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The Best Snails For Diatoms In Aquariums!

Although diatoms can actually be good for your aquarium, many people within the fish keeping community choose to do their best to remove diatoms from their tank due to them being unsightly.

Thankfully, there are a number of options available that will eat diatoms in your aquarium but we have noticed a number of people reaching out and specifically asking for the best snails that eat diatoms for their aquariums.

The best snails for eating diatoms are nerite snails as they will usually eat a huge amount of diatoms while also consuming algae and detritus in your tank too.

Nerite snails make an excellent option for both freshwater and saltwater aquariums too due to being able to thrive in both water types without issue.

Depending on your exact situation and aquarium setup, there may be a number of different snail species that you are able to use to keep the diatom population in your tank under control.

We will cover the different options as well as their advantages and disadvantages as we work our way throughout article below to try and help our readers choose the perfect option for their requirements and setup.

What Freshwater Snails Eat Diatoms?

The best freshwater snails for eating diatoms are nerite snails as they are cheap, easy to source, and eat a huge amount of diatoms each day.

In addition to eating a large amount of the diatoms in your tank each day, nerite snails also eat algae and detritus build up too helping to keep your water parameters inline as well as reduce the amount of tank maintenance required.

Due to the low prices of nerite snails, you can probably get all of the nerite snails that you need to eat all of the diatoms in a small or medium-sized tank for as little as $25.

If you have a larger aquarium that is 40 gallons or more then you may have to spend a little more on your nerite snails to control your diatom population in your tank but the low price tag of the snails should keep your costs low no matter your tank size.

There are a number of snail alternatives for freshwater tanks that will eat diatoms such as otocinclus catfish but they don’t tend to eat as many diatoms of nerite snails while also coming with a higher price tag.

This is why nerite snails are still our default recommendation for anyone keeping a freshwater tank who needs something that will eat a huge number of the diatoms in their tank.

“File:Zebra Nerite Snail (Neritina natalensis sp. zebra) on glass.jpg” by Evan Baldonado is marked with CC BY-SA 4.0. To view the terms, visit

What Saltwater Snails Eat Diatoms?

The best snail to eat diatoms in a saltwater tank are nerite snails closely followed by cerith snails with trochus snails being a decent alternative too but the larger size and price tags of trochus snails make them less popular.

Depending on your exact saltwater tank setup, cerith snails can be a better option than nerite snails but the differences between the two does tend to be minimal so both options can work.

When it comes to price, both nerite snails and cerith snails can be around the same price due depending on the supply and demand for the species making both snails an equally good option for anyone on a budget.

Due to nerite snails and cerith snails having different breeding seasons, their prices can fluctuate depending on the time of the year and with their diatom eating capabilities being so similar, it can be good to just go with the cheapest option at the time of purchase.

If you do have a larger tank then trocus snails can end up being a solid snail for eating diatoms in a saltwater tank but they are not for everyone.

The majority of people should just stick with the smaller, cheaper, and easier to keep nerite snails and cerith snails if you are specifically looking for a snail just to control the diatom population in your tank.

Should You Use A Chemical Solution For The Diatoms In Your Tank?

The chemical treatments for diatoms on the market tend to underperform while also presenting a potential risk to some water parameters in sensitive tanks with corals or anemones.

Adding an actual diatom eater to your tank be it a snail or a fish is usually recommended over using any chemical treatments to rid your tank of diatoms be it freshwater or saltwater.

One alternative that avoids having to add diatom eaters to your tank and the use of chemical treatments is a full tank purge but this is not suitable for all setups, especially if you are keeping a planted tank or a reef tank.

If you only have a couple of fish in your tank without and living plants then emptying your tank and cleaning it from top to bottom may be an option to rid your tank of diatoms quickly.


That brings our article going over the best snails for diatoms to an end. The vast majority of our readers should be fine by going with nerite snails as their diatom eater of choice be it a fresh or saltwater tank that you are having problems with. Although there are a number of other options available to deal with a diatom breakout in your tank, snails are definitely one of the cheapest and more practical options that are available to fish keepers.