The Fish Keeping & Aquarium Guide.

What Does A Snail Eats?

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Know About Snails

Snails have lived for more than 500 million years, and for all we know, they could be better than dinosaurs in surviving. Dinosaurs are now gone, and yet snails are still everywhere.

Evidence shows that snails have been around since the Cambrian period, 500 million years ago. Evidence of different primitive gastropods was discovered dating back to this period.

There are different types of shelled gastropods or snails in the world that can live in water and land. They can survive in any bodies of water such as the sea or freshwater. They can survive in land too as long as it is a humid area.

1) Snail’s Shell

Do they have hard shell-like turtles? Indeed. A snail’s shell is grown along with the body of the snail living in it, and it is composed of calcium carbonate that deposited at the bottom part of the shell. It only stops depositing calcium carbonate when it becomes an adult.

2) Gender

With its small size, it is interesting to note that snails are hermaphrodites. They have both genders, and they can reproduce easily. The only challenge is identifying which one is male or female. For snail breeders like those who own aquariums, breeding a snail means having up to 6 pairs for a higher success rate. Despite being hermaphrodites, they able to copulate traditionally.

Hermaphrodites have male and female genders. They can self-fertilize because they can produce their eggs and sperm. But the success rate of a hermaphrodite doing self-fertilization is only effective when they are in the wild. For breeders, it is still best to do traditional breeding.

3) Lifespan

When in captivity, a snail can live up to 15 years or more if provided that they have a well-maintained environment, and they remain well- fed. In the wild, a snail can live up to 7 years.

4) Food Diet

Snails have the microscopic tooth on their tongue that looks like a banded ribbon. Their tongue is called radula and can rip food into pieces. Most snails are herbivores. It eats plants and algae. Snails that live in the land are carnivores and omnivores. One interesting fact about snails is that they can eat cardboard or paper.

Land Snails

Terrestrial snails are also known as land snails. There are hundreds of land snails, and their size varies as well. In general, snails can grow up to one inch and weighs a few ounces with very few exceptions. The biggest terrestrial snail can measure up to 12 inches. One example is the Giant African Land Snail, which is in Africa.

1) How Do They Move

Snails are living in a shell, and they have no feet. So how do they move? They use wave movements to move around with their muscular foot. When they move around, snails appear like they are sliding. It is made possible by the mucus they produce when moving. The mucus makes it easier for them to move around as it provides moisture on the surface where they move. The moist also minimizes the friction that their body endure as they move and slide around.

2) Food Diet

Land snails have a great appetite. They can feed on plants and small animals too. Snails that live in gardens are live on plant pests. They also feed on seeds and leaves. Snails might look small to you, but they can eat tree bark with their microscopic tooth and radula.

Land snails often come out during rainy seasons. It is their feeding time, as well. They usually hunt for food at night. Snails can live on land as long as the place is moist and wet all year long.

Snails who love feeding on plants can eat everything – from bark, to stem, to leaves, and flowers. They also enjoy feeding on dead plants, making them a decomposer. Carnivore snails also feed on dead animals more often.

To make their shell thicker and harder, snails eat sand and soil too. It is known to source of calcium, and it is suitable for their shells.

The most famous carnivore snail specie is the genus Poweulliphanta from New Zealand. This specie feed on dead earthworm and slug and other gastropods.

Sea Snails

Sea snails are also known as gastropods. These are species of snails that live in saltwater. These are slow-moving marine gastropods with hard external shells. Among the types of seashells that you can find are abalone, whelk, and limpets.

1) Sea Snail’s Shell

Their soft body characterizes sea snails. Their shell serves as their protection. A seashell with a conical shell is called impetus. Its shell is spirally coiled. Their hard shells make it hard for predators to eat them.

Their shells are pretty, and when washed ashore, people often pick it and use it as decors. The colorful nature of a sea snail shell and its excellent shape makes it a superb shell collection.

You can find sea snails everywhere. Some live at the warm tropical banks, and some species live under the sea, to its deepest part. Larger snail species like the Conch snails live at the bottom of the sea to find their food. This snail species can communicate under the sea. Another snail specie that lives at the bottom is the cone snail – a hunter specie. To protect itself, it can produce a venom that is lethal even to humans.

2) Food Diet

Sea snails are mostly herbivores, and they eat sea plants such as algae, especially from rocks, reefs, and sediments. All algae formation are a source of nutrient for them. As they feed on algae, they help clean the sea. It is one of the importance of having sea snails in the water. Species of snail that eat algae are cowries, abalones, and limpets.

Those that are not herbivore snails feed on other animals, such as the cone snail. Cone snails feed on other marine animals. They can hunt and eat fishes on the sea and even smaller snails. Feeding on other animals is their source of calcium to keep their shells harder.

Freshwater Snails

Mollusks that live in freshwater are called freshwater snails. Freshwater snails are in different water bodies, such as lakes, rivers, streams, springs, seeps, and temporary pools. Even big rivers have freshwater snails thriving in it.

Have you seen a freshwater snail? One of the best examples of freshwater snail is that one in your aquarium. Yes – that is considered as a freshwater snail! Among the famous species of freshwater snails are apple snails, nerites, rabbit, and inca.

1) Food Diet

People often add freshwater snails in their aquarium to help keep it clean and reduce the formation of algae. These freshwater snails are colorful with amazing shell designs, making them a great addition in an aquarium.

Freshwater snails eat algae, bacteria, and anything that can form in an underwater rock and substrate. They also feed on detritus. Snails living in an aquarium can graze at the bottom of the aquarium, looking for decayed plants, the debris of fish flakes, and fish food.

Just like sea snails, there are freshwater snails that feed on dead animals too. They can feed on small shrimps and worms. One example is assassin snails.

Freshwater snails are great for aquarium in many ways. Aside from keeping it algae free, they can also help keep the bottom part of the tank clean for some time. You can now say goodbye to unnecessary twice a week aquarium cleaning.

If you have ramshorn or pond snails in your aquarium, you won’t have to worry about algae formation anymore. These species are great at eating algae. For an aquarium that has been around for years, providing food for your snails is no longer necessary. Expect enough algae build-up at the bottom already. You might only need to provide food for your aquarium snail if it is a newly set-up aquarium.

Snails receive extra protein and calcium from fish pellets that your fishes didn’t catch during feeding. You can also buy algae pellets for your snails if there is not enough algae supply in your tank.

2) Provide Fresh Plants as Food?

Should you provide fresh plants on your aquarium for your snails? Not really. Although they eat fresh plants, snails prefer to feed on dying plants. Maybe you can live a dying leave from time to time to make them happier!


There are different species of snails, and they live pretty much everywhere. They survive easily. Snails are also easy to care for, mainly freshwater snails in captivity.

If you plan to have snails in your aquarium because they are a great companion and tank cleaners, you must work on understanding their characteristics first. You can increase a snail’s lifespan by giving it the right environment to live in and the right food to nourish it.

People who are into snails often keep it because of its benefits when placed in an aquarium. Aside from low-cost maintenance, freshwater snails are also attractive and colorful, indeed an excellent tank addition.

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