What To Do With Freshwater Snail Eggs In Your Aquarium

Many aquarists have different reactions when they see snail eggs in their aquarium. Some want them out immediately, others are curious, a few want to keep them, and many aren’t sure what they’re looking at!

This resource will teach you everything you need to know about freshwater snail eggs. It explains where to find them, what they look like, and what you can do with them.

What do snail eggs look like?

Snail eggs are just as varied in appearance as the adults! Each species of freshwater snail lays unique, distinct and identifiable eggs. SO, the exact appearance of the eggs will depend entirely on the species of snail you have.

Freshwater snail eggs

That said, you’ll know you’re looking at snail eggs when you see them.

These invertebrates lay tiny eggs in small clusters. Some species can produce individual eggs, but most will lay several at once. Usually the eggs remain contained in a protective gelatinous sac.

The color of the eggs will depend on the species. Some are bright blue or pink. However, most are white or cream in color. They are also semi-transparent and appear to have a gelatinous texture.

If the eggs are fertilized and partially developed, you may see small black or brown spots. Snail eggs tend to darken over time as the tiny snail embryo inside develops. Unfertilized eggs, however, will retain their appearance before degrading.

Where snails usually lay their eggs

This is where things can get complicated! Many freshwater aquarists notice the appearance of snails without any warning signs. These aquatic creatures have a knack for hiding their eggs in some of the most overlooked places.

Snails don’t exhibit too many parental instincts. However, they ensure that the eggs are protected and in an environment conducive to their growth and survival.

One of the most common places you’ll find snail eggs is under plant leaves. Snails prefer larger broadleaf plants, but they can also lay eggs in smaller floating plants or dense grasses.

Snail eggs inside an aquarium

Snails and their eggs are notorious hitchhikers in the fish farming world. This is how unwanted infestations occur! If you ever end up with snails in your aquarium without buying them, they probably came in as eggs on plants you added to your aquarium!

This is why it is important to quarantine plants before introducing them to your aquarium.

You can also sometimes find eggs on decorative items. Snails may choose to lay their eggs on driftwood, rocks, plastic decorations, or even the smooth surface of glass.

Author’s note: Some species of freshwater snails have the ability to breathe atmospheric air and live on land. These species tend to find a happy medium for their eggs, laying them on those few inches of open space between the rim of the tank and the surface of the water. There, the eggs can stay moist without being submerged.

Because most aquarists rarely remove the cover entirely, these often go unnoticed.

What you can do with eggs

You have several ways to deal with snail eggs once you find them. The relationship between snails and aquarists is controversial. On one side you have those who welcome these molluscs while others absolutely despise them!

The right choice for you depends entirely on your personal preferences, the needs of your aquarium, and the safety of your aquarium inhabitants. Here are some ways to deal with snail eggs.

1. Keep them

If you’re looking for a hands-off approach, you can save the eggs and let them hatch naturally.

Freshwater snail eggs are fairly self-contained. You don’t have to do anything to encourage hatching. The bag that envelops the eggs will do much of the heavy lifting, providing the protection and nutrients they need. Let the eggs be!

Having snails in your aquarium can actually be very beneficial. This is why you see so many exotic species sold in pet stores!

The snails are part of the elusive “cleanup team”. They help pick up detritus and plant waste that would otherwise ruin water conditions. Not only that, but they spend their days as fantastic algae eaters eating whatever accumulates in the enclosed environment.

Like plecos and shrimps, they can serve a valuable and practical purpose. Although they do not replace the filtration system, these creatures can do a lot to reduce your cleaning tasks.

If you have a chronic algae problem, why not let these young snails take care of the problem? They can remove algae buildup quickly, making the problem more manageable. Now you may need to supplement their diet with seaweed patties and vegetables. But the ongoing algae cleanup is well worth the extra work.

Author’s note: Keep in mind that snails are prolific breeders. It doesn’t take long for a single clutch of snail eggs to turn into a serious infestation. The population can explode quite quickly. If you don’t take steps to manage the rate at which your snails reproduce, you could be looking at a serious snail problem in the future.

2. Use them to feed certain fish

If you have snail-loving species of fish, you can create a fairly reliable food source.

Some species of fish thrive on a diet of snails rich in protein and calcium. Pufferfish need to chew on these hard shells to keep their teeth in good shape.

It’s not just the puffer that can eat snails and their eggs. Some other fish with an appetite for these shellfish include:

Author’s note: There is also a species of snail that eats other snails! These are known as assassin snails.

You can supply the eggs directly to these fish. Alternatively, you can let them hatch first. Some of the fish above will only eat baby snails that are easier to digest.

Some freshwater aquarists like to go even further by setting up a separate snail hatchery. If you see the clutch of eggs, you can move them to a quarantine tank where they can continually hatch and reproduce. Thanks to their rapid reproduction cycle, you can have a continuous food supply that is not very high maintenance.

Even if you just let the eggs hatch in the original tank, you may see your fish consuming young snails from time to time. These species of fish are wonderful for controlling the snail population and preventing over-infestations.

3. Throw them away before they hatch

The final option for dealing with snail eggs is to get rid of them.

It is perfectly reasonable not to want snails in your freshwater aquarium. For many aquarists, these creatures are nothing more than a nuisance.

A growing snail population is not just a cosmetic problem. Snails produce bioburden like any other tank inhabitant. On its own, the contribution of a single snail to the accumulation of waste is quite insignificant. But what if there are hundreds of snails in the aquarium?

Suddenly, an out of control population is no longer a minor problem.

Too many snails can quickly raise ammonia and nitrate levels in the water, killing healthy fish and creating a toxic environment.

If you want to avoid this risk altogether, physically remove the snail eggs and dispose of them humanely.

Snail eggs inside a protective bag

For eggs stuck to the glass, you can use a razor to gently remove the sac. Protective bags are sticky and can be a bit stubborn. Forced removal can lead to rupture, which could spread the eggs inside and make them harder to remove.

Be gentle when transferring snail eggs out of the aquarium to avoid any messy mess.

The most humane way to dispose of eggs is to place them in the freezer for a few hours. The cold will stop the development, allowing you to throw them in the trash or compost. Alternatively, you can pop or smash the eggs and let any fish you have gobble up the remains.

Are you worried about snails hitchhiking on new plants? There are many ways to treat plants before adding them to your main tank.

Quarantine all plants in a closed tank. You should also visibly inspect them to remove any remaining eggs.

Author’s note: For an added safety measure, you can also soak the plant. Many commercial and homemade dips are available to rid your plants of eggs and prevent unwanted snail problems.

How long does it take for snail eggs to hatch?

The gestation period of eggs varies from species to species. Not only that, but environmental conditions can also speed up or slow down the process.

At the lower end of the time scale, you might see the eggs hatch in as little as two weeks. Some species, however, can take up to eight months!

Some snails can also retain fertilized eggs for several weeks before laying them. Therefore, there is no way to guarantee an outbreak schedule.

When it comes to water conditions, temperature, pH levels, and hardness come into play. Generally, warmer temperatures can reduce the incubation period. A few degrees can go a long way with sensitive eggs.

The same goes for pH and hardness. Some snails prefer hard water and alkaline environments. Eggs will still hatch under other conditions, but pristine settings will significantly reduce development time.

Final Thoughts

Snail eggs in a freshwater aquarium don’t have to be the end of the world. Dealing with them is much easier once you know the above information!

If you are still unsure about a snail egg situation you have in your tank, we are always happy to help. Just send us your questions!

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