List of Freshwater Aquarium Snails. Pros and Cons

List of Freshwater Aquarium Snails

If you think you only need shrimp, fishes, plants, and substrates in your freshwater aquarium, you are wrong. There are a lot of people who are not aware that a freshwater snail can be a great addition to an aquarium—getting interested? So, why do you need them?

Well, here is why freshwater snails are advantageous.

General Pros

  • They also serve as cleaners (scavengers), which you can depend on highly. So, with a freshwater snail, you can have help in removing dead animals, algae, and decomposing plants from your aquarium. In short, you have a natural way of keeping the water in your tank clean and free from harmful in your aquarium. But always keep in mind that it needs your cooperation to be successful. Otherwise, the snails can deter the balance in your freshwater aquarium.
  • In general, the freshwater snails are friendly neighbors. They are very peaceful creatures and will not bother anybody in your aquarium. If you are a fish keeper, you will not have a hard time keeping the snails away from the fish eggs because the eggs seem to be less delicious for snails.
  • Some snail species are extraordinarily beautiful and can contribute to an impressive display aquarium. Other species listed below stand out with their unique and exotic shapes and faces.
  • Freshwater snails will benefit shrimp tanks. Even more, they will help you to increase shrimplets survival rate (read my article about it)!
  • Their waste acts as a great plant fertilizer.
  • They are generally fairly easy to care for. Most types of aquarium snails are hardy and will thrive in a wide range of conditions. Some of them can even survive in colder pond climates.

General Cons

However, there are also drawbacks to snail keeping.

  • The first question that will probably pop in your mind is, “Will they eat all my plants out?”. Unfortunately, some snail species eat plants with great pleasure. Therefore, it will not be a good idea to keep them in planted tanks. Of course, you can distract them with blanched vegetables but …not for long.
  • Some aquarium snails can breed prolifically. Lots of snails in the tank will produce too much bio-load (waste). As a result, it can disrupt the nitrogen cycle in your tank (ammonia spikes). So, you could have a problem on your hands. In addition, overcrowding can lead to illness and even death for your pets.
  • Sometimes small aquarium snails can get into your filter intake. It can harm them and damage the filter as well. Therefore, ideally, you need some kind of protection (covering the openings). However, if you are using sponge filters there is nothing to worry about.

Below is a list of the most popular freshwater aquarium snails. This article will help navigate you through the pros and cons for each snail species. In addition, I will provide links to articles with deeper information into individual care. 

List of Freshwater Aquarium Snails.

1. Nerite Snails (Zebra Nerite, Tiger Nerite, Olive Nerite, Black (Red, Gold) Racer Nerite, Horned Nerite, Red Spotted Nerite, etc.)
2. Assassin Snails
3. Mystery Snails (Gold Inca Mystery Snail, Ivory White Mystery Snail)
4. Rabbit Snails
5. Giant Colombian Ramshorn snails
6. Japanese Trapdoor Snails
7. Black Devil Snails
8. Ramshorn Snails
9. Malaysian Trumpet Snails
10. Bladder Snails
11. Pond Snails

Types of Freshwater Aquarium Snails.

1. Nerite Snails

Tiger nerite snailThe Nerite snails quickly became popular in the aquarium trade as both the saltwater and the freshwater species are pretty hardy and because they are perfect algae eaters. They are also available in different species with different shell shapes, colors, textures, and patterns. Most species eat only algae and to a lesser degree, other vegetable matter.

So, if you have an aquarium with a stable population of algae, you will not need to feed your Nerite snails. They will find the food they need. Nerite snails are, however, ferocious algae eaters, and they might eat your aquarium clean of algae, at which point they need to be fed vegetable matter.

Ideal food includes sinking algae wafers and vegetable flake food that falls to the bottom. All Nerite snails will leave living shrimp, fish and fry alone. If you see one eating on a dead fish, you can be sure that the fish died before the snail started eating on it.

I strongly recommend these snails as they will become a valued part of the cleaning crew. Nerite snails will be very helpful in keeping your freshwater aquarium free from algae. They are very friendly and will not bother any other aquarium inhabitant.

