With so many types of freshwater aquarium snails out there, it can be tricky to decide which one is the best you.
But we’ve got your back.
We absolutely love adding snails to our tanks and have been doing it for years. In our opinion, they’re one of the most underrated creatures in the aquarium scene.
Snails not only add some variety to your tank with their unique look, but they also help maintain it.
From sunup to sundown these little critters diligently scavenge for organic matter and waste that accumulates over time. This helps keep your tank clean and reduces wear and tear on your filtration equipment.
They’re also extremely easy to care for. Aquarium snails are low-maintenance and have no interest in causing trouble with their tank mates.
This list of the best aquarium snails will help you learn about the popular options we recommend. By the time you’re done reading it, you’ll be ready to get some for yourself!
Table of Contents
Our Favorite Types
We put together this list of the best aquarium snails based on each of the primary families. Some of the other guides online will only list different color variants, but that’s not very helpful.
This resource should help you learn about each from a higher level, so you can think about the details later.
The Mystery Snail is a species we absolutely love. We’ve been keeping these creatures in our tanks for years, with no intention of stopping!
These little critters stand out in any tank because of their interesting colors and patterns. We especially like putting them in a heavily-planted tank to achieve maximum contrast.
These aquarium snails are super low maintenance and easy to take care of. They get along with pretty much every species and will mind their own business.
Mystery Snails are also one of the most effective tank cleaners on this list. We’ve seen a noticeable difference in water quality after adding them!
You can pair them with other aquarium snails or shrimp too if you’re looking for a little variety. There’s really not much that you need to plan, and that’s why we like them so much.
Nerite Snails are another popular species that thrive in pretty much any freshwater tank. They’re flexible when it comes to water parameters and can fit in rather small aquariums (this species rarely grows larger than one inch in diameter).
Our favorite thing about this snail is their shell patterns. There are a number of very intricate and beautiful designs that you’ll find on their shells that are simply mesmerizing to look at.
Most of the colors are either yellow and/or brown, but there are a bunch of different options that you’ll see in their patterns. Our favorite is probably the tiger variety.
These snails do well in planted tanks with a sandy substrate. That will keep their soft underside safe from scratches and infection.
The Apple Snail is a very simple and reliable species that anyone can take care of. They’re great algae-eaters and will spend most of their time scavenging and avoiding other animals in your aquarium.
The one thing you need to keep an eye on with these snails is how aggressively they eat plant life. Other snails on our list are more passive and choose to nibble on the biofilm that grows on each plant, but the Apple Snail will go after the plant itself.
This means if you want to pair them with plants that aren’t very durable you’ll need to make a choice between the two. If you’re an avid aquascaper this isn’t a good snail for you.
To keep their appetite under control a lot of aquarists like to feed them standard plant-based fish food. When they’re not hungry they are far less likely to go after the plants in your tank (not exactly rocket science).
This aquarium snail is a bit interesting because it’s carnivorous. In fact, the main item on the menu for Assassin Snails is other snails.
This makes them a great choice if you’re trying to deal with pest snails in your tank. They will happily eat a lot of the other snails on this list, so think carefully when picking their tank mates!
This species has a very pretty shell with dark brown and yellow stripes all over it. They look great in any aquarium, and their pattern allows you to locate them quite easily!
These snails are usually between one and two inches in length and are active at night. You won’t see a lot of action during the day, so if that’s important to you it’s best to keep an eye on your tank in the late evening.
Rabbit Snails are a species with a very interesting look. Their shells extend back way further than a lot of other aquarium snails, giving them a max size of around 3-5 inches in length!
Their shell has a lot of texture with ridges as well. It’s shaped like a cone and gradually thins out the further back it goes.
Rabbit Snails have a long head that protrudes from their shell quite a bit. It’s fun to watch these creatures drag around their long shell.
This makes them much slower than your average freshwater aquarium snail (it’s hard to believe that’s even possible). You might pass by and see them starting to make their way across the aquarium, and find that they’ve barely made progress half an hour later.
It’s common to find these critters burrowing in the substrate as well (if it’s sandy).
Just like the other species on our list, Rabbit Snails are highly committed to the task of eating algae (and other greens). We’ve found that their slow nature makes them very thorough cleaners.
If you’re looking for something a bit different, this is a type of snail we definitely recommend.
6. Ivory Snail
The Ivory Snail is a simple yet elegant freshwater species that many aquarists love. These snails have a straightforward creamy white color that covers their smooth shell and body.
These are another type of aquarium snail that’s very low-maintenance and easy to care for. They’re compatible with a bunch of other creatures and keep to themselves.
This species is more during the night so if you want to observe them you’ll need to wait until later in the evening, or early in the morning. When they’re moving, these freshwater snails have a surprising amount of energy and will cover a lot of ground!
There are a wide range of water parameters that the Ivory Snail can thrive in, making them easy to keep. In fact, these are one of the most beginner-friendly snails on our list!
7. Black Devil Snails
This is one of the more unique-looking species on our list. Black Devil Snails are pretty much black all over (hence their name) which instantly makes them stand out in any tank.
