Freshwater Fish

The best fish that eat snails for your aquarium

Snail-eating fish are one of the best ways to get rid of snails in your aquarium. Instead of going through the agonizing process of removing them yourself, these fish do all the heavy lifting!

The good news is that these fish are more than just snail killers. Many of them are quite beautiful and also provide a number of additional benefits!

This guide will go through each of the best fish to help you deal with a snail problem in your tank. We recommend many of these fish regardless, so their ability to eat snails is really just the icing on the cake.

Why an out-of-control snail population is a problem

Newer aquarists might be delighted by a hitchhiker snail making its way into an established environment. However, experienced hobbyists know that a stray snail is just the beginning of a maintenance nightmare.

Snails multiply at a rapid rate and most species do not need a mate to reproduce. They will lay and fertilize up to 50 eggs on their own, leading to a budding population.

Once the second generation of snails start to breed, they can quickly take over a tank.

The problem with snail overpopulation comes down to the bioload of your tank. It doesn’t matter how big or small your aquarium is. The more living creatures you add, the more difficult it is to maintain water conditions.

Sure, many snails will eat food scraps, algae, and decaying plant matter. But they will also produce a ton of waste.

It may not sound like much, but when it comes to an overrun tank, the effects of that waste can wreak havoc on the ecosystem.

Filtration systems can only handle so much. Before you know it, it will be impossible to keep your ammonia and nitrate levels low, causing serious damage to your other fish.

The importance of choosing the right fish

Several species of fish have a healthy appetite for snails. They will hunt down these pests and keep the snail population at reasonable levels.

That said, you can’t just pick any fish species and expect to see good results. Ultimately, the goal here is to save your tank and improve the living conditions of your existing fish.

To do that, you need to consider how fish that eat snails will fit in. They must be compatible with other tank mates and thrive in the existing water conditions in the aquarium.

With those two factors in mind, here are some fish that eat snails for you to consider:

1. Yoyo Loach

Yoyo loaches are beautiful bottom-dwelling fish that enjoy digging in the sand. While peaceful to other species of fish, Yoyo Loaches will seek out snails to consume.

Thanks to their fondness for digging, they are quite effective at their job! These fish will use their barbels to feel the substrate. Once they find a snail, they can suck it right out of the shell!

These fish have hard teeth in their throats, so you may hear a clicking sound as they chew.

Yoyo Loaches are a peaceful yet lively addition to the tank. They get along with most species and are tough enough to stay comfortable in most standard water conditions.

  • Size: 2.5 inches
  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Minimum tank size: 40 gallons

2. Striped Raphael Catfish

The Striped Raphael Catfish is a beautiful species of fish that can live for over a decade in the right conditions. Like other catfish, they are bottom-dwelling fish that use barbels to forage.

The body of the fish is shaped like a torpedo and features dramatic horizontal stripes, hence its name. These fish are also highly protected thanks to their curved spines and sharp fin rays.

Native to South America, the striped raphael catfish is used to eating invertebrates. In the wild, they often consume shrimp, snails, and insects.

In captivity, the fish will eat about the same, making them a great option for getting rid of snails in your aquarium.

  • Size: 6 inches
  • Difficulty: Beginner
  • Minimum tank size: 50 gallons

3. Clown Loach

Here is a species of colorful fish that you can always rely on when it comes to getting rid of snails. The Clown Loach has quite a reputation as a snail-eating fish (and for good reason).

You may see them patrolling the waters before quickly burrowing under the substrate. This makes them very efficient at getting rid of snails that like to burrow and hide.

When they’re not foraging for snail snacks, clown loaches are peaceful community fish. They get along well with other non-aggressive fish species and do very well in large community tanks.

They are also well adapted to basic freshwater conditions. The species prefers temperatures around 78 degrees, neutral pH balance, and moderate water hardness.

  • Size: 12 inches
  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Minimum tank size: 100 to 150 gallons

4. Gouramis

Found naturally throughout Southeast Asia, gouramis are a very popular species in the aquarium trade. Covered in shades of blue, silver, and even red, they can add a lot of life to an underwater environment.

Gouramis belong to a special class of fish. They are labyrinth fish, which means they have a lung-like organ that allows them to breathe air. As a result, these fish are very hardy and capable of living in low-oxygen environments.

For the most part, Gouramis are fairly peaceful and only become aggressive in crowded tanks. However, you will also see them become aggressive towards snails!

These fish are powerful enough to rip snails right out of their shell as a snack. There are many species to choose from, but we recommend giving Dwarf Gourami a shot.

  • Size: Varies
  • Difficulty: Beginner Intermediate
  • Minimum Tank Size: Varies

5. Dwarf Chain Loach

The Dwarf Chain Loach is an interesting fish with a distinctive look. Endemic to Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand, these are schooling fish that typically occupy the bottom of the water column.

Chain Loaches get their name from their appearance. The upper half of the body has a thick black band. However, silver flecks run throughout the band, giving it the appearance of a metal chain!

