do assassin snails eat shrimp closeup photography of brown snail


Assassin snails (Clea helena), renowned for their striking appearance and predatory nature, have long captured the intrigue of aquatic enthusiasts. One of the most common questions that arises in the world of aquarium keeping is whether assassin snails consume shrimp, a popular and delicate aquatic inhabitant. In this detailed article, we delve into the feeding habits of assassin snails, their interaction with shrimp, and provide insights drawn from practical experiences and reliable sources.

do assassin snails eat shrimp two snails surrounded by green leafed plant
Photo by freestocks

Do Assassin Snails Eat Shrimp?

One of the most fascinating aspects of assassin snails is their carnivorous diet. These snails are natural predators, primarily feeding on other snails. However, the question remains: Do assassin snails eat shrimp? The answer, fortunately for shrimp enthusiasts, is not as straightforward as it might seem.

While assassin snails are known for their appetite for snails, they are less likely to consume live, healthy shrimp. Their preference for snails is due to their operculum, a protective trapdoor-like structure that makes snails a convenient and nutritious meal. The operculum is absent in shrimp, making them less appealing to assassin snails.

Assassin snails are not inherently aggressive towards shrimp. In fact, these two aquatic creatures can often coexist peacefully in the same tank without any issues. However, there are instances where assassin snails might scavenge on deceased shrimp or molted exoskeletons. This behavior is opportunistic rather than predatory, as they recognize the shrimp remains as a source of sustenance.

Unveiling the Feeding Habits

Understanding the feeding habits of assassin snails is crucial in determining their compatibility with shrimp in an aquarium setup. Assassin snails primarily feed on:

  • Small Snails: These snails are particularly fond of consuming small pest snails, such as bladder snails and Malaysian trumpet snails. Their sharp proboscis allows them to pierce the snail’s shell and extract its contents.
  • Molts and Decaying Matter: As mentioned earlier, assassin snails are opportunistic scavengers. They might consume molts, exoskeletons, and decaying organic matter present in the tank.
  • Frozen Foods: In controlled environments like aquariums, providing frozen foods like bloodworms, brine shrimp, and daphnia can supplement their diet.

It’s important to note that assassin snails are not likely to target healthy shrimp, which have a protective exoskeleton and are relatively swift compared to snails. This makes them less vulnerable to predation.

do assassin snails eat shrimp brown snail on brown wooden stick
Photo by Alexas Fotos

Interactions between Assassin Snails and Shrimp

The dynamic between assassin snails and shrimp largely depends on factors such as tank size, available resources, and individual temperament. In most cases, these two aquatic creatures coexist harmoniously. However, there are nuances to consider:

  • Tank Size: Providing ample space and hiding spots in the tank can create an environment where both assassin snails and shrimp feel secure. A larger tank minimizes the chance of direct confrontations.
  • Feeding Areas: Offering varied food sources and ensuring that shrimp have access to their preferred foods reduces competition for resources.
  • Shrimp Species: Some shrimp species, like larger Amano shrimp, are less likely to be targeted by assassin snails due to their size and armored exoskeleton.
  • Behavior Monitoring: Regular observation of interactions can provide insights into the compatibility between assassin snails and shrimp.

FAQs about Assassin Snails and Shrimp

Q: Are assassin snails harmful to shrimp? A: Assassin snails are generally not harmful to healthy shrimp, as they primarily target snails. However, deceased or molted shrimp might be scavenged.

Q: Will assassin snails attack larger shrimp? A: Assassin snails are less likely to attack larger shrimp with armored exoskeletons. Their preference for snails stems from the ease of accessing their soft tissues.

Q: How many assassin snails should I have in a tank with shrimp? A: The number of assassin snails should be proportional to the snail population you wish to control. However, excessive numbers can lead to competition for food.

Q: Do assassin snails reproduce quickly? A: Assassin snails reproduce at a moderate rate. They give birth to live young, and under favorable conditions, their population can increase gradually.

Q: Can shrimp and assassin snails breed together? A: No, shrimp and assassin snails cannot interbreed. They are distinct species with different reproductive mechanisms.

Q: What should I do if I notice aggression between assassin snails and shrimp? A: If aggression is observed, consider providing more hiding spots and ensuring a balanced diet for both assassin snails and shrimp.


The captivating world of aquatic life is rife with intricate interactions and unique behaviors. While the question “Do assassin snails eat shrimp?” may not have a definitive answer, a deeper understanding of their feeding habits and interactions can guide aquarists in creating a harmonious environment for both these fascinating creatures. By promoting a balanced ecosystem and attentive observation, enthusiasts can ensure that their shrimp and assassin snails thrive side by side, adding to the beauty and diversity of their underwater realms.

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