What Do Aquarium Snails Eat? (The Complete Guide)

Image of an aquarium snail getting ready to eat

Aquarium snails are popular among aquarists as they help keep aquarium clean of algae, extra fish food, and even dead plants. So, what do aquarium snails eat?

Aquarium snails eat algae, dead plant matter, bits of fish food, bloodworms, brine shrimps, fruits, blanched vegetables like lettuce, kale, zucchini, and many other foods. What aquarium snails consume highly depends on their species, natural habitat, size, age, and individual nutritional needs.

Aquarium snails need a healthy environment and adequate food to survive. Snails have evolved to eat just about everything as they are either herbivores, carnivores, omnivores, or detritivores. So, let’s find out exactly what do aquarium snails eat for their healthy growth.

What Do Freshwater Aquarium Snails Eat?

The majority of the freshwater aquarium snails are opportunistic scavengers and are not picky eaters. They eat almost anything readily available in the aquarium.

Aquarium snails are grazers and prefer eating algae, organic debris, detritus, and bacteria formed on the rocks and substrate, dead or rotting plant matter, fish food, and other things they find in the tank water.

If you have snails as pets, you can feed them a wide variety of food like raw or cooked kale, lettuce, blanched zucchini and cucumber, fish pellets, algae tablets, and commercial snail mixes that are available in the market.

If you have a tank filled with live plants and algae, your snails will find food on their own, and you don’t have to feed them much.

For carnivore snails, their diet should constitute live prey like bloodworms, small brine shrimps, and feeder snails in addition to the regular diet. They should be fed a steady supply of live prey once or twice a day for optimum growth.

Alright! So, if we have an aquarium with fish and snail, you need not have to worry much as your snails will munch on the sinking fish food or left-over food. But, if you have a tank without any fish, you need to feed your snails more frequently as there will be no left-over food readily available in the tank.

You can feed the following food to freshwater aquarium snails:

  • Algae: Algae is the primary food source for snails. Algae grow in any tank when there is excessive light and warm water. If you have a tank with excessive algae, your snails will clean up the algae in the tank.
  • Vegetables and Fruits: Snails enjoy eating various vegetables like carrots, lettuce, peas, and other leafy vegetables. You should thoroughly clean and peel the veggies. Then, you can blanch and cool the hard vegetables and feed them to your snails. Similarly, fruits such as watermelon, grapes, pumpkin, apple, and pears are healthy fruits that you can feed to your snails. However, acidic fruits such as oranges and tomatoes should be avoided.
  • Aquatic Plants: Some species of snails thrive on aquatic plants. However, the majority of snails consume dead or dying plant matter. So, if you have live plants in your aquarium, apple snails will be more than happy to munch on them.
  • Commercial Snail Food: You can feed fish food designed for bottom feeders, such as sinking shrimp pellets, to your snails. Snails prefer to eat sinking food as they cannot eat the fish food floating on the water surface. They also consume store bought tablets and wafers that get attached to the side of the tank.

Pet aquarium snails tend to get their food easily as it is provided to them by their owners. But have you ever wondered about the wild snails? What do they eat?

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What Do Snails Eat In The Wild?

There are numerous species of snails having varied eating habits. The diet of snails depends on their size, age, natural habitat, and specific nutritional requirements.

In the wild, snails have access to a wide variety of food in their surroundings.

Herbivore snails devour live plant parts like their leaves, stem bark, and fruits. They also consume fungi, mushrooms, and other vegetation. Snails sometimes eat algae in the wild, though it is not their natural food as freshwater snails mostly prefer algae.

Carnivore snails eat several types of small animals like slugs, insects, small crustaceans, and earthworms. They may even sometimes eat other snails.

Omnivore snails consume both plants and animals. These snails prefer other terrestrial animals, hence are predominantly predators in nature.

Moreover, there are some detritivores snails that eat dead plant matter and animals in the wild. These snails are also a type of decomposers in the natural food cycle as they play a very small role in breaking down dead plants and animals.

Okay! So far, we have learned about the eating habits of adult aquarium snails, but what about baby snails? Do they eat the same food that grown up snails eat? Let’s find out.

What Do Baby Snails Eat?

Baby snails eat the same food that adult snails eat. Newly hatched snail larvae initially feed on the microscopic algae and bacteria present in the water. In captivity, you can feed baby snails cooked lettuce and kale.

You need to keep in mind that since baby snails are growing, they should be fed more often than the adults. You need to feed juvenile snails a diet rich in calcium for their shell growth and strength.