Like other loaches, this species has delicate barbels that they use to hunt for food. You can often find them in large groups looking for snails to eat and other snacks on the substrate.

  • Size: 2 inches
  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Minimum tank size: 30 gallons

6. Bala Shark

Despite what their name would lead you to believe, Bala sharks are not aggressive creatures. They are relatively peaceful. Other than their body shape and triangular dorsal fin, these fish share no other features with predatory sharks.

However, they will eat smaller creatures that they find in the tank. This includes snails, small fish, and shrimp.

These fish have a very healthy appetite. They need food three times a day. Still, you can often find Bala sharks eating snails whenever they get the chance!

Bala sharks are active and social fish. They do best in groups and require plenty of room to swim and explore.

  • Size: 12 inches
  • Difficulty: Beginner Intermediate
  • Minimum tank size: 120 to 150 gallons

7. Zebra Loach

Zebra loaches are another fish species that do best in a group. Although they don’t technically catch fish, Zebra Loaches have been known to become aggressive when there are fewer than five in the same tank.

Interestingly, most Zebra Loaches prefer to be alone. You can find them looking for food at the bottom of the tank. Sometimes, they sit still for hours on end. Other times, you can see them actively exploring!

This species requires a stable environment to stay healthy. They do best in temperatures between 73 and 79 degrees Fahrenheit, slightly alkaline water, and moderate hardness. Good oxygenation is also essential.

  • Size: 3 to 4 inches
  • Difficulty: Beginner
  • Minimum tank size: 30 gallons

8. Cory Catfish

The ever popular Cory Catfish has a slightly different attitude towards snails. They are not interested in some species, as they tend to avoid larger snails.

Most Cory Catfish will turn their attention to the smaller snails (and their eggs). They do a fantastic job of getting rid of snails in your aquarium that are hiding in the substrate.

They use their barbels to sniff out snails as they scavenge. They will then burrow into the substrate to suck them up. These fish are very powerful burrowers, so don’t be surprised if you see them with their heads in the sand!

In general, the cory catfish is a peaceful community fish. They spend most of their time cleaning the bottom of the tank for food, leaving other fish to occupy other parts of the water column.

  • Size: 1 to 4 inches
  • Difficulty: Beginner
  • Minimum tank size: 20 to 30 gallons


Believe it or not, theGoldfish are one of the most prolific predators of snails. Almost all types of goldfish species, from the most common to the most elegant, will seek out snails to eat.

They are more than willing to eat any snail that can be placed in their mouths. However, they will often avoid larger adult snails. To eliminate them, you will have to rely on another species.

Adding Goldfish to your tank can be difficult. These fish require cooler water that is lower on the hardness scale. As a result, you cannot add them to warmer tanks with tropical fish.

  • Size: Varies
  • Difficulty: Beginner Intermediate
  • Minimum Tank Size: Varies

10. Green puffer or spotted puffer

Green -spotted Pufferfish are lovable fish that have the ability to increase in size for defense purposes . While that is certainly interesting to watch, you never want to take your fish to that point. Swelling means they are experiencing extreme stress.

Snails are an important part of a green-spotted puffer’s diet. Not only do they enjoy the taste, but they chew on the shells. The shells help wear down their beak-like teeth, which would otherwise continue to grow into a handicap.

The only caveat to keeping Green Spotted Puffers is that they need brackish water. Your environment should have a specific gravity between 1.005 and 1.20.

  • Size: 6 inches
  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Minimum tank size: 30 gallons

11. Betta Fish

Betta fish are known for their beauty and grace. However, these fish can still attack and eat snails.

Like Gouramis, Bettas are labyrinthine fish with the ability to breathe water. While they do best in well-oxygenated tanks, they can also survive in shallow water.

If you are thinking of adding a betta fish to your community tank, you need to be very careful. These are very aggressive fish that will attack any species that catches their attention.

Most Betta owners choose to keep these fish alone. However, you can add other tankmates if you have a large enough environment.

  • Size: 3 inches
  • Difficulty: Beginner
  • Minimum tank size: 5 to 10 gallons

12. Killer Snail

Here’s a creature you probably didn’t expect to see on this list! Assassin Snails are one of the best invertebrates to have in a tank that is overrun by snails.

As their name suggests, these freshwater snails will actually eat other snails. They are not fussy. Assassin snails will eat any snail species that they exceed in size.

Assassin snails can also be very cunning about their predatory nature. Sometimes you can see them hiding in the sand while waiting for a snail to pass by.

If you’re worried about assassin snails invading your tank, rest easy. It is a kind of snail that needs a partner to be able to reproduce.

  • Size: 1 inch
  • Difficulty: Beginner
  • Minimum tank size: 10 gallons

Choose your option

Now that you know how to get rid of snails in your aquarium with fish that eat snails, it’s time for you to make your choice.

With so many great options, it can be hard to decide. Fortunately, you can’t go wrong!

Just look for the species that suit your tank conditions and go from there. If you have a problem deciding, you can always ask us to evaluate it too.

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