How to Breed Aquarium Snails


Snails are the workhorses of the aquarium. They help to keep aquariums free from algae, stir the substrate, cycle tanks and even provide food for certain fish. They come in all shapes, sizes and in a vast array of colors and patterns.

Snails are easy to care for and many breed without hesitation in home aquariums. They can be disease-ridden though. For people keeping puffer fish or other snail-eating species, being able to breed your own snails can help to keep a favorite fish alive.

Things You'll Need

  • Snails
  • 10-gallon aquarium
  • Sand
  • Live aquarium plants
  • Filter
  • Sinking fish food pellets

Scrub the aquarium with bleach or vinegar water. Rinse well and allow to dry. Wash the sand by placing it in a pillowcase and running water through it. The goal is to rinse off any tiny particles that could cloud the aquarium water.

Place two to three inches of sand in the aquarium. Make the sand in the back higher than that in the front. This allows for easier clean up of uneaten food. Arrange the live plants in manageable bunches throughout the aquarium. Many snails will use the foliage as nest sites, so it is important to have plenty of plants.

Fill the aquarium slowly with chlorine-free water. Placing a saucer or newspaper across the substrate will help prevent the water from disturbing the sand.

Check the filter, light and any other electrical implements for possible dangerous defects. Set them up as per the manufacturer’s directions. Allow the aquarium to run for a couple of weeks to allow the system to cycle properly. To speed the cycling process along the aquarium can be “seeded” with aged pond or aquarium silt/substrate. Make sure the silt comes from a clean pond and aquarium.

Before adding the substrate to the tank quickly check for any insect predators such as dragon fly larva. Not only can they eat your snails they can also inflict a painful bite to unsuspecting fingers. Work very fast as the important organisms in the silt will die without oxygen.

Buy only snails with intact shells that come from parasite- and disease-free aquariums. Using wild pond snails can be a gamble when adding them to aquariums containing expensive fish or invertebrates.

Feed the snails a high quality sinking fish food. Many snails will devour algae wafers and love foods such as lettuce, peas and spinach. Provide them with a varied diet just as you would your fish. Snails are what they eat, and if you are feeding them to your animals, they need to be as healthy as possible.

Clean the tank by vacuuming the substrate once a week. Check for anything out of ordinary or sick snails. If a massive die off has occurred, it may mean a chemical has entered the tank.

Change 100 percent of the water and remove any dead and dying snails. Sick snails can be placed in a quarantine tank until they have fully recovered. Avoid adding loaches or puffer fish to the snail tank, as they will eat as many as they possibly can.

Tips & Warnings

  • Do not use products containing copper, as it is deadly to invertebrates.

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