Top 15 Best Aquarium Snails For Beginners

Snails are an interesting option for an aquarium.

They are very easy to care for and also compatible with lots of tank mates. They can also tolerate a range of conditions and breed quickly.

Whether you are looking to add some algae eaters, or need some peaceful tank mates, aquarium snails often make the perfect choice.

However with so many types of snails available which one should you pick? Each one has their own unique personality and they can be found in pretty much any color and shell type you can imagine!

Keep reading to find out which aquarium snail is perfect for your aquarium…

Aquarium Snails

Best 15 Types Of Aquarium Snails

Species Beginner Friendly Price Lifespan Rank
Apple Snail Yes $3-4 each 3 years 1
Assassin Snail Slightly $3-5 each 2 years 3
Black Devil Snail Yes $3-4 each 6 years 11
Bladder Snail Yes $3-4 each 2 years 7
Great Ramshorn Snail Yes $2 each 1 year 14
Ivory Snail Yes $5 each 1 year 12
Japanese Trapdoor Snail Yes $4 each 1-5 years 9
Malaysian Trumpet Snail Yes $2-3 each 1 year 10
Mystery Snail Yes $4 each 1 year 2
Nerite Snail Yes $4 each 1-2 years 4
Pagoda Snail Yes $7 each 3-5 years 13
Pond Snail Slightly $3-4 each 1 year 8
Rabbit Snail Yes $7 each 1-3 years 6
Ramshorn Snail Slightly $4 each 1 year 5
Tower Cap Snail Yes $3-4 each 4 years 15

15. Tower Cap Snail

The Tower Cap Snail is very easy to care for.

They look very similar to the Pagoda Snail and can grow up to 4 inches long. This explains why their scientific name (Brotia herculea) comes from Hercules, the large Roman mythological figure.

Expect them to have a cone shaped shell that comes in shades of brown, yellow and even white.

Tower Cap Snails typically eat dead and rotting food and generally are not interested in algae, so they are not very helpful with cleaning tanks. However, they are a wonder to look at with their magnificent size.

Their longer lifespan and affordability explains their increasing popularity.

14. Great Ramshorn Snail

Great Ramshorn Snail

Great Ramshorn Snails (Planorbarius corneus) belong to the Planorbidae family.

Although they share their name with the common Ramshorn Snail there are actually a few key differences between them. Great Ramshorns’ shells tend to be a striped olive to brown tone but other colors such as blue or pink are also common.

These snails will consume algae and keep the tank clean. They are very helpful in aquariums and are well known to eat any excess waste or debris.

A key fact about these aquarium snails is that they have been known to be negatively affected by pesticides that are commonly used in aquariums. Make sure to check for Endosulfan before adding any pesticide into the aquarium.

13. Pagoda Snail

Pagoda Snails (Brotia pagodula) are eccentric-looking Snails which come from Thailand.

Because of their shell they are also known as Porcupine or Horned Armor Snails.

Their shells attract a lot of attention because of their spiky appearance and they are also fairly rare, so they cannot be missed if you happen to cross paths with one. These spikes extend out in a spiral pattern. You can find them in many shades of dark brown with an amber hue.

Pagoda Snails prefer tanks with fast-flowing freshwater, low light levels, and a sandy substrate for burrowing. They can grow over 2 inches in size but need only 5 gallons of tank space per snail.

12. Ivory Snail

Ivory Snail

These little aquarium snails are becoming increasingly popular in the aquarium hobby.

Ivory Snails (Pomacea bridgesii) belong to the same family as the Apple Snail but have a pure creamy white colored shell. They may also have orange spots near the head. Their color alone is enough of a reason for why they are becoming so popular.

Just like the moon they only comes out at night. Ivory Snails are peaceful but very active in the dark and love to explore their surroundings when they think no one is looking. During the daytime you will find them sleeping under plants and other objects.

11. Black Devil Snail

These bold and mysterious creatures also go by the name of Lava Snails, or their scientific name of Faunus ater.

Black Devil Snails are native to Southeast Asia and occur in brackish environments in Thailand and Indonesia.

Their long dark shells range from brown to black and can grow up to 3 inches in size. This means they require at least a 10 gallon tank.

You might be wondering at this point why they are called Black Devils. This is because of the atrocious smell they give off when they are eaten.

Despite such an aggressive name they are actually very calm and will keep to themselves. Care level for this species is considered to be easy as they will only breed in brackish waters and get along with many tank species making them a common and beloved pet in many freshwater tanks.

