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FAQs on Control of Snails in Freshwater Aquariums by Predators

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

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

A few species of Loaches, some Puffers, Assassin snails

Snails; control, FW       1/17/15
Yes, I have a snail problem. I have a 15 g aquarium with a Betta and an apple snail, both of which I love. But I tried live plants for the first time and now I have pond snails. (We learn by our mistakes.) Do you think I should quarantine my snail in or out of my aquarium and get a loach? I know I will never be able to keep up with manually removing the offending
snails. And while no question is stupid....do I keep checking your site for an answer or my email? Or both?
<There is no (traded) loach species that will (a) kill snails AND (b) be small enough for a 15 gallon tank. So biological control via fish is not an option. Assassin Snails, Clea helena, are an alternative, but they aren't widely traded. While they do breed in aquaria, they do so very slowly, and being carnivores, you only get a tiny fraction (a hundredth or less) of them in the same given area as you'd get herbivorous or scavenging snails.
For 15 gallons, 4-6 specimens would do the trick nicely. But if you don't want to go down that path, then the easiest approach is, in all honesty, a combination of manual removing and preventing snail population growth. In other words, every day, remove as many as you can find, including egg masses (jelly-like blobs, usually). Do this week after week, and you will
eventually knock their numbers back a long way. Simultaneously reduce the amount of food for them. Remove any uneaten food at once, and make sure you aren't overfeeding. The big problem here will be the Apple Snail, which eats the same stuff as pond snails, so if you can remove it to another tank for a couple months, so much the better. Snails aren't pests so much as
symptoms, rather like rats in a kitchen. Rats move in where there's food and shelter, and just so the snails, they only breed exponentially where there's plenty for them to eat. So yes, you can starve them into submission, and if you remove as many adults as you can see, then there'll be so little food lying around for any unseen youngsters, most of those young snails will grow so slowly, or not at all, and the snail problem will essentially fade away into insignificance. Finally, don't obsess about
snails. Most do little harm (rarely damaging healthy plants significant, for example) and some good (oxygenating the substrate, for example) so provided you can keep the population at a low level, they're actually not something to lose sleep over. Bear in mind marine fishkeepers treat them as welcome "clean-up crew", so why freshwater aquarists get so het up about them is a bit mysterious to me! Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Snails      1/17/15

Thank you. That is very helpful!
<Most welcome.>

Snails in aquarium; Whence forth? Whence go?        8/26/14
Hi crew
Been a few years since I had to write for help. I have had my tank set up for about 4 years now after moving. I have not added any fish, decorations or anything else since then. The only thing that goes into the tank is frozen blood worms and flaked food. I somehow got snails in my tank. Have no idea how. Have you seen or heard o this happening before? I read that a yoyo loach does a good job getting rid of snails. Is this true and do you recommend to get one? My tank only currently has 3 Cory cat fish and a 9
inch black ghost.
<The snails were probably always there. You just never saw them. No, they don't materialise out of thin air, so yes, they have to get in there the usual ways, typically on aquarium plants. The easiest/best way to eliminate snails is a combination of physical removal (repeatedly, likely across many weeks) and the addition of some sort of predator. However, loaches tend to be more trouble than they're worth. For a start, you don't get "a" loach.
They're highly social; you get five. Second, they're boisterous, sometimes aggressively so. The Yoyo Loach is fairly peaceful if kept in adequate numbers, but adding 5 specimens may not be practical. Finally, adding 5 fairly big fish to your aquarium will add more stress to the filter than the snails, so think carefully before doing so. Personally, I think the Assassin Snail is an infinitely better choice. It's small, breeds very
slowly, eats snails, but leaves plants alone. In any event, do start by reading here:
Cheers, Neale.>

Snail deal     12/27/13
hi Neale, i hope you're enjoying your holidays.
<Yes indeed, thanks!>
I don't suppose there is anything that will eat snails but not eat or harm cherry shrimp.

<Possibly Clea helena, but there are some reports of these Assassin Snails eating juvenile shrimps. But ecologically at least, freshwater fish adapted to deal with snails (in other words, shelled or armoured invertebrates) will likely view shrimps as potential prey.>
There's black sand in there... that's the substrate so i haven't vacuumed, I just stir it occasionally and water change.  There's tons of java moss and bladderwort. Any ideas?  I pulled some out with cleaning but it appears there are a lot.  Though... What damage could they do, with that huge mass of java/bladderwort?
<Snails? Minimal damage assuming you have the standard sorts like Physa and Physella "tadpole snails" or Melanoides spp. livebearing snails (these latter snails do virtually no damage in any aquarium except insofar as large numbers are unsightly/add to the biological loading on the filter).>
I imagine a trap would trap shrimplets too.  Though if it were a live trap, and they weren't harmed, I could separate the wheat from the tares(weeds) as they say.
<Quite so. Snail traps are a risk to air-breathers though, particularly
Corydoras, dwarf frogs, etc.>
I suppose I could do the kind of cleaning where I remove all the shrimp to a bucket.  There are quite a few though, so it's a chore, and I don't like to stress the little guys too often.
<I doubt the shrimps care! So long as they're handled gently, they aren't likely to become emotionally stressed in the same way as, say, fish.>
Thank you, have a happy new year.  I know some folks are on vacation so i don't mind waiting for an answer. 
<Enjoy your holidays, too. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Snail deal   12/27/13

Thank you.
<Welcome. Neale.>

Dwarf Puffers and MTS (and filter bacteria)
Dwarf Puffers and Malaysian Trumpet Snails (Sabrina's Old Nemesis!) - 10/31/2012