Nerite snails don’t grow very big; usually, about 1 inch/2.5 cm, and most species are best kept at around 72-77°F (22- 26°C).

Based on the unique shell markings, there are some varieties you might see in pet stores:

  • Zebra Nerite.
  • Tiger Nerite.
  • Olive Nerite
  • Black (Red, Gold) Racer Nerite.
  • Horned Nerite.
  • Red Spotted Nerite.
  • Etc.
Nerite snails (Neritina sp.)
Pros Cons
Very beautiful Can get out of tanks
Absolutely the best algae eaters They do not aerate the substrate
Do not reproduce in freshwater Do not reproduce in freshwater but can keep laying eggs.
Great cleaners
Peaceful
Do not eat plants

Read more about this species in my article “Nerite Snails – Detailed Guide: Care, Diet and Breeding”.

2. Assassin Snails

Assassin snail (Clea Helena) huntingAssassin snails (Clea Helena) are distinctive in appearance and thus easy to recognize. They sport an attractive black- and light brown-striped shell, a light-colored body with small, darker flecks, and a very thin, prominent proboscis, something like the proboscis of a trumpet snail but much thinner and lighter in color.

The Assassin snail is a freshwater snail that is highly sought after in the aquarium trade for their ability to prey on pest snails. They are found throughout much of Southeast Asia and are native to Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia.

Assassin snails do particularly well in captivity, and most will grow up to 2.5 – 3 cm (~1 inch) in length. The average life span is around 2 – 3 years, though they can easily exceed this age in a well-maintained aquarium.

An assassin snail’s natural diet is mainly composed of other species of snails and worms, though they are also opportunistic feeders. They will eat almost anything that they can scavenge, and this includes decomposing fish and other small invertebrates.

Assassin Snails (Clea Helena)
Pros Cons
Nice looking snails Do not eat algae
Eat snails Eat good and useful snails
Will not overpopulate the tank Low reproduction rate (if you plant to breed them)
Do not eat plants
They aerate the substrate (prevent gas pockets, provide oxygen to plant roots)

Read more about this species in my article “Guide: Assassin Snails in Shrimp Tanks. Do Assassin Snails Eat Shrimp?”.

3. Mystery Snails

Mystery snailMystery snails are unique and distinct because they grow to be some of the biggest freshwater aquarium snails (up to 6.5 or 2.5 inches). They also have a variety of colors (gold, blue, purple, orange, greenish, black, white, ivory, brown, etc.) and shell patterns.

Mystery snails are great scavengers often eat whatever is left behind from pet fish or shrimp (pill, pellet or flake form). They will also particularly enjoy feeding on decaying or already dead plant matter. If the snails have no access to any other sustenance, Mystery snails can even starve but usually will not touch any of the aquatic plants as a food source. Therefore, it makes them a good choice for an aquarium.

These snails eat and poop a lot. Well, maybe it does not sound nice, it is extremely beneficial for the fish fry and baby shrimp. It is phenomenally excellent food for them.

Mystery snails are also readily available on the market. They are easy to take care of and reduce the amount of time you have to spend cleaning the tank which also makes them a considerable snail when it comes to freshwater aquarium snails.

Based on the unique shell markings, there are some varieties you might see in pet stores:

  • Gold Inca Mystery Snail.
  • Ivory White Mystery Snail
Mystery Snails (Pomacea Brigesii / Pomacea Diffusa)
Pros Cons
Hardy snails Can get out of tanks
Nice looking big snails Lays large eggs masses above the surface of the water
Very active snail
Can borrow and aerate the substrate (prevent gas pockets, provide oxygen to plant roots)
Algae eaters
Will not overpopulate the tank very fast
Peaceful
Do not eat plants unless very hungry
Great cleaners

Read more about this species in my article “Mystery Snail – Detailed Guide: Care, Diet and Breeding”.

4. Rabbit Snails

Rabbit snailRabbit snails (often called as Elephant Snail) are true giants. They can grow up to 12 cm (~4.5 inches). Therefore, will require a little bit bigger tank compared to other snails. Make sure you give them enough space.

This is a very beautiful snail. Their unicorn-horn like shells can have a wide spectrum of colors: red, green, yellow, golden, blue and some others.

