Is there a better way to eradicate unwanted snails than keeping a favorite pet fish that does just that? The sight of unwanted pest snails inside an aquarium can be distressing for many reasons. But the whole process of removing them from the tank is even more agonizing.
So, in this guide, we reveal the 15 best snail eater fish that can complete the tedious task without breaking a sweat.
While most species on the list are natural snail lovers (fish that eat snails), they are just as amazing as a favorite pet fish, some ready to light up your tank with their brilliantly colored bodies.
1. Clown Loach
Clown Loach, sometimes called the Tiger Botia, is famous for its colorful look in the right environment. And to add to their beautiful bodies, you can trust this little Indonesian species of the Botiidae family to clear unwanted snails inside the tank.
When kept at home, you will constantly see your Clown Loaches foraging the substrate right at the bottom of the tank, which makes them effective at lowering the snail population inside the aquarium.
Their daily routine involves scavenging the tank to find any leftover fish food and small invertebrates they can munch to satisfy their huge appetite.
But if they aren’t doing that, these peaceful Asian fish will be happy to mingle with fellow tank mates, always choosing to wait until the daylight is completely gone.
Size: 12 inches
Minimum Tank Size: 100-150 gallons
2. Yoyo Loach
One thing is always certain if you keep Yoyo Loaches at home, the snail population will go down. While they may not be as popular as the typical Clown Loach varieties, these fascinating freshwater fish of Asian descent have a reputation for feasting on snails.
They have long, slender bodies, and being natural scavengers, will constantly spend their time at the bottom of the tank searching for any available food. Their mouths are probably the most recognizable organs, with up to 4 barbels specifically fashioned to match their feeding habits.
When caring for them at home, it’s imperative to create the best possible environment by prioritizing a natural feel and a balanced diet with warm, slightly acidic waters.
As for their social life, the Yoyo Loaches thrive in groups or with equally peaceful tank mates like the Clown Loaches, Congo Tetras, and different types of Goldfish.
Size: 2.5 inches
Minimum Tank Size: 40 gallons
3. Spotted Raphael Catfish
The bottom-dwelling Striped Raphael Catfish is one of the best freshwater fish that eat snails and would be a wonderful addition to any tank. They are gorgeous-looking fish that stand out with their neat-looking bodies and ease of care.
But it turns out Striped Raphael Catfishes have a lot more to them than just the unique-looking bodies. They have an impressive lifespan that may extend beyond the one-decade mark with the best possible care.
And just like most catfishes, Striped Raphaels have up to 3 pairs of barbels that support their constant search for any edible food in the substrate.
Typically, Striped Raphael Catfishes have beautiful, torpedo-shaped bodies with attractive horizontal stripes that give them a unique name.
They will never tire from eating small invertebrates in the wild when kept in the right environment. And you can rely on them to eliminate the unwanted snails and insects inside your aquarium.
Size: 6 inches
Minimum Tank Size: 50 gallons
4. Dwarf Chain Loach
Dwarf Chain Loach is an interesting freshwater fish that dwells in large streams with well-oxygenated waters in Indonesia.
They tend to go under the radar in the aquarium trade, but a few aquarists who know Dwarf Chain Loaches understand how helpful they can be in eliminating snails from the tank.
While the adult fish can be picky eaters in captivity, most species can scarf down a significant amount of snails down their throats. They exist in groups and often spend their time searching for their favorite meals in captivity.
As for the general appearance, Dwarf Chain Loaches have an attractive look that’s simply stunning.
They have the signature appearance of most Loach fish, starting with perfectly rounded heads, underturned mouths, and cylinder-shaped bodies.
Also, they have four pairs of barbels specifically fashioned for eating. Most species in the aquarium trade have gold or silver base coloration with beautiful black bars.
Size: 2 inches
Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons
5. Skunk Loach
Skunk Loach is an agile scavenger that’s sometimes a little obsessed with eating small invertebrates. They typically measure just around 4 inches in captivity, rightfully qualifying to be categorized among the smallest Botia fish in the aquarium community.
However, you will be surprised by this fish’s ability to clear huge amounts of snails inside the aquarium. They are omnivorous species that feed on insects, crustaceans, and small invertebrates in the wild.
Furthermore, the Skunk Loaches are a pretty hardy species that can thrive with the right conditions at home.
However, they aren’t necessarily the best pet fish for beginner-level aquarists because they need the best possible conditions to survive at home. Also, they have small scales that make them more vulnerable to specific conditions.
Practically, Skunk Loach care is centered on the general tank setup, with these fish known to flourish in a 30-gallon tank at a minimum. For the rest of the tank décor, prioritize soft acidic water, a gravel substrate, and open swimming space.
