What Do Aquarium Snails Eat?

Aquatic snails are a welcome addition to most home aquariums. These mollusks co-exist with your other aquatic pets and help keep your tank clean for you.

Many people purchase such snails when they first get home aquarium tanks. If you are planning to do the same, you might be wondering, “What do aquarium snails eat?”. 

Aquarium snails typically subsist on a diet of algae, fish food, and dead organic matter. Aquarium snails housed in tanks without other creatures must be fed vegetables or pellets.

What Role Do Snails Play in an Aquarium?

Some people get freshwater snails to add a bit of diversity to their aquarium. However, most people get these critters to help keep their tanks clean.

This is because most freshwater snail species consume algae and dead organic matter in the tank. The tank’s glass would be covered in this matter without the presence of such snails.

For this reason, having freshwater snails in your aquarium can save you plenty of cleaning time. However, you may still need to occasionally give your tank a deep clean.

Types of Freshwater Snails and their Diets

It is important to understand the different types of snail species to know what to feed them. There are dozens of freshwater snail species that are popular in aquariums. This includes:

Nerite Snails

Nerite snails originate from East Africa. They reside in waters that consist of a combination of salty seawater and fresh river water. These snails can thrive well in freshwater aquariums.

They are known for their distinct large shells. Nerite snail subspecies display a variety of shell colors and patterns. 

This includes Zebra Nerite snails which have black and yellow stripes. Olive Nerite snails have solid olive colored shells. Horned Nerite snails have yellow and black stripes and spiky horns.

All Nerite snails subsist off algae. This snail species is remarkably skilled at removing algae from tanks.

If your tank does not contain enough algae to nourish your Nerite snail population, you can try other foods. This includes leafy green vegetables such as lettuce, kale, and spinach.

Mystery Snails

Mystery snails are another popular freshwater snail species. They originate from South America and are commonly found in swamps, lakes, and rivers in the continent.

Mystery snails come in many different colors. This includes black, brown, ivory, and gold shells. Some rare mystery snails also sport purple or pure white shells.

Like Nerite snails, Mystery snails also subsist off algae. However, they are also happy to consume tank detritus and leftover fish food. 

If you house these snails without other marine creatures, you will need to add food to the tank. You can feed Nerite snails algae wafers and vegetables such as cucumbers and zucchini.

Assassin Snails

Assassin snails originate from Southeast Asia. These snails are usually found in rivers and lakes across countries such as Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia.

Assassin snails are often referred to as “bumblebee” snails due to their distinct yellow and black striped shell patterns. This makes them popular in freshwater aquariums.

You should generally avoid housing Assassin snails with other snail varieties. This is because they are known to eat other snails such as Malaysian Trumpets and Ramshorns. 

Your pet Assassin snails can do a great job of getting rid of pest snails that inhabit your fish tank. If they don’t get enough food through this source, you will need to add some for them.

Assassin snails don’t eat algae or vegetables. Instead, you will need to feed them protein such as snail eggs, brine shrimp, and water fleas. They will also eat protein-based pellets.

The above food guidelines are in addition to the one to two snails Assassin snails typically eat each day. For this reason, you should keep a steady supply of live snails to feed them.

Rabbit Snails

Rabbit snails originate from Indonesia. They are typically found in lakes located in the country’s mountainous regions.

There are dozens of Rabbit snail subspecies out there. The two most popular types used in home aquariums are Elephant snails and Poso snails.

Rabbit snails come in many shell colors. This includes black, chocolate brown, yellow, golden, and white spotted.

Rabbit snails are known to be scavengers. They will gladly eat any tank algae they come across. They will also consume leftover food that settles to the bottom of their tank.

As an aquarium owner, you will need to feed your Rabbit snails on top of the foods they scavenge. This includes providing calcium-rich foods to help them maintain strong shells.

Some excellent foods to feed your Rabbit snails include broccoli, spinach, pellets, and algae wafers.

Ramshorn Snails

Ramshorn snails originate in North America. This species is commonly found in swamps, lakes, rivers, and ponds in the country. 

Ramshorn snails typically have distinct black skin, while rare specimens have red skin. Their shells are usually brown, but they may also feature black or gray patches.

Ramshorn snails are big algae eaters. They will also eat decaying fish or dead plants. For this reason, you won’t need to worry about feeding your Ramshorn snails most of the time.

If you do not house your Ramshorn snails with other creatures, you will need to add some food to their tank. You can feed them fish flakes and carrots in this situation.

You should note that Ramshorn snails breed very quickly. For this reason, you may end up with an overabundance of them by feeding the population in your tank regularly.

Malaysian Trumpet Snails

Malaysian Trumpet snails are originally from North and South Africa. However, they spread to tropical regions after humans accidentally released them in the wild.

Today, Malaysian Trumpet snails are found across the world’s tropical regions. This spread is due to the fact that their eggs are difficult to spot.

It’s not uncommon for Malaysian Trumpet snails to spontaneously appear in new fish tanks after bringing them home from the pet store. For this reason, you may love or hate them.

If you decide to keep Malaysian Trumpet snails as pets, you should understand their dietary habits. These snails eat algae and tank detritus. 

They will thrive if there is an abundance of these in their tank. Over time, their population can grow very large and they will become pests.

If you haven’t housed your Malaysian Trumpet snails with other aquatic pets, you will need to add food to their tank. This includes vegetables such as spinach, lettuce, and broccoli.

How Do I Know If My Snails are Eating Enough?

If you are housing multiple snail species in each tank, you must ensure each one is well fed. This is because some species are faster than others and may consume all the food available.

If some of your snails aren’t getting enough food, they may resort to eating your aquatic plants. For this reason, you should be sure to supply enough food for each species.

If you’re still having trouble feeding all the snails in your tank, you can try switching up the food combination you provide. This means you can try different types of vegetables.

Should I House Assassin Snails With Other Snails?

As mentioned above, Assassin snails live off protein. This means they aren’t shy about eating other snail species they are housed with. This happens even if they have ample other food.

Assassin snails love going after live snails. For this reason, you definitely shouldn’t house them with Ramshorn snails or Malaysian Trumpet snails.

You should note that Assassin snails can be useful if you want to get rid of “pest” snail species. 

Adding a few Assassin snails to your tank can curb a Malaysian Trumpet snail population explosion within a matter of days. They will then keep the general population down.

Assassin snails get along with most fish species. Therefore, you won’t need to worry about them harming your other aquatic pets.

What Minerals Do Aquarium Snails Need?

Aquarium snails typically get most of the minerals they need from food sources. However, the most important one is calcium.

Calcium helps freshwater snails build strong shells and produce healthy eggs. You can feed your aquarium snails calcium-rich vegetables such as kale, broccoli, and spinach.

You can also add calcium to your tank water from different sources. This includes ground up coral, egg shells, and cuttlebones.

You should note that adding too much calcium to your tank water can lead to limestone buildup on the glass. For this reason, you should aim to keep the calcium levels balanced.

Keeping Your Snails Well Fed

As you can see, most aquarium snails are happy to eat the algae and detritus that appears in their tanks. These mollusks do not require much additional food in most cases.

You should consult the above guide if you would like to give them something extra or need to help them with their mineral needs.

Healthy and well-fed aquarium snails can live anywhere from 1 to 5 years. So you should be sure to take care of your aquarium pets if you want them to live long lives.

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