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Will Vinegar Kill Aquarium Snails?( Definitive Guide )

Colorful snails add a vibrant look to your aquaria, such as Mystery snails and Nerite Snails. But some wild snail varieties reproduce and rapidly multiply in the aquarium. Vinegar is the best product to remove snails and their eggs easily from your beautiful aquarium setup. This article will share the most important tips to maintain a fine-looking aquarium without nuisance snails.

Will Vinegar Kill Aquarium Snails

Will Vinegar Kill Aquarium Snails?

A Vinegar can kill snails and slug varieties that live in the aquarium.  You can use either white vinegar or distilled vinegar. The white vinegar contains 5-20% acetic acid, and distilled vinegar contains 5-8% acetic acid. Thus, white vinegar is more efficient than distilled vinegar. We usually use distilled vinegar in our home kitchen. It would be best if you sprayed vinegar solution directly on the snails. I recommend using this method for an empty tank. You should remove fish, valuable invertebrates, and live plants from the main tank and put the in a separate tank before using this method.  

How Does Vinegar Work?

Vinegar is a liquid that contains acetic acid. Generally, white vinegar contains high concentration than distilled vinegar. You can use both types to kill snails. But do not use white vinegar while fish are in the tank. Because high acidic levels can drop the tank’s pH level, it will severely affect the fish.  Moreover, you should remove the water from the tank to get better results. If not, vinegar will dilute with the tank water, and you cannot achieve your target. Acetic acid can dissolve the tissues and muscles of the snails. Further, their acidity can dissolve the snails’ shells too. Thus, vinegar is a compound that can create an adverse effect on aquatic snails. 

Vinegar for cleaning

How To Use Vinegar To Get Rid Of Snails?

The main problem is, that snails and their eggs are attached to every of equipment in the tank. These are

  • Filter system
  • Tank Glass
  • Pipes
  • Gravels
  • Live plants
  • Tank substrates
  • Ornaments
  • Powerhead
  • Driftwoods

Thus, preventing them is a bit complicated. You have to remove carefully all the snails and their tiny eggs that are attached to tank equipment. 

Preparation of The Vinegar Solution

You can use commercially available vinegar products. If you do not like to powerful smell of the vinegar, you can dilute it using water. You can mix vinegar and water for a 1:1 ratio.

How To Use Vinegar To Remove Snails And Their Eggs From The Tank 

Materials you need to remove snails and their eggs

  • Sponge
  • Brush
  • Vinegar spraying bottle
1Remove fish, valuable invertebrates, and aquatic plants to a separate tank
2Remove tank water, ornaments, gravels, filter system, and pipes from the aquarium
3Spray vinegar on the tank and leave it for 20-30 minutes to contact surfaces with vinegar
4Scrub the entire tank using a brush. It will detach the snails and their eggs from the tank
5Use a razor blade to scrape tank glass gently to remove all unwanted stuff
6Then properly rinse your tank using fresh water and let it dry
7Refill your tank with new treated water

How To Use Vinegar To Remove Snails From Tank Decorations And Live Plants

Live aquatic plants cleaning 

  • Add distilled vinegar solution into the bucket (water 1: vinegar 1)
  • Soak your live plant in that solution for 3, 4 minutes. Do not exceed this period of 5 minutes. It will damage your live plant
  • Scrub and rinse live plants under cool running water 
  • Ensure any snail or their eggs are not present in the plant leaves, roots, and stem
  • Place the live plant on your tank
remove Aquarium Snails

Tank decorations, gravel cleaning 

  • Prepare the solution that has white vinegar and water with a 1:1 ratio
  • Put the decorations in a bucket and soak them using a prepared vinegar solution
  • Leave 10,15 minutes. Then scrub and clean the ornaments using a brush 
  • You should continue this cleaning process until all snails and eggs are detached from gravel and tools 
  • Wash ornaments using rinse cool running water
  • Dry them under sunlight for 3, or 4 days. If some eggs remain, they will die because of dry conditions

Important: If you have any ornaments prepared with calcium carbonate, you should skip these steps. Acetic acids contained in vinegar can react with calcium carbonates and can corrode ornaments. 

You can scrub them using a brush and remove snails and eggs. Then allow them to dry for two, or three days under sunlight. You can use the above steps to clean fine gravel too. If not, you can sterilize fine gravel with hot water. The boiling water can kill and remove snails and their eggs.  

