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13 Different Types of Aquarium Snails

Add beauty, color, and variety to your aquarium and fish tanks by learning all about the different types of Aquarium Snails and be able to distinguish the good ones from the bad ones especially since the latter can easily find their way into your aquarium.

An Aquarium with Aquatic Creatures

Many aquarists often decide to keep freshwater snails in their aquariums and fish tanks in order to provide good company to their fish, and there are a great many reasons for that. Although there is quite a debate in regards to having snails in fish tanks because many people consider them to be a true plague, they are actually quite useful creatures.

Freshwater aquarium snails are aquatic creatures that are best known for their ability to clean up debris from fish tanks, which makes them quite the tank cleaners. They particularly feed on aquatic debris like fish waste and algae, which is also one of the reasons why some snail varieties are called ‘algae-eaters.’ They have a natural process of cleaning up the tank whereby they digest most of the waste elements such as rotting plant matter, leftover fish food, and fish waste that hasn’t been filtered.

Aquarium snails not only increase the number of good bacteria in tanks and aquariums, but they also add a great touch of beauty, color, and variety to their surroundings. However, you should know that there are good types of snails that carry out all these amazing functions, and there are also bad, unwanted types of snails that find their way into your aquarium all by themselves.

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If you are thinking of getting a pet snail for your aquarium, there is a whole wide variety for you to choose from, ranging from small to big in size and even sporting an array of different beautiful colors.

Take a look at some perfect choices of freshwater aquarium snails that you can get for your aquarium.

Mystery SnailsA Type of Mystery Snail Eating Algae from Aquarium Glass

These Aquarium snails are one of the most popular types, especially due to their striking colors and large size. They help add great color, variety, and beauty to any aquarium, given their beautiful color forms that include golden, brown, white, purple, black, and blue. These snails are quite short-lived and have a lifespan of only one year. The maximum size that they grow to is 2 inches, which makes them of the larger aquarium snail species.

Mystery snails are a South American species, and their native distribution includes a number of regions such as Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay, and Brazil. They are also often referred to as ‘spike-topped apple snail’ which is one of their other common names. They are one of those useful snails that offer a great many purposes in the aquarium. For example, Mystery snails are true algae eaters that help clean off algae from plants, decorations as well as the glass of the aquarium. They do this by actually eating up the algae and keeping your substrate perfectly clean.

One of their most distinctive and interesting features is their structurally composite eyes that are located just at the corner of the tip of a cephalic eyestalk. The eyestalk is void of any sensory organs, which means that if the snails’ eyes were to be severed or amputated, they would be able to regenerate or regrow their eyes within a matter of a few weeks!

Mystery snails are believed to be the most peaceful creatures that you can have in your aquarium or tank. They have zero aggressive tendencies, and they spend most of their time grazing on the algae that build up inside the aquarium. They prefer tanks that are full of vegetation and some of the best plants to have in the aquarium are Java Moss, Java Fern, and Hornwort. In terms of food, mystery snails prefer feeding on rotting and dead plants and are known to eat a wide range of food.

Assassin Snails Assassin Snail in a Freshwater Aquarium

Known to be a lot towards the feisty side, Assassin Snails are one of those quirky types of freshwater snails that do attack and eat other snails, as their name obviously suggests. This snail species commonly occurs throughout Southeast Asia, particularly in regions such as Thailand, Malaysia and the Lake Toba that is located on the Indonesian island of Sumatra.

As of late, Assassin snails have become quite a popular freshwater aquarium snail to have in tanks and aquariums. The main reason for this popularity stems from the fact that they help keep a thorough check on the population of other freshwater snails in the tank. These snails are true carnivores, and they will continue to attack all the pests near them till they have completely eradicated them.

Assassin snails have a lifespan of 2-3 years, and they typically grow between 0.7-1.25 inches. Their size greatly depends on external factors such as the type of food they are given to eat and the variety of food sources that are accessible to them. Many people often refer to this snail species as the ‘bumblebee snail’ given how their snail shell has a conical shape and sports a combination of yellow and dark brown tan bands on the body.

Assassin snails are a great option if you are looking for new tank mates to mix up with other fish and snail varieties in your fish tank. They are said to be a tad slower than other types of snails so you can expect them to be lively or active in your fish tank. They usually come out to eat during night time, and most of their day-time is spent being buried in the substrate.

According to most aquarists, assassin snails thrive well in those waters that have a sandy substrate, but they have also been shown to be perfectly fine with gravel as well.

