Pond Snails – Who’s Your Friend?

Snails in the pond

The Bad News – too many pond snails

Now and then we get a call about pond snails.  They reproduce so quickly that they can become a problem, clogging up the filter basket or getting stuck around the pump.  Once these little buggers are in the pond they are hard to get out.  The common snail is invasive.

The Good News: The Japanese Trap Door Snail – He’s Your Friend!

This type of snail does not procreate so readily and even better, it spends its every waking moment EATING ALGAE!  10 of these snails can cover about 50 square feet.  Now this doesn’t let you off the hook for keeping as much debris out of the pond as possible and adding beneficial bacteria weekly to keep your pond looking great.  They are usually about 1/2 inch to an inch in size and can grow a bit bigger if they like their environment.

When and how to add the trap door snail

If you can, get snails that are about an inch in size.  The really tiny ones might be a snack for koi!

Snails can die if not transferred to the pond in a gentle way.  When you first get them they may appear dead.  This is because they are scared.  Just be gentle with them and they will perk up in the pond.  Even a cracked shell can mend!  Take are not to slosh them around in the bag on the drive home. Make sure you float them in a bag for 10 minutes first, taking care that they are not heating up by the sunshine.  After 10 minutes, splash some pond water in the bag and let them float for another 10 minutes.  This helps the water in the bag to reach the same temperature as the pond.  Gently take them out and set them in the a shallow place in the pond.   At first you may see no signs of life, but after a while they will go snooping about!

What do they eat?

They are scavengers and eat organic material, including algae on the bottom of the pond and covering plants.  They don’t eat fish waste so proper biological and mechanical filtration is necessary.  If you want to see the snail, you can always get a piece of lettuce and put a rock on it in the water.  The next day you may find some snails on it.  If you are not feeding your fish daily, bring the snails some lettuce or zucchini once a week.  Algae isn’t a rounded enough diet for them and can make their shells thin.  If they aren’t getting some quality food to supplement the algae, they may nibble on the plants.

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