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Best Fish For Eating Snails

In this article, I’ll introduce 7 of the best fish for eating snails. And since most of them look stunning, they can be a permanent addition to your collection.

Snails are the ultimate nemesis of aquarists. Their insane multiplication speed poses a major challenge that makes dealing with them exceptionally hard. However, if you entrust this mission to your fish, it might not be that difficult.

Let’s get started!

Quick List Best Fish For Eating Snails

  1. Zebra Loach (Botia Striata)
  2. Yoyo Loach (Botia Almorhae)
  3. Clown Loach (Chromobotia Macracanthus)
  4. Green Spotted Puffer (Dichotomyctere Nigroviridis)
  5. Spotted Raphael Catfish (Agamyxis Pectinifrons)
  6. Skunk Loach (Yasuhikotakia Morleti)
  7. Dwarf Chain Loach (Ambastaia Sidthimunki)

Each of the following fish can help you control the snail problem. Nevertheless, they differ considerably in the required care. Some can be placed in large, community tanks. Others must be placed in schools of their own species, and so on. That’s what I’ll discuss in detail in this section.

Zebra Loach (Botia Striata)

zebra loach

zebra loach

  • Care level: easy
  • Size: 3 – 4 inches
  • Temperature range: 73 to 79 °F
  • PH range: 6 to 6.5
  • Social behavior: peaceful bottom-dwelling fish
  • Tank size: 20-gallon

Loaches are undoubtedly the best fish that can control the pest snail population. But since they’re pretty diverse, I’ll only introduce the best-looking types that would add an interesting touch to your aquarium.

The first loach in my list is the Zebras. As the name implies, these fish come with attractively striped bodies of red, black, and yellow.

Zebras excel in catching small pest snails, regardless of how big their population is. However, they tend to avoid bigger gastropods like mystery snails.

The best thing about Zebras is how easy their care is. They’re hardy enough to withstand common pH and temperature fluctuations. That’s why I always recommend them for novice aquarists.

Generally speaking, Zebras are peaceful around other fish. Nevertheless, they can turn quite aggressive if their needs aren’t properly satisfied. Make sure to provide enough hideouts in your tank to fit their shy nature.

Yoyo Loach (Botia Almorhae)

Yoyo Loach

Yoyo Loach

  • Care level: somewhat hard
  • Size: 5.5 – 6.5 inches
  • Temperature range: 75 to 86 °F
  • PH range: 6.5 to 7.5
  • Social behavior: semi-aggressive bottom-dwelling fish
  • Tank size: 20-gallon

Yoyo Loaches are among my personal favorite fish. Their unique color pattern resembles the skin of giraffes, which would look amazing in the right lighting.

Since they grow bigger than Zebras, they can eat a slightly wider range of snails. But I wouldn’t recommend them for beginners. Yoyos can show aggressive behavior against smaller, weaker fish.

Just like Zebras, Yoyos tend to be quite shy, especially in their first days in your aquarium. Introducing pieces of driftwood should make them feel comfortable.

Fun fact, aquarists believe that Yoyo Loaches were named after yoyos because they keep actively bouncing around all day long. Others assume that this name was given to describe the multiple Y’s and O’s found in their patterns. Either way, this could be an extremely nice topic to brag about with your friends.

Clown Loach (Chromobotia Macracanthus)

Clown Loach

Clown Loach

  • Care level: Hard
  • Size: 8 – 12 inch
  • Temperature range: 75 to 85°F
  • PH range: 6 to 7.5
  • Social behavior: peaceful bottom-dwelling fish
  • Tank size: 100-gallon

Clown Loaches are probably the most common loach between aquarists. I placed them in the 3rd place mainly because of their size. Since they can reach up to 12 inches, they might not fit most of the aquarists.

As you can tell, Clowns feed on all sorts of snails, no matter how big they are. Keeping them in schools of four should yield better results in extra-large tanks.

In spite of their huge size, Clowns rarely bully their tankmates. They tend to be peaceful around other species, regardless of their size. This doesn’t mean they suit beginners, though. In fact, Clowns can be super sensitive to water conditions. The tank must remain clean and well-aerated at all times.

Also, Clowns appreciate dimmed environments with lots of shaded areas. I’ve seen many aquarists opting for heavy lighting to make their colors pop out more. They fail to realize that this can stress out the clowns until they turn aggressive.

Green Spotted Puffer (Dichotomyctere Nigroviridis)

Green Spotted Puffer

Green Spotted Puffer

  • Care level: Hard
  • Size: 5 – 6 inches
  • Temperature range: 72 to 79 °F
  • PH range: 7.2 to 8.2
  • Social behavior: semi-aggressive
  • Tank size: 55-gallon

The Green Spotted Puffer is an excellent choice if you’re dealing with a major snail breakout. These fish have robust bony plates that scientists believe were evolved specifically for eating hard shells.

In fact, these plates must be regularly ground down. Otherwise, they might overgrow and block the fish’s mouth. So if you don’t think you have enough snails, you should consider another breed.

