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Pet or Pest? Pond Snails in the Tropical Aquarium

In this article I share what I learned about the following question – Pet or Pest? Pond Snails in the Tropical Aquarium. Pond snails are the snails that turn up unintentionally when you buy aquatic plants. They breed prolifically and are often considered a pest.

However, these snails have their good points: they are easy to feed, help keep the tank free of uneaten fish food, eat algae, stay small, do well at both tropical and low temperatures and are not aggressive towards other animals. They are safe inhabitants for a shrimp tank, which is especially valuable when you consider that the majority of fish cannot be kept with shrimp without the shrimp becoming dinner.

Pond Snails in the Tropical Aquarium

They have their bad points too. They eat plants, poop a lot, and use space and oxygen you might have intended for your fish or shrimp. Snails can also act as an alternate host for some fish diseases, and for this reason you should never collect them from your local pond or lake.

The family Lymnaeidae is known as the pond snails. There are multiple species known as pond snails, and figuring out precisely which one you have in your aquarium may be more trouble than it’s worth. They are all hermaphroditic, and those seen in aquariums generally stay below 1 inch in length, although some seen in the wild can be nearly three inches.

Care and Feeding of Pond Snails:

They eat fishfood, algae, and soft leaved aquarium plants. They do not eat fish poop or have a noticeable effect on java ferns or java moss. Dissolved metals are often toxic to them, and fish medications based on metals, especially copper, should be avoided. Fish medications using dyes may also be toxic, although mine have survive Victoria Green B with no obvious ill effects. They prefer water that isn’t soft and acidic as they require calcium for shell formation. Mine is surviving in soft, acidic water, but its shell is showing signs of problems.

How to Avoid Pond Snail Overpopulation:

  • Don’t overfeed. If they don’t have sufficient food, their population won’t explode.
  • If you don’t want these snails, try picking over and quarantining plants before introducing them to the main tank.

How to Reduce Your Pond Snail Population:

  • Put lettuce in a small container with the lid off. When snails collect in the container, remove it from the tank with the snails.
  • Buy fish that like to eat snails. Puffer fishes, convict cichlids, certain african cichlids, clown loaches and yoyo loaches are sometimes recommended. But before you buy, check that the species you choose will fit in well with your other fish and not grow too large or require water conditions you can’t provide.
  • Remove them by hand. If you have a lot, this will take a long time and you’ll never manage to get all of them.
  • Use a snail killing chemical. However, chemicals that contain copper sulfate tend to be toxic to fish as well and need to be used with great care. You may prefer to use another method.

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