10. Malaysian Trumpet Snail

Malaysian Trumpet Snail

The Malaysian Trumpet Snail (Melanoides tuberculata) is native to Southeast Asia but can also be found in Africa. They are considered pests in the aquarium hobby as they reproduce incredibly quickly and are also known to be invasive in some parts of the world.

Malaysian trumpet snails have a cone-shaped shell which comes in a variety of brown shades with dark markings and a lighter body.

They do not have any specific care requirements so can be kept by beginners.

These snails only require good filtration with low nitrate and ammonium levels, a moderate temperature range (64-86°F) and hard, acidic water.

They also do not eat plants so they will not destroy your aquascape.

9. Japanese Trapdoor Snail

These freshwater snails (Viviparus malleattus) belong to the Viviparidae family and are much less common than some of the other snails mentioned here.

They are most commonly used to control algae.

Their names comes from their shell which has a seal near the body to protect the snail when it retracts into the shell. Shells come in many different colors including various shades of brown, black, dark, and olive green. They also have a spiral pattern and tend to be very smooth.

8. Pond Snail

Pond Snail

Pond Snails are freshwater aquarium snails and can be identified by their classic dark brown speckled shell and lighter bodies which may often contain freckles. They are known to be intruders and overpopulate tanks as they can easily be transferred between tanks on plants or decorations.

Pond Snails, as their name suggests, are commonly found in ponds.

They will consume dead fish, other snails, and insect larvae.

They are part of the Gastropod family and have many relatives such as the Great Pond Snail, the Wandering Pond Snail and even the Dwarf Pond Snail. These species are all native to different places such as Europe, North Africa, Asia, and even colder regions such as Canada, Russia and Alaska.

To avoid overbreeding beginners should only start with a handful of Pond Snails. It is also important to avoid feeding Pond Snails too much as this can trigger breeding.

7. Bladder Snail

Bladder Snail

Bladder Snails (Physa acuta) have translucent yellow spotted shells that are egg-shaped. The mantle is sprinkled with yellow or orange spots. Their shell color is quite similar to the pond snail. So similar in fact that these tiny snails often get confused with Pond Snails, but there are notable differences if you look closely.

This freshwater species is much smaller at around half an inch with a thin antenna. They also breathe air so you will see them casually swimming upside down at the surface to breathe.

They do not tend to dig through substrate like other freshwater snails but crawl around using their thin tentacles. They actively scavenge for food whether this is algae, meat, or insects. They make a useful clean up crew for your tank.

Bladder snails are incredibly hardy and can tolerate poor water conditions. However, this is not a reason to not keep your tank clean. They will also adjust to any tank size and make suitable tank mates for peaceful nano fish.

6. Rabbit Snail

Rabbit Snail
Rabbit Snail

Rabbit Snails attract a lot of attention with their unique dark and bold shells and bright orange bodies.

Some varieties even have spots on their unicorn-horn shaped shells.

Their name comes from their long floppy antennae on their heads which resemble rabbit ears. However, they are also referred to as Elephant snails due to their long proboscis which look like a trunk. These snails are actually bigger than other freshwater aquarium snails and can grow up to 4.5 inches. This means that they require larger tanks with a minimum of 20 gallons.

These exotic creatures are native to Indonesia and are well known for being very still in the tank. This just means they are resting, and they will even sometimes burrow themselves underneath sandy substrate. Some people will mistake this behavior for the snail dying but it is most likely sleeping. Snails tend to sleep for long periods of time.

Because they do not breed often they are perfect for beginners.

This peaceful snail is compatible with many other non-aggressive species such as Mystery Snails, Japanese Trapdoor Snails and Malaysian Trumpet Snails. They also get along with shrimp species including Vampire, Bamboo and Blue Velvet Shrimp.

5. Ramshorn Snail

Ramshorn Snail

Ramshorn Snails (Planorbella duryi) come in two main colors: black or red.

Their skin has a reddish shade due to the deep color of their blood which is rich in hemoglobin.

They are commonly kept as waste managers as they will eat rotting leaves and excess waste.

One of the few complaints about this snail is that it breeds incredibly quickly so they can become a nuisance for beginners. Overfeeding is a common reason for over breeding too.

4. Nerite Snail

Nerite Snails

Nerite Snails are the perfect pets for beginners.

They are peaceful and conveniently small at only 1 inch, so they won’t take up much space if you are considering tank mates.

Their algae eating ability is what makes them popular as they can keep the tanks clean.

