4 Aquatic Snail Species for Your Freshwater Aquarium


Keeping snails in my freshwater aquariums has been a rewarding experience for both me and my fish.

There is not much solid information about aquarium snails as the majority of aquarists spend more time eradicating than caring for these misunderstood animals. While some species may very well "take over" an aquarium, there are several species that are very suitable for a normal community tank. You may even find yourself staring more at your pet mollusks than your fish! Here is an overview of the most common species of aquatic snail you may come across.

4 Common Species of Freshwater Aquatic Snails

  1. Apple Snails
  2. Ramshorn Snails
  3. Pond Snails
  4. Nerite Snails

1. Apple Snails

There are many different species of apple snails, but probably the most common one sold in pet stores is the Pomacea bredgesii, or “mystery snail.” These snails are well equipped for life underwater, with one gill and one lung. You may see them climb up the tank wall and stick out their "breathing tube" so they can get a gulp of atmospheric air without climbing out of water.

One of the reasons why mystery snails are so popular is that they are gonochoristic, meaning that they have separate sexes and cannot reproduce on their own and, therefore, cannot easily "take over" an aquarium. Mystery snails may float at the water surface for several days, which may be because they get too much air in their shell. This species of snail is also favored because they generally avoid eating aquarium plants unless they’re decaying, and they seem to prefer eating algae.

Mystery snails may grow to a few inches in length. Unfortunately, these beautiful animals cannot be kept outside in a pond, as they are not very tolerant to cold weather. Many mystery snails, such as ones under the genus Pomacea, lay their pinkish-colored egg sacks above the waterline. Some other species lay their eggs under the waterline. These eggs are generally small, translucent, white eggs that grow bigger as the embryos develop.

2. Ramshorn Snails

Ramshorn snails are actually any type of snail that has a tight, spiral-shaped shell. Some aquarists consider them to be minor pests as they are asexual and can reproduce with any other snail of its species, allowing them to grow to quite large populations in ideal conditions. However, many aquarists consider them to be helpful ways to reduce algae in aquariums.

In the tank, fish that eat snails in their community can be included to lower populations. These snails generally stay pretty small in size with the largest ones growing up to around an inch. Many species of ramshorn snails can survive outdoor ponds, but some can not, depending on the species, so make sure you know what type of ramshorn snail you get before you buy one.

If you want to keep ramshorn snails in an aquarium, make sure to not fill your aquarium with so much water that the snails can not reach the surface. Most snails use lungs to breathe and need to have access to atmospheric air. Ramshorn snails lay their eggs underwater, and normally attach them to objects, such as plants or aquarium décor.

3. Pond Snails

Pond snails are most likely the reason aquatic snails have been given a bad reputation. Pond snails are extremely prolific animals and can survive in ponds or tropical aquariums. They are both hermaphroditic and sexual, and these creatures can take over tanks or ponds in short periods of time.

Many aquarists try all sorts of different methods to eradicate them while others just let them fulfill their algae-eating duty, buying some predators to keep the population down. If pond snails start breeding in your tank, it is next to impossible to get rid of them.

One reason why people dislike pond snails so much is that they will not only eat algae, but they can eat through almost any aquarium plant you try to put in the tank. The pond snails lay small clutches of clear eggs under water and attach them to plants, much like the ramshorn snail. Most species of pond snail stay under a half-inch in size.

4. Nerite Snails

Nerite snails are actually saltwater snails, but they can survive in brackish or freshwater tanks. They are popular for freshwater tanks because they can’t breed in anything but salt water, and therefore are one of the few species of snails that stay within manageable populations. Because it will not reproduce in freshwater, I will not discuss its breeding abilities.

These snails are very good at eating the algae off of tanks and will generally avoid aquarium plants. These snails can grow up to an inch in length. They are able to stay out of water for short periods of time, but make sure it can’t make its way out of the aquarium because it may not find the way back.

Kim Hogarth on October 27, 2013:

hello, I'd just like to say that I've had just one Gold Fish in a tank by itself and fear the tank is getting too small for him but anyway to the point..I thought I'd get something to help the eco system of the tank so about 4 months ago I bought 2 snails..One is a "Horned" something, with spikes and the other one was a bigger one kind of dark to light brown with ddark spots on its shell..A week ago there are all of a sudden 4 baby snails getting around in the tank...I have no idea what's happened...Anyone have any idea's ??

rylee on March 03, 2013:

gyGAJY

Camdyn on October 19, 2012:

how many eggs would be in a ramshorn snails clutch plz answer me asap

Rachel on August 19, 2012:

What do I do there is a belta fishin my fish tack now but there was snails in there and they have eggs on top of tack .and now the tack that has the betla fish in it is very cloudy and dirty .How can I clean the tack.I cleaned

it 3 times all ready.What do I do with the snail eggs?How do I clean the fish tack where the fish is in now?

finatics (author) on January 31, 2012:

That's a good point, and thank you!

mamahuberty on December 11, 2011:

I just wanted to point out that Nerite snails breed only in brackish water and as you pointed out they do equally well in saltwater, freshwater and brackish water. Wonderful article.

finatics (author) on July 03, 2011:

Hello M.Aruna, if this happens you need to balance the egg case on something dry but near the waterline so the babies can crawl into the water. The embryos will drown if the eggs are kept underwater, sorry. Good luck with your snails!

M.Aruna on June 30, 2011:

what happens if the eggs laid by an apple snail are thrown back below the water line unknowingly ? what will happen to the eggs? will they hatch or not?please send me a proper and an appropriate answer as soon as possible.

finatics (author) on March 06, 2011:

Thank you, lilibees!

lilibees on March 05, 2011:

wow very nice hub with lots of information good going!


A freshwater aquarium is a receptacle that holds one or more freshwater aquatic organisms for decorative, pet-keeping, or research purposes. Modern aquariums are most often made from transparent glass or acrylic glass. Typical inhabitants include fish, plants, amphibians, and invertebrates, such as snails and crustaceans.