Hi Folks
<Hi, Gord! Wait. Gord? You again?! Just kidding. Didn't realize this was from you until I just now scrolled down to take a look to see to whom I should be saying hi. I just happen to have a soft spot in my heart for eliminating Malaysian Trumpet Snails.>
I'm planning a Dwarf Puffer setup in a 60 litre tank
that currently holds a pair of Lamprologus ocellatus with a sand substrate.
The N. ocellatus will be going to a new home at the weekend. I had introduced Malaysian Trumpet Snails (MTS) into the tank,
<Nooooooooooooo! Malaysian Trumpet Snails.... My old nemesis! Every time someone says, with an innocent tone, "I added some trumpet snails!" a piece of my soul cries.>
since I'd read they keep the sand aerated and I have positively encouraged them to thrive.
<.... I have nothing good to say here. I'm trying. See, I do know people actually seek them out intentionally, and add them to tanks, but.... I just can't wrap my brain around it. THEY'RE EVIL. Complete with little pointy beards and moustaches, and maniacal laughter. Not kidding, listen closely to your substrate. They're laughing at you *right now*.>
However I also read that puffers can damage their teeth on MTS.
<I wouldn't be surprised. And these little trapdoor devils can thwart puffers, too. I only know one fish that can definitely dispose of them.>
I'd like to use the same substrate for the puffers but I think I need to get rid of the MTS to do so (please correct me if I'm wrong).
<I would get rid of them, but for other reasons. Your reason, however, is reasonable, too.>
My options as I see it so far:
1: Dump some molluscicide (copper?) or bleach in there and wait a month for decay to complete. Wash substrate and tank.
<DON'T do this. Trumpet snails may survive it, for one, and for another, the copper that leaches into your substrate may release at some time in the future - and your puffers are very sensitive to copper. Don't do this; it's not worth it.>
2: Starve them. Don't feed the tank for a few months.
<Won't work. Evil doesn't need to eat. Okay, the snails *do* need to eat, but there's plenty for them, whether you feed them or not. Even if only one of these livebearing nightmares survives, you'll soon be repopulated.>
3: Sieve the whole substrate.
<Won't work. Newly born baby snails will still make it through. And they grow up to be evil.>
4. Dump the substrate and start again.
<An excellent option. But there are others.>
5. You tell me I don't have to get rid of the MTS, I celebrate.
<Well, you could do this. But I think you're not unreasonable for being concerned for the puffers' well-being.>
Obviously I'd rather go for option 3 since it doesn't involve decaying organisms in the substrate but I don't know what size the newborns are and whether they would pass through the sieve.
<They will.>
I have a feeling option 5 isn't going to happen.
<That's up to you, and how risky you feel it is. I, personally, for just the reason of the puffers' teeth, would probably eliminate them.>
Any guidance on this would be most welcome. I feel bad asking since there's already so much on ridding tanks of snails on WWM but I'm in a (to me) fairly unique position of being able to do it without any livestock in the tank and have an opportunity to break the system down if necessary. I'm not trying to get rid of an outbreak but a deliberately cultivated population.
<That concept still makes me cringe. Anyhow, you have a couple of other options. One of them stinks, literally, and one of them involves Botia striata. I have seen, firsthand in my own tank, Botia striata suck Malaysian Trumpets out of their shells with no problems at all. It's like the trapdoor isn't even there; they just knock the snail over and suck, and it's empty. I don't know how successful other Botia would be at this, but B. striata are a dream come true. They're also super cute. Try 'em, you'll like 'em! The smellier option a buddy of mine tried with success.
It's less than ideal, if you ask me - even cruel, perhaps - but it works.
Microwave the substrate. He did his in microwave-safe casserole dishes for an extraordinarily long time, and said the smell was appalling. But he was giddy with glee to have gotten rid of the little soul-sucking demons. Just don't miss a single pebble, nuke it all. Or just get a little school of B. striata. Oh, and drying the substrate out - for months - won't work. Been there, tried that. They just shut their little shells and nap, only to wake up and laugh when they're wet again. Why do I hate these snails so, so much, you might ask? They are really, really good at growing to a huge population and eating every speck of anything in the tank. Folks say they won't eat plants, but after they eat everything else, they most certainly do. And when they get to that point, they're like lawnmowers. First it's any decaying bits (they really don't take the live parts until last), but eventually, they just plow through everything. And have you ever seen, just after lights-out, how the substrate starts to crawl, and then they march up the sides of the tank like they're coming to take over the world?
Also, while I'm writing, can I clarify a concept that's been bugging me for a while?
<I'll try. No promises!>
To my mind, if I remove all of the livestock from a cycled tank and the bacteria is no longer being fed, it will START to die off,
and release the nutrients it held back into the water column. If this happens then there will be ammonia present from the decay and the remaining bacteria will eat that, grow and die again when it completes, so the system should stay cycled, albeit to a lesser degree.
<Yes, to a lesser and lesser degree over time, until a balance is struck.>
Would this equilibrium occur?
<Yeah, basically.>
It's relevant if I need to fallow this system to get rid of the snails.
<Still won't work. So sorry.>
I can't thank you enough for your help and resources. You've taken a guy that didn't even know what cycling was to overcomplicating it with questions like that!
<Haha! Isn't life, and learning, just wonderful?? So glad to have added to your life in this way.... and for you to have added to all of ours, and our readers'!>
I've also managed to do about 4 hours reading on Dwarf Puffers long before I've even set up the system, thanks to the influence and hard work of the Crew.
<Wonderful. Wonderful. Thank you, Gord, for your very fun questions, and for your kindness and encouragement.>
<Best wishes to you always, -Sabrina>
Dwarf Puffers and Malaysian Trumpet Snails (Sabrina's Old Nemesis!) - II 11/04/2012

Hi Sabrina
<Hi, Gord!>
Yes, me again! I'm like a bad penny. Thanks for a very entertaining email. I read that over my morning tea and you had me in stitches. It really set me up for the day.
<Hah!  I'm glad.>
I can only assume that you don't like Trumpet Snails then?
<Can't imagine where you got that idea!  *grin*>
Given what you've just told me, I'm not too sure I like them now either and it's not because of their evil laughter and pointy beards! Eat my plants? No way!
<Many/most folks will claim otherwise, but I've seen it firsthand.  They do eat any/everything else first, but as they grow too populous for the tank, they'll take down plants too.>
The worst thing is I put 4 into my community tank (60 litre, Barbs and Tetras) a week ago when I decided to conserve some Trumpet Snails for future use. I feel it might be time to go on a snail squashing spree and give the Barbs a little extra protein.
<My opinion is that trumpet snails aren't for my tanks.  Your mileage may vary.>
I'd be hesitant to take on life purely to rid a tank of a pest,
<Botia striata really are a wonderful fish, if you've got the room for a small school.  Quite a delightful little loach.>
so that leaves me with your buddy’s nuclear winter idea for the puffer tank.
I might go for a different take on this, though, and boil the substrate then sieve out the bodies. Unless these super-snails are immune to 100C water, that is! To my mind, it shouldn't be any different to cooking whelks. I wonder if you can eat Trumpet Snails? I have some quite big ones (kidding). 
<Mmmm, tasty....  Or not....  Wait 'til you smell 'em.  DO NOT do this if you have a significant other in the house, or if family is going to visit.  Trust me.>
Anyway, thanks. I think I have a way forward that doesn't involve too much hassle now. 
<Good luck!  I, personally, prefer the loach option, as for some reason I can't bring myself to kill things in one way if I think there's a "better" way, and for something to become a meal is, in some messed-up way, "better" in my mind.  It's an odd quirk.  I don't even kill spiders in my own home.  I guess I'm a pretty weird case.>
Thanks for clearing up the filter bacteria issue. It made sense to me that equilibrium would be reached, but often I think that there might be something I've overlooked in an aquarium setting.
<Seems like you're a pretty sensible guy, Gord.>
It is useful to know since I don't like moving fish just to keep feeding a filter, nor do I like feeding empty tanks.
<Feeding the empty tank just keeps a higher load of "waste" - mimicking having fish in the tank, basically, so that there will remain a greater amount of nitrifying bacteria.  Nothing wrong with doing that.  If you don't, and the tank is left alone, it just means being slow and careful when you add fish again.  No biggee either way.>
<Best wishes again and always,  -Sabrina>

