Do you have a problem with pest snails in your aquarium? Well, you’re not alone! They are a very common pest in the home aquarium. They are prolific breeders as they are hermaphrodites (every snail has both male and female reproductive parts) so any two snails can breed together! Clever we know, but that makes them a lot harder to get rid of.
There are several different things you can try to reduce your snail population.
• You can get an empty plastic bottle with a lid and pierce small holes in it (small enough that fish can’t get in, but big enough that the largest snail can get in!) you can then place fish food into the bottle and place at the bottom of the aquarium. In
no time you will get snails in the bottle who are looking for food, then remove the bottle, and freeze the snails to kill them or release them into a pond or water feature so they can help with cleaning. You can do this over and over again until you've thinned out the population and only a few snails end up in the bottle each time. Just remember to replace the ‘bait’ to make sure the snails have an incentive to go into the bottle.
• A faster way is with chemical treatments, but be aware that if you go the treatment route that some treatments containing copper that kill snails will also kill shrimp! A treatment you can try is eSHa Gastropex Aquatic Snail Treatment (which will also kill shrimp and other invertebrates) so after you've used it, make sure you use a carbon filter to remove all traces of copper before adding any shrimp! One con to using a treatment to kill a large number of snails is that their dead bodies will then decompose and cause an ammonia spike. To combat this you will need to remove as many snail bodies as you can and keep testing your tank's ammonia level to make sure that it’s not starting to spike.
• Another more 'natural' way is to add predatory Assassin Snails: these guys often have a yellow and black strip. Although they are another type of snail, they are nowhere near as prolific at breeding, and this method will not cause your ammonia to spike as the snails eat the bodies as a food source! They will take slightly longer to reduce the pest snail population than a treatment but are much more sustainable solution and will add a splash of colour to your tank while they work. They are hard workers and won’t stop even when they get older! We sell the assassin snails for £3.99 each at the shop.
• A final way of removing them (which is only an option if you have a large enough/ suitable aquarium) is to get fish that eat snails. These include: Clown Loaches, Yo-Yo Loaches, Dwarf Chain Loaches, Zebra Loaches, and Puffers (which are not suitable for community tanks as they can be aggressive). These fish with, exception to Dwarf Chain
Loaches, require large aquariums of over 100 litres (and Clown Loaches which require an even larger aquarium of about 200 litres!). They will feed on the snails which gives the added bonus of not having the snail bodies lying around (like when you use chemical treatments) so no ammonia spike. Before you go out and buy these, make sure they are compatible with the other fish you already have in the aquarium. All of these fish will think shrimp are tasty snacks, so do not use these if you have shrimp in your
aquarium! These fish are also colourful, with Clown Loaches having orange and black strips, so they have the added bonus of adding a lot of colour and personality to your tank- loaches are very intelligent fish with individual personalities and great fun to watch.
Many of us battle with the tadpole snails so you are not alone! Another reason they may be breeding so readily is over feeding- they are scavengers so they eat food scraps. Consider cutting down feeding so that not as much makes it to the bottom and this will greatly reduce the snails' food source, meaning that that environment won’t be able to support such a large population of them!
GUEST BLOG - by Ethan Johnson