Do Angelfish Eat Snails? Examples included…

Angelfish will not eat any snails in your aquarium that are larger than their mouth. This means keeping a snail as a pet within the same aquarium is possible. However, there are other options if you want the angelfish to perform pest control against nuisance snails.

Keeping Angelfish as a pet will increase your knowledge of other animals and plants found in the fish trade. Over time, you will come to appreciate some and disapprove of others. One aquarium animal that has fans and detractors are snails.

Why do some find snails essential to their fish tank and others consider them a nuisance? Will your Angelfish eat mystery snails that appear in your aquarium?

Let’s take a closer look at various snails and what they can and can not do for you and your tank. Knowing what are considered pests and what make good pets can promote a healthy environment for you and your fish!

A Bit About Your Angelfish

Your freshwater Angelfish represents one of three species in the Pterophyllum genus (scalare, altum, or leopoldi). The genus is part of the Cichlidae family.

Like all cichlids, Angelfish have a semi-aggressive personality. That trait will not affect how your pets interact with snails in their aquarium. Snails are not competition for food or aquarium dominance between species.

Cichlid diets vary between carnivore, detritivore, herbivore, omnivore, or planktivore in food types. Angelfish are omnivores, meaning that your pet can eat and absorb macronutrients from animal or plant food sources. In its natural habitat, small crustaceans are part of the fish’s diet.

That makes snails a potential food source in your fish tank. Angelfish are known for eating other small fish that can fit into their mouths. In the case of “big animal eats small animal” predation, your pet Angelfish might eat snails if they are small enough.

A Bit About Snails

Snails (and slugs) are gastropods in the class of invertebrates, phylum Mollusca. Three types of snails found throughout the world are:

  • Land snails
  • Freshwater snails
  • Marine snails

As tropical fish enthusiasts, our focus is on the species of freshwater snails. Most freshwater snail species have a shell. Some use gills to respirate, while others respirate with a set of lungs (some snails have gills and lungs).

Freshwater snails eat various foods based on the species. There are algae eaters, filter feeders that strain food from the water, and detritus feeders. A detritivore gains nutrients by eating feces or decaying animal and plant matter.

A snail moves along surfaces slowly, using its foot. Muscles contract and expanded to create “waves” along its foot, propelling them forward.

Even though Angelfish eat plant matter, snails do not compete for foods that you offer your fish. Uneaten food left in your fish tank will become a food source for snails as it decays. Snails do not move fast enough to make your fish feel agitated or threatened.

How Do Snails Get Into Your Angelfish Aquarium?

In some cases, hobbyists will introduce snails into the aquarium as pets. Others add them into a fish tank as a natural control for algae or eat other snails (Assassin snails). If you did not introduce snails intentionally to your aquarium, they might have entered the water column through:

  • Decorations
  • Live plants
  • Mechanical components
  • Substrate

Snails will attach themselves to the surface of decorations that you place in your fish tank. That includes items like artificial plants, rocks, and logs. You can avoid unintentional transfer by cleaning decorations before putting them in your Angelfish tank.

Live plants are a favorite of snails as well as fish and fish keepers. Hiding in dense foilage is easy, but snails will hitch a ride between tanks on any plant they attach to if you do not clean them first. Ramshorn snails might nibble on plants if there is no other food source, but most species encountered in the freshwater trade will not eat aquarium plants.

Aeration stones, filter housings, and bubble-powered items can also act as transport for snails. Luckily, these items are quick and easy to clean.

Some enthusiasts will inspect everything they transfer from a snail-infested fish tank to a clean tank and overlook the substrate. Snails often feed on decomposed matter and feces that drifts into the substrate. You need to wash and inspect all substrates to prevent issues.

Myths about snail transfer

Snails do not appear out of anywhere. They do not exist in “untreated” water or freeze-dried foods. Snails must be alive when they transfer into your fish tank or hatch from undamaged snail eggs placed into the aquarium.

What Do Snails Do To Your Angelfish Tank?

If you are contemplating adding (or have accidentally introduced) snails to your aquarium, what can you expect to happen? Will problems develop with an infestation, and what benefits might snails bring?

Are snails a problem?

You will hear many hobbyists refer to snails as “pests” that are invasive. The truth is, however, that snails do not harm the tank or your Angelfish. Your only concern might be how your tank looks with snails in it, as some fish keepers prefer to have their fish the visual focus for observers.

Large infestations can cause a change in water conditions with the release of wastes into the water column. In the wild, freshwater snails can carry dangerous diseases like Schistosomiasis. Aquarium freshwater snails should not present problems as they do not live in contaminated waters in tropical regions.

Snails can be beneficial

Many of the “pest” species of snails eat algae, making them a natural fish tank cleaner. These animals also break down fecal matter and decomposing animals and plants. That can promote healthy water conditions.

If you experience a snail outbreak, you can use it to indicate that your tank has problems beneath the water’s surface. Snail populations explode when food is abundant. It can be a sign that you need to clean your aquarium and change the water.

For Angelfish owners, snails are an option for a scavenger tank mate if they do not want to keep catfish or plecos. Snails also make interesting pets, and several species sell for just that purpose.

What Snails Are Considered “Pest” Species?

Pond Snails

  • Breeding: Very Easy
  • Average Size: .75 to 1.25-inches
  • Diet: detritivore/omnivore
  • Lifespan: 1.5 to 3.0-years

For most people in the industry, Pond snails are what they imagine when they think of “pest” species. While they can act beneficially for your fish tank, their ability to breed quickly will allow them to overpopulate. Large populations can become hard to remove.

The Pond snail is a hermaphrodite, allowing it to fertilize itself or others. Egg masses will contain between 50 and 100 eggs. Those egg masses can be laid below the waterline more than once a week.