CW Nerite-egg eater?   6/10/12
Hello Neale,
I have a 12 gallon non-heated freshwater tank with several Nerite snails.  The eggs are becoming unsightly and wanted to know if you were aware of any FW room-temperature fish that will eat the eggs.
<Nope. If you find one, let me know! I scrape them off, using an algae scraper. The ones which hold razor blades work well.>
I've read online that some options may be a MTS, Betta fish, Rosy Barb, Cherry Barb, Dwarf Gourami, Dwarf Loach, or Scarlet Badis.
<None sounds likely. The egg cases do fall off eventually, but they are quite hard, so it seems improbable any fish would be able to dislodge them short of something like a Panaque.>
MTS can overpopulate, so I'm ruling that out.
I've read that the Dwarf Gourami & Dwarf Loach don't like room temperature tanks during the Winter if they're as cold as the high sixties, so I'm thinking of ruling them out…
I think the Scarlet Badis look really nice, but read online that they require live food only (I'd rather feed packaged fish-food), so I'm unfortunately crossing that off of my list.
<Can't imagine them eating egg cases! They're fussy feeders, yes.>
I know that the Paradise Fish is room temp -- not sure if they will eat Nerite snail eggs ... do you know?
<Doubt it.>
Do you know of any other room temp fish that will eat Nerite Snail eggs?
Thank you,
<Sorry can't offer more help. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: CW Nerite-egg eater?   6/10/12

Hi Neale,
I appreciate your response.  It seems like I'm destined to scrape off those little eggs by hand, at least for the time being.  Perhaps I'll wait until my Nerites live out their life in my tank and then only keep Amano Shrimp & Otos in the future as my algae eaters.....
<Hi Christine. The sad thing is that Nerites are infinitely better algae eaters than either shrimps or catfish. You may want to shop around on the Nerite front. Since Nerites need to mate before laying eggs, if you keep one each per species, you shouldn't get eggs! Make sense? Cheers, Neale.>
Re: CW Nerite-egg eater?   6/11/12
Thanks Neale - yes, I've heard the same thing that you mentioned below (that Amano shrimp & Otos, while good at eating algae, pale in comparison to Nerites....)
<Sadly so.>
Since I have a pair of olives, a pair of zebra, & only 1 corona, I'll take your suggestion & ask my LFS to take back one olive & one zebra, so that should take care of the egg situation.
<That's the theory, at least! They may be hold onto sperm for a few weeks or months after mating -- many animals can -- but eventually they should "run out".>
I had originally bought pairs thinking that a snail may want a "buddy" of the same species ... but I've noticed that there's not a lot of interaction between snails of the same species (other than mating)…
<Among Nerites, yes, you're right. But I have kept other snails that seem to spend a lot of time together. Possibly mating or something related to pre-mating behaviours. Can be quite bizarre watching heaps of big Tylomelania snails stuck together on the glass!>
they don't seem to have similar behavior fish wanting to shoal together (or be in close proximity)....so I think the lone Nerite species won't feel lonely if I have only 1 of each…
<For sure. I don't imagine they're terribly smart animals.>
Thanks again!!
<Welcome. Neale.>
Re: CW Nerite-egg eater?   6/12/12

Hi Neale,
Thanks for the info.
That's interesting about the Sulawesi snails .. if I ever have any in the future, then I'll make sure that I at least have a pair so that they're happy....
<Definitely fun animals. Look out for them! They're slow breeding livebearers (sort of), so you don't normally see their eggs.>
<Cheers, Neale.> 

Potential snail problem 11/30/11
Hello WetWebMedia Crew,
Several months ago I was given a small floating plant by LFS. I do not have a planted tank, know nothing about them in fact, but thought it might provide a lovely bit of additional shade. In keeping with the perpetual "learn by experience" aspect of fish keeping, I now know that one has to be careful of snail eggs coming in on plants.  I have a 21Gallon (tall) aquarium that has been established for 7 months. It houses 10 Neon Tetras, a small Angelfish,
<Mmm, a note re... will get larger in time; too likely consume your Neons>
 a Glass Cat
<A social species; best kept in a group>
 and a Plecostomus.
<A smaller species I hope/trust, like an Ancistrus>
 and now, many little snails rapidly growing into large snails that are making yet more little snails!
They seem to be regular pond snails and research tells me that there are a few different types of fish I can add to my tank that will take care of this soon-to-be problem.
<Mmm, there are other controls... Please read here re:
and peruse the related files linked above>
I was considering Clown Loaches but am thinking that my tank is probably not big enough for 3 of them. (and 2 would be too few if I'm not mistaken?)
<Correct on both counts>
Someone also told me that a Red Tail Black Shark would eat them but I have yet to find any such information online.
<Also mean and potentially large... like the Angel>
I figured it best to ask advice!
Thanks for your help,
<Welcome! I'd read; consider another avenue... simple collection and removal may be the way to go here. Bob Fenner>
Re: Potential snail problem   12/1/11

Hi Bob,
Thank you very much for the suggested reading. I really appreciate your and Neale's insight on this matter and I am always excited by what I learn on your site!
<Ahh, welcome>
Regarding my potential pond snail overpopulation, I will definitely try your "food in a dish at nightfall" suggestion, but I will also keep researching Clea helena per Neale's endorsement. So far, the only incompatibility I can see with putting Assassin Snails in my tank is that it has gravel substrate. Is this completely unacceptable?
<Mmm, no... most can/will live exposed>
 They do seem to be the only biological solution considering the small size of my tank. I really haven't been able to find any downfall to having this seemingly wonderful little snail; are there any?
<Not many, no... w/ the loss of suitable food, they can die off en masse, polluting water and what that portends>
Regarding your observations on my existing tankmates, I'd like to take a moment to explain and I certainly welcome further advice. Inexperience lends that I don't always know to do the right thing, but I do try to research before I purchase new fish in order to provide the most appropriate environment that I can. I am quite new to the hobby but I am aspiring, and my goal is to have a 55 or 75 gallon freshwater tank established by this time next year. Re: Angelfish... it had been at the LFS for 3 weeks+ looking a little the worse for wear, its companions dying off one by one, so (right
or wrong) I brought it home aware that it would someday want to snack on the Neon Tetras but hoping to have my larger tank in place before this happens.
Compassion overruled logic I'm afraid. (I'm working on that)
<I see>
I also live in a small, somewhat remote town in northern Ontario, Canada which has the only LFS within a two hour drive in any direction. There is only one supplier willing to ship fish to our LFS every second week, and their selection on offer (to us) is often random at best. Ordering online would be an alternative but it comes with its own exorbitant shipping costs and questionable success rate. Re: Plecostomus... I waited (and am still waiting) for an Ancistrus. A Starlight Bristlenose Pleco to be specific.
But, alas, the supplier has not come through yet. The LFS offered me a small
common Pleco that I could exchange once they were able to bring in an Ancistrus.
<Very good>
They will then put it in the store's 75 gallon display tank. And finally, the single Glass Catfish. My fault, lack of consideration on my part. Per planetcatfish.com, a school of 4 is acceptable but 6 is preferred.
Would 6 be too many for my little 21 gallon tank?
<Yes... I'd go w/ three as a minimum and maximum here>
I thank you again and look forward to more lessons!
<I look forward to our future sharing. BobF>

