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11 Types of Food Snails Eat in Aquarium | Freshwater & Saltwater

With intricately made shells at their backs and a layer of slime that is left behind wherever they go, snails are creatures that are often fascinating to a lot of kids and can also become a really good addition to aquariums.

In aquariums, adding snails can greatly increase the variety of organisms found in the tanks, and most importantly they can help clean the tank by happily eating the food left behind by other fishes. For this reason, snails have become quite popular in the aquarium world.

However, one common question raised by a lot of people is what do snails eat. Yes, they do eat the leftovers but, is that it? Do they have some special requirements that we need to take care of? Some people also have only-snail tanks, does that make any difference? What’s the difference in the feed for freshwater snails and saltwater snails? If you have one of these inquiries, then rest assured as they will be answered in the text below.

Store-bought Food

Snails are happy to eat the leftover fish food but only if it is for the bottom dwellers. This means that the food should sink and rest on the sand or gravel as snails won’t be able to reach it otherwise.

So, if your aquarium only has fish that eat the food that floats on the water, a separate type should be bought for the snails that can sink and easily reach them. Algae wafers have also become an all-time favorite for them! Additionally, as they can glide on surfaces, they may be able to reach any other food stuck on the aquarium walls.

Fruits

snails eat in an aquarium

Snails are creatures that will devour a variety of fruits easily. The variety of foods can include melon, grapes, apples, pears, apricots, kiwi, and cucumbers.



Safety in Feeding Fruits to Snails

There are a lot of other fruits that can be fed to snails, the only thing that should be taken care of is of the acidity of the fruits. What this means is that acidic fruits like tomatoes and oranges should be avoided as they might become toxic for them.

Additionally, fruits should be properly washed before they are fed to the snails as the pesticides present on them can pose to be harmful. They should also be dried after washing as the chemicals in your water supply may also become toxic to their health.

The best way to wash these fruits is by using dechlorinated water (water can be dechlorinated by leaving it open overnight). Lastly, feeding your snails only the flesh of the fruit may be the safest choice as it will omit any risk of accidentally feeding them the pesticides present on the skin.

Algae

Types of algae that can exist in your aquarium tank

People are surprised to know how much snails will love eating algae. You’ll see them nibbling at algae that have collected on rocks, and corners of aquariums. Well, who wouldn’t want their tank walls clean from unwanted algae? Due to this algae flakes have also found their way on one of the shelves of fish shops. Ivory snail is an example of such a snail.

Plants

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Whether they are store-bought vegetables or they are the plants (alive or dead) found in the tanks, snails will munch away happily at the leaves. For this reason, leafy vegetables are usually the best for the snails.

Vegetables such as cabbage, lettuce, carrots will make your snails keep munching all day. To make it easier for them to reach the vegetables, they can be hung on the side of the tanks.

Meat

Yes, meat-eating snails do exist. They tend to feed on organisms like bivalves or shellfishes such as small shrimps. Due to this, it is recommended to keep small invertebrates like this to keep your meat-eating snails content.

A particular breed is also kept to eat other small snails. This is done so to keep the snail population under control. This feature has made such snails quite popular with hobbyists. One example of such species is the assassin snail. The colors of this snail also add to its worth.

Remnants (Leftover)

Like I said above, snails love to eat leftover food. Whether it’s a dead leaf, algae, a fallen stem, or soggy food that has sunk to the bottoms, it will be scooped by the snails in no time.

So, keeping snails can be thought of as manual cleaning machines while at the same time adding color to the aquarium. Bullia digitalis is an example of such scavenger snails that will keep your tanks healthy.

Calcium Supplements

The intricate designs and the contrasting colors on the shells of snails have long been some of the most captivating features about them. Some snails are black and white, some are of shades of blue while some come in shades of brown. Any of these colors are naturally fascinating to the eye and are enhanced even more when the aquarium lights bounce off of them.

To keep these colors bright and healthy, snails need calcium in their diet. Thus, calcium supplements are provided to them in the form of eggshells, cuttlefish bones, oyster shells, natural chalk, limestone, or bone meal.

