In addition to brilliant fish species, aquarium snails are also worth adding to your tank. They bring some variety to your aquarium with their distinct look, as well as help maintain it.
From sunup to sundown, these tiny inhabitants diligently search for organic matter and waste that collects over time. This can keep your aquarium clean and mitigate wear and tear on your filtration equipment. These critters are also low-maintenance and will not cause trouble with their tank mates.
In this post, we’re uncovering a collection of common types of aquarium snails, as well as some insights into snail care and snail breeding.
- 13 Common Types of Aquarium Snails
- Which Fish Can Be Snail Tank Mates?
- Snail Care
- How to Breed Snails?
- Final Words
13 Common Types of Aquarium Snails
1. Rabbit Snails
Rabbit snails have become a favorite aquarium critter because of their larger size, appealing colors, and “rabbit-like” faces.
Derived from Sulawesi, Indonesia, these aquarium snails can develop up to 4 inches in length and live up to 3 years. They do their best in tanks of 15 gallons or larger and love warm temperatures (between 76 to 84 degrees Fahrenheit), and moderately alkaline water with pH 7.8 – 8.4. Aquarists often combine crushed coral into the gravel or put corals in their filters to get accurate water chemistry.
Rabbit snails love eating soft algae, dead plant matter, and other detritus. Besides, they also eat algae wafers, sinking pellets, and some fish food falling to the bottom.
These are gonochoristic give birth to live, completely grown young that are encased in a milky white egg pod. As usual, babies are born one at a time, though occasionally two or three are enclosed.
Egg pods are created every 4 to 6 weeks, so their reproductive rate is quite slow, even you keep some of them.
2. Mystery Snails
These peaceful aquarium snails are famous for their stunning colors and algae-eating ability. They have a lifespan of 3 to 4 years, developing to a little more than 1.5 inches in diameter.
Their bodies are often black or pinkish-orange with neon orange spots in the head area. Their shells can be olive or tan with dark stripes, white, golden yellow, blue, or maroon. They prefer eating soft algae, dead plant matter and make good scavengers in harmonious community aquariums.
Mystery snails have gills and a lung, with a type of siphon tube that lets them breathe air by swimming up to the surface. It is important to use a secure lid to prevent them from climbing out of the aquarium.
Breeding is not challenging to the snails as they are gonochoristic. You just need to put a male and female in a tank. The female need to leave the water to deposit her eggs. The eggs will look like a honeycomb cluster on the aquarium wall above the water line or adhered to the underside of the lid. Babies will come out in 2 to 3 weeks, based on the temperature, and fall into the water.
3. Black Devil Snails
This is a kind of brackish water snail, which is native to the islands of the Western Indo-Pacific region. It seems to be the underrated type of snail due to its dark and mysterious name. Black devil snails have the most stunning shell that is the deepest sort of black color.
Those aquarium snails thrive to an average size, ranging from 2 to 3 inches. They get a friendly and solitary kind of behavior, living in harmony with other tank mates. In addition, they likely love each other’s company, so remember to keep them in couples in your aquarium.
The snails are fast and active, and most of their time is spent searching for food and algae around the tank. As omnivores, they are inclined to end up eating anything that comes their way. Especially, they’re fond of consuming leftover fish food, even rotting or decaying plant matter.
Moreover, they are considered amazing substrate cleaners and can withstand cold and severe weather and temperatures. You just need to know that when they grow bigger in size, they will need more space to move around. Therefore, you must make sure that there is no redundant dense vegetation in the aquarium, leading to massive overcrowding.
4. Ivory Snails
These aquarium snails are great community ones to add to your tank as they don’t eat aquarium plants, don’t multiply so quickly, and don’t feed on other snails. They are peaceful and happy to eat leftover food and algae.
Ivory snails don’t easily adapt to the current aquatic environment in a tank, but they actually stick out with their appealing milky white bodies and shells. They are genuine seekers for uneaten or leftover food, soft algae, and rotting plant matter.
Those freshwater aquarium snails develop to an average of 1 to 2 inches in diameter, but with the ideal conditions, they can grow bigger. Two of their main requirements for successful development are calcium-rich food and proper water conditions.
5. Ramshorn Snails
Also called Ram’s Horn Snail, the Ramshorn snail is a species of freshwater snail to add to your aquarium. They live harmoniously with tank mates and get along with shrimps and other snails.
These aquarium snails are known for being considerably adaptable and prolific snails that can thrive rapidly in the right sort of aquarium conditions. Additionally, they hold a good reputation for being enthusiastic tank cleaners, consuming soft algae, decayed plant matter, uneaten food, debris, and detritus.
They own rubber-like bodies that help them move more easily and bend over thin plant leaves or on tough surfaces inside the aquarium.
