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Everything You Need To Know About Freshwater Aquarium Snails

If you have ever considered keeping a freshwater aquarium, you may have thought about other species you could add to your aquatic habitat. Freshwater fish are fun – but they aren’t the only options! There are tons of other enjoyable creatures you can add to your aquatic environment.

Have you ever considered aquatic snails? Freshwater aquarium snails aren’t just cool to watch, but they also perform a valuable, beneficial role. They can eat old aquatic matter, like fish waste and algae, helping to keep your tank clean and tidy while also creating a unique focal point.

While many people think of snails as a secondary addition to the tank, they can be kept all by themselves- you can’t go wrong with a snail-only tank! In addition, they’re actually quite low-maintenance. They can offer a unique appearance to the rest of your tank without requiring you to commit to a lot of extra work.

These creatures live in ponds, rivers, swamps, and lakes in the wild – they keep to themselves, mostly unconcerned with what the fish and other creatures in your tank are doing. As a result, they are great tank companions for just about every other type of aquatic animals. They adapt easily to life in a freshwater tank.

Intrigued – but perhaps don’t know where to start? Don’t worry. Here’s everything you need to know about raising freshwater aquarium snails.


The 8 Best Types Of Freshwater Aquarium Snails To Raise

If you’re just getting started, you might be confused about the many different varieties of freshwater snails there are. The most common kinds of snails you will see are those that are found in turtle and fish tanks. They are classified under popular names, which we will discuss in detail below.

1 Nerite Snails

Nerite Snails
Photo by Michael Dahms

The nerite snail is one of the most popular freshwater snails you can raise. Beloved for their ability to gobble up tons of algae, these snails are among the most common and most popular aquarium snails. They are excellent at cleaning up tanks and are adorable to look at – they have dense, compact shells and can be found with a variety of colors and patterns.

There are four popular varieties of nerite snails sold in aquarium stores, although four is definitely not exclusive – there are many other kinds that you might find. Four popular varieties include zebra nerites, black racer nerites, tiger nerites, and horned nerites. Zebra nerites, as the name implies, have yellow and black stripes. Tiger nerites look a lot like zebra nerites, with striped shells, but they will have more jagged-looking stripes.

The next nerite you should be familiar with is the black racer nerite. This snail has a black shell, giving it a very luxurious appearance. The horned nerite, on the other hand, has a gorgeous yellow shell with dark black swirls. As the name suggests, this snail also has horns. You might also see Ruby, Marble, or Plain Nerites, too.

These snails are laid back and get along well with the other creatures in your tank. A low-key species, nerite snails are definitely not boring. They are active creatures that will spend most of their time exploring the aquarium as they look for fish waste and bits of algae.

If you are looking to keep snail populations low in your tank, nerites could be the way to go. These snails do not reproduce asexually, as do some other species of snails. They also will not reproduce unless they are in brackish water. While you don’t need a brackish environment in order to raise your nerite snails, you don’t have to worry about seeing offspring unless you have a brackish setup.

These snails are strong and relatively hardy. The only thing you need to be aware of is that these snails have a hard time turning themselves upright when they are flipped upside down. Therefore, you need to be careful about placing them in the tank. Make sure they aren’t on their backs and if you notice that one has become flipped, use your hand to gently nudge it back to an upright position.

You will need a tight-fitting lid to contain your nerite snails, as they have a tendency to want to hang out above the water line. These snails usually live around one or two years, growing to about an inch in size.

2 Trumpet Snails

Trumpet Snails
Photo by cin_kong

The Trumpet Snail is another popular freshwater snail species. A good choice for aquariums with an inundation of algae, these snails eat algae more quickly than any other type of snail. They like to spend their time buried in the substrate, and can help aerate the substrate to release deadly pockets of gas that can build up and harm your fish.

The only drawback of raising trumpet snails is that they reproduce rapidly. Therefore, it is easy for you to end up with a massive snail population without you necessarily being aware of it. These snails are asexual and can produce a live baby every month.

These snails, however, are lovely to look at. They have long, conical shells that can be solid or patterned. They only grow to about an inch long and live for a year on average.

3 Ramshorn Snails

Ramshorn Snails
Photo by Aquabonsai

The ramshorn snail is a good addition to a turtle or fish aquarium, as it will eat several types of algae as well as leftover food and fish waste. The snail produces small eggs that are often hidden around the tank. These eggs hatch easily on their own, so you may want to remove them if you find that the snails are overpopulating your tank.

Ramshorn snails are lovely to look at, available in blue, peach, or pale pink colors. These snails have compact shells that are curved like a nautilus. They are small, never reaching an inch in size, and only live for about one year.

4 Assassin Snails

Assassin Snails
Photo by Benny

The assassin snail is another popular freshwater aquarium snail. This creature does not do well with other types of snails, as it will eat them, it does not eat fish waste or algae and instead likes to go after other small snails! This is not necessarily a bad thing – in fact, many aquarium hobbyists introduce assassin snails to their tanks when they have an invasion of other undesired snail species.

These snails are unique in that they must mate to reproduce. This is a good thing if you want to control the numbers of assassin snails in your freshwater aquarium. In addition, these snails are quite beautiful to look at, possessing lovely elongated shells with brilliant swirls. These snails also live for about a year, and can grow as large as three inches long.