Freshwater fish may be either coldwater or tropical species. Although freshwater aquariums can be set up as community tanks, coldwater and tropical fish are generally not mixed due to incompatibilities in temperature requirements. Coldwater aquariums house goldfish and other species that do not require a heating apparatus. Warmer temperatures would actually increase their metabolism and shorten their lifespan.[1] For a tropical fish tank, maintaining a warm environmental temperature ranging between 75 to 80 °F (24 to 27 °C) enables the fish to thrive.

Aquariums may be decorated with sand or gravel, live or plastic plants, driftwood, rocks, and a variety of commercially made plastic sculptures. The smallest aquariums are fish bowls, but these are not recommended for most fish as they are generally too small

History

The earliest known aquariums were artificial fish ponds constructed by the ancient Sumerians over 4500 years ago. The ancient Assyrians, Egyptians, and Romans also kept fish in ponds for food and entertainment purposes. The ancient Chinese were the first culture to breed fish with any degree of success. They raised carp for food around 2000 B.C., and developed ornamental goldfish by selective breeding. Goldfish were introduced to Europe during the 18th century.[3]

In the later 18th century, widespread public interest in the study of nature was awakening, and fish were kept in glass jars, porcelain containers, wooden tubs, and small artificial ponds. It was during this time that zoologist and botanist, Johann Matthaeus Bechstein, kept a large number of fishes and amphibians and laid down the foundation for aquarium and terrarium science. The concepts of the proper aquarium and terrarium were developed later by Nathaniel Bagshaw Ward in 1829.[4]

During the 19th century the idea of the “balanced aquarium” was developed. This approach was an attempt to mimic a balanced ecosystem in nature. According to this method, fish waste could be consumed by plants, and plants along with the air surface of the water could supply oxygen for the fish.[3] In 1869, the first tropical fish (the Paradise Fish) was imported from Asia. In these days, tropical tanks were kept warm by an open flame. Because early filters were noisy and expensive, fishkeeping was a hobby reserved for wealthy, scientifically inclined individuals.[5]

A heavily stocked fancy goldfish aquarium

In 1878, Rear-Admiral Daniel Ammon brought the first tropical fish from the Far East to the United States which lead to a decline in the popularity of goldfish.[4] In the early 20th century, aeration, as well as particulate and charcoal filtration was introduced. The undergravel filter was introduced in the 1950s.[3] By this time, the old idea of the balanced aquarium was viewed as unattainable and unnecessary by many people in the aquarium hobby, but it made a comeback at the end of the 20th Century with the rising popularity of the planted tank.[6]

Today fishkeeping has become a popular hobby that almost anyone can do. Aquarium fish are both wild-caught and bred in Asia and Florida. Captive-bred species are inexpensive and widely available, and are less likely to be infected with diseases or parasites. Unfortunately, successive generations of inbred fish frequently have less color and sport smaller fins than their wild counterparts.

Fundamentals

A typical household freshwater aquarium set-up, apart from its aquatic tenants, consists of furnishings such as a gravel substrate, live or plastic plants, rocks, driftwood, a backcloth or background, and other decorations. Other equipment includes a canopy or hood as an aquarium cover, an aquarium stand or base, lighting accessories, a heater, a thermometer, air pumps, filtration apparatus, airstones, fish food, a fish net, water conditioner, water quality testing kits, a siphon hose or gravel cleaner, and a bucket for water changes.[5][7]

Surface area and height are important in the set-up and maintenance of a living biotope. The surface area contributes to providing superior in-tank oxygenation and it also facilitates the creation of attractive aquatic themes. Freshwater environments benefit more from short and wide aquariums, due to the larger surface area they present to the air this allows more oxygen to dissolve in the water, and the more oxygen there is, the more fish you can keep. In general, a larger-sized aquarium provides a more stable water-world and the hobbyist can also acquire a greater number of fish. A large aquarium can also enhance aesthetic value. With regards to material, an all-glass aquarium is preferable due to its reasonable cost and its superior ability to resist scratches and discoloration. Indoor aquariums are normally placed far from windows, heating and cooling ducts of the house because direct sunlight and temperature changes can negatively affect the aquatic environment. Overexposure to sunlight leads to rapid algae growth inside and outside the tank. Sudden temperature variations are harmful to fish.

African cichlid aquarium

Fish come in a large variety of species, from several different geographical regions. Most aquarium fish originated in Central America, South America, Africa, or Asia. Fish can be kept in different combinations of species and in different kinds of aquatic environments. Four common themes include the community aquarium, the goldfish aquarium, the African cichlid aquarium, and the planted aquarium.[2]

A community aquarium refers to the mixing of fish and plants from different geographical areas with an emphasisis on the color and hardiness of the specimens. An example would be the combination of gouramis, tetras, and rasboras with a selection of hardy plants such as Hygrophila difformis, Hygrophila polysperma, and Vallisneria spiralis.[2] Choosing fish that are peaceful and compatible with each other is important in a community tank.

A goldfish aquarium can be set up as a unfurnished and bare-bottom tank to emphasize the bright coloration of the fish. A combination of different varieties of goldfish and decorations that contrast with the vivid colors of the fish would make an attractive display.[1] Live plants are not usually grown with goldfish, except for hardy, oxygenating plants like Egeria, because goldfish regularly disturb the substrate. They may also feed on softer-leaved plants.[7] Plastic plants can be used instead.

