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Snail Care: Tank, Water and Food Requirements

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Snails can introduce vibrant colors to your tank while helping with clean-up.

These pets are easy to care for, but you should know a few things about snail care.

Are Snails Easy to Care For?

Aquarium snails are popular pets, and we’ll explain why.

Snails are one of the easiest aquatic pets to care for.

They can eat debris and do well in a wide range of tank parameters.

How Long Do Snails Live?

Aquarium snails typically live between one and five years.

Red ramshorns tend to have a lifespan of a year or so while Planorbarius corneus usually live for up to two years.

As a rule of thumb, smaller snails have a shorter life expectancy.

Snail Tank Requirements and Basics

Snails can adapt to a wide range of environments.

What Size Tank Does a Snail Need?

You should provide at least five gallons per two snails.

If you have limited space, opt for a small species like Nerite snails.

Other species like Rabbit snails can grow up to five inches in length and will require more tank space.

What Do Snails Need in Their Tank?

Snails have very basic needs.

The two most important things they require are a tank with clean fresh water and a food source.

Do Snails Need a Filter?

It depends on the type of snails you decide to keep and the overall quality of the water.

Ramshorn snails or pond snails are hardy species and can thrive without filtration as long as you maintain the pH between 7 and 8.

However, it’s best to use a filter to improve water quality if you have a small tank or want to keep nerite snails.

Do Snails Need an Air Pump?

An air pump can help keep your tank properly oxygenated by creating some surface movement to promote gas exchange.

It’s crucial for keeping fish, but snails can absorb oxygen from still water and don’t require an air pump.

Do Snails Need a Heater?

Ideally, the tank water should be somewhere between 72 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit for your snails to thrive.

However, species like ramshorn snails, mystery snails, and bladder snails can survive in cold water.

Do Snails Need a Light?

Snails are cold-blooded animals.

Direct exposure to sunlight can raise their body temperature to dangerous levels.

Diffuse light is best.

While snails are hardy animals that can survive in the dark, diffuse light allows algae to grow so that snails have access to a food source.

Do Snails Need Live Plants?  

Snails primarily feed on algae, debris, leftover fish food, and decaying plants.

They can even accelerate the decay process.

Snails can survive without live plants, but plants play an important part in creating a healthy tank by introducing oxygen to the water.

Snail Water Basics

Water quality is crucial for keeping healthy pet snails.

You should monitor factors like pH and temperature to create an ideal environment.

Can Snails Live in Tap Water?

Unfortunately, snails absorb chemicals through their skin.

Tap water contains chlorine, which is fatal to snails.

You can remove chlorine from tap water by letting it sit or using an air pump to accelerate the gas exchange process.

Some hobbyists also recommend boiling tap water to help remove chlorine faster.

How Long Should Water Sit Before Adding Snails?

You should let water sit for at least 24 hours to remove chlorine.

Before introducing snails to your setup, check the pH and temperature of the water.

What Temperature Should a Snail Tank Be?

Ivory snails, Malaysian trumpet snails, and mystery snails tend to do well in warm water.

Zebra and Tiger nerites can live in water that is somewhere between 65 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

Ramshorn snails are some of the hardiest snails and can live in water as cold as 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

Assassin snails are more delicate and need water that is at least 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

How Often Do You Change a Snail’s Water?

It depends on the size of your setup, tank population, and other factors.

If you don’t have a filter, you should perform weekly water changes and replace at least 50% of the water.

Changing 20 to 50% of the water once a week is best if you have a heavily stocked tank and use a filter.

You can wait up to two weeks between water changes if you don’t keep a heavily stocked tank.

Snail Diet and Feeding

Many hobbyists introduce snails in their setup to help remove algae and debris from their tanks.

However, you can also feed snail food.

What Do Snails Eat?

Snails are scavengers.

They are consistently looking for food sources, including algae, decaying organic matter, leftover fish food, and debris.

Some species like the Assassin Snail eat other snails.

If your tank doesn’t produce enough algae or decaying organic matter for your snails, you can introduce other food sources, like fresh produce, mealworms, or snail food mixes.

How Much Do You Feed a Snail?

In most cases, snails will find enough food by grazing through the tank.

You can also introduce one tablespoon of fish food per day to supplement these food sources.

How Often Do You Feed a Snail?

Your snails will spend a majority of their time looking for food unless they’re resting.

They will typically eat throughout the day and night, and you can introduce fresh produce or snail food once a day to supplement the food sources available in your setup.

