I've been thinking of getting a snail to put in my five gallon tank. As of right now, the tank is housing Raphael and one ghost shrimp. I have a mixture of both live and fake plants, although the fake ones are slowly becoming covered with a dark algae.
Are there any snails I could house with these two that might clean the fake plants without eating the real ones? Some sites I've looked at said that apple snails can eat live plants, so if that is true then I think I should avoid those. I know I could just take the fake plants out to clean them, but the idea of a snail is pretty interesting right now. If there are any that would suit the tank then I'd love to try and get one.
There's one snail, Pomacea diffusa that does not eat plants. It's legal to ship that snail across other states and is also part of the family, apple snails (Ampullaridae). The other species though are illegal as they can indeed consume plants in vast amounts. Keep a spare tank just in case. Most bettas love to nip their eyes and antennaes out. These snails need to be supplemented with foods such as pellets, bloodworms, vegetables, algae wafers, etc. Make sure your water's pH is no less than 7.4 to ensure their shells will not erode from the acidic water conditions.
Your other choice is a lone nerite snail. They are finicky eaters preferring to eat algae only so unless you can provide constant supply of algae and biofilm, best avoid nerite snails altogether.
After reading Lupin's post, I think it might be best if I hold off on a snail for now. I do like your suggestion of the moss ball though, I think (all things considered) that might be a better option for me.
If you consider a snail, take a look at a Zebra (or Nerite) snail. They won't grow too big, are plant safe, only reproduce in brackish and are renowned algae eater. Plus, their bioload is pretty small compared to other snails and they are quite pretty-looking as well.
I have two pond snails that came with some live plants I bought. At first I was going to get rid of them but they ate just about every bit of the nasty brown algae that my tank was covered in. They haven't reproduced and I'm hoping that if they do, my two ghost shrimp will dine on the eggs. They've done an amazing job, even cleaning my poor plants of that darn brown stuff, so I think I'll give them a chance to stay. Likely I'll be cursing that decision next year. :)