An African cichlid aquarium commonly consists of Lake Tanganyika or Lake Malawi cichlid varieties, and generally requires a large number of rocks combined with a substrate of fine gravel or sand. The rocky environment should provide numerous caves and hiding places. Because cichlids, like goldfish, disturb the substrate by digging, plastic plants should be used as a substitute for live plants. However, real plants like Vallisneria or Anubias can be tried in a cichlid tank.[2]

A planted aquarium emphasizes living plants as much as, or even more than fish. Large groupings of plant species such as Hygrophila, Limnophila, Rotala, Vallisneria, Echinodorus, and Cryptocorynes with a limited number of fish is a good example of a planted tank. It is important to select fish that will not damage the plants, such as small tetras, dwarf gouramis, cherry barbs, zebra danios, and White Clouds. Planted tanks may include CO2 injection and a substrate fortified with laterite or, in the case of a low tech aquarium, a layer of potting soil under the gravel to provide nutrients for the plants.[6]

A biotope aquarium is an aquarium that is designed to simulate a natural habitat, with the fish, plants, and furnishings all representative of a particular place in nature.[5] Because only species that are found together in nature are allowed in a true biotope aquarium, these tanks are more challenging and less common than the other themes.


Freshwater Snails

Freshwater snails are gastropod mollusks which live in freshwater. There are many different families. They are found throughout the world in various habitats, ranging from temporary pools to the largest lakes, and from small springs to major rivers.

Freshwater Snails are a useful and attractive addition to many freshwater aquariums. Aquarists often add freshwater snails as tank cleaners in order to eat algae, uneaten food, dead plant matter and other debris. But freshwater snails can be much more than that. Freshwater snails do interesting things in a tank and have many intriguing behaviors to observe.

In other cases, freshwater snails are introduced accidentally and are sometimes considered nuisance pests. Freshwater snails can hitchhike on live aquarium plants or in the plastic bag of store display tank water when adding purchased fish. Freshwater snails that most often enter a tank inadvertently are usually common pond snails. Some of the reasons why hobbyists consider these freshwater snails to be pests are related to egg laying, excessive reproduction and eating live plants. Snails sold to aquarists will not cause the unsightly explosive multiplication of bland brown looking snails.

Aquarium snails are not always a nuisance in the freshwater aquarium, particularly the ones sold to Aquarists. Certain species are more likely than others to become a problem and it is always a good idea to avoid overfeeding. If you are looking for a simple way to control aquarium algae, introducing freshwater snails is a good solution.

Before purchasing freshwater snails for your tank, you need to make sure your tank is free of copper and other chemicals or medications that adversely effect invertebrates. Also, many fish such as Clown Loaches and Gouramis will eat snails. Beneficial freshwater snails will help keep undesirable snails from becoming a problem in a freshwater tank.

Freshwater Snails Found in Aquariums

Freshwater Snails for Sale

More on Freshwater Snails

Freshwater Snails Photo Gallery

Freshwater Snails Video

Freshwater Snails Found in Aquariums

Mystery Freshwater Snails – One of the most readily available freshwater snails in pet stores are Mystery Snails which are sometimes called Apple snails. These large and striking freshwater snails are great for adding some color and decoration to your aquarium, but they also serve some useful purposes. They clean algae off of glass, plants, and decorations, they eat hair algae, and they keep your substrate clean and the correct color. They are totally safe with any fish, shrimp, or plants, and are completely peaceful. Mystery snails are quite large as adults, growing 2 inches or more in size. They can come in many different colors and variations and can even be ivory white. The color patterns of Mystery Snails shells are unique and nearly limitless. Mystery Snails also like supplements of bottom feeder tablets, pellets, algae wafers and fish flakes. These freshwater snails are notorious escape artists, so it’s very important to keep tanks covered to the extent possible. If there is a way out of the tank, the odds are Mystery Snails will eventually find it. The various species of mystery snails might be fairly hardy creatures but it is a good idea to spend time acclimating them to your tank.

Recommended Tank Parameters:

– Temperature range: 68 to 84 degrees Fahrenheit

Tiger Nerite Freshwater Snails

Nerite Freshwater Snails – Nerite Snails are widely known as one of, if not the most, voracious algae-eaters out of any freshwater snail. These freshwater snails range in size from ½-inch to a full inch and they are available in a variety of types and colors. Nerite snails like the zebra nerite snail are very popular in the freshwater aquarium hobby. These snails are highly appreciated by aquarium hobbyists because they are both attractive and beneficial in the freshwater tank. These freshwater snails have the potential to breed quickly but some species, like the zebra nerite snail, are only likely to breed in brackish conditions. These freshwater snails will clean algae growths off tank walls, aquarium decorations and even plant leaves. With all nerite snails, it’s a good idea to make sure the water line in your aquarium isn’t too high, as these snails tend to climb up beyond the water line. Nerite snails do not tolerate water with high nitrate levels.

RECOMMENDED TANK PARAMETERS:
– PH level range: 6.5 to 8.5
– Temperature range: 65 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit
– Water type: Medium hard

Assassin Freshwater Snails

Assassin Freshwater Snails – Aquarists will often keep Assassin Snails in their freshwater tanks to help keep populations of other freshwater snails in check. The assassin snail, much like its name indicates, preys upon other snails in your freshwater tank. Assassin Snails prowl the tank looking for other freshwater snails like Malaysian Trumpet Snails, Pond Snails, and Ramshorn Snails to eat. This omnivorous mollusk is harmless to fish and shrimp, but will help control freshwater snail overpopulation in your tank. When nuisance freshwater snails begin to grow and eat live plants in the tank, the assassin snail will handle the infestation.

They are a very attractive color as well. Because of the black and yellow striping, they look fantastic on both light and dark colored substrates. Having good substrate is important with Assassin Snails, as they love to burrow in it. Other than snails, they eat leftover fish flakes or invertebrate pellets. Assassin snails grow to about 2″ long.

Recommended Tank Parameters:

– Temperature range: 68 to 74 degrees Fahrenheit

Japanese Trapdoor Freshwater Snails

Japanese Trapdoor Freshwater Snails – Japanese Trapdoor Snails are named for their operculum, which is a tough plate that protects the snail by forming a seal at the edge of the snail’s shell when its soft body is retracted inside. They are also known by the name Chinese Mystery Snails. They are large for freshwater snails, and are quite unusual-looking yet attractive. They vary in coloration and patterns, but usually have more natural-looking colors such as brown and green.

