Do Yoyo Loach Eat Snails?

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Snails are the bane of every aquarist’s existence. These pests are a nuisance because they breed like rabbits, destroy aquarium plants, and burden the biological filtration in the tank. The worst part is that you’ll get them when you least expect it.

So far, all the plants, rocks, and driftwood you got in your tank might have been free of hitchhikers. But it only takes one contaminated plant to get your aquarium overrun by snails. Luckily, there’s an easy way to get rid of them— the Yoyo loach!

Yoyo loaches are excellent cleaning fish that take care of all unwanted pests, detritus, and leftovers in the aquarium. Furthermore, Yoyo loaches are friendly and compatible with most freshwater fish, which makes them a great addition to community tanks.

Not all fish partake in the delicacy of snails, but loaches are among the best-known snail eaters in the aquarium hobby. There are a few things that make them excellent for pest control. First of all, loaches are bottom-dwellers. They spend most of their time where the snails are most likely to be. As scavengers, loaches dig through the substrate, finding hidden snails or eggs that other fish will miss.

Secondly, loaches have a unique eating style that makes them suited for eating snails. Yoyo loaches don’t bite into food, but they have a pair of large, powerful teeth in their throats. These teeth allow loaches to grab onto, pull, and eat snails whole straight out of the shell.

Finally, loaches have big appetites and aren’t picky eaters. They won’t hold back from an all-snail buffet! Are you intrigued yet? Keep reading to learn more about yoyo loaches and their snail-eating habits!

Will Yoyo Loaches Eat Snail Shells?

Yoyo Loaches don’t typically eat snail shells. The shells are made of calcium carbonate, which is hard to digest for most fish. Loaches are also quite small, measuring up to 2.5 inches when fully grown. They can’t suck up the shells of large snails and have no teeth in their mouths to bite into the shells.

Loaches will only eat the soft bits by sucking the snail out of its home. They’ll leave the carapaces behind, so you’ll have to remove these yourself. Sometimes, Yoyo loaches will crush the shell of larger snails for easier feeding. They might suck up small snails entirely, but they’ll usually spit the broken shell out while chewing.

What Snails Will Yoyo Loaches Eat?

Yoyo loaches are known snail-eaters. Most knowledgeable aquarists will tell you the same thing— keep loaches away from pet snails. Regardless of the snail size or species, Yoyo loaches will likely attempt (and eventually succeed) in eating it.

Don’t expect loaches to be selective about which snails they attack. They will eat the pests, ridding your aquarium of pond snails, apple snails, bladder snails, ramshorns, and Malaysian trumpet snails. But they’ll also go after your beloved Nerite, Rabbit, and Mystery snails. Virtually no snail is safe around this bottom-feeding fish.

The Yoyo loach will go after the small snails first, as these are easier to suck from the shell. But once the pest population dwindles, the larger snails start looking more delicious. If you plan to use Yoyo loaches for pest control, I recommend moving your pet snails to a different tank first.

How Many Snails do Yoyo Loaches Eat a Day?

Yoyo loaches love eating snails. But not all loaches are good hunters. The number of snails they eat per day can vary depending on the Yoyo’s size, the snail’s size, and how skilled your fish is in catching its prey. Typically, a yoyo loach will eat 1-2 large snails at a time before feeling full. If the snails are tiny (under 1 inch), a loach might eat 3-5 of these.

If the loaches eat twice a day, each fish will get rid of 4-10 snails daily. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but it adds up if you keep 6-8 fish together (as you should). A small school of loaches will help you exterminate 20-80 snails in a day! Now that’s impressive! You could eliminate a snail infestation in just a couple of weeks.

Do Yoyo Loaches Eat Snail Eggs?

Yoyo loaches are scavengers. They spend most of their time swimming about in search of morsels of food. And they eat virtually anything edible, from algae to leftovers from fish and, yes, even snail eggs. Your Yoyos might eat snail eggs more readily than the snails themselves, as the eggs are defenseless and easy to consume.

