Dealing with pest snails!

Essjay

Moderator
Staff member
Global Moderator ⚒️
Joined
Nov 28, 2006
Messages
18,325
Reaction score
15,127
Location
Teesside, UK
I remember going to one fish store looking for nerite snails and they had a tank of "algae eating snails". There was a really cool looking yellow and black striped snail so I bought it. After looking at it for a few hours, I decided no way was it a nerite or any other snail I'd ever seen so I googled it. It was an assassin. I rang the shop and they'd never heard of them, the assassins had just come in with a batch of snails from the wholesaler who didn't know what they were either.
 

Lynnzer

Fish Addict
Joined
Sep 3, 2020
Messages
869
Reaction score
543
Location
sr8
I'll start off with the pest snails which many of you find hard to rid from your tank and go through the methods of removing them weighing up the pros and cons of each.

Chemical solution for killing snails:
Had-A-Snail is just one of the many chemical solutions - usually using copper and sulphate ions (incedently fact of the day human red blood cells contain haemoglobin (iron), snails have copper in place of iron and their blood is actually blue!). I'm not sure why the copper kills snails, but you'll have to take my word for it. The pros are that it is very fast however the cons are two fold:
1) You'll tend to have many little shells just left lying around in your tank (may/may not bother you).
2) The dead snails pollute the water TERRIBLY. People sometimes use a medications with copper in it and have found out that inadvertently their population of trumpet snails (or others) is wiped out, as they rot the ammonia and nitrite readings will shoot up and you have to be alert not to lose a few fish because of it. Obviously this will only happen if you have a VERY serious snail infestation.

Biological- snail solution:
A better solution that using chemicals is a solution involving other living organisms or in this case more fish! (Yes a great excuse!) However it is not always ideal. The most common fish suggested for snail munching is the clown loach which as you will see on the Clown Loach Profile grows up to 12" or 30cm. Obviously, this is not practical for many aquariums as they will soon outgrow the tank. Keeping them in a tank too small for them will limit their lifespan (they should live to about 15 years) and make them more susceptible to diseases. Other fish such as puffers are sometimes suggested to combat water snails, but these are generally not suited to a community aquarium as they use their beaks to rip tails and fins of other fish.

Manual- snail solution:
As you will see the other two solutions do not work for everyone and have problems for the bulk of wanabee snail haters. This is probably the most obvious and the most boring solution to the problem, results won't be instant but you have to assess the causes of the snails:
1) The snails are there - not because they eat fish mess (it has low energy value as well as probably not tasting nice :X ), they are there because there is excess food for them. Perhaps you are overfeeding your tank - cut back the feeding to every other day and reduce the amount you feed to your fish - they should be furious at the surface fighting for food everytime you feed them not lounging about in the middle of the tank and waiting for it to sink down to them and looking bloated. Cutting back feeding will also solve any algae problems you are likely to be suffering.
So the snail population will decrease over time - not because snails die off and pollute the tank, but because - well yes they will die over time but the fact is the food is no longer in great excess and so they don't rapidly multiply in a period of relative "snail boom".

To help them on their way you can manually remove them, there are many "methods" for making it easy to remove vast amounts of snails but unless you are SERIOUSLY overun with pest snails I have found them to vary in success never the less I will list them later. One solution is to pick the snails off in the tank - this is time consuming you drop them and they then lurk in the gravel, a modified solution to this is crushing them when they are in the tank instead of taking them out - i do not know a single fish which will not eat squashed snail! They make a sort of crunch - perhaps pest snail squashing isn't for everyone though :) .

The two main methods I hear as the "miracle cure" may work for you, but didn't for me.

1) Anchor a piece of lettuce under something, leave it overnight and when you turn on the lights the next morning it should be covered. Just pitch them in the trash. Simple and completelty safe.

The second method varies only in that it uses courgette /zucchini (I believe you Americans call it that?) inside a glass, and feeding the caught snails to a tank of puffers or clown loaches instead of throwing it into the trash.

Note, I'll update this as I have time and add to the sections in the order they are in the title. Feel free to add comments which I can include in the article as it will be pinned and people redirected to it for all common aquatic snail issues.
My LFS will sell me a small clown or Yoyo loach and then buy it back when it gets too big or swap for more young ones. Almost a sort of trade in scheme.
 

Essjay

Moderator
Staff member
Global Moderator ⚒️
Joined
Nov 28, 2006
Messages
18,325
Reaction score
15,127
Location
Teesside, UK
But very stressful for the fish. Being netted, put in a tank on it's own when it needs to be in a shoal, then netted again and put back in a tank with other members of the species and upsetting the pecking order. Then risking the same thing happening to it again.
This is not something I would advocate.
 

Most reactions

trending

Staff online

Top