They are part of a family which contains just over 200 species, which often inhabiting brackish environments (often found in Eastern Africa) and freshwater habitats including rivers (in the Caribbean). This suggests that Nerite Snails can live in freshwater tanks, or waters with slightly higher salinities.

You can find them in a wide variety of patterns and colors.

The Zebra Nerite has black and yellow stripes across their shells. Olive Nerites have a single yet bold black line on their coil which contrasts with their olive color. Tiger Nerites are much more orange in color with jagged stripes.

3. Assassin Snail

Assassin Snail

Assassin Snails (Clea helena) get their name from their tendency to attack and eat other snails.

This carnivorous snail is fascinating to watch as they extend their sharp radula to scrape away and weaken their prey. Other snails can sense this attack and will join in to defeat even the largest of prey. They are known to feed on Bladder Snails in their wild habitats of West Bengal in India, which reduces competition between prey snail species.

Assassins are often used to get rid of pest snails that may have accidentally been introduced into the aquarium.

These freshwater species are native to Southeast Asia and are found in countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia. They have a distinct black/brown and yellow striped shell (like a bumblebee) with a creamier-white body.

2. Mystery Snail

Mystery Snail

It is no mystery why Mystery Snails (Pomacea bridgesii) are well loved.

Their brilliant, colorful and large shells are eye-catching, and their long tentacles are wonderful decorations for the tank. Their shells can be anything from brown to purple, and gold to white.

Just like the Nerite Snail they also prove to be helpful creatures by consuming any waste produced in the tank. They help keep the walls clear and maintaining the color of the tank gravel.

They are often confused with Apple Snails, however Mystery Snails tend to grow up to 2 inches and are generally larger.

Mystery Snails surprisingly have a very strong sense of smell and can actively locate food when it is dropped in the tank. They like to eat vegetables, algae and even fish pellets.

1. Apple Snail

Apple Snail

This sweet looking tropical snail belongs to the Ampullariidae family.

Apple Snails are by far the most popular freshwater snail because of their large and colorful shells that somewhat resemble an apple.

They come in a variety of colors ranging from brown and yellow to even a blue and deep red. Albino snails are also fairly common. The shells often appear with or without out banding.

Species such as the Spike-Topped Apple Snail will have different colors and are very common in pet stores, whereas the Golden Apple Snail tends to be larger and greedier.

The body of these Snails tends to vary from black to grey and even shades of yellow.

Whilst these golden snails do look wonderful in the tank they are herbivores and will munch on any plants in their path. They can destroy aquatic plants in your tank so if you are looking to purchase them, make sure to use fake plants in your aquarium.

Anyone can look after an Apple Snail but they do require a lot of maintenance.

How To Keep Aquarium Snails Healthy

Aquarium Snails are generally very easy to care for and require little work.

They do most of the work for you by eating algae and cleaning up the tank.

You should make sure to provide your snails with a balanced diet. Some species will do just fine eating the algae or rotting plant material, but others (such as the Ramshorn and Black Devil Snails) will require protein such as shrimp or even fish.

It is also important that there are adequate levels of calcium in the tank as it plays a fundamental role in shell growth.

Tankmates are a key factor to also consider too. Smaller snail species tend to be more vulnerable to fish predators or even larger, carnivorous snails such as the Assassin snail. Avoid aggressive species such as Cichlids or Pufferfish.

Also watch out for overpopulation and over breeding.

Finally you will need to make sure the water temperature is checked and monitored regularly. Most snails can require up to 85°F which is enough to trigger breeding. pH should be between 6-8 for most species too with a water hardness of 4-18 dGH.

Which Is The Best Aquarium Snail For You?

Did you find the perfect aquarium snail?

Most snails live for a couple of years so are a good option if you are unsure about keeping them long term. Most species described in this article are also small so won’t require big tanks.

Their low maintenance requirements are convenient for beginners who are just starting out too.

You will only need a couple of these creatures to keep the tank clean.

Many of the snails described in this guide are easily available and come in a variety of shapes and colors which are sure to liven up the tank.

Let us know in the comments section below which snail you picked…

David Thomas Author Bio Picture
David Thomas leads the team at Everything Fishkeeping as the Editor-in-Chief. David has been keeping fish since he was a child. In his first tank he kept goldfish and since then he has kept over 30 different species. Now he has 4 separate tanks and his favorite is a 100 gallon freshwater tank with a school of Rasboras, Tetras and Loaches.