Some of us love them, some hate them. Snails would probably be more welcome in aquariums if they weren’t so prolific. A large population of snail can lead to the destruction of your aquatic plants and even upset the aquarium ecological balance.
Here are a few tips to help you control snails in your aquarium
Overfeeding is the number one cause of snail outbreaks. If you see more and more snails in your tank, then there are good probability that you are overfeeding. Before to try any other method of control, reduce feeding a little. This should help lot.
Some aquarium species will eat snails. Some of the best at eating snails are the members of the genus botia such as the well known clown loach. Puffer fish, Bettas, crayfish, most gouramis and apple snails will also prey on these snails.
Cleaning the aquatic plants
Since Ramshorn snails are often introduced in the aquarium as egg bundles hidden in newly acquired plants, treating the plants can help lot.
Chlorine Bleach – One way to treat hardier plants is to soak them in a solution of water and chlorine bleach for 10 minutes (20 parts of water, 1 part of bleach). When treating my plants with bleach, I always avoid to treat the roots to not damaging them. A bleach bath should always followed by an other bath with water containing a dechlorinating agent.
Alum – A more gentle treatment calls for 5-10 tablespoons of alum to 1 gallon of water for 2-3 days.
Snail Poison – An other way to treat the plants is to quarantine them and treat with snail poisons. This way, you don’t have to use poisons in the main show tank.
Salt - I know that some will tip the plant in saltwater for 5 minutes to kill the snails or eggs but I don’t know how much salt they use for that.
Potassium Permanganate – Prepare soaking solution using one gallon of water and a half tablespoon of potassium permanganate. Soak for fifteen minutes, then rinse well before planting in tank.
Manual removal can also be an effective way to get rid of a snail infestation.
Let them come to you – To help removing the snail, some aquarist will use lettuce of cucumber to bait them. There are snail traps available to buy. These traps work quite simply by adding some food into a chamber that the snails can get into but can’t get out. If you don’t want to pay for a snail trap, get a small glass jar and put a small piece of letuce or fish food in it. Carefully sink the jar on the bottom of the aquarium. The next day, remove the snails in the jar and repeat the process.
Stop Aeration – An other effective way to help removing the snails manually is to stop the aeration. The snails need air so they will soon climb to upper levels in order to breath. It is very easy to take them out as they reach the surface. Planted tank may not have an air pump since the plants alone are enough to supply air. In this case leaving the light off for some time (plants only produce air during day time) might help.
Chemical solutions, which can be purchases at any pet or aquaria store, kill snails and eggs effectively. Unfortunately, most solution are copper-sulfate-based chemicals which will also harm the fish and any other living organism in your tank. For this reason, It is best to try to avoid this method. If you chose to use chemicals to kill your snails, make sure to vacuum and do frequent partial water changes to restore water parameters. You should also add some activated carbon to your filter after the treatment.