the way large parrots tear apart hard
seeds. Except for large snails and small
puffers, this matchup is almost always
in favor of a fat and happy pufferfish.
Like the snail-eating loaches, puffers not
only eat snails, they do so con gusto!
Again, as with both the cichlids and the
loaches, there are aggression issues to be
considered. Some puffers are downright
insane and appallingly persistent with
their dispatching of tankmates.
A final note on getting hired fish thugs to
solve your problem—once you get a snail
specialist, you’ve got another mouth to
feed. Also, if there was anything you liked
about having a couple of snails, you’re out
of luck. These fish don’t tend to leave any
survivors to tell the tale.
Trouble Beyond the Box
The success of these snails can actually
be a problem on a scale much larger than
your aquarium, believe it or not. While
having a powerhead ruined or a tank
overrun is annoying, imagine impacting
an ecosystem or spreading disease. This is
a little more concerning and not as easy to
solve as adding a few loaches!
Trumpet snails do, in fact, thrive outside
of the aquarium as well. If you live anywhere
that has mild winters, you may have a
waterway that has been invaded by these
snails. Texas, Florida, and Louisiana are a
few states that have established populations
of these snails, and they can get out of
control in the wild just like in the aquarium.
In St. John’s River in Florida, densities
have been reported as high as 10,000 per
square meter (Thompson, 2004)! And you
thought you had a snail infestation!
This, of course, affects native species
and natural food webs, but there’s an
added issue here that really hits home for
humans. Trumpet snails are vectors for
disease. While the complex life cycles of
parasites means you won’t get sick from
your aquarium snails, it doesn’t mean that
these snails can’t carry disease in the wild.
Chinese liver fluke and the Oriental lung
fluke both infect humans and are passed
from this snail to a crustacean in the
wild. Living in Louisiana, I eat plenty of
crustaceans, but it’s best to avoid eating
them raw if you can help it (not that I need
to tell most of you that)!
It’s fun to spin a yarn involving a few
quotes, snail predators, and parasite scares,
but the ultimate lesson on this species
is one of moderation. Don’t feed your
When trumpet snails are present in high densities, it is an indication that the aquarium is likely
Pufferfish relish eating live snails, easily crushing their shells with their powerful jaws.
aquarium inhabitants too much and you
shouldn’t have any problems. If you have
snails and don’t want them around, get
your hired gun (cichlid, loach, puffer, or
other). If you like them, you can appreciate
their useful side and their potential to be
part of your small version of an ecosystem.
Either way, on the list of species for us to
worry about disappearing, this one may
be neck and neck with the cockroach. You
can’t help but admire such tenacity!
References & Resources
Gulf States Marine Commission: http://nis.
Thompson, Fred G. 2004. “An Identification
Manual for the Freshwater Snails of Florida.”
Florida Museum of Natural History: www.
Tropical Fish Hobbyist www.tfhmagazine.com