Do Snails Eat Dead Fish?Mysteries of Their Diet

Do Snails Eat Dead Fish?Mysteries of Their Diet

Snails eat a lot of things. The snail keepers are always worried about how to keep their tummies healthy. They are always in search of what to offer them to keep their favorite snail pets happy all the time. So, I encountered an important question of an aquarist that said “Do snails eat dead fish?”

Snails do eat dead fish. As you know, snails are omnivorous creatures. So, eating dead fish is a good meal for them. The snails are popularly known as scavengers. It means they are not very picky if it’s the case with dead fish. However, some species of aquarium snails even eat live fish.

Do you know what type of snails scavenge on dead fishes? Have you ever noticed why they try to eat dead fish and plants? Let’s dive deeper into the insights of this research topic to let go of all the confusion about snails and fish relationships. 

Do snails eat dead fish?

Absolutely Yes! Snails do eat dead fish. Here is the YouTube video as proof that snails love to eat dead fish: Source.

Do you know snails primarily consume dead plants, algae, and decaying matter? These aquatic creatures are opportunistic feeders. So, if the fish is dead and decaying, these snails scavenge on it. However, I agree that dead fish is not their primary diet.

In simple words, the snails are not always at the mercy of where the fish are. They find other matter to eat. Furthermore, live fish are smart and constantly whirling here and there. Snails are not swimmers; they crawl and stay stuck to a position (stop).

So, how will the snails catch the live fish? Think about it! That’s why they pop up from crevices and surroundings whenever a fish dies to dine on it.

Why do snails eat dead fish?

Snails play a crucial role in ecosystems by aiding in the decomposition process. Meanwhile, they break down organic material, including dead fish. Out of the nature of snails, here are a few other reasons why snails eat dead fish.

No other food option:

When snails do not get other food items, it’s obvious that they have to rely on what is available. That’s why they eat dead fish if it’s available to survive.

This consumption of dead fish in such circumstances serves as a pragmatic response to scarcity. Generally, snails are allowing themselves to extract essential nutrients from the only viable food source in their immediate environment.

Clean-Up Crew Function:

In aquariums, snails are often introduced as part of a “clean-up crew.” This is because they help manage waste, including the remains of deceased fish.

Have you noticed why aquarists intentionally keep snails in the fish tank? The reason is simple – snails actively participate in nutrient recycling by consuming waste (like dead fish).

Read also: Will Snails Eat Fish Eggs? Lets find out

What types of snails eat dead fish?

Do Snails Eat Dead Fish?

Hobbyists of snails have stated that various types of snails eat dead fish. Some common types include:

Pond Snails (Lymnaeidae):

Pond snails are often found in freshwater habitats. They feed on a variety of organic matter, including dead fish. That’s why aquarists prefer to keep pond snails in aquariums to keep the decorum of the tank.

Ramshorn Snails (Planorbidae):

Ramshorn snails are recognized for their distinctive spiral-shaped shells. They are known to consume decaying plant matter as well as dead organisms.

Malaysian Trumpet Snails:

These snails are frequently introduced to aquariums as part of the clean-up crew. The Trumpet snails are pro in feeding on detritus, algae, and decaying matter, including dead fish.

Mystery Snails:

Mystery snails are popular in aquariums and are omnivorous. They feed on leftover food, decaying plants, and, on occasion, dead fish. We can say that these snails are not very interested in fish (either live or dead).

Assassin Snails:

Assassin snails are the most kind and respectful to keep in the fish tank. While primarily known for preying on other snails, assassin snails often consume dead fish in aquariums when other food sources are limited. Obviously, they are snails, and they know how to survive.

Nerite Snails (Neritidae):

Nerite snails are efficient algae eaters. But they may also consume detritus and decaying matter, including the remains of deceased organisms. Dead fish is also the favorite food option of Nerite snails.

Bladder Snails (Physidae):

Bladder snails are adaptable and can thrive in various aquatic environments. They play a role in consuming organic debris, including dead fish. I also keep two bladder snails in my tank as a cleanup crew.

Like a few snails listed above, many other snail species scavenge on dead fish. Last but not least, it’s essential to note that the specific dietary habits of snails can vary, 

Is it harmful for snails to eat dead fish?

No, it is not harmful for snails to eat dead fish. In fact, it is a natural behavior for many snail species. This behavior helps maintain a balance in aquatic environments by preventing the accumulation of organic waste. However, in a controlled environment like an aquarium, it’s essential to ensure that the dead fish do not succumb to a contagious disease.

This is essential because snails may indirectly spread diseases because they start feeding on contaminated carcasses. Regular observation and proper aquarium maintenance are crucial for a healthy and balanced ecosystem. You can do this with the help of filters and kits.

How do snails find dead fish?

Snails locate dead fish primarily through their highly developed sense of smell. According to studies, they have specialized chemoreceptors that can detect the scent of decaying organic matter. It may include the distinct odor emitted by dead fish.

This keen sense of smell enables snails to navigate their environment and locate potential food sources. Once they detect the scent trail of a deceased fish, snails will move towards it. They utilize their sensory abilities to find and consume the nutrient-rich carcass.


Should I rely solely on snails for cleanup?

Snails are known as valuable members of an aquarium’s clean-up crew. However, solely relying on them is not sufficient for comprehensive waste management. It’s advisable to implement a holistic approach to aquarium maintenance, including the following:

  • The introduction of a diverse clean-up crew in the tank is very important. A variety of organisms, such as snails, shrimp, and certain fish species, create a diverse clean-up crew. Each species may contribute differently to waste management.
  • You can perform regular water changes. Routine water changes to remove accumulated waste and maintain optimal water quality are helpful.
  • Mechanical filtration also works very well. You can use efficient mechanical filtration systems to capture debris and particulate matter.

If you start relying on a combination of these approaches, you will create a more effective and well-rounded strategy for maintaining a clean and healthy aquarium environment.

Do all snail species have the behavior of eating dead fish?

No! All snail species do not have the behavior of eating dead fish. It is not a universal trait among all snails. Moreover, the dietary preferences of snails can vary based on the species, habitat, and availability of alternative food sources.

Do snails eat fish eggs, too?

Yes, some snail species are known to consume fish eggs. However, it’s essential to note that all snail species do not exhibit the same feeding habits, and their preference for fish eggs can vary.

How fast can snails eat a dead fish?

According to the experience of my few Reddit fellows, the speed at which snails consume a dead fish varies. It depends on factors such as the size of the snail, the size of the fish, and the overall environmental conditions.

Generally, snails are not known for rapid movements, and their feeding process is gradual. They take several hours to a few days to fully consume a dead fish. I think it also depends on the size of the carcass and the number of snails present.

What type of fish do snails eat?

Generally, the snails that consume dead fish consume all types of dead fish. No matter what the fish species is. Therefore, I am not listing specific tank or aquarium fish that snails commonly eat.

Will my snails eat guppies?

It depends on what species of snails you are keeping with guppies. Otherwise, guppies are not easy prey for snails. Also, guppies know how to protect themselves from other fish species and snails. However, if guppies die, snails eat them very well.


Hence, we have come to the conclusion of our comprehensive topic, “Do snails eat dead fish?” We found that various snail species are pretty interested in eating everything, including dead fish. Once, I put a dead fish in my assassin snail’s tank. Those snails finish the dead fish in 4 to 5 hours. So, the aquarists should observe the activities of snails and fish species living in the same habitat. 

Is your snail species fond of eating fish? Share your experience here. If you have any suggestions, let me know in the comments section.