4 juvenile red bellied piranha in an aquarium

Will Piranhas Eat Snails?

A Piranhas diet in the wild is pretty varied. They consume everything from plant matter to worms, fruits and crustaceans, although a large part of their diet is fish. They forage for all manner of foodstuffs and undoubtedly come across snails in the wild.

So, will Piranhas Eat snails? In short, yes, Piranhas will eat snails. As part of their natural diet Piranha will forage among the foliage of the Amazon basin and diet on insects, worms, fish, crustaceans and snails. In an aquarium they are largely there for glass cleaning and to remove leftover food. While well fed Piranha can often ignore them for quite a while, especially if they are fed a varied diet, ultimately your Piranha will focus on the snails for a meal.

Piranha Diet And Behavior

While the typical diet of Red-Bellied Piranhas is insects, worms, crustaceans, fish and fruits, as well as other fish, in a frenzy by a school of Piranha they will prey on the carcasses and attack animals such as egrets.

Although with the reputation of a fearsome killer who is attracted to splashing in the water, they are actually omnivores. It is a scavenger of the Amazon basin and during the dry season will forage through the foliage eating things it comes across. Insects and worms are more abundant during the rainy season and food is plentiful.

Foraging becomes a more natural way of life for the Piranha in the dry season, when there is food scarcity. The will school in packs of around 20 to 30 fish, mainly for protection.

Foraging as a skill is instinctively in the Piranha from a young age, Typically juveniles will scavenge for food wherever they can get it while they are in the growth phase/ they will also forage throughout the day.

Adult Piranha will do this more often as the day breaks and as dusk sets in. The fish typically ambush their prey during daylight hours, waiting in cover to attack and ambush whatever they are hunting.

When scavenging though, the Piranha will come across a wide variety of food, ranging from plant matter, debris, fish fins, scales, and snails. Yes, in the wild Piranha will eat snail.

Single red bellied piranha and reflection

Why Would You Put Snails In An Aquarium

Snails in an aquarium are either in there because they are placed there or they have been accidentally introduced. When buying plants to put in an aquarium sometimes, there are snail eggs hiding, which comes as a surprise one day.

Any transference of water can also have a similar effect, or buying new decorations for the tank, especially second hand, may come with the snail eggs.

Additionally, some people put snails in their tank to deal with cleaning debris and the thinking is that they will become mobile vacuum cleaners and take out the algae and leftover food. Hopefully, helping alleviate the work of your aquarium filter.

Now, if you are keeping goldfish ot tetras, that’s fine. But what about Piranhas. These fish are used to foraging and eating what they locate, including snails.

snail in a piranha aquarium

What Can You Expect From Snails In A Piranha Aquarium

With snails in a tank the expectation is that they will go round the tank, clearing away the leftover food and keeping the glass clean. While they can do this, they also might eat the live plants, something your Piranha sees as food as well.

Piranhas are scavengers and foragers for sure, but a well fed Piranha, kept in good condition, or indeed a school of Red-Bellied Piranha will not small and seek out snails for a meal. Snails are eaten if they are hungry, so as long as you keep the well fed and the diet varied then the snails should be safe. Well, as safe as being a natural food in a Piranha tank might be.

Snails will not harm your Piranha as a food source.

A lot of the time, again especially if the conditions are good and they are well fed, your Piranha should treat your snails as inconsequential, and ignore them.

Quite a lot of people though, report their Piranha eating snails if they are dropped into the water. The Piranha is attuned to those sorts of sounds, from falling fruits and nuts in the wild, and will eat the snails as they sink.

The general problem is that, as ever with Piranha and being a food source in the tank, one day you will look inside and see quite clearly the remains of a snail. One day, it is likely that your snails will be a Piranha meal, despite you keeping them well fed.

To prolong the life of your snails, keep the Piranha well fed and the diet varied. You shouldn’t feed them just one type of food source, as they may then seek out a snail for a change. Frozen fish should be served 3 times a week, as well as freeze dried meats, worms, fruits and vegetables.

10 juvenile red bellied piranha in an aquarium


So, undoubtedly Piranha will eat snails. Snails are part of what would be called a Piranha’s natural diet. Piranha are scavengers and during the dry season, when food is scarce they will undoubtedly eat them.

In an aquarium, snails are sometimes placed in there for their cleaning processes. So, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what might happen over time.

While most of the time, your snails should be safe, with your Piranha largely ignoring them, ultimately one day your Piranha will decide on them for a meal.

You can mitigate the fact by providing a stress free environment, clean water and keep them well fed with a varied diet based off their natural food sources. However, one day, your snails will become Piranha food, and if they do, they will do your Piranha no harm.

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