Loach/Pleco/Frog Question... snail removal     11/27/11
Hi, I hope you can help me with my dilemma'¦
<Sure thing.>
I have a 55 gallon tank with a 7" Clown Loach, a 6" African Clawed Frog, and an 18" Plecostomus. We have a pretty bad snail problem (over 100, easy), and while we remove them as we see them, I can plainly see that they are in the substrate rocks. I am sure there are eggs all over as well. What's the best way to get rid of them? The Pleco and the loach don't seem to be eating them - or if they are, they aren't making a dent. :)
<I assume these are the Livebearing snail Melanoides tuberculatus. These convert organic detritus into baby snails. The dirtier the tank, the fewer snails. So, the fact you have hundreds of snails is a symptom rather than the problem itself. Given that 55 gallons is far too small for these fish, it's almost certain the tank contains lots of uneaten food, fish faeces, and algae for the snails to eat. Hence, your "solution" is to fix this. More water changes, better filtration, less food, introduction of fast-growing plants to outcompete algae, regular cleaning of the substrate will all help. Realistically, in an overcrowded tank, unless you remove all the snails in one fell swoop, all of this will take time to have any effect at all. Removing everything from the tank, deep cleaning it, and reintroducing the fish will provide a surer way to knock back the snails to near zero levels, though mature filter media can carry some snails, so you will need to prevent these survivors multiplying through the methods described above. Clea helena snails can help as well.>
I know getting more loaches may be the answer,
<Is not the answer at all. Will make things much worse because your tank already provides excellent conditions for Melanoides.>
but I worry about the large loach (or the Pleco or frog) being aggressive to the smaller newcomers. We thought about moving them to an entirely new tank, but I can't work out how to set the new tank up and get it cycling because - how on earth do you lift a full 55 gallon tank onto the stand at that point?
<You don't. Assuming you aren't using an undergravel filter, then moving mature biological media from one tank to another, you merely keep it damp. No need to transfer gravel or water.>
We only have one stand, and while we could afford a new tank, we can't afford a new stand as well. I also know that when setting up a new tank it is wise to use some gravel or decor from the old tank to help establish healthy bacteria in the new tank - but doesn't that defeat the purpose, as those items would have to be thoroughly cleaned to remove the snail eggs?
Help! :)
<Do read:
Cheers, Neale.>

Zebra Loaches, snail cont., comp.  7/30/10
Hi Crew, hope all is going well for you. I have a couple of questions, please. I wanted to know if it is true that zebra loaches indeed do eat snails
<If hungry, yes, up to a point. But this is misunderstood by many. They will have near-zero impact on Melanoides livebearing snails for example, and really only tackle small Physa and Physella. They generally ignore the tiny Planorbis snails. In any case, if you're feeding them -- or the other fish they're kept with -- they'll generally eat that "easy" food rather than the snails. Any retailer who tells you a given loach will cure a snail problem is not really being honest. Many fish eat snails on occasion, for example Oscars, Synodontis and many of the Mbuna, but that doesn't mean these fish are snail cures.>
and if they would be good tank companions for angels and Corys.
<Bit on the boisterous size, so it does depend on the size of the tank.
Assuming 55 gallons/250 litres or more, yes, a group of Botia striata will get along with most community fish. There will be competition for food though, so take care with Corydoras. Personally, I prefer not to mix Botiine loaches with Corydoras except for Dwarf Chain Loaches. Angels generally dislike strong water currents, so you'll need to be careful ensuring proper circulation for these loaches while not buffeting about the poor Angels. Would recommend Kuhli Loaches as the classic "pond" loaches as opposed to these stream-dwelling species.>
Also, what is the minimum grouping that is healthy for them
<As with all Botiine loaches, 5 or more, or they'll fight all the time and will be so shy you'll never see them.>
and are they hardy to keep?
<Given the right conditions, i.e., low to moderate temperature, lots of water current, and a soft substrate, yes, they're quite hardy. The usual cautions apply though with regard to copper and formalin.>
Thank you for your time.
<Happy to help. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Zebra Loaches  7/31/10

Thank you Neale, I guess I won't try to use that method then.
<Perhaps not.>
Could you please recommend some safe product (if any) that will rid my tank of snails?
<I wouldn't use any "product", but I will recommend the snail-eating "Assassin Snail" Clea helena, a species that will consume snails and over time does establish an equilibrium. They aren't an instant fix, but you will find they have a strong negative effect on snails by eating the juveniles, so that the number of adult snails declines. Clea helena breeds but since they're either male or female you will need a reasonably large group to be sure to get males and females. They breed slowly, and it is several months before you'll spot any juveniles.>
I do not even know what type they are. I had never used live plants of any kind until I set up this current aquarium and the ones I have now are java fern. I assume that is where the snails came from. I try to vacuum as many as possible when doing a water change (I have a sand bottom). I know of a product called "rid a snail" but have heard that would hurt my cories.
<Indeed. The molluscicides sold to aquarists typically contain potassium permanganate, and this is very toxic indeed. Broadly, it is safe used as short dip for new plants, but otherwise should not be added to the aquarium. Even if it was safe in the aquarium, having handfuls of dead snails rotting in an aquarium will bring down water quality. So why bother?>
Also I currently have 6 angels and 3 gold gouramis in addition to my cories. I am getting tired of the gouramis and have decided to have just an all angel (except for the cories) tank. Will there be fighting if I add more angels to the ones who have been in the 75 gallon tank for over a year? Thanks again for all you do.
<Angels can be territorial, so fighting is definitely a risk. You should be okay because you already have six of them, but there's no guarantees. For what it's worth, I think you might want to leave the Gouramis; I find they
have a "disturbance" factor on the Angels that ensures the school of Angels stays together. They do what cichlid keepers call acting as the target fish, a focus for the aggression that maintains pair bonds. In a 75 gallon tank the impact three gold Gouramis will have on water quality is minimal, so I'd honestly leave them there, or at least replace them with another largish Gourami species like Lace or Moonlight Gouramis.>
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Zebra Loaches -- 7/31/10

Hi Neale, as far as this "target fish" thing goes, does that mean that the aggression some of the angels have towards one another may be directed towards the gouramis thus keeping them from fighting among themselves?
<No. Target fish are *different species* that are threats that cichlid social units recognise, and those threats help to keep the cichlids working together. Without target fish the cichlids have more energy to divert into fights over hierarchy. Also, without target fish, pairs tend to be weaker, so males are more likely to bully the females. In other words, by ensuring the cichlids are "scared" a bit, the social group works better. It's complex, and I'd encourage you to read Paul Loiselle on this issue, in 'The Cichlid Aquarium'.>
I do think they are pretty fish but even though I have one male and two females I get tired of seeing the male always chasing one of the females around the tank all the time.
<Male Gold/Blue Gouramis -- varieties of Trichogaster trichopterus -- are notorious bullies, and as you'll see elsewhere I recommend people just keep females. Lace and Moonlight Gouramis are much less aggressive.>
That is the only reason I want to get rid of them. I don't know if the male chases the same female or not, but would adding one more female help the situation?
<Possibly, but I'd prefer to remove the male if you can, or swap for another Trichogaster species.>
Thank you again. James
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Zebra Loaches -- 7/31/10
Thank you for the information. It is always good to learn new things in the aquarium world. I managed to catch the male gold Gourami and take him back to the LFS. Do you recommend me buying any more females or is having just 2 OK? Thank you again.
<For the purposes of target fish, two is fine. Cheers, Neale.>

