Snails are a fantastic option for an aquarium as they add color and life to the tank, along with fish. However, if you have a planted tank, you may wonder if it is safe to keep aquarium plants with snails. So, do aquarium snails eat plants?
All snail species don’t eat plants. Apple, Pond, and Giant Colombian Ramshorn snails eat live plants. Other snail species like Nerite, Mystery, and Assassin snails do not eat live plants at all. While Ramshorn snails and Black Devil snails prefer eating soft plant leaves if they are not well-fed.
There are many snail species all over the world. So, let’s now dive deeper into topics like which snail species prefer eating plants, which plants are not eaten by snails, etc.
Which Snails Eat Live Plants?
Given below are the most common snail species that eat live plants:
- Brotia Pagodula Snails: These snails are not picky eaters and prefer eating live plants along with their regular diet of cooked carrot, spinach, broccoli, and sinking pellets and wafers.
- Pond Snails: Pond snails are herbivores and are known to eat both rooted and floating aquatic plants along with a variety of decaying organic matter.
- Asolene Apixi: These are slow Apple snail species that do not eat live healthy plants. However, they crossbreed with the Giant Colombian Ramshorn snails, and their hybrids are known to eat plants. The main problem here is that it is difficult to distinguish between the Asolene Spixi species from the hybrids.
- Giant Colombian Ramshorn Snails: These are yet another freshwater snails that eat live plants. These snails eat a variety of fish foods along with aquatic plants. Hence, aquarists don’t take the risk of keeping these snails if they have a planted tank.
- Apple Snails: These snails are voracious plant eaters that consume a wide variety of aquatic vegetation. These snails do not prefer eating algae. Instead, they devour plants, be it alive or dead.
Alright! Now that you know about the snail species that eat live plants, let’s also gain insight into which snails don’t eat plants.
Recommended Further Reading:
- What Do Aquarium Snails Eat? (The Complete Guide)
- Do Aquarium Snails Lay Eggs? Can They Reproduce Asexually?
- Are Aquarium Snails Nocturnal? (Mystery, Nerite, Pond Snails, Etc.)
Which Snails Don’t Eat Plants?
There’s a lot of conflicting information on whether or not snails eat live aquarium plants. All aquarists have different experiences with snails in their planted tank. So, their opinions also differ accordingly.
Snails usually don’t prefer to eat live plants. They mainly thrive on algae and other foods fed by their owners. Plant safe snails do not eat healthy plants. However, if a plant is dying, you may notice your aquarium snails munching on the dying plant.
Moreover, if you have a plant with soft leaves, the chances are high that your snails may snack on the plants someday. Snails prefer delicate tissue plants as they do not have strong jaws to cut the plants’ stiff leaves.
Given below are the snail species that don’t eat live plants:
- Nerite Snails: Nerite snails are the safest amongst all snail species. They do not eat live plants. They mainly thrive on algae.
- Malaysian Trumpet Snails: Malaysian Trumpet snails also do not eat live plants and are safe to keep if you have a planted aquarium.
- Assassin Snails: Assassin snails are carnivores. They mainly feed on meat and other snails. So, your plants are safe as they do not prefer eating any plant matter.
- Bladder Snails: Bladder snails do not eat live healthy plants. However, if you have a dying plant, you may find your bladder snails eating it in the absence of adequate food.
- Mystery Snails: Mystery snails do not feed on live plants. Just like Nerite snails, Mystery snails also love to eat algae in the tank. Even if they are hungry, Mystery snails will seldom show any interest in eating aquatic plants. So, your plants are safe with them.
Apart from the snail species mentioned above, there are some snail species that don’t mind eating live plants when they are hungry, and there is a scarcity of food. Rabbit snails, Ramshorn snails, Japanese Trapdoor snails, and Black Devil snails are some of them.
Okay! Now let’s talk about plants that snails never eat and are safe to keep in an aquarium.
Which Plants Do Snails Never Eat?
