If you want to keep water snails as pets, you must know what they eat.
While land snails mostly eat plants, what do water snails eat – especially since they don’t live on land?
In this article, we will discover what you can and cannot feed to your water snails & What do Different kind of water snails eat, as well as see the most common food items that you can feed them.
What Do Water Snails Eat?
Water snails or aquatic snails eat aquatic plants like water lettuce and duckweed. They also eat algae as well as different types of decaying organic matter. Although aquatic snails are mostly herbivores, some of them are scavengers and will eat anything they can find.
There are water snails that are even carnivores, they eat small animals like shrimps and will even eat other snails and their eggs. The assassin snail is a good example of a carnivorous snail.
There are two types of water snails, freshwater snails, and saltwater snails. Saltwater snails are also called sea snails. Like I said earlier, snails mostly eat aquatic plants like duckweed, water lettuce, etc. That makes sense if we’re talking about freshwater snails since they mostly live in ponds and lakes that can have plants like water hyacinth growing almost everywhere. But not all freshwater snails eat only plants, some are carnivores – something you’d expect only sea snails to do; some species can even harm you.
You see, the exact type of food a snail will eat depends on the species and there are some that will eat both plants, snails, and other animals. If you want to discover exactly what you should be feeding your snails, read on. I’ll cover everything you need to know about what snails eat, in the wild, in a fish tank, and how you should feed them. Are you ready? Come in then…😊
What do Water Snails Eat in the Wild?
In the wild, water snails eat the aquatic plants that grow in their natural habitat. They also enjoy algae and will eat small animals and insects that are naturally attracted to their water homes. These types of snails are usually freshwater snails. Water hyacinth, duckweed and other types of aquatic plants are a favorite choice for freshwater snails
Some sea snails, like tritons, are predatory and will eat starfish and other small invertebrates. Other sea snails like the moon snails sometimes eat each other.
How do Water Snails Eat?
Water snails like all snails and mollusks have a tongue-like organ called a radula. The radula holds rows of very tiny teeth (like sandpaper) that scrape and break up food. Water snails eat by moving their radula backward and forwards to scrape food off surfaces and break up food material.
Here’s a fun fact about snail teeth. Because the tiny teeth in the snail’s radula wear down easily, snails have to continuously replace them throughout their lives as they wear down. Some types of sea snails use their radulae to drill holes into the rocks they live in. Scientists can determine what specie a snail belongs to by studying how the tiny teeth on the radula of the snail are arranged.
What do Snails Eat in a Fish Tank and What to Feed Aquarium Snails.
People sometimes keep water snails in their fish tanks because they help clean up the tank. Sometimes, though, people keep them because they look nice. Regardless of why you want to keep snails in your aquarium, you need to know how to feed them. In this section, we’ll answer the question, “What do snails eat in a fish tank?”, and “What to feed aquarium snails”.
The short answer is that aquarium fish mostly eat algae, dead and decaying plants, and occasionally other small insects and even other snails. But this is not what every water snail eats, what the snails eat is not exactly the same for different types of snails and at different points in their life cycle.
What Do Freshwater Aquatic Snails Eat? – Aquatic Snail Food
Freshwater aquatic snails eat algae, dead and decaying plants, dead fish, and the leftovers of fish food. Freshwater snails also eat aquatic plants. Most freshwater snails will eat both decaying plants and healthy plants. Mystery snail is a good example of a freshwater snail that does not eat healthy aquatic plants.
Some people like to keep only snails in their aquarium. If you do, you can feed your snails different types of food like sinking shrimp pellets, non-acidic fruits (pumpkin, papaya, cucumbers, and apples), and vegetables.
How do you Feed Freshwater Aquatic Snails in a Fish Tank?
Your freshwater snails will typically eat algae in the fish tank, decaying aquatic plants (sometimes healthy ones), and the leftovers of fish food – if there are fishes in the tank. You can still choose to add food specifically for your freshwater snails – especially if they are in a snail-only aquarium. Here’s how you should feed freshwater snails in addition to the food materials they scavenge from your fish tank.
- Feed your snails supplements like algae wafers, bottom feeders, and fish flakes.
- Blanch vegetables like zucchinis or cucumbers and feed shredded pieces of the veggies to your snails.
Blanching makes the veggies soft and easier for the snails to nibble. It also makes sure that the vegetables sink to the bottom of the tank, where they are more accessible for the snails.
- Provide a good and regular supply of calcium for your freshwater snails.