Filter System cleaning from snails and their eggs

  • Remove filter medium and place it into a small container 
  • Dip the parts of the filter unit into the vinegar solution 
  • Leave filter system for 10,20 minutes in a vinegar solution
  • Gently scrub the filter system and remove snails and eggs from it
  • Wash tools under running tap water
  • Fill the filter media and assemble the filter system
  • Place it in your tank
remove Aquarium Snails eggs

Important: Before you placed your gravels, ornaments, and live plants, you should properly clean those stuff. Do not use the same water to refill your tank. It may contain the larvae stage of snails and snails’ eggs. 

Related: How To Clean Aquarium Plants With Hydrogen Peroxide?

Does Vinegar Kill Snail Eggs?

Yes, vinegar is a solution that consists of acetic acid. Acetic acids can dissolve snails’ muscles and shells. The acidic environment is also unfavorable for snails and their eggs. Thus, they tend to die.

How Snails Harm The Aquarium

Generally, snails eat tank debris, uneaten fish foods, and algae. People tend to rear colorful snail varieties as pets. But some snails have rapid reproducing behaviors. Below I mentioned some examples of fast breeding varieties. These are,

  • Ram Horn Snail
  • Trumpet snail
  • Pond snail

Thus, the snails’ population will increase within a short time and overrun a tank quickly. Moreover that they can adversely damage and harm the following factors.

  • Snails eat the aquatic plants
  • Create a miserable look for your aquarium
  • They live everywhere in the tank
  • Block the filter system and powerhead
  • Block the aeration

If your tank has nice aquascapes, you should take precautions immediately. If not, they will destroy your total effort within one night. Finally, they will completely ruin the vibrant look of your aquarium. 

Different Methods To Get Rid Of Snails In The Aquariums

Manual Removal Of Snails

You can control the number of snails by removing them from your hand or net. This method is suitable for tanks that have a small number of snails. You do not need to purchase any chemicals for this method. But picking snails and removing them is not a good solution when tanks have a large population of snails and their eggs.

Add Predator Fish To Eat Snails

Several fish species eat snails. Introducing predatory fish help to remove snails and their eggs easily and effectively. On the other hand, it is a low-cost method. When selecting predatory fish, you should consider their behaviors with different beneficial fish varieties.

The commonly used predatory fish are,

  • Pufferfish
  • Clown Loaches
  • Yoyo Loaches
  • Dwarf Chain Loaches
  • Zebrafish
  • Pictus catfish

Use a Bait Trap To Remove Snails From The Aquarium

You can set a trap to collect snails together. The most common trap is “Lettuce leaf,” and you can follow these steps to remove snails more effectively. 

  • First, you should add some lettuce leaves to the small glass ball or jar
  • Then place it in the bottom of your aquarium overnight
  • The next day you can see the jar that fills with snails
  • Remove them from the aquarium
  • You can do the same procedure until most of the snails gone

Special Note: But you cannot remove snail eggs by this process

Use Chemicals To Kill Snails And Their Eggs

Copper sulfate is a widely using snails killing compound. It is a fish-safe chemical. You should carefully follow the guidelines mentioned in the bottle to protect other living creatures in the tank. Copper sulfate causes you to die off massive snail amounts, and it can foul your tank. Thus you should remove dead snails immediately. Moreover, you should check the water quality parameters and adjust them to a preferable level while using chemicals.


It would be best if you keep nuisance snails out of your aquarium. It is the easiest and best solution before they are taking over in the tank. Most of the snails come to the aquarium with live plants. Thus, before adding the newly purchased live plants, you should quarantine them in a separate tank. You can soak the live plants in salt water for 15 minutes and rinse them in fresh water before adding them to the aquarium.

Type Of Nuisance Snails 

Fish hobbits consider the snails that multiply or reproduce rapidly as the “bad” or nuisance snails. These varieties can overrun an aquarium within a short time. The most common nuisance snails are,

  • Ramshorns snails
  • Malaysian snails
  • Trumpet snails
  • Pond snails
Credit to: Marks Shrimp Tanks

Related: Will Vinegar Kill Algae In A Fish Tank: Step By Step Guide
Related: Is Rust Bad For Aquarium Fish? : Avoid It or Remove It?


Cheney, S., 1987. Controlling snails and slugs. US Department of Agriculture, National Agricultural Library.

Yeung, N.W., Hayes, K.A. and Cowie, R.H., 2013. Effects of washing produce contaminated with the snail and slug hosts of Angiostrongylus cantonensis with three common household solutions. Hawai’i Journal of Medicine & Public Health, 72(6 Suppl 2), p.83.

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About Dr.Chamika

Hello, I'm Dr. Chamika. I am a Researcher in Water quality, Aquatic organisms, and Environmental chemistry. I am a passionate fish keeper, with10 years of experience. My mission is to help other aquarists experience the joy of fish keeping.