They also serve some very useful purposes. They clean algae off of glass, plants, and decorations, and they keep your substrate clean and the correct color. They are totally safe with any fish, shrimp, or plants, and are completely peaceful. Trapdoor Snails are quite large as adults, growing up to 2″ in size.

With trapdoor snails, it’s a good idea to make sure the water line in your aquarium isn’t too high, as these freshwater snails tend to climb up to the water line to breathe air. Other than algae and biofilm, they also eat fish or invertebrate pellets and blanched vegetables such as zucchini, kale, spinach, or cucumber.

  • PH level range: 6.5 to 8.0

– Temperature range: 68 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit

– Water type: Soft to medium hard

Pond Freshwater Snails – Pond snails are the type of freshwater snails that often end up in tanks by accident. As you can see they are not particularly attractive, they multiply fast, and this is why snails sometimes have a bad reputation with freshwater aquarists. Pond snails can make their way into tanks by being attached to live plants purchased from the store. Sometimes, they are even in the display tank water used to transport fish in the plastic bag from the store. Other times, live plants can have small pond snail eggs on them. Whether pond snails are considered to be a pet or pest depends on each hobbyist.

Rabbit Freshwater Snails – Although they can be hard to find, the Rabbit snail is one of the more interesting freshwater snails. A Rabbit Snail is a peaceful, non-aggressive slow moving tank mate that can help keep tanks free of otherwise uneaten food and debris. Rabbit Snails have very intriguing look, and they can reproduce in fresh water.

Blue Ramshorn Freshwater Snails

Ramshorn Freshwater Snails – For the most part, these freshwater snails are purchased for for sale in stores and can be fun to raise. They clean algae off of glass, plants, and decorations, they eat hair algae, and they keep your substrate clean and the correct color. They are totally safe with any fish, shrimp, or plants, and are completely peaceful. For some, Ramshorn Snails, like pond snails, can accidentally make their way into tanks and be considered fast reproducing pests. Ramshorn Snails can be good tank cleaners interested in soft algae buildup on hard surfaces, as well as uneaten food, dead or decaying plant matter and food supplements. Ramshorn Snails lay eggs, reproduce in freshwater, and can quickly multiply in a tank. Whether Ramshorn Snails are considered to be a pet or pest depends on each hobbyist and the type of tank kept.

RECOMMENDED TANK PARAMETERS:

– Temperature range: 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit

Malaysian Trumpet Freshwater Snails

Malaysian Trumpet Freshwater Snails – Another good freshwater snail for the aquarium is the trumpet snail. Trumpet snails are available in a variety of patterns and colors and they are generally very attractive. This species does not tend to feed on plants but it will feed on detritus. In fact, trumpet snails tend to burrow through the substrate, feeding on accumulated debris below the surface of the substrate. These freshwater snails tend to be active only at night and they do not generally disturb other tank inhabitants.

Malaysian Trumpet Snails are excellent CLEANING AGENTS for any freshwater fish tank or pond. They actively consume food remains on the bottom, rasping algae off stones, glass and live plants and overall – generating a more natural look in your fish tank.

Quite often, Malaysian Trumpet Snails emerge from the bottom and through their quite exotic looks enliven your underwater landscape. It is really fun to watch their slow movement and constant scraping of algae off rocks, aquarium decorations and live plants.

Malaysian Trumpet Snails are totally safe for aquarium plants – they will only eat algae and food remains that otherwise would rot on the bottom and spoil water quality.

Freshwater Snails for Sale

  • These snails’ shells resemble a highly-polished Tiger’s Eye stone.
  • These are Nerite Snails, so they absolutely never reproduce in freshwater – great for aquarium hobbyists who don’t want freshwater snails reproducing in their tanks!
  • Can grow to 1 1/2 inch in diameter, and are totally safe to keep with shrimp, fish, and live plants.
  • Nerite Snails are widely known as one of, if not the most, voracious algae-eaters out of any freshwater snail.

These beautifully colored freshwater snails are great for adding some sophistication to your aquarium, but they also serve some very useful purposes. They clean algae off of glass, plants, and decorations, they eat hair algae, and they keep your substrate clean and the correct color

5 Rare Blue Ramshorn Freshwater Snails. Great for pond & aquarium

  • You’ll receive at least 5 young Blue Leopard Ramshorn Snails (1/4 inches)
  • NOTE: young blue ramshorn look similar to brown leopard snail. Will gain more blue color as the age.
  • 100% Live arrive satisfactory guarantee by Kazen Aquatic (please contact within 24 hours)
  • Reproduces easily in freshwater aquariums. Great live food starter colony for puffers/etc!
  • Fantastic algae eaters! Will not eat living plants. Healthy Freshwater snail, raise in my own tank

These very vibrant freshwater snails are great for adding some color and decoration to your aquarium, but they also serve some very useful purposes.
They clean algae off of glass, plants, and decorations, they eat hair algae, and they keep your substrate clean and the correct color.
They are totally safe with any fish, shrimp, or plants, and are completely peaceful. Hilarious if you have dwarf shrimp like I do – they love to ride around on the snails! Red Ramshorn snail shells range from a bright pink to a sharp-looking maroon, but most are closer toward the pink side of the spectrum.
The freshwater snails usually ship as pea sized snails, but may sometimes be smaller. However, even the smallest snail will be adult breeding size within 2 months.
Ramshorn snails are not picky at all about their water parameters, and they tend to reproduce like crazy in almost any conditions. If you run into problems with freshwater snail overpopulation, a few Assassin Snails will quickly take care of the problem.

12 Large (1/2″ – 1″) Japanese Trapdoor Freshwater Snails (Viviparus malleattus) Great for getting rid of algae!

  • A great addition to large tanks and outdoor ponds
  • Trapdoor snails are great for removing algae and unwanted leftover fish food
  • Work great in outdoor pond setups where they can keep algae growth to a minimum
  • Their shells can grow up to 2″ long and can range in color from light brown, to white, to a brilliant blue
  • A great “natural” looking freshwater snail
  • Japanese Trapdoor Snails would make a great addition to large fish tanks or outdoor ponds in your home garden. They are a peaceful freshwater snail that is great at knocking back and managing pesky algae growth. They get their name for their hard operculum, or “trapdoor” that protects their body when retracted . They are compatible with most fish, plants, and other inverts due to their size and peaceful demeanor.
5 Live Assassin Freshwater Snails (Clea helena – 1/2 to 1 Inch) – Removes All Pest Snails!

