Do Bettas Eat Snails?

Bettas tend to have aggressive personalities; thus, you should choose their tankmates wisely. However, snails make good tankmates for bettas as long as they are not too small.

Bettas may attempt to eat small snails, but they generally will spit them back out because they don’t like the shell, in my experience. Bettas often attempt to eat the eye stalks of larger snails, like mystery snails, thinking they are worms, but they don’t try to eat big snails specifically.

With some bettas, your snails may spend more time closed up in their shells than out looking for food, so it’s important to choose your snails wisely.

In this article, I’ll provide you with some tips regarding the interactions of bettas and snails, which snails make good companions for bettas, and which ones don’t. 

Malaysian Trumpet Snails feeding on soft algae with Betta fish quietly resting at the bottom of aquarium | Source: Deposit Photos

Will Bettas Attack Snails?

Depending on the temperament of your betta, snails may either make great tankmates or really bad ones. If you have an overly aggressive betta, placing a docile snail in its tank may not be the best option.

Otherwise, snails make great tankmates for bettas. 

Bettas may also attack snails if they are hungry and view the snails as potential food. Especially when you have a large snail like a mystery snail, the long, thin eye stalks waving around look a lot like a pair of worms that would make perfect food for your betta.

When it tries to eat the worms (which are actually your snail’s eyes), it causes the snail to get stressed out and pull into its shell.

To reduce the chances of this happening, be sure to feed your betta appropriately so they do not resort to eating their tank mates for dinner. Also, you may want to provide a lot of hiding spots and real or fake plants to make sure your betta can’t see your snail at all times.

The less often your betta is able to see your snail, the less likely he is to try to eat it.

What Kinds of Snails Make Good Tankmates for Bettas?

There are a few recommended species of snail to use as tankmates for bettas including malaysian trumpet snails, assassin snails, ramshorn snails, and nerite snails.

Not all bettas will get along with all of these snails, but most should.

Malaysian Trumpet Snails

Malaysian trumpet snails are excellent for cleaning up debris and waste especially in tanks that have a fine substrate. They will grow to approximately half an inch long, which can be a bit unsightly in a smaller aquarium.

Be aware that in the presence of an excess of food, these snails can breed to an unmanageable degree, and the size of their population may need to be culled. 

Your betta may try to eat a few (and may occasionally succeed), but I wouldn’t count on it to keep the population of these snails under control. In my experience they usually end up getting spat back out.

Just take a look at the screenshot at the top of this post.

If you have a pea puffer in another tank, however, your betta tank will make a great place to raise them as food for your puffer.

Assassin Snails

Assassin snails are unique in that their food of choice is other snails. If you have an overpopulation issue with trumpet snails, introducing one or two assassin snails will help keep their numbers under control. Assassin snails also make great companions for bettas as they are able to defend themselves if attacked and also grow large enough to avoid being a temptation for bettas to eat. 

Ramshorn Snails

Ramshorn snails are very docile and do a fantastic job of keeping your aquarium clean. They reproduce pretty quickly on their own, so if your betta eats one or two of them it won’t make a dent in their overall population.

 They also come in brown, red, blue, and with stripes or spots to make your betta tank look more interesting.

These ‘designer snails’ are tank raised and – therefore – have a lower risk of disease that might harm your betta if eaten.

Nerite Snails

Nerite snails are another great choice to pair with your betta. In fact, they are the only large species of snail I would recommend. (With them being more shell and less eye stalk than mystery snails.)

They grow to be about an inch in length, will not bother your fish, and will keep the tank spotless as they are avid algae eaters. They also add a bit of flair to you betta’s tank with their bold zebra stripe pattern that pops in any aquatic environment. 

They do lay infertile eggs around your aquarium and may try to leave if your water quality is too poor, but these are minor issues if you want the algae eating muscle they bring to your betta tank.

What Type of Snails Should You Avoid Keeping With Bettas?

Any large snail with pronounced eye stalks should be avoided if possible. I’ve seen myself and have heard a lot of stories from other people who own bettas that have harassed mystery/inca/apple snails mercilessly because they viewed their eyes as food.

Also, snails that may hitch a ride on aquatic plants you use to decorate your betta’s tank can introduce potential diseases to your betta. This may or may not be something you’re concerned about, but there is another reason you might want to check your plants.

The snails that are commonly brought in on aquarium plants are the ones that will turn into an army of snails almost overnight and will cause you quite a bit of stress if you aren’t into pest snails. (Which I am, and I like them.)

A quick dip in potassium permanganate should take care of any snails and other unwanted guests so they don’t take over your aquarium.

Conclusion

Bettas can absolutely eat snails if given the chance, especially small ones.

Even big ones can be bullied relentlessly. Because of this, it’s recommended that if you want to add snails to your aquarium, they are small and capable of reproducing on their own. This way, it won’t matter if some of them get eaten by your betta.