Malaysian Trumpet Snails: The Complete Care Guide

Malaysian trumpet snails are one of the most controversial snails in the hobby.

If you get them, you want to make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into.

These snails are extremely hardy and reproduce quickly – meaning that they multiply fast and are almost impossible to get rid of once you have them.

The question is:

Is this a good thing or a bad thing?

First, let’s start with the water parameters Malaysian trumpet snails do best in:

Parameter Acceptable Range
Care LevelEasy
TemperamentPeaceful
PH 6.5-8 (Shell problems common below 7)
Temperature 70-82F
Hardness 6-12dKH (Ideally 8+)
Lifespan 1 Year Avg
Size 1” or less
DietOmnivorous (Algae, dead plants, leftover food, etc) + Calcium source
Tank Size 5 gal minimum

But just having a tank set up with the right parameters isn’t enough.

Given the right conditions, these snails will overrun your aquarium.

How can you be sure that they’re the right snail for you?

Table Of Contents

Should You Keep Malaysian Trumpet Snails?

If you ask, most people will probably tell you that keeping Malaysian Trumpet Snails is a bad idea.

Some of these people are even snail lovers.

Of course, there are people who are quite happy with their MTS colony. And they’ll happily tell you all of the benefits of keeping them.

But who should you listen to?

In this section, I’m going to cover the pros and cons of trumpet snails, so that you can make an informed decision.

Benefits:

  • They’re the hardiest variety of snail. They can survive in conditions that other species of snail can’t.
  • They are nocturnal snails, so generally they’ll hide during the day and come out when the lights are out. Because of this, they’re less of an eyesore than other “pest” snails.
  • They breed easily, so you probably won’t have to buy them more than once.
  • They’re live bearers, so they won’t leave unsightly eggs everywhere (like nerite snails do).
  • They’ll eat most types of algae, including green algae, brown algae, diatoms, and other soft algaes.
  • They’ll eat leftover food, dead plants, dead snails, and even dead fish.
  • If you have pea puffers, they can be a good source of food.

Drawbacks:

  • The more food they have, the more they’ll reproduce. Meaning they can quickly breed into a massive population.
  • They can be nearly impossible to completely get rid of once you have them. Some people have gotten desperate enough to boil their gravel just to try to get rid of them.
  • They can still be a bit of an eyesore when they’re out feeding.

As you can see, there are a lot of benefits and only a few drawbacks.

The drawbacks are big ones, though.

If you don’t mind having a bunch of snails in your aquariums, they can be a great no-work snail that will keep your tank in order. If you have pea puffers, they can even save you a lot of money.

If, on the other hand, you just want a snail or two that will keep your tank clean, a mystery snail will eat many of the same things as an MTS – without reproducing like crazy.

Assuming that you do want to keep them:

Let’s discuss everything you need to know to keep Malaysian trumpet snails and (more importantly) how to keep them under control.

Behavior

Malaysian trumpet snails are a “nocturnal” species of snail. (Or at least are light averse.)

When the tank is lit up, they’ll spend their time hiding under the substrate, digging around for food.

When the lights go out, they’ll surface and start foraging above ground.

They are a peaceful species, and they work diligently to eat anything undesirable in your tank. (More on their diet later.)

Unlike nerite snails, they are unlikely to try to escape your tank.

They don’t lay eggs, but they are widely considered to be a pest, as they do give live birth to an amazing number of young.

Tank Setup

Malaysian trumpet snails aren’t extremely picky when it comes to tank setup.

If you have substrate for them to burrow in and waste for them to eat, they’re happy.

You’ll also want to have a source of calcium available for them to incorporate into their shells. A cuttlebone, which you can get anywhere that sells supplies for pet birds, will work well for this.

Let’s dive a bit more into the optimal water conditions.

Water Conditions

Malaysian trumpet snails are happiest in hard water with a dKH of 6-12 and with a PH above 7.

They can survive in PH between 6.5-7, but they will start to experience shell corrosion and other health problems.

They can survive in most temperatures you’d find in a tropical tank, living in water anywhere between 70-82F.

You should keep your ammonia and nitrite down to 0 for them to be at their healthiest.

Other than that, they aren’t really picky. They’ll survive in just about any tank as long as it meets the above criteria.

Bioload

Trumpet snails are often regarded as having a lower bioload than other species of snail.

I’ve heard from people who have massive populations of trumpet snails that have had little to no change in their ammonia, nitrite, or nitrates.

One reason for this is that they’re eating waste that sits at the bottom of the tank. This waste is going to decay and produce ammonia anyway, and since they’re incorporating it into their shells and bodies, they’re actually reducing the amount that makes it into the water column.

They also eat leftover food and dead plant parts more readily than algae, so the algae will also continue to sequester ammonia that would otherwise be left to poison your fish.

When you scrape the algae and remove dead trumpet snails, everything they ate will be removed from the aquarium.

Diet

The next thing that you need to support a population of trumpet snails is food.

Honestly?

In an established tank, the problem you’re going to experience isn’t having too little food to feed them. It’s having so much food that their population explodes.

Pretty much anything you feed your fish, they can also eat. This includes flakes, pellets, wafers, and most other types of fish food.

They won’t eat live plants, though they will clean up any dead leaves and stems on any of your plants. In fact, since they aerate the substrate, they may be beneficial for your plants.