  • Removes all pest snails including pond snails, bladder snails, ramshorn snails, Malaysian trumpet snails (MTS), and more.
  • Beautiful black and yellow coloration.
  • Will not attack anything but freshwater snails – safe to keep with shrimp, fish, live plants, etc.
  • These freshwater snails burrow themselves in the substrate to clean up waste.

Assassin snails are one of the most useful animals in the aquarium hobby. I came across them when I had snail infested tanks, but did not want to use harsh chemicals to kill the freshwater snails. I have had 30 gallon tanks that were totally overrun with unwanted MTS Snails, and my 5 “Assassins” dealt with over 100 of them within a couple weeks using no chemicals.

They are a very attractive color as well. Because of the black and yellow striping, they look fantastic on both light and dark colored substrates. Assassin snails
grow to about 2″ long.

Having good substrate is important with Assassin Snails, as they love to burrow in it. Other than freshwater snails, they eat leftover fish flakes or invertebrate pellets. Snails are very sensitive to copper, so watch out for copper if you use tap water in your tank.

5 Zebra Nerite Freshwater Snails (Neritina natalensis – 1/2 to 1 inch in Diameter)

  • These freshwater snails’ shells have a truly striking and beautiful pattern – they have gold and black zebra-like stripes running all the way down. (Due to shell pattern variations, your snails may not look identical to the image provided.)
  • These are Nerite Snails, so they absolutely never reproduce in freshwater – great for aquarium hobbyists who don’t want snails reproducing in their tanks!
  • Totally peaceful and safe for live plants, live shrimp, and live fish.
  • Nerite Snails are widely known as one of, if not the most, voracious algae-eaters out of any freshwater snail.

These attractive freshwater snails definitely draw your eyes directly to them, but they also serve some very useful purposes, as all nerite snails do. They clean algae off of glass, plants, and decorations, they eat hair algae, and they keep your substrate clean and the correct color.

Nerite snails are widely believed to be the single best freshwater snail in the aquarium hobby for eating algae. They are totally safe with any fish, shrimp, or plants, and are completely peaceful. Nerite snails require salt water to reproduce, so they will never overpopulate your aquarium (as some freshwater snails are known to do).

3 Black Devil Freshwater Snails (Fanus ater) – 1 to 3 inches long

  • These large freshwater snails feature gorgeous, glossy shells that range in color from chocolate brown to the deepest black.
  • Black Devil snails are relatives to the popular Malaysian Trumpet snails, but they are more similar in shape and size to Giant Sulawesi snails.
  • Totally peaceful aquarium inhabitants, and totally safe for shrimp and other freshwater snails.
  • Feeds on leftover food or almost any kind of fish food.

Also known as Black Devil Spike Snails or Lava snails, these dark and mysterious snails are highly underrated members of the aquarium hobby. They mainly come from the brackish waters of Thailand, but can also be found in other parts of Asia. They can thrive in freshwater, but will only breed in brackish water.

These freshwater snails are quite similar to Giant Sulawesi snails in their appearance and behavior. They feature the long, whorled shells, but theirs tapers off into a sharper point and resembles a spike. Their shell color ranges from a rich chocolate brown to a beautiful, glossy black, and their bodies feature gray/black or chestnut brown colors. They are usually 2 to 3 inches in length when full grown.

Devil Black snails are more hardy and more active than Giant Sulawesi snails, having the ability to move faster throughout your aquarium. They are also able to live in colder temperatures and are known as excellent cleaners of substrate. If you have live plants in your tank, it’s a good idea to keep them out of reach of these freshwater snails – they have been known to nibble on live plants.

10+ Feeder / Cleaner Ramshorn Freshwater Snails, 1/6-1/3 inch – Excellent Tank Cleaners + Great Natural Food for your Puffers, Loaches, Crayfish, Turtle.

  • TOP QUALITY Ramshorn Snails and Live Aquarium Plants from AQUATIC DISCOUNTS!
  • Ramshorn Snails are excellent TANK CLEANERS as well as LIVE FEEDERS for Puffers, Loaches, Crayfish and Turtles!
  • Give your pets HEALTHY, NATURAL and NUTRITIOUS diet! NATURAL DIET of these freshwater snails will bring up COLORS, extend LONGEVITY and boost ENERGY in your pets! In addition – these freshwater snails are excellent CLEANING AGENTS for any freshwater fish tank / pond, continuously consuming food remains and rasping off ALGAE off glass, stones and higher plants! They are totally SAFE for aquarium plants!
  • More choices (LARGER QUANTITIES) available! Get SIGNIFICANTLY MORE for just a few $ extra!

PLUS – Live Aquarium Plants – Amazon Sword, Java Moss, Bacopa!

Ramshorn snails are excellent live feeders for PUFFERS, LOACHES, CRAYFISH and TURTLES!

They actively consume food remains on the bottom, rasping off algae off stones, glass and live plants and overall – generating more natural look in your fish tank.

In general – freshwater snails are always present in any natural ecosystem, performing numerous vital roles – e.g. removing excess waste and detritus, algae, dead plant parts etc. etc.

These freshwater snails are totally SAFE for aquatic plants and really FUN to watch.

DELUXE Mystery Freshwater Snail COMBO PACK (Pomacea bridgesii – LARGE live snails! 1/2 to 2+ inches) – 1 Gold, 1 Blue, 1 Black, 1 Albino, 1 Ivory Mystery Snail

  • Add a variety of colors to your aquarium with this combo pack, which includes 1 of each of our golden, blue, black, albino, and ivory mystery snails!
  • Can grow to over two inches in diameter as fully grown adults!
  • One of the largest plant-safe freshwater snails, mystery snails are a popular and attractive addition to any aquarium.
  • Cleans aquariums by eating uneaten fish food and other waste.

