Many aquarists like to keep plecos and snails together. Snails are a good choice for aquariums as they keep the tank clean by consuming decaying matter, detritus, and leftover fish food. Similarly, plecos help to control algae bloom. But do plecos eat snails?
Plecos usually don’t eat snails because snails aren’t a part of their regular diet. However, plecos will eat them if they’re starving or develop a taste for them. They won’t eat all the snails, though. You can stop plecos from eating snails by providing ample hiding places and keeping them well-fed.
Let’s discuss this in more detail.
When Can Plecos Eat Snails?
Snails aren’t a regular part of a pleco’s diet. So if your pleco is eating snails, there must be a reason.
Plecos eat snails when they’re hungry, or the food is scarce.
Starving plecos try to find other sources of food than their regular diet.
In such instances, if they see snails around them, they can eat them.
Plecos are opportunistic scavengers who eat anything that comes their way.
As bottom feeders, plecos will happily feed on anything lingering at the tank’s bottom that fits easily in their mouth.
It can be snails too.
Moreover, plecos are large compared to snails, so it doesn’t take them much effort to eat the snails.
Another reason why plecos can eat snails is if they start competing for food.
The staple diet of plecos includes algae, be it the algae growing in the tank, algae wafers, tablets, or pellets.
Similarly, snails also love to munch on algae. Plecos don’t like to see other tankmates eating their food.
They’re then inclined toward eating the snails to reduce their competition for the next meal.
The problem with plecos eating snails is that if they develop a taste for the snails, they will want to eat more.
So plecos can continue this behavior even if they’re well-fed.
Even if plecos start eating snails, they don’t eat in large quantities.
So they can’t keep the snail population under control in an aquarium.
What Snails Can Plecos Eat?
Plecos can eat any snails if they really want to eat them.
Freshwater aquarium snails are bottom feeders just like plecos. So they occupy the same feeding area as that of the plecos.
That’s why plecos can eat any nearby snail if they’re hungry or have developed a taste for the snails.
Although plecos can eat snails, you can keep them together in the same tank as plecos don’t specifically look out for snails to eat.
Some of the snails that plecos can eat are:
- Ramshorn snails,
- Small apple snails,
- Malaysian trumpet snails, etc.
Nerite snails have a trap door that protects them from predators.
However, some aquarists have seen their pleco sucking that door and eating the snail.
Do Plecos Eat Snail Eggs?
Plecos can eat snail eggs. But it depends on the accessibility of the eggs.
Being bottom feeders, plecos can eat eggs that they come across at the tank’s bottom.
Nerite snails lay their eggs on plant leaves, driftwood, and even on the glass surface of the tank.
These eggs are easily accessible to plecos, and thus they can eat them.
On the contrary, some snail species, such as mystery snails and apple snails, climb above the water surface to lay their eggs.
These snails lay their eggs in a damp spot away from the water.
The chances of plecos eating such eggs are minimal as they’re not top feeders.
Plecos will not eat a substantial number of eggs as they aren’t meaty enough to satiate their appetite.
Are Snails Nutritional To Plecos?
Snails are nutritional as they’re high in protein. However, snails aren’t a part of plecos’ daily diet.
So eating too many snails may not be good for the plecos.
Most pleco species are herbivorous and omnivorous that feed primarily on algae and other food such as flakes, pellets, frozen food, and veggies.
Carnivore species like zebra plecos need a protein-rich diet.
Snails can be a good source of protein to fulfill their nutritional need.
How To Stop Plecos From Eating Snails?
Plecos can eat snails regularly if they develop a taste for them.
So you must find ways to avoid plecos from eating snails for them can co-exist happily.
Given below are the four main ways to prevent plecos from eating snails.
1. Invest in a large tank.
Plecos grow pretty large. So they require ample space to swim freely in the tank.
Keeping plecos in a small tank where they’re cramped for space can make them more territorial than usual.
This can lead to aggressive behaviors and attempts to eat other tankmates.
Plecos also don’t like to share their space with anyone.
So plecos can get aggressive toward snails if their territory gets invaded, which can happen in small tanks due to less space.
2. Provide ample hiding places.
After investing in a large tank, the next step is to provide ample hiding places for the snails.
Hiding places will help the snails to hide from the plecos.
Plecos are also never on the lookout for snails. So they will not bother snails when they’re out of sight.
Adding plants, caves, driftwood, and aquarium decorations are some ways to create hiding places in the aquarium.
3. Feed the plecos adequately.
Plecos try to feed on snails primarily when they’re hungry or underfed. They then look upon the snails as a food source.
So if you feed adequate food to your plecos regularly, they will not attack the snails to satiate their hunger.
A well-fed pleco will always be calm and less hostile toward the snails.
You can feed the plecos nutritional food 2 to 3 times a day, such as algae wafers, pellets, bloodworms, earthworms, krill, fly larvae, zucchini, broccoli, peas, carrot, green beans, cucumber, etc.
4. Feed plecos and snails at different times.
Plecos are nocturnal. So they’re mostly inactive during the day. This makes it easier to feed your snails during that time.
Feeding plecos and snails at different times can reduce the competition for food between them.
Plecos won’t look upon the snails as a threat to their food source.