Why is my aquarium suddenly full of snails?
So you’ve quickly had a population boom of ‘pest’ snails in your aquarium. In terms of
how they get into the tank in the first place, they are many ways. Most commonly they can
hitchhike on aquarium plants, but they are even known to be passed alongside faeces from your fish!
These species are ‘detrivores’ which means that they feed and thrive on waste and debris in
the aquarium such as decaying plant matter, uneaten food, fish faeces, algae and dead fish.
Having these rich foods present in the aquarium will cause them to suddenly breed and
seemingly overwhelm the tank.
Why do I want to get rid of them?
Primarily they may look a little unsightly, but they aren’t destructive. The most
common aquarium pest snails are Malaysian Trumpet Snails, these are livebearers so don’t have to
lay eggs to procreate. They are also fundamentally very good at cleaning up. They will
actively dig into and oxygenate the substrate and eat up algae on the glass, decor and
plants. One misconception is they they will eat and destroy your plants. This isn’t true. They
will only touch them if your plants are already decaying or starting to break down (as a result
of too little/too much light or an insufficient amount of nutrients). They are doing you a
How do I get rid of them?
If the population is getting out of control the best solution is not to exterminate
them entirely but gradually lower the numbers through improving your aquarium
maintenance. Remember, a large number of snails will produce a comparable amount of waste to a large shoal of fish.
Do more gravel syphons, take out uneaten food, dead fish and dead plant
matter and move your fish onto a cleaner diet (cleaner food means less nutritious poo!).
Soon you will notice a drop in numbers so end up with a couple of bigger snails that are
happily pottering about tidying the aquarium up rather than hundreds.
One way of looking at it is that (so called) pest snails are very good at one thing, and that is showing
you how wasteful the aquarium really is!
If you do want rid of them in their entirety, you can add in small botia or loaches that will
actively predate on the snails. Certain chemical treatments are on the market to remove
snails but it is a slightly longer waiting game. Other options would include species such as
Assassin Snails which actively kill off other more passive species.
Fundamentally, improving maintenance is key. Otherwise you may end up running round in
circles around rapidly breeding snails. Plus, more maintenance isn’t exactly a bad thing for