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Apple Snail Diet


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  • Regular Member

So what do apple snails eat? The short answer is just about anything. This isn't a very satisfying answer, however, so I've compiled a list of food ideas as well as some feeding guidelines. You'll notice that since this is a goldfish forum I have written this assuming that your snail is being kept with goldfish. If this is not the case you can ignore the goldfish specific comments.

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Apple snails are actually a group of several different related species. For the most part this won't really affect dietary considerations, with two exceptions. The first is that unless you have the variant pomacea diffusa chances are they are going to be inclined to eat any live plants you have in the aquarium. P. diffusa will eat some plant matter, but if this happens it is usually a softer plant, something our goldfish would devour anyway. Alternately you might see them munching on dead plant bits, but you probably won't mind this as it will minimize the amount of plant trimming you have to do at your next water change! Fortunately this is one of the most common varieties in the pet trade, so you're fairly likely to have this variant in your tank. Most of the other variants will happily munch on any and all live plants. Providing sufficient quantities of vegetables and other foods for your snail to eat will reduce the likelihood of him turning to your plants as a source of food.

The second variation based on species is when they feed. P. diffusa is more of less equally active between night and day, but some of the other species are more active at night, or even fully nocturnal. Even some p. diffusa individuals seem to prefer night time activity. For this reason it is often beneficial to feed your snails at night after you've turned off the tank lights. In addition to ensuring that food is available when the snail is most likely to want it this has the added bonus that your goldfish is less likely to eat the food you've provided before your snail does, especially if you've waited for your fish to slow down for the night. The decision whether or not to feed at night can be made on a case by case basis. If your snail is fairly active during the day and you see him eating during daylight hours and your goldfish doesn't try to steal his food daytime feeding is fine. If, on the other hand, you snail is mostly active at night that's probably when you want to feed him. If one or more of your goldfish are gluttons and steal the snail's food there is an alternate option to night feedings which I will mention in a little while.

If you're interested in learning more about the different species of apple snails please visit http://www.applesnail.net/ This is actually an excellent resource for all apple snail related questions.

So now to specifics. Apple snails are technically omnivores, but their primary food intake is vegetarian. Beyond that they are not too picky. Chances are if you feed your goldfish a variety of foods you won't need to get anything different or new for your snail.

What will an apple snail eat?

  • Fish food: pellets, flakes, gel food. Anything they can get to before your fish does. Alternately anything left uneaten, although I don't recommend overfeeding simply for the sake of your snail. If, however, you can ensure the snail will have access to the food before your goldfish gets to it, feel free to feed that little bit extra. For example, when I feed my fish algae tablets (listed below) I hide an additional tablet at the back of my tank under my live plants for the snails. This gives my snails more than enough time to get to the tablet at the back while the goldfish are distracted by the more easily accessible food at the front of the tank.
  • Algae tablets. I recommend spirulina tablets, but please make sure copper or copper compounds are not listed as ingredients. Copper is highly toxic to snails and is a common ingredient in algae tablets. I will speak more to this further on.
  • Vegetables. Any and all vegetables, but please be sure to wash them well before introducing them to your tank as any pesticides, waxes or other chemicals remaining on the vegetable can be harmful to the snail and even other fish in your tank. For some vegetable ideas please see this thread intended for goldfish: http://www.kokosgoldfish.invisionzone.com/forum/index.php?/page/index.html/_/goldfish-food/best-fresh-fruits-and-veggies-for-my-orandas-r253 . The one thing to be careful with is garlic. I cannot find the reference again, but I remember reading something at some point that snails can be sensitive to garlic, but specific effects were not mentioned. I have stopped blanching my vegetables with garlic, but don't worry about any garlic contained in purchased foods. So far I have not noticed any apparent ill effects. Since many of our goldfish transform into mini sharks when we provide them with vegetables it is a good idea to provide the snails with something your goldfish don't like so that you don't have to worry about the goldfish leaving leftovers for the snails. For example my goldfish don't seem to particularly enjoy carrot (they'll eat it, but only if it's all I provide that day, which pretty much never happens) and they won't eat baby corn at all. So when I do my monthly blanch and freeze of vegetables for the fish I include some of these. I have also taken to leaving the skin on the zucchini I provide for the fish as they will eat the flesh of the zucchini and leave the skin for the snails who really seem to enjoy it. Similarly my goldfish like the beans inside green beans, but leave the pod which the snails enjoy. You can make similar decisions based on your goldfishes preferences.
  • Algae. They are not particularly effective at clearing a tank of algae, but they will happily eat away at any algae in your tank in between meals. I would not recommend leaving your snail to eat only algae just to have a cleaner tank as this will not be sufficient for their survival. Think of it more like a snack than a meal.
  • Bloodworms.
  • Brine Shrimp.
  • Other smaller snails. This is more common in some of the varieties less commonly seen in the pet trade, but it has been known.
  • Dead tank mates. They won't bother anything living, but if, for example, a shrimp or fellow snail passes on they will be happy to clean up the mess. I wouldn't recommend leaving a dead animal in the tank just so your snail can get a snack, but you may find that he notices the dead tank mate before you do, especially if the death occurs overnight or while you're at work/school.
  • Driftwood. Actually I'm not sure if this is entirely true. I have seen my snails munching on my driftwood, but they my in reality be eating an algae layer so thin I can't see it yet. Even if they are eating the actual wood this probably provides little more than roughage. I doubt there's much nutritional value.
  • Cuttle bone. Another non-food item they will eat. I have cuttle bone in my water to maintain dissolved calcium levels for shell health, but I have seen a couple of my snails eating it. Again it's not something to be fed as a stand-alone part of their diet, but some snails do seem to choose to supplement their diet this way.

