How to Get Rid of Snails with Vinegar (8 Easy Steps)

Get Rid of Snails with Vinegar

How to Get Rid of Snails with Vinegar (8 Easy Steps)

Snails, known for their rapid reproduction, can quickly become a nuisance if not effectively controlled. They not only overpopulate tanks, leading to bioload issues but also can become troublesome in gardens, leaving a trail of slime wherever they traverse. Vinegar is a commonly employed solution for eradicating snails in tanks and around the garden. But how exactly do you get rid of snails with vinegar?

To get rid of snails with vinegar, first prepare a vinegar solution. Use this to sanitize the tank and its components after removing any pets. Gently scrub decorations and the filtration system with a brush to remove snail eggs. For garden snails, directly spray vinegar solution from a spray bottle.

Below is a series of easy-to-follow steps that will help you get rid of snails with vinegar. Though there might be a shortcut, I recommend the following process to ensure we eliminate snails and their eggs from tanks.

Step 1: Gather Your Necessary Supplies

You will need:

  1. A brush    
  2. An additional tank    
  3. Vinegar    
  4. Another brush or a sponge    
  5. A bucket    
  6. Gloves    
  7. A spray bottle

Vinegar, containing mild acetic acid, is lethal to both snails and slugs. Any variety of vinegar has sufficient potency to eradicate these pests.

Step 2: Prepare the Vinegar Solution

Distilled white vinegar, readily available in most stores, is particularly effective for eliminating snails. One option is Member’s Mark Distilled White Vinegar, already diluted to 5% acidity, which is ready to use as is.

However, I recommend adding an equal amount of water (a 1:1 ratio) to ensure the protection of certain tank elements. This product lacks infused fragrances, making it suitable for other household chores. 

Avoid vinegar products with infused fragrances like lavender or peppermint, as these can be difficult to remove and are generally disliked by snails and most tank inhabitants. 

If you opt for a more concentrated white vinegar, I recommend diluting it with water in a 1:2 ratio – two parts water to one part vinegar. This dilution reduces the solution’s concentration to levels safe for plants and lessens its pungent aroma.

For tanks larger than 15 gallons (57 liters), about a gallon (120 oz) of vinegar should suffice. For smaller tanks, half a gallon (64 oz) will be adequate.

To get rid of garden snails, simply fill a spray bottle with a vinegar solution and aim the jet directly at the snail. Ensure that the snail is thoroughly sprayed, then wait. It will squirm and eventually perish.

Step 3: Relocate Valuable Pets

  1. Start by putting on your gloves and any other necessary protective gear.
  2. Next, carefully remove fish and other valuable invertebrates from the tank and transfer them to the empty secondary tank. Vinegar can be harmful or lethal to fish and most other tank invertebrates. Ensure that the conditions in the new tank are appropriately adjusted to support the transferred fish and invertebrates.
  3. Lastly, consider the compatibility of the relocated tank inhabitants. Avoid placing aggressive species in close quarters with their more peaceable counterparts.

Step 4: Remove and Clean Live Aquatic Plants

Aquatic plants often serve as a sanctuary for snails and their eggs, with these pests frequently exploring plant stems and leaves. Plants are also a preferred spot for snails to attach their eggs.

Therefore, you must be meticulous when dealing with plants, as they are the most common avenue for snails to reenter your tank.

  1. Begin by gently lifting the plants and immersing them in a vinegar-filled bucket.
  2. Allow the plants to soak for one to two minutes – but no longer. Excessive exposure to vinegar can damage the plants. Alternatively, you can spray them with vinegar solution from a bottle.
  3. After the brief soak, remove the plants and gently scrub them with a brush to dislodge any clinging eggs.
  4. Next, rinse the plants under a stream of cool running water to wash away any remaining traces of vinegar solution.
  5. Finally, place your cleaned plants into an empty tank and water them accordingly.

Step 5: Remove and Clean Tank Decorations and Substratum

Some snails attach their eggs to tank decorations, while others bury them in the substrate. Therefore, it’s crucial to clean these elements as well.