This helps the snails’ shells develop and it mimics their natural habitat.
- Some snails can eat up the plants in your fish tank. If you are OK with that,Always have a fresh supply of aquatic plants ready to replace the plants that have been eaten by the snails.
How Often do Freshwater Aquatic Snails Eat?
No one really knows how often you should feed your snails. Like everything a snail does, they like to go at their own pace, and it really depends on the species of fish you have. Some experts suggest you should try feeding your snail as much food as it can consume in about three minutes twice a day.
You are free to experiment. Watch your fish to see how quickly they consume food. You can then determine how often you should be feeding them.
How do you take care of Freshwater aquatic snails?
Luckily, it isn’t hard to take care of freshwater aquatic snails. We’ve already covered what they eat and how you should feed them, but taking care of your snails is more than just making sure they have enough to eat. Taking proper care of your snails is as important as feeding them properly.
So, how do you take proper care of your freshwater snails? Here are five things you must do.
- Ensure that there is enough room for your freshwater snails. Depending on the species of snail, you should use a 5-gallon aquarium (at least) for every 2 snails. While snails are not territorial, some species breed very rapidly. Do not overcrowd the fish tank.
- Ensure the lid fits tightly. Snails, especially the mystery snail can easily escape if the lid is not tight enough. Freshwater snails cannot survive for long outside water.
- If you notice the snail population increasing, it means you’re not taking proper care of your tank. Clean out your tank from time to time. When you do, scrape algae from the bottom and do not overfeed your snails. Too much food or algae helps freshwater snails breed more quickly.
- You should maintain a water pH level of around 7.0 Freshwater snails are extremely sensitive to acidic water. Aquatic snails need water that contains calcium carbonate (hard water) to properly develop their shells.
- Also, make sure that tank filters are not blocked. Mystery snails tend to block tank filters. Change about 25% of the water in the tank regularly or when it is needed. Use dechlorinated water or tap water that you have left in the open air overnight.
- Be careful with the medication you add to your fish tank.
What do baby water snails eat? – Baby snail food
Baby snails eat the same food as their parents, depending on the species, they will eat algae, decaying plants, and leftover fish food. Because they’re very tiny, they will only be able to nibble at little amounts of the food.
Baby snails need a lot of calcium to develop strong shells. You can feed them with cuttlefish bones which you can easily buy from pet shops. Ground eggshells are an alternative to cuttlefish bones and they’re free!
How do you Feed Baby Water Snails in a Fish Tank?
Baby snails are similar to adult snails, the difference is mostly in their size and sometimes the color of their shells. You don’t need any special instruction for feeding baby snails. If there are algae on the substrate of the fish tank or anywhere else, they’ll eat it quietly.
Baby snails are not fussy about their meals, but if they don’t get enough to eat, they might feed on the aquatic plants in your fish tank. Some people don’t mind that. If you do, you should feed them regularly (not too much, as they don’t really eat much). Try small amounts of shredded blanched vegetables and store-bought bottom feeders.
How Often do Baby Water Snails Eat?
It’s not an exact science. Baby water snails do not eat too often, and it varies among different species. Just try feeding the snails on different schedules and watch how much they eat and how soon they finish their last meal. You can then plan their feeding schedule.
Because baby snails do not really eat much, there’s really no need to be worried about them not getting enough to eat. Unless you’re really not taking care of them. Read the next paragraph to learn about how to take care of baby snails.
How to Take Care of Baby Water Snails
Baby snails are very delicate and really small, but they are amazingly easy to care for and will not take up much of your time. Plus, some (like the ramshorn snail) grow really fast!
If you have some new baby snails that you want to add to your aquarium or you just found newly hatched snails in your tank, here are some ways you can take good care of the baby water snails.
- Keep them away from fish or adult snails that can eat them.
- Feed them just enough, but not too much. If there is any food that is uneaten after about 12 hours, remove it.
- Freshwater snails love hard water. It helps them develop strong shells. Use a hardness kit to quickly determine if your water is hard enough. You can add calcium supplements to the water if you can’t get hard water. Water from ponds is generally good enough.
- Use air-driven sponge filters or air stones to make sure that your fish tank is properly ventilated. Sponge filters also prevent the tiny baby snails from being sucked out into the filter inlet.
- Adding a light source to the aquarium encourages algae to grow along the wall of the fish tank where baby snails can easily get them. Do make sure though, that the algae are not excessive. Scrape it out from time to time if you notice that it is becoming too much.