5 Rabbit Snails

Rabbit Snails
Photo by Todd Adamson

Another pretty aquarium snail, the rabbit snail is a peaceful snail that can be identified by its slender shell that has deep swirls. These snails will eat the plant matter and algae that builds up in your tank, but is also a good idea to supplement with fish flakes or algae wafers. This will ensure that your rabbit snail gets all the nutrients it needs.

Unlike other types of freshwater snails, ramshorn snails will not go after your plants. They will occasionally snack on Java Fern, however, so you may want to keep this one out of your aquarium. These snails prefer temperatures between 76 and 84 degrees Fahrenheit and can live up to three years in captivity. They only grow to about two inches long.

6 Mystery Snails

Mystery Snails
Photo by Elizabeth

Mystery snails are also popular additions to aquariums that need a bit of a clean up crew. These soils vary in terms of their markings and colors, but most are found in shades of gray, brown, and black. You can find them in patterned or solid shell shades, with bodies that can also run the full gamut of colors, including grey, black, green, blue, and yellow. Many have vibrant orange accents.

It’s not too difficult to keep the populations of your Mystery Snails in check. These snails give birth to live young, so they’ll have fewer offspring than snails who lay eggs. They also only reproduce once a year, so you can easily keep track of the snails in your tank. Mystery snails grow to about two inches long and live for around a year.

7 Gold Inca Snails

Photo by Nymawayca

The Gold Inca Snail is one of the most lovely and vibrant species of snail you can add to your aquarium. It has a bright yellow coloring and can easily get rid of all of your undesired algae. These plants will also eat aquatic plants, which is something to be aware of if you plan on keeping live plants in your tank. You may also need to supplement the diet of this snail with other foods, too, such as algae wafers or fish flakes.

Gold Inca Snails are curious species, and they’ll easily make their way out of the aquarium. Make sure you have a lid on your tank, and provide them with water temperatures of around 68 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit. These snails can live for about one year.

8 Ivory Snails

Ivory Snails
Photo by Kat

The last snail on our round-up of the best freshwater snails is the ivory snail – although this snail is certainly not least! Known for its milky white shell and gorgeous, striking body,t his snail stands out sharply against the muted blues and greens that will be in your typical aquarium setup.

Ivory snails are quite fun to watch – an active snail species, it has a lot of energy and will entertain you as it traverses the tank in search of entertainment and food. These snails are gentle and will not go after any of the tankmates.

These snails prefer lots of hiding spots but will also retract into their shells – they will float around the aquarium, which is super interesting to watch. Ivory snails eat tank debris like algae, fish waste, and leftover food. They can grow to about two inches long and live for about one year in captivity.

What You Need To Know About Raising Aquarium Snails

Just as you would with any other aquarium inhabitants, it’s important that you know what you are getting into when you adopt any kind of freshwater snail. These creatures have specific needs that you will need to meet. For example, snails can be impacted by the water chemistry in your tank. You need to keep track of the nitrite and ammonia in your tank to make sure your snails stay healthy.

Watch Out For A Hostile Environment

Aquarium Snails 1
Photo by Axelbant

Besides keeping your tank at the appropriate water parameters, you also need to make sure your snails are kept with the best possible tankmates. There are some tankmates who will target snails, either with generalized aggression or with predatory behaviors. Do not put your snails in the same tank as creatures like crayfish, crabs, loaches, and cichlids.

You also need to make sure the environment in your tank is safe. Snails can easily become trapped in the filter intake slats, particularly if they are small. This can cause deadly injuries. Make sure your filter has small slats and that you have a protective covering over the opening – curious snails will go through every inch of the tank, so you need to leave nothing uncovered.

The same rule applies to your lid. If the lid is not secured, it will be all too easy for the curious snails to escape. This can be fatal to your snails. Overcrowding can also pose a threat – make sure you have plenty of room in your tank for all of your snails as well as the creatures that they share the tank with.

Choose Healthy Snails

Aquarium Snails 2
Photo by GreatAlbum

When you’re shopping for snails, you can prevent a lot of problems by only selecting active, healthy specimens. A healthy snail will have attached itself to the tank and will not be floating around the tank. While some snails are known to engage in floating behaviors, this is not common for most.

Even if the specific snail you purchase is healthy, be hesitant about purchasing a healthy snail that was once in a tank with a sick snail – it might harbor unpleasant diseases that can make the rest of your aquarium inhabitants sick, too.

Remember to match the conditions of your tank to the needs of your snails. When you are selecting the snails you wish to include in your aquarium, make sure their needs align with those of the other creatures in your aquarium – they should thrive in similar temperature and pH ranges.

Be Careful About Illness

Aquarium Snails 2
Photo by James Grimwood

Be hesitant to make sure you don’t end up with accidental disease in your tank. Selecting snails that are bred domestically will reduce the likelihood of disease from imported specimens. You should examine, wash, and quarantine all objects and other snails before adding them to your tank.

Similarly, avoiding adding too much food at one time. This can cause a lot of excess waste and it can even cause the populations of your snails to spike unexpectedly. If you have excess snails in our tank, these can be removed by hand. You should be careful of disposing of unwanted snails, as many areas have laws against releasing snails back into the wild.

Is A Freshwater Aquarium Snail Right For You?

Do you have what it takes to raise a freshwater aquarium snail? We think so! Now that you have the proper knowledge, you will be well-equipped to handle a tank full of these slow-moving beauties.

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