They’ll even eat any dead fish they find in your aquarium.

Algae is also on their menu, but they may prefer the above sources of food over it. They’ll eat most types of algae, including green algae, brown algae, diatoms, and other soft algaes.

You shouldn’t rely on MTS to control algae in your aquarium, however.

If you’re considering getting MTS just to eat the algae in your aquarium, you should first try reducing the amount of time your tank is exposed to light, covering windows nearby in light blocking curtains, and reducing the amount of fertilizer you’re dosing your tank with.

There are also other snails that will eat algae that will cause you less problems in the long run. A male nerite snail is a good choice in this regard. (I have a guide on them here.)

Let’s talk about some of the reasons you might want to avoid Malaysian trumpet snails.

Breeding

Malaysian trumpet snails are prodigious breeders.

Pretty much the only thing you need to do in order to breed them is to keep them in a tank with the right water conditions.

You can get them to breed faster, if that’s what you want to do, by increasing the temperature to 80-82F.

You’ll find they’ll quickly multiply, however, even if your tank is on the cooler end of the range.

A lot of people end up looking for ways to cut down on the number of Malaysian trumpet snails they have.

Let’s cover that next:

Population Control

Malaysian trumpet snails can be a great addition to your tank, if you can keep their population in check.

That’s a pretty big if, there.

Here are a few ways to keep your MTS from multiplying out of control.

Reduce the Food in Your Aquarium

If you have too many Malaysian trumpet snails in your aquarium, the problem isn’t the snails themselves.

They can only survive and breed to the extent that they can find food.

If there isn’t enough food, their population will shrink.

Overfeeding is the biggest reason why your tank is probably being overrun by Malaysian trumpet snails.

Therefore, to reduce their numbers, you can do a few things:

  1. Reduce the amount of food you’re feeding your fish.
  2. Gravel vac your substrate to remove any debris that might have collected there.
  3. Trim dead parts of plants, leaving only living plant material in your tank.
  4. Get on top of the amount of algae you have growing. Reduce the amount and duration of light, and cover any windows your tank is exposed to with light blocking curtains.

This should reduce how many snails you have by itself.

If it doesn’t, you can always call in some help.

Predators

The next thing you can do is to add predators to your aquarium.

Assassin snails are a popular choice for culling populations of snails.

Their diet consists almost exclusively of snails. (And as an added bonus, they’re fun to watch.)

Pea puffers will also eat trumpet snails. You want to avoid adding larger species of puffer, due to how hard their shells are, but pea puffers will eat the snail right out of their shell, so they don’t have anything to worry about injuring their beak.

If you have a 100+ gallon aquarium, clown loaches are also a good option for snail control.

With these two suggestions working in combination, you’ll have a better chance at keeping your snails from getting out of hand.

How to Get Rid of Malaysian Trumpet Snails

If you want to get rid of your trumpet snails entirely, you’ll need to take more drastic action.

Reducing food is a good start, but it’s not enough to eradicate them completely.

The next thing you want to do is spread slices of cucumber around the bottom of your tank. (After you turn out the lights.)

Wait until the snails come up to feed on it, and then remove the cucumber along with the snails. Repeat this as often as you have snails coming up.

If you don’t have any other desirable snails in your aquarium, a product like no-planaria (available on Amazon) is a good next step to make sure they stay gone.

It claims to be safe for shrimp, but I would avoid using it if you intend to keep other varieties of snail in your aquarium. It will continue to kill snails for quite a while after use.

Assuming you don’t want to completely eradicate them, however, let’s discuss some good tank mates to keep with your trumpet snails:

Tank Mates

Malaysian trumpet snails don’t have a lot to worry about from most types of fish.

Even a lot of fish that would normally prey on snails, like larger species of puffer and cichlids, will leave trumpet snails alone. Trumpet snails may damage the teeth of larger puffers, so best to avoid those.

(This isn’t necessarily something that happens often, but it is still a concern.)

Fish that won’t harass trumpet snails include:

  • Shrimp
  • Snails (except ones like the assassin snail that eat other snails)
  • Tetras
  • Guppies
  • Barbs
  • Rasbora
  • Danios
  • Corydoras
  • Otos

Things that will eat trumpet snails include:

  • Assassin snails
  • Pea puffers
  • Clown Loaches
  • Skunk Loaches
  • Yoyo Loaches

Diseases

Trumpet snails are extremely hardy, and they have hardly anything to worry about from diseases.

(Or if they do, they multiply so fast that you won’t really notice.)

You do, however, want to make sure you’re getting them from a trusted source, as they can carry parasites.

If you are concerned about parasites, ParaGuard is a good product to deal with them that is safe for snails.

The other, more common, problem that occurs in trumpet snails is shell degradation.

If you notice your snails are having problems with their shells, this is most likely due to water quality issues.

Make sure your PH is above 7 and your dKH is at or above 8. Additionally, provide a source of calcium for your snails. Calcium sand or cuttlebone are both good options for this.

In Conclusion

Trumpet snails are one of the easiest snails to care for.

They will both survive and thrive in most aquariums. In fact, if you overfeed or don’t keep your aquarium clean, they may be too successful.

Still, if you don’t mind housing a potentially large population of snails, trumpet snails are one of the best options for keeping the bottom of your aquarium clean and well aerated.