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Aquarium Snails - Pets or Pests?

Aug 17, 2007
Have you ever suddenly looked into your fish tank and noticed a bunch of little black things crawling around which, upon further inspection, revealed themselves to be tiny little snails? You probably wondered where the heck these things came from and what you should do with them. It's most likely that these little aquarium snails have hitched a ride in an aquarium plant you recently purchased and, while these can be terrible pests, there are other types of snails that can be quite beneficial to your fish tank as well as fun to look at.

The tiny snails, are most likely Pond snails which reproduce very quickly and have a voracious appetite for your aquarium plants. You may find literally hundreds of the snails in your tank and they will eat your plants quite quickly reducing them to nothing more than sticks.

While the pond snail isn't really much to look at, the apple snail, one of the most popular types of aquarium snail, is a lot more fun to have in your fish tank. These snails are actually the largest snails and can grow to be 6 inches in size. There are several species and while some of them do eat aquarium plants others do no, so if you are shopping for a snail you want to be sure you get ones that do not eat plants if you plan to also keep plants in your aquarium. The apple snail comes and a bunch of different colors including yellow, blue and brown.

Another type of snail for your fish tank is the Ramshorn snail. This snail has a shell that is curly like the horn on a ram. The snails do reproduce quickly and like to eat aquarium plants so they may not be a good choice if you want have plants in your tank. The Ramshorn snail comes in an interesting checkered pattern as well as plain black and plain red.

If you do want to keep aquarium plants and are also interested in getting a snail for your tank, you might consider a Trumpet snail. These guys rarely eat plants and prefer to forage around in the substrate eating the debris off the bottom making them beneficial fish tank inhabitants as they can help to clean the bottom of the tank. While you might see the trumpet snail clinging to the glass of the tank just below the water line in the morning, you most likely will not see them out and about during the daylight as they prefer to hide and then come out at night to eat.

You can keep snails with most other community fish including Tetras, Danios, Guppies and White Cloud Minnows, however there are some fish that simply do not get along with snails so you'll need to ask the clerk at your pet store if this snail will get along with the fish in your tank. If you do have those pesky little snails and want to get rid of them, you might try adding a Clown Loach to your tank is they love to eat snails and will happily seek out every little one of those pests and devour them!
About the Author
Lee Dobbins writes for Fish Tank Guide where you can get more information on setting up and maintaining a fish tank as well as more in depth information on aquarium snails.
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