The Green Spotted Puffer isn’t a fish for beginners, not by a long shot. The tank must be maintained in strict conditions in order for them to thrive. If you have the required skill, however, this fish would be a peculiar addition to your tank.

Spotted Raphael Catfish (Agamyxis Pectinifrons)

  • Care level: easy
  • Size: 6 – 7 inches
  • Temperature range: 68.0 to 79.0 °F
  • PH range: 6.0 to 7.5
  • Social behavior: peaceful bottom scavengers
  • Tank size: 35-gallon

How about a fish that talks? Yep, read that right. The Spotted Raphael Catfish is also known as the Talking Catfish because it can produce audible squeaks whenever they get spooked.

But that’s not the only unusual thing about them, though. These fish come with an incredibly interesting appearance. Their bodies are typically colored in black with multiple yellowish spots that shine under light. I don’t know about you, but I think they can add a touch of elegance to your tank.

On the downside, these fish tend to get active mainly during the night. They’ll effectively eat all the annoying snakes, but you’ll probably miss it.

Generally speaking, taking care of these fish is fairly easy. They can be kept with other fish as long as they’re not that different in size.

Skunk Loach (Yasuhikotakia Morleti)

  • Care level: intermediate
  • Size: 3 – 4 inches
  • Temperature range: 79 to 86 °F
  • PH range: 6 to 8.5
  • Social behavior: semi-aggressive
  • Tank size: 30-gallon

Don’t let the name intimidate you. Skunk Loaches won’t turn your tank into a stinky, messy corner. They got their name from the large black stripe that runs over their backs.

Skunk Loaches don’t usually grow bigger than 4 inches. Nevertheless, they tend to show signs of aggression toward other fish, even those with bigger sizes. That’s why I’d never recommend them for community tanks.

In terms of performance, Skunk Loaches can be the best snail eaters. Their active nature will make them dig into the substrate to get the smallest lurking snails. They’re also not that sensitive to water conditions, which is perfect for beginners.

Dwarf Chain Loach (Ambastaia Sidthimunki)

Dwarf Chain Loach

Dwarf Chain Loach

  • Care level: easy
  • Size: 2 – 2.5
  • Temperature range: 68 to 82 °F
  • PH range: 6 to 7.5
  • Social behavior: peaceful schooling fish
  • Tank size: 20-gallon

So far, most of my recommendations were intended for people owning large aquariums since snails tend to infest these the most. If you have a small tank, you can opt for the Dwarf Chain Loach. With an average size of 2 inches, the Dwarf Chains can thrive in tanks as small as 20 gallons.

The best thing about these fish is their unlimited energy. They’ll keep digging for snails until they’re fully eradicated. But due to their small size, they won’t be able to eat the large ones. Still, they might keep harassing and eating their eggs.

General Tips to Control Snail Population

Aside from the fish, there are some tips that should naturally inhibit the growth of snails.

Avoid Overfeeding

Please, do yourself a favor and never feed your fish too much. Ideally, you should throw them some pellets once or twice per day.

Excess food always sinks to the bottom of your tank, right into the bellies of the pest snails. If you don’t have a bottom-scavenging fish, it’ll also rot and ruin your water purity.

Limit Algae Growth

Snails depend on algae as their secondary diet after leftover food. Unfortunately, limiting algae growth is a quite complicated subject. It depends on various factors like lighting, water purity, fish breeds, etc.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do Snails End Up In Your Tank?

The worst thing about those tiny creatures is that you can never know when and how they entered your tank. However, we can narrow it down to either the plants or the gravel that you regularly change.

More times than not, snails lurk their eggs over plants or between the bits of any substrate. To make matters worse, these eggs are too tiny to be noticed by the naked eye.

Easy Aquarium Maintenance
Aquarium Log Book

This Aquarium Log Book is the best way to make note of all the steps you take when caring for your aquarium. Easily keep all your aquarium tasks, schedules & plans all in one place.

There’s a cool trick that can control this problem to some extent. Before getting anything new into your tank, make sure to dip it in bleach for a couple of minutes. This will be too weak to hurt plants, but it’ll be potent enough to eradicate snails.

Are snails good for your fish tank?

Snails are good for most tanks and do their part to help maintain the health of your aquariums. Most snails are bottom feeders and will eat algae, dead plants and fish as well as uneaten food and other garbage. They may not look great but they play an important role in keeping your tank clean. 

So maybe think twice before you go feeding them to the fish listed above.

Can too many snails kill my fish?

No, snails cannot hurt or kill your fish. That said snail may attempt to eat an injured or fish that is dying. Otherwise, snails are harmless to healthy fish.

The Verdict

As you saw, loaches are the best fish for eating snails. Choosing between them depends on your tank conditions and level of experience.

Zebra Loaches, for instance, require a medium-sized tank with little to no experience. Yoyo loaches, on the other hand, need a bigger tank with a savvy aquarist.

Remember, your fish don’t need continuous feeding. If you do so, you’ll indirectly encourage snails to grow bigger in size and number.