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Do Plecos Eat Snails In Your Aquarium?

After publishing our article going over if you can keep a pleco in a tank with shrimp we noticed a number of people reaching out to ask if you can keep a pleco in an aquarium with snails.

Both snails and plecos are very popular options as a clean up crew in many aquarium setups due to the amount of detritus, algae, and left over fish food they eat helping to keep the amount of tank maintenance required to maintain steady water parameters in the tank to an absolute minimum.

Many adult plecos will try to eat any snails that they are able to find in their aquariums with some of the larger species of pleco seeming to enjoy eating snails in their tank and going off to specifically forage for them.

Even smaller, younger plecos will sometimes eat snails with the general rule of thumb being that if the snail is small enough to fit in a plecos mouth then they will eat it.

Some of the people who we have seen reaching out about if a pleco will eat snails or not are specifically looking for something to control the snail population in their tank.

If you are looking for something to reduce the population of snails in your tank then assassin snails are much better for eating snails.

Although plecos may eat the snails in their tanks, they are unreliable and not consistent with the number of snails that they will eat making them a poor choice for snail population control in most aquarium setups.

Can Snails And Plecos Live Together?

Many people within the fish keeping community do keep a pleco in the same tank as snails and just accept the small number of snails that their pleco will eat.

You can try to keep smaller pleco species in your tank such as a Bristlenose pleco or a Clown pleco that are less than five inches in length as it does reduce the chances of them eating the snails in your tank if they find them.

Even then though, some of these smaller pleco species will still try to eat snails that they find in your aquariums while foraging around making it problematic for them.

The smaller plecos often end up with the snail trapped in their mouth or throat making it a pain for them to eat due to the blockages caused by the snais and can quickly result in issues with the nutrition levels of the snails.

In some tank setups, you can sometimes reduce the chances of a pleco in your tank eating all of your snails as some types of pleco tend to prefer eating plant matter rather than animal based goods.

One of the more popular plecos like this is the Royal pleco and it definitely prefers to eat plant based foods but these can grow as long as eight inches in size so they may not be a suitable option for your aquarium size.

Do Plecos Eat Snails In Your Aquarium?

Most species of pleco will eat the snails in your aquarium when they find them with the larger species of pleco being more prone to eating any snails that they are able to find when foraging around the bottom of your tank for food.

Most plecos go by the rule that if something fits in their mouth then it must be food so they will eat a wide range of things in your tank.

Because plecos tend to eat a range of different food types, you can try top reduce the chance of your pleco eating your snails by making sure that your pleco is well fed. The better fed your pleco is, the less likely it is to go looking for other food sources in your tank and eat your snails.

This can defeat the purpose of having a pleco in your aquarium though as the majority of people use the species as a member of their clean up crew so internationally feeding your pleco wafers or other suitable food reduce the amount of algae and detretus that the fish will be able to eat.

You also have to realize that both snails and plecos are usually used as a part of the clean up crew in an aquarium.

If you are worried about your pleco eating your snails then you are usually able to just go with snails or a pleco rather than keeping both in the same tank. In most cases, snails can be a better option as they fill a similar role to a pleco but are far cheaper.

Will A Pleco Eat Baby Snails?

Due to the smaller size of baby snails, it is easier for more species of pleco to eat them with younger, smaller plecos also being able to easily eat most baby snails too.

If you are intentionally trying to breed your snails then you really should be keeping them in their own tank away from plecos and any other species of fish that will eat the snails, their eggs or their babies.

As we mentioned earlier in the article, many people will recommend that you go with a Bristlenose pleco or a Clown pleco as they are smaller and can often struggle to eat most species of snail when they are adults.

This is not true for baby snails and even the smaller species of pleco out there are able to eat baby snails, sometimes in surprisingly large numbers often resulting in them being able to prevent baby snails from reaching adult hood due to being eaten.

If you notice that one of your smaller plecos is suddenly not eating, you may find that it is due to the fish having eaten a baby snail and the snail has got stuck in its throat or mouth.

This is surprisingly common with plecos and in some cases, the pleco can easily get the baby snail out of its mouth if it wanted but it chooses to keep the baby snail in its mouth even if it is causing problems with it being able to eat other foods normally.


That brings our article going over if plecos eat snails or not to an end. We hope that we have been able to help as many of our readers as possible who are curious if they will have problems with a pleco eating their snails if they add one to their aquarium. Although there are a couple of things that you are able to try to prevent your pleco from eating your snails, there is always going to be a chance that it will end up eating at least some of your snails and most people will just have to accept the risk.