- If you are transferring baby snails to a new fish tank, add aquatic plants about two weeks before you add the baby snails – and make sure you use only dechlorinated water.
- Do not overcrowd your aquarium. If you notice that you have too many baby snails, separate them. One way of doing this is by using their food as bait. Snails are attracted to blanched lettuce. Drop one in the fish tank as bait, then you can easily remove a bunch at a time.
What to Feed the Most Common Aquarium Snails.
There are many different types of aquatic snails out there. If you are new to the sport 😉, you might find yourself spoiled for choice. However, it’s usually best to go with the most common options because they’re easier to care for, there are a lot more resources like this one to guide you and their food is easier to get.
Remember I said that what the snails eat depends on the species? In this section, we’ll dive into some of the most commonly kept aquarium snails and the exact type of food they eat.
What do Mystery Snails Eat?
Mystery snails eat algae. They are remarkably effective at scraping algae off rocks or sand. As scavengers too, mystery snails can a lot of different kinds of food.
People love keeping mystery snails in aquariums because of their ability to keep the tank clean. They will glide on the surface of the tank glass, sucking up any algae they can find. If you want to keep mystery snails, ensure that you have moderate vegetation in your fish tank because mystery snails also love feeding on the dead leaves that occasionally fall of the plant.
They also enjoy eating rotting plants, dead fish, and any leftover fish food, but they will not eat healthy live plants. Providing mystery snails with fish flakes and algae wafers is a good way to supplement their diet.
What do Nerite Snails Eat?
Nerite snails are peaceful snails, that eat almost all the different types of algae, brown algae, soft film algae, green algae, and diatoms.
Nerite snails aren’t too choosy about their food. They can live entirely off alga in your tank. It’s one of the reasons they’re a very popular choice with aquarists. In fact, if you are a beginner, nerite snails are probably the best choice. Like mystery snails, nerite snails are effective tank cleaners – another reason why you should choose to have them in your tank.
Nerite snails prefer brackish water to fresh water, but they can adapt and live well in both.
What do Rabbit Snails Eat?
Some people also call them elephant snails. Rabbit snails are also effective scavengers. They will eat algae, fish food leftovers, rotting plants, and almost any fish or shrimp food. They will even eat frozen bloodworms and earthworm pellets.
You should make the diet of your rabbit snails fresh and interesting. You can enrich their diet by occasionally feeding them blanched vegetables like lettuce and cucumber or zucchini.
You will have happy and healthy rabbit snails if you provide additional sources of calcium to the water. Boiled cuttlefish bones are a good example. Veggies like cucumber are also a good source of calcium.
While rabbit snails will generally leave your aquarium plants alone, some aquarists complain that they do seem to like nibbling java ferns. So, if you like Java ferns in your aquarium, then maybe you shouldn’t have rabbit snails in that particular tank.
What do Assassin Snails Eat?
These snails deserve their name. Assassin snails might eat a bit of alga and biofilm – if they don’t have too much of an option. But they’re mostly employed by aquarists to hunt down and feast on other snails – which is how they earned their unique name.
Assassin snails are carnivorous and famously slow (you’ve got to be a really slow snail to be famous about it). But don’t be deceived. Their leisurely stroll across the tank will be deadly for any small fish, shrimp, snail egg, or snail they come across. The assassin snail will simply and quietly eat it up.
In most pet stores, assassin snails are sold as biological pest control “agents”. You can enrich the diet of your assassin snail by providing a few bloodworms, brine shrimps and shrimp fry. They also love snacking on Ramshorn snails (widely regarded as pests) and Trumpet snails.
Interestingly, they do not eat each other or even eat their eggs. Assassin snails seem to have a lot of respect for the clan.
What do Ramshorn Snails Eat?
Ramshorn Snails are widely regarded as a pest by many people. Some people however love adding them to their tank. Regardless of whether you love them, or you don’t want them near your tank, knowing what they like eating is very useful.
Ramshorn snails are a fragile and useful addition to your fish tank. They breed very rapidly, especially when the conditions are ideal – meaning when there is a lot of food.
What do ramshorn snails like to eat? Ramshorn snails are mostly scavengers. They love eating soft plants, soft green algae, and dead fish. You can spice up their diet by feeding them fresh vegetables like lettuce, small slices of zucchini (preferably blanched), or cucumber.
What do Malaysian Trumpet Snails Eat?
Malaysian Trumpet snails have a huge appetite and reproduce very quickly. This makes them considered as pests. But a lot of aquarists love them and because they’re very common, pet stores often give a few out for free.