They have a very long cone-shaped shell that tends to be rather smooth. Feint spirals are visible only because of the lines you can see run from one end to the other.
Black Devil Snails are a species that can grow to be rather long (around 3.5 inches max). While this isn’t as long as the Rabbit Snail, it still dwarfs a lot of other freshwater species.
One of the nice things about these critters is that that they won’t cause overpopulation issues. Even if you wanted to breed them it would be challenging!
Because of their size, you would expect them to be a bit slower (like the Rabbit Snail). But that’s actually not the case at all.
This is actually one of the fastest aquarium snails on our list! It can really take you by surprise if you’re not expecting it. They can go from one end of the tank to another in no time at all.
8. Gold Inca Snails
This is a type of aquarium snail that doesn’t get talked about as much as it should. The Gold Inca is absolutely stunning because of the rich yellow that covers their shells and body.
When you combine this with a well-planted tank you get a beautiful combination of yellow on top of the green. It makes this species really stand out!
They are very easy to take care of and have a reasonable water parameter range that you can keep them in. These freshwater snails are also extremely peaceful as well which makes them a great creature for community tanks.
They only reach about an inch in diameter and can be kept in rather small tanks. This gives you even more flexibility when it comes to picking your setup.
Gold Inca Snails do a fantastic job cleaning many types of aquarium algae as well. They’ll spend their time slowly moving around the tank cleaning up whatever they can! Fortunately, they won’t devour your plants like some of the other snails on this list.
The Ramshorn Snail might be our favorite type on this list (it’s so hard to choose). They get their name from the distinct horn-like shell they have.
This look helps them stand out among other species and makes it easy to pick them out at a glance.
At this point, these snails are mostly found in the aquarium scene instead of the wild. This isn’t the case for most of the other types on this list.
They’re about an inch in diameter and will live for roughly a year with good care. These are fairly standard numbers for aquarium snails.
The Ramshorn has a fairly high activity level. You’ll often find see them moving along the sides of your tank or climbing on whatever plants they can find. There’s something about watching them that’s just so addicting!
10. Trumpet Snail
Trumpet Snails are a species that some aquarist love and others hate. This comes from their ability to quickly reproduce and take over a tank if left unchecked.
Personally, we think they’re great freshwater snails to include in your aquarium because of their interesting look and benefits they bring.
This species is low-maintenance and easy to care for. You’ll never have to worry about them thriving in your tank as long as everything is relatively stable. They won’t mess with any other animals and keep to themselves.
They’re not very big (only about an inch in length) which makes them seem more “natural” than some of the other species on our list. There’s something about having a few of them in your aquarium that makes it seem like you’re taking a look into a pond!
Because of their small size, you’ll need to be cautious with the power of your filtration. A strong filter can easily suck them in (not good). If you can’t control the intake we recommend placing some kind of filter or guard in front to prevent them from getting stuck.
Out of all the types of aquarium snails, this might be the most underrated. Japanese Trapdoor Snails have a different “aged” sort of look to them that none of the other species on our list can match.
Their shell is shaped like a swirl of frosting and usually has three distinct whorls. The size of this species can vary greatly, with their length running somewhere between half an inch and two inches (genetics and the quality of their care will impact this).
They also have the potential to live longer than a lot of other snails. It’s not uncommon for these fish to hit the 5-year mark, with some even doubling that!
Japanese Trapdoor Snails are quite active at all times (even night). This makes them great for aquarists who want a spectator-friendly snail.
Despite their small size, this species does a great job of cleaning the tank too. For some reason, a lot of people consider other species when they want to make an impact on algae. We’ve seen these critters pull their weight though!
12. Other Pond Snails
Pond Snails refer to a broad collection of species with the Ramshorn being one of the most popular types (more on them below). Even though we spent this guide looking at individual species, we thought it would be a good idea to address this bunch.
Pond Snails are extremely common and can be found pretty much anywhere. They’re known for their ability to quickly reproduce and overpopulate a tank if you’re not careful.
With that being said, there are a lot of good options to choose from if you’re prepared for this. In our opinion, the Ramshorn is one of the best aquarium snails out there and there are plenty of other Pond species that are worthwhile too.
The most important thing to remember when trying to maintain control of their population is to keep an eye out for eggs. When these freshwater snails lay a batch of eggs you can quickly remove, but if you don’t pay attention you’ll miss your window.
Time To Pick!
Now that you know all the best types of aquarium snails, it’s time to decide which ones you like the most.
We’re huge fans of snails at Aquarium Source and we’re constantly singing their praises to our fellow aquarists. They’re adorable, interesting, and a lot of fun to watch!
When you combine those benefits with the ease of care, there’s really no downside to picking some up. Unless you already have an incompatible tank mate (anything that eats snails) there really shouldn’t be anything holding you back.
After all, experimenting with different creatures is part of what makes having an aquarium so fun in the first place. By adding some variety to your tank with any of the freshwater snails on our list, your tank will take on a whole new dynamic.
Trust us, it’s worth it!