Freshwater Feeder Snails
Aquarium snails are typically viewed in one of 3 ways; Friend, Food or Foe. Today we will be talking about using snails as a food source. The most commonly used feeders are Ramshorn, Pond and Bladder snails. Other snails that can be used are Mystery, Apple for larger fish. Malaysian Trumpet snails may also be used but they are best suited for loaches or assassin snails. To ensure you are feeding quality, nutritious snails they have to be fed a well balanced diet. Your feeder snails would benefit most from a diet that alternates between sinking pellets designed for bottom feeders, algae, fruits like melon, grapes, pumpkin, cucumbe, apple and pear, vegetables like carrots, zucchin, broccoli and spinach. Snails also need lots of calcium to ensure optimal shell health. Providing things like cuttlebone, slow release calcium blocks, eggshell, Snello, tums and foods rich in calcium will help them have a very healthy and calcium infused shell.
There are many aquarium inhabitants that would benefit from having snails in their diet. Loaches such as, Zebra, Yoyo, Clown, Dwarf Chain and Skunk are all known for their ability to practically rid a tank of unwanted snails. Once this has happened it is for their better health and well being that they have snails as part of a well balanced diet. Snails are one of a loaches main food sources in the wild. With most loach species being difficult to breed in captivity the majority of those found in the hobby are wild caught so they will naturally gravitate to the unwanted snails that inhabit the tank as well. Another aquarium inhabitant that can benefit from snails in their diet are pufferfish. There are many types of pufferfish within the hobby and they all face the same issue, their teeth. They have front teeth the continuously grow. One way of naturally wearing down the teeth is feeding things like snails, small crustaceans and shellfis. avoid feeding any pufferfish Malas Trumpet Snails. The MTS have very strong and very thick shells that can break a puffers teeth making it so they cannot eat. Larger puffer species like the Fahaka, Mbu and Congo for example would benefit most from Mystery or Apple snails.
Another aquatic inhabitant you may want to have a small snail colony for providing a balanced diet for would be the Assassin Snail. Their natural diet consists of other snails and worms. If there are no live food sources they will scavenge for uneaten food or fallen tank mates but that does not provide them with adequate nutrition. They borrow in the substrate and are very effective in controlling Malaysian Trumpet Snail populations.
There are other fish that will eat pest snails within a community tank setting but they do not necessarily require them in their regular feeding routine. Examples of these fish are as followed but are not limited to labyrinth fish such as Betta and Gourami, Goldfish, Bala Sharks, Corydoras, as well as most Cichlids.