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FAQs on Brackish Snails

Related Articles: Brackish Invertebrates, Brackish Plants, Fresh to Brackish Fishes

Related FAQs: Brackish Invertebrates, Brackish Plants, Snails by Species: Mystery Snails, Apple/Baseball Snails, Malaysian/Trumpet Snails, Ramshorn Snails,

 

Mollies + Ramshorn snails, BR?    7/9/14
Hello,
<Hello April,>
I have read some of your FAQ and you seem very knowledgeable, therefore I come to you with a question: I have an Aqueon 15 Column tank (roughly 15 gallons, give/take for evaporation) that easily supports 3 Mollies (one black girl, one white girl, one Dalmatian boy).
<Hmm... wouldn't be too sure; column tanks are notoriously "poor" in terms of stocking because of their small surface area at the top (which means less air/water mixing at the top, so less oxygen in/CO2 out). This is one reason columnar tanks -- despite looking lovely -- have never caught on in the hobby. They hold much fewer fish for the volume than you'd think, perhaps half as many. Mollies are marginal in a 15 gallon tank at the best of times; even 20 gallons can be a bit tight. For sure many domesticated strains are smaller than the wild ones, but Sailfins routinely reach, what, 10 cm/4 inches, while the Shortfin Molly should easily get to a chunky 6-7 cm/3 inches.>
My white girl is somewhat aggressive, especially around food, and my boy is sort of...protective of both of the girls. I've noticed nurturing behavior in him such as getting food and spitting it out at them. It's cute.
<Indeed. But it isn't what's happening. In a nutshell, fish like Mollies can't chew. They don't have plates either. So when they have food too large to swallow, they will spit it out in the water, where the food particles linger for a while before sinking. If they're quick, they can slurp up some smaller particles, and try to swallow those. Repeat as necessary!>
But that's not my issue. My issue is that I have a somewhat generous population of Ramshorn snails. I got two from Wal-mart a long time ago when I got my goldfish, and while my two progenitors have not survived, I have several babies (roughly 15 in two different tanks, 7 in small tank, 8 in big tank). I plan on moving my other seven over to my big tank. I need to know if I can salinate my water for the mollies to the 'slightly brackish' level with my Ramshorns in there with them?
<Yes, but the Ramshorn snails will die off eventually, probably around the SG 1.005 mark.>
If so, about how much? Or is it a better idea to just leave it as it is?
The water is hard to benefit the snails, but are the mollies harmed by this?
<On the contrary, the harder the better!>
If the water needs softened, how do I do this? I have a live Java Fern and driftwood (on which the fern is growing, and which my snails *love*), so will these help?
<Java Ferns will tolerate SG 1.005 indefinitely.>
I do not wish to get rid of my snails, but everything I find online is geared toward getting rid of them rather than caring for them. I hope you can help!
<Yes: if you want the snails to survive, then a specific gravity around 1.002-1.003 will be ample, and perfect for the Mollies, which ADORE brackish water.>

Parameters: Nitrate: 0, Nitrite: 0, PH: 7, KH: 120, GH: 180, Ammonia: 0
Thank you,
April
<Most welcome, Neale.>

Malaysian Trumpet Snails in Brackish tank       3/12/14
Hello, thanks for your time.  I have a 55g, 0.015sg brackish tank with 3 Monos, 2 Scats, a freshwater moray eel, Nerite snails, hermit crab, and hundreds of MTS.  I don't mind the MTS as far as being an eyesore, I just wonder if they are bringing down my water quality? 
<So long as they're alive and their numbers aren't insanely huge, no, their impact is minimal.>
They keep the glass clean and I have no algae to deal with.
<Both good signs of a stable aquarium ecosystem.>
My nitrates are on the safe side but often boarding the unsafe as far as the test strip says.
<Wise to test, and numbers are a better judge than theory when it comes to this sort of discussion.>
Could reducing number of snails help?
<Might be worth doing, but debatable whether removing a few snails is a justification for a total strip-down of a clearly functioning system.>
My fish are all 3-6" now so I understand water quality is harder to maintain now due to them having grown but if removing snails will help I would like to get rid of some.
<If you want to minimise snail populations, then for sure, it's easy enough to do. I will sometimes strip-down tanks to do this, since it's a lot easier to eliminate 90+% of the snails if you can remove all the rocks and gravel. Could leave the fish in place, just siphon out the snails, scrub the rocks under a running tap, etc., then rebuild the tank.>
Could I raise salinity in the tank to a point that would kill them off?
<Probably won't survive in full seawater. But... thousands of dead snails would cause real problems while they were decaying.>
Maybe get rid of other snails and hermit and get a GSP to control the snails?
<Puffers vs. snails is an inefficient approach and not really worth doing as such.>
I have heard GSP can't eat MTS, is that true?
<Some debate about whether they can damage their beaks doing this. Seems unlikely, but it's supposedly happened once or twice. I've not seen many puffers have much of a go at Melanoides spp snails, not least of all because these snails are (a) nocturnal while puffers are day-active; and (b) they're burrowing snails and puffers don't do much digging, at least not in gravel.>
I suppose if they only ate the small ones that would help, if they didn't affect snail population I suppose it would be a cool fish to have regardless but i wouldn't want it to hurt itself on MTS snails. 
<GSPs are sometimes aggressive, and as a rule, snail-eating fish (puffers, loaches, large Synodontis, etc.) tend to cause more problems in communities than the snails ever did.>
Any advice would be appreciated,
Toby
<Most welcome, Neale.>

