Few things divide pond owners like the question of pond snails. Some owners view them as a pest or eyesore, while others view them as part of the natural ecosystem they have created.
Our own opinion is a little of both. They tend to do no real harm but aren’t the best to look at.
While we would suggest leaving them be unless they are present in significant numbers, we appreciate not everyone will share that view.
That’s why we put this post together. To help all of you out there who don’t want snails in your pond.
Where do pond snails come from?
Pond snails will usually hitch a ride to your pond. They can hide within aquatic plants, their eggs can be transferred by birds, cats, or dogs or they can walk (slither?) from one water source to another if it’s close by.
So, even if you don’t introduce pond snails yourself, they can often find their own way into your pond.
Do pond snails damage a pond?
Pond snails can damage pond life depending on what’s already there.
Their diet consists mainly of dead vegetation, dead fish, and algae. However, if none of these are present in sufficient quantities, pond snails will snack on your pond lily leaves and other pond plants.
While not terminal for the plant, it can impact the look of your pond.
Snail waste also contributes to the nitrate levels in your water which could upset the fine balance you have spent so long reaching.
Do pond snails have natural predators?
Pond snails do have natural predators and some of them are fish. You have to be careful introducing snail-eating fish as they can have a knock on effect on your pond.
Some fish, like Clown Loach eat snails but are tropical and can be difficult to keep.
Other fish that eat snails include Gourami, Betta fish, Cory catfish, mosquito fish, yellow perch, goldfish and green spotted puffer.
As you’ll likely know, many of these are tropical fish rather than pond fish, so won’t do you much good.
Other predators include frogs, toads, assassin snails, and birds. Some of these may naturally be present or visit your pond.
So how do you get rid of pond snails?
Unfortunately, the easiest and most effective way to get rid of pond snails is to collect them by hand.
This will only get rid of adult snails and won’t have an effect on eggs though.
The most effective way to harvest pond snails is to lay a couple of lettuce leaves on the surface of the pond. Leave the leaves there for a couple of hours and when you get back, they will probably have pond snails on them.
Remove the leaves and you remove (hopefully) a number of pond snails.
Otherwise, hunting and picking them is the next best thing.
Chemical pond snail treatments
There are a number of chemical pond snail treatments available but we would suggest only using them as a last resort.
You know full well how delicate the balance is within a pond. Introducing a chemical into that balance could have far-reaching effects.
Some pond snail treatments include copper sulphate. It is very effective at ridding your pond of snails but can also impact fish and plant growth.
It should be used sparingly, if at all.
Other ways to rid your pond of snails?
There are a couple of other ways to rid your pond of snails but they are all manual.
Use a pond filter and clarifier – Pond filters can suck up snail eggs and trap them so they can’t escape. As we recommend using a filter and clarifier anyway, this is the least-effort option.
Clean your pond regularly – Regular checking and cleaning of your pond is also useful. Check for snails on the side or bottom of the pond and remove them once spotted.
Use a water vacuum – Using a water vacuum to clear out the bottom of your pond is also useful. It can remove dead vegetation, which is a prime food source, while also sucking up snails and their eggs.
Drain and clean your pond annually – It’s a messy job but someone has to do it. Remove the fish and drain the pond completely. Remove debris and snails and give the liner a thorough clean to remove as many snails and eggs as possible. Make sure to thoroughly clean all rocks and plants to remove eggs and snails before replacing them in the pond.
Ponds and pond snails
As you can see, pond snails can be both beneficial and also a pest depending on your point of view.
Either way, getting rid of them can be problematic. Their natural predators aren’t always pond fish and encouraging birds and frogs into your pond bring their own challenges.
You can use a filter and clarifier to help remove them but it won’t be 100% successful.
Therefore, we recommend a combined approach. Use a pond filter and clarifier as that has other benefits.
Perform regular manual checks for pond snails and periodically vacuum or clean your pond and pond water if their numbers keep growing.
Those are the only effective ways we know of to get rid of pond snails without using chemicals.