Rabbit snails are completely peaceful and therefore safe to keep with any fish or shrimp.

These snails come from a tropical climate (Lake Matano and Lake Towuti in South Sulawesi, Indonesia) and require aquariums with high pH and temperatures. But otherwise, they are pretty adaptable for just about any freshwater aquarium.

Rabbit snails are good scavengers, and they love greens. They are not picky eaters. Basically, they will accept any type of vegetables or algae-based foods.

Definitely, these snails should be considered a nice addition to your aquarium.

Rabbit Snails (Tylomelania sp)
Pros Cons
Nice looking big snails Low reproduction rate (if you plant to breed)
Very active snail Can have leeches
They will aerate the substrate (prevent gas pockets, provide oxygen to plant roots)
Soft algae eaters
Will not overpopulate the tank
Peaceful
Do not eat plants unless very hungry
Great cleaners

Read more about this species in my article “Rabbit Snail – Detailed Guide: Care, Diet and Breeding”.

5. Giant Colombian Ramshorn snails

Marisa Cornuarietis Snail – Detailed Guide: Care, Diet and BreedingGiant Colombian Ramshorn snails (sometimes referred to as Apple snails, Paradise snail,  Golden horn marissa, etc.). Their shells are one of the more exotic color variations with either yellow/brown stripes or solid yellow colors with no stripes on the shells. In some cases, their shells can be divided into two parts with one side dark and one light.

These are very hardy snails. Considering the fact that they are semi-tropical species, they will be absolutely fine in room temperature.

They can resemble their smaller cousins (Ramshorn snails) in color but differ in shape, size and some other features. Giant Colombian Ramshorn snails can grow to be up to the size of a golf ball in the right conditions!

These snails have a large appetite and will gladly clean up any leftover food in an aquarium. Unfortunately, Giant Colombian Ramshorn snails are extremely voracious plant eaters. They will destroy any planted tanks in no time!

Giant Colombian Ramshorn snails (Marisa Cornuarietis Snail)
Pros Cons
Hardy snails They do not aerate the substrate
Beautiful big snails Can get out of tanks
Very active snail Fast reproduction rate
Algae eaters Potentially aggressive (can consume eggs, newly hatched and small snails)
Great cleaners Eat plants (extremely voracious eaters)

Read more about this species in my article “Marisa Cornuarietis Snail – Detailed Guide: Care, Diet, and Breeding”.

6. Japanese Trapdoor Snails

Japanese trapdoor snails (Viviparus sp)Japanese Trapdoor Snails are named for their operculum, which is a sturdy 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.

These snails’ shells are spiral-shaped, but otherwise, they vary significantly in appearance – no two snails look exactly alike! Each snail has slightly different coloration and patterns, but they usually feature more natural-looking colors such as brown and green. Trapdoor Snails are quite giant as adults and can grow up to 3 inches (~7 cm) in length, making them one of the giant freshwater snails in the aquarium hobby. They are also amazingly beautiful snails with a long life span.

They also serve some beneficial purposes. Japanese Trapdoor Snails clean algae off of glass, plants, and decorations, and they keep your substrate clean and the correct color. They are particularly adept at keeping your tank or pond and any live plants free of algae, with minimal damage to the plants.

They are safe with any fish, shrimp, or plants, and are entirely peaceful. In addition to eating algae, they consume uneaten fish food and waste on the floor of tanks and ponds.

Japanese Trapdoor Snails (Viviparus sp.)
Pros Cons
Hardy snails They do not aerate the substrate
Beautiful big snails Low reproduction rate (if you plant to breed them)
Will not overpopulate the tank
Do not lay eggs (live bearers)
Peaceful
Do not eat plants unless very hungry
Great cleaners
Very active snail
Algae eaters

Read more about this species in my article “Japanese Trapdoor Snail – Detailed Guide: Care, Diet, and Breeding”.

7. Black Devil Snails

Devil Spike Snails (Faunus ater)Tired of searching for an aquarium snail that doesn’t produce babies by the hundreds? The solution is here. Faunus ater, also known as the Black devil snail, is a large aquarium snail that doesn’t reproduce in freshwater. Also, it looks fantastic! The ideal choice if you’re looking for an exciting aquarium snail that won’t overrun your tank with offspring and is easy to care for.

