Betta fish are one of the most popular fish on the market due to the variety of lovely colors they come in, and their fluttery fins. Other owners enjoy watching their Betta building bubble nests or just exploring the tank. Despite their natural beauty and curiosity, Betta fish are also known for being remarkably aggressive. Either against other fish, objects in the tank, or even their own reflections!
Due to their aggression, Betta fish are typically housed alone but I’m sure that you may think your Betta fish is lonely. After all, you wouldn’t want to be cooped up in your room all day with no interactions. So some Betta owners decided that their fish needs a friend, and what better friend is there but the humble snail?
Of course, for any Betta owner, the question about a potential snail is will the Betta fish attack or eat it?
Will My Betta Fish Eat a Snail?
If it’s small enough, yes. In the wild Betta fish feed on zooplankton, insect larva, and small crustaceans. A small snail is nothing more than a snack for a Betta, although they’ll target other food sources first before going after a snail. What about larger snails, you might wonder? Well, the good news is that Bettas will typically leave a large snail alone.
Typically, because Bettas still might try nipping at the long, fleshy eye stalks and tentacles. Besides an attempted nip, in which the snail will be fine, Betta fish won’t actively target a snail as a meal or a threat. Snails are slow moving and aren’t swimmers, meaning that they don’t draw the eyes of the Betta for long. This doesn’t mean Bettas won’t bump a snail or go for a nip, but they aren’t going to plot to kill the snail either.
Now that you know your Betta won’t attempt to kill or eat a snail, which snails are the best for your tank?
One of the most popular snails on the market, the Mystery Snail makes a wonderful companion to your Betta fish. It is recommended that you have an aquarium of at least five-gallons if you plan on introducing a mystery snail, or any snail, as this will give the snail and Betta fish plenty of room to call their own. Your Betta will also have other things to be invested in, and not just the snail, reducing the risk of potential attacks.
Mystery Snails also have similar temperature and water requirements just like your Betta, so no need to worry about special chemicals or changes to the water. So long as you clean and balance your water regularly, both the snail and Betta will be fine. Best of all, Mystery Snails can regrow lost eyes and tentacles if your Betta decides to bite one off.
The Mystery Snails, for one reason or another, are great escape artist. So always keep a solid lid over your tank. If your snail has gone missing, don’t blame your Betta. It more than likely has escaped and you need to find it as fast as possible before it dries out and perishes.
This lovely snail, with black-and-white strips on its shell, is another great companion for your Betta. Due to their smaller sizes, you can have more than one in a standard five-gallon tank, and they tend to not be explosive breeders as they require brackish water to breed. This being said, due to their smaller size, your Betta may be more tempted to pick on them. Not eat them, thankfully.
Just like Mystery Snails, your Zerba Nerites will be more than content having a Betta fish as their neighbor so long as they have plenty of room to explore. Likewise, your Betta isn’t going to mind the little snails roaming its tank if it has other distractions. Zebra Nerites do require a higher pH than what Betta are used to, but so long as the water and chemicals are steady and clean, the Zebra Nerites will be perfectly happy.
A rather unorthodox snail as it feasts on other snails. If for whatever reason you have too many snails in your Betta tank, an Assassin Snail will lower the population rather quickly. Much like other snails, your Betta isn’t going to bother your Assassin Snail outside of maybe trying to show it who’s the boss. Despite being a snail-killer, an Assassin Snail isn’t going to go after your Betta.
Assassin Snails can eat vegetation, much like their prey, and if left to their own devices will browse the tank looking for leftovers to eat. However, they require meatier foods and if you want an Assassin Snail with your Betta, be sure to give it some blood worms or other meaty treats. Your Betta fish will also enjoy these treats, so make sure enough is provided for them to share.
Why Buy A Snail?
There is a rumor that snails, or a single snail with smaller tanks, can clean the tank so you don’t have to worry or do any work. Sadly, this is a myth. What snails do is hunt down algae, rotting vegetation, and uneaten food left at the bottom of the tank. They do help manage with waste disposal, but at the same time they and the Betta produce waste that the snail isn’t going to touch.
A snail will help keep your tank clean, but won’t clean the tank for you. Likewise, your Betta fish isn’t going to really need a snail around. As we discussed at best a Betta fish will ignore a snail and at worst it’ll nip it. Your Betta will never attempt to eat a snail, unless it’s very small and can fit in its mouth.
Truthfully, your Betta fish is more than content with having territory all to itself and being fed every day. That being said, it can’t be underestimated the personality of your Betta and snails. Some Betta fish appear to like having snails around and may even swim up to them or near them. Likewise, some snails appear to enjoy following the Betta around. Either waiting for food or just appearing to be actually curious.
If you’re buying a snail for your Betta tank, you’re looking to add some more life to the tank. Add something new and engaging for both you and your Betta. How your Betta will react depends on its own personality, but you can rest assured that your Betta isn’t going to eat your snail. As long as the tank is big enough, plenty of food is provided, and the water is just right your snail and Betta will have a long, happy partnership as tank-mates.