How to Get Rid of Assassin Snails? (6 Ways That Work Incredibly!)

Assassin snails are cannibalistic. They specialize in attacking and feasting on other pest snails and shrimps. These killer pests are part of nature's cleaning crew and are one of the rare predatory snails that live in freshwater. That's why they are highly sought after by aquarists, as they help keep the pest population at bay.

While every marine trader dreams of owning these critters, not every homeowner wants to share their space with them. Assassin snails can become a real nuisance when they invade your home. They can carry diseases and parasitic worms that risk the health of domestic animals and people. Besides, these unsightly creatures can multiply seemingly overnight, and suddenly you're dealing with hundreds of disgusting invaders.

This guide provides all the information you need to get rid of assassin snails effectively and keep them away from your home.

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What Are Assassin Snails?

Assassin snails are also referred to as bumblebee snails or anentome Helena. Although they belong to the family Nassariidae, which is mainly marine, assassin snails are freshwater critters.

Generally, other snail species are used to keep the ecosystem clean because they feed on algae and decaying matter, helping it decompose.

But assassin snails are carnivores that feast on other snails. They may also be interested in pests such as worms, shrimps, and shellfish. This makes them a popular addition to many fish tanks and aquariums to get rid of nuisance snails that might be colonizing your tank.

Normally, an assassin snail will live for up to 2-3 years in ideal conditions. However, some have been reported to make it to 5 years. Unlike other snails, assassin snails are not hermaphroditic. But scientists are yet to establish how to distinguish males from females by appearance.

After mating, the female lays several egg capsules on solid surfaces like plastic and the base of plants. The eggs will hatch within a few weeks. Assassin snails can reproduce as frequently as once a month, meaning their population can grow rapidly.

How to Identify Assassin Snails?

Assassin snails are oddly appealing. Their shells have a conical shape with a blunt point on one end. These shells consist of dark brown and yellowish patterns. Based on this appearance, some people refer to assassin snails as the bumble bee snail.

Some specimens may have a solid brown shell without the patterns, but they are quite rare compared to the patterned ones.

Assassin snails typically grow to 18-32mm in length. But their actual size depends on their food sources. Their bodies have a light beige hue with visible black and brown specks. You'll also notice two sets of tentacles and vesicular eyes that sit on top of their heads.

Assassin snails have muscular feet that contract to help the small invader navigate its surroundings. Their movement is seriously slow, so you won't witness much activity. In addition, they are nocturnal animals, meaning they mainly feed at night. During the day, you may see them clinging onto the aquarium glass or rocks.

Do Assassin Snails Eat Other Assassin Snails?

Assassin snails are not exclusive to feeding on other snail species. They are opportunistic carnivores who will eat just about any little living organism that gets in their way. Assassin snails mainly attack snail species that are smaller than themselves. They are not interested in eating each other. They even don't eat eggs or young ones of their kind. In fact, assassin snails barely notice the presence of each other unless they are overpopulated.

How Long Does It Take Assassin Snails to Kill Other Snails?

Assassin snails are pretty fast, and they don't waste time when it comes to eating pest snails. Generally, they will start their action as soon as they encounter other snails. In case your assassin snails are taking a considerable amount of time to kill other snails, it can be that the temperatures in your tank are inadequate and the snails are too cold. Assassin snail eating speed depends on the size of the prey. But as a general rule, they should consume 1-3 snails every 1-3 days.

Will Assassin Snails Hurt My Fish?

As mentioned above, assassin snails can multiply quickly when kept in a tank. However, they tend to breed slowly in aquarium conditions. While their population isn't a problem for your fish, assassin snails may eat fish eggs. They can also scavenge decomposing fish and small invertebrates. As a general rule, fish, plants, and algae are safe from assassin snails.

What Eats Assassin snails?

Assassin snails are preyed upon by larger snail-eating fish such as cichlids. Though they are protected by an operculum, the snails eventually become injured and traumatized from the constant attacks of larger fish. If they don't die from continued attacks, assassin snails will have a significantly shortened life span.

Other fish tank mates that consider assassin snails their potential food include loaches, pufferfish, and certain catfish. Adult turtles can also eat assassin snails. However, unlike pond snails, whose shells they can crack, the shells of assassin snails are extremely tough. Often, adult turtles eat assassin snails whole.

Can Assassin Snails Kill All Snails?

Assassin snails are very helpful in the aquarium hobby. They obliterate nuisance pest snails, eliminating the need to use snail-killing chemicals in the fish tank or aquarium. Assassin nails have a 'stinger' that paralyzes their prey before eating them. They can eat all types of snails that are their size or smaller. They are especially adept at keeping the population of pond snails, such as Ramshorn and bladder snails, at bay.

