How Do I Get Rid of a Snail Infestation and Keep Them From Coming Back?
Snail infestations are a common problem in freshwater aquariums and, if you do not take action soon enough to correct the problem, your tank could quickly become overrun. In small numbers, aquarium snails can actually be helpful in the aquarium. Snails are scavengers, feeding on algae and detritus in the tank. In large numbers, however, aquarium snails can be an eyesore and may even begin to damage your live aquarium plants. There are a few simple precautions you can take to prevent a snail infestation in your tank and, if you already have a snail problem, you have several remedies to choose from. Once you have taken care of your snail problem, be sure to take precautions against letting the problem develop again in the future.
How to Remedy a Snail Infestation
If the snails have not completely overrun your tank you may be able to remove most of them by hand. Pay particular attention to plant leaves and tank decorations – snails may also cling to the intake tube of your aquarium filter. Once you have picked the snails out of the tank, drop them in a cup of saltwater to kill them. In cases where dozens or even hundreds of snails are present, removing the creatures by hand may not be the most practical option. Try blanching a piece of lettuce in hot water for about 15 seconds then sink it in your tank before you go to bed at night. In the morning, snails from all over the tank should have gathered on the piece of lettuce, feeding on the decaying plant material. All you need to do, then, is remove the lettuce from the tank and the snails along with it. Repeat this process as often as necessary until the snail infestation has reached a more manageable level.
When you find your tank afflicted with an infestation of aquarium snails, you may be tempted to use a chemical remedy. Snail-killing products are available online and in pet stores, but you should think carefully before using these products. Chemical remedies designed to kill aquarium snails will also kill other invertebrates in your tank and may decimate your colony of beneficial bacteria. If you kill all the nitrifying bacteria in your tank, it will re-cycle and your fish could be killed. If you decide to use a chemical remedy for killing aquarium snails, remove your fish to a spare tank and do not put them back in the main tank until you are sure the tank has been properly cycled.
Preventing Snail Infestations
The most common way snails are introduced into an aquarium is through live aquarium plants. While some pet stores offer guaranteed snail-free plants, these plants can be very expensive. If you decide to purchase live aquarium plants, there are two things you should do to kill any existing snails or snail eggs on the plants before you add them to your tank. When you get the plants home, carefully go over the roots and leaves by hand and pick off any snails you see. Next, soak the plants in a saltwater bath for 10 to 15 minutes. The salt should kill any remaining snails and snail eggs and the short soaking period should not damage the plants. Once the plants have soaked, rinse them well in fresh water and add them to your tank.