Like many other aquarium snails, black devil snails are omnivores that will eat pretty much anything they come across.

Any leftover fish foods will happily be consumed, and the same thing goes for the dead (or even live) plant bits. Algae is also a favorite, so your black devil snails will appreciate it if you leave some in the tank.

Because most of our aquariums are a little too ‘clean’ to sustain a few of these snails you’ll need to supplement their diet. Use an invertebrate food that contains plenty of calcium to ensure proper growth.

Devil Spike Snails (Faunus ater)
Pros Cons
Hardy snails Might eat plants when hungry
Beautiful big snails Do not reproduce in freshwater (if you plant to breed them)
Very active snails
Algae eaters
Great cleaners
Peaceful
Can borrow and aerate the substrate (prevent gas pockets, provide oxygen to plant roots)
Do not reproduce in freshwater

Read more about this species in my article “Black Devil Snail – Detailed Guide: Care, Diet and Breeding”.

8. Ramshorn Snails

Ramshorn Snail on plantRamshorn Snails are lovely and are great for adding some color and decoration to your aquarium, but they also serve some beneficial purposes. They clean algae off of glass, plants, and decorations, and they keep your substrate clean and the correct color. While they are effective algae-eaters, they do not harm live plants.

These snails also reproduce very quickly, making them a great live food starter colony for puffers and other animals that eat snails.

The snails usually ship as juveniles that are pea-sized but may sometimes be smaller. Even the smallest snail will be adult breeding size within two months. These snails can grow up to 1 inch (~2.5 cm) in diameter.

Ramshorn Snails (Planorbella duryi, Planorbarius corneus)
Pros Cons
Super hardy Can overpopulate the tank very fast
Nice looking snails They do not aerate the substrate
Great cleaners Small snail can get into filter
Algae eaters
Do not eat plants
Excellent feeders for Assassin snails, crayfish, Pufferfish, etc.
Peaceful

Read more about this species in my article “Ramshorn Snails – Detailed Guide: Care, Diet, and Breeding”.

 9. Malaysian Trumpet Snails

Malaysian Trumpet Snails (Melanoides Tuberculata)Some A lots of people do not like Malaysian Trumpet Snails. They consider them as Pest snails and want to remove them by any means. Sure, Malaysian trumpet snails often come uninvited, and it is virtually impossible to get rid of them later, because they reproduce like crazy.

However, personally, I do not think that they are as bad as anyone claims. Actually, you can read it in my article in detail (see below). Malaysian trumpet snails will clean your tank spectacularly! They will also take care of all of the algae. They will also bury into substrate (aerate it) and will not annoy you with their presence.

There is no need to describe the proper care for these snails. Malaysian trumpet snails are so hardy that can live in any freshwater tank.

Regarding their insane reproduction, in most cases this is our own fault! The sad truth is that we often overfeed our tanks. Yeap, do not even deny it. However, the number of snails will be dependent upon the food that they can find. Unfortunately, we often forget this simple rule or just do not want to admit it.

 Malaysian Trumpet Snails (Melanoides Tuberculata)
Pros Cons
Super hardy Unremarkable appearance
They aerate the substrate (prevent gas pockets, provide oxygen to plant roots) Small snail can get into filter
Algae eaters Can overpopulate the tank very fast
Great cleaners
Peaceful
Do not eat plants

Read more about this species in my article “Malaysian Trumpet Snails – Pros and Cons for Shrimp Tank”.

10. Bladder Snails

Bladder snails (Physa acuta)Bladder snails are one of the most commonly found snails in the aquarium hobby. Most aquarists also consider them as Pest snails you need to avoid.

These small snails barely reach 1.5 cm (~ ½ inches) long. Their muddy brown color shells spiral to the left. This is a very rare oddity in the snail world, making bladder snails easily distinguished among snail species.

Bladder snails are simultaneously hermaphroditic snails. It means that they have both male and female reproductive organs, and can reproduce both through internal self-fertilization and through cross-fertilization (mating). As a result, you will need just one snail to start snail infestation. They breed extremely fast (explosively), producing lots of bio-load (waste) that breaks down into nitrates and cause ammonia spikes.