The best part? Nothing escapes these cleaner fish. Yoyo loaches burrow through the substrate, finding even the best-hidden snails and eggs in the tank. Accidentally brought snail eggs into the tank when adding new plants? The loaches won’t miss them! Pest snails in the tank already laid hundreds of eggs everywhere? Yoyos to the rescue!

Will Yoyo Loaches Eat Dead Snails?

Yoyo loaches will eat virtually anything. This fish is a scavenger and loves meaty foods. Like other fish, Yoyos enjoy fresh things. But they aren’t very good hunters, so they’ll also eat decaying matter and dead animals to compensate. This includes dead snails, shrimp, and even small fish.

If you have dead snails in the aquarium, there’s a high chance the loaches will clean up for you. However, it might not be a good idea. If you don’t know why the snails died, you shouldn’t let your loaches consume them. Some snails can carry parasites and other infections.

If you grow your own feeder snails in a separate tank, you can feed your yoyos something freshly killed. Sometimes, Yoyo loaches will pester larger snails so much that the snails starve to death while hiding in the shells. These snails are also safe for the loach to eat.

Will Yoyo Loach Eat Large Snails?

Yoyo loaches will at least attempt to eat any species of snail, especially when hungry. Large snails are no exception. Yoyos are indeed small. They’ll have a hard time sucking large snails from their shells. But where there’s a will, there’s a way! Here are just some of the large snails to keep away from loaches:

– Nerite Snails

Nerite snails are a diverse group encompassing multiple species— and none of them stands a chance against resourceful loaches. Zebra, Tiger, and Horned Nerite snails are all 1-1.5 inches large. Their unique shell shape gives them an advantage because they can hold on tight to their carapace.

However, the size difference plays out in the Yoyo’s favor. With a bit of struggle, a hungry adult Yoyo loach will eventually overpower the snail. Loaches are also known to crack open the shell of young Nerite snails for easier feeding.

– Apple Snails

Apple snails are marginally larger than adult loaches. A fully-grown apple snail will measure 2-3 inches. But that’s about everything this poor snail has going for it. Apple snails are very similar to Mystery snails, a popular staple in the Yoyo’s natural diet. They’re slow, peaceful, and defenseless.

The round, narrow carapace gives this snail a pretty weak grip. Apple snails are also vulnerable to loach attacks because of their long antennae. Even if the snail is large, loaches can easily nibble on their antennae and flesh. Sometimes, the fish can rip off chunks of the snail’s body until the snail succumbs to its injuries.

– Rabbit Snails

Rabbit snails measure 2-4 inches and have thin, elongated shells. These snails will pose a challenge for loaches due to their size and shape. But like most snails, this species is peaceful and defenseless. Even if loaches can’t swallow these snails whole, they will still manage to kill and consume them.

This might mean attacking the snail and tearing its body bit by bit apart. As you can imagine, this is a painful experience for the snail. Bullied snails will retreat to their shell to avoid injuries. Loaches might keep bumping and flipping the snail until it surrenders. It’s not uncommon for snails to stay hidden until they starve to death.

Will Yoyo Loaches Get Rid of All Snails from Your Tank?

Yoyo loaches will eat any type of snail as well as snail eggs. If you got an infestation, this bottom-feeding fish can help you eliminate the pests effortlessly. Of course, it might take a while, depending on how bad the infestation is and how many yoyos you have in the tank.

Also, remember that Yoyo loaches won’t go after snails when other foods are available. Avoid overfeeding the fish to increase their appetite for snails. If you have large pet snails in the aquarium, remove them before adding yoyo loaches. Once the pests are gone, loaches will turn to larger snails in the aquarium.


If you got a snail infestation, a small school of Yoyo loaches will solve the problem for you. After all, loaches are some of the best snail-eating fish. As bottom-feeder and scavengers, they will find even the best-hidden snails lurking in the substrate. And thanks to their big appetites, Yoyo loaches can consume 4-10 snails each per day.

However, keep in mind that loaches aren’t selective. Loaches will attack any snail species, not just the small ones. Loaches are known to bully and injure larger snails, and they can even crack the shells of young snails. If you keep pet snails in the community tank, moving them to a different aquarium when adding Yoyo loaches is best.

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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