FW, remedy for snails in a community tank - 03/28/10
I have 2 tanks of community fish currently set up and had a few of the small snails come in on plants. As you can imagine, the few snails have turned into a few hundred.
<Yes, this can happen, but do understand why. Contrary to popular misconception, snails cannot break the laws of physics. To make one snail takes a certain amount of energy and food. To make hundreds takes a lot more energy and food. Snail populations are limited by the amount they have to eat. If you have a lot of snails, you have a tank with enough food (i.e., uneaten fish food) for them to multiply and grow that rapidly. The best way to control snail numbers is to keep a tank clean, remove uneaten food, remove dead plant material, and then let the snail population die back to a lower level.>
Short of picking the out daily by hand, I'm having trouble keeping them under control.
<Indeed. Unless conditions change, snail numbers will always rise up to the level supported by the amount of food available to them.>
I tried assassin snails, but they don't appear to be doing much.
<You do need a sufficient number. Try doubling the number you have.>
Tanks are vacuumed about weekly with 15-20% water changes; I have well water so no additives needed; pH stays around 7, no detectable ammonia or nitrite in either tank. Current tank inhabitants are as follows: 10 gallon
tank with 3 white skirt tetras, 1 rubber lip Pleco, and 3 fancy guppies;
<Wrong fish for this size tank, which may be one reason conditions favour the snails.>
50 gallon tank with 4 black skirt tetras, 4 zebra Danios, 8 Neons, 6 fancy guppies, 3 dwarf Platies, and 3 or 4 ghost shrimp (hard to count them-they mostly hide). My thought was to get some loaches to take care of the snail problem but I'm not sure which species would be best. I was primarily looking at Dwarf Chain Loaches or Zebra Loaches just based on internet research.
<Depends on the snails, but to be honest, Loaches and Pufferfish for snail control sound much better in theory than in practise. If nothing else, the extra food you put out for these fish will increase the amount of uneaten food available to the snails. Also, Loaches and Puffers really only eat snails very much smaller than they are, and things like Dwarf Loaches have hardly any impact at all. Once Loaches and Puffers learn you're feeding them nice, soft food items like bloodworms and catfish pellets, they won't eat snails anyway.>
My plan is to put them in the 10 gallon tank temporarily to deal with the snails (perhaps relocating the current inhabitants to my quarantine tank for that time), then move them to the 50 gallon tank to live. I'd like to get rid of the snails, but don't want to exchange one problem for another.
Any suggestions would be appreciated.
<Cheers, Neale.>

Pest snails and planted tank 05/20/09
Hi all,
Thank you in advance for taking the time to read my email. I searched your site and found some wonderful material, but I still have questions on two topics.
<Fire away.>
An experienced fancy guppy breeder told me that soaking aquatic plants in a strong aloe vera solution for a day would kill pest snails and their eggs. This sounds less messy, less dangerous to the plants and more environmentally friendly than the potassium permanganate dips that I am currently using. Do you know if soaks in aloe vera really kill snail eggs?  If this does work, do you know what concentration of aloe vera should be used?
<Never heard of using Aloe Vera, so can't comment; as for environmental friendliness, perhaps, but if you happen to drive a car then you already do far more damage to the environment in a day than a lifetime's dipping of plants in potassium permanganate! So if that's a motive, perhaps focus on stuff where you actually can make a difference.>
Also, before I became careful about plants, I accidentally introduced some pest snails into my 29 gallon BioCube tank (actual capacity is more like 22 gallons). I have been manually removing the pest snails and using homemade snail traps, but it seems to be a losing battle. I am interested in a non-chemical way of controlling the snails in the tank, but I have some concerns and questions about the methods suggested on your site.  Assassin Snails - I thought about the "assassin snails", but I have heard from some people that after they eat the current snail population, then they overrun the tank.
<They eat protein, not plants; in other words, if the tank is filthy with uneaten food, their population can, will, expand to use up those available resources. Though it's unarguable science, many people still don't grasp that snail populations are depending on the energy (food) available to them -- they cannot magically multiply if there's nothing for them to eat.  Hence, a clean tank will always be a tank with few snails; a messy tank will always have the potential for snail plagues.>
Other people have said that after the assassin snails eat all the pest snails, they starve and the dying assassin snails pollute the tank. Do you know what happens with the assassin snail population after they are introduced?
<My specimens seem to maintain a low population that causes no problems at all. Since they don't eat plants, the upper limit on their numbers is firmly fixed by the available protein: fish food, dead fish, other snails.>
Loaches - I thought about the small Botia sidthimunki loaches (max size about 2.5 inches), but it looks like they are most happy in groups of at least 5 (total of about 11 inches of fish).
<Correct; in fact, I'd have six or more.>
I am afraid that this would be too much fish for my aquarium that has an actual capacity of about 22 gallons. I currently have 2 dwarf cichlids (Apisto cacs - max size about 3 inches each), 7 panda tetras (Aphyocharax paraguayensis - max size about 1.5 inches each) and 5 ember tetras (Hyphessobrycon amandae - max size about 0.75 inches) for a total of about 20.25 inches. Would it be acceptable to put 31 inches of fish in an aquarium that has an actual capacity of 22 gallons?
I have very good built-in filtration with a mechanical filter and bioballs and I do a 25% water change every week. The tank is lightly planted and will be heavily planted if the snails ever stop eating all my plants. I don't know if this is relevant, but I have soft water (10GH, 40KH) with 0 Nitrates, 0 Nitrites, 0 ammonia and a pH of 6.8 kept at 80 degrees. I don't overfeed my fish, but the population of "pond-type" snails continues to grow because they are happily eating all of my plants.
<I suspect you'd find Clea helena very good in this tank. I use them and like them.>
I would appreciate any advice that you could give me.
Thank you,
p.s. In my search I found and read this article. . .
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Pest snails and planted tank 05/20/09