If you decide to raise Ramshorn snails in your tank, bear in mind that they are prone to voracious aquarium species and eaters like loaches, crayfish, bettas, and puffers. Moreover, they love interesting spots and things around them in the tank, like rocks and caves where they can discover, hide, and move around.
The average size of these species in a pet store ranges around a quarter of an inch. However, they will grow bigger over time, and their shells will get thicker and less translucent than before.
6. Apple Snails
This is a simple and reliable aquarium snail species that any aquarist can take care of. People choose to keep them in their tank mainly because of their splendid appearance and size. They can reach up to 15 cm in length and 6 inches in diameter.
They are excellent algae-eaters and will spend much of their time searching and avoiding other critters in your fish tank.
Apple snails have a branchial respiration system which is like the gills of a fish. That system enables the snails to breathe underwater. They also have a lung on the left side of their body, supporting the respiration of air.
These freshwater critters can eat almost everything in the aquarium but prefer eating fish food pellets, insects, dead fish, and brine shrimps. What’s more, they tend to consume any microscopic vegetation that grows on aquarium walls or rocks. In case the food source is above the water, they probably bend every effort to climb to the waterline to get food.
7. Assassin Snails
As their name indicates, Assassin snails are known to belong to those quirky species of aquarium snails that attack and feed on other snails. These snails are native to Southeast Asia, especially in Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia.
The primary reason why people introduce Assassin snails to their tank is that they can reduce nuisance snail populations. They are literally carnivores, attacking all the pests near them.
The aggressive snails can live up to 2-3 years and reach up to 0.7-1.25 inches. Their size largely depends on external conditions, like the sort of food they are offered and the diversity of food sources they can access.
Many people regard these aquarium snails as the “bumblebee snails” since their snail shells have a conical shape and feature a blend of dark brown and yellow-tan bands on the body.
Assassin snails spend most of their daytime being buried in the substrate and only come out for food until night.
8. Malaysian Trumpet Snails
The Malaysian Trumpet snail, also known as the “red-rimmed Melania”, is most remarkable for its reddish spots that stick out on its greenish-brown shell. They have gargantuan appetites, a quality that makes them the incredible scavengers and aquarium cleaners in any tank.
These freshwater snails can be found in Asia, Turkey, and Africa, having a lifespan of 1-2 years and an average size of 0.8-2.5 cm.
People often recognize these aquarium snails via their long and pointed shells that often feature a dark brown color. They are extremely calm and nonviolent, spending much time moving around the bottom of the aquarium searching for food.
Malaysian Trumpet snails usually forage in the substrate during the daytime, breaking down any organic waste and debris that collects there. That helps prevent anaerobic conditions, which can give off deadly hydrogen sulfide gas.
9. Tower Cap Snails
If you’re seeking an easy-to-care snail for your aquarium, you can consider the Tower Cap snail. These snails can grow up to 10 cm in length, suitable for larger tanks. They often feed on detritus, including all types of dead and rotten animal or plant matter. However, remember that they are not algae-eaters.
These aquarium snails naturally come from Thailand and Burma where it lives in rivers with at least partially muddy ground. They are livebearing critters with a high reproduction rate. It’s also difficult to distinguish between males and females. Hence, you need to take some preventive measures, or else your freshwater aquarium will be overpopulated.
10. Japanese Trapdoor Snails
Japanese Trapdoor snails own a hard plate on their bodies that build a solid seal at the edge of the snail shell that protects their soft body.
Their shells have a relatively interesting spiral shape, and surprisingly, no two of these aquarium snails look the same. Every snail somewhat differs in appearance due to varieties in their patterns, designs, and colorations. Nevertheless, all of them have one thing in common, which is that they feature more natural-looking colors like brown and green, for example.
Japanese Trapdoor snails are believed to be beneficial in the aquarium setting since they love clearing algae out of the glass, decorations, and plants.
When it comes to water parameters, these snail species are well adaptable to a broad range of water conditions. Thus, if you raise them in aquariums that have traditional tank parameters, they will not cause any trouble. Nonetheless, unexpected shifts and changes in the aquarium’s water parameters can result in stress in the snails.
In terms of feeding habits, the snails have an interest in fresh vegetables such as blanched spinach or zucchini. Besides, they are also fond of eating calcium-rich food like pellets and bottom feeder tablets.
11. Bladder Snails
Bladder snails are initially native to the Mediterranean and have become rampant in Europe and North America. They often inhabit freshwater rivers, ponds, swamps, streams, lakes, and reservoirs.
These critters have a glistening, thin-walled, and slender shell that have brilliant shades of yellow and a reddish-brown color. As the snails are black in color, the colorful shells make a very stunning contrast against them. They can grow up to 9-15 mm on average and have a short lifespan.
