Snails make great additions to an aquarium, but if anything decides to attack them they’re basically sitting ducks. (This is true whether you have mystery snails, nerites, or something else.) Fortunately, there are plenty of snail-friendly options.
The best tank mates for snails are rasboras, neon tetras, honey gourami, and corydoras. Good invertebrates to keep with snails include red cherry shrimp, ghost shrimp, and blue velvet shrimp. Avoid putting aggressive fish like bettas or tiger barbs with snails, as they often will attack them.
Let’s take a look at more options that are safe for mystery snails and nerite snails.
Rasboras are one of the staples of the fishkeeping world, and with good reason. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors – whatever you like, you’re likely to find a rasbora that looks good in your aquarium.
They’re also quite a hardy fish and get along well with other fish in their aquarium, making them good for beginners.
Here are some suggestions for good types of rasbora to get:
- Strawberry rasbora
- Harlequin Rasbora
- Chili Rasbora
- Neon Rasbora
- Blackline Rasbora
- Galaxy Rasbora
Depending on what type of rasbora you get, you may be able to get away with having a 5 gallon tank or slightly smaller (though I wouldn’t recommend it personally).
Another good community fish for keeping in an aquarium with snails is the neon tetra. This is probably the most popular small community fish in the hobby because of their nice coloration and low cost, and you can likely get them anywhere freshwater fish are sold.
I personally don’t think they’re as good a choice as rasbora because they are susceptable to something called neon tetra disease. This can cause a lot of die-off if you’re not careful about selecting and quarantining your new fish.
Still, if you’re willing to take the risk, they can be a rewarding addition to a 10+ gallon tank with snails.
Red Chery Shrimp
The next item on our list isn’t a fish but is rather the most popular type of shrimp in the fishkeeping hobby. Red cherry shrimp look great and come in a variety of other colors if red isn’t your thing. (Blue ones are called ‘Blue Velvet Shrimp’ but are the same species.)
RCS are also comparitively easier than other types of shrimp to take care of because they can adapt to a wide variety of water conditions.
You still want to do your research, but they are completely peaceful and will breed and reward you with an entire colony if you keep them happy.
Cherry barbs are another colorful addition to an aquarium with any type of snail. They aren’t as aggressive as some of their cousins and add a nice red color to your tank.
Once you get them established in your tank, they are also quite hardy.
Feed them any flake or floating pellet food that is the right size for their mouths, and they should do well in your 25+ gallon aquarium.
Rabbit snails are an unusual looking type of snail that will work well with any other snails in your aquarium.
They can be a bit pricier and less available than mystery or nerites, and they’re not particularly good climbers, but they will keep your sand bed clean and look great while doing it.
They can get up to 5″ long and will work with a very wide variety of temperatures from 68-86F.
Fancy guppies are a bit of a mixed bag when it comes to fish. On one hand, they come in a very wide variety of colors and patterns, and if you want a showy, small fish for your 5+ gallon aquarium they are perfect.
On the other hand, they are called the millionfish for a reason.
If you have females in your aquarium at all – even if you don’t have males (depending on how they were kept before you bought them) – they will breed prodigiously and eventually you’ll have a problem on your hands.
Lucklily, most local fish stores accept fish donations, so you can take any extras in and drop them off for free usually. Your other option would be to just keep a few males.
They do come with some benefits, though – they like to eat algae. They’re not going to completely get rid of algae in your tank, but you’ll often see them picking at algae throughout the day when they aren’t otherwise being fed.
Ghost shrimp are possibly the cheapest type of shrimp you can get in the hobby. Because they are a feeder shrimp, you can often find them for less than 25 cents per shrimp.
They aren’t a single species, but instead a collective name for a number of species that are clear and look generally the same. Because of this, you may see a variety of behaviors from ghost shrimp. Some will eat algae, and others are carnivores.
Because of this wide variety of species, ghost shrimp can be harder to care for than red cherry shrimp. They also are less likely to reproduce in your aquarium, because some species need brackish water to reproduce successfully – like the nerite snail.
This may be a good or bad thing depending on whether you want an entire colony of shrimp when you only purchased 6 to begin with.
I’ve never had any problem with ghost shrimp attacking my snails, so they should be safe to put in an aquarium with any type of snail.
Cardinal tetras are – in my opinion – one of the best looking types of tetra available at the moment. They look similar to neon tetras, but they have more red in them that gives an extra burst of color and looks great.
Like neon tetras, they are relatively easy to care for as long as you avoid the issue with neon tetra disease (which cardinals are also susceptable to).
They prefer 20+ gallon aquariums with warm water between 74-80F and will tolerate a wide range of PH, though they prefer slightly acidic water.
African Dwarf Frogs
African dwarf frogs may be a bit of an unusual choice – especially since frogs in general are just stomachs with legs that will eat anything they can stuff into their mouths – but ADFs can work quite well with most types of snails.
If you’re looking for something that is a bit out of the ordinary, these frogs may make a good addition to your 10+ gallon aquarium.
To keep them the healthiest, feed them a variety of foods including brine shrimp, flakes, bloodworms, daphnia, springtails, and anything other small live food you can get your hands on.
If you’re up for a challenge, they can also be fun to breed. You just have to follow the right steps.
If you want an interesting tank that isn’t just full of fish, I’d highly recommend checking them out.
The whiptail catfish is another unusual looking fish that is underappreciated in the hobby. If you’re looking for something that will add personality to your 30+ gallon aquarium, you should consider this one.
Even though they are carnivorous, they are completely peaceful, so they work well with most snails you might want to keep. Just keep them happy by feeding them sinking wafers.
