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Do Snails Eat Fish?

As the number of people trying their hand at fish keeping continues to grow, we constantly see people reaching out and asking for advice on what they should be keeping in their tanks.

With the various types of aquatic snails being a common recommendation for many people, the next question that we usually see them asking about is if snails eat fish.

We understand why so many people are worried about their aquatic snails eating the fish that they keep in their tanks and we constantly due to seeing so many people reaching out and asking about if their fish are safe around their snails, we decided to publish this article on the topic.

Our hope is that we will be able to help our readers better understand how they should be keeping snails in their aquariums with their fish.

In addition to that, we are presuming that you are keeping mystery snails, apple snails, nerite snails, ramshorn snails or even assassin snails in your tank.

The advice below should apply for the less commonly kept aquatic snails too but the vast majority of our readers will usually be keeping one of the listed snails above rather than one of the rarer snail types that you should do specific research for.

Do Snails Eat Fish?

Aquatic snails will not try to eat any live fish in your tank and the majority of commonly kept aquatic snails will usually be too busy eating algae, detritus or discarded fish food to even try harassing the fish in your tank to try and eat them.

We have seen some people blame their snails for eating a fish in their tank when it was actually another one of the fish they kept in the tank and the snails were seen finishing off the remains and ended up getting the blame.

We often see people reaching out and asking about suitable snail tank mates for fish keeping with some beginners misunderstanding the purpose of these lists of suitable tank mates.

They are not a list of fish that your snail will not try to eat, they are a list of fish that will not try to eat or harass your snail.

A very common mistake that we see beginners to fish keeping make is that they will add a few snails to their tank to try and control the algae build-up but put the snails in a tank with fish that will either eat them or harass them.

This prevents the snail from eating the algae so it is often left to just build up and build up and increase the amount of tank maintenance that you have to actually do in the tank to work on keeping the water parameters optimal.

“Mystery Snail” by 3rr is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit

Will A Snail Eat a Dead Fish?

Snails will happily eat dead fish in your tank that are left in the tank long enough to sink down to the substrate to make it easier for the snails to get to the fish carcass.

Even a small number of snails are able to rapidly work their way through a fish carcass with some snail species even being able to consume the bones of the fish too with the bones being an excellent source of calcium for the snail’s shell.

As we touched on earlier in the article, snails can commonly get the blame for killing and eating a fish in a tank when the main culprit can often be other fish in the tank.

As the fish carcass sinks to the bottom of the tank the snails move in and then when you check your tank you can see the snails finishing off what other fish started.

This is why you can often see reports on social media from people claiming that their snails killed and ate one of their fish when in actual fact, it was another fish in the tank.

Some fish can naturally die through the night too and sink to the bottom of the tank with the snails eating the carcass when you wake up and check your tank with the snails getting the blame for natural causes too.

Why Did My Snails Eat My Fish?

Some snails will “eat” bottom-dwelling fish in a tank due to the fish being so easy for the snail to crawl onto but the snail is usually eating the protective slime that fish secrete onto their bodies.

This is a learned behavior in the snails and they will not naturally do this but you should try to discourage it by removing the snail from the aquarium if possible as the fish in more vulnerable to illness and disease without its protective coating on it.

Some larger mystery snails can actually end up eating the majority of the slime from a small fish surprisingly quickly too.

Due to it taking time for the fish to replace the slime on its body, some snails are able to eat the slime at a faster pace than your fish can produce it and increase the chances of your fish having problems with parasites or bacteria.

It is usually obvious to see when this type of thing is happening with the snails and bottom dwellers in your tank though as the snails will literally mount your fish and crawl over them while eating the slime.

Thankfully, it is generally rare that you will run into problems like this and the majority of snails will simply pay your fish no attention as there is plenty of food available in the vast majority of ponds and aquariums to keep them busy.


That brings our article going over if snails eat fish or not to an end. Although snails will happily eat dead fish, they will generally leave your live fish alone and not pay them any attention with it being far more common for your fish to eat your snails. Still, you should keep an eye out for any snails who develop a taste for fish slime as it will weaken your fish’ natural defences against bacteria and parasites in the tank.