Nerite SnailsA Nerite Snail with Horns

This type of freshwater aquarium snail is scientifically known as Neritina natalensis and is considered to be one of the best options if you are trying to keep your fish tank clean. Like mystery snails, Nerite snails are also quite the algae eaters. They spend most of their time just moving around in the tank, and while doing so, they will consume any algae that they come across while moving in the water.

Nerite snails are native to the coastal plain of East Africa, particularly to regions such as Tanzania, Somalia, Kenya, South Africa, and Mozambique. They are mostly from the seashore and brackish waters while some varieties also live in streams and rivers. The term ‘natalensis’ in its scientific name is a special reference to Natal, an area in South Africa. Compared to a few other types of freshwater aquarium snails, Nerite snails will never cause overpopulation in your aquarium or tank because they don’t reproduce in freshwater aquaria.

These types of snails have a lifespan of 1-3 years, and they grow to an average length of 0.5-1 inch. Some of their common habitats include mangrove swamps, lagoons, ponds, rivers, creeks, streams, and the mouth area of most rivers. One of their most prominent features is their striped shell that has resulted in a great many names for this snail such as zebra snail and tiger snail.

Nerites are truly excellent tank cleaners, and they are also a very peaceful snail species, which means that they won’t cause any problems for the other fish in the tank.

Ivory Snails

These freshwater snails are considered to be great community snails for you to have in your fish tank or aquarium mainly because they don’t eat aquarium plants, they don’t multiply as rapidly as other snail species and they also don’t feed on other snails. They are easily pleased and happy to feed on leftover food such as extra fish food or even algae, for that matter.

Ivory snails don’t easily blend in with the existing aquatic environment in an aquarium, but they actually stand out a great deal given their attractive milky white bodies and snail shell. Just like Gold Inca Snails, for instance, Ivory Snails are also true scavengers who love to hunt the tank for uneaten or leftover food, soft algae and even decaying plant matter.

These snails grow to an average of 1-2 inches in diameter, but when provided with the ideal tank conditions, they are likely to grow larger than that. Two of their key requirements for successful growth include calcium-rich foods and the right water conditions.

One of the most popular varieties of this aquatic snail is the Ivory White Mystery Snail that makes the perfect addition to a beautifully-designed aquarium. They are not only aesthetically pleasing, but they also serve the purpose of keeping your fish tank clean, which makes them a must-have in an aquarium. Like several other snail species, Ivory snails are non-aggressive and have a peaceful nature. They don’t attack tank mates and are particularly active during the darkness of night.

Malaysian Trumpet SnailsSnail Crawling inside an Aquarium

Also called the ‘red-rimmed Melania,’ the Malaysian Trumpet snail is most notable for its reddish spots that greatly stand out on its greenish-brown shell. Hobbyists and aquarists can find these snails in great abundance and varieties in most pet stores. They are known to have really big appetites, a quality that makes them the ultimate scavengers and tank cleaners in any aquarium or fish tank.

Malaysian Trumpet Snails are freshwater snails and are typically found in Turkey, Asia, and Africa. They have a lifespan of 1-2 years, and they grow to an average size of 0.8-2.5 centimeters. These freshwater snails are recognized by their long and pointed shells that often sport a dark brown color. Some say that these pointed shells look like ice-cream cones, given the similarities in both their structures.

Like many snail species, these snails are super calm and nonviolent and will spend most of their time moving around at the bottom of the tank looking for food. It is also fairly easier to look after them and care for them, as compared to other different types of snails.

However, according to some hobbyists, Malaysian Trumpet Snails have a tendency to be invasive and unwanted snail pests. This is primarily because these snails can reproduce really quickly and their numbers go up in very short times. Nevertheless, you can prevent them from turning into snail pests by keeping them in the correct type of tank and providing the ideal growing conditions.

Black Devil Snails

Black Devil Snail on a grass beside a rock.

This is a species of brackish water snail that is naturally found in the islands of the Western Indo-Pacific region. These are quite the underrated types of snails, probably because of their dark and mysterious nature. As the name ‘Black Devil’ suggests, these snails have the most gorgeous and the glossiest of shells that boast the deepest kind of black color.

Black Devil Snails grow to an average size that ranges between 2-3 inches. These snails have a peaceful and solitary kind of social behavior, which means that they don’t really interact with other tank mates. They aren’t fussy at all, and they absolutely love each other’s company, so make sure to have them in pairs in your fish tank.

