Goldfish are natural predators of snails and will happily eat small snails that can easily fit in their mouths. This includes small snail species and baby snails of any type.
However, goldfish don’t usually eat larger snails, which don’t fit in their mouths so easily.
There are a few types of snail that grow large enough to live safely with goldfish. These include Netrite Snails, Mystery Snails, and Japanese Trapdoor Snails.
Bigger and more aggressive goldfish may even eat these large snails, sucking them out of their shells to eat them.
You can help to avoid this by feeding your goldfish a proper diet. They will then – usually – leave snails alone, as the effort it takes to suck the snail from its shell just isn’t worth it!
To further prevent goldfish from eating snails you can feed your goldfish treats on occasion. Some good ones to offer are cucumber slices, blood worms, broccoli, and leafy greens.
Adding snails to a goldfish tank
Snails can transmit disease or parasites to the goldfish. You should therefore quarantine snails before introducing them to your tank. We recommend 28 days in a jar with a small piece of live plant to eat.
You will need to feed your snails a calcium rich diet to ensure their shell stays healthy. Check ingredient labels where possible and avoid copper in water and food, as it is highly toxic to snails.
Snails are very good at breaking down the bio load in the aquarium. This offers some extra help to the good bacteria in your tank, which help to control your water parameters.
Snails won’t eat live plants if they are fed enough from algae, uneaten goldfish food, or detritus from plants.
Types of snails that can live with goldfish
If you’d like to keep snails with your goldfish, there are three species of snail that we recommend. These are:
- Netrite Snails
- Mystery Snails
- Japanese Trapdoor Snails
All of these snails grow large enough that goldfish will leave them alone.
Netrite Snails are the usual go-to for aquariums.
They get to a size up to one inch and live 1-2 years. They are very good at cleaning the tank of algae and do so very efficiently compared to other snails.
Netrite Snails will control brown algae, green algae, and film algae with ease.
Netrile Snails will not reproduce in freshwater, so there’s no need to worry about baby snails appearing in your tank.
They may lay eggs, but they won’t hatch. These eggs can be left to become goldfish snacks or simply removed.
We recommend at least two gallons of water per Netrile Snail.
Mystery Snails can grow three inches or bigger and live up to one year. These snails have many color variations and will reproduce quickly in a tank. They will lay the eggs above the water line, which makes it easy to remove them if you want to.
These snails will eat more than just algae, they will happily much on uneaten fish food and detritus from plants.
We recommend 2.5 gallons of water per Mystery Snail.
But be careful! Mystery Snails are natural escape artists! A tight fitting and secure lid is necessary to house them securely.
Japanese Trapdoor Snails
Japanese Trapdoor Snails will grow up to three inches in size and can live up to five years. They get their name from a hard plate that covers them up when they are in their shells.
These snails are great for outdoor ponds because they can survive cold winter months.
Japanese Trapdoor Snails do not reproduce quickly. Interestingly though, they produce live young instead of eggs.
These snails will come out of the water to breathe occasionally, so having a suitably low water line is crucial.
Japanese Trapdoor Snails can be housed in a ten-gallon aquarium, as long as the water is well oxygenated and the tank is not overcrowded. Though your goldfish will need more room than this, of course.
The best types of snail to keep with goldfish are Netrite Snails, Mystery Snails, and Japanese Trapdoor Snails.
These snails grow large enough that your goldfish won’t bother them, and they enjoy the same water parameters as goldfish too.
Goldfish will readily eat small snails that can fit in their mouth. You should therefore avoid keeping small species of snail, or baby snails, with goldfish.
Goldfish will also eat snail eggs.
You can make your goldfish less interested in eating snails by making sure your goldfish is well fed.