Do Snails Eat Fish? [Complete Answer]

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People that are new to the aquarium trade may not always know what organisms are safe to put together in their aquarium and which aren’t. They may be wanting to get some snails to help clean up their tank, but aren’t sure if it’s safe.

So, do snails eat fish?

What Are Aquarium Snails?

Aquarium snails are any kind of snail that can be kept in an aquarium setting, whether that be freshwater, saltwater or brackish. Most people purchase these snails not only for their appealing looks, but also because they help with the upkeep of the tank.

Some of the most popular freshwater snails are apple, mystery, and nerite snails which all help with algae and detritus. Assassin snails are also popular with eliminating pest snails in your tank.

Some of the most popular saltwater snails are turbo snails who eat algae, nassarius snails that eat detritus, and bumble bee snails that eat parasites.

how do mystery snails mate

Snails And Fish – When Can Problems Happen?

Generally, keeping snails and fish together isn’t going to be a problem. Most snails are peaceful where fish are concerned.

However, snails can potentially create another problem:

  • Raising the bioload
    • The more snails you have, whether they are pets or pests, the more they are going to raise the bioload of your tank. So the more snails you have in your tank, the less fish you can keep.
  • Eating sick fish
    • Snails rarely go after fish that are healthy, but they will feed on their dead bodies. This also means that, if your fish is sick or weak and is laying at the bottom of the tank, the snail will try to eat it alive.
  • Disease
    • Snails have the potential to carry disease that can harm or kill your fish.

Do Snails Eat Fish?

We’ve established that snails can cause some problems for your aquarium fish, but are they dangerous in other ways? Can snails eat fish?

Snails really aren’t going to eat fish. The snails that we keep in our aquariums are generally quite peaceful. They’re also quite slow, so you won’t have a problem unless your fish is sick and dying.

Even in the wild, snails are not likely to eat fish. Most are scavengers, and some are even carnivorous, but they won’t go after fish. Instead, they’re likely to eat other snails and invertebrates.

snails and fish

Do Fish Eat Snails?

Fish are much more likely to eat your snails than the other way around, but most tropical freshwater and saltwater fish are safe. So what fish will eat snails?

There are quite a few fish that will eat snails. The fish you want to stay away from are bettas, gouramis, pufferfish, and certain loaches. Many people buy loaches and pufferfish specifically to eat nuisance snails.

Here are the fish most likely to kill nuisance snails and pet snails:

Freshwater and/or Brackish

  • Yoyo Loach
    • Peaceful bottom dwellers that like to snack on snails.
  • Clown Loach
    • Large and colorful burrowers.
  • Dwarf Chain Loach
    • Schooling bottom dweller.
  • Zebra Loach
    • Aggressive bottom dwellers who prefer solitude.
  • Striped Raphael Catfish
    • Bottom dwellers that enjoy any kind of invertebrate.
  • Gourami
    • Peaceful community fish that will rip snails from their shells.
  • Cory Catfish
    • Bottom dwellers that feast on small pest snails and snail eggs. These are safe to keep with larger snails.
  • Bala Shark
    • Large fish that will eat anything smaller than itself.
  • Goldfish
    • Although they tend to avoid larger snails, they will try to eat anything they can fit in their mouth.
  • Green Spotted Puffer
    • Aggressive fish who need to eat snail shells to wear down their sharp teeth.
  • Betta Fish
    • Aggressive fish that may harass larger snails and eat small ones.

Saltwater

  • Puffer Fish
    • Armed with strong beaks to crush snail shells.
  • Blennies
    • Popular algae-eaters, they will also eat smaller snail species.
  • Wrasses
    • Temperamental and often confrontational with other fish. Will eat snails and any other invertebrates kept in the tank.
  • Triggerfish
    • Highly aggressive fish that will eat snails and any other invertebrates. They are built with specialized jaws that are made for crushing the hard shells of invertebrates.

Do Betta Fish Eat Snails?

Snails and betta fish together are not usually a problem. Betta fish are notorious for trying to eat anything that catches their eye, and this goes for snails too. It can be a particular problem if your betta has a more aggressive temperament.

Generally, snails that are too big for your betta to eat will be safe. This includes apple, mystery, nerite, and assassin snails. However, just because your bettas can’t eat your snails doesn’t mean they won’t harass them.

Bettas have been known to pick at larger snails to the point that they will die of stress. They may become too afraid to come out of their shells and will pass away. Other times, bettas will rip the tentacles off the snails.

With that said, many bettas do not mind larger snails at all. Many aquarists have added snails to their betta tanks without any problems. It all depends on how aggressive your particular fish is and if they are willing to tolerate the new addition.

The fact that they like to eat snails can be quite helpful when it comes to pest snails, though. If you have any bladder snails or trumpet snails that may have hitchhiked on some plants into your aquarium, your betta may very well take care of the problem.

Breeding Snails For Fish Food

Many fish like loaches and puffer fish love to eat pest snails and need it in their diet. Most fish stores will sell or give away the pest snails in their tanks, but it can be time consuming to wait around while they pick them out.

Many owners of these fish find that it is better to breed their own snails to feed their fish. Fortunately, it is cheap and easy to start, and snails breed like wildfire, so you’ll always have a good supply.

Needed Supplies

To keep your snails happy and healthy before feeding time, it’s recommended that you set up a proper aquarium for them. This includes getting them a heater and some java moss to crawl around on. A filter is also a good idea, but make sure it has a sponge covering the intake valve.

You only need a few snails to start and you can pick between pond snails, bladder snails, trumpet snails, or ramshorn snails.

Keep in mind that trumpet snail shells can break the teeth of puffer fish, so they don’t make good feeder snails for puffer fish.

How to Breed Snails

After the aquarium is all set up, you can place your snails inside. Make sure that they stay well fed by giving them foods like lettuce, cucumber, and zucchini. To read more about what most aquarium snails like to eat, check out our full guide.

That’s basically all you need to do, and the snails will take it from there. If they are happy and begin breeding, you will start to see little white balls of eggs around the aquarium.

Be cautious to maintain a good number of snails in your aquarium. Don’t feed too many to your fish before they are able to replace their numbers.

How To Stop Snails Eating Fish

The only time you will really have an issue with snails eating your fish is if they are dead or dying.

If you don’t want them consuming the dead bodies of your fish, you will just have to do your best to pull the bodies out before the snails get to them.

If you have a sick fish that your snail is bothering, the best thing you can do is remove the fish from the tank and quarantine it for treatment.

Conclusion

If you were worried about your aquarium snails eating your fish, we hope this article eased your mind. Unless your fish are dead or dying, you won’t have a problem with snails eating them.

Certain fish will eat snails, however, so keep that in mind when choosing new organisms to add to your tank. Whether you want to eliminate pest snails or want to add a pet snail to your tank, there are safe fish options to choose.

Want to know if snails eat grass? Find our full guide here. You can also find our guides to what mystery snails eat here and what zebra snails eat here. All our snail guides can be found here.

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Jason Williamson

By Jason Williamson

Jason is a huge animal lover with many pets of his own. He loves sharing all his knowledge of all creatures here and learning more whenever he can.