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I have a fairly docile betta that I just moved to a heated 10 gallon tank.

I bought a live plant that turned out to be infested with snail eggs. I'd prefer not to harm the snails, but they are rapidly reproducing.

I was told that a loach is compatible with bettas and will eat the snails, and the guys at the pet store recommended a Kuhli Loach. I did so.e googling and it looks like that type of loach won't eat snails.

Do you have any advice on how to handle my snail issue, and if a Kuhli loach will solve it?

  • related question about snails pets.stackexchange.com/questions/18232/… – trond hansen Feb 24 at 19:38
  • Thank you! I ended up getting one assassin, mo loaches, and am consistently removing eggs. I appreciate your input. – StaceyW Feb 25 at 18:23
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    you will see the snail population start to go down soon but it will take some time to get rid of them all. – trond hansen Feb 25 at 18:27
  • Thanks again, very much, for your reply. The assassin does seem to be eating snails, albeit slowly. I don't want to risk getting two, as I could eventually end up with several, but I do wonder if assassins are social and if I should add another. My little guy was quite active at first, but is buried in the substrate all day now. I actually like the bladder snails. I just don't want an overpopulation. As I'm very careful about overfeeding my betta. – StaceyW Feb 26 at 19:07
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In my experience kuhli loach is not effective in any way at removing snails from a fish tank,no matter the number of loaches you have they will not remove the snails(even if you stop feeding the kuhli loaches in your tank they will not eat the snails,please belive me on this i have tried this by accident).

The solution you want for removing snails from your tank is actually to add snails to your tank,i know this sounds crazy but it is true.

The snail type you need is commonly called the ASSASIN SNAIL,this type of snail will eat other snails(be sure to not put this snail into a tank where you have snails you want to keep).

Assasin snails do multiply very slowly and you will need to get male and female snails for them to reproduce they are single gender not like other types of snails that are both genders at the same time https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hermaphrodite

Assasin snails do not eat fish or shrimp but they will eat leftover fishfood if(when)they run out of prey snails.

You can read more about Assasin snails here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clea_helena

warning graphic content here :) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e1SXvU95Ty8

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So you say you've got Snail problems?

Snails can be a big issue, especially in planted tanks where they can cause issues I'll explain later on. Snail population blooms are a common occurrence in freshwater aquariums. It is important to know the source of the problem even after you've dealt with the immediate effects.

What are the downsides of having a snail population boom?

  • Snails will start to eat your plants if there's enough around and there isn't enough food for them to feed on. If they can't find plants they may go after other sources of nutrients they can catch, like eggs of other fish. Some species (like some types of bladder snail) are more likely to start eating your non decaying plants than others when other food sources are scarce.
  • If snails can't find enough food anywhere, they'll start leaving your tank which means crawling around the outside and eventually leaving a bunch of empty crusty snail carcasses around.
  • Snails will end up absorbing the calcium in the water, possibly hurting any other invertebrates in your tank that rely on water column calcium to construct their shells. This can get so bad that you'll start seeing damage to the carapace of your inverts (and probably your snails) in your tank. This can cause your shrimp to either stunt in growth or kill themselves when shedding their skin.
  • Snails will start to out-compete your other surface algae eaters, such as algae eating fish.
  • Snails will start to swarm any food you have in the tank, stopping bottom feeders from getting a chance to eat.

What causes a snail population boom?

  • Number one is feeding too much. Any leftover food that falls to the bottom that you aren't seeing fish eat? Snails are eating it. Too much of this and the snails start to think "Wow, this is the perfect environment! always so much food. I wish we could share this with friends, but I don't have any!" And then they start making friends. Almost all snails are hermaphrodites (any two can mate, they have both sexual organs), and many, including many bladder snail species are asexual, they don't even need a mate to reproduce
  • Number two is having a bunch of dead plant material in your tank, or other waste not a byproduct from your feeding. If snails aren't getting food from you they are getting it from somewhere.
  • Number three is a deadfish either causing algae bloom on it's own or being a source for a snail meal. These last two are unlikely because you are far more likely to recognize them before they become an issue than the first.

What can I do about this?

  • First, restrict your feeding schedule. Many fish, especially smaller fish don't need to eat every day. Cut the amount you feed until it is all eaten up by your fish (shrimp will dig through fish poop algae and bacteria on surfaces, they generally, unless they are large, don't need to be specifically feed if they are not the only ones in the tank. This will stop future blooms from happening, but may start the "starvation process" I talked about earlier.

  • Remove any snail eggs from the side of your tank. You can do this with a plastic/rubber scraper (to make sure not to scratch glass or acrylic) or with your fingers. If they are also on your plants try to rub them off there. Merely removing them will for the most part solve the problem of them growing up. Other snails will either eat them or they won't get enough oxygen to live. At this point, the infestation is essentially "over" but now you've got a problem of new breeding and the current snail population eating your plants.

  • Get something that kills snails. While an assassin snail can work, they also breed, and I would be cautious with in the same tank as shrimp or other often sedentary small aquatic pets (they kill by basically harpooning their prey). They are sometimes hard to find as well, so price can be an issue. You can use corys (for small) or other snail eating fish (loaches which are not khuli loaches, like YoYo loaches) which suck the snails out of thier shells. Gouramis and Betta fish are also known to eat snails, though this varies from individual to individual and can't eat all sizes. These are much easier to come by. Another species that eats snails is puffer fish, pea puffers and other pufferfish however, you may have zero snails after a period of time, since it is their preferred diet (loaches, and some other fish may also cause this).

  • If you don't have a snail predator, the easiest way of getting rid of current snails is... crushing them between your fingers. Assuming they aren't large snails, crushing them is an effective way to deal with them. You can put them back in the water afterwards. Other animals may appreciate the extra food, but be careful not to cause ammonia spikes with this. Other snails in the tank will eat the remains if the fish don't, so don't worry about a mess.

  • Drastic measure, but if none of the above work, you could potentially increase the acidicy of the water, which will start to eat away at the shells of the snails (or just get rid of the calcium in general). This will obviously harm all your inverts if you attempt this.

What can I do in the future?

  • reduce the amount of food, make sure all food is eaten.
  • introduce population control measures on snails
  • Replace current snail population with snails which cannot breed in freshwater (nerites are one such snail, though they will still lay eggs, with out brackish water they won't actually hatch).
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