Occasionally, you can treat baby snails with clamshells, crushed eggshells, or snail shells along with their regular food.

Once the baby snails develop their shells and settle on the substrate, they eat food such as algae, plants, and detritus, similar to the adult snails.

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How Often Should Snails Be Fed?

Snails do not require frequent feeding. Depending on their species, you need to feed the snails daily or twice a week.

You should be careful not to overfeed your snails. You can feed them as much as they can eat in about 3 minutes. Remember to remove any left-over food from the tank, and it’s good to provide them fresh food daily.

Snails are nocturnal and hence you can feed them with vegetation and fish food at night. Depending on their appetite, you can increase or decrease their diet.

Till now, we have discussed the various foods that are beneficial for aquarium snails. So, you must be wondering if there are any foods that should be avoided for aquarium snails?

What Food To Avoid For Snails?

While snails are not fussy eaters and consume almost everything, there are certain foods that should be avoided.

Foods such as avocado, onion, lemon, parsley, celery, salt and salty foods, grapefruit, and lemons should not be a part of their diet.

Snails should not be fed processed foods or foods that have high salt and sugar content. Even rice, millet, bread, pasta, and crackers should be avoided as snails cannot easily digest them, which can result in bloating.

Salt is dangerous for snails as it burns the moisture from their body. This can even result in their death.

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Related Questions

What do sea snails eat? Sea snails are mostly algae grazers. They eat algae formed over rocks, reefs, and sediment. Some sea snail species eat dead plant and animal matter, and some are even predatory in nature. These snails eat other marine animal shells, including other snails, to get the required calcium for keeping their shells healthy. Predatory sea snails thrive on eating mussels, clams, and other snails. If you have sea snails in your aquarium, the best food to feed them is algae, calcium supplements, crushed shells, fish food, and algae tablets. For carnivore snails, their diet should include brine shrimps, feeder snails, and live clams.

What do pond snails eat? The diet of pond snails is similar to freshwater snails. They eat algae, vegetation, plants, and suspended particles present in the pond water. Pond snails are not very picky eaters and prefer to eat anything available in the pond. Carnivore pond snails eat insects, worms, other snails, and insect larvae. They go after any live prey that is attracted to your pond. During summer when the temperature is high, pond snails need more food to thrive. You can then provide them with other food such as algae tablets or pellets once a day. The best and nutritious diet for pond snails includes lettuce, cucumber, kale, terrestrial flowers, naturally formed macroalgae, berry leaves, and aquatic freshwater plants like anacharis and water hyacinth. For carnivore snails, you can feed them with brine shrimp, bloodworms, and feeder snails.

What do nerite snails eat? Nerite snails are herbivores. They love to munch on algae that form on the surface of the tank. Apart from algae, you can feed them blanched veggies like spinach, cucumber, lettuce, or zucchini. You can also feed nerite snails algae wafers if you do not find enough algae in your aquarium. However, you need to make sure that your snails completely eat the algae wafers and there is no left-over food. Uneaten algae wafers break down and contaminate the tank water, which is not suitable for your snails.

What do mystery snails eat? Just like nerite snails, mystery snails also graze on algae built up on the aquarium glass, rocks, or sands. If you have good vegetation in your aquarium, it acts as a food source for mystery snails. Besides, the fallen leaves in your aquarium also act as a food source. You can supplement your mystery snails’ diet with flakes, pellets, or blanched vegetables to enrich their diet and keep them healthy. They need food rich in calcium for their optimum growth. Mystery snails are opportunistic scavengers and hence eat a variety of food. They eat whatever is found in the wild, be it dead shrimp, fish, detritus, animal carrion, algae, or dead and rotten plant matter.

What do apple snails eat? Apple snails are popular for their immense appetite and are voracious plant-eaters. In captivity, apple snails eat a wide variety of vegetation in combination with fish food. They also eat living or dead plant matter, brine shrimps, dead fish and insects, and other frozen food. In the wild, apple snails thrive on aquatic vegetation, algae, fruits, vegetables, remains of decaying organisms, microbe colonies, and other snail eggs.

What do ramshorn snails eat? Ramshorn snails generally eat soft algae, delicate plants, dead or decayed plant matter, uneaten fish food, dead fish, snails, or shrimp in the tank. Some varieties of ramshorn snails devour the leaves of stem plants. You can feed ramshorn snails, fish flakes, pellets, algae wafers, and other food rich in calcium content. Calcium is vital for the healthy growth of their shells.