If you’re like other aquarium hobbyists, you might like to add more life to your tanks, but an aggressive betta can make this difficult. Aquatic snails often make the best tankmates for most types of bettas.
Bettas are colorful, feisty fish that can live well with snails depending on the type and size of the snails. With proper care, your betta and snails can thrive in a community tank but choosing the best type of snail depends on your tank and your betta’s temperament.
Keep reading to learn about the pros and cons of adding snails to your Betta fish tank. Yes, Betta fish and snails can live together.
What is a Betta Fish?
Bettas, or Siamese fighting fish, are a beautifully colored tropical fish species and a popular choice for both new and experienced aquarists.
The Betta Splendens breed is the most common type of betta for home aquariums.
Betta Fish Temperament
Because it’s difficult to keep bettas with other fish or even shrimp, many betta fish owners struggle to find appropriate tank mates.
They often breed bettas for aggression because this causes them to flare and show off their striking fins and this aggression means they can attack fish of similar or smaller sizes.
Even female betta fish can be more aggressive than other fish.
Benefits of Snails in a Betta Fish Tank
Thankfully, snails make an ideal addition to a betta tank. The benefits of snails include:
- Peaceful creatures
- Cleaning tank of algae
- Aerate your substrate
- Pose no threat to bettas
Some snail breeds are also too big for the betta to view as a food source, which helps reduce a betta’s interest in them.
Best Snails for a Betta Tank
There are several species of snail that can make beautiful betta tankmates. Each has their own unique features, personalities, and benefits. Here is a brief list of choices.
Mystery snails, or Pomacea diffusa, are an extremely popular breed of aquarium snails. They come in a variety of colors such as gold, ivory, blue, jade, purple, and magenta.
These are large snails that grow up to 2.5 inches, which is about the size of a golf ball.
Because mystery snails are omnivores, they will eat both algae and detritus (waste) in your tank. You can also supplement their diet with specially formulated snail food.
Mystery snails breed quickly. Unlike most snails that can produce their own fertilized eggs, mystery snails need a male and female to breed.
Nerite snails are smaller snails that are another popular choice for betta owners. Also known as Neritina natalensis, these snails grow to about an inch.
While these are hardy snails that can survive a range of water conditions, keep a lid on your tank as they like to explore out of water.
Nerite snails will lay eggs on their own, but they will only hatch in brackish water, which is part fresh, part salt water.
Rabbit Snails (Elephant)
Rabbit snails, often called elephant snails or Tylomelania, are another colorful breed with a cute face that resembles a rabbit or elephant’s trunk.
You’ll find them in colors such as spotted yellow, white, black, orange, and chocolate.
These are also good tank cleaners that feed on algae. They have long shells and can live up to three years in well-kept aquariums.
Rabbit snails grow to between 3 to 5 inches. However, these snails can be difficult to find, as they’re still new to the market.
Ramshorn snails, or Planorbarius corneus, have striking curved shells that look like ram’s horns and grow up to an inch in length.
They eat a wide variety of foods, including algae, leftover fish food, and live plants. Many aquarium hobbyists dislike ramshorn snails because they damage their living plants.
Don’t overfeed ramshorn snails as this will lead them to reproduce quickly and soon overwhelm your tank.
Too many snails interfere with how your tank works and this can negatively affect your betta.
Japanese Trapdoor Snails
Japanese trapdoor snails are known for their large “trap door” or operculum that covers the opening to their shell. These hardy snails can live up to five years.
Because they like to burrow, they’re great at aerating your substrate, especially if they feel threatened.
Japanese trapdoor snails like to explore above the waterline as nerite snails do, so a tight lid on your tank is important.
Clea helena, or assassin snails, is a fascinating breed. With striking black, yellow, and brown rings on their shells, they can live up to three years and can grow to three inches.
Assassin snails got their name because they eat other snails. While this might seem like a bad thing, they’re actually great because they can lower large pest snail populations.
They also don’t breed as much as other snails so that they won’t take over your tank.
Bladder and pond snails are pest snails that breed quickly and in great numbers.
You don’t often see them for sale in stores, but they love to hitchhike into your tank on the plants you buy.
These snails don’t need a partner to lay eggs, and they will reproduce very, very quickly.
Once they do, it is exceedingly difficult to get rid of their baby snails or to lower the snail population.
Snails You Should Not Put In Your Betta Tank
There are two types of snails that don’t pair well with betta fish and should be avoided in your betta fish tank. These are the Malaysian trumpet snail and the apple snail.
Malaysian trumpet Snails
Malaysian trumpet snails, or Melanoides tuberculata, are hardy snails that fare well in most conditions. They enjoy burrowing in the substrate, which keeps it well-aerated.
Malaysian trumpet snails are very small and only grow to 1/4 to 1/2 of an inch in size.
They are also one of the few snails that give live birth instead of laying eggs. This becomes problematic as they can give birth every few days and this can quickly lead to overpopulation.
