Snails You Should Avoid Putting In Your Zebra Loach Tank

Last Updated on August 5, 2022 by cmoarz

Will zebra loaches eat nerite snails? How about mystery snails or apple snails? It’s important to know what snails a loach will actually try to eat so you can plan accordingly with your snail choices and potential tank mates.

Will zebra loaches eat nerite snails, Mystery snails, and Apple snails?

In general, These snails are much too large for zebra loaches to eat. They would likely only go after very small, juvenile snails.

However, there have been reports of zebra loaches nipping at the larger snail’s operculum (the ‘trap door’ that covers their soft body) in an attempt to get them to open up and reveal their tasty insides.

But for the most part, Nerite snails, larger mystery snails, and apple snails are considered relatively safe from being eaten by zebra loaches.

So if you’re looking for some potential snail tank mates for your loaches, any of these would be good choices.

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The exceptions to the rule when it comes to larger snails

As with anything in nature, there are some exceptions when it comes to larger snails. Even large snails start out small as babies, and these baby snails are definitely at risk of being eaten by zebra loaches.

So if you do have your heart set on keeping some of the larger snail species, it’s best to get them when they’re already full grown.

You will want to remove and separate smaller babies from the adult snails as soon as you can so the loaches don’t have a chance to get them.

Having lots of plant’s wont really help as snails aren’t smart enough to hide away in the plants as shrimp or fry would.

Another exception is particularly voracious or aggressive zebra loaches. While most loaches will only go after very small snails, there are always a few bad apples in every bunch.

These loaches may not stop at baby snails, and could even try to take on full-grown adults. If you have a loach that is constantly hassling your larger snails, it’s best to remove either the snail or the loach and rehome them into a different tank.

Large snails can still be slowly picked off.

Even if a zebra loach is too large to eat an adult snail outright, that doesn’t mean they can’t slowly pick them apart. This is an exceptionally painful and stressful process you don’t want your snail to endure.

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What about smaller snails like bladder snails, pond snails, and dwarf ramhorns?

Just like the smaller babies from larger snails, these always small snails are at a high risk of being eaten by zebra loaches.

While they may not provide a full meal, these little guys are the perfect size for a snack. So if you’re looking to add some snails to your loach tank, it’s best to avoid these species.

In fact, For many of these species are used as feeders for their loaches and other fish. So if you do have your heart set on keeping them, it’s best to get them as feeders and not actual tank mates.

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The personality of the loach will differ

Every fish has a personality, This is as true for loaches as it is for any other fish.

You may find your loach has zero interest in large snails, their babies, or smaller snails like bladders, ponds, and dwarf ramhorns.

Conversely, your loach could be the voracious type that will try to eat anything that moves, no matter the size.

It’s always best to watch your loaches closely when you first add them to the tank to see what their personality is like and what kinds of snails they’re interested in.

This will help you to make the best decision when it comes to adding snails as potential tank mates.

The older a loach gets, the more aggressive it may become towards snails.

As loaches age, they may become more aggressive in general. This can manifest itself in different ways, including becoming more interested in eating snails.

So even a well-behaved passive loach may eventually turn into a snail-eating machine. If you do notice your loaches becoming more aggressive as they age, it’s best to remove any snails from the tank to avoid them being eaten.

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In conclusion

Zebra loaches will eat smaller snails, and may even take on larger snails if they’re feeling particularly frisky.

For this reason, it’s best to avoid adding any snails to a tank that already contains zebra loaches.

If you do want to add snails, it’s best to get them when they’re already full-grown adults and watch them carefully for any negative reactions. Snails make good tank mates for some loaches and bad ones for others.

You will also want to keep an eye on your loaches personality, as some may be more interested in eating snails than others.

Finally, remember that even a well-behaved loach may turn into a snail killer as it gets older.


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!