Malaysian Trumpet Snails in Brackish tank       3/12/14
Hello, thanks for your time.  I have a 55g, 0.015sg brackish tank with 3 Monos, 2 Scats, a freshwater moray eel, Nerite snails, hermit crab, and hundreds of MTS.  I don't mind the MTS as far as being an eyesore, I just wonder if they are bringing down my water quality? 
<So long as they're alive and their numbers aren't insanely huge, no, their impact is minimal.>
They keep the glass clean and I have no algae to deal with.
<Both good signs of a stable aquarium ecosystem.>
My nitrates are on the safe side but often boarding the unsafe as far as the test strip says.
<Wise to test, and numbers are a better judge than theory when it comes to this sort of discussion.>
Could reducing number of snails help?
<Might be worth doing, but debatable whether removing a few snails is a justification for a total strip-down of a clearly functioning system.>
My fish are all 3-6" now so I understand water quality is harder to maintain now due to them having grown but if removing snails will help I would like to get rid of some.
<If you want to minimise snail populations, then for sure, it's easy enough to do. I will sometimes strip-down tanks to do this, since it's a lot easier to eliminate 90+% of the snails if you can remove all the rocks and gravel. Could leave the fish in place, just siphon out the snails, scrub the rocks under a running tap, etc., then rebuild the tank.>
Could I raise salinity in the tank to a point that would kill them off?
<Probably won't survive in full seawater. But... thousands of dead snails would cause real problems while they were decaying.>
Maybe get rid of other snails and hermit and get a GSP to control the snails?
<Puffers vs. snails is an inefficient approach and not really worth doing as such.>
I have heard GSP can't eat MTS, is that true?
<Some debate about whether they can damage their beaks doing this. Seems unlikely, but it's supposedly happened once or twice. I've not seen many puffers have much of a go at Melanoides spp snails, not least of all because these snails are (a) nocturnal while puffers are day-active; and (b) they're burrowing snails and puffers don't do much digging, at least not in gravel.>
I suppose if they only ate the small ones that would help, if they didn't affect snail population I suppose it would be a cool fish to have regardless but i wouldn't want it to hurt itself on MTS snails. 
<GSPs are sometimes aggressive, and as a rule, snail-eating fish (puffers, loaches, large Synodontis, etc.) tend to cause more problems in communities than the snails ever did.>
Any advice would be appreciated,
Toby
<Most welcome, Neale.>

Apple Snail Question; sys., comp. w/ Figure Eight Puffers    1/11/12
Hi WWM team
<Hello Erin,>
I picked up 2 apple snails today and I was wondering if it is possible to keep them in my brackish tank with my figure 8 puffers.
<No. Any salinity high enough to keep your Figure-8s happy will quickly kill Apple snails.>

I understand that they have a trap door which will inhibit the puffers from eating it and they're quite big, so the puffers probably won't be able to get their little mouths around it.
<Ah, by no means! The Puffers will eat the snail one bite at a time, starting with its tentacles. Apple Snails do badly with almost all fish except perhaps uber-peaceful species like Corydoras. Even Neons nip these poor snails!>
My salinity is roughly 0.004, no lower than 0.003 and no higher than 0.005.
 Can the apple snail survive in that level of brackish?
<Nope.>
Will my puffers manage to eat it ?
<Yes.>
Thanks a ton
Erin
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Apple Snail Question   1/11/12

Hi Neale
<Erin,>
Thanks for quick response...I see I made a typo error, my brackish tank isn't 0.004...it's 1.004. Silly me.
<Indeed. But understood what you meant!>
Anyway, I forgot to ask another question about the apple snail.  I read online that they may even eat other snails.
<Seems improbable, but I'm sure they scavenge and will eat a dead/dying snail.>
I have them with my red ramshorns which are laying eggs like it's going out of fashion and I don't want the apple snails to now devour all my other baby snails I'm breeding as food for my puffs.  Would it be advisable to get rid of them all together and stick to the ramshorns?
<I honestly can't imagine Apple snails would make much difference. They are very much herbivores, and mine were very keen on lettuce leaves.>
Also, I had a situation where I decided to add a couple of mollies to the brackish tank with my f8's.  I came home one day to find one floating with it's head and fins chomped off and I swear all the puffs had a guilty look on their faces.
<Indeed. Figure-8s are extremely variable. Some specimens are entirely placid, others just occasionally nippy. But a few, as you've seen, can be very aggressive and nasty. That's pretty much Puffers across the board.>
Today, at the petstore, I was told by a very experienced fish keeper that if I want to add any other fish with f8's, I should remove the puffers, rearrange the tank, put the new fish in first and then add the puffers afterwards, to give them the idea that they are new and it's not their territory that a new fish has entered.
<That is one approach that works with territorial fish.>
Do you think this will work?
<Might. But absolutely no guarantees, and you need to have a Plan B for rehoming the Puffer or the new fish if the two don't get along.>
Or will the f8's just chomp anything?
<Potentially anything that looks edible and doesn't eat the Puffer first.>
I did however take one of the more aggressive f8's back to the pet store today, unfortunately.  I was told to remove one as I have a 29 gallon tank and I should only have 2 f8's in that size.
<Possibly, or else a group of 5 in a slightly bigger tank, so that none of them take ownership. Overcrowding brings its own problems though.>
Thanks in advance.
Erin
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Apple Snail Question   1/12/12