Like mystery snails, but can’t decide which color to order? This is the combo pack for you! This order includes five different colors of mystery snails – golden, blue, black, albino, and ivory.

30+ Malaysian Trumpet Freshwater Snails, 1/4-3/4 inch – excellent tank CLEANERS, consumers of bottom debris and food remains, algae eaters!

  • Malaysian Trumpet Snails are excellent and natural freshwater tanks CLEANERS / ALGAE EATERS!
  • Malaysian Trumpet Snails are avid consumers of any debris / food remains on the bottom
  • Malaysian Trumpet Snails constantly scrape algae off your aquarium plants, driftwood, rocks or any other decorations
  • Malaysian Trumpet Snails are TOTALLY SAFE for aquarium plants!

Malaysian Trumpet Snails are excellent CLEANING AGENTS for any freshwater fish tank or pond. They actively consume food remains on the bottom, rasping algae off stones, glass and live plants and overall – generating a more natural look in your fish tank.

Quite often, Malaysian Trumpet Snails emerge from the bottom and through their quite exotic looks enliven your underwater landscape. It is really fun to watch their slow movement and constant scraping of algae off rocks, aquarium decorations and live plants.

Finally, Malaysian Trumpet Snails quickly convert whatever they have eaten/scraped into some great fertilizer (via their waste) that is readily utilized by aquarium plants. Further, they give off some extra CO2 (through breathing) that is also very beneficial for aquarium plant growth.

Malaysian Trumpet Snails are totally safe for aquarium plants – they will only eat algae and food remains that otherwise would rot on the bottom and spoil water quality.

3 Live Tiger Nerite Freshwater Snails

  • Totally safe for live plants, live shrimp,These are juvenite nerite snail, size of 1/2″ diameter, 0.5 inch
  • Nerite snails are widely known as one of, if not the most, voracious algae-eaters out of any freshwater snail.
  • great for aquarium hobbyists who don’t want freshwater snails reproducing in their tanks!
  • Recommend Dennerle Shrimp King Snail Stixx for their food also.
  • Shipped via USPS Priority mail, A 100% live arrival guarantee, Pictures are for references only. Each snail’s shells and color are diverse and totally unique! There cannot all be golden bright color. Not legal in state of Maine

100% Guarantee alive on arrival only. We cannot guarantee after that due to un controllable of your aquarium condition are very. Please read care instruction. Nerite snails are widely believed to be the single best freshwater snail in the aquarium hobby for eating algae. They are totally safe with any fish, shrimp, or plants, and are completely peaceful. Nerite snails require salt water to reproduce, so they will never overpopulate your aquarium (as some freshwater snails are known to do). Tiger nerite snails range from 1/2 to 1 inch in size. They usually will remain around 1 inch throughout their lifespan, but the occasional snail will reach 1 1/2 inches! They do not eat plants (only algae), so they are perfectly suitable for planted tanks.

5 Horned Nerite freshwater Snails

  • These are juvenile Horned nerite snails, so they absolutely never reproduce in freshwater
  • Totally safe for live plants, live shrimp, and live fish. size of 1/2″ diameter, 0.5 inch. Recommend Dennerle Shrimp King Snail Stixx food for them.
  • Pictures are for references only. Each snail’s shells and color are diverse and totally unique!
  • This is one order of 5 Horned Snail. Shipped via USPS Priority mail. A 100% live arrival guarantee. Not legal in state of Maine
  • Nerite snails are widely known as one of, if not the most, voracious algae-eaters out of any freshwater snail.

100% Guarantee alive on arrival. Please read care instruction. Horned Nerite Snails are a tropical freshwater species of aquarium snail. They are easily identified by the multiple dark horns that protrude from their shell. The shell is yellow in color with thick black swirls along the edge. They are popular algae eaters and debris removers. Most notably they will keep your glass crystal clear. They are available to purchase at most LFS or from other hobbyists. Horned Nerite Snails are popular and pricier than other freshwater snails because they are impossible to breed in freshwater. Nerite snails can grow up to 1″ but adults are more commonly found between 1/2 and 3/4″ in size. Horned Nerite Snails can also be used in outdoor ponds for similar purpose. The optimum aquarium temperature for Horned Nerite Snails is around 70°F – 80°F Horned Nerite Snails require pH between about 6.5 and 8. Relative water hardness for Horned Nerite Snails should be in the range of 6-12dH. Horned Nerite Snails are hardy species and are able to withstand captivity fluctuations.

3 Multi-Color Mystery Freshwater Snail COMBO PACK (Pomacea bridgesii – LARGE live snails! 1/2 to 2+ inches)

  • Add a variety of colors to your aquarium with this combo pack, which includes 1 of each of our Golden, Blue, and Black/purple Mystery Snails!
  • Can grow to over 2 inches – one of the largest freshwater snails in the aquarium hobby.
  • One of the largest plant-safe freshwater snails, Mystery Snails are a popular and attractive addition to any aquarium.
  • Cleans aquariums by eating uneaten fish food and other waste.

More on Freshwater Snails

Snails and mussels are the only mollusks that live not only in the sea, but also in the fresh waters in rivers and creeks, ponds and lakes. In the course of evolution groups related to each other may be isolated by ecological adaptation. The isolation may even go so far that mating is not possible any more and a new species has evolved. It is because of this that fresh water mollusks, mussels and snails, are much richer in species than are their marine relatives.

Freshwater snails generally do well in water between 18 and 28 degrees Celsius. They generally prefer hard, alkaline water which is water with a lot of dissolved minerals. Snails use dissolved minerals to build their shells. However, freshwater snails are very hardy and can live in a wide range of conditions. In soft water freshwater snails simply won’t reproduce as often.

