Will Ghost Shrimp Eat Snails? (With 5 Prevention Tips)

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When I first got my ghost shrimp, I had no idea what they usually eat. I also didn’t know how they would respond to other creatures in my aquarium, including snails. As time passed, I learned in what situations ghost shrimp are likely to eat snails and when they will probably ignore them.

Ghost shrimp may eat snails that are injured or sick. That is especially true for aggressive and hostile species, such as the Palaemonetes Kadiakensis. However, most ghost shrimp are likely to ignore snails, or at most, nibble on their slime coat.

As we move forward, I will share five simple steps you should follow to keep your ghost shrimp from eating your aquarium snails. I will also discuss the relationship ghost shrimp have with snails’ eggs and what types of snails can harm your ghost shrimp population.

Do Ghost Shrimp Eat Snails?

Many aquarists count snails among the best tankmates for ghost shrimp because of their amicable temperament. That includes Nerite and Mystery snails. This wouldn’t be the case unless ghost shrimp and snails could co-exist peacefully within the same tank. 

As such, you might assume that this is an open and shut case. Clearly, ghost shrimp have no interest in eating snails. If ghost shrimp ate snails, then surely, people wouldn’t make it a habit to place the creatures in the same tank. 

But the situation isn’t quite as straightforward as you may think. Consider the following:

1. What Do Ghost Shrimp Usually Eat?

Ghost shrimp are omnivores, which is why they are not picky eaters. They can survive on leftovers and the matter that live plants shed, not to mention the remains of dead organisms in the aquarium.[1]

You can supplement their diet with flakes and pellets. In the wild, if they cannot find suitable food sources, they will nibble on plants. Aquarists do not feed living snails to ghost shrimp. However, that doesn’t necessarily remove snails from the ghost shrimp menu.

This is because ghost shrimp are prominent algae eaters. And algae can grow on the shells of snails. So ghost shrimp may attack snails with the intention of eating the algae off their shells. Ghost shrimp will also eat the slime coating that snails produce. Cherry shrimp have a similar habit.

Interestingly enough, when a snail’s skin gets irritated, it produces additional slime. If a ghost shrimp pesters a snail, the snail may reward the shrimp’s behavior by generating more slime, allowing the shrimp to eat to its fill.

2. Will Ghost Shrimp Eat Snails?

Most aquarists will say No. As far as they are concerned, ghost shrimp do not have a reputation for eating snails. Instead, ghost shrimp are scavengers and opportunists, meaning that the creatures can eat anything they come across in the aquarium. 

That includes snails and even fish. However, the chances of a ghost shrimp attacking a living snail are very low. Instead, they may target weak, sick, or dead fish and snails. Some aquarists have seen their shrimp attack healthy, living snails, but such occurrences are rare. In most cases, if your snails are healthy and strong, they don’t have anything to worry about.

What Types Of Ghost Shrimp Are More Likely To Eat Snails?

The type of your ghost shrimp matters since some ghost shrimp are more dangerous than others. One example is the Palaemonetes Kadiakensis, a carnivorous species that will hunt smaller snails and their eggs.[2]

The Macrobrachium Lanchesteri is another problematic species. It has larger and longer front claws that will make short work of snails. Some sellers are decent enough to ensure that their consumers only buy common Palaemonetes Paludosus.

Others can’t be bothered to differentiate between the species of Ghost Shrimp in their stock. In other words, aquarists may purchase a ghost shrimp without realizing the danger it poses to their snail population.

Are Ghost Shrimp Aggressive Toward Snails?

Ghost shrimp are technically peaceful. This is why aquarists keep them with snails, which are also peaceful. For that reason, the two can co-exist in the same environment. However, like most aquarium creatures, ghost shrimp can manifest aggressive behavior, especially if the conditions in their tank deteriorate. 

Some species are more violent than others. A particularly aggressive shrimp may attack a smaller, weaker snail. But that is also true for every aquarium creature that manifests an aggressive personality.

Can Snails Eat Shrimp?

In most situations, snails are incapable of eating shrimp. However, the assassin snail is a particular species that aquarists use to kill other snails in the tank. This particular snail is a threat to shrimp. However, assassin snails are more likely to eat old, sick, and unhealthy shrimp. 

They may also target ghost shrimp that have just molted.[3] Otherwise, an assassin snail cannot harm a healthy ghost shrimp. At the end of the day, assassin snails are still snails. They are slow. If a ghost shrimp chooses to flee from an assassin snail, the assassin snail won’t catch it.

What Types of Snails Do Ghost Shrimp Eat?

As was noted before, ordinary ghost shrimp are unlikely to eat snails unless those snails are weak, old, or even dead. However, as opportunistic hunters, if they stumble upon a sick snail with a severely weakened shell, they may eat it. 

But you shouldn’t expect them to hunt strong and healthy snails. The size matters as well. At 1.5 inches, ghost shrimp are pretty small.[4] They may be tempted to eat smaller creatures like bladder snails (0.6 inches). But a living 5-inch rabbit snail is probably beyond them.

Do Ghost Shrimp Eat Snail Eggs?

Ghost shrimp eat snails’ eggs. Like most aquarium organisms, ghost shrimp will eat whatever they can, including snails, young fish, and eggs. However, this behavior is usually exhibited by adult shrimp. Juvenile shrimp tend to refrain from eating eggs, which are too large to fit in their mouths.

As was mentioned earlier, the creatures will eat snails that are helpless because of sickness and old age. This means that healthy snails are safe. But eggs are always helpless. They cannot fight back against an aggressive ghost shrimp, which is why they are such a tempting snack. 

