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FAQs on Freshwater Aquarium Snail Foods/Feeding/Nutrition

Related Articles: Snails and Freshwater AquariumsInvertebrates for Freshwater Aquariums by Neale Monks, Assassin Snails and Sulawesi Elephant Snails. Keeping Clea and Tylomelania in the Aquarium by Neale Monks, Fresh and Brackish Water Nerites by Neale Monks, 

Related FAQs:  Freshwater Snails 1, Freshwater Snails 2, Freshwater Snail Identification, Freshwater Snail Behavior, Freshwater Snail Compatibility, Freshwater Snail Selection, Freshwater Snail Systems, Freshwater Snail Disease, Freshwater Snail Reproduction, Snails by Species: Mystery Snails, Apple/Baseball Snails, Malaysian/Trumpet Snails, Ramshorn Snails,


FW Snails, Feeding, Identification, Hold the Cabbage 3/12/2009
Hi Crew,
<Hi Jillian>
I have just purchased a freshwater snail from my local pet store. They tell me to add a cabbage leaf to my aquarium for 'it' to feed on!
Is this right?
<No, this is not correct. Snails will be perfectly happy eating sinking pellets, algae wafers, plants, or algae already growing in your tank. Keep the cabbage out of your system.>
Yours total bewildered.
<Bewildered no longer. You can find some additional information here:

Hello. I was wondering what snails survive off of? 01/21/2008 <Depends on the snail. Some are carnivores and eat small invertebrates, even fish. But most are algivores/detritivores at some level. In other words, they most graze algae and eat organic detritus such as carrion, faeces, rotting plant material, etc.> I have a 50 gallon tank with one 6 inch tiger Oscar, and whole lot of small brown snails. When we fed our Oscar flakes and pellets they seemed to thrive, and the tank stayed clean, but now our Oscar only eats veggies and shrimp and the snails seem to be dying off. <This is normal. For a start, Oscars eat snails in the wild, so periodically your captive Oscar may eat snails, knocking back the snail population. Snail populations also depend on how much food is in the tank. Some foods (especially flake foods) crumble in the water, so a lot ends up in the substrate. The snails thrive on this. Other foods that are swallowed whole will produce less mess, and the snails get less to eat. So their populations will go down.> The tank now has algae on one half and we never see the snails out. <This will depend on the snail. Melanoides spp. snails burrow by day and come out at night, so you tend not to see them so much. By contrast, Physa spp. snails are active by day.> Were the snails surviving off of the flakes that the Oscar didn't eat? <Yes.> Now that the tank is dirty and the snails dying what could we do about the algae? <Mark-1 elbow. Get an algae wipe or scraper, and use as required. Works better than anything else. Honestly. Floating plants can also help significantly, but cutting out light and inhibiting the growth of algae. Oscars will uproot benthic plants, but floating plants are left alone. Ceratopteris thalictroides (Indian Fern) is highly recommended.> Would you suggest large snails, or a Pleco? <Neither. Big snails will be eaten, and a Plec will only increase the rate at which the algae grows, making the tank messier. It's a myth they "clean the aquarium" mostly put about by people who sell them.> And what kind? <None.> thank you so much! Lena <Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Tom: Snail update and hang-on filter trick  - 12/04/06 Hello Tom, <<Hello again, Rachel.>> I wanted to update you on the cuttlefish bone addition for my mystery snail. <<Updates are always welcome, Rachel.>> The bone seems to be very slowly dissolving into the water, and his shell has stopped deteriorating. The tank's pH has not changed. Once in a while I notice the snail munching while on the bone, but I couldn't say whether he's munching the bone or a bit of algae off the surface. I don't see any tell-tale teeth marks. Worth noting, though, is the fact that he did chew with gusto on one of those terrible plaster "vacation feeders." The pet store had run out of automatic feeders... thankfully I got my family to bring me an automatic feeder just in time for break, and I pulled the awful plaster thing out of my tank! But anyway, the bone seems to have served its purpose. <<I've never used a vacation feeder but, since plaster is largely composed of calcium sulfate, perhaps yours wasn't so 'terrible' after all or, at the least, your snail knows something we don't. :) >> I also wanted to pass on a trick I discovered for my Whisper Micro in-tank filter. My tank is a MiniBow kit and I've written in before about a few modifications that can be made to these kits to make them quieter and healthier. One more! I had some leftover filter sponge from covering the intake of the filter, so I slipped a piece behind the filter body. It helps keep the filter from resting on the tank wall (which it's not supposed to do anyway; the suction cup is supposed to prop it up but it's too flat) so the vibrations and noise are greatly reduced. I also padded the hook that hangs the filter from the tank's lip with a bit of sponge. Sounds much better! And it feels better too now that the tank isn't vibrating, for me since this tank sits on my desk, and hopefully for Terrence the Betta inside too. <<I like your thinking, Rachel. Thanks for passing this along to us and the rest of our readers.>> Thanks for your help, Tom! Rachel <<Happy to have been of assistance, Rachel, and thanks for the nice update and tip. My best to you. Tom>>