Hi Neale,
Wow! Thank you for the fast reply and thank you for reassuring me regarding the Clea helena. I am glad to hear that the Clea helena snails work well and that they stay at a low population. Now I just need to fine some. I have a few more follow up questions if you don't mind.
Would the Clea helena eat much larger apple/mystery/Briggs snails? I have some pet apple snails and I could move them to another tank if they would
be in danger.
<My Clean helena ignore larger snails, including adult Nerite snails and adult Tylomelania snails. In fact, they seem only to take snails their own size or smaller. So while I can't guarantee it, certainly mine have not killed larger snails in a year of cohabitation. They will of course eat baby snails.>
Can you recommend a good source for the assassin snails?
<Here in the UK at least, they're reasonably widely traded at the better aquarium shops including such places as Wildwoods. Elsewhere in the world,
I'm afraid you'll have to consult aquarists in your area.>
I also have a few comments/observations below.  I do focus on things where I can actually make a difference. I don't own a car. I am lucky enough to live in a place with good public transportation. I use Zipcar, (car sharing by the hour), and I walk to places when I can.
<Sounds cool. Since I never learned to drive, and either walk, cycle, or train anyplace I go, it's quite easy for me to be a little too casual with telling others they shouldn't drive. But, as you appear to realize, choosing not to drive so often is one of the best ways to "do your bit" for the planet.>
I am OK with population dynamics (I actually have a Ph.D. in physics).
<Mine's in palaeontology, yet here I am talking about fish...>
I just didn't know whether the Clea helena are exclusively carnivorous.
<They're carnivores that also eat carrion; in other words, they eat snails and worms in terms of live (or frozen) food, but also dead fish and shrimps, probably fish eggs, and certainly catfish pellets, flake, etc. What they don't eat are algae and plants, and unlike Melanoides snails, (adults) don't consume micofauna either (though I suspect the burrowing juveniles do so). There's very little written about their biology, but they're whelks, and much said about saltwater whelks (Buccinidae) applies to them.>
If they were omnivorous (e.g. they might eat some algae or plants), then it would be possible for them to overpopulate the tank even without overfeeding. I also didn't know their rate of population expansion.
<Slow; it's something like one egg every couple of days, and there may even be cannibalism between adults and juveniles. Certainly, when I bought a starter population of four specimens, it was some months before I saw a juvenile, and even a year later, the population is probably 20-30, which in
a 20 gallon tank is a trivial load, especially given the tank is otherwise snail-free.>
Although the population will eventually reach a stable equilibrium, if their population expansion is rapid enough, then there could be a massive
die off in the short term when the population of pest snails has a sharp decline.
<More likely, the snails won't breed; that's the usual thing with these sorts of animals. What tends to happen with animals that don't have set
breeding seasons is that their reproduction rate rises or falls depending on the availability of food.>
This paragraph isn't meant to dispute what you are saying. I just wanted to point out that for some systems there can be wildly fluctuating
population levels in the short term before the system settles down to a stable population.
<Yes, indeed; this is the classic Lynx and Snowshoe Hare thing. But with warm-blooded vertebrates, which typically breed once a year, offspring are initiated (mating takes place) some time before the offspring actually need food, so the parents gamble that food will be present. As I understand it, with small invertebrates (and indeed fish) that live in relatively stable, tropical habitats, breeding can take place all year around, and there tends
to be diverting energy into reproduction depending on what's available. More babies in the good times, fewer in the bad. Since the newly hatched
snails are very small, even if they did die (e.g., lack of food) the amount of ammonia produced by a whole batch of their little corpses would still be
less than one uneaten catfish pellet. In other words, no big deal. Whatever the science, all I can say from experience is that I've never found Clea
helena a problem, and in fact a rather lovely addition to what I call a "freshwater reef tank" alongside larger snails (Nerites, Tylomelania) and
various shrimps.>
Best regards,
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Pest snails and planted tank 05/21/09

Thank you for the in-depth explanation. I really appreciate it.
<Most welcome.>
I hope that the job market for palaeontologists in the UK is better than the job market for physicists in the US.
<Not really! Hence, I work as a writer for fish magazines! Ironically, I learned most of this stuff while looking after the display aquaria at my university during my spare time, so my four years at college were not entirely wasted...>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Snails... control... no reading or referral... Please!  4/27/2009
Hello Crew, hope all is going well for you and you aren't too busy. I have a 75 gallon tank that right now only has Cory cats in it. Even before I had any fish I found several snails in my tank which I caught and killed.
I assumed they came in on my driftwood because I have no live plants.
<Possibly, if the driftwood was stored in an aquarium. Unlikely to come in via dried wood sitting on a shop shelf. Snails sometimes come in via aquarium fish, especially if you (foolishly) pour water from the fish bag into your aquarium. Just to recap, you put the fish bag water and the fish into a bucket, add water from the aquarium to that bucket over half an hour, and then net out the fish from the bucket into the aquarium, discarding all the water in the bucket. Not only does this keep out snails, it also stops the ammonia from the fish bag getting into your aquarium, and also reduces (though doesn't eliminate) the chances of parasites getting into your aquarium.>
Now that I have the cories I am noticing more of them even though I am trying to keep the feeding to a minimum. Do you know of a product that is safe and effective in killing snails that will not hurt the fish.
<None. Anything that kills snails will result in their decay, and that messes up water quality.>
I know clown loaches are said to eat snails, but I have read that they should be kept in groups of at least 3, and I don't want that many.
<Three! Clown Loaches should be kept in at least twice that number. If the snails are small, then any of the smaller and more peaceful loaches might work, for example Dwarf Chain Loaches (Yasuhikotakia sidthimunki) or Cherry Fin Loach (Acanthocobitis rubidipinnis). The Yo-Yo Loach (Botia almorhae)
is another option, but like many in its genus, it's fairly boisterous, especially when not kept in sufficient numbers (six or more, please!).
Synodontis will also eat snails, and some species, like S. nigriventris, are good community tank fish except perhaps around things with long fins like Fancy Guppies. It should go without saying all these fish only eat snails when hungry. But really, snails are almost never a problem, and I don't mind them at all. In a clean tank all they really do is eat algae and a bit of uneaten fish food, and provided you eliminate the plant-eating species, they do no harm.>
Thank you for your help.
<Cheers, Neale.>

Snail Problem, comp., sel.    04/23/09
I have been reading feverishly for the past night and day regarding how to safely remove snails from an aquarium. My problem is that all the snails I have seen are located in my sump/refugium.
<Nothing really wrong with that, is there? Marine aquarists go out of their way to put invertebrates in their refugia!>
My "specs":
75G FW with two Comet GF (6-8") and one Pleco (6-8"). Tank is heated/chilled (it's a hobby...) to around 75/76F.
I have a 20G sump/refugium with plants (Anacharis, if I remember correctly) that I purchased a few weeks ago, and this is likely where they came from. I thought they were clean, but I was obviously wrong. I have an Eheim 1262 pump in the refugium for return flow, and I need to know if the snails/eggs can transfer through the pump into the main tank? I have not noticed any snails in the main tank and boy did I look around hard last night after finding the snails in the sump. The sump has a 6" deep Seachem Fluorite
Black Sand substrate. Will the snails burrow into this?
<Some genera of snails are burrowers: Melanoides, Clea for example; others, like Physa and Pomacea aren't really burrowers much.>
I haven't noticed any, but then again, I might not be able to see them.
I've been reading that the "put-food-in-something-and-remove-in-a-day" method helps control population, and I will be doing this (cleaned salt shaker with algae wafers in there now) over the weekend as I am leaving on a trip tomorrow morning and won't be back until Monday night.
<Takes a long time to have much impact.>
However, I also know this won't kill/capture all of them, but merely maintain the population. Since I have the plants in the refugium, I'm concerned about them being eaten. I am also concerned that due to the large
amount of algae in the sump/refugium, I'm never going to catch the snails.
They don't seem to be concerned with the "free food" when they have all they can eat off the glass. Which brings me to more concerns, such as upsetting the balance I had with nitrates, and potentially getting into the main tank where I will most likely lose the war and have to restart the entire aquarium (something I'm not really wanting to do for obvious reasons and since I don't want to put the fish through the stress).
<Repeat after me: Snails are harmless. There is X amount of protein in your aquarium, and some goes into the fish, the rest into the snails and heterotrophic bacteria. The snail population expands to equal the amount of protein. Provided you don't overfeed the tank, the snail population CANNOT expand indefinitely. It reaches a level. In itself, all the snail population does is speed up the decay of organic matter into the ammonia that the nitrifying bacteria can use.>
I've also read that chemicals, like Had-A-Snail is a bad idea for the fish and possibly the plants.
It especially says to "take care with catfish". Not something I'm willing to risk unless the experts (you) say it will be ok for my Pleco.
<Snail-killing potions do more harm than snails do! Think about what happens if you kill all the snails, and they rot away all at the same time!
Ammonia spikes galore!>
But, I've also read that Fluke tabs may solve the problem.
<Copper at least will kill all sorts of invertebrates, but it's also toxic to fish, some more than others. Catfish, loaches, Mormyrids, puffers are among the species most intolerant of copper.>
However, I can't tell from reading online and the manufacturer instructions how detrimental it will be to catfish and plants. This would obviously be the easy solution and I'd be happy to try it if you guys think it won't hurt any of my fish. I would take the fish out of the aquarium if I had another place to put them, but
all I have is a 10G tank I use if I ever have to move/do construction on the main tank. This is definitely not a suitable home for them for more than a day.
<Specific fluke medications other than copper will have little/no impact on snails.>
Another idea I read about, a loach, doesn't seem feasible as the environment just isn't suited for them. I'd hate to put a fish in a place that isn't suited for them just to help me out. No reason it has to suffer for my mistake.
I was thinking the following in regards to killing the pests: Replace the sump for a couple of days with a canister filter I have and remove the water from the sump leaving it mostly exposed to air (the sand holds a good amount of water) and attempt to "dry out" the snails. Does this work? Will the snails die out of water?
<Some will, but others, such as Melanoides, can survive for months out of water in a hibernating state.>
Will they try to burrow into the sand?
<Some will, yes.>
If that isn't a good idea, what about mixing only the water in the sump with a large dose of aquarium salt? If I do this, will the sand absorb the salt?
<Melanoides can tolerate up to 50% seawater, so your plants and fish will die long before they will...>
Will the plants die if I leave them in there? I want to try to disinfect everything I can, so I'd attempt to leave pumps and heaters in the salt water if I did this.
Will this be fatal to the fish upon reinstalling the sump? I understand I can dilute, like a couple of 100% water changes, but I'm worried it will ruin the substrate which will kill the plants and harm my fish. I can't
find any of this information on your site. Surely I can't be the only one that ever had a sump infected with snails, but then again, maybe I'm one of the rare people running a sump on a FW tank?
<Snails aren't that big of a problem. Simply remove the surplus snails as you see them, but otherwise ignore, and instead control excess protein via better aquarium management.>
Help! And THANK YOU so much!
<Do see here for a useful snail-eating snail, Clea helena.
Widely sold in the UK at least, sometimes as the "assassin snail". Cheers,