The species can reach up to three inches in size. Most adults found in the aquarium average an inch, give or take. That size makes adults too large for Angelfish to eat, but eggs and younger snails could fit into an adult fish’s mouth.

Like many snails, this species thrives on decaying animal and plant matter. It will also eat microalgae, but your live plants should be safe.

These creatures mature by three months and can live up to three years in your aquarium.

Ramshorn Snails

  • Breeding: Easy
  • Average Size: 1.0-inches
  • Diet: detritivore/omnivore
  • Lifespan: 1.0 to 3.0-years

While they might not be as prolific as Pond snails, Ramshorns can still fill your aquarium quickly. They are a bit more vulnerable but can be used to improve conditions in your fish tank.

The species is capable of breeding with itself or other snails. It will not lay snail eggs as fast as Pond or Button snails, but you will notice deposits a bit more than a week apart.

Ramshorn snails will reach 1.5 inches in rare instances, but most adults max out at 1.0 inches. Smaller size and shell that does not seal makes them more vulnerable to snail-eating fish.

This species eats animal and plant matter, alive or dead. Your live plants will be safe as long as there are other food sources.

These snails can live up to three years, but you will see most Ramshorns make it just one year.

Trumpet Snails

  • Breeding: Easy
  • Average Size: 1.0-inches
  • Diet: detritivore/omnivore
  • Lifespan: 2.0-years

Another species that is either appreciated or viewed as a nuisance is Trumpet snails. They are smaller than the previous two species we examined, but you will find they lay large amounts of snail eggs at once.

The species can produce with itself and other Trumpet snails. Large egg clusters reach up to 200 individuals.

This species is small, with adult Trumpet snails reaching only 1.0-inches. They are tiny at birth, making them easy prey for snail-eating fish.

These detrivores eat anything decaying in the tank, as well as feces. Live plants should be safe from nibbling.

Average lifespans for Trumpet snails average two years, but some can live longer.

Some Popular Pet Snails

Mystery Snails

  • Breeding: Easy
  • Average Size: 2.0-inches
  • Diet: detritivore/omnivore
  • Lifespan: 1.0-years

The Mystery snail is one of the more popular freshwater pet snails. Another common name for this species is the Apple snail.

It is worth noting that you need a male and a female to breed the Mystery snail. Weekly clutches of eggs will appear above the waterline, with up to 40 eggs possible.

Adult Apple snails can reach nearly three inches, but most will top out at two inches. Will Angelfish eat Mystery snails? Newborn snails are vulnerable, but Angelfish with Apple snails are usually a safe combination.

They eat decaying matter, favoring plants. This snail will also eat microalgae. Live aquarium plants should be okay.

Mystery snails have a shorter lifespan compared to some gastropods, living on average for just one year.

Assassin Snails

  • Breeding: Easy
  • Average Size: 1.0-inches
  • Diet: carnivore
  • Lifespan: Up to 5.0-years

Can Assassin snails live with Angelfish? While newborns and eggs are potential food, adults snails should be safe.

A male and female need to be present for successful breeding. This species is not asexual. Young will hide until they are big enough to avoid being eaten by your pet fish.

The average size of Assassin snails reaches 1.0-inches, but large specimens of 2.0-inches are possible.

These pets are carnivores that feast on animal protein, especially other snails. The species serves as a natural control for other snails, and that is why fish keepers want to know, “can Assassin snails live with Angelfish?”

It is a long-lived gastropod, with pet Assassins living up to 5.0-years.

Nerite Snails

  • Breeding: Easy
  • Average Size: 1.0-inches
  • Diet: herbavore
  • Lifespan: Up to 2.0-years

Are you able to keep Nerite snails with Angelfish? They are more vulnerable than some species, but they will not breed in your freshwater tank.

You will need a male and a female to complete the breeding. Eggs require brackish water to hatch, however, so clutches remain inactive in your tank.

Adult snails reach 1.0-inches. You will likely have fully mature gastropods that are too large for fish to swallow, so it should be safe to keep Nerite snails with Angelfish.

This species prefers microalgae and plant matter. Wafers will keep them from nibbling in clean aquariums.

Most Nerite snails live to one year, but some will survive twice that long in your fish tank.

Can Snails Be Kept With Angelfish?

Snails offer benefits to water parameters and tank maintenance. That makes them an alternative to “cleaner” fish like catfish and plecos.

Your pet Angelfish may try to eat pet snails if they can fit them into their mouths, but most species can exist besides your favorite cichlid species!


Are there benefits for snails in Angelfish tanks?

Yes. Keeping Angelfish with Apple snails or other species promotes a cleaner aquarium. Gastropods remove decaying matter, feces, and other snails (just like catfish and other “scavengers”).

What makes some snails bad for Angelfish tanks?

We feel that there is nothing detrimental about snails living in your aquarium. That said, some keepers view snails as “pests” and must fight to prevent snails from overcrowding a tank. Large populations can negatively affect the water parameters if not addressed.

Are Angelfish good with snails?

Angelfish are cichlids and omnivores. Can snails be kept with Angelfish? As long as they are too big to fit in its mouth, they will be fine.

Will Angelfish eat baby snails?

Yes. Eggs and snails small enough to fit into the fish’s mouth can be susceptible to snail-eating fish, including your Angelfish.

Will Mystery snails eat Angelfish eggs?

It is possible for mystery snails to eat angelfish eggs. Most snails will be attracted to other items in the water column, but Mystery snails are known to eat fish eggs.

Can Angelfish eat crushed snails?

Yes. The pieces must be small enough to fit into the Angelfish’s mouth, however.