Calcium for Snail Shells  7/24/06   Hello Again, Thank you Bob for your insight into my snail dilemma! <Actually, Pufferpunk here today.> I'll be sure to try the one gallon containers with the floating plants and the old tank water. Just one last quick question, when I was reading/researching about snails before I purchased my first one, I ran across liquid calcium, but just for marine tanks. Would it help my snails any or just possibly hurt them and my fish? I suppose it's better not to add anything additional to the water that's not needed. I have been feeding them turtle sticks that have calcium in them (forgot that food item) but only on occasion. Would it help to increase feeding the snails those? I guess that's two questions, oops...! I really appreciate all your help, thanks again, <Give them cuttlebones (sold for bird's beaks) to munch on, for calcium.  ~PP> Amber

Apple snail feeding   1/17/06 Thanks for the advice on Platy's repro. <Welcome> I have a question about apple snails. I have an adorable apple snail (speedy) who lives in my 60 liter tank. I had to buy this tank last week because my 30 liter tank started leaking and I don't know how to fix tanks yet. <Not hard to do...> There is no algae in the tank, and I already have a Siamese algae eater (who is always eating - except at night) will there be enough food in the tank for both of them? <Maybe... but I'd watch the S/CAE for possible over-aggressive behavior> I find it difficult to add vegetables for speedy, but an concerned about starving the little guy. <There are useful sinking wafer and pellet foods that are "green" based here> Tienie de Coning (Jeffrey's Bay, South Africa) <Do a search on WWM re these two species. Bob Fenner>

ABOUT SNAILS Do you think it's ok to put a snail that we find outside in our freshwater tank with our fish and if so, what should we feed it? <tough to say from your general question. If the snail that you find is terrestrial... then definitely no. If it is aquatic but you live in a temperate climate, the answer is still no. The truth of the matter is that it is generally a bad idea to capture wild animals indiscriminately for captive care without correct identification of the species needs/husbandry and quarantine. There is a very real risk of introducing a fatal disease to your fishes by such random introductions. Kindly, Anthony>

