Snails can be either beneficial or detrimental to your tank’s plant life. But some aquarists prefer to have several species of snails in order to maintain their tanks.
Melaniodes tuberculata – his is a popular breed of snail that is deliberately introduced to the tank. What’s good about this species of snails is that they eat as much algae as the can. Aside from that, they keep the integrity of the tank by eating leftover food and dead plants that can pollute the water. Another reason why they are so popular is because they dig through the tank’s substrate, thereby aerating the gravel. Another amazing feature of this snail is its sensitivity to toxins in the tank. If it’s time to clean or change the water, the snail will crawl its way to the surface of the water.
Planorbis corneus – this snail’s favourite snack is the Hygrophila spp. Some species of Ramshorn may not be good for your tank, so observe them carefully. The bigger they are, the more risk they pose on plants. They mostly eat algae that implant themselves on the surface of plants, glass, and decorations. As with Melanoides, they dead plants and leftovers. It is not advisable, though, to put them in breeding tanks for they also eat fish eggs.
Neritina natalensis – this beautiful snail is not just there for decoration. Neritina can be quite a voracious eater of algae, which is why it is among the favourites of aquarists. It mostly eats Green Spot algae as well as the Green Beard algae.
Common predators of these snails are the Loaches and Cichlids, so make sure that your snails are either abundant or have an adequate escape hatch to protect themselves. They can also proliferate fast so closely monitor their population just in case they decide to overpower your tank.
It may be nice to put in a snail or two in your tank. Problem is, they can easily multiply overtime and take over your tank. Just one snail is capable of producing an army.
The best and safest way to remove snails in your tank is to remove them manually. Many aquarist have tried (and have been successful) in baiting snails with food such as lettuce, zucchini or cucumber. The lettuce can be pinned at the side of the aquarium, near the top. Zucchini or cucumber is best placed inside a clean bottle. Place it there during the night, and you’ll find a swarm of snails you have not seen in the morning. You can also spend some time maintaining your tank daily. Carefully look for any movement in the leaves or the gravel surface. Sure enough, you will find snails that are just hiding or munching away. Another way of removing snails is by introducing fish types that eat them. Loaches and Cichlids are perfect for eating away snails and snail eggs. Some loach types are ravenous eaters of snails and can even suck them from their shells even if they are beneath the substrate.
Introduction of chemicals such as copper can be used, but it is highly risky. Although it can eradicate much of the snail population in a short amount of time, this method must be done carefully and with extreme caution. Not only will it eradicate your snails, it will also produce some damage in your plants and fish.
Carefully consider each method of clearing up snails in your tank. If all else fails, you can totally clean your tank, flush out the substrate, and treat your plants. It is best to always treat new plants and remove the water in which your fish came in with to prevent any other unwanted snails from getting into your tank.