They are also quite hardy as long as you have the tank set up properly for them.
They come from rivers and high flow areas, so you’ll want to make sure you have a lot of flow in your aquarium and keep your water highly oxygenated. A sponge filter with a power head might be a good idea, or you can head over to the saltwater section of your local fish store and pick up a cheap wave maker.
If you want to make a tank out of it, you can combine them with the next snail-safe option on our list.
Hillstream loaches are another fish that are completely peaceful and will work perfectly with snails. They are also quite unusual – looking more like a futuristic hovercraft than a fish.
Like the whiptail catfish, they need a high flow environment, so if you want to create a hillstream tank, this is a second fish to consider. They prefer to be kept in groups of 3+ and need a 55 gallon aquarium or larger.
They also are algae eaters, so they will keep your tank clean and clear of algae, though you will also want to feed them pellets or algae wafers to keep them healthy.
Siamese Algae Eaters
Another algae eater on our list of snail-safe fish is the siamese algae eater. These fish may not look like much, but they are great for eating even tough types of algae that plecos won’t touch.
If you’re looking for another member of your clean up crew to compliment your snails, the SAE is a perfect option as long as your tank is 30+ gallons in size.
You will want to be careful, however, that you get a true SAE and not a flying fox, which eats less algae and is more aggressive.
Another tetra for our list of snail safe fish is the rummynose tetra, also known as the firenose tetra. As their name suggests, they have a brilliant red face that will add a splash of color to your aquarium as they swim around.
Like other tetras, you’ll want to keep a group of at least 6-8 of them. They are also susceptable to neon tetra disease, so you’ll want to get them from a reputable breeder and not just your local fish store.
They prefer slightly acidic water, and need to be kept in a tank that is at least 20 gallons.
Kuhli loaches are the closest thing to an eel that you’re going to get in most freshwater aquariums. These loaches are peaceful and won’t bother any of your snails – even though a lot of loaches have a reputation for being snail eaters.
Kuhli loaches like to hang around at the bottom of the aquarium and dig through your substrate, and they’ll provide endless entertainment. (These tie with corydoras for being the most beloved bottom dwelling fish, in my opinion.)
Because of this, even though they will work fine in an aquarium with gravel, sand is the ideal substrate for them.
If you want to keep kuhli loaches, you’ll want to keep a group of at least 3 of them. Minimum tank size for these fish isn’t so much about how many gallons you have but rather how much floor space you have available for them. You’ll want a tank that is at least 2′ long by 1′ wide by 1′ tall.
Doing the math, that works out to be a 15 gallon tank, but 15 gallon tanks that are tall and skinny or are cubes would be poor choices for them. A 20 gallon would be a good choice, and a 20 long would be better.
Honey gouramis are a great looking fish that add a pop of yellow to your aquarium and can act as a centerpiece for your tank, if you are looking for one.
Unlike some other gourami, they are completely peaceful and won’t harass the other fish in your aquarium. In fact, you may want to keep a pair of them instead of just one to keep them happiest. In addition, they have tiny mouths, so they will generally leave your snails alone.
A single honey gourami only needs a 10 gallon tank to live in, so you can add one to virtually any aquarium you may already have snails in.
Platies are another excellent fish with a nice gold color that can satisfy the ‘goldfish’ urge if you have a tank too small to keep a real goldfish in.
They are extremely hardy and easy to care for, and they will also pick at algae in your tank when you’re not feeding them.
They do have the same downside as the guppy, though, in that they are a livebearer and will eventually overrun your tank with baby fish. When this happens, you’ll need to bag up a bunch of the babies and take them down to your local fish store.
If you want to keep platies, you’ll need at least a 10 gallon aquarium.
Danios are another good option for aquariums with snails – especially if you have water that’s a bit on the colder side.
They may not look like much from pictures on the internet, but they’ve become one of my favorite fish in my aquarium. I have a powerhead attached to a sponge filter instead of a hang on back, and they are constantly playing in the current.
They are pretty hardy and will eat most flake or floating pellets without complaint.
You will want to keep at least 6 of them, but if you have a tank that is at least 10 gallons, you might want to consider them for your tank. (Especially if you want hillstream loaches or whiptail catfish.)
Corydoras are an excellent fish for a number of reasons – they are extremely peaceful, look great, come in a variety of colors and patters, and best of all – they pack an amazing amount of personality into a tiny body.
Like kuhli loaches, they like to stay at the bottom of the aquarium and sift through your substrate for food. Also like kuhli loaches, this means that gravel will work but sand is ideal.
Floor space is more important than number of gallons for corydoras, but as a general rule you’ll want a 20 gallon aquarium or larger for them. (20 long is better.)
If you have a smaller aquarium, you can still get corydoras, but you’ll want the pygmy or habrosus varieties. These will work down to a 10 gallon aquarium.
They do like company, so you’ll want to keep a group of at least 6 of them. (3 as a absolute bare minimum.)
If you’re looking for an algae eater, otos are another good option on our list. They can be picky eaters, but they’ll make quick work of most of the soft algaes that grow on leaves, tank walls, and the bottom of your aquarium.
They aren’t as fun to watch as corydoras – their behavior being short bursts of chasing each other around followed by long periods of sitting still on an object – but they are great fish nonetheless. (And very peaceful – they work well with most other fish.)
You’ll want to add them to a mature aquarium, because they can be picky eaters and need the established algae in your tank so as not to starve to death.
If your tank is running low on algae, you can feed them blanched cucumbers and zucchini.
You’ll need at least a 10 gallon tank, but I wouldn’t keep them in smaller than a 20 because of their dependence on how much algae is in your aquarium.