These snails are known to be incredibly fast and active, and much of their time is spent zooming all around the fish tank in search of food and algae. Since they are omnivores, they are likely to end up eating anything that comes their way. They are particularly keen on eating leftover fish food and even dead or decayed plant matter.

Black Devil Snails are also known as excellent substrate cleaners and have the ability to tolerate really cold and harsh weathers and temperatures. One thing to keep in mind when keeping these snails in your aquarium is that since they grow really large in size, they need more space to grow and move around a lot. So, you must ensure that there is no excessive dense vegetation in the tank because that will result in massive overcrowding.

Japanese Trapdoor Snails

Named for their operculum, Japanese Trapdoor Snails have a tough plate on their bodies that form a strong seal at the edge of the snail shell through which the soft body of the snail is heavily protected. This snail is quite an interesting freshwater snail because of it being a non-aggressive, tranquil and a soft algae eater.

Their shells have a fairly unique spiral-shape, and fascinatingly, no two Japanese Trapdoor Snails will look alike! Each snail significantly varies in appearance due to differences in their patterns, designs, and colorations. However, all of them have one key similarity, which is that they sport more natural-looking colors like green and brown, for instance.

These snail species have proven to be extremely useful in the tank and aquarium setting, considering how they are so fond of cleaning off the algae from the glass, plants, and decorations inside the aquarium. They are exceptionally proficient at keeping the tank clean and free of algae, and they do it without causing any kind of damage.

In terms of water parameters, Japanese Trapdoor Snails are well-suited to a wide range of water conditions. So, even if you keep them in those tanks that come with traditional tank parameters, these snails won’t cause any problems. However, an important thing to bear in mind here is that if there are sudden changes or shifts in the water parameters of their tanks, it can become a great source of harm and stress for these snails.

As far as the dietary and feeding habits of these snails are concerned, they are fond of eating a variety of fresh vegetables such as zucchini or blanched spinach. They are also quite interested in calcium-rich foods such as pellets and bottom feeder tablets.

Ramshorn SnailsA Ramshorn Snail in an Aquarium

Also known as Ram’s Horn Snail, the Ramshorn snail is a type of freshwater aquarium snail that can be a great addition to community tanks as pets. They do well with tank mates and are known to particularly get along with snails and shrimps.

These snails hold a great reputation for being extremely adaptable and prolific snails that can grow fairly quickly in the right type of tank conditions. They are also known to be avid tank-cleaners, a job they do by feeding on uneaten food, soft algae, dead plant matter, debris, and detritus. They have rubber-like bodies that make it easy for them to move and bend over thin plant leaves as well as on hard surfaces inside the tank.

When keeping Ramshorn snails as pets in your fish tank, it is extremely vital to keep in mind that they are quite vulnerable to voracious aquarium species and eaters such as puffers, loaches, crayfish, and bettas. Numerous kinds of loaches, including clown loaches, are known for feeding on Ramshorn snails, so you must keep your tank free from these species.

When buying these snails at a pet store, you are likely to notice that the average size of a young Ramshorn snail is somewhere around a quarter of an inch. But the size does increase over time, and the shell also starts to get thicker as well as less transparent than before.

Although Ramshorn Snails can adapt well in a range of water conditions and a variety of habitats, they are especially fond of tanks that have a range of different kinds of live plants. They like having interesting spots and things around them in the aquarium, such as caves and rocks where they can explore, hide, and move around as per their liking.

Golden Inca Snails

These snail species are quite true to their name, considering that they have creamy white heads, bodies that are coupled with traces of a deep yellow and stunning gold color. The Golden Inca Snail is also known by a number of other common names such as Gold mystery snail, Inca snail, and Yellow snail, to name a few. These snails greatly stand out in any fish tank or aquarium, not just because of their beautiful golden color, but also because they have a cluster of orange dots scattered all over their head and also around the mouth.

Golden Inca Snails thrive in a calm and peaceful aquatic environment, and they also get along best with non-aggressive tank mates. In situations where they need to defend themselves, they do it with the help of their shell and operculum. They have a tendency of coming out in the night as they actively search for food throughout the aquarium.

Among the key tank requirements of these snails, the most important of all is an open space of four inches above the waterline because they need an adequate amount of open-air to breathe. They have a tendency to get out of the tank, so it is essential that the tank or aquarium is well-covered. In terms of food and diet, Golden Inca Snails are popular scavengers and look forward to eating soft blanched vegetables such as green zucchini, iceberg lettuce, and leaf lettuce.

