is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

Do Snails Eat Fish Poop?

do snails eat fish poop

There are some misconceptions about taking care of your pet fish. Some of them are outrageous. Some are perfectly plausible but do not have any actual basis on fact. Some of them are scientifically baseless.

These kinds of things are expected. Fish-keeping, as an activity and a hobby, has been around for over a millennium, even earlier. People are having fish as their pet even before the advent of science and scientific knowledge. It is thus expected that people rely heavily more on experience and anecdotal evidence than scientific facts. This is true not only of fish-keeping but any other activity.

The idea that snails eat fish poop is a popular idea among fish-keepers. Most people observe that snails eat what seems to be poop and other impurities that could be found in a fish tank.

There is a great deal of testimonial evidence to this idea. Nowadays, however, information and “facts” can easily spread and be verified. We ask now the question: Do snails eat fish poop?


Do Snails Eat Fish Poop? Dispelling the myth

That most people and fish-keepers believe that snails do eat fish poop arises from the observation that indeed, snails do eat some “impurities” that abound in a fish tank. Snails, though, do not eat fish poop. It is also questionable whether other marine animals and organisms, such as shrimps, other fish, and the like, actually do.

This popular misconception can be attributed to the way snails move inside an aquarium. It seems that they are eating fish poop. What the snails do eat, are other organisms such as algae, that somehow found their way into the fish tank. They are also eating leftover foods that are for the consumption of your pet fish.

What Snails Do in a Fish Tank?

Those algae and leftover foods are the “impurities” you see when you look at the aquarium. Those are the things that snails look for, or scavenge from the gravels, rocks, and sand. They are looking for those things to eat. They are not looking for fish poop. Sometimes, they do consume dead fish, especially those who are very small and already decomposing in the water.

This is not to say, however, that fish poop does not find its way to the snail. In a way they do, but only as a consequence of eating those things mentioned above. As a matter of course, snails do not look or scavenge for fish poop to eat them. Snails probably consume them only in the process of consuming other organisms or materials.

By eating those things and “impurities”, snails contribute to the overall balance and equilibrium of the fish tank. It helps clean the aquarium of those things and helps in slowing down the process of water hardening. Though they do not eat fish poop, snails help in clearing the aquarium water of some waste that may disturb the balance of the aquarium’s ecosystem.

What Happens to The Fish Poop in The Fish Tank?

how do you remove fish poop from your aquarium

Fish poop is undigested food, composed of organic and inorganic matter. They are composed of carbons and other minerals. Those fish poop eventually mix with aquarium water. The poop will eventually be dissolved into smaller particles. These particles will contribute, eventually to water hardness. The more particles dissolve into water, the faster the process of water hardening.

That is why, for most fish-keepers and enthusiasts, you must keep a tab on both the ph level and water hardness. Since your pet fish, as a living organism, will release organic and inorganic matter into the aquarium water, water hardness will eventually increase, sooner or later. How fast, and when, is the only question, and it depends on other factors as well.

How do You Remove Fish Poop from Your Aquarium?

Organic waste does not dissolve easily into the aquarium water. As such, it may stay in the aquarium water for days. Those fish poop may be trapped in the gravel, rocks, and sand on the aquarium. Or they may also be trapped in some ornaments or décor.

The amount, volume, and thickness of fish poop will eventually vary. Overall, however, they may contribute eventually to water hardness, so you must clear the aquarium of fish poop and other waste, organic or inorganic.

You can use a vacuum to siphon the fish poop and other waste materials from the gravel, sand, or ornaments. You can directly put the vacuum into those objects to clear them of waste products. Just make sure that the vacuum does not contain any chemicals that might harm the fish, or may cause an imbalance in water hardness and ph level.

If the fish poop and other waste materials are hidden deep into the gravel, rock, and sand, you can rake those objects, to make the fish poop and waste materials go to the surface water. Then you use a vacuum to siphon those waste products.

An even better, but more meticulous way of removing waste materials from your aquarium, is to clean the aquarium directly. Remove the fish and put them in a temporary, but, safe tank. Then remove all the ornaments, the big gravels, and rocks, and scrape and remove the fish poop. Rake the sand to make the waste products and fish poop float on the surface, then siphon them.

To save time, you can do the removing of fish poop and waste products while cleaning the fish tank. You can also do the same if you decide to replace the water due to issues of water hardness or ph level.


Do snails eat fish poop? The idea snails eat fish poop is a popular misconception. It does not mean though, that the snails are not beneficial to the aquarium as a whole. By eating algae and other organisms, snails do contribute to the overall balance and equilibrium of the environment in your fish tank.

Instead of relying on snails and other popular misconceptions, the best thing you can do to clear your aquarium of fish poop, waste products, and other ‘impurities”, is to clean it. It is not that difficult and time-consuming. All fish-keeping enthusiasts must have the time to clean and take care of their aquarium every once in a while, all for the benefit of the pet fish.

4.6/5 - (7 votes)