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Snails And Shrimps: Can Snails Live with Shrimps?

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Did you know that most aquarium hobbyists consider snails as “zero-maintenance” species in the fish tank? Were you also aware of shrimps becoming more popular recently because they are the perfect “algae eaters”? Since both of these titles give snails and shrimps a good name, the next thing you may wonder about is whether they are compatible with each other.

The interesting thing to note here is both snails and shrimps are hardy, which means that it is not necessary for you to maintain the water conditions for either of them. Although, you will need to monitor the nitrogen cycle so that neither are put in danger. Hence, the key factor leading to their unproblematic coexistence is because they are mutually beneficial!

Let us first begin by understanding the temperaments and habits of both snails and shrimps. Then, we can move on to learn more about the benefits of keeping snails with shrimp. Finally, we can make note of certain types of snails that should not be put in the same tank as shrimps.

Snails and Shrimp in the Same Tank?

Learning more about how both snails and shrimps behave in a fish tank will be key in understanding whether they will get along with each other. So, let us first look at the behavior of snails.

Snails

Freshwater snails have always been known as tank cleaners. They love to feed on algae, uneaten food, dead plants, and debris.

However, their tendencies of excessive reproduction, eating live plants, and their natural way of reproducing by laying eggs can sometimes become a nuisance. Additionally, it is important to note that sudden changes in water parameters will not bode well with snails.

Moreover, most types of snails are peaceful and non-aggressive in temperament. Although, there are some snails like Mystery Snails, which are known for finding sneaky ways to escape from the fish tank!

However, bottom line is that most snails often keep to themselves. Whether they are feeding on debris or digging into the substrate, a snail will rarely be the reason for any disruption to the peaceful environment of your fish tank.

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Shrimps

Freshwater shrimps, on the other hand, are very interesting to look at. Hence, whether you have a bright Cherry Shrimp or a fascinating Ghost Shrimp, they will for sure add some flavor to your fish tank!

I have written an article on Red Cherry Shrimp too. Learn more about red cherry shrimp breeding from here!

Furthermore, similar to snails, shrimps also feed on algae. Shrimps are also very peaceful and stay to themselves because they do not have any tools at their disposal to either attack or defend other fish species in the tank.

Moreover, because their size ranges anywhere from a few millimeters to a few inches long, they often fall prey to bigger fish. Hence, you will need to monitor your shrimps carefully to ensure that they remain safe in the tank.

Can They Coexist in the Same Tank?

Despite their similarities in nature, the question of whether they are compatible might still be nagging you. The answer to this question is yes. Both snails and shrimps are able to coexist in the same fish tank simply because they are both non-aggressive inhabitants of the fish tank.

So, now let us look at the specific benefits that they can both realize by living in the same tank.

Benefits of Keeping Snails with Shrimp

There are significant benefits of keeping snails with shrimp in the same fish tank. These benefits range from snails being a great food source for the shrimp to snails being the best choice for “cycling” a fish tank for the shrimp. Hence, let us look at what these benefits are, in more detail.

Besides, you can also cycle your tank by changing the water in it at certain intervals. Check it out here!

Snails as a Food Source

This may sound a bit harsh to some of us. However, crushing adult snails and leaving them in the tank as food for the shrimp is a practice that has been going on for a long time.

Although, it is necessary to remember not to crush more snails than your shrimps can consume because this will lead to an increase in ammonia in the fish tank. Moreover, too much protein for your shrimp could actually cause your shrimp to perish.

Why is calcium important for shrimps? Get some idea about it here!

Snails Reduce the Risk of Gas Pockets

Now when it comes to substrates in the tank, they might cause some issues for the inhabitants of the tank. This usually happens when gas pockets form in the substrate due to the bacteria that live there.

To find out more about beneficial bacteria in aquarium, read our other article!

However, there are snails like Malaysian Trumpet snails, which dig into the substrate and reduce the risk of gas pockets being built up. And since these gas pockets are extremely harmful and toxic to shrimp, the snails need to be there to save the day!

Snails’ Excretion Beneficial to Shrimps

This is a simple yet interesting benefit. A snails’ excrement is especially useful to shrimp as they contain good bacteria. Hence, you only need to place the snails and the shrimps in the same tank and the rest is taken care of by them!