Pond SnailsGreat Pond Snail in a Pond

While Pond Snails are not exactly popular snails to keep in aquariums and fish tanks, some people still prefer having them, given their great benefits and uses. Pond snails play a major role in removing infestations not just from the ponds, but also fish tanks and aquariums. They deal with the rotting and decaying matter in their own ways and by doing so, they really help keep the tank clean. They eat up all the algae that they come across in the tank, which also makes them algae-eaters.

The average height of an adult pond snail ranges from 45-60mm, while the width ranges from 20-30mm. These snails are less likely to consume plants in an aquarium, as compared to Ramshorn snails, for instance. One downside of pond snails is that they can cause overpopulation in the tank because they have the ability to reproduce very quickly.

Pond snails are best suited for community tanks and aquariums where they thrive well with shrimps and other similar aquatic creatures. Since they are omnivorous, they are likely to consume all the food and plants that they find in the tank. This is one of the reasons why any excess food should be removed from the tank where pond snails are in order to discourage overpopulation of these snails.

Apple Snails

A trio of Apple Snails on a heart-shaped green leaf against a wooden background.

These are freshwater snails mainly from tropical and sub-tropical regions and are yet another type of spread tank snails. They are one of the largest sized snails, which is quite evident from their massive appetites. They have mainly originated from the Amazon River after which their habitats also spread across Florida, Hawaii and Southwest Asia.

Apple snails are quite popular aquarium pets, and most people prefer to keep them in their aquariums and fish tanks primarily because of their striking appearance and size. They reach an average length of 15cm, and they grow to 6 inches in diameter.

A typical adaptation of apple snails is their system of branchial respiration, which is quite similar to the gills of a fish. This method of respiration allows the snails to breathe underwater along with a lung that is located on the left side of their body, which aids in the respiration of air.

Apple snails mostly eat whatever they can find in the tank, but have a particular palate for fish food pellets, vegetables, dead fish, insects, and brine shrimps. They also have a tendency to feed on any microscopic vegetation that grows on tank walls or rocks. If the food source is located above water, they might also make attempts to climb above the waterline in order to gain access to the food.

Rabbit SnailsRabbit Snail on a Green Leaf

If you are looking for a fun and exciting creature to add to your tank or aquarium, Rabbit snails are one of the best choices for that. They are also often called ‘elephant snails,’ and they are quite unique in their own ways. They are known for their characteristic appearance and behavior and are also very easy to take care of.

Rabbit snails are freshwater snails that have majorly come from freshwater lakes located in Sulawesi, an island in Indonesia. There is a whole variety of these snails available in pet stores, including Chocolate Rabbit Snails, Black Rabbit Snails, Yellow Rabbit Snails, and Golden Rabbit Snails.

What makes Rabbit snails such a popular snail species for aquariums is their incredibly peaceful nature that helps maintain balance in the tanks. This very quality makes these snails quite inquisitive about their environment, yet they keep to themselves and don’t like bothering any other creature that they may have with them in the tank.

Rabbit snails grow up to 5 inches in size which makes them a bit larger in appearance as compared to other types of snails. They also have a lifespan of 3 years, and if given the right growing conditions, they might even end up living for a longer period than that.

Bladder SnailsA Yellow Colored Bladder Snail

This snail is also known as the acute bladder snail, tadpole snail, and European physa and is native to the Mediterranean. Over time, these snail species have become quite common in Europe and all of North America. Some of the most frequent habitats of bladder snails include swamps, freshwater rivers, ponds, streams, lakes, and reservoirs.

Bladder snails have a shiny, thin-walled and slender shell that sports gorgeous shades of yellow and a reddish-brown color. Since the snail itself is black in color, the colored shell offers a very striking contrast against it. These snails reach an average of 9-15mm, and they are known to be quite short-lived.

You can expect to find bladder snails in great abundance in slow streaming waters as well as warm, stagnant waters. They also live in irrigated rice fields and are known to feed on algae and detritus. One of their most distinguishing features is their sinistral shells, which means that the spire of the shell faces upwards, the aperture is on the left-hand side and it faces the observer.


As incredible as all these aquarium snails sound, your choice should depend on the type of fish tank or aquarium you have, the amount of cleaning that it requires and the variety of other creatures you have in your tank!