How to Get Rid of Snails in a Shrimp Tank


Snails can be a useful addition to your shrimp tank, but when the population gets out of control, there are several ways to get rid of them. Let’s look at how to get rid of snails in your shrimp aquarium and how to prevent a snail outbreak in the first place.

how to get rid of snails in a shrimp tank

How to get rid of snails in a shrimp tank? You can get rit of snail by picking them by hand, set a snail trap, or using assassin snails to hunt them. You cant use chemical solutions as they will also kill your shrimp.

We will first explore the different methods of getting rid of snails and what the pros and cons of those methods are. Next, we will take a look at the likely problems that can be the cause of the snail outbreak. We will also find the solutions on how to prevent a snail outbreak in your shrimp tank.

Picking out mature snails by hand

Picking out adult snails by hand can take a long time to get rid of all your snails. If you take the mature snail out every time you see them in your aquarium, they can not reproduce anymore. 

This method will take a long time, but the advantage of this method is that it is very safe. The rest of your inhabitants, like your shrimp, will not be disturbed much by this method. It will not get rid of all the snails at once, but it gives you some time. 

When the mature snails are gone, they will not reproduce anymore. All the small snails you missed and snail eggs scattered throughout the aquarium will be the last snails you will have. You will have to keep removing the snails as you find them when they get bigger.

This method of getting rid of your snails is perhaps the most labor-intensive of the ways described in this article. The advantage of removing snails by hand is; you don’t have to buy anything, and you can be selective if you only want to thin the population of shrimp.

Set a Snail Trap to get rid of Snails

Another excellent method of getting rid of unwanted snails is setting a snail trap. If you put a snail trap overnight in your aquarium, with the right bait, you will find a lot of snails in your trap in the morning. 

There are multiple things you can use as bait in your snail trap, here are some excellent options:

  • shrimp food
  • cucumber
  • boiled broccoli
  • a piece of lettuce
  • blanched spinach
  • snail food

Even if you don’t have a snail trap yet, you can use any of these baits to lure the snails overnight and scoop them up in the morning. 

Snails lured by shrimpfood
Snails lured by shrimpfood

With or without a snail trap, this is a faster way to get the snails compared to the first method. The downside is that you have to be careful collecting the snails; you will also attract shrimp with the bait you use for the snails.

Letting Assassin Snails get rid of you Snails

One way to get rid of snails is to let nature give you a hand. Assassin Snails, also known as Clea helena, will hunt, kill and eat all snails but their kind. It is an excellent way to control a snail outbreak.

It might seem like a strange idea to introduce new snails to your aquarium when you want to get rid of them, but you won’t see them a lot. Assassin snails burrow themselves in the substrate when they are not hunting. You won’t see them much when they are not hungry, and when you do, they look beautiful.

Shells left behind by Assassin Snails
Shells left behind by Assassin Snails

What you have to keep in mind when you choose assassin snails to take care of your snail problem is the fact that they will eat all types of snails. If you decide to have some Sulawesi snails in your shrimp tank, and you want to get rid of “pest” snails, the assassin snails will also prey on the Sulawesi snails. Before you get assassin snails, you have to decide if you want to get some fancy snails in the future, once deployed, the assassin snails are there to stay.

Fish that eat snails

There are several species of fish that eat snails. Fish like the pufferfish, loaches, Bettas, and Gourami. 

The problem with fish that like to eat snails is that they will also like to eat shrimp, so this is not the right solution if you cherish your dwarf shrimp. If you have mature red claw shrimp, you might get away with some of these fish options. They are a bit bigger than most dwarf shrimp and have the claws and the attitude to keep the fish at a distance, but for your most other dwarf shrimp, like cherry shrimp or cristal red shrimp, these fish will consider them food.

Chemical Snail Pest Control

Of all the options there are to get rid of a snail problem, I like Chemicals the least, to put it mildly. Some products on the market can get rid of snails. Most of them are copper-based chemicals. Although they can get rid of your snail infestation, most of the substances that will kill snails also kills shrimp. Even if you where somehow to catch all of your shrimp, get rid of your snails with these products, and put the shrimp back after a water change, the shrimp would probably still die. 

Once used in an aquarium, copper-based chemicals will soak into the silicone that holds your aquarium together. Once absorbed, the seam can leak the chemicals back in the water for years to come, making the aquarium toxic to your shrimp. For this reason, you have to be careful when you get a second-hand aquarium to start a shrimp colony. It can be an invisible shrimp killer. You can often recognize copper soaked (transparent colored) silicone seams by the blueish color they get.

Stop the Snail Outbreak

A snail explosion can sometimes seem sudden, but the outbreak does not happen without reason. A snail outbreak is an indication something is wrong in your aquarium; something must out of balance. Things to look at are: how much are you feeding. If there is too much food for the shrimp or fish to eat, the snail will eat it. if there is a lot for them to eat, they will multiply. Similar to too much food is too much waste left in the tank. If too much detritus builds up in your aquarium, the snails will love it and multiply.

The best way to prevent a snail outbreak is to keep your aquarium relative clean and make sure you do not overfeed your shrimp and fish.

Which method should I choose to get rid of snails?

I use a combination of the first three methods described here. Although I like some snails, and I know how beneficial they can be for your aquarium, I wouldn’t say I like all snails. For example, I like Ramshorn snails, Nerilte snails, and Sulawesi trumpet snails, but somehow, I am not fond of the bladder snails that appear in your tank. Because I am lucky to have more than one aquarium, I have one shrimp tank with assassin snails where I can put the snails I don’t want, and a view aquaria with snails I do want. Every time I find a bladder snail, I put it with the assassin snails.

Related Questions

Do assassin snails eat shrimp? If assassin snails have snails to eat, they will not predate on shrimp. If the assassin snails have nothing to eat, they might try to catch a shrimp, but all but the old or sick shrimp will be too fast for the snail. Snails can eat an already dead shrimp if they find one.

How do snails get into my aquarium? The most likely way snails find their way to your aquarium is to hitch a ride on plants. Either eggs or baby snails are hard to see when you buy plants, and once in your tank will establish themselves quickly.

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