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8 Sure Ways to Get Rid of Snails & Slugs Around Water Tanks or Aquariums

Updated on April 30, 2017
Jan Saints profile image

Januaris is a part-time gardener and author of farming guides. He loves to write about crops, pest control, fish farming, and beekeeping.

Snails and slugs are an eyesore: they are not pleasing to the eye at all. Personally, I don’t like their mucus-covered bodies and the slime trail they leave behind as they move. And this is one of the reasons I can’t tolerate them around my water tank, tap, aquarium, fish pond, garden or any other part of my home.

Apart from being a turn-off, the mollusks are pests. They eat plants! Snails and slugs in a garden can really reduce yield. They feed mainly on leaves, so you can expect them to be of a major concern in leafy vegetable gardens. Any serious farmer cannot allow them to multiply in his or her garden.

snail/slugs | Source

Snails and slugs in aquariums or fish tanks can be detrimental in a number ways. First, if the mollusks are parasitic, they can kill the fish. Second, if they are left to reproduce without control, they can compete with the aquatics for resources. Third, they can clog the aquarium filters and pipework.

Some of these mollusks are hosts of deadly parasites and microorganisms. For example, the faucet and mud gastropods carry liver flukes. Other gastropods carry the parasitic worms that cause bilharzia.

In case you didn’t know the snail and slug difference, the former has a shell on the back while the latter lacks it. All the gastropods can be controlled in similar ways, whether organically, naturally or chemically.

This article is about how to get rid of snails and slugs in aquariums, gardens or water tanks. Read on to learn how to control and stop the crawlers and dawdlers.

In brief, what are the ways to get rid of snails and slugs in gardens, water tanks and aquariums? Well, they include:

1. Use of baits.

2. Use of traps.

3. Use of barriers & repellents.

4. Employing biological methods.

5. Growing resistant plants.

6. Use of killer chemicals or pesticides.

7. Manual-picking the mollusks.

8. Changing cultivation methods.

1. Use Baits to Get Rid of Snails & Slugs

The most effective baits are beer and iron phosphate. Fill a bowl or wide jar half-way with beer and place it where the gastropods frequent. You can bury the jar to make it easy for them to crawl in. When they come around, they will be attracted by the beer, move in and get drown. Dispose the dead pests away from your garden, aquarium or water source. Grape juice or a mixture of yeast and honey or sugar can be a great option for beer.

Iron phosphate entices the mollusks and even kills them. Place a shallow container of the solution around your water tank or any other place where you want to control the laggards. They will be killed after consuming the solution.

You can also use methiocarb and metaldehyde if you can control their toxicity. These baits can kill domestic animals and other wildlife, and can also harm your kids. So be careful when using them. Sprinkle these baits in the right places to control the organisms.

Many iron phosphate baits have been manufactured, but it is only one or two that can deal with slugs and snails. The most effective bait has been the Garden Safe Slug & Snail Bait which is formulated to lure these pests from their hiding places and killing them after ingesting it.

I have used this bait substance for close to 10 years, and I have been able to eliminate these pests when they struck my garden, water tanks or aquarium. It is quite useful and convenient! It can be used around pets and wildlife. It is also great for organic gardening which means that it can be used around flowers, vegetables and fruit trees. In addition, it breaks down immediately to become soil when left unconsumed.

If you are finding it hard to control these pests, just grab this bait and you will be able to deal with the menace in one day!

2. Use Traps to Control the Mollusks

The common traps for snails and slugs include inverted grapefruit halves, overturned flowerpots and boards. A grapefruit has a scent that attracts the laggards. When they crawl under the halves, they get trapped inside and die with time. Some great alternatives for this method are inverted melon or orange rinds and inverted cabbage leaves.

The overturned flowerpots work the same as the grapefruit halves. The critters tend to move into the pot when it is tilted. Leave the flowerpots overnight to trap as many dawdlers as possible.

In the case of the boards, set the wooden material on the ground. The laggards will come to hide under the board after their festivities at night. Lift the board during the daytime to kill them. A good alternative to the board is a black plastic sheet or carpet.

An upturned saucer can also be a good trap. Place lettuce leaves or some food items under the saucer. The crawlers will be attracted by the leaves or food items and get trapped inside. In addition, a water container with these items can be a great option for the saucer. Consider pet food for this method.

3. Use Barriers and Repellents to Control Snails and Slugs

Copper is the best barrier or repellent for these creatures. The metal creates electric shocks in the body of the gastropods. Use a copper tape or strip around the garden, aquarium or water tank. You can also sprinkle copper fragments around these areas.

Diatomaceous earth is another material that can act as a good barrier or repellent. The powdered material has sharp edges that cut their bodies. Sprinkle a non-toxic diatomaceous earth around the place where the critters visit. A good option for this material is crushed egg shells, grit, lava rock or sandpaper.

You can also use coffee, ginger, sage, mint, vinegar or garlic to stop the gastropods. In fact, these substances kill the dawdlers, in addition to repelling them. Place a solution of one of these substances in the place where the mollusks frequent. You can also sprinkle their powder form around the garden, aquarium or water source.

