Aquarium snails are everywhere in aquarist’s live – they inhabit in all types of tanks and sometimes they appear in the places, where it seems to be impossible.
Let’s try to make a long story short and gather some information about the kinds described earlier, so then you can choose what’s interesting especially for you.
All kinds of freshwater snails are often considered as something that appears in one night, covers tank plants, gets the tank water muddy and kills tank fishes. Some of this is sometimes true, but still water snails make themselves more useful than do any damage in the tank.
Quite a lot of snails feed on food leftovers and other garbage, some of them clean tank walls and decorations, and some are just good looking species. To avoid any troubles with aquatic snails in a tank you just need to know what stimulates their rapid breeding and define which species won’t do for your tank.
In the current article we’ll go through the most popular kinds of freshwater aquarium snails, but in case you’d like to know more about each of them, just read the articles we’ve already published using the links below.
The role of snails in a tank
The most common way of how snails get into the tank is together with the tank plants you have bought or with the tank substrate you haven’t cleaned before putting into the tank.
As a rule eggs is stuck to the tank plant leaves and after putting them inside the tank you get the juveniles in your aquarium later. If you’ll control the number of population, there’s no need to do anything about their presence in the tank.
The thing is that besides the scenic value snails also do a lot to clean the tank. Actually, snails are natural cleaners which clean the plants from algae, feed on dead parts of plants leaves and tank fish feed leftovers.
So, more often we see the following kinds in aquarium.
The smallest aquarium snails are acroloxus (acroloxus sp kind) from Acroloxidae family. If you observe them from a side their shell will look like a small cap.
These small snails are rather reticent and prefer to do all their activity in the twilights and in the dark.
So, if the tank owner once turns on the tank lights at night he will be very surprised, because dozens of these snails will be on the tank walls and plants. But don’t get scared, since acroloxus are considered to be harmless.
However, be aware of their population number, since they feed on leftovers and if there are a lot of them, it means that they have enough of feed. This brings another question – maybe you overfeed you fishes? Once you decrease the amount of feed given to your fishes, the number will decrease correspondingly.
Ramshorn snail’s shell (Planorbarius corneus) from Planorbidae family meets all the childhood stereotypes of how the snail should look like.
In general is a classical snail, that can be seen almost in any tank. In the wild feeds mainly on algae and bacterial slime.
In a tank this slime looks like some gray films on tank walls, plants and on the water surface. When eating these things do good for the tank, but they still they aren’t very thorough cleaners.
These snails don’t clean anything completely, they eat out some kind of traces clearly seen on a tank walls. In moderate number are useful in a tank.
Apple snail is another quite spread tank snail, but unlike ramshorn it’s rather demanding to the tank conditions.
Since these are one of the largest kinds their appetite corresponds to their size. Therefore, apple snails may damage young and soft tank plants in case the snails have lack of feed.
As for the rest – these are good looking, large and interesting.
Gold rabbit (tylomelania sp yellow) – this kind rapidly becomes popular. Despite they are very beautiful, these snails are also very demanding to the tank conditions.
They are more likely to be some kind of exotic tank inhabitants that should be kept separately and should be taken care of, then considered as common species.
Melaniidae family snails, known as MTS snails. Two kinds of them are the most spread in tanks all over the world – Melanoides tuberculata and Melanoides granifera.
MTS are spread just like the ramshorn snails, but they differ from the latter not only in their appearance, but also in their lifestyle. They live and breed in a tank substrate, which is good for the tank since mix the substrate.
However, these snails tend to have a large population and they aren’t easy to get rid of, since fishes don’t feed on them greatley and MTS hide in the tank substrate.
Neritina natalensis snails is a good looking and very useful. It’s quite small (about 2,5 cm or 1 in large), these snails perfectly clean the tank from algae.
The only drawback is their price and short lifespan (about a year) and the fact that they tend to lay the eggs which don’t hatch in freshwater and spoil the tank appearance.
Neretina advantage is the number of species with different appearance and shape.
Marisa is the largest aquarium snail which can grow to be 6 cm large and more. It’s large and very gluttonous therefore it’s not good for community tanks, since it quite often eats tank plants entirely.
Assassin snail is one of the most unusual kinds. The thing is that they feed on the other snails.
So if you have lots of snails in your tank, this kind of snail is one of the ways to get rid of them. However, if there are no other snails in the tank assassin snail will feed on common types of snails feed.
Snails from Physidae family can be seen in tanks and the most common ones are Physa and Aplexa kind species. These are small but rather fast snails with sinistrality turned shell.
They have quite pronounced raised folds of their pallium which serve as grills and let the snails stay under water for a long time despite the fact that these snails are too active and consume a large amount of oxygen.
Fishes may eat these snails in aquarium, but not very eagerly.
However, these snails feed on plants and it’s quite obvious. Therefore, they won’t do for thickly planted tanks.
Almost all kinds of aquarium snails are well behaved tank inhabitants, only some of them require some special conditions that don’t fit community tank conditions.
They become a problem only in case when something is wrong in the tank and still it’s not a problem it’s just a signal.
We’ve mentioned above the most common kinds and in other articles the species were described in more details. So, please, read, speculate and choose which of them suits you best.
Sergey is a founder and author of Meethepet.com. He’s been fond of aquarium husbandry since his early childhood.
His favorite aquariums are biotopes (Amazon River), with Echinodorus and Angelfish. However, through the years he’s had experience of keeping almost all types of freshwater fish and shrimps.