Can You Put Wild Snails in Your Aquarium?

Aquarium owners add many things into their tanks. The additions can be for aesthetic purposes, or to perform a beneficial action. One thing, which often comes to mind, is the inclusion of snails. The issue here is the difference between bought ones, and ones found in the wild.

With this, it begs the question.

Can you put wild snails in your aquarium? It is advisable not to add wild snails to an aquarium for a couple of reasons. One is you don’t know the environment they like to live in. You can shorten their life by placing them in water conditions that are not suitable. Second, wild snails carry parasites that will fall into your tank water for months. There is no treatment for this, and these parasites can affect your entire tank and not just your fish.

Read on, and you can learn more about adding snails to your aquarium. By the end, you will see what benefits snails bring, and what problems they can pose.

How Can Snails Harm My Aquarium?

You will find there are two kinds of snails; some are beneficial and ornamental, while others are a nuisance.

Besides the parasites on wild snails, you still need to be cautious of the types of snails you add to your tank. You can even find you have snails, which turn out to be uninvited guests. In most cases, these join the nuisance brigade.

One snail in your tank will never cause too many issues. However, the uninvited never like to be alone, and before you know it, there are others.

Here are some of the ways snails can harm your freshwater aquarium:

  • All snails have the potential to carry infectious diseases
  • Snails can eat aquarium plants and may harm fish if they are weak from illness (disease or parasites)
  • Snails which die will release ammonia into the tank water
  • Once snails increase their population, they create an imbalance in your tank, and it can affect the number of fish you can keep safely
  • Using snail killers to remove snails can kill fish
  • Snails make their way inside filters and can block the inlets or prevent the impellers from working

How Can Snails Benefit My Aquarium?

If you add snails to your tank, then these are the types, which often work out the beneficial ones. Here are the ways these snails can bring benefits to your tank.

  • Snails will eat dead and decaying plant matter. This prevents the release of ammonia
  • If you are breeding your fish, freshwater snails avoid eating fish eggs
  • Many snails types like burrowing, this means they will aerate your substrate, which helps prevent a toxic element buildup
  • Snails are scavengers and eat debris and waste. It can be leftover food or in many cases, algae. This makes them your tank cleaners.
  • There are assassin snails, and these feed on any nuisance snails you may have, and control the population.

Will Freshwater Snails Hurt My Fish?

Physically, a snail will never harm a fish. Unless it is sick already, as we have seen, they are too slow to do anything drastic.

The issues come from possible parasites, however, the main one being overpopulation. Once the population grows, we have seen there will be an imbalance, but they can begin to devour everything.

Here are three snails you do not want in your aquariums:

Pond Snails: You find these in outdoor ponds, and you can find them in your tank if you purchase some live plants. The issue here is they sneak in while attached to leaves. The other problem is because they are hermaphrodites; they breed on their own, and don’t require a mate of the opposite sex.

They can reproduce without mates, so the population can increase without you knowing. At this point, they will eat all your plants and anything else they can find.

Rabbit Snails: Rabbit snails add no benefits and produce more waste than they clean. They are quick reproducers in freshwater tanks, so you can find yourself overrun.

Ramshorn Snails: They do look good with their lovely colors and appearance. Aside from that, there is little reason to have these. They eat fish food as much as algae and you can end up feeding your fish more often. Finally, if you have these, they are almost impossible to get rid of from your tank.

What are the Recommended Snails for Freshwater Aquariums?

While there are a few types of purchased snails not to include in your tank, and you should never add wild ones because of harmful parasites. Several bring benefits as long as you control their population.

Here are a few of the best to include, and what good they bring to your tank:

  • Trumpet Snails: Algae doesn’t stand a chance with the Trumpet Snail. They are algae eating machines, and besides, they aerate the substrate through burrowing. This dislodges any buildup of anaerobic gasses, which can accumulate.
  • Assassin Snails: While they do little for the cleanliness of your tank by eating algae, the Assassin Snail can control the population of other snails. One thing that makes this different is they require a mate to reproduce; thus, they won’t overpower your tank with their population.
  • Nerite Snails: Being one of the most popular snails to have in your tank. Nerite Snails love to search out algae to eat. They find this on hard surfaces like the tank walls and substrate. The primary benefit of these is they don’t reproduce in freshwater aquariums, so controlling their population is easy.
  • Mystery Snails: A Mystery Snail is a great addition because they are another that will clean the bottom of your tank of uneaten food and algae. If there is a downside, it is they are experts in escaping from fish tanks, so you do need a lid on your tank.

Caring for Freshwater Snails

When aquarium owners include snails into their tank, they think they can fend for themselves. While it is true to a degree, there are a few things to learn for their upkeep. Here is a bit more information about how you tend to your tank snails.

  • Although snails can feed on leftover fish food and algae, it is essential to know that if they clean all this up and there is nothing for them to eat, it is advisable to add a couple of bottom feeder tablets for them to munch.
  • Freshwater snails will need an environment, which is balanced, neutral and has stable pH levels. As you do for your fish, it is worth testing these levels with an inexpensive digital water meter.
  • The number of snails is vital because overpopulation will harm your tank. Controlling their population is essential to creating harmony.
  • Water temperatures need to be between 72 and 82 degrees fahrenheit for snails. You will need to check this falls in line with the temperatures your fish require.
  • Although a gravel substrate looks nice, snails can’t crawl along this easily. They should have a soft substrate such as sand to protect their soft underbelly.


There are many reasons why it is advantageous to have a snail or two in your aquarium. The best kinds are the ones listed above, so there is no reason to search for wild snails. For the sake of your fish, it is advisable to purchase ones you know come without any of the parasites, which will harm or kill your fish.