How much to feed? How often?

This is a bit of a difficult question to answer. The quantity will vary from snail to snail and is at least partially dependent on size. The best thing to do is to observe your snail to see how much it will eat and then continue to provide that amount on a daily basis. This is much easier said than done. Snails can be slow to find their food and almost as slow when eating it.

I have not found a good answer to this question. Here is my personal solution: I make sure they always have access to fresh vegetables. Be it leftover zucchini rind or a piece of carrot. I don't necessarily add new vegetables daily as it can take them a little while to eat through even a small piece. As long as the initial food provided isn't too large you shouldn't have to pull out any leftovers, but l will leave a piece of vegetable in the tank for up to 36 hours due to how slow the snails can be. I also feed the goldfish algae tablets every other day or so and when I do this I add the extra tablet, broken in halves, at the back of the tank. Since I usually watch my goldfish eat to make sure that everyone gets enough and that I'm not over or under feeding I'm also able to check and see if any of the snails got some of the regular fish food. Finally I ensure that my tank is never completely algae free so they always have something to snack on.

Additionally I take the snails out of the tank when I do my weekly water change. I put them in a food safe storage container with plenty of food. I make sure the container is small-ish (about 2 gallons) so they don't have to go too far to find the food. I let them stay there for the hour of so it takes me to complete the water change and they enjoy an all you can eat buffet. This can be especially helpful if your goldfish is likely to steal food from your snail. Depending on your snail-goldfish relationship you may choose to do this more often.

What NOT to feed.

Other than the reference to not feeding garlic I think I once saw I am not aware of any food type not to feed. That being said there's a number of things that might come with your food that you should be careful to avoid.

  • Pesticides of all kinds. Please wash your vegetables thoroughly. If it is an option for you you can use vegetables you grow yourself.
  • Waxes which might coat any store bought fruit and vegetables. Again washing is key. If you run into any particularly stubborn waxes you can use a white vinegar solution to clean the vegetable, just be sure to rinse well once the wax is removed. As a side note my mother swears that rinsing berries and soft skinned fruit in a vinegar solution when she brings them home helps them remain fresher longer. I have never tried this, nor have I ever looked for outside confirmation/denial of the veracity of this factoid, but thought I'd share anyway.
  • Copper. This is a potentially big problem. Check all your fish foods for copper and copper compounds as dissolved copper is toxic to snails. An exception is Repashy. All Repashy fish foods contain trace amounts of copper for nutritional reasons. I have spoken to Mr. Repashy and determined that the copper contained in his products is much lower than the levels required for toxicity. For those of you interested in toxic levels pure copper is toxic to snails at 30ppm. Chelated copper becomes toxic at levels starting at 100ppm, depending on how concentrated the chelated form is. As a side note you should always remove your snails from any tank being treated with any copper containing medications.
Edited by BronwynH
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  • Regular Member

Great article. I will now start feeding my snails veggies; I have never done that before. I normally hand feed them chunks of SG or take them out of the tank for feeding, but I prefer hand feeding since it's kinda fun. I need to do this since my goldfish will literally swipe the food from the snails as they're trying to eat it. I've noticed a huge difference in growth and lifespan since I started hand feeding my snails.

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  • Regular Member

Great article. I will now start feeding my snails veggies; I have never done that before. I normally hand feed them chunks of SG or take them out of the tank for feeding, but I prefer hand feeding since it's kinda fun. I need to do this since my goldfish will literally swipe the food from the snails as they're trying to eat it. I've noticed a huge difference in growth and lifespan since I started hand feeding my snails.

When it comes too food designated exclusively for them (rather than food everyone gets) I primarily feed my snails veggies. I've never had the patience to try hand feeding them. I don't always know where they are and when they're on the glass they don't seem interested in taking anything. Good for you for getting them used to it!

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  • Regular Member

Great article. I will now start feeding my snails veggies; I have never done that before. I normally hand feed them chunks of SG or take them out of the tank for feeding, but I prefer hand feeding since it's kinda fun. I need to do this since my goldfish will literally swipe the food from the snails as they're trying to eat it. I've noticed a huge difference in growth and lifespan since I started hand feeding my snails.

When it comes too food designated exclusively for them (rather than food everyone gets) I primarily feed my snails veggies. I've never had the patience to try hand feeding them. I don't always know where they are and when they're on the glass they don't seem interested in taking anything. Good for you for getting them used to it!

Mine take food no matter what, LOL. I basically just hold a chunk in their face until it's all gone, which takes a couple of minutes. I only have 3 apple snails, and they're pretty big and easy to find. Most of my goldfish, on the other hand, would much rather dig through the substrate for food than take it out of my hand.

This morning I removed them from the tank and put them in a bowl with 3 algae thins for about 20 min. They loved the all-you-can-eat buffet!

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