Most people are often confused about whether or not snails should be kept in ponds. Some see them as pests, while others use them as ornamental pets.
That said, are snails good for ponds? While the answer is mainly yes, it can also be no, depending on the circumstance.
Pond snails have more benefits to ponds than we think. However, they can have harmful effects on fish and aquatic plant life if they start to multiply rapidly.
This article will discuss pond snails in further detail, as well as their pros and cons in your pond. Let’s get started!
Depending on the situation, having snails in your pond can both be beneficial and detrimental. Nonetheless, it shouldn’t be surprising to find a snail or two, especially in medium to large ponds.
Snails are naturally part of a pond’s ecosystem, just like aquatic plants, but having too many of them can be problematic. Whether you want to keep snails in your pond or not is entirely up to your decision.
These are some of the pros of having snails in your pond:
- Snails can be good at maintaining algae growth
- Snails are natural janitors for ponds as they feed off some of its sludges and other wastes
- Some people use snails as decorative animals for ponds
- Snails aid in filtration by turning sediments into nitrogen
- The behavior of snails can serve as a warning for poor water quality
While there are notable benefits to adding snails to your pond, there are also drawbacks to watch out for. Here are some of the harmful effects snails can do on your pond:
- Some snails prefer to eat healthy algae rather than harmful ones since they’re easier to scrape off
- Snails tend to breed rapidly, which could lead to overpopulation
- Ponds that are overpopulated with snails tend to have increased harmful wastes
- Some snails host parasites that can jump to your fish and aquatic plants
If you reach a point where snails become pests more than they benefit your pond, you should consider removing them or reducing their population. Luckily, there are a few ways to do this without harming the fish in your pond.
Here are the trusted methods you can use to control the snail population in your pond:
While it may sound strenuous and downright silly, manually removing snails has proven to be an effective DIY method. It can take some time to finish, especially if there are a lot of snails, but it’s guaranteed to be safe if you’re willing and able.
The downside to this method is that most snails are nocturnal creatures. You can miss a few if you try to remove them during the day.
Pond vacuums are nifty devices for maintaining a clean and healthy pond. These vacuums can be a bit pricey, but it’s worth investing in if you want to make pond maintenance easier.
Not only are they safe to use with fish, but they’re also effective at sucking up snail eggs which can be hard to see underwater. If you suck some fish up by accident, you can easily recover them unscathed.
Using snail traps with food bait is a passive method of reducing your pond’s snail population. This works best for those who don’t want to get their hands dirty with DIY work.
All you have to do is set some leafy greens as food bait on the snail trap, then place it where the snails dwell. It’s safe, effective, and easy to use.
When in doubt, you can always add a few snail-eating fishes to deal with infestations. This method will help you reduce snails and introduce a variety of fish species to your pond at the same time.
However, it’s best to consult a pond or aquarium expert first if you’re unsure of their compatibility with other fish. These are some of the most common snail-eating fishes:
- Clown Loach
- Dwarf Chain
Depending on the species, most pond snails can live on land for about a day or two. Sometimes it can only take a few hours till they need to go back underwater.
Some snails go ashore to lay eggs before returning to the pond, while others do so because of poor water quality. That’s why it’s integral for pond owners to observe this behavior to know when they should check and test the pond’s water quality.
You’re in for some bad news if you see a good number of snails lining up on the edge of your pond.
A pond snail’s life expectancy ranges between one to three years. They can even live up to five years if properly taken care of.
While this may seem like a short time, they can quickly reproduce asexually by laying masses of eggs that take 10 to 20 days before hatching. We’re looking at around 100 snail eggs in each reproduction process.
Additionally, pond snails mature fast, so by the time they reach six to eight weeks old, they can already produce eggs. No wonder ponds can be at risk of overpopulation due to these creatures.
Water temperature plays a chief role in how fast a snail egg can hatch. Most pond snail species hatch eggs after one to five weeks, but with warmer water temperatures, it can only take a week or ten days.
Upon hatching, pond snails can outgrow their birth size a few hundred times during their first year. That’s quite a sizeable increase considering how tiny these slow crawlers are at birth.
Because of how fast pond snails grow, their capacity to increase in size isn’t something to belittle. In fact, these mollusks can reach up to a max of one to three inches in captivity.
Since pond snails often get compared to bladder snails, one of the key differences you’ll notice is how big pond snails can get. They can even grow beyond three inches if they’re living in the wild.
On rare occasions, pond snails can live up to five years. Although this is usually seen as an abnormality, imagine how much bigger they can get if they live for five years in the wild.
Pond snails aren’t naturally invasive since ponds can thrive with them in the ecosystem. A positive ecological interaction or symbiosis can occur between pond snails and fish, so there’s room for harmonious living.
However, potential issues can arise due to poor management, which can make pond snails quite invasive. This usually happens when their population increases and disrupts the balance among the living creatures in your pond.
The best way to prevent this is by constantly regulating your pond’s pH, nitrate, nitrite, and ammonia levels. Pond snails can’t be invasive if you’re maintaining a clean and healthy environment for the snails, fish, and aquatic plants to co-exist.
As much as other people see pond snails as pests, their presence in an aquarium provides a more natural ecosystem. What matters most is how you sustain life in your aquarium and which snail species you add.
Since pond snails are naturally born detritivores, they can help clean up uneaten fish food, waste, and excess algae for you. However, it should still come in moderation to avoid overcrowding.
You might want to consider adding some pond snails to your aquarium if you wish to lessen the work of keeping it clean. On that note, these are some of the best pond snails to consider for your freshwater tank:
- Tiger Nerite Snail
- Black Devil Snail
- Horned Nerite Snail
- Zebra Nerite Snail
- Japanese Trapdoor Snail
It’s easy to see why people consider snails as pests, especially in ponds and aquariums. But if you take a closer look at the role they play in such an ecosystem, you’ll notice how beneficial they are.
What most people see as mere creepy crawlies are actually natural pond janitors. As long as you keep them in a controlled amount, they better your pond’s conditions more than they cause harm.
Be that as it may, research and preparation go a long way in sustaining your pond. You have to know which species can co-exist with which to keep its environment thriving.
Ben has a bachelor’s degree in construction engineering. When not constructing or remodeling X-Ray Rooms, Cardiovascular Labs, and Pharmacies, you can find him at home with wife and two daughters. Outside of family, He loves grilling and barbequing on his Big Green Egg and Blackstone Griddle, as well as working on projects around the house.
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