Will Plecos Eat Snails? Can They Be Tank Mates?

Plecos won’t go out of their way to eat snails under normal circumstances. Starvation, competing over food, and territorial conflict are the only reasons plecos may eat snails on their own. Otherwise, it may occur by accident or if you offer the snails as a snack.

Keep reading to learn more about the relationship between plecos and snails as tank mates and how you can make the aquarium as friendly and as safe as possible.

Will Plecos Eat Snails?

Plecos can eat snails, but they won’t actively do it under normal and proper tank conditions. This is simply because snails aren’t a part of the usual diet of plecos.

Plecos mostly eat algae and sometimes will munch on driftwood or have treats such as cucumbers, zucchini, and other veggies. are peaceful tank mates. They don’t usually bother other residents in the tank nor go after them to cause harm.

Even if it did happen, there has to be a particular reason or just by accident. Either way, it’d probably be a one-time thing and the plecos won’t eat large enough amounts of snails to dwindle their population whatsoever.

Pleco on Glass

When Would Plecos Eat Snails?

Typically, plecos don’t bother nor eat their tank mates — snails included.

That said, some specific circumstances may cause plecos to deviate from their normal behavior and devour snails. Here’s why your plecos may consume snails in the tank:


This is the most probable reason why plecos may resort to eating snails in the tank. If you leave your plecos without enough food and they get too hungry, they’ll look for other sources of food.

Plecos are opportunistic scavengers, so these food sources may just be the snails they come across in the aquarium.

Food Competition

Both plecos and snails eat algae. So, if there isn’t enough food to go around, plecos will get competitive and may attack the snails to keep them from taking a share of the food.

Territorial Conflict

Both plecos and snails are bottom dwellers. As such, snails may enter the territory claimed by the plecos when they’re not in a mood to share.

Consequently, the plecos may attack or try to eat the snail to get rid of the trespasser.


Plecos may also eat snails by accident because the latter simply happened to be in their way so they decided to have a taste. If this happens, it’s usually a one-time thing.

You Serve Them

As mentioned earlier, plecos can eat snails. They won’t go out of their way to do it, but if you give them a frozen, crushed snail as a treat, they’ll gladly take it.

Will Plecos Eat Snail Eggs?

Plecos don’t consume snail eggs by preference. However, they may eat them if they happen to be accessible due to their scavenging nature.

Still, snail eggs aren’t nutritious enough to fulfill the plecos, so they won’t depend on them as a food source.

Do Plecos Eat Dead Snails?

Plecos are scavenger eaters, so they don’t mind munching on dead creatures if they cross paths. As such, plecos can eat dead fish, snails, shrimp, and so on.

Can Plecos and Snails Live in the Same Tank?

Yes, plecos and snails can live in the same tank. Both creatures are docile and in general, won’t bother each other.

As long as you follow the tips in the next section, they should be cool as roomies.

Golden Thunder Royal Pleco

How to Prevent Plecos From Eating Snails

Now that you better understand the nature of plecos and how they normally won’t eat or hunt snails (unless in very specific situations), you’re probably wondering if there’s a way you can make the tank safer for your little pets.

To keep plecos from eating snails and to ensure they live in harmony as tank mates, stick to the following tips:

1. Provide a Tank with Enough Space

You need to make sure that the tank your plecos and snails will be sharing is big enough to accommodate both inhabitants.

Plecos can get quite large. They require room to swim and roam freely.

While snails don’t need as much space to thrive as plecos, both animals are bottom dwellers. If the tank is too crowded, they’ll have to compete over territory— in which case plecos are likely to win.

2. Provide a Tank with Many Hiding Spots

Next, make sure there are plenty of hiding spots available. These will help the snails protect themselves by getting out of the plecos’ way.

Caves, decorations, driftwood, aquatic moss, and other elements where snails can hide will keep them out of reach and the plecos won’t actively seek them out.

3. Provide the Plecos with Enough Food

As mentioned earlier, starvation is the most probable reason why plecos would eat snails. This may be because you forgot to feed your plecos or gave them too little food.

To lower the chances of plecos resorting to snails as a food source, you should feed the fish sufficient amounts of food. A full pleco won’t ever bother with going after snails.

4. Schedule Different Feeding Times

Since plecos and snails share algae as a food source, feeding the two animals at different times may help reduce the chances of conflict breaking out due to competition over food.

How do you do that you ask? Well, it’s actually pretty easy.

You see, plecos are nocturnal fish by nature. This means they become active at night and are inactive during the day.

As such, you can take advantage of the natural schedule of plecos and feed the snails during the day when plecos aren’t around. Then at night, feed the plecos while the snails are away.

This way, the plecos won’t feel threatened and attack the snails.

Wrap Up

Plecos don’t normally eat snails. This may happen only if the plecos are starving or the tank is too small. Be sure to follow the tips explained above to keep the environment in your tank as peaceful as possible.