Snails 3/28/09
Hello I could really use some help. Have a 90 gallon with Cyprichromis (15). I have an infestation of snails that just keeps getting worse. No live plants and unsure where the snails came from. Any help would be greatly appreciated. You have helpful to me in the past. Thank you. Phil
<Snails aren't that big of a deal in terms of fish health, and population explosions tend to reflect overfeeding and/or under-cleaning, so do review overall conditions. But more specifically, avoid snail poisons, and instead either use snail traps (e.g., the JBL LimCollect) or add some type of snail-eating fish or invertebrate. My snail-eater of choice is the Assassin Snail, Clea helena (sometimes called Anentome helena). It's a small, pretty snail that eats snails such as Malayan livebearing snails alongside bloodworms, fish food, etc. I can't recommend it highly enough. There are some snail-eating Malawian fish, but a lot of them tend to be highly aggressive (Melanochromis, Pseudotropheus, etc.). Labidochromis caeruleus is perhaps one exception, but being fairly small, it'll only take small snails, and then only when hungry. The same goes for Synodontis catfish. Cheers, Neale.>

FW 20 gal tall stocking question: snail remediation solution 3/18/09
Hi! I've learned invaluable things from your site but need to be some confirmation or redirection regarding my tank.
I have a 20 gal tall FW, artificially planted, smaller substrate gravel w/ several drift wood pieces, double hang-on-back filters (each rated for 20 gal). Water parameters are ammon: 0, Nitrite: 0, and Nitrate 10. Ph 7.8+ due to municipal water source. Tank is kept at 78 degrees F.
<Sounds nice.>
Current stock: 1 bristle nose Pleco, 10 glass fish. I will be adopting an unaggressive female three-spot Gourami in another week and have already provided a dedicated cave for her (on opposite side of tank from the Pleco's preferred cave).
<Hmm... like children, fish often want to play with the SAME cave, even if there are caves to go around!>
I also, unfortunately, am now the not-so-happy owner of unwanted pond snails (most likely came in with the last add of glass fish). I've already removed a dozen or so and yet babies are cropping up all over! I read that Botia sid dwarf loaches are an excellent natural solution to this problem.
I know I don't have room for FIVE as suggested, but have read others have kept them in happy groups of three. Do you think I have room in my tank for three? I need a snail remediation solution, but don't want to disrupt my currently peaceful tank.
<Yasuhikotakia sidthimunki (formerly Botia sidthimunki) is a schooling fish, so keeping a single specimen isn't fair. They're intensely gregarious, and even in groups of six look pretty forlorn. To be honest, the idea of choosing a fish for snail control rarely works in practise.
Puffers and Loaches will eat snails when they're hungry, but they cause problems of their own. Loaches tend to be aggressive and sometimes bully other fish, while Puffers are often territorial and frequently nippy, even putting aside the fact some of the species sold need brackish water. By far the best control for snails is manual labour. Begin by keeping snails out, for example by dipping new plants in an off-the-shelf snail-killing potion for a few minutes. Secondly, kill any snails you see on sight. Squish them, and leave your catfish or whatever to clean up the corpses. Thirdly, make life difficult for your snails: keep the tank clean, and in particular remove uneaten food. Finally, consider adding a predatory snail or two.
Clea helena (sometimes called Anentome helena) are sold as "Assassin Snails" quite widely now, at least here in the UK. They're attractive animals that get to about an inch in length and are prettily marked with
yellow and brown. They eat snails, but don't eat plants. While they do breed, they breed so slowly that they're unlikely to cause problems. Worst case, you remove any you see. They're amazing little snail-eaters, and though their impact is slow, it is substantial in the long term. You end up with a balance of predators and prey, and the snails stop being a major problem.>
As always, thanks for your thoughts and support!!!
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: FW 20 gal tall stocking question: snail remediation solution 3/18/09