Malaysian Trumpet Snails love eating everything from algae, algae wafers, leftover fish food, bacteria, and any dead or decaying organic matter (dead fish, dead plants or leaves, etc.). They’re serious scavengers and will spend their day digging into the tank substrate, looking for any leftover food to nibble on. They simply love to eat.
Malaysian Trumpet snails are plant safe. They will not eat any live healthy plants.
Which of these Common Foods can Water Snails Eat
Water snails, both freshwater and saltwater (sea) snails eat a rich variety of food. Most water snails are omnivores, quite a few are strictly carnivorous and some of them are even predatory. It can be quite confusing with all the different options, to know what water snails will eat. So, let’s clear that little bit up OK?
Do Water Snails Eat Algae?
Yes! A lot of water snails, both freshwater and seawater snails eat algae. The exact type of algae eaten depends on the snail species. Most freshwater snails like eating soft algae which they will scrape off rocks and other surfaces.
Do Water Snails Eat Fish?
Yes, water snails eat fish. Not all water snails eat fish though. Most freshwater snails do not fish unless it is dead, weak, or dying. While some predatory water snails will attack small fishes, shrimps, or other small snails. A good example of predatory snails is cone snails.
Do Water Snails Eat Tadpoles?
Freshwater snails do not eat tadpoles. In fact, a scientific study found that tadpoles actually benefit from the presence of snails, while snails face more competition for the microalgae that make up part of their diet. Water snails (at least freshwater snails) do not eat tadpoles and since tadpoles do not live in saltwater, we can conclude that they’re safe from saltwater snails.
Do Water Snails Eat Frogspawn?
No, water snails do not eat frogspawn. If they are seen around frogspawn, it is likely that they are snacking on the algae around the spawn rather than eating the spawn themselves.
If you find frog spawn disappearing from a nearby pond, it is likely that other animals like newts, fishes, dragonfly larvae birds, or even foxes are guilty. Don’t blame poor pond snails. They’re innocent and won’t touch frogspawn at all.
Do Water Snails Eat Blanket Weed?
Yes, water snails like pond snails will eat blanket weed. Blanketweed is a common nuisance in ponds as they can smother other aquatic plants so that they cannot release oxygen into the water. Pond animals like fish need oxygenated water and blanket weeds prevent other aquatic plants from releasing oxygen into the water, so pond snails are a good way to deal with blanket weed.
Do Water Snails Eat Water Lilies?
Unfortunately, yes, some freshwater snails may eat the leaves of water lilies – especially if they cannot get enough food from other sources. Although water snails eat parts of water lily plants, they do not kill the water lily plant.
Water snail species that usually nibble on the water lily pads are Apple snails and Pond snails.
Do Water Snails Eat Mosquito Larvae?
I wish I could say that water snails hunt and eat down mosquito larva. Unfortunately, it’s a no. Water snails do not eat mosquito larvae. Water snails seem to have left mosquito larvae for fish, birds like Tree swallows, frogs, and dragonflies.
Do Water Snails Eat Duckweed?
Duckweed is a water snail delicacy! Most freshwater snails eat duckweed and other floating plants, that are usually abundant in ponds, lakes, and slow-moving rivers.
Do Water Snails Eat Apples?
Apples are one of the many non-acidic fruits you can – and should – feed your water snail friends. Treat your water snail pets to a few slices of blanched apples from time to time. Other fruits you can feed water snails include melon, pumpkin, and pears. As I’ve said before, do not feed your snail with acidic fruits like orange or lime.
I’ve personally seen how snails writhe and shrink away from lime juice. It literally kills them.
Do Water Snails Eat Carrots?
Water snails do not only enjoy eating fruits, but they also love nibbling on vegetables. Give your water snails blanched carrots (so that is soft and can sink to the bottom of your aquarium).
Water snails love eating carrots.
Do Water Snails Eat Each Other?
Yes, some water snails eat each other. Some carnivorous snails like the Assassin snail prey on other snails. A type of Apple snail, that resemble Mystery snails eat other Mystery snails. Because of their similar appearance, people sometimes think that Mystery snails eat each other.
What food makes water snails grow faster?
Typically, foods that are rich in protein help snails grow faster. Most freshwater snails get the protein they need from algae. Algae is rich in amino acids which makes it a good source of protein for water snails. They also get this protein from the leftover fish food they scavenge on as well from the dead fishes they eat.
Other carnivorous snails like Assassin snails get the protein they need from eating their tank mates.