To most aquarists, purposely breeding snails sounds a bit silly. After all, they are considered an annoying pest by most of us! However, there are some aquarium inhabitants that have snails on their menu. Buying new snails every time is not much of an option, so setting up a snail breeding tank might be a good idea here.
Keep reading for everything you need to know about breeding aquarium snails and setting up a snail breeding tank.
Note: If you came here looking for a way to get rid of pest snails, be sure to have a look at this article instead.
Why breed aquarium snails?
Freshwater and brackish puffer fish are a joy to keep, and their natural diet actually consists mostly of snails. While there are many other great food sources for a puffer, they are naturally molluscivores and hard snail shells are a good way to keep their constantly growing teeth short. Another popular aquarium inhabitant that feeds on snails is actually a snail itself; assassin snails are often used to control a snail plague.
As many beginning (dwarf) puffer or assassin snail keepers will soon realize, though, snails are a bit harder to come by than you’d expect, especially when a constant supply of new snails is necessary. While local pet stores and other aquarists can sometimes help you out, breeding your own snails is probably the best guarantee. Luckily snail breeding is an easy (and even fun!) project that doesn’t take up much space or money at all.
- Container: An aquarium, fish bowl, small foodsafe tub, etc.
- Snails: Pond snails, bladder snails, ramshorn snails*. You only need a few!
- Aquarium water
- Live plants: Duckweed is a great fast grower
- Heater (optional)
- Sponge filter (optional)
*Some puffer species can break their teeth on Malaysian trumpet snails so these are unfortunately not suitable as puffer food.
How to breed aquarium snails
If you’re not using a heater, place your container in a warm spot and add a lid or foil with plenty of air holes. Set up your sponge filter if you’re using one (which I would recommend, as they help keep things clean without trapping any snails). Then, just fill the container with aquarium water, live plants and snails and you’re done.
To keep your snails well-fed, add a piece of blanched lettuce, zucchini or cucumber or an algae tablet a few times a week. Be sure to remove the food after a few hours, though, because your container may start to smell a bit if you leave it for too long and bad water quality may kill your snails. Even is food is removed timely, frequent partial water changes are necessary because snails have quite a heavy bioload and the water will get dirty quickly. At least once a week is definitely a good idea.
If all goes well, you will see small transparent “blobs” with tiny specks inside appear all over your container. Congratulations, these are snail eggs that should soon hatch into tiny baby snails! Once you have established a stable breeding population, you can start feeding snails to your snail-eating aquarium inhabitant(s). To easily remove a few snails, just drop a piece of food into the container, wait until the snails crawl onto it to feed and then lift the food and snails out of the water. Your snail eating fish will be grateful.
If you still have questions about breeding snails or if you have tips for breeding snails, be sure to leave a comment below. Happy fishkeeping!