Finding the balance with snails in a freshly cycled tank

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Original poster
May 23, 2019
Houston, TX
I have a 30 that is now cycled (going on week 7/8, something like that)....

The tank is well-planted with a variety of moss, crypts, java fern, hydrocotle, rotala and microswords, some subulata. Floating riccia.

Along with the plants came some hitchhikers - most good, but now one bad species:
The good - extra plants
- four well-developing rainbow fry that came in as eggs on plants
- a very nice nerite snail that is now about 1/3 of an inch across, very pretty

The bad - I am seeing a bloom of bladder-type snails, not sure of exact species, but definitely pesty ones.

I think the pest snails are blooming because of the large amount of plant material generated during the time the plants (mostly the crypts and subulata) were reconditioning to the tank. While the crypt melt was minor to moderate, it did generate a bit of material for such a small tank. I have left a bit of plant material in the tank to aid with cycling to this point. I have also added an albino ancistrus for cleanup.

So, here's the dilemma...

1) I want to get rid of the pest snails, but not impact the biology of the recently set up tank by using copper or anything like that.
2) I know I can wait for the pest snail population to stabilize and can control it to some extent by removing plant material and physically removing snails.
3) I know I could introduce a snail-eater, such as a coach species...there are some small species that could be used but they are not in my current plan for the tank.

If you were me, how long would you wait before considering the introduction of a snail-eating fish, assassin snail (one!) or start performing physical removal of the snails?
And, which technique would you use? I am particularly concerned about adding a snail-eating fish as I would like to hold out the option of adding a few shrimp later.

Would love to hear your thoughts...thanks all


Global Moderator
Staff member
Jan 11, 2013
West Falls NY
Real Name
I'd wait until you get the tank stocked the way you want and be mindful of the feeding, feeding needs of the stock and the quality of the food. You should be able to keep the snail population mostly under control by just what you dump into the tank food-wise.

In terms of fish that eat snails. I've never kept puffers, etc. They require extra care themselves. My oscar will eat snails if I drop them into the tank. The crunching sounds horrible. Doesn't bother him at all!