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How to
Get Rid of Small Snails
This page contains information about how to get rid of the small snails that sometimes begin to multiply in an aquarium.
Pet Fish Talk a Podcast about keeping pet fish in aquariums, fish bowls, and ponds.  
Click here to listen to a discussion about How to Get Rid of Small Snails in Aquariums by Tom and Nevin Bailey on Pet Fish Talk, the internet talk show about keeping Pet Fish in aquariums, fish bowls, and ponds.

Customer Comments

I was wondering if you know of a natural way to control snails because I'm overun with them.
Reply. A natural way to get rid of snails? I'm glad you asked the question that way. The short answer is to get a Yoyo Loach.

Click here for more information about Yoyo Loaches, and click here to buy a Yoyo Loach.

Yoyo Loaches are compatible with many types of pet fish but not all. For example, Yoyo Loaches usually bother small fish such as Neon Tetras and Guppies.

So lets discuss some other possible methods of getting rid of snails from your aquarium.

(1) First you could buy a harsh chemical. I think there is a product called Snail-Rid that contains Copper Sulfate, a chemical that is notorious for being risky to use around fish.

Aquari-Sol is sold in many stores that sell pet fish. It will kill snails, but it is harsh, risky for other fish, and may contain copper sulfate. I can't quite remember. But I would not use it, and I would not recommend it, and it is not natural.

(2) Another idea might be to use Aquarium Salt, NaCl, because salt will kill garden snails, and Aquarium Salt is very useful in aquariums and ponds.

Click here to read more about Aquarium Salt. But small snails that infest aquariums can tolerate a high concentration of Aquarium Salt.

So Aquarium Salt is not going to help you get rid of your snails.

(3) The next idea is to get a Puffer Fish. Puffers are natural, and they will quickly eat and eliminate all the small snails from an aquarium.

A Puffer fish has a powerful mouth with fused teeth that look like a beak, and a Puffer will use its mouth to crush snail shells and eat the snails.

But Puffers are rather exotic fish. They are wonderful and very interesting, but some Puffer species need brackish water that contains aquarium salt, and Puffers need to eat live food, like snails.

Unless Puffers are very well fed, they tend to nip on other fish. So most people find that Puffers are not a convenient solution to a snail problem like yours.

Click here to read about Puffers and see a couple of interesting pictures of Puffers.

(4) The best way to get rid of snails is to get some Loaches. I like Clown Loaches very much. They are one of my favorite fish.

But they do better in a school with six or more Clown Loaches, and so they usually need a large aquarium with at least 40 or 50-gallons of water.

If you have a large aquarium, I think you'll love a school of six or more Clown Loaches, and a school of Clown Loaches will quickly find and eat all the small snails.

Click here for more information about Clown Loaches.

A Yoyo Loach will also eat all the snails quickly. In fact I think a Yoyo Loach will probably eat all the snails more quickly than the Clown Loaches.

But both types of Loaches will do a great job of eating all the snails right out of their shells. Then you'll need to net the shells and remove them from your aquarium.

A Yoyo Loach will not get as big as a Clown Loach, and Yoyo Loaches seem to be happy in a group with 3 or more Yoyo Loaches.

A group of three will do fine in a smaller aquarium with only 20 to 30-gallons of water.

The only problem is that Yoyo Loaches are sometimes hard to find in local fish stores and pet stores.

Their scientific name is Botia Lohachata, and you will sometimes see them sold as Lohachata Loaches.

I hope this helps you get rid of your snail problem.

Incidentally it is usually the really small snails that become a problem, so we don't sell these small snails and we are very careful to be sure that our plants don't contain small snails or their eggs.

Click here to see the list of Aquatic Plants that we sell.

Larger Aquatic Snails, like the ones we sell, never seem to be a problem in aquariums, fish bowls, and ponds. But many species are now illegal to ship across state borders in the U.S.

Why are they illegal? Because some aquarists have released them in rivers, creaks and streams, where the snails have multiplied and perhaps caused environmental damage.

Click here for more information about these larger Aquatic Snails.

(5) Finally we come to our favorite way of reducing the snail population. Get a small glass jar like a salt shaker. Remove the top.

Be sure the jar is clean. Then put a small piece of lettuce or perhaps some fish food in the jar, and fill it with aquarium water.

Carefully sink it on the bottom of the aquarium. The next day it will have lots of small snails inside! remove them and repeat the process.

After a couple of days you'll notice there are fewer snails, and in several days very few. So you trapped out most of them.

You will probably never get all of them. So you'll have to keep trapping them and removing them from time to time.

This a good example of the idea of reducing an annoying problem to a tolerable situation.


Customer Comments

Dear Sirs, I have a question about the care of my fish. We have little creatures in the tank that look like tiny snails. Are these things dangerous, should we be worrying?
I'm a newbie and I'm worried that I may have done something wrong?
Thank you for your time.
Karry D.
Reply. Hello Karry. They probably are snails. They should not harm your fish. But most people do not like the appearance of lots of tiny snails crawling around in their aquarium.

As explained above on this page the solution is to get a Loach to eat the small snails, then remove the snail shells with a small net.

Good luck with your fish and your new aquarium.


Customer Comments

Hello. I have had a terrible time with snails since I introduced live plants to my three tanks and I have found a wonderful natural solution to the over population of these little critters.
I found two old glass salt and pepper shakers and put lettuce and pellets in them and layed them on their sides in the tank. Within minutes the snails were collecting in the shakers.
The small size of the shaker bottles make it easy to catch the snails without the bait being eaten by the fish or bottom dwellers!! Just wanted to pass along a useful hint for fellow hobbyist with snail problems.
Happy tanking!
Reply. Hello Terri. Thank you for sharing your method of getting rid of small unwanted snails. We also discussed your email on Pet Fish Talk. 

Customer Comments

about a month or so ago i got some live greenery from my fish tank that i am raising guppies in and not even a week later i noticed a couple of snail, well over the last few week them few snails have turned into a lot of snails and the sides of my tank and my live and plastic greenery ,and my rocks and log is full of eggs sacks. i have no idea what kind they are, and they dint bother me i like watching them hatch and grow, but we are getting over populated. if i could count all the eggs their is probably over a thousand of them and i have 20 to 30 big small to medium ones. my questions are what other kind of
housing can they live in and and any special water, i don't know how to care for these snails, so all an any kind of help would be great, and do you think a pet store would be interested in them ........... thank you so much for your time and help you have a wonderful web sight you have helped me out allot with my guppies i have even got a lot of babys thanks to you...keep up the excellent work, you are great ... thank you agine
Scranton Iowa
Reply. Hello Dani. Thank you for your email and your friendly comments. We are glad to know your guppies are doing well and producing lots of babies. That is great fun.

But small snails are usually not enjoyable. To find out how to get rid of them, please click on the next line.


Puffer fish and some other species of fish like to eat snails. Puffers also need to eat food containing something hard like a shell.

People, who own Puffers, are often want to buy small snails to feed to their Puffers. So you may be able to sell the snails and start a snail farm.  ;o

Thanks again for your email and your complimentary comments about


Customer Comments

I have used your suggestion about get rid of small snails using loaches. It works well. I bought three clown loaches for my sixty gallons fish tank, the
loaches ate all of the snails in a few days.
Thank you very much,
Reply. Hello Mahdi, thank you for you email. We are glad that your new Clown Loaches eat all the small annoying snails.

This is a good biological methods. Much better than using a chemical to kill the snails. Thanks again.

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