Are Your Aquarium Snails Dying? Check Their Diet!

Last Updated on January 18, 2021 by cmoarz

Aquarium snails are amazing as family pets. They are ideal for your children since you can teach them how to take care of a living thing. They are extremely easy to care and feed although the care depends on the snail species. Different species of snails require a different type of care, environment, and food. Snails may range from freshwater snails, land snails, or both. But did you know they are actually pretty sensitive to their dietary needs? So, what do aquarium snails eat anyway?

If your snails are dying and you can’t quite figure out why maybe it’s time to look at their diet!

That being said, this article will give you more in-depth information about the nature of snails, their diet, and their behavior.


In aquariums, snails often share their habitat with other animals or species. Snails help to keep the aquarium clean by eating up all the leftovers or uneaten food. However, it is often said that they live more happily in a tank with only snails. If you are keeping snails without fish in the aquarium, make sure you provide a little more food to your snails. They eat a variety of food such as algae, aquatic plants, fish food, fruits, vegetables, store-bought snail-food, etc.

In the case of an only-snails aquarium tank, do not over-supply with food. Give as much as they need. Do not let the uneaten food go bad. Generally, store-bought food lasts longer than produce. If you are feeding produce, start giving in small proportions and check how quickly the snails are chewing on those fresh goodies.


The diet of snails depends on their breed. Depending on the size of the aquarium and also the aesthetic sensibilities, the snails may either be an algae eater or unsightly pest.

Many freshwater snails eat algae. But you must also check the water parameters. Excessive algae feed may cause plague among your snails. Moreover, too many freshwater snails can exhaust the food supply, thereby leading to starvation of snails and that may foul the tank water. Do not overcrowd the aquarium with algae-eating snails. Keep only a few and this will keep the tank clean.

You will also find plenty of freshwater snails who act like scavengers. They eat uneaten fish food and also dying or dead fish in the aquarium. They help to keep the tank clean.

Some of them also eat plants. Most freshwater snails are vegetarian, they devour algae. However, they may also consume live prey. Use the assassin snails if you want them to eradicate or control other snail species.

Here is a general list of what a freshwater snail should eat:

  • Debris from the bottom of the tank
  • Decaying plant life
  • Small dead fish and other crustaceans and mollusks
  • Left over fish food
  • Algae
  • Algae wafers

If you find your snails are overindulging in your living aquariums plants it means they aren’t getting enough food in their diet, as they only eat live plants when they are starving.

Also, in a new tank that hasn’t had a chance to develop any food sources for the snails it’s recommended to add things like lettuce and algae wafers to colonize and get everything started.


Marine or sea snails should be kept in saltwater. They are just like their cousins from freshwater. They eat both plants like algae and animals or fish or other kinds of invertebrates. Include plants that live in saltwater and algae for your saltwater snails to eat. If you are keeping meat-eating snails, you may have to stock the tank with some prey like small bivalves.

If there are no predators in the aquarium, chances are that well-fed saltwater snails may mate with each other and multiply. So, you must keep a check on the saltwater snail population by keeping fish that eat snails.


A floating snail in your aquarium does not necessarily mean it is dead. It just one of the many common behaviors of an aquatic snail or apple snail. They are probably just sleeping. However, such behaviors might also be triggered by unfavorable water conditions which may potentially lead to their death.

If you want to be 100 percent sure if the floating snails are dead or simply sleeping, you can confirm it by gently taking it out of the tank and check for the smell. Additionally, if the shell seems to be weightless, you have got one more reason to carry out the whiff test. That being said, there are many other reasons as to why your snails are floating in the aquarium.

Worth mentioning, snails float in the wild, flowing streams to move faster since they are not fast swimmers. To swim fast, they come up to the water surface by storing air in their shells and float on the water. They ride with the current and move to a different place for a new beginning. Hence, the snail in your tank is probably trying to do the same.

There is another reason why they are floating in your aquarium, and that is hunger. In such a case, the snail will start floating upside down to consume the food that is floating on the water surface. This would imply you give more food.


Snails in your tank may look dead but more than often they are just inactive during their naptime. They usually do this immediately after a meal or maybe due to stress that is resulting from any changes in the parameters of the tank water.

In many cases, they start to move after they have a good sleep for a few hours. However, if you feel that the snail is dead and not just sleeping, you must get it out of the fish tank and investigate it. You do not want to keep a dead snail in the fish tank since it will release ammonia and ruin the water.

To find out if your snail is dead or alive, smell it or try the following ways to make sure if it is dead or simply sleeping –

  • Keep your suspected dead pet in a container with the same aquarium water for a day or 2 and see if it has made any movement. Check the snail for movements especially during night since they are known to be quite nocturnal.
  • Usually, a dead snail’s body shrinks after it dies which means the shell is most likely to be weightless and lifeless. Moreover, the body of a dead snail will decompose, leaving the shell hollow.
  • Carefully check the shell of the snail, if there is no body inside it or if the body hangs out of it or makes no movement, your snail is probably dead.
  • It is quite obvious that if your snail is dead, it will float upside down. If your snail is stuck on the glass tank, it is either resting or sleeping.


To sum up, if you find your snails floating, do not panic. There can be many reasons for them to float on the surface of the water, other than being dead. For healthy snails, provide them the right food and in the right amount. They require very low maintenance hence, they make great family pets, especially for your children.


Owner of and also owner of actual Aquarium Gravel believe it or not! ;). Setting up beautiful aquarium sceneries and habitats since I was very young. Enjoy!

2 thoughts on “Are Your Aquarium Snails Dying? Check Their Diet!”

  1. Hi my name is Jason I’m 58-years old and I’m very interested in snails,shrimps and tetra small fish. I have two large 60 gallons of fish tanks and just not long ago I just lost my favorite Apple snail he was really big and I just don’t understand why I lost him I have another Apple snail and he’s doing fine also I bought four mystery snails and two of them died. Could you please let me now if there is something I’m doing wrong or if there is something you could help me. Thanks so much for taken the time out and have a great day.

    • Hey Jason! I have a link to a resource specifically for apple snails that should give you a hand. Check it out when you have a chance.
      There are a ton of things that could have happened, from metal poisoning to bad PH. I’ll need more information.

      What fish and snails are sharing the tanks in which the snails died?
      What kind of plants and gravel are you using?
      Do you measure your PH often, if so, do you keep a log, or know what level it was when you found the dead snail?
      Do you use any bottled chemicals? If so which ones?
      What kind of food source/food do you give your aquarium?

      Anything else you think might be helpful let me know. I would like to help you figure out what might have happened so it doesn’t happen again :). Take your time 🙂

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