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Snail FAQ

Last Updated: 4/12/12

Do you have a question about freshwater snails that should be on this page? If so, contact me.

See my snail page for most snail topics. These are just extra questions that have come up.

1. Q: Will my snails eat fish poop?
A: No. There is no freshwater animal that eats feces but there are some in the ocean that do. That said, they may accidently eat some when eating their other foods.

2. Q: Is there an animal that will eat my snail's poop?
A: No. See the last answer.

3. Q: My snail has left its shell. What is wrong?
A: Like turtles, snails are attached to their shells. They cannot leave their shells and live. If the body is out of the shell totally, the snail is dead. A few people have sworn their snail was alive, out of the shell, driving around. It must have been the current in the tank making their body appear to move. Snails cannot live out of their shells, at least not for more than a very short time.
On 1/1/05, I saw a poor, small ramshorn snail in my 40 gallon tank whose shell had basically been destroyed, all except the center. So, here was this live snail who was moving without a full shell. This is not the same as no shell as there was some left (the center) to which his guts were fused. He did not live long I wonder if this accounts for some of the sightings of snails out of shells who in fact, were not?

4. Q: Do snails carry parasites that threaten the health of my fish?
A: Yes, most any animal carries parasites of various types. The good news is that most parasites are specific to their hosts. Most snail parasites only effect snails. Snail parasites rarely kill their host snail either. There are some parasites (certain protozoans and digenetic flukes) that use snails as an intermediate host and that can effect fish but they are not that common and not something about which the average person needs to worry. According to Page 141 of The Manual of Fish Health by Dr. Chris Andrews, Adrian Exell, and Dr. Neville Carrington, Tetra Press, 1988, "...snails can act as the intermediate hosts of a number of fish parasites. However, within the simplified conditions of an aquarium or pond, all the hosts necessary for the completion of such life cycles are seldom present. Do know, however, that some snails from tropical regions may harbour a range of parasites that can infect fish and humans, and so be sure to handle newly imported material very carefully."

5. Q: Will snails take over my aquarium or pond?
A: It depends on the species in question, the size of the aquarium or pond, and a whole host of other factors. The smaller, egg-laying species such as pond snails and ramshorn snails may take over a tank. The larger snails are less likely to breed out of control. My snail page lists predators of snails to control them, and my snail species page lists some common freshwater species and more information on them.

6. Q: What do I feed my snail?
A: Snails will eat most anything. See my snail page for a list of choices.

7. Q: Why does my snail have holes in its shell?
A: The snail may not be getting enough calcium. See my snail page for more information under hardness and snail shells.

8. Q: What kind of snail do I have?
A: See my snail species page for a few photos and information on some species. You can also send me a small photo to identify.

9. Q: Is my snail dead?
A: If the snail's body is out of the shell or hanging out far and not moving, it is probably dead. Dead snails also stink really bad. If the snail is a species that has a trapdoor, in its dead state, the trap will be open so a shut trap means the snail is alive. Snails may "play dead" for a few days sometimes.

10. Q: Will my snail eat plants?
A: It depends on the species of snail. See my snail species page for a list of species and their propensity to eat plants. Most snails eat some plants at least.

11. Q: Can my aquatic snail live out of water?
A: No freshwater snail can live long term out of water. Most will last as long as they stay damp. Once they dessicate, that is the end. Apple snails leave the water to lay eggs but only when it is dark and damp. They can live out of water longer than most other snails.

12. Q: Will fish eat my snails?
A: Most fish will try to get some escargot from the little species if they can but they usually do not succeed unless the snail has been squished. My snail page lists some species of fish that tend to eat snails. I had paradise fish and the few trumpet snails that I put with them, they did eat. The fish suck the innards out. Apple snails are big but larger fish like some cichlids can pester them and bite the external parts off enough to kill them so compatibility with all animals in an aquarium or pond is essential for harmony.

13. Q: Do snails need new shells as they grow? (actual question on 8/15/04)
A: No. Like turtles, snails' shells are part of their body. They are attached. As the snail grows, so does the shell. Think of the shell as the snail's bones on the outside of its body. The snail cannot leave its shell anymore than you can remove your bones.

14. Q. Will my snail's shell regrow if it is broken? (actual question on 10/11/06)
The shell is part of the snail. Its main function is to hold the snail together and to protect the snail. Any exposed parts of the snail may be attacked by predators and even other snails and animals. For that reason, to be safe, severely damaged snails should be put into isolation until they can regrow their shells. If the shell is just a little broken, it should regrow if there is enough calcium and minerals in the water column and in the food. To add those to the water, put in a mesh bag of oyster shell (sold at farm feed stores), cuttlebones (sold for caged birds), or crushed coral (sold for marine aquariums). Liquid calcium additives can also be added but should note that they are safe for use in freshwater (assuming you have freshwater snails). To add calcium to the food, try feeding foods rich in calcium like kale. You can put rinsed off cuttlebone loose in the tank too for snails to chew on directly.

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