  1. Begin by gently removing your decorations and soaking them in vinegar for about 5 minutes. Alternatively, you can use a spray bottle to apply the vinegar solution.
  2. Next, scrub the ornaments gently with a brush to dislodge any potential eggs.
  3. Once the ornaments are cleaned, immerse the gravel in the vinegar solution, letting it soak for 5 minutes.
  4. Afterward, rinse the ornaments and substrate under cool running water to remove residual vinegar.

Please note: if you have any ornaments or decorations made of calcium carbonate, do not follow these steps, as calcium carbonate will dissolve in acetic acid. Instead, use a strong base such as baking soda to clean these ornaments.

Step 6: Remove and Clean the Filtration System

  1. Start by removing the filtration system from the tank and disassembling it to access the filter media.
  2. Next, immerse the filter media and other components of the filtration system in the vinegar solution and allow them to soak for approximately 10 minutes. You could also apply the vinegar solution using a spray bottle.
  3. Following the soak, gently scrub the components with your brush to remove any attached snail eggs. Be careful during this step to avoid damaging any part of the system.
  4. Once cleaned, refill the filter media and reassemble your filtration system. After reassembly, set the system aside for later.

Step 7: Thoroughly Clean the Tank

Now comes the moment to tackle any mature snails, baby snails, and snail eggs remaining in the tank.

  1. Drain the water from the tank into your vinegar-containing bucket and let it sit for 30 minutes. Alternatively, pour your vinegar solution into the tank and wait 30 minutes. This process will eliminate most of the snails.
  2. Once done, safely dispose of the water into your sewer system. Use a brush to scrub your tank, targeting any stubborn snail eggs that may persist.
  3. Finally, wash and rinse your tank under cool running water, then leave it to dry.

Step 8: Reassemble Your Tank

With all the tank components thoroughly cleaned and free from snails and their eggs, it’s time to reassemble your tank.

  1. Start by setting up the filtration system, substrate, and decorations.
  2. Next, fill up your tank and initiate the cycling process.

Achieving a balanced tank doesn’t have to take months. By adding fish food or organic waste and live nitrifying bacteria, you can accomplish this task in just 7 days. The organic waste will produce ammonia, which serves as food for the nitrifying bacteria you’ll introduce.

One recommended product is Seachem Stability Fish Tank Stabilizer, a blend of aerobic, anaerobic, and facultative bacteria that breaks down ammonia and nitrites, ensuring a safe environment within the tank. This product is harmless to tank plants and pets and additionally assists in pH regulation.

With these steps complete, your tank is ready for use.

Important Considerations

While delving into the steps outlined above, you should consider several factors that can influence your approach.

Assess the Level of Infestation

Initially, you must gauge the severity of the snail infestation. Are you dealing with just a few snails, or is it a more severe infestation? If it’s the former, you can remove the tank pets and address the snails individually.

However, if it’s the latter, it’s necessary to thoroughly clean every aspect of the tank, including:

  • Filtration system
  • Decorations
  • Substrate
  • Plants

Evaluate Your Resources

The second consideration is whether or not you have additional tanks available. These tanks can serve as temporary homes for aquatic pets and plants as you tackle the snail issue.

If you don’t have any spare tanks, the process may be complicated, as vinegar is harmful to fish, most tank invertebrates, and aquatic plants.

Examine for Snail Eggs

Finally, you need to consider the presence of large snail egg clusters. Snails often lay eggs and attach them on hard tank surfaces, including the glass, decorations, substratum, and filtration systems.

These egg clusters are easy to spot, for they are usually covered in a gelatinous sack. Once you spot many of these sacks, a total tank cleanup will be necessary. Dealing with only the mature snails and leaving the eggs is a waste of time.

Closing Remarks

With its acetic acid content, vinegar can effectively kill snails and destroy their eggs. However, the process of eliminating snails using vinegar may not be as straightforward as it seems due to the resilient snail eggs that adhere to almost any surface.

To ensure thorough eradication, it’s crucial to sanitize not only the tank itself but also the decorations and filtration system. Care should also be taken to avoid exposing aquatic plants to vinegar for prolonged periods.



  • Paul Odoteh

    Paul Odoteh is an established writer and editor with nearly 10 years of experience in writing and editing. He holds a bachelor's degree in IT and has written for numerous publications and individuals. Currently, Odoteh is dedicated to expanding his blog,, which was inspired by his passion for owning an aquarium. Odoteh Paul

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