However, assassin snails will not harm larger snails like mystery snails, larger Nerite snails, and giant Sulawesi snails. But caution must be exercised when keeping assassin snails around larger snails because they have been known to gang up and take down snails bigger than them.

6 Effective Ways to Get Rid of Assassin Snails

Assassin snails are often introduced to fish tanks as a biological method of eradicating unwanted snail pests. However, sometimes they can become bothersome after using them to get rid of pond snails. Assassin snails are not asexual and don't reproduce as fast as other pest snails. But still, they can multiply very fast and overpopulate your aquarium, necessitating the need to eradicate or control their population.

Besides, assassin snails do not care about unwanted plants, algae, or the rotten things in your tank, so they don't keep your aquarium as clean as other pond snails. Some aquarists get rid of them afterward by picking them out of the tank with bare hands. Because they breed and survive by feeding, some hobbyists stop feeding them to discourage breeding and reduce their population.

Below are other effective ways how to get rid of assassin snails:

Biological Control Method

Biological control methods involve using a lesser problem to deal with a bigger problem. Assassin snails are often used as a biological method of controlling nuisance pest snails. But once they've successfully done their job and you want to get rid of them as well, you can use the same method to eradicate them.

Using natural snail predators is one of the easiest and most effective ways to keep the population of assassin snails in check or eradicate them. Generally, there aren't many aquatics that have assassin snails on their menu. But you can introduce predator fish such as larger cichlids, clown loaches, the green spotted puffer, and parade fish to kill and eat assassin snails. Some hobbyists also suggest that predators like turtles, crabs, and crayfish enjoy having assassin snails as snacks.

The only issue with this control method is that predator fish may be a problem for the valuable animals in your tank. There is no guarantee that they will solely feast on assassin snails, and the risk that they might eye your valuable fish as their next meal is real. Therefore, it's vital that you do some research to determine which predator fish are safe for your tank.

Bait Control Method

Bait traps can be challenging when catching assassin snails, given that they are carnivores. Using bait traps to catch herbivorous pond snails yields effective results. Once you set up the trap, countless snails will soon flock over the bait (cucumber or veggies).

Although this is one of the most effective ways to deal with a snail problem in your tank, it can be hard to lure assassin snails to the trap since there aren't many foods they'd go bananas about. Your best bet would be to use a live pond snail, small invertebrate, or decomposing fish as bait. Leave the trap overnight but don't expect some kind of magic. Snails can go for a day or two without eating when they are full. So be patient and let the bait trap do its work.

Remove Them Manually

The manual removal method is the most hands-on method to get rid of assassin snails. Although it can be time-consuming, it is the most commonly used method by fish owners. It involves removing the snails one by one by hand. Alternatively, you can use a fish net to scoop the unwanted snails.

Fortunately, assassin snails do not reproduce as rapidly as other snail species, so removing them by hand is not as daunting as other snail types. Additionally, snails are nocturnal animals, meaning they are mostly active at night when it's best to remove the. You can use a flashlight to search for them.

Once you've removed the snails you no longer need, it's up to you to know what to do with them. You can create another fish tank or give them to another hobbyist. Note: Snails can transmit pathogens, so you should wear gloves when handling them.

Use Snail Traps

Snail traps are one of the easiest and most effective methods to get rid of assassin snails. These traps come with a bait that emits an odor that lures snails into the trap. Once a snail gets in the trap, it cannot get out. Leave the trap overnight, and in the morning, you can dispose of the trapped snails or share the access with a snail owner.

Chemical Control Method

Chemicals are arguably the most effective way to get rid of Assassin snails. However, you should consider using them as a last resort when all else has failed. The active ingredients in some chemical treatments can be toxic enough to harm other aquatic animals and humans. You might want to relocate any neutral inhabitants in the tank to a separate container before adding chemicals into the tank.

How to Avoid Assassin Snail Invasion Naturally?

The most effective way to avoid assassin snails is by ensuring they do not sneak into your tank in the first place. In order to do this, you must know the cause of the snail problem in your aquarium.

For instance, assassin snails often get into the aquarium as eggs or adults by hitchhiking on plants and decorations. 

As such, you need to be cautious when introducing decorations into the tank to ensure there are no opportunistic stowaways. You can scrape the eggs off with tweezers or wash the plants in a solution that kills eggs.

Another way to keep assassin snails away is using organic repellents such as salt and garlic, which dehydrate the snail's body, eventually killing them.

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