In the right conditions and in the absence of predators and with plenty of food, freshwater snails can reproduce prodigiously. The brown ramshorn snail and pond snail are two species that can easily become pests rather than pets. They keep glass free of algae, but an entire colony of snails slithering across the aquarium is unsightly. If it’s too late and the aquarium is already overpopulated, a great solution is to introduce predators, such as clown loaches. Another method of removing unwanted freshwater snails is to place a small piece of lettuce at the bottom of the aquarium, turn off the lights (aquarium snails are nocturnal) and wait a few hours. Lift the lettuce out with the snails attached and give them to your aquarium-owning friends or donate them back to your local pet shop. Copper and other compounds that are toxic to invertebrates can also rid a tank of unwanted freshwater snails.

A Freshwater Slug is basically a freshwater snail with no shell!

Snail is a common name loosely applied to shelled gastropods. However, the common name snail is also used for most of the members of the molluscan class Gastropoda that have a coiled shell that is large enough for the animal to retract completely into. When the word “snail” is used in this most general sense, it includes not just land snails but also numerous species of sea snails and freshwater snails. Gastropods that naturally lack a shell, or have only an internal shell, are mostly called slugs, and land snails that have only a very small shell (that they cannot retract into) are often called semi-slugs.

Snails have considerable human relevance, including as food items, as pests, as vectors of disease, and their shells are used as decorative objects and are incorporated into jewelry. The snail has also had some cultural significance, and has been used as a metaphor.

Snails that respire using a lung belong to the group Pulmonata. Snails with gills also form a group. Snails with lungs and snails with gills form a number of taxonomic groups that are not necessarily more closely related to each other than they are related to some other groups.

Both snails that have lungs and snails that have gills have diversified so widely over geological time that a few species with gills can be found on land and numerous species with lungs can be found in freshwater. Even a few marine species have lungs.

Snails can be found in a very wide range of environments, including ditches, deserts, and the abyssal depths of the sea. Although land snails may be more familiar to laymen, marine snails constitute the majority of snail species, and have much greater diversity and a greater biomass. Numerous kinds of snail can also be found in fresh water.

Most snails have thousands of microscopic tooth-like structures located on a banded ribbon-like tongue called a radula. The radula works like a file, ripping food into small pieces. Many snails are herbivorous, eating plants or rasping algae from surfaces with their radulae, though a few land species and many marine species are omnivores or predatory carnivores.

A Freshwater Snail laying eggs

Most aquarium snails reproduce by laying eggs. In general, aquarium snails lay clusters of jellylike eggs. Different species position their eggs in different places in the aquarium. For example, pond snails from the genera Physa and Physella usually lay their eggs above the waterline to avoid predation by fish. Some snail-eating fish — like loaches — will go out of their way to eat snail eggs in addition to preying on adult snails.

A few species of aquarium snail give birth to live young. These species reproduce slightly more quickly than their egg-laying cousins. One common livebearing snail is the Malaysian burrowing snail. This species of snail has a cone-shaped shell and spends most of its time hiding in the aquarium substrate. Their offspring look like miniature versions of the adults. This species grows to about an inch in length.

Freshwater Snails Photo Gallery


Our Favorite Types

We put together this list of the best aquarium snails based on each of the primary families. Some of the other guides online will only list different color variants, but that’s not very helpful.

This resource should help you learn about each from a higher level, so you can think about the details later.

1. Mystery Snail

The Mystery Snail is a species we absolutely love. We’ve been keeping these creatures in our tanks for years, with no intention of stopping!

These little critters stand out in any tank because of their interesting colors and patterns. We especially like putting them in a heavily-planted tank to achieve maximum contrast.

These aquarium snails are super low maintenance and easy to take care of. They get along with pretty much every species and will mind their own business.

Mystery Snails are also one of the most effective tank cleaners on this list. We’ve seen a noticeable difference in water quality after adding them!

You can pair them with other aquarium snails or shrimp too if you’re looking for a little variety. There’s really not much that you need to plan, and that’s why we like them so much.

2. Nerite Snail

Nerite Snails are another popular species that thrive in pretty much any freshwater tank. They’re flexible when it comes to water parameters and can fit in rather small aquariums (this species rarely grows larger than one inch in diameter).

Our favorite thing about this snail is their shell patterns. There are a number of very intricate and beautiful designs that you’ll find on their shells that are simply mesmerizing to look at.

Most of the colors are either yellow and/or brown, but there are a bunch of different options that you’ll see in their patterns. Our favorite is probably the tiger variety.

These snails do well in planted tanks with a sandy substrate. That will keep their soft underside safe from scratches and infection.

3. Apple Snail

The Apple Snail is a very simple and reliable species that anyone can take care of. They’re great algae-eaters and will spend most of their time scavenging and avoiding other animals in your aquarium.

The one thing you need to keep an eye on with these snails is how aggressively they eat plant life. Other snails on our list are more passive and choose to nibble on the biofilm that grows on each plant, but the Apple Snail will go after the plant itself.

This means if you want to pair them with plants that aren’t very durable you’ll need to make a choice between the two. If you’re an avid aquascaper this isn’t a good snail for you.

To keep their appetite under control a lot of aquarists like to feed them standard plant-based fish food. When they’re not hungry they are far less likely to go after the plants in your tank (not exactly rocket science).

4. Assassin Snail

This aquarium snail is a bit interesting because it’s carnivorous. In fact, the main item on the menu for Assassin Snails is other snails.

This makes them a great choice if you’re trying to deal with pest snails in your tank. They will happily eat a lot of the other snails on this list, so think carefully when picking their tank mates!

This species has a very pretty shell with dark brown and yellow stripes all over it. They look great in any aquarium, and their pattern allows you to locate them quite easily!

These snails are usually between one and two inches in length and are active at night. You won’t see a lot of action during the day, so if that’s important to you it’s best to keep an eye on your tank in the late evening.

5. Rabbit Snail

Rabbit Snails are a species with a very interesting look. Their shells extend back way further than a lot of other aquarium snails, giving them a max size of around 3-5 inches in length!