Size: 3.9 inches
Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons
6. Green Spotted Puffer
Green Spotted Puffers, commonly known as the Green Puffers, are rewarding pets with a unique ability to defend themselves when threatened.
Many aquarists have marveled at their extraordinary intelligence, easily recognizing their owners during routine feeding.
While Green Spotted Puffers have been misidentified, sold, and even kept as freshwater fish, they are typical marine animals. Usually, they require a proper tank setup of brackish water that mimics the actual conditions in the wild.
Another simple way to increase their longevity in captivity is to give them enough swimming space using a standard 30-gallon tank at a minimum.
While they are highly effective at eradicating unwanted snails in captivity, a major concern with Green Spotted fish results from their temperament. They are highly aggressive fish, and it may be impossible to introduce new tank mates to their habitat.
Sometimes, aquarists have tried to keep Green Puffers together with the Archerfish, Mollies, Bumblebee Gobies, and the Scats, but it only works for a specific period.
The Puffers never hesitate to exploit any vulnerabilities inside the tank, like a cramped environment to eat the newcomer.
Size: 6 inches
Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons
7. Zebra Loach
Anybody who’s been in the aquarium hobby long enough will probably know the brilliance of Zebra Loaches. They are a gorgeous freshwater fish of the Loach family that we never stop recommending to beginner-level aquarists.
You can’t talk about these bottom-dwelling Asian fish without mentioning their beautifully striped bodies that can be anything from gray to deep brown, greenish hue, or even blue.
A typical species only measures about 4 inches in captivity, but that doesn’t compromise their natural beauty in any way.
While they aren’t shoaling fish, Zebra Loaches have their best lives when kept in groups of up to 5 species, with spontaneous aggression known to set in when they feel isolated inside the aquarium.
We won’t mention anything about Zebra Loach breeding because that’s a tough one to pull off in captivity. But we will quickly recommend them if you need stunning freshwater aquarium fish to reduce the snail population inside the tank.
As for the standard requirements, Zebra Loaches need stable temperatures ranging from 73°F-79°F, with neutral to slightly basic pH.
Size: 3-4 inches
Difficulty Level: 30 gallons
8. Cory Catfish
When we talk about the famous Catfish species, some people imagine a large, scary fish that can cause much damage in captivity.
But in reality, these are small, peaceful, bottom-dwelling fish that only want to play, swim, and enjoy their favorite meal. As for Cory Catfishes, there’s much more to them than the monotonous swimming routine.
They have an endless craving for worms, small insects, and larvae, and it’s fair to say they are most snail’s worst enemy.
Most stories around Cory Catfishes point to the fact they thrive in groups. But it’s not uncommon to see a typical species drifting away from a broader population from time to enjoy their own company.
As for the most suitable Cory Catfish tank mates, stick with small to medium-sized freshwater fish that are equally peaceful.
It’s worth reminding that unlike most species on our list, Cory Catfishes prefer small-sized snails and often stay away from the larger ones.
Size: 1-4 inches
Minimum Tank Size: 20-30 gallons
9. Assassin Snail
This is not an actual fish but a snail-eating snail. Quite interesting. Right?
They originate from Southeast Asia with a gold coloring and cone-shaped bodies, making them quite popular in the aquarium scene.
Assassin Snails’ feeding habits are impressive to watch in captivity, with a typical variant known to bury itself under the substrate, waiting for the perfect moment to pounce on the prey.
Their obsession with eating fellow snails is priceless, and if they aren’t hunting for their favorite meal, they will want to relax at their desired resting spot. That’s why effective care has a lot to do with the tank size.
It’s important to stick to a standard 10-gallon tank to ensure everyone enjoys a comfortable living space with little to no shifts to tank water conditions.
Because of their huge appetite for eating snails, surely, it’s only right that you maintain a constant supply of edible freshwater snails as the perfect food.
Size: 1 inch
Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallons
10. Betta fish
Beyond the striking body colors and eye-catching fins lies a unique freshwater fish that’s fast becoming a must-have pet in the aquarium hobby. We’re talking about the Betta fish, an ever-present figure in the aquarium hobby that’s just as outstanding as its appearance.
While not their primary diet, Betta fish are effective at lowering the snail population inside the aquarium. They enjoy a highly diversified diet in captivity, starting with flakes and pellets in addition to meaty products like bloodworms and brine shrimp.
When it comes to tank setup, don’t stress out because the Betta fish can readily flourish inside a 5-gallon tank with well-maintained temperatures between 72°F-82°F and ammonia at the lowest level.
