How Fast Can Snails Eat a Dead Fish, Do They Eat Dead Fish?

Last Updated on December 26, 2021 by cmoarz

Will snails eat dead fish when given the opportunity? And if so, How fast can snails eat a dead fish? Seems like a strange question to ask but if you ever “lost” a fish and have no idea where it went, Your primary suspect is probably going to be your snail right?

So let’s dive into the fascinating world of snails and what is actually going on here.

Can Snails Eat Dead Fish

Yes, snails can and absolutely will eat dead fish. As scavengers who aren’t very picky about what they eat, Snails will naturally eat the most easily digestible parts of their meal first. If the fish’s body is still intact it will start with some easy to get at morsels like the fins and eyes.

After that, they will consume the rest of the fish’s body.

It’s not something uncommon either. I’ve heard countless stories of people who went to bed with a sick fish, expecting to wake up in the morning to find a body floating around.

Only, once they do go check on the aquarium, the sick or dead fish is nowhere to be found.

If you’ve got snails in your aquarium, there’s a good chance they moved in as soon as the fish died.

Especially so if the snails are on a tight feeding schedule and are very hungry.

But you might be wondering how it’s possible for an entire fish to just be eaten overnight so quickly?

How Fast Can Snails Eat a Dead Fish?

Snails are ferocious eaters. They can throw back a guppy-sized fish in 30 minutes or less depending on the types of snails and amounts of snails you have in the tank.

Some larger snails like apple snails will even make short work of something large very quickly, While a large group of ramshorns could potentially go even faster, But this would require a much larger amount of snails.

So it’s easy to understand how surprised people can be when such small snails can eat such large prey so quickly.

But that’s really just how snails work. Whether it’s a fish, shrimp, turtle, or anything else you put in the aquarium, Snails will do their best to eat it as fast as possible.

They’ll start with the most digestible parts and work their way down. They’ve even been known to eat the bones, so don’t expect to see much of those leftovers either.

But Don’t Jump To Conclusions To Quickly

Make sure you check the entire tank thoroughly. Inside decorations, plants, and even filters. You want to be 100% certain that a dead fish isn’t stuck somewhere where you can’t see it otherwise you could encounter a large ammonia spike as a result of rotting fish.

With that being said, I would always recommend removing any dead fish from the aquarium as soon as possible.

It’s not a good idea to leave it floating around for your snails to eventually get to it.

Fish rot very quickly and it only takes a matter of hours before they start putting off large amounts of ammonia and other harmful chemicals.

These large ammonia spikes are very dangerous to anything else alive in the aquarium.

So if you’ve lost a fish and aren’t sure where it’s gone, If your snails are hungry enough they’ll eat it, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to just let your snails eat your dead fish instead of removing them yourself.

Depending On How The Fish Died, It Could Harm The Snail

Snails are pretty tough cookies with bellies of iron when it comes to their insides.

However, Some fish are poisonous, such as corydoras which sometimes release poison when stressed or dying.

Other fish may have died of a serious infectious disease or illness which can transfer to snails. This includes such things as parasites and ich. While your snail might not be able to be infected directly, they could become carriers and infect other fish.

So it’s not worth the risk of harming your snails just because you think they might enjoy a free meal.

Treat Dead Fish As A Dirty Fish

Any dead fish should be treated as an infected danger to your aquarium.

Whether it died from disease, was killed by another fish, or just died on its own is irrelevant.

Treat it like you would roadkill on the side of the road or natural death in a pond.

Always wash your hands after touching a dead fish and make sure your aquarium net and other tools are disinfected as well.


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!