When it comes to freshwater aquarium snails, there are many points of view to consider. There has been an ongoing debate as to whether or not aquarium snails should be seen as beneficial pets or destructive and troublesome pests.
Here is some information that you should take into account before you decide to put snails in your freshwater aquarium.
Superb Snail Benefits
The majority of snails are scavengers, with their tiny mouths; they will devourer dying plants, leftover fish food and algae. Owning a snail or two would allow you to keep your aquarium water quality clear and virtually free of algae. They are also able to remove dirt and algae in hard to reach areas that you may not be able to see from your perspective.
For more algae eaters, read: 7 Best Freshwater Algae Eaters
Snails will eat live plants but they tend to only eat the dead and decaying plants that you wouldn’t want to keep in your aquarium anyway because decaying plant matter produces ammonia (which is toxic to fish). Sometimes it may appear as though snails are eating a healthy plant but this may be a misperception because chances are, they are just eating the algae off of the healthy plant parts.
Snails also add movement and color to your freshwater aquarium and they can be fun to watch. There are many different snail species that come in various colors, shapes and patterns and are pleasing to the eye.
Another benefit to having a snail in your aquarium is this; unlike other scavenging fish species that may eat fish eggs, if you have a breeding aquarium with fish egg clusters, snails will stay away from them.
4 Freshwater Snail Breeds That Are Considered Pets
Tip – When Purchasing Snails : Look for snails that are active and healthy looking without cracked or nicked shells. Avoid the snails that are motionless and be sure you look into the snail shell to make sure that it’s not empty!
All snails will produce waste themselves. They will remove the accumulated amounts of decaying matter in your tank but they will also contribute their own amount of waste in your aquarium.
This can create a much bigger problem if you have overstocked your tank or have added a wild species that may reproduce like crazy!
Because snails lack natural predators, in a freshwater aquarium, snails are prone to multiple rapidly and you must pay special attention to the number of snails you desire to have in your aquarium before it gets out of hand.
Once a snail reproduces, your aquarium might quickly get overpopulated and when this happens, it may not be easy to remove all of the undesired snails.
Freshwater Aquarium Snails That Are Considered Pests
The least appreciated snail is the Pond Snail. They are native snails and may harbor parasites or other ailments, which could carry over to other tank inhabitants. They are hermaphroditic and one of their biggest problems is that they are able to multiply abundantly.
They eat live plants and will shred lotus leaves but they do clean up the tank well.
Pond Snails are usually acquired when purchasing a new plant. In order to make sure you don’t acquire them via plants; before placing a new plant into the aquarium, make the effort of soaking it in warm and salty water. After 10 minutes, remove the plants and wash thoroughly. This method should remove or kill any uninvited snail guests. (source)
A Note on All Snails
Most snails are not particularly picky about the water quality but they do prefer hard calcium rich water. To keep their shells healthy and free of damage, they will need calcium rich water that is free of copper and other metals.
When choosing a species for your tank, you should know what to expect from that species and be prepared to deal with some common problems like overpopulation and parasites like mentioned above.
When you know what to expect, freshwater aquarium snails can be a wonderful addition to your freshwater home aquarium. These hard and slimy workers love eating algae and decaying matter, keep your tank clean, and are great to watch!
From your experience, would you consider snails as pets or pests? Tell us all about it in our comments section below.