Snails eat delicate plants with soft leaves as they do not have strong jaws to eat hard leaves. So, if you have snails in your aquarium, you must go for thick-leaved plants. Snails don’t eat plants with hard and thick leaves.
One thing to remember is that live plants are not the primary food for snails. So, the aquarium snails will not look upon live plants as a meal unless they are hungry and don’t find any other food in the tank.
Anubias is the most popular and preferred aquarium plant by many aquarists. This plant has dark green and strong leaves that are not easy to cut through. Also, snails don’t find Anubias plants attractive as they look for plants with tender, juicy leaves to munch on.
Related Further Reading:
- Is Aquarium Salt Safe For Plants? (Which Plants Can Tolerate Salt?)
- Do Aquarium Snails Escape? (Why And How To Stop Them)
- Here’s Why Aquarium Snails Float + How To Stop Their Floating
How To Prevent Snails From Eating Your Plants?
Snails are omnivores and prefer algae, leftover fish food, and dead plant material over fresh and healthy leaves. However, if food is scarce, snails do eat live plants for survival.
So, to ensure that your aquarium snails don’t eat plants, you have to feed your snails adequate nutritious food. A well-fed snail is less likely to munch on live plants.
Another way to prevent snails from eating plants is to keep hardy plants that don’t entice snails to eat them. Anubias is one such plant with strong leaves that snails do not prefer to eat.
Snails usually prefer eating plants with delicate leaves. A plant with stiff leaves is not a tempting meal for the snails, even when they are hungry.
So, the best and easiest way to prevent your snails from eating plants is to keep hard leaved plants. But what if you still notice your snails making a meal of your plants?
What To Do If You See Snails Eating Your Plants?
Snails eating aquarium plants is not a good sight for any aquarist. But at the same time, you should also understand that your snails are eating plants out of helplessness and not because they like to eat them.
Snails usually don’t prefer eating healthy plants. So, if you notice your snails eating plants, you can immediately feed your snails food that they love to eat.
Once your snails see food in the tank, they will stop munching on the plants and start eating the served food.
Can You Use Live Plants As Snail Food?
Live plants can be used as a food source for aquarium snails. But it turns out to be expensive, and hence aquarists do not prefer doing this. Besides, you can feed a lot of economical food items to your snails for their growth and development.
Lettuce is an excellent option to feed the aquarium snails. Also, it offers a variety to their regular diet. Some popular aquarium snails, such as Mystery snails, Ramshorn snails, and Apple snails, prefer eating lettuce, cucumber, zucchini, spinach, carrot, and other green vegetables.
While feeding vegetables to your plants, you need to ensure that the leftover food is removed immediately. If uneaten food is not removed, it will become a source of ammonia and contaminate the tank water. Polluted water is hazardous to the snails’ well-being.
Interesting Further Reading:
- Do Aquarium Snails Sleep? (How Long + Sleeping Vs Dead Snail)
- Are Aquarium Snails Dangerous To Humans, Plants, Fish, Etc.?
- Why Do Aquarium Snails Die? (11 Main Reasons)
- Can Aquarium Snails Live In A Pond? (Snails Safe To Keep In Ponds)
Do Mystery snails eat plants? Mystery snails do not eat live healthy plants. They are scavengers and prefer eating leftover fish food, rotting plants, and algae. However, if your aquarium plant is dying, mystery snails will eat the dying leaves.
Do Ramshorn snails eat plants? Ramshorn snails don’t always eat plants. However, these snails eat plants when they are not well-fed. Usually, they prefer eating only plants with soft and juicy leaves. Some varieties of Ramshorn snails enjoy eating the leaves of stem plants such as Anacharis. Otherwise, just like Mystery snails, Ramshorn snails also prefer eating algae, leftover fish food, or dead fish.
Do bladder snails eat plants? Bladder snails are omnivores, but they do not eat healthy aquarium plants. However, Bladder snails do eat decaying plant matter or dead leaves. Apart from the decaying material, Bladder snails eat algae, insects, meat, and vegetables that are dying or decaying.