aquatic snails that are commonly kept as pets in aquariums may also serve the function of helping to deal with your algae problem. The following four algae eating snails are our favorites:

  1. Nerite snails
  2. Ramshorn snails 
  3. Mystery snails
  4. Pond snails

1. Nerite Snails

The Nerite snail seems to have the largest appetite from all other snails to focus mostly on algae. They munch, rasp and devour algae growth all over the tank without discrimination. While other algae eaters leave hair algae alone, the Nerite snail will attack it ferociously.

Green spot algae and green beard algae also stands no chance against the mighty Nerite snail. We give the top prize to this particular snail above all others and recommend that you stock your tank with 2 or more of them to help with your algae concerns.

2. Ramshorn Snails

We like Ramshorn snails because they tend to leave your other plants alone and direct their attention on algae only. Do not expect them to eliminate the algae as their appetite is lower than the Nerite snail.

Nerite snails will definitely help to cut back on algae overgrowth. Algae grows on your plant’s leaves as well and Ramshorn snails are great at removing this as well.

YouTube video

3. Mystery Snails

Mystery snails are very popular for their attractiveness and peaceful nature. Many tanks include these snails who are there to keep algae at bay. They like to graze mostly at the substrate, but will also try to clear glass walls as well.

4. Pond Snails

Pond snails make the list because they are excellent algae eaters. There are two problems with pond snails that we must mention:

  • They eat aquatic plants
  • They multiply rapidly

Pond snails will dirty up your tank water with their bioload getting out of hand when they multiply. Your floating or rooted plants are not safe from pond snails, but it’s a small price to pay when you watch and appreciate how well they scrape off the algae from most surfaces.

How Do Snails Eat Algae?

Snails are not the best algae eaters in our opinion. They are great at it, but larger aquatic fish like various catfish (plecos, otocinclus) and Siamese algae eaters will clear more areas of algae faster.

Snails use their rasping tongue to munch tracks of algae off surfaces like a slow moving locomotive. Make sure that the water hardness and pH balance doesn’t get to soft or acidic. A lethargic snail will stop eating algae and its shell may deteriorate.

Do Snails Clean Tank Glass?

Yes. Aquatic snails feast off the leftover debris in the substrate, but they are also efficient at cleaning the tank glass. They can stick to the walls of your tank and create zipper-like trails with their tongue as they graze and move along the walls.

Plants, rocks, decorations and driftwood can all be grazed on by most snails. They will keep your tank cleaner than it was without them.

Be careful with their ability to lay many eggs and reproduce rapidly in some cases. You may have a nuisance that gets out of hand if you keep too many snails that contribute to your tank’s bioload.

What Are The Best Algae-Eaters?

We continue to add a small amount of snails into freshwater tanks for their ability to eat detritus and help to keep algae levels low.

We find that although they belong on the list below, there is more aquatic life ranking higher above them in their capability to consume a higher volume of algae in your tank.

Our top 7 algae eaters are listed here:

  1. Bristlenose Plecos
  2. Siamese Algae Eater
  3. Chinese Algae Eater
  4. Otocinclus Catfish
  5. Twig Catfish
  6. Nerite Snail
  7. Cherry Shrimp
  8. Amano Shrimp

We left many types of snails off the list because they tend to eat your plants as well. The Nerite snail is our favorite algae eating snail because of how it focuses mostly on grazing algae all day long.


Snails are a great addition to a community tank. They are peaceful and reside in areas where they are capable of cleaning hard to remove bits of algae that grow on many surfaces including the leaves of your plants, tank walls and decorations.

Nerite snails top our list of the best algae eating snails, but we also love to keep algae eating fish to do the heavy lifting with the amount of algae they can consume due their larger size and bigger appetites.


Thanks for visiting HelpUsFish.com and we hope to see you again for another article on Snails or any other aquatic life that interests you. 

Brian Arial

Brian Arial has kept fish for leisure and worked with fish stores for most of his life. He enjoys writing and caring for aquariums and ponds.

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