Eggshells

The inside skin should be removed and washed thoroughly before adding it to the tank. It is better to be used as an alternative to other sources as it is a weak source of calcium.



Natural Chalk

The inside skin should be removed and washed thoroughly before adding it to the tank. It is better to be used as an alternative to other sources as it is a weak source of calcium.

Edible & Natural Chalk

Bone Meal

Good source of calcium and as it is used as a fertilizer, it should be made sure that additional chemicals are not present.

Limestone

Careful to not mix this up with lime as that can be toxic. Natural rock is needed.

Cuttlefish Bone

Small cuttlefish bones can be kept at different places and watch snails nibbling on it happily.

Not only does calcium enhance the colors on the shells but it also needed for the shells to come out stronger and healthier. Calcium is required by the snails for repairment in case something hits and chips off their shells.

However, be very careful as the water added in the tanks may already have calcium dissolved in them beforehand. This is done so to provide the right levels of minerals to the fishes and plants living inside the tanks.

Only-Snail Tanks

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If you’re interested in keeping an only-snail tank, there is no need to be extra worried as there nothing out of the way you have to do for them other than the above. Only a certain amount of food should be added so it can be eaten up completely and doesn’t rot.

If an excessive amount is added, the tank may get dirty due to extra food particles and there is also a chance of the snails getting sick. If you want to give them fresh food then start slow too, understand what they like to eat more.

They may go through the fresh food slowly so small amounts should be added. They can be tied to different places so they can reach them when they feel hungry.

Plants can also be added to make the aquarium look prettier and also help snail feed on them. They will contrast with the snails and will also bring out their colors.

Dangerous Foods

As snails can be fed with almost everything, it is necessary to note what they can not be fed. Like I mentioned above, if you’re giving fresh food it should be made sure that it is washed thoroughly so that any remnants of pesticides are not left on top. Foods high in oxalates such as spinach should also not be given as according to a study, they make nutrients inaccessible to the body.

Furthermore, large amounts of salt can be toxic to them. Although, yes they do require some amount of salt in their diet, excessive amounts should be avoided. Acidic fruits should also be avoided as they can be a tad harmful if overdosed. Lastly, things that are hard to digest for snails such as pasta, bread, millet should also be avoided.

Although all the above tells you what snails generally eat, there is a slight difference between what saltwater snails eat and what freshwater snails eat. The particulars can be found below.



Freshwater Snails

7 ways to get rid of Snails in a Fish Tank

These snails survive mostly by eating algae and dead plants. This means freshwater snails are mostly vegetarian and will eat the vegetables and fruits mentioned above easily. As they are also fine with eating dead fish, they can become good tank cleaners.

Still, keep a lookout as snails multiply very easily and will turn from one to twelve in no time (whether a mate is present or not). They are most likely to eat the fallen leaves of live plants present in the aquarium than the plant itself thus making it easier to keep them.

Saltwater Snails

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These snails can also eat plants -dead or alive- present in tanks like freshwater snails. What distinguishes them from the freshwater snails is that they are more carnivorous.

Saltwater snails have certain meat-loving species and will eat alive invertebrates such as shrimps and bivalves. Murex family of snails are carnivorous.

But, if you want to keep plant-eating snails like cowrie, be sure to add plenty of vegetables or plants in the aquarium to keep their appetite satisfied. Other than that, they can also multiply greatly and will fill up your aquarium with colors in no time.

Conclusion

As seen above, snails can eat a diverse range of things. They are very low maintenance but will spruce up your aquarium with different colors. For certain hobbyists, it can also be a fun thing to do, watch snails gnaw at various stuff slowly and happily. Their love for food extends to a great length and they might even eat everything edible that comes in between their path!


However, as I mentioned above, they will also multiply in no time if they have excessive food available to them. They will mate very quickly and the next time you see, the aquarium bed will be filled with tiny snails on their way munch on some fallen leaf. To keep this population in check, assassin snails can be kept ( they eat smaller snails) or some of the snails can be gathered and put back in the wild. So, remember, well-fed snails are happy snails, and will also keep the aquarium tidy from all unwanted food.