Aquarium salt is a go-to remedy many fishkeepers use for their fish. However, the effects this treatment has on other tank inhabitants aren’t as well-known. For example, will aquarium salt kill snails, or will it help them, as well?
Maybe you’re here because you want to treat your fish with aquarium salt but aren’t certain whether this will harm your snail pets. Or maybe you want to kill snails that have inhabited your aquarium and want to check out whether using salt is a safe method.
Either way, this is an article for you!
I’ve also spent months wondering will aquarium salt kill snails or if it is harmless. After thorough research and testing things on my own for a bit, I have reached a conclusion.
Here’s what I’ve found out:
Will Aquarium Salt Kill Snails?
Almost all fishkeepers have used aquarium salt at one point during their hobby. Will aquarium salt kill snails, or is it safe to use?
Unfortunately (or fortunately, if controlling the snail population is your goal), aquarium salt (sodium chloride) can kill most snail species inside your tank. The same could be said for any other type of salt, such as table salt or Epsom salt.
While you might think snails can survive in most conditions, they are very sensitive to salinity. Most species cannot survive in brackish tanks. As such, most fishkeepers avoid using aquarium salt if they’re also keeping snails.
Can You Use Aquarium Salt in a Tank with Snails?
All types of salt are dangerous for snails and other intervertebral critters. Even most shrimps, such as amano shrimp or blue bolt shrimp, might die in too brackish water. The same can be said for most freshwater snail species, such as assassin snails, pond snails, or apple snails.
However, you can use salt in the tank with snails, but only if you take certain precautionary measures.
Small doses of aquarium salt shouldn’t harm your snails. Such a small change in water salinity shouldn’t be enough to cause any damage.
However, this is only for tanks that aren’t already on the brackish side. If the tanks already have some salt content, adding even a tiny bit might wreak havoc. As such, I’d rather move my snails into a separate bucket or a spare tank when increasing the water salinity – especially if I have baby snails, which are more sensitive.
Another option is to take the sick fish from the tank and put it in a tank with salt water instead.
Effect of Aquarium Salt on Snails
Aquarium salt, just like regular salt, will cause dehydration due to a process called osmosis. When you add salt to a tank, this will decrease water intake by a small amount.
Once this happens, living organisms attempt to balance the intake of salt and water inside of them. This can further stress them out, resulting in death. The smaller the organism, the faster the effect.
This is why even a small amount of salt can harm most shrimp and snails – especially baby snails.
How Much Salt Does It Take to Kill Snails?
There isn’t a straightforward answer to how much salt is too much. It all depends on the snail species and the condition of your water.
A general rule is to use a teaspoon of salt per 10 gallons of water if you’re using salt as a fish treatment. For salt dips and baths used to clean live plants, people advise using twice as much.
However, if you want to save the snails in your tank, I’d say you should put less salt than during general use. As this might not be enough to kill bacteria and fungi, quarantine might be a better option.
Of course, fish tank owners that’d like to get rid of snails can use a regular amount of salt. This will help fish and most plants while doing a good job of getting rid of unwanted tank inhabitants.
Will Aquarium Salt Kill Mystery Snails?
Every fish tank owner has seen mystery snails at least once! This is one of the most popular invertebrate species out there due to its fast reproduction and beautiful appearance.
Unfortunately, mystery snails are very susceptible to water changes, and anything more than the tiniest amount of salt will kill them.
At the same time, they are also one of the main reasons why do aquarium owners use salt. Mystery snails reproduce rather quickly, and they can be unwanted guests as they lay eggs that stick to plants. When you introduce a new plant to your tank, you might be introducing these snails, as well!
Will Aquarium Salt Kill Nerite Snails?
Nerite snails are another popular option. They are algae eaters, and together with animals such as blue velvet shrimp are considered excellent cleaners.
These peaceful animals are found in brackish water. As such, a regular amount of aquarium salt shouldn’t be enough to kill them.
Quite the opposite – these snails will breed in saltwater. Instead of killing them, you might be helping them reproduce.
The good news is that you don’t have to keep them separated if you’re treating the fish in your main tank. It would take a massive change in salinity to harm them.
Will Aquarium Salt Kill Apple Snails?
Apple snails are considered the biggest freshwater snails out there. Despite their size, they are algae eaters, and they’ll do great in community tanks.
They are rather prized due to their appearance, so I don’t see anyone wanting to get rid of them by using salt. Most owners simply want to avoid hurting them.
Aquarium salt can kill apple snails. However, they can tolerate a bit of it, and they might even be a good indicator of whether or not you’ve used too much salt in your tank!
If an apple snail stays in their tank for too long (most sources state about 24 hours), this is a sign that the water is too salty. You might need to add a bit of freshwater, and I’d advise you to take the snail out as a precautionary measure.
Also, never let your apple snail touch the salt. This can burn them and even kill them.
Will Aquarium Salt Kill Ramshorn Snails?
Now, this is one snail most of us would want to get rid of!
Ramshorn snails are mostly considered pests and can be a nightmare for fish keepers. Not only are they not as pretty as some other snail species, but they can reproduce extremely quickly. As ramshorn snails are hermaphrodites, it only takes one snail to breed.
In a matter of days, your tank can be swarmed by these little monsters!
The worst part of it all is that you aren’t likely to kill these snails with salt. They are very hardy and can quickly adapt to brackish water. A few of them might die, but most of the colony will survive.
Salt water might kill them – but it will kill your fish and most normal plants, as well, so this probably isn’t a suitable option for you.
Why Do People Use Aquarium Salt?
Another question many people have is: Does aquarium salt work, or is this just another myth?
I can confirm that aquarium salt, whether store-bought or if you’re making it at home, is an excellent solution to many problems fishkeepers commonly face.
Aquarium salt kills pathogens inside the tank water. From fungi to bacteria, almost nothing can survive in higher salinity levels, even if such changes are rather small.
As mentioned before, the reason why aquarium salt is effective is that it dehydrates water molecules from cells. When you have microorganisms, such as bacteria, they’ll die due to lack of water.
On the other hand, such minor salinity changes won’t have much effect on fish and other larger creatures. This is how aquarium salt kills smaller organisms without harming the fish.
As such, aquarium salt is used as a treatment for many health problems in fish, such as fish ich and fin rot.
Not just that, but aquarium salt can help keep nitrite levels at bay and prevent nitrite spikes.
There are several reasons one might wonder: will aquarium salt kill snails. Either way, now you have your answer.
In general, salt is very harmful to snails. While most can tolerate very small amounts, I’d never risk by adding salt inside a tank with shrimp or snails.
Even if you’d like to control your snail population, I’d much rather use more humane, alternative ways. For example, you might want to reduce feeding and cool down the water rather than killing them in a fairly cruel method.
To prevent snails from appearing in your tank, dip all new plants into a saline solution before moving them to the home aquarium. This will kill snail eggs and prevent you from having a bunch of tiny snails seemingly out of the blue. Finally, always make sure to check the ingredients of the salt. For aquarium use, I’d only buy pure sodium chloride. Don’t risk with anything else.
You know that calming feeling of tranquility and thrill while looking at a gorgeous, perfectly functioning tank? That’s why I became an aquarist.
To make a very long story short, I’m Noah, and I’ve started this site aiming to share the most helpful advice on creating thriving habitats for fish and underwater animals.