These snails are not well-suited for betta tanks because their heads are often exposed and make an easy target for curious or aggressive bettas.
Apple snails, or Ampullariidae, are one of the largest snail breeds that can grow up to six inches. They are too big to live in an appropriately sized betta tank.
Bettas need a minimum of five gallons, whereas apple snails need at least ten. Apple snails are also carnivorous and can prey on slow or weak fish.
Tank Care for Snails and Betta Fish
Tank Water Quality
This matters in keeping both your betta and snails happy. What’s helpful is that bettas and snails require similar tank conditions and water parameters.
They both thrive in water with a Ph level between 6.5 and 8 with a temperature of 68 to 82 degrees F or 20 to 27.5 degrees C.
Live aquarium plants are effective at keeping your water levels clean and stable.
Poor water quality will put both your betta and snails at risk for infection, parasites, and diseases like fin rot, cumularis, and ich.
One to two snails need five gallons of water each.
If bettas require a minimum of five gallons and a snail needs five, you’ll need a minimum ten-gallon tank to create a community tank that houses one snail and one betta.
For each added snail, increase your tank size by two gallons.
If your betta is already housed in a small tank, you’ll need to upgrade to a larger tank so that there’s enough space before you add snails to your tank.
Importance of Calcium in Your Tank With Snails
One requirement snails have that bettas don’t is calcium.
They need calcium for shell growth because without it, snail shells become thin and brittle and that poses a risk to their health and safety.
There are several ways to provide your snails with calcium. The two major ways to give your snails calcium are through their food and their water.
You can add the following to your tank:
- Water mineralizers
- Mineral blocks
- Chicken eggs shells
- Cuttlefish bones
- Antacid tablets (plain)
- Crushed coral
- Food supplements
- Vegetables (kale, spinach, green beans, broccoli, carrots)
How to Introduce Your Snail to the Betta Fish Tank
Snails and bettas are both sensitive to water parameters, so it’s important not to just toss them in the tank when you get them.
Instead, slowly acclimate the snails by letting the bag or container they came in float in your tank for an hour. This will help acclimate them to the tank’s temperature.
You can also use the drip method where you slowly add tank water into the snails’ bar or container to acclimate them to the tank’s water.
Once you’ve properly acclimated your snails, gently place them on a decoration or the bottom of the tank. Don’t drop them in as they’ll sink fast, which can crack or damage their shell.
What Could Go Wrong Adding Snails to Your Tank?
Sometimes adding new snails isn’t always smooth sailing. There are always risks with adding snails to a betta tank.
Diseases and Parasites
The first is the risk of disease or parasites.
Because they breed snails with other snails and keep them with other fish, as you see in pet stores, they can contract diseases or parasites.
The best way to avoid this is to quarantine your snails for several days before adding them to your betta’s tank.
Snail Reproduction Explosion
As we’ve mentioned, even one or two snails can lead to a population surge, and this can wreak havoc on your tank.
With some snails laying clutches with hundreds of eggs and others giving live birth every few days, it’s difficult to keep them in check.
The best course of action is to remove the eggs and baby snails when you can. You’ll then need to humanely dispose of them.
The most often recommended methods are to either freeze or crush them.
Will Betta Fish Attack a Snail?
Now that you’ve added your snails, how do you know if your betta likes them?
Here are some signs that your betta is happy with their snail tankmate:
- Your betta acts relaxed around your snails
- They sleep near the snails
- They are okay with eating close to them
- Your betta completely ignores them
If you find your betta acting territorial or going after a snail’s food, you might have a problem. Give it some time to see if this settles down. If it doesn’t, you’ll need to re-home your snails.
How to Stop Betta Fish From Attacking Snails
If you find your betta fish attacking your snails, there are some changes you can make to diffuse the tension.
Adding more plants and decor gives your snails more places to hide. It also breaks the line of sight of your betta so that they can’t always see your snails.
When you rearrange your tank, it changes the territory. Bettas are notoriously territorial and changing the layout helps “reset” their territory to neutral ground.
Feed Your Betta Fish Properly
Make sure that you’re feeding your betta enough food. Their aggression might be triggered by their viewing the snails as a potential food source.
This is especially true for smaller snails that your betta can easily fit in their mouth.
Tank Cleaning Requirements With Snails
Snails produce more waste than your betta would on their own.
This means that you’ll need to clean your tank more frequently so that waste and leftover food doesn’t build up and affect your water parameters.
Where can I buy aquatic snails?
Aquatic snails are available at more stores that sell live fish. This includes your local fish store, chain pet stores, and online stores.
Are snails harmful to betta fish?
No, snails are not harmful to betta fish.
Do snails keep a tank clean?
Yes, most snails eat algae and will gladly help keep your tank clean!
Snails Can Be a Good Addition to a Betta Fish Tank
Snails are a wonderful addition to a betta’s tank. Their calm nature means they make great additions to any community tank.
There might be some issues when adding snails to your betta’s tank, but there are steps you can take to improve the situation.