While aquarium snails may help to keep the algae in your aquarium under control, they have a tendency to reproduce quickly. A few small snails can turn into dozens in a matter of days and, before you know it, your entire aquarium could be overtaken. In most cases, aquarium hobbyists introduce snails into their aquariums unknowingly and do not notice the snails until it is too late. There are steps you can take, however, to prevent this from happening to you and there are ways to deal with it if it does.
How Snails Get into the Aquarium
Purchasing live aquarium plants at the pet store and adding them directly to your tank is the number one way snails are introduced into the home aquarium. While some pet stores now sell guaranteed snail-free plants in plastic containers, most pet stores only offer them straight out of their stock tanks. Even if your store does offer snail-free plants, they may cost several dollars more than the same plant from a stock tank.
Once you get your aquarium plants home, rinse them with warm water from the tap. Go over each leaf and remove any snails you happen to find. As an extra precaution, you can also soak the plants for 10 minutes in warm salt water. If you choose this method, be sure to rinse the plants well with fresh water before adding them to your tank.
How to Control a Snail Infestation
If you find yourself with a growing population of snails in your tank, do not panic. If you catch the problem before it gets out of control you may be able to remedy it with a few simple steps. Before you go to bed at night, blanch a piece of lettuce in hot water and drop it into the tank. In the morning you will find that snails have swarmed to the piece of lettuce and you can simply remove it from the tank, along with the snails feeding on it, and discard it.
While chemical remedies for snail control are available, they may do more harm than good in your aquarium. These remedies are designed to kill invertebrates like snails but they may also decimate your population of beneficial bacteria which could lead to other problems like cloudy water and algae blooms. If the snails in your tank become too numerous to control, however, you may need to resort to drastic measures such as performing a major tank cleaning.
Move your fish into a temporary tank filled with water from the main tank – you may also wish to set aside a few buckets of water from the main tank to use in refilling the aquarium. Empty the tank, clean the walls and soak all tank décor in warm saltwater for at least thirty minutes. Remove the gravel and either soak it in salt water or boil it on the stove. Check your live plants for snails, remove any you find and soak the plants in warm salt water for ten minutes. Do not forget to rinse out your filter as well.
Thoroughly rinse everything you soaked in salt water then reassemble your tank and refill it with as much of the original tank water as you can. This will help to speed up the nitrogen cycle and should also help to prevent algae blooms. In order to quickly reestablish a colony of beneficial bacteria in your tank you might consider installing an EcoBio-Stone. These products are made from porous volcanic rock and are infused with beneficial bacteria ready to multiply after being added to your tank. EcoBio-Stones help to speed up the nitrogen cycle while removing odors and clearing up your aquarium water. Once your tank has cycled, leave the stone in place to keep your aquarium water clean and clear.