Just to clarify, you say not to add a SINGLE sidmunk (Botia sidthimunki), but I asked about adding a small group of three (knowing they are best with buddies).
<Yes, I caught this. My point was you shouldn't keep them in groups of less than six, and ideally twice that number. They really are nervous animals kept in too-small a group, by which I mean they're skittish and prone to "unexplained" deaths.>
Aside from this, though, it doesn't sound like an over-stocking issue to add these but rather an action that may create a rather aggressive tank.
Did I read your reply right?
<Precisely. While Yasuhikotakia sidthimunki isn't particularly aggressive (far from it in fact) most of the loaches big enough to actually deal with a snail problem tend to be more trouble than their worth: Clown loaches, Skunk Botia, etc.>
I did reading on the Assassin Snails - doesn't appear to be common here in the U.S. I think I'll just crush them as you suggest and hope for the best. I've already scaled back on food for the tank, so don't know how much I can change that. My daily feeding habits for the tank are: AM: small amount of flake and PM: 1/2 small block of bloodworms OR 1/2 small square of brine shrimp with an algae wafer for the Pleco every once in a while).
Any changes suggested in my feeding given my livestock and the snail problem?
<Nope. Sounds fine. A certain number of snails are good. They're like earthworms, keeping the substrate aerated. Vast populations of snails, on the other hand, tend to come about through chronic overfeeding and/or under-cleaning.>
And - I will repeat over and over - THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!
<There's also a little device called a "limcollect" from JBL. It catches snails. Or is supposed to, anyway. My unit never seemed to catch any at all! May depend on the snail species in question. On the other hand, the
tank with Assassin Snails would be snail-free if I didn't deliberately add more (small) snails to keep them well fed.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Do goldfishes eat snails   1/11/09 Hi, I have a quick question we had a tiny snail hitch a ride on the live plant that we bought for the aquarium and yesterday it disappeared, he had taken refuge on the top of the canister filter half in water and half outside from the goldfishes who were continuously nudging him. We have one red cap Oranda named Luna (1 inch w/o tail) and one red Oranda named Goldie (1.5 inches w/o tail) in a 20 gallon tank with a decoration rock, and a live plant. Could they have eaten him, my son is really worried about his see-see the snail. We have searched the whole tank even opened the filter and looked inside. If the goldfishes have eaten him will they be alright and should we be worried about them getting sick. Thank you very much ..... your website is amazing and thank you for helping me out again and again and again. Best Regards, Midhat. <Goldfish don't normally eat snails, but they will eat anything they can swallow, so if the snail was unlucky, then yes, it might get eaten. This won't do the Goldfish any harm (they have powerful teeth in their throat for grinding up food). If you want a pet snail to add to a Goldfish tank, then the best bet is something like a Ramshorn snail (Planorbis spp.). These are often sold in garden centres, at least they are here in the UK, usually for people to put in their ponds. For various reasons I don't recommend Apple snails (Pomacea spp.) even though they are often sold as "scavengers" for aquaria of all types. The reality is they don't do all that well in fish tanks, and when they die, they cause major pollution. Cheers, Neale.>

A question of loaches, sel.... Snail control,  10/23/08
Hi guys and girls :D
Need some suggestions/recommendations regarding a trumpet snail infestation of biblical proportions occurring in my 40 gallon (180l) Amazon tank! The snails were originally introduced (would you believe) to provide a natural food source for our three dwarf puffers, who are now no longer with us, however the snails have thrived... the tank is currently home to two discus, a variety of tetras, hatchet fish and two dwarf golden bristlenosed catfish.
<Ah, Carinotetraodon spp. puffers are too small to handle Melanoides snails. So this combination wouldn't have been one I'd have recommended...>
Our local LFS has recommended adding a couple of clown loach, but I'm loathed to do this for several reasons, mainly that I don't think our tank is large enough for even one, let alone a group of these fish, but also that we're planning on adding two juvenile discus to our current pair (we recently lost our third discus) so I don't want to increase the bioload that much... the tank is 5 years old and water parameters are stable, but not worth the risk! I've read on here that zebra loach (Botia striata) are also good snail eaters but not sure if any other fish could do the job?
<Adding animals, even Clown Loaches, to fix snail problems rarely works.
That said, the Assassin Snail (Clea helena) can do a great job if kept in sufficient numbers. But the main thing with Melanoides is this: it turns organic matter into baby snails. It cannot break the laws of physics; ergo, no food, no baby snails. If you have a Melanoides problem, you also have a lot of organic matter decaying away in your tank. Dead plants, uneaten food, fish faeces. Review filtration and general maintenance. Make the tank cleaner and less food-rich, and the population of Melanoides will decline over time.>
All suggestions gratefully received - it gets a bit eerie every night when the army of snails migrate up the sides of the tank and you can hardly see in through one side!
<Doradidae catfish would be the obvious options, being peaceful, usually gregarious South American catfish; a school of Platydoras costatus for example would eat some snails, if sufficiently hungry. But do bear in mind the Melanoides don't actually do any harm, and in fact do much good.
Wouldn't risk mixing Cobitidae with Symphysodon; not only are more Cobitidae a bit on the boisterous size, but rather few appreciate the very high temperatures Symphysodon require.>
Many thanks,
<Cheers, Neale.>

Snails and clown loaches... contr.   11/26/07 Hi guys, I was wondering, I have a snail problem and I was thinking about getting a clown loach. <For a start, no kind aquarist gets "a" Clown Loach; they are schooling fish, and should be kept in groups of three at least. Single specimens are nervous, unhappy, and constantly stressed.> Do you know what community fishes go well with clown loaches? <Almost anything too large to be eaten and robust enough to deal with their pushy personalities. Classic tankmates are things like Spanner and Clown barbs, Silver Dollars, medium-sized gouramis, Australian Rainbowfish, Plecs, Brochis spp. catfish, etc.> Are they aggressive? <More boisterous than aggressive. Singletons sometimes turn nasty (frustration more than anything) but in groups they mostly confine their aggression towards one another. I wouldn't mix them with anything else that was a territorial bottom-dweller, that would be asking for trouble, but otherwise Clowns are pretty good pets.> I so far have a 45-50 gallon tank with lots of snails, 3 platies, and 2 swordtails. Also, do my fishes I have eat snail eggs because I have seen them eating things on the plant. <Platies and Swordtails both eat algae. They *must* eat algae. Aquarists often ignore this. For lack of anything "green" in their diet, Livebearers will peck at the green algae on plant leaves.> Another question is, about how many snails do clown loaches eat? (I have gold Inca snails.) This is because I don't want all the snails gone. <They will all be gone. Imagine keeping cats and mice in the same enclosure. That's what we're talking about here.> Will the clown loach eat all of it or just some and the snails reproduce again...and the loaches eat and etc.? <The Clowns will eat them until they are all gone.> I'm planning on getting just one clown loach. <Don't. Keeping one Clown Loach is cruel. A single Clown Loach is one of the saddest sights in the hobby. They have strong social instincts and a deep desire to be with their own kind. Only aquarists who don't care about the feelings of their fish keep them singly, and I have no time for such fishkeepers! Serious Loach-keepers actually recommend they should be treated just like any other schooling fish and kept in groups of 6 or more. I certainly consider keeping 3 the absolute, non-negotiable minimum. If you want a singleton bottom-dweller of some sort, get something that doesn't mind being kept alone. Loricariid catfish tend to fit into this bracket. Besides Plecs, many of the whiptails make fascinating pets and they won't harm snails. There are also some lovely Synodontis out there that can work well in medium/large-sized fish communities, such as Synodontis decorus and Synodontis angelicus. A school of Brochis spp. catfish would also be a lot of fun.> Thanks for all your help. ~Chris <Hope this helps, Neale.>

Clown loaches for snail control <Ananda here tonight, answering the freshwater fish questions...> hi guys need your help again if you do not mind . <Not at all -- that's what we're here for.> 100,s of stinking snails. these are the cone shaped type not sure of scientific name. <Probably the ones commonly called "Malaysian trumpet snails".> guy at local fish store said clown loaches will not eat them shells too hard <Baloney. My clown loaches eat these all the time. They don't need to crush the shells; loaches suck the snail out of the shell.> want to refrain from chem.s-  he suggested a product called had-a-snail. <I'm surprised he's trying to sell you chemicals rather than more fish.> at my wits end  heeeeeeelp meeeee rocky <Check out our loaches page and its associated FAQs: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/cobitids.htm ...also http://www.loaches.com has much info from loach fans. --Ananda>

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