In addition, a simple electronic fence can be a great barrier or repellent. This kind of a fence creates an unpleasant sensation in the body of the organisms, causing them to turn away. This sensation can only be felt by the mollusks, so it is safe for other animals.

If you consider buying the copper tape, I would recommend that you go for the Copper Foil Tape with Dual Conductive Adhesive. This is the repellent I use alongside the bait mentioned above to create an effective control mechanism for these pests. It is designed to discharge an electro static charge which reacts with the slime secretion of the pests causing a mild, unpleasant sensation to their bodies. This sensation kills or repels the mollusks.

The copper tape is quite effective in raised flower beds, greenhouses, potted plants, pet dishes, water tanks, aquarium, trees and patio furniture. It is environmentally safe, doesn't have chemicals and can be used both indoor and outdoor. I would advice you not to hesitate to get this tape in order to keep your home and garden free from these pests.

4. Employ Biological Methods

One of the biological methods is the use of predators. Introduce chickens, geese and ducks in your garden to feed on the pests. Other predators that can help include: tortoises, turtles, frogs, toads, snakes, newts, salamanders, hedgehogs, beetles, nematodes and birds.

Other barriers include: ashes and fur. These materials affect the movement of the gastropods. The crawlers cannot move when they come into contact with these fine-granule materials.

You can also use predatory snails. These snails are attractive and do not carry parasites. Introduce them in your garden and do not use other control methods such as baits, traps and pesticides.

If you are having the gastropods in the fish tank or pond, introduce a scavenging fish in the water. Some snail eaters include: loaches, catfish and putterfish. These predators also feed on the critters, eliminating the menace completely.

predator mollusk
predator mollusk | Source

5. Grow Gastropod-Resistant Plants

One of these plants is hosta, but not all hostas can resist the gastropods. So choose the variety that is not friendly to these organisms. The one with thick leaves is the best resistant plant.

Another resistant plant is seaweed. This plant is salty, a condition that doesn’t favor the dawdlers. Introduce seaweed in your garden pond to keep the creatures away.

Other repellent plants include aromatic-leaved herbs, such as lavender, rosemary and sage. More resistant plants include: California poppy, geraniums, begonias, fuchias, nasturtiums, lantana, impatiens and purple robe cup flower.

6. Use Killer Chemicals or Pesticides

Salt is one of the chemicals that kill the pests. It absorbs water from the mollusks, dehydrating and killing them. You need to find the organisms and sprinkle salt on them. Salt can harm plants and other animals, so be careful when using it.

Garlic can also kill the gastropods. Mix garlic with water to create a solution. Spray the solution in your garden or any other place infested by the annoying pests.

Iron phosphate is another chemical that can be used to kill the laggards. As mentioned earlier, this chemical is safe. You can use it in any place infested by the pests.

Metaldehyde can also be used to kill snails and slugs at home. This compound is toxic, so it may not be the best option for people with domestic animals. If you decide to use metaldehyde, ensure your kids and pets are safe.

Other effective chemicals include: alum (aluminum sulfate), bleach (chlorine), potassium permanganate. Spray these chemicals in areas infested by the annoying organisms.

7. Manual-Pick the Mollusks

I cannot imagine using this method, but some people don't mind using it. If you don’t have issues with the look or feel of the mollusks, handpick, kill and dispose them. You can wear gloves and use tweezers or chopsticks to make the work simpler and easier. Do the handpicking job early in the morning or late in the evening when the crawlers are out.

8. Change Cultivation Methods to Control the Gastropods

Change the watering schedule to reduce the number of mollusks in your garden. Instead of applying water in the evening, do it in the morning. This will make the garden unfavorable for them at night as it will be dry.

Till your garden frequently to kill their eggs. You can also remove any debris and introduce materials such as gravel and wood chips. Removing the debris creates unfavorable living conditions for the dawdlers. Introducing the mentioned materials makes it difficult for the crawlers to move from one place to another.

gastropoda eggs
gastropoda eggs | Source

In Conclusion…

As you can see, there are natural and chemical ways of controlling snails and slugs in aquariums, gardens or water sources. Depending on your preference and other factors, choose the method that suits you to control these unpleasing organisms at home.


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  • Murphy G., Coupland J. Slugs, Snails and Slime Trails. Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food Fact Sheet. (PDF). (2004).
  • Sakovich N. J., Bailey J. B., Fisher T. W. Decollate Snails for Control of Brown Garden Snails in Southern California Citrus Groves. University of California. Publication. (1984).
  • Pundt L. Managing Slugs in the Greenhouse. University of Connecticut. (2011).
  • McDonnell R., Paine T., Gormally M. J. Slugs: A Guide to the Invasive and Native Fauna of California. University of California. Publication. (2009).
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© 2015 Januaris Saint Fores


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    • Jan Saints profile image

      Januaris Saint Fores 15 months ago from the Midwest

      Yeah, when broken down into fragments.

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 2 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      do you think egg shells could deter them?