Snails Are the Best Choice for Cycling a Tank

An important thing to note here is that snails are able to weather a newly cycled fish tank better than shrimps. Shrimps are, in general, very sensitive to changes in water parameters.

Hence, in this aspect, a snail is used to “restore” the good bacteria in the fish tank before shrimp are introduced to the tank. This way, the shrimp will be able to live in a tank that has already been cycled due to the previous introduction of snails to the tank!

What Type of Snails Should You Not Keep with Shrimp?

Now that you are aware of the benefits of keeping snails with shrimp, are there any types of snails you should not keep with shrimp? Not necessarily.

In almost all cases, all types of snails will get along well with your shrimp. From their similar temperaments to their habits, there is no reason why they should not be compatible. However, there are snails like Mystery Snails, on whom you may want to keep an eye if you want all of your shrimps to remain safe!

Do Some Snails Eat Shrimp?

A noteworthy thing here is that if your shrimp is too slow to get away from your snail’s reach, then your snail might eat your shrimp. This behavior is especially true in certain types of snails like the Mystery Snail. Hence, your shrimps should keep it moving because your Mystery Snail will eat anything that does not move!

However, snails will eat shrimp that are either dying or dead. Therefore, if this is something you want to avoid then make sure to remove your sick or dead shrimp from the tank as soon as you notice them!

You might like to read our article on ‘Do killifish eat shrimp?’.

How to Remove Snails from a Shrimp Tank

As I have mentioned earlier, snails are notorious for excessive reproduction. However, the reason for the overpopulation of snails in a fish tank may also be overfeeding.

Hence, if there comes a point when you want to remove snails from your shrimp tank, then the following measures may prove extremely useful.

Controlling Their Food Intake

Controlling the food available for your snails is an effective process of reducing their population in your tank. However, it takes a long time for you to realize the outcome once you have started this process. Therefore, only opt for this method if you have a slight overpopulation of snails.

To implement this method, you will first need to control the amount of food you are placing in the tank for the other fish. This means that you will need to be precise about how much you feed the other shrimp and fish in your tank. Hence, once they have consumed the available food, the leftover food will not be enough for all the unfed snails.

Moreover, a decrease in the food provided for the inhabitants will also mean less fish excretion. And since the snails feed on debris, fish excretion, and uneaten food, this will noticeably decrease the snail population in the fish tank.

Tank Maintenance

This is a simple and necessary step for controlling the overpopulation of snails.

Moreover, the key point to keep in mind is that you need to control or reduce the food on which the snails feed themselves. Hence, removing dead or dying plants, scraping down algae from all the surfaces inside the tank, removing potential food particles from the gravel by vacuuming, are some of the best measures to be taken here.

Finally, once you have taken these steps, you will notice that the population of snails will decrease slowly over time. However, do not forget to remove the dead snails from the fish tank as they could prove to be harmful to the remaining fish!

Here is how you can clean and maintain tanks if you have a tank without shrimps.

Manual Removal from Tank

This particular step may seem tedious and difficult at first. However, it is the most sure-fire and hands-on (literally, in some cases) way of reducing the overpopulation of snails in your tank.

One way of manually removing snails is to literally pick them out by hand. By doing this you will mostly get the adult snails out of the way and hence, remove reproduction as a further cause of overpopulation.

However, this method will not allow you to catch the younger snails and the snail eggs scattered in the fish tank. Hence, this process will be an ongoing one until you get rid of enough snails every time there is an increase in their population.

Snail Traps

Another easy approach is to use snail traps to catch them. For this, you do not necessarily need to purchase a snail trap as long as you use the right bait to lure them overnight, and then scoop them out in the morning.

Hence, below I have listed a number of snail baits you can use.

  • Cucumber
  • Boiled broccoli, piece of lettuce, or spinach (since they love their greens)
  • Snail Food
  • Shrimp Food

Final Words

My parting words would be to repeat that snails and shrimps can be mutually beneficial in a few but major ways. Hence, if you are considering building a fish tank with both of these species as inhabitants, then I suggest you go for it.

However, keep in mind about your snails eating sick or dead shrimps. If you do not want this happening, then it is best to remove the shrimp from the tank before your snails get to it!

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