Snail Tank Mates

Before you introduce snails to your setup, you should know that most species are hermaphrodites.

While some species need a mate to reproduce, others can do so alone.

It can lead to overpopulation problems in your tank.

The best way to prevent overpopulation is to manually remove snails if you notice that their numbers are going up.

You can also keep loaches, a type of fish that will seek and eat snail eggs.

It’s best to choose hardy fishes if you decide to keep snails.

Fragile fishes might require additives that contain salt and chemicals to remove parasites, but these products will likely harm snails.

Can a Snail Live Alone?

Snails are neither social nor territorial.

They can do well alone and keeping a single snail can be a good option if you have a small tank or need a low-maintenance pet for a child.

Can a Snail Live With Other Snails?

You can keep several snails in the same tank as long as you have enough room and food sources.

Because they can lay eggs several times a year, your snail colony will quickly grow in size and likely require a population control method.

How Many Snails Can You Keep Together?

You shouldn’t have more than two snails per five gallons of water.

It’s a good idea not to stock your tank to full capacity if you’re introducing snails since they will reproduce quickly.

Can a Snail Live With Other Types of Fish?

Snails aren’t aggressive or territorial.

They will focus on grazing for food and will leave fish alone.

Plus, they can help keep your tank clean by eating debris and leftover fish food.

However, some fishes will eat snails.

Species like loaches, gouramis, bala sharks, goldfishes, and catfishes will eat snails or snail eggs.

Recommended Tank Mates for Snail

Here are some tank mate recommendations.

Freshwater Shrimps

Freshwater shrimp are great tank mates.

They’re easy to keep and can thrive in similar waters.

Shrimp produce less waste than fishes and eat algae.

Both animals will contribute to keeping your tank clean.

Neon Tetras

Neon tetra are popular fish among hobbyists with their vibrant colors.

These small fishes are easy to care for and have a peaceful temperament.

They’re ideal if you have a small setup and can thrive in water anywhere between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit, which is also ideal for most aquarium snails.


Rasboras are a genus of small fishes.

There are over 80 species, and most of these fishes are easy to recognize thanks to their horizontal stripes.

These fishes have a calm temperament and will leave the snails alone.

They thrive in waters between 75 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit, making them ideal tank mates for mystery snails or Malaysian trumpet snails.

How to Care for a Snail

This snail care checklist will help you create an environment where aquarium snails can thrive:

Check Overpopulation

Overpopulation is the main issue you might run into when keeping snakes.

Introduce predators or remove snails or eggs manually.

How To Feed a Snail

Snails thrive on algae and debris, but a tank low in stock might not provide them with enough food sources. Introduce snail food as needed.

How To Clean a Snail Tank

Snails will help keep your tank clean by eating debris.

However, you should still do weekly water changes, change the filter cartridge, and regularly wipe the interior.

How Can I Play With My Snail?

Snails spend most of their time looking for food and have little interest in socializing or playing.

The best way to enrich their lives is to introduce new foods such as fresh produce or mealworms.

Designing an environment with plenty of opportunities to explore and look for food will also help your snails thrive.

A mix of live plants, rocks, driftwood, and other aquascape elements can help create an engaging environment.

Interacting with a snail by touching or talking to them will likely stress the animal.

Can a Snail See Me?

While some fishes are intelligent enough to recognize their owners, snails have limited eyesight.

Does a Snail Recognize Me?

It’s unlikely they will learn who you are.

Snail Behavior Basics

Keeping an eye on your snail can give you an idea of whether you’re providing the right conditions for these animals.

How Do You Know if a Snail Is Happy?

A happy and healthy snail will actively look for food.

It’s normal for snails to spend some time resting and hiding in their shell, but you should see your snails moving around daily if they’re healthy.

What Does a Stressed Snail Look Like?

Snails hide in their shells if there are predators or other sources of stress.

How Do I Know If My Snail Is Healthy?

A healthy snail will look for food, eat, and reproduce.

Bright shell colors are another indication of health.

Frequently Asked Questions

Read on to learn more about snail care.

Is it okay to keep a snail as a pet?

Snails are popular pets among aquarists. Most snails are born in captivity and can thrive in an enclosed tank.

Can snails live in a closed jar?

Aquarium snails can survive in a closed jar, but it’s not an ideal environment due to limited oxygen and the lack of enrichment.

Wrap Up

Snails are a great option to add some diversity to a tank.

Plus, they have a beneficial role since they eat algae and debris.

They’re also easy to care for and get along with most tank mates.

Let us know if you plan on using these snail care tips below.

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