Luckily, Bladder snails do not eat live plants, but will quickly take care of the decaying ones. They are excellent scavengers and will find food (including algae, leftovers, detritus, etc.) in your tank by themselves.

They are professional hitchhikers and extremely adaptable to any water parameters. Bladder snails occur on all continents except Antarctica. Now you understand how tough they are.

Bladder Snails (Physa acuta)
Pros Cons
Ultra hardy snails (if you want to keep them) Ultra hardy snails (if you want to kill them)
Very active snail Unremarkable appearance and small size
Algae eaters Extremely fast reproduction rate
Great cleaners They do not aerate the substrate
Do not eat plants
Excellent feeders for Assassin snails, crayfish, Pufferfish, etc.
Peaceful

Read more about this species in my article “Bladder Snail – Detailed Guide: Care, Diet, and Breeding”.

11. Pond Snails

Pond snail (Lymnaea stagnalis)This is another species that is not welcomed by many aquarists. Generally, people confuse Bladder snails and Pond snails; they just call them – Pest snails.

However, Pond snails are considerably larger than the common Bladder snail. Some of them can grow up to 7 cm (~3 inches). In addition, their shells spiral to the right. They grow very quickly and mature sexually at an age of 2.5–3.5 months. Like Bladder snail, Pond snails are also hermaphrodites that can self- and cross-fertilize (mixed mating system).

Fast reproduction and big size of the snails also means they put off a lot of waste. As a result, if can affect your water quality.

Pond snails are incredibly hardy. There is no need to care for them. For example, in my guide about this species, I referred to the experiment where Pond snails tolerated (short-lasting) pH changes a wider range – up to pH 3.5! Basically, everything will die in your tank, but they will survive.

Pond Snails (Lymnaea stagnalis)
Pros Cons
Very hardy snails (if you want to keep them) Too hardy snails (if you want to kill them)
Very active snails Unremarkable appearance
Algae eaters Fast reproduction rate
Great cleaners Can eat plants
Mostly peaceful May occasionally be cannibalistic, eating smaller snails.
Excellent feeders for Assassin snails, crayfish, Pufferfish, etc. They do not aerate the substrate
Can eat Hydra in the tank

Read more about this species in my article “Pond Snails – Detailed Guide: Care, Diet, and Breeding”.

Important – Calcium Supplement

Calcium is an essential part of all aquatic snails. Without enough calcium, the snails are not able to build the layers of their shells as strong as they need to. It is vital for them.

Therefore, I highly recommend reading my article “How to Supplement Shrimp and Snails with Calcium”.

Important – Inappropriate Tank Mates

Freshwater snails are entirely peaceful and totally safe to keep with any fish or shrimp. They will not cause any problems for the most freshwater aquatic environments.

Although, snails are safe to keep with fish, there are some fish, that will happily eat snack on them. In addition, I would not recommend keeping them with crayfish and crabs. Surprisingly, but there are also aggressive dwarf shrimp species that can harm your snails.

Therefore, the list of inappropriate tank mates looks like this:

1. Fish

  • Pufferfis
  • Loaches
  • Botias
  • Oscars
  • African Cichlids

2. Any type of Crayfish
3. Any type of Crab
4. Assassin snail
5. Dwarf Shrimp

  • Macrobrachium species. This species is very aggressive and it is easy to confuse them with Ghost shrimp. Especially, when they young.
  • Ghost shrimp (Palaemonetes paludosus). In some cases, these relatively safe shrimp can also cause problems. They can harass snails that cannot seal themselves in their shells (read my guide about Ghost shrimp).

Of course, in some articles and on forums you can find different stories how some people could keep snails with, for example, Loaches or Crayfish, etc. Nonetheless, if it works for them it does not mean that it will work for you! Just be careful if you decide to keep them together.

Controlling Snail Population.

Remember, the only way if you have too many is because you are over feeding! If your tank is completely overrun by snails and the situation is out of control. Read my article – How to Remove Snails from a Shrimp Tank.

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