Snails & Plants for Ponds

Since many pond owners concentrate more on adding organisms like koi and other fish into their own lakes, snails and plants play an important part in keeping a pond sustainable. Without crops a pond may quickly be inundated with algae and be imprisoned for fish, while snails help to dispose of algae, fish waste and other decaying matter. Care must be taken when selecting snails and plants to get a pond, however, as some might be detrimental.

Pond Snails

Aquatic snails like the cornucopia snail (Melania tuberculata) and also mystery snail (Pomacea cuprina) are often desired by pond owners as they’re called scavengers that eat algae as well as decaying plant and animal material in the pond water. Some water garden providers recommend putting snails in fresh ponds before other organisms due to the bacteria and other microbes that the snails bring with them; these microbes help begin the nutrient cycle and also play a significant part in producing a pond ecosystem self-sufficient.

Submerged Plants

Totally submerged pond plants like waterweed (Elodea canadensis) and coontail (Ceratophyllum demersum) are recognized as oxygenators because of their role in providing oxygen that helps encourage animal and plant life in the pond. The plants have roots that anchor them into the bottom of the pond, but the origins are not utilized to take in nutrients since the origins of land plants are. Instead, these plants get all of their nutrients through their branches and leaves from the water around them. Oxygen released by these plants replenishes the oxygen that fish and other organisms filter out of water.

Anchored Floating Plants

The plants often considered as “floating” plants are in fact anchored by roots into the pond bottom or implanted in cohesive baskets since only a portion of the plant actually floats. The trailing roots of the plants absorb nutrients from the water while maintaining the floating portion of the plant in place. Some of these floating plants like yellow pondlilly (Nuphar polysepala) produce flowers, while others only produce broad leaves that float on the pond surface.

True Floating Plants

True floating plants like watershield (Brasenia schreberi) and fairy fern (Azolla filiculoides) are not anchored by thick roots and rather float freely in the water. Any nutrients needed by the plant are taken straight from the water and the plants themselves may move across the water’s surface when blown by the wind or carried by ripples. The roots of the plants are slender like hairs, taking in some nutrients from the water and also assisting with water ore. Though floating plants tend to be little to medium-size, they often grow quickly.

Marginal Plants

Marginal plants, also called emergent or bog plants, root in the water however continue growing above the water’s surface. The origins need shallow water or mud to get the plant to thrive, but the body of this plant grows in much the exact same manner as plants on dry land. Nutrients are taken in by the roots while the leaves of the plants use sunlight for photosynthesis. Many marginal plants like the Western blue flag iris (Iris missouriensis) produce blooms, and some like “Golden Goddess” bamboo (Bambusa multiplex) may grow to be quite tall.


Snails and aquatic plants may both be significant in supporting a pond environment and preventing excessive algae growth. Both the snails and the plants prevent algae waste and decaying organic material from causing a buildup of hazardous gases in the water which may otherwise kill fish and other animal life. Plants particularly take in carbon dioxide and other gases as part of the life cycle while releasing oxygen to the water. Floating plants and other large-leaved water plants provide shade for fish and other organisms and compete with algae for sources to maintain algae growth in check.


While some snails and aquatic plants are beneficial when placed on your pond, not all are. Several snails are omnivores, eating beneficial plants in addition to the plant and animal material they scavenge and may come on land to eat flowers and garden plants as well. Some aquatic plants like the water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes) and the creeping water-primrose (Ludwigia hexapetala) are invasive species that may overrun native plants and may actually damage water quality; this is especially problematic with accurate floaters since they may move to new bodies of water through runoff or connecting streams.

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