How to Get Rid of Aquarium Snails?

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Everyone who has an aquarium faces the problem of having an overpopulation of snails in their tank. It is best to do it quickly before they spread and they become hard to control.

How do they get into your tank and spread? They can get into your tank on plants; the snails can be grown snails or in the shape of snail eggs. They can also come into your aquarium with the fish that are put into it, as they have been caught in the net when the fish were caught.

One snail is enough to grow a large population, as they spread very quickly and it is very hard to spot them before they do.

Snails can spread from a lone snail, as they don’t need a mate to reproduce; the snail produces its own eggs. After some time, the snails are born and so you have the problem of having too many snails in your tank.

If you have gravel on the bottom of the tank, that is where the snails might be hiding and they only come out at night for food, so you will have to clean that too. I advise you to clean your aquarium and the gravel on a regular basis to prevent snails from spreading.

In this article, let us take a look how to get rid of the snails in the aquarium. There are more options I can provide to do that, so let’s get started.

Use Chemicals to Kill Snails

The best and quickest option I can advise to you is to use chemicals that kill snails. The best chemical you can use is copper sulfate. This chemical kills snails in your tank efficiently and quickly.

But you will have to read the instructions provided on the product; I do not advise you to put too much of the chemical at once, because it can harm other habitants in your tank, such as shrimp and plants. But for fish it tends to be safe in moderate quantities.

What is a downside for this method is that you will have to pick up the dead bodies of the snails once they die, and there is going to be many carcasses after you use copper sulfate. Other than this, this option is the quickest and most radical.

Add Fish that Eat Snails

Another very efficient option you can use is to place predator fish into the aquarium water. These fish will eat the snails in your tank. The fish you want to add to your tank to eat your snails depends on the size of the aquarium you have.

If you have a small tank, I advise you to buy green spotted puffers, dwarf chain loaches or zebra. These fish are small, but they are very efficient, as they will crack through the shell of snails and eat them. You want to be careful not to put too many of these fish into your tank if you have shrimps, as the predator fish will turn of them once the snails are gone.

Those fish are also good for larger tanks, but there are some larger fish that are not suitable for a small tank. These fish include clown loach and pictus catfish.

Use Assassin Snails

The most ecological option is to use assassin snails. Predator snails (Antentome helena) will eat most of, if not all of your tank snails. They are a popular option as they are easy to buy, quite pleasant to look at and also very effective. Once they eliminate all other snails in your tank, they will start eating like all other snails, so that is not a problem.

They are slow and they tend to spend their day in the substrate. They feed at night. If you want, you can have your own separate population of assassin snails in a separate aquarium, so you can add them if your snails die, and it also helps you to control their population.

Build a Snail Trap

This is one thing you can do yourself. But if you are not that type of person, you can always buy snail traps in pet stores or online.

You can build a very simple trap yourself, though. Simply place a large piece of lettuce into the tank and leave it overnight. In the morning you will find a large number of snails on the lettuce piece, and you can get rid of them instantly. For best results, you should do this a few nights in a row.

The other option is to buy the traps. These traps emit a special smell which attracts the snails; these then get trapped into the trap. This option sounds good, but the thing with traps is that you will have to stay consistent and place the traps on several nights in a row to see the best results.

This option is perhaps the most natural, but if you need to eliminate a large amount of snails in a short amount of time, then it is perhaps best to consider other options. Using snail traps is your best bet for cleaning the tank consistently and also for controlling the snail population in your aquarium.

Prevention is Key

The best way to avoid getting an uncontrolled population of snails in your tank is to prevent them from spreading in the first place. Here I will provide the best tips for you to prevent the snails from spreading and keep control of the snail population.

The best tip I can give you is to inspect every item you buy before you put it into your tank thoroughly. This is a way for snail eggs to get into your tank without even knowing it. Snail eggs can be found on aquarium equipment that you buy, such as plants, decoration and gravel which is transported from another aquarium.

Also when you buy fish, the eggs can come with the fish themselves, as eggs get caught on nets with the fish or in the fish bag itself. So it is best for you to inspect and clean every item you buy thoroughly. When you buy plants, it might be a good idea to put them in a quarantine for some time.

You can do this by putting the plants into a bleach solution or dechlorinated water for a day, rinse them and then put them into an empty tank (filled with water of course) for a week or so. This will prevent any eggs or other unwanted things from entering your tank.

Another way to prevent snails from spreading quickly is to limit their nutrients. Prevent from overfeeding them. Also, keep the tank and water clean at all times.

Benefits of Aquarium Snails

Even if you don’t manage to get rid of all the snails in your fish tank, it can be beneficial to keep some snails. They have some advantages, if you can keep their population within small quantities.

Firstly, snails are good natural cleaners of your tank; they feed from feed leftovers buried in the substrate, they feed on dead fish (if you have them), fish excrements, they also feed on slime on the water and the rotten parts of plants, they also clean tank walls by eating fur on it.

Another way how snails in your tank can actually be your friends is that they are natural indicators of water quality. How they behave is an important indicator that can show you if your water is clean. If you do not have many snails, your water is probably not very clean.

A minor factor (or for some, a big factor) of having snails is that they are pleasing to look at and they can liven up the habitation in your tank and make it more pleasing to look at. This is only an aesthetic factor though, and it can be more important for some than for other.


Having too many snails in your tank can be a problem for you. However, there are many options that you can consider to limit the amount of snails in your tank.

The most radical and quickest way is to use chemicals to eradicate the snails. This will get rid of most of the snails, but you might want to be careful with how much of the chemicals you put into your aquarium to not hurt the fish.

You can also consider buying predator fish that will eat your snails; this will depend on the size of your aquarium. Another way to kill the snails is to use assassin snails that will eat other snails. If you are a DIY type of person that you can create snail traps, too.

The best advice I can give you is to use a combination of all the options I mentioned above. If one doesn’t work, try another and see for yourself. I also cannot stress enough how important is that you prevent from snails coming into your tank by cleaning and putting the plants into quarantine before you put them into your tank.

If you can control the number of snails in your tank, they can go from being your enemy to being your friends.

Author Image Fabian
I’m Fabian, aquarium fish breeder and founder of this website. I’ve been keeping fish, since I was a kid. On this blog, I share a lot of information about the aquarium hobby and various fish species that I like. Please leave a comment if you have any question.
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