There’s nothing worse than seeing little snails crawling on your aquarium glass or hiding in your fish tank decorations. These slimy creatures are quite a nuisance and can be difficult to get rid of, especially if they find refuge in hard-to-reach places inside your aquarium.
But don’t worry, you can easily eliminate these pests with the following tips on how to safely remove snails from your aquarium without doing any damage to your fish or other aquatic life.
Assessing the Situation
When removing snails from your aquarium, it is important to assess the situation. First, determine whether or not the population of snails in your tank is causing problems. If so, take a sample of the population and count how many there are per square inch of surface area. Next, compare this number to what would be considered a healthy snail density for your tank – if you have more than double the recommended number of snails, it’s time for action.
The next step is determining what type of snail problem you have – if they’re eating your plants, attacking fish, or completely taking over the tank, then it’s time for some sort of treatment. If they’re just kind of hanging out on top of the sand bed, get rid of them with these steps.
How to get rid of Aquarium Snails?
- Wait until nighttime when snails are out hunting for food, and then use tongs to remove the snail from the aquarium.
- Use a length of PVC pipe as a barrier in front of an aquarium exit point; as snails try and head towards the exit, they will be caught in the tube and can’t escape back into the aquarium.
- Fill an empty jar with salt water and put one end in an opening of your aquarium (if there is no opening, you can make one). The snails should follow the saltwater trail into the jar.
- Place a live trap inside your tank, such as a plastic container or coffee cup with air holes poked through it; most likely you will find your snail inside it after two days or so.
- For very small tanks, place a cotton ball on top of a wet paper towel next to the side of the tank; once again, as snails move towards it they will be stuck on the paper towel and can’t climb back over the edge. It may take more than one night before all the snails have left the aquarium but following these steps will ensure that you catch them all safely.
If you’re not sure how many snails there are in the tank, wait until nighttime when they come out to hunt food, and count them yourself. Another option is to go buy a bag of red wine. Put a one-quarter cup of wine at each entrance point of the aquarium, where the light hits the glass.
The snails will get attracted to it and stay near while you slowly peel off the edges of their shells with pliers or a knife (so long as they don’t sense any danger) which makes removing them much easier.
Once all the snails have been removed, clean out the tank thoroughly to prevent mold from growing by scrubbing away algae and uneaten fish food. To reduce the risk of reinfection, keep an eye out for additional eggs and egg sacs.
How to get rid of Aquarium Snails Humanely?
Once you’ve successfully captured all of your snails, it’s important to identify whether they were terrestrial snails or aquatic ones because different methods must be used to handle them. Terrestrial snails can simply be disposed of outside but if yours were aquatic, keep reading! There are a few options for disposal:
- Release them outdoors during daylight hours if possible; land-dwelling animals need sunlight as plants do and too little exposure will kill them quickly.
- They can also be placed in a pot outside with some leaves and soil – this replicates the habitat they came from which might make release easier on them.
- Seal them up in a coffee can with holes punched in the lid and leave them on your porch for several months. Snails die within about three months of being sealed up, though you’ll want to check occasionally just to make sure.
- Freeze the snails for about 10 minutes first – this immobilizes them and reduces struggling – then seal them up with baking soda or cornstarch in a freezer bag or ziplock container. This method is best reserved for large quantities because freezing takes up plenty of room!
Where do Snails come from?
Where did the snails come from? There weren’t any when you first set up your aquarium. Typically, snails will land on plants in the aquarium either as mature snails or as packets of eggs. When the fish were netted at the store and transferred to the aquarium along with the water in the transport bag, they would occasionally come with the fish. You can have a resident snail population in your aquarium with just one stray snail or a few eggs.
The ability of snails to reproduce so quickly, especially when there was only one, to begin with, is perhaps their most amazing characteristic. Since most snails don’t need a partner to breed, all it takes is one snail. The lone snail fertilizes its own eggs, and presto—a few weeks later, it becomes a single parent. No need to look for a snail-matching agency.
Additionally, it is common for some species of snails to spend the day underground, emerging only at night to look for food. There are probably dozens, if not hundreds, of siblings of the adorable tiny snail you saw on the glass hiding down under the gravel. You guessed it—each of them is capable of procreation on its own. It’s not unexpected that a snail problem can quickly spiral out of hand.
It is simpler to prevent snails from entering your fish tank than it is to deal with their overgrowth. Snail eggs are difficult to spot, but you can help get rid of them by cleaning any new plants you want to add to the tank. Before adding the plants to the aquarium, give them a thorough rinse in fresh water after soaking them in salt water for 15 minutes. The eggs that are still hanging around should be destroyed without harming the plants.