Do Goldfish Eat Snails?

goldfish snails

Goldfish are extremely popular fish. They also have a reputation for eating just about everything that they can put in their mouth. On a similar note, snails are also popular to have in a fish tank because they do an excellent job acting as tank janitors sucking up algae. However, this has led to an interesting question:

Do goldfish eat snails?

Yes, goldfish eat snails if the snail fits in the goldfish’s mouth. The general consensus is that the smaller the snail; the more likely that goldfish will eat the snail. Goldfish will also eat dead snails of any size by picking out the internals.

Do Goldfish Eat Large Snails?

No, goldfish do not eat large snails. More accurately, goldfish do not eat snails if the snail will not fit in the mouth of the goldfish. The problem?

Goldfish can get really big. Especially if they’re pond goldfish.

This means that you cannot really have snails in your pond if goldfish are in it. The goldfish will simply devour the large snails once the goldfish get large enough to fit them in their mouth.

That said, goldfish do not get too large in an aquarium. They tend to grow to the size of their habitat, which means your goldfish will not bother the larger snails.

Snails Goldfish Generally Don’t Eat

The rule with goldfish is they eat anything that fits in their mouth, which makes it easy to figure out what snails they won’t eat…

Goldfish won’t eat big snails. Here are some snails that your goldfish won’t generally eat:

Nerite Snails

Nerite snails are big enough that snails usually avoid eating them, which is great because nerite snails don’t reproduce in freshwater. These snails also do a good job eating the waste your goldfish produce and the algae that forms in your tank.

In my opinion, nerite snails are the best choice for your goldfish tank. Just make sure that they’re bigger than your goldfish’s mouth when you purchase them or the snail(s) won’t last long.

Mystery Snails

Mystery snails are also another good addition to your goldfish tank because they get big enough to avoid being a tasty snack for goldfish. Additionally, they eat algae off the side of the tank. But there is a downside to mystery snails.

Mystery snails reproduce a lot and can quickly overrun a tank. The good news is that goldfish will eat snail eggs and will eat small mystery snails, which can do a good job keeping the population in check.

Apple Snails

Apple snails also work well with goldfish for two reasons:

  • They get bigger than the mouth of a goldfish.
  • The hard shell of an apple snail is too difficult for a goldfish to digest, so goldfish won’t eat these snails whole. But they might pull them out of their shell.

Again, apple snails do reproduce quickly, so you will have to work on keeping the population in check. On a positive note, goldfish will eat smaller apple snails that they catch roaming the tank.

Can Goldfish Digest Snail Shells?

First of all, goldfish don’t have stomachs.

We know – it’s weird. Food just passes through their intestine and into your tank as waste.

However, goldfish will still eat snails in their shell IF the snail is small. Small shells are small enough that the shell will disintegrate in their intestine, which won’t cause too many problems.

For bigger snails, the goldfish may figure out how to pull the snail out of the shell before eating it. You will know this if you see a lot of big, empty snail shells littering your tank.

Final Thoughts

Well, that about covers it for whether goldfish eat snails. The simple answer is they do if the snail is a smaller than the mouth of a goldfish. And goldfish have been known to rip snails out of their shell.

However, as mentioned in the article, there are a few types of snails that you can have in your goldfish tank without too many problems, which is great because snails do a good job at keeping the tank clean.

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