Have you ever had limpets in your tank? They usually occur in saltwater setups, however there are freshwater limpets that can be found in freshwater tanks. Although one hobbyists claim that they are the must-have of the cleaning crew, others try to get rid of them as soon as possible. This case is similar to snails- they are beneficial for the underwater ecosystem but the snail overpopulation can easily overtake the tank, spoiling its aesthetic look.

What are freshwater limpets?

Simply put, freshwater limpets are molluscs but they are rarely found in aquarium habitat. There are many species of limpets in nature but they are not well known by scientists yet. They are often compared to pest snails but they are actually beneficial for the underwater environment. And as pest snails- they often come to the aquariums on plants. There are not many researches related to this creature therefore hobbyists try to get to know this animal in practice by observing their implement on the aquarium ecosystem.

What we know about them is that limpets have a lung like organ allowing them to breathe air underwater but also atmospheric air. This organ can store oxygen for a long time, releasing the gas slowly through the tissues. This allows limpets to survive underwater and from time to time they need to come up to the water surface to catch some air again.

Benefits of having freshwater limpets in the tank

Limpets are surely great algae eaters- that’s the reason why so many aquascapers love to have them among the clean up crew. Freshwater limpets feed on algae and detritus present on the rocks or driftwood but they can be also found on the inner glass and among the substrate. They can crumble the uneaten food or decaying matter- just like other snails.

Generally limpets are harmless to the aquarium ecosystem. They consume the fish waste and plant remains helping aquarists to maintain good water conditions. Fortunately limpets don’t eat live plants which should calm down the owners of the planted tanks.

Drawbacks of limpets occurance in the aquarium

As mentioned before, limpets are similar to snails when it comes to algae eating. However, just like snails, they multiply like crazy if they have access to food. However, the over population is not so easy to combat as in case of pest snails.

The most popular method for snails is to introduce some other snails, e.g. assassin snails which eat the pests efficiently. In case of freshwater limpet things are much more difficult as the before mentioned predators are not likely to eat them. Some hobbyists report that loaches or some species of sandfish can fight it while others claim that cutting off the food source is the best way of getting rid of limpets. However it’s not so easy while your fish need food and they can’t starve to death.

Here are some methods that you can try to use to eliminate the population of limpets:

  1. Competition!Algae is not unlimited in (nearly hehe) any tank. Why not to introduce some other creatures feeding on algae too? These can be famous otos, black molly or shrimp. However we need also to remember that there were cases of eating smaller invertebrates by limpets if they appeared under the limpet’s mouth.
  2. Bait traps or manual removalThese methods are not invasive however they can be also not effective. Manual catching of limpets is very hard and can last many many days until you achieve the result. Remember that they also produce eggs which are nearly impossible to find and take out.
  3. Keep the tank always clean!The more the tank clean is, the less food limpets have. Cleaning the tanks walls of algae is important but also regular substrate vacuuming. And of course- regular water changes!Curiosities
    • limpets are extremely interesting creatures. They create colonies on the particular rock and change their color to the shade of the rocks like chameleons! This ability given by nature aims to hide from predators. This rock inhabited by limpets is called home scar.
    • limpets can come back to the home scar after leaving it e.g. to find food. Scientists are not sure how they do it but this is absolutely fantastic how smart these little snail-like creatures are!
    • freshwater limpets can become aggressive towards other tank mates that play around the home scar. Of course small invertebrates such as baby shrimp. Therefore having limpets in the shrimp tank may be dangerous.SummaryAs you can see from the description, limpets are completely harmless to the aquarium ecosystem. If you found one in your aquarium, don’t worry guys! Give them a chance to join the clean-up crew and simply don’t over feed your fish! Everything will be fine with these tiny gastropods 😉

Leave a Reply