How do I get rid of snails?

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It is quite normal to have a few snails in any tank, they tend to arrive with live plants and usually remain unseen for the majority of the time, but when a snail population booms the effect can be unsightly with thousands of little snails covering the tank.

Before looking at a solution to get rid of the snails it is worth thinking about why there is a problem. In most cases snails only become a problem when there is significant overfeeding happening, and the excess food gives the snails a feast, which results in rapid breeding. Check that no leftover fish food is reaching the aquarium floor and that any sinking foods are eaten quickly.

To remove snails there are a number of options but it is best to use natural removal methods rather than chemical 'snail killers' which rarely kill all the snails and simply result in a few dead snail bodies polluting the tank.

A snail 'trap' can be made quite easily from a water bottle pierced with several holes big enough for snails but too small for your fish. Put a small food tablet inside and leave it in the aquarium overnight - in the morning it will be full of snails and can be simply lifted out.

Some fish will also eat snails, particularly scavenging catfish and loaches, but may only eat the smaller snails so the big ones will still need to be removed. Another option is to introduce a predatory snail like the Assassin Snail, which will hunt down and kill other snails but will not breed as rapidly.

For more information see our article on Controlling snails

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