Size: Up to 2.5 inches
Minimum Tank Size: 5 gallons
Perhaps this will surprise many. But if you didn’t know it, Goldfish are pretty good at lowering the snail population inside the tank.
Goldfish varieties are known for their fanciful look in captivity, but one thing stands out in virtually all species; their love for snails.
As an aquarium pet fish, these magnificent freshwater fish of the Cyprinidae family will blow you away with their spotless appearance that starts with the beautiful golden coloring.
But as carefree eaters in captivity, you will love your Goldfish even more for their straightforward dietary requirements.
Most Goldfish will be happy to snack on high-quality granules and Goldfish flakes when kept in home aquariums. However, their small mouths mean they will be more selective than most fish, preferring small snails and other tiny invertebrates.
Adding to their beautiful coloration is Goldfish’s ease of care. Typically, most species will be happy with standard care requirements as long as the tank setup and the overall water conditions are appropriate.
Minimum Tank Size: 20 gallons
12. Bala Shark
Bala Sharks have received mixed reactions in the aquarium community, with many individuals questioning their ability to coexist with smaller, shy-looking fish with sleek bodies.
But if there’s one reason you will ever want to keep Bala Sharks at home, it is their penchant for eating snails.
Of course, they have enormous appetites, with a varied diet consisting of any small creature that appears inside the tank. And that also means you can trust Bala Sharks to reduce the number of snails inside the aquarium.
Forget about any possibility of keeping Bala Sharks together with your shrimps and any small fish that can quickly become a tasty snack.
The agile Bala Sharks will want nothing but the best possible environment in captivity when it comes to tank setup.
Keep them in schools if you need a dramatic effect inside the tank. On top of that, ensure you introduce a smooth, sandy substrate with a balanced diet while paying attention to potential diseases.
Size: 12 inches
Minimum Tank Size: 120-150 gallons
The thought of having the ever outstanding Gourami fish as your favorite pet fish is simply mesmerizing. And now, it could be even more exciting if you consider their snail-eating tendencies.
Loved for its peaceful temperament and ease of care, Gourami is a beautiful freshwater aquarium fish like no other. They are among the few freshwater aquarium fish with the labyrinth organ, fully capable of breathing at any part of the aquarium.
When kept in captivity, the Gourami’s ability to tear small to medium-sized snails from their hard shells is sometimes interesting to watch.
While they are available in multiple forms and color morphs, we will always recommend the Dwarf Gouramis, being ardent lovers ourselves, thanks to their colorful look and ease of care.
Minimum Tank Size: Variable
14. Jack Dempsey
For many years, Jack Dempsey fish has gotten into the spotlight for all the wrong reasons. And that’s almost always linked to their aggressive behavior.
But what many people don’t know about these easily irritable freshwater Cichlids is their special love for snails. Even though snails aren’t part of their staple diet, they can often snack on them during one of their typical hunting routines.
They are powerful freshwater fish, measuring up to 15 inches long in captivity. And with their odd-looking facial features, we bet even the largest snails will be afraid to take on these Cichlid fish in a one-time battle.
If you need a docile fish that will spend much of its time in hiding, the Jack Dempsey fish is not the right option for you.
But if you need a large-sized species that thrive with the right diet, natural-looking habitat, and a few right tank mates, there’s no better option than these scary Central American Cichlids.
Size: 10-15 inches
Minimum Tank Size: 80 gallons
15. Kuhli Loach
Kuhli Loaches are natural omnivores that eat whatever food they can find in captivity. Whether in captivity or the wild, small snails will be high up their list of favorite foods, in addition to any tiny, defenseless fish.
What’s more, their playful nature makes them such an interesting addition to the aquarium, with a typical fish constantly sifting the substrate for any available food.
They are natural bottom dwellers but only active at night. And that means they will spend much of their time in hiding until darkness sets in.
As for their general temperament, Kuhli Loaches will never look for unnecessary troubles inside the aquarium, always choosing to maintain their space as much as they can.
They will be happy to create an electrifying aquarium with any similar-sized, non-aggressive fish like the Tetras, Rasboras, and Danios.
Size: Up to 4 inches
Minimum Tank Size: 20 gallons
Getting rid of unwanted pest snails has never been easier. And if you thought everything revolves around manpower, perhaps it’s time to have a new perspective.
The 15 freshwater fish on our list are some of the best options you will ever find if it purely involves eradicating snails from the aquarium.
You can never go wrong with most species on our list. And with an added adventure of natural beauty, they could end up elevating the look of your aquarium without breaking the bank.
While virtually all of them can achieve the same results, it’s important to find the right species that are easily manageable in captivity. Every time you weigh up your options, consider the fish’s size, typical behavior, and the care requirements in captivity.