That being said, while ghost shrimp can eat snail eggs, this isn’t a habit for which ghost shrimp are known. In fact, you cannot rely on ghost shrimp to bring the snail population in your tank under control by eating all the snail eggs in the water. 

They may eat a few eggs every so often, but they won’t eat enough to make a dent in your snail population. Assassin snails are a far better solution to your aquarium’s snail problem.

How To Keep Ghost Shrimp From Eating Snails?

If you have some aggressive ghost shrimp in your tank, you can use the following methods to protect your snails:

1. Feed Your Ghost Shrimp Properly

This has to be your first consideration. Ghost shrimp are not known for eating snails and their eggs. But that is what they will do if you starve them. Ghost shrimp cannot survive without food.

Yes, they can make do with the algae and leftovers in the tank. If your tank doesn’t have enough algae or leftovers, they may nibble on the plants. Likewise, if the tank doesn’t have edible plants, the ghost shrimp will turn to the snails and their eggs.

To keep their cravings in check, feed the creatures. They can eat fruit, flakes, daphnia, insects, mosquito larvae, algae wafers, etc.[5] If you have fish in the tank, the shrimp can eat whatever you feed the fish if the quantities are sufficient. They are not picky.

But if your tank features some fast swimmers, I suggest checking whether your ghost shrimp catch their meals. If necessary, use a mesh or a divider to isolate your shrimp during feeding. Fast swimmers like guppies and mollies may cause starvation, even when providing the right amounts of food.

2. Pick The Right Tank Size

Ghost shrimp do not appreciate crowded tanks. They need at least 5 gallons.[6] The more shrimp you buy, the more space you need. If you have too many ghost shrimp that have been forced to share a small space, they will become aggressive.

They may start by attacking one another. But given enough time, they will turn their attention to the other creatures in the vicinity whose size matches their own. You can control their aggressive tendencies by giving them as much room as you can afford. 

If the ghost shrimp are multiplying and you don’t have the financial means to buy a new tank, give some away. Otherwise, at some point, they will start harassing the snails.

3. Maintain Stable Water Parameters

Ghost shrimp live in water with temperatures ranging from 65 to 85 degrees F. They also need a pH of 6-8 and relatively hard water with slow currents. The wrong parameters will make the shrimp uncomfortable, and uncomfortable shrimp will likely attack their neighbors. 

Of all the parameters, the most dangerous is the temperatures. High temperatures tend to generate aggression in ghost shrimp.[7] If you want them to behave, keep the temperature within the appropriate range. During the summer, you should consider keeping the lights off and deactivating the heater, especially when the ambient temperature exceeds normal levels.

I also suggest getting a heater that maintains a stable temperature. Frequent fluctuations will stress your ghost shrimp, even if the average temperature falls within the desired range. To achieve that, I highly recommend checking the Cobalt Aquatics Flat Neo-Therm Heater (link to Amazon), which I also reviewed here.

To monitor the pH, ammonia, nitrates, and nitrites, I personally use the API FRESHWATER MASTER TEST KIT (link to Amazon). That is the only kit I trust to guarantee accurate and reliable results. It also lasts for hundreds of measures, so it is worth the investment.

In short, these are the parameters you should aim for:

  • Water pH: 7.0 to 8.0
  • Ammonia, nitrates, and nitrites: 0 ppm
  • Temperature: 65 to 85 degrees F

4. Get A Few Plants

Some people don’t want to add plants to the aquarium because they think that the shrimp will eat them all. But that fear is unfounded. The creatures will only eat the plants if you have failed to feed them.

More importantly, snails and shrimp prefer planted tanks since they need hiding places. This allows them to feel safe. You cannot eliminate the need for plants by removing all the predators in the tank.

Even in the absence of violent fish, the absence of plants can induce stress in ghost shrimp. And they may respond to that stress by attacking and eating snails and their eggs. So if you want the shrimp to maintain their peaceful temperaments, give them vegetation.

Some suitable plants for ghost shrimp include Anubias, Java Fern, Cryptocoryne, and Torch Plant. I personally like Anubias Nana as it is the easiest of the plants to care for. You can plant it on a rock or as a foreground plant.

5. Pick The Right Tankmates

I highly suggest surrounding your ghost shrimp with suitable tankmates, including cory catfish, ottos, and cherry shrimp.[8] If the ghost shrimp are surrounded by creatures that bully and harass them, the shrimp may respond by attacking smaller snails and eating their eggs.

If you can remove any species that make the ghost shrimp nervous, you will prevent the creatures from manifesting aggressive habits. This will protect the snails in the long run.

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Conclusions

Ghost shrimp are not known for eating snails. But, if they are hungry, they will eat snails, especially if those snails happen to be sick or old. Even if the shrimp prefer fleshier meals, they will turn to snails (or their eggs) when there is no other food in the tank. 

To prevent ghost shrimp from attacking snails, feed them properly. Also, make sure you have the correct size tank, temperature, and water parameters. If you don’t, these creatures may turn on your snails.

References

  1. https://fishkeepingadvice.com/ghost-shrimp/
  2. https://aquanswers.com/what-freshwater-fish-eat-snails-aquarium/
  3. https://www.shrimpscience.com/articles/snails-in-a-shrimp-tank/
  4. https://www.aquariumsource.com/ghost-shrimp/
  5. https://www.fishkeepingworld.com/what-do-ghost-shrimp-eat/
  6. http://homeaquatics.net/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=78
  7. https://www.vivofish.com/ghost-shrimp
  8. https://www.snaketracks.com/ghost-shrimp-tank-mates/

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