The aquarium snails do a good job of cleaning your tank with their love for algae and detritus.
12. Nerite Snails
This fresh aquarium snail has a tendency of moving around in the aquarium, eradicating all the algae in your tank.
Nerite snails are easily found in the coastal plant of East Africa, especially in South Africa, Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania, and Mozambique. Most of them live in the seashore and brackish waters, while some inhabit rivers and streams. Keeping these snails, you will not have to worry about overpopulation as they don’t reproduce in freshwater environments.
These species of aquarium snails can live up to 1-3 years and reach up to 0.5-1 inch in length. In addition to being an excellent aquarium cleaner, Nerite snails are also tranquil and will not cause any issues for other inhabitants in your tank.
13. Golden Inca Snails
As their name suggests, this type of snail has acreamy white head, with traces of a deep yellow and gorgeous gold color along its body. These snails really stick out in any aquarium, not just because of their stunning golden color but also thanks to a cluster of orange dots spread over all their head and mouth.
Golden Inca snails probably grow well in a calm and harmonious aquatic environment, getting along with non-aggressive tank mates. In case they need to defend, they will take advantage of their shell and operculum.
If you decide to keep these aquarium snails, make sure there is an open space of four inches above the waterline as they require a sufficient amount of open air to respire. Moreover, your fish tanks need to be well-covered because they likely climb out of the aquarium wall.
These freshwater snails prefer eating soft blanched vegetables like iceberg lettuce, leaf lettuce, and green zucchini.
Which Fish Can Be Snail Tank Mates?
You can keep snails with many fish, but some species can attack and eat them. Here are some fish you keep far away from your snails.
Any types of pufferfish
Most botia fish
Most African Cichlids
And below are friendly tank mates that will not harm your snails:
Most freshwater aquarium snails have similar care. They are mostly tolerant of nitrate levels of less than 20 ppm but do not withstand ammonia or nitrate in the tank water. Thus, they should live in a cycled aquarium or pond.
What’s more, they require adequate minerals in the water for shell health, or else their shell might deteriorate, and they could die. Therefore, you need to implement a pH and hardness test. It’s recommended to test your general hardness (gH) and maintain them in the desired ranges.
General hardness is determined in degrees of general harness (dgH). Water with higher levels of hardness is called “hard” while that with lower levels is “soft”.
- 0-3: soft
3-6: moderately soft
6-12: lightly hard
12-18: moderately hard
>25: very hard
In addition, pH is also crucial, even though it does not affect their shell health. Snails usually prefer neutral (7.0) to more alkaline (>7.0) water conditions.
Moreover, oxygen is vital to all aquatic critters. Snails are considered a great indicator of low oxygen levels because they will converge to the top of the aquarium, where there is much oxygen. Some even leverage a siphon to get more oxygen from the air above the aquarium.
Except for assassins, snails will adapt well with a considerable amount of algae in the tank. Besides, they love eating some vegetables like cucumber, zucchini, blanched carrots, and spinach. They are also interested in a variety of dry food made for bottom feeders like shrimp pellets and algae discs. In fact, as scavengers, snails will feed on any food that they find at the bottom of the aquarium.
Remarkably, you don’t need to feed snails on a daily basis. You just need to do it two to three times per week, making sure to throw any uneaten food after one day.
It is essential to keep your water flow minimal to average. An average aquarium filter can bring enough flow for any snail in your tank.
How to Breed Snails?
You will have to build a safe environment to breed aquarium snails. That means easy access to food and a lack of predators. If you place them in an aquarium within their favorite parameters, they’re likely to breed. Eggs are usually laid on the glass, but some are put under the substrate or above the water level.
If you notice snail eggs, you can ignore or eliminate them if you don’t want your tank to get crowded.
Snail eggs typically appear as:
A single pearl-like egg
A transparent gelatinous sack with tiny white eggs inside
Hard white domes deposited on glass, plants, or decorations
White or matte pinkish clusters above the glass, water, or the aquarium lid
Before you begin breeding snails, do careful research on the species you want to breed. If you want huge numbers and the highest success rate, separate them in an aquarium. However, this doesn’t mean it’s impossible to breed them in an environment with fish; it’s just less effective.
It might take a few months to achieve a great number of snails. You need to wait for the babies to develop to a sellable size. And if you remove all new snails, your original breeders might die of old age. Hence, it would be best if you removed a specific quantity at a time; this way your colony can sustain itself.
Aquarium snails can be a lovely addition to your fish tank, with the incredible ability to clean your aquarium. So why don’t you pick one for your aquarium?
Your choice will depend on your tank type, the amount of cleaning that it needs, and the number of other critters in the aquarium. Remember to consider every factor before introducing a snail to your tank.