Snail Questions - 06/19/2004 Hi, <Hello.  My apologies for any lateness in reply....> I have a pretty large happy seeming apple snail, not P. bridgesii but one of the canaliculata group (plant eaters as opposed to decaying matter eaters.... she ate a little rotunda plant almost to death before I moved it to the other tank, and nearly killed my wisteria as well :/ but now she has plastic plants).    <Heh, learnin' the hard way!  At least the snail enjoyed the snacks, I'm sure.  And after you replant, you can give the snail cuttings from the planted tank when you prune.  Yum!> She's currently living in a 10 gallon tank with varying numbers of her offspring and 3 zebra Danios. (The Danios must eat the eggs & young snails as my tank has not been overrun, but I have seen eggs and baby snails at various times and even a few as big as peas)   <Mmmm, peas....  Whups, wrong topic, sorry!  It would not surprise me that the Danios might dine on the eggs of these snails.> This tank was originally home to a Betta, <Ah, now *he* would dine on very small snails, too.  Another boon to your snails' population control.> 5 Danios, 3 scissortail rasboras, and a Cory.  (The Cory and the rasboras have been moved to the bigger tank that has also, 6 harlequins and an Oto).    <Corys will eat smaller snails, as well.  Well, not in a separate tank, but if you get overrun, you could consider reintroducing the Cory.> Two of the Danios and the Betta sadly succumbed to hex, which I treated for multiple times but could not seem to cure in such small fish :(   <So sad to hear that.  My apologies for your loss.> I have two questions about this snail (Jaws is her name... it seemed appropriate).   <HAH!  Appropriate, indeed!  I love it.> How do I know if she is eating enough?   I feed the Danios every day or two, sometimes three, and about every other time I feed the Danios I throw in an algae pellet or two.  (oh yea, the snail when we got her was about as big around as a quarter, and now is more like a golf ball - she's almost completely grown a new round on her shell since Jan/Feb when we got her!).   <Sounds like she's eating plenty.  If you have any concerns, you might get her some elodea/anacharis/Egeria and let her munch at leisure, and just replace these inexpensive plants as they are devoured - many folks use this plant as an excellent food source for goldfish; it would taste quite good to Jaws, I'm sure.> Her newest shell growth seems pretty thick and is a very nice rich golden color, <A wonderful sign.> although when my brother fed her an algae pellet every day for a couple weeks she grew a quarter of an inch of pretty thin looking shell :/ that was shortly after we got her though.   <As you seem to be well aware, it might be best not to use that feeding scheme ;)  Sounds like she's doing great now, though, eh?> My other question, which I didn't even think about until I was browsing your forums... Should I be concerned if she is getting some flaking on the middle few rounds of her shell? <I would be concerned, yes.> She was completely algae covered when we got her (the new shell has been growing in a beautiful gold color and the algae hasn't spread) <Excellent.> and now about a pea sized area of her center spirals on the outside is flaking to a creamy white.   <Possibly a lack of calcium, perhaps even iodine....  the few large-ish snails in my shrimp tanks have very obviously benefited from adding Kent Tech Marine iodine, at a rate of one drop per ten gallons each week (*not* the normal marine dose).> Also how do I test water hardness, and other nutrient levels necessary for the snail? <You can test total hardness (GH) and carbonate hardness (KH) with test kits available from most fish stores, or can purchase the kits online from online e-fish stores, like some of our sponsors.  Be sure to get kits for freshwater aquaria.> I don't really have any money to spend on them now sadly (and the next cash I get has to go toward plant food for the bigger tank as half the plants are falling apart and dying) <Yikes!  You might benefit from reading through our plant sub-web:   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/PlantedTksSubWebIndex/AquariumGardenSubWebIndex.html > but when I do have the cash I would like to be able to take care of all my animals properly.   <A good plan, for sure.  Your snail can probably wait for you to get test kits, I imagine her problem is not imminently life-threatening.  I would, however, try the Kent iodine for sure.> Our town water is usually pretty hard though (leaves hard water stains on all the faucets, etc). That's a good thing for snails right? <You bet.  Hard water stains usually indicate high-ish levels of calcium and other minerals in the water - certainly good news for Jaws.> Thanks for any help you guys can give. :) <Any time, Anna.  Please feel free to let us know if we can help you further.  Wishing you and your inverts well,  -Sabrina> Anna R. Dunster

Snail Question (Continued) <Hi, MikeD here again> Thank you for the information. We will look into your suggestions about either a larger container or a smaller snail.<I assume the last one had indeed passed on?  They make small 2 gallon Aquariums, complete with a light, filter and pretty much most of what's needed. While this may seem like overkill, it's often the beginning of a life long hobby. I got my first tank when I was seven, fifty years ago. **grin**> We were feeding it the small disks/wafers (that look like a button) as per the instructions, which were every other day. Is that the norm or should we look into other food??<That's one of the things snails will eat, assuming it was an algae wafer. They also eat many marine plants, the green algae that grows on the glass and some even lettuce> Thanks again.

Snails  8/2/04 My Daughter is 6 years old and would like to "catch" some snails from our outside Garden.   Nothing special about these snails.  But what can we put them in and feed them?  Is this safe for the snails? Thank you, Anne Dillon <<Hello. I've no idea what to feed them, I would assume the same thing that aquatic snails eat,  which is just about anything :) You can try small scraps of vegetable matter, like lettuce leaves,  or maybe even turtle pellets or flake food. I have no idea what land snails eat.  You should be able to keep them in a jar with holes in the lid, or even a Betta hex bought at your LFS.  Perhaps you could do a Google search and find some info on them. Good luck :) -Gwen>>

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