Their shell has a lot of texture with ridges as well. It’s shaped like a cone and gradually thins out the further back it goes.

Rabbit Snails have a long head that protrudes from their shell quite a bit. It’s fun to watch these creatures drag around their long shell.

This makes them much slower than your average freshwater aquarium snail (it’s hard to believe that’s even possible). You might pass by and see them starting to make their way across the aquarium, and find that they’ve barely made progress half an hour later.

It’s common to find these critters burrowing in the substrate as well (if it’s sandy).

Just like the other species on our list, Rabbit Snails are highly committed to the task of eating algae (and other greens). We’ve found that their slow nature makes them very thorough cleaners.

If you’re looking for something a bit different, this is a type of snail we definitely recommend.

6. Ivory Snail

The Ivory Snail is a simple yet elegant freshwater species that many aquarists love. These snails have a straightforward creamy white color that covers their smooth shell and body.

These are another type of aquarium snail that’s very low-maintenance and easy to care for. They’re compatible with a bunch of other creatures and keep to themselves.

This species is more during the night so if you want to observe them you’ll need to wait until later in the evening, or early in the morning. When they’re moving, these freshwater snails have a surprising amount of energy and will cover a lot of ground!

There are a wide range of water parameters that the Ivory Snail can thrive in, making them easy to keep. In fact, these are one of the most beginner-friendly snails on our list!

7. Black Devil Snails

This is one of the more unique-looking species on our list. Black Devil Snails are pretty much black all over (hence their name) which instantly makes them stand out in any tank.

They have a very long cone-shaped shell that tends to be rather smooth. Feint spirals are visible only because of the lines you can see run from one end to the other.

Black Devil Snails are a species that can grow to be rather long (around 3.5 inches max). While this isn’t as long as the Rabbit Snail, it still dwarfs a lot of other freshwater species.

One of the nice things about these critters is that that they won’t cause overpopulation issues. Even if you wanted to breed them it would be challenging!

Because of their size, you would expect them to be a bit slower (like the Rabbit Snail). But that’s actually not the case at all.

This is actually one of the fastest aquarium snails on our list! It can really take you by surprise if you’re not expecting it. They can go from one end of the tank to another in no time at all.

8. Gold Inca Snails

This is a type of aquarium snail that doesn’t get talked about as much as it should. The Gold Inca is absolutely stunning because of the rich yellow that covers their shells and body.

When you combine this with a well-planted tank you get a beautiful combination of yellow on top of the green. It makes this species really stand out!

They are very easy to take care of and have a reasonable water parameter range that you can keep them in. These freshwater snails are also extremely peaceful as well which makes them a great creature for community tanks.

They only reach about an inch in diameter and can be kept in rather small tanks. This gives you even more flexibility when it comes to picking your setup.

Gold Inca Snails do a fantastic job cleaning many types of aquarium algae as well. They’ll spend their time slowly moving around the tank cleaning up whatever they can! Fortunately, they won’t devour your plants like some of the other snails on this list.

9. Ramshorn Snail

The Ramshorn Snail might be our favorite type on this list (it’s so hard to choose). They get their name from the distinct horn-like shell they have.

This look helps them stand out among other species and makes it easy to pick them out at a glance.

At this point, these snails are mostly found in the aquarium scene instead of the wild. This isn’t the case for most of the other types on this list.

They’re about an inch in diameter and will live for roughly a year with good care. These are fairly standard numbers for aquarium snails.

The Ramshorn has a fairly high activity level. You’ll often find see them moving along the sides of your tank or climbing on whatever plants they can find. There’s something about watching them that’s just so addicting!

10. Trumpet Snail

Trumpet Snails are a species that some aquarist love and others hate. This comes from their ability to quickly reproduce and take over a tank if left unchecked.

Personally, we think they’re great freshwater snails to include in your aquarium because of their interesting look and benefits they bring.

This species is low-maintenance and easy to care for. You’ll never have to worry about them thriving in your tank as long as everything is relatively stable. They won’t mess with any other animals and keep to themselves.

They’re not very big (only about an inch in length) which makes them seem more “natural” than some of the other species on our list. There’s something about having a few of them in your aquarium that makes it seem like you’re taking a look into a pond!

Because of their small size, you’ll need to be cautious with the power of your filtration. A strong filter can easily suck them in (not good). If you can’t control the intake we recommend placing some kind of filter or guard in front to prevent them from getting stuck.

11. Japanese Trapdoor Snail

Out of all the types of aquarium snails, this might be the most underrated. Japanese Trapdoor Snails have a different “aged” sort of look to them that none of the other species on our list can match.

Their shell is shaped like a swirl of frosting and usually has three distinct whorls. The size of this species can vary greatly, with their length running somewhere between half an inch and two inches (genetics and the quality of their care will impact this).

They also have the potential to live longer than a lot of other snails. It’s not uncommon for these fish to hit the 5-year mark, with some even doubling that!

Japanese Trapdoor Snails are quite active at all times (even night). This makes them great for aquarists who want a spectator-friendly snail.

Despite their small size, this species does a great job of cleaning the tank too. For some reason, a lot of people consider other species when they want to make an impact on algae. We’ve seen these critters pull their weight though!

12. Other Pond Snails

Pond Snails refer to a broad collection of species with the Ramshorn being one of the most popular types (more on them below). Even though we spent this guide looking at individual species, we thought it would be a good idea to address this bunch.

Pond Snails are extremely common and can be found pretty much anywhere. They’re known for their ability to quickly reproduce and overpopulate a tank if you’re not careful.

With that being said, there are a lot of good options to choose from if you’re prepared for this. In our opinion, the Ramshorn is one of the best aquarium snails out there and there are plenty of other Pond species that are worthwhile too.

The most important thing to remember when trying to maintain control of their population is to keep an eye out for eggs. When these freshwater snails lay a batch of eggs you can quickly remove, but if you don’t pay attention you’ll miss your window.


Watch the video: Which Snail is BEST at Removing Algae.


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