Aquarium Snails

Do Aquarium Snails Feel Pain?

Aquarium snails are tiny organisms and they can feel pain due to various things. The movement of other aquatic pets like large fish quick move can produce shocks and can be a source of pain for tiny snails.

Do Aquarium Snails Feel Pain? Yes, aquarium snails can feel pain. They have sensory organs and simplified nervous system responses to feeling pain through different mechanisms like pressure, heat, or any chemical used for tank cleaning. They can also suffer due to any human activity in the tank, such as maintenance, cleaning, and regular water change process. 

Do Aquarium Snails Feel Pain?

Aquarium snails are beneficial aquatic species, intentionally kept by aquarists in the tank.

They keep the tank clean by eating algae, waste food, and other organic debris in the aquarium.

Aquarists perform different activities daily to maintain the aquarium environment as per the requirement of their pets. It can include repairing, physical cleaning, disinfection of the tank with chemical and partial water changes every week.

These activities can be harmful and a source of pain for the snails. Different snail diseases can also cause pain in them. 

Sense Organs of Snail Responsible for Pain

Sense organs collect information about different environmental changes like smell, pressure, and temperature and send them to the brain in the electrical signals forms. Snails do not have a proper brain and specific sensory organs. 

They have numerous sense cells present at different body spots responsible for various senses like smell, taste, heat, and humidity. The most sensitive areas are its head, lips, and tentacle areas. 

Information acquired by sense cells process by nerve cells tied together to form a ring near the head known as ganglia. 

Sense of Touch

All of a snail’s body is sensitive to touch, especially the head and tentacles. Snail feels the pressure and extent of touch as sense cells activate on its body. They tend to hide inside their shell according to the force or poking gesture.

Sense of Smell

It is a chemical sense responsible for taste and smell. Its sensory cells are present in lips, smaller and larger tentacles.

They help snails to test water quality and other chemicals. Snail tries to move away or hide in the presence of unfavorable water conditions and other harmful materials.

Sense of Heat

These cells are responsible detect any temperature changes in the aquarium surrounding environment. They protect themselves from heat as they are fragile living organisms.

During moderate temperature changes, snails tend to hide. However, in case of excessive temperatures, they try to move away from that area.

Pain Feeling Mechanism

Different parts of this mechanism are sense cells, nerve cells, and ganglia to process the sensory information.

Sense cells detect the harmful stimulus and send the signal in the form of an electric impulse to ganglia. In this way, they feel the pain and respond accordingly.

Pain Inflicting Factors in Snails

Snails are omnipresent organisms in aquariums because of their eruptive growth in a moist environment.

There are plenty of chances of their suffering because of tank activities and other aggressive aquatic inhabitant residents in the tank.

We will discuss various factors that can cause harm or pain in the snails categorized based on their sensory mechanism.

Through Touch/Pressure/Force

Snails are weak, fragile, and lethargic organisms that do not rapidly move from the site of harm. Application of slight force can harm their protective shell and ultimately cause pain to them.

There are plenty of tank activities that involve some types of physical movement and use of pressure. 

In case of repairing any accessory inside the aquarium, there is a possibility of damage to the snails. An example of such activity is filter change, cleaning of filters, or maintenance of air stones.

Cleaning of tank substrate involves physical movement of the tank interior like rocks or gravel, which results in loss of habitat and a painful situation for snails.

The regular water change process in the aquarium is another activity that requires extensive physical work. If not done with due care, it causes damage to the snails and instills pain in them.

Few snails can trap in impellers of the tank water circulation pump and get crushed.

If snails sharing a tank with some large, aggressive fish like red devil cichlid, plecos, or shark, they do frequent rash movements and bite everything that comes in their way.

Moreover, some of them are fond of digging. In all of these scenarios, snails are very much vulnerable to damage and painful situations. 

Through heat

Snails are severely sensitive to excessive temperature rises as they are fond of cold environments. If due to some malfunctioning, the aquarium heater increases the water temperature beyond acceptable limits.

It causes snails suffering, and they try to hide or make frequent movements that are their pain indication.

Another reason for temperature rise is the direct impact of sunlight on the tank. 

Through chemicals

Chemical sensor cells are present on the Snail’s body. They are sensitive to different water quality parameters such as ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate.

These chemicals are most painful than dangerous for them. You can observe their effect on snails by their hide or flee response.

Some people use certain chemicals like copper, salt, alum(aluminum sulfate), and bleach to remove the unwanted population of snails in the aquarium.

These chemicals can kill them by a painful process. For example, salt dehydrates them and makes their slime dry. In this way, they become immobile dried up dead tissues that are a painful death.

If tank water does not dechlorinate completely, the chlorine will affect their body and make them suffer.

Through Disease

Snails are prone to various diseases like mantle collapse, tentacle loss, thin and fragile shells, or other problems due to fungus and parasites in the aquarium. These are painful for them and enhance their suffering. 

How to keep aquarium snails safe?

As human beings, it is our responsibility to reduce the suffering and pain of other creatures, which beneficial for us. Therefore, here are few tips we can adopt to save the aquarium snails from agony and hurting.

● Perform the tank chores or any maintenance work with care to avoid causing any physical damage to snails.

● Keep the water quality parameters as per recommended values like pH, hardness, temperature, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels.

● Snails should not keep in a tank that contains immense aggressive predator pets.

● They should not be starved and served with plenty of food as long as you want to keep them in your aquarium.

● Any flipped or upside down snails should be turned right to restore their functionality and end their suffering.

● In case of any disease, proper care and prescribed remedy should be used to cure their illness.

How to reduce pain in snails while removing them from the aquarium?

Sometimes it becomes inevitable to reduce or get rid of snails from your aquarium. In that case, different chemicals available to control them.

It is a humane practice to use chemicals like alum that are not as painful as other materials like salt and copper. In this way, we can reduce their suffering. 

Another solution to reduce their suffering before getting rid is to numb them with some sedative material. You submerge these in a 5% ethanol solution, which will euthanize.

In this situation, the use of chemicals to kill them will cause less distress and muscle pain. It is a humane way to remove them.

Aquarium snails are pretty much-living organisms and have sensory cells to feel different environmental conditions like temperature, pressure, chemical changes, etc.

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