Sorry bout this Neale
<Erin,>
How long should I keep the puffers out the big tank to try the approach I mentioned previously?
A few hours, a day, a week?
<If using the "remove and rearrange" approach, taking the fish out for an hour or two should be ample.>
I think this will be the last msg from me for a while now.
Keep well, and happy new year.
Erin
<Glad to help and good luck. Cheers, Neale.>

Brackish snails    10/18/11
Hello,
I ask this only because I haven't been able to find any definite answers. I have algae growing on the sides of my tank. I am under the impression that snails are excellent for keeping algae down and eat some of it. Are there any brackish snails that would be good at helping keeping algae down on my glass? Important to note, I have an eel in the tank, and I'm afraid he might eat the snails, is this something I should be concerned about? If there aren't any snails I can get, what other suggestions can you provide to keep algae down? (would plants help? etc.) Thanks for your time!
<Yes, there are numerous Nerite snails that would do the trick nicely. The plain vanilla freshwater ones like Neritina natalensis will tolerate slightly brackish water conditions, to SG 1.003 at 25 C/77 F. The true
brackish water species include some sold as freshwater snails, including the "spiny Nerites" Clithon corona and Clithon sowerbyana. These should do well up to SG 1.010 at 25 C. Finally, there are marine snail species that tolerate brackish water, so anything from SG 1.005 upwards should be okay for them, including Neritina virginea and Puperita pupa. Moray Eels do consume molluscs, and while Nerites might be too tough for them, there's no guarantee. Spiny Eels won't be able to harm them though, and obviously
Spiny Eels are kept at the lowest end of the brackish range, up to SG 1.003. Cheers, Neale.>

add Figure 8 Puffer to tank? 11/10/10
Hi, Crew,
I have a 90 gallon low-end brackish tank, sg fluctuates between 1.003 and 1.005. I inherited a disparate group of fish about a year ago that I've been trying to accommodate. In this particular tank, I have one archer (Toxotes jaculatrix), a tire track eel and a fire eel. The eels are both 8" long. The eels seem to tolerate the salinity--do you think this will be OK long-term? Conversely, do you think the archer will be happy in this level of salinity? The archer seems very happy at the moment (it's probably about 1 year old). I realize I'm compromising a bit from either side of the salinity scale with these fish. Next, I have a scourge of Malaysian trumpet snails in this tank. I am toying with getting a figure 8 puffer for the tank because 1) I love puffers and I understand figure 8's are low-end brackish and less aggressive than other puffers; 2) I don't see much in the tank at any given moment except for the archer because the eels hide; 3) I would like to control the snail population.
Is this a bad idea?
Thanks for your help in advance. I appreciate your time.
Laura
<Hello Laura. Tyre-track Eels will certainly do okay at up to SG 1.005 at 25 C, but Fire Eels I'm less certain on, and I'd tend to nudge the salinity down to about 1.003 at 25 C. The Archer shouldn't mind, and that'll still be salty enough for a wide range of species, both true brackish water fish and salt-tolerant freshwater fish such as Brown Hoplo Catfish, Horseface Loaches and virtually all of the livebearers. Now, as for Figure-8 puffers, while this might work, I think you'll be disappointed at the impact they'll have on Melanoides snails. You'd be much better off with Assassin Snails, Clea helena, which should acclimate to SG 1.003 without problems given they're members of a marine snail family, though I've never tried it
myself. They're cheap enough that trying them out won't be expensive. Allow 3-4 Assassin Snails per 10 gallons if you want them to exist in sufficient strength to depress Melanoides snail numbers. The thing with puffers in general is that they won't eat snails if softer, easier food is on offer -- and that can sometimes mean the fins of other fish. Plus, the small size of Figure-8 puffers makes them easy prey for adult Archer Fish, Tyre-track Eels and Fire Eels. Obviously an adult Fire Eel will need a tank bigger tan ninety gallons, so you may be planning to rehome him as/when he gets above a certain size. But an adult Archer fish could swallow a Figure-8 puffer in one gulp! Do not underestimate how predatory Archer fish -- sure, they enjoy eating insects, but they are dedicated fish-eaters as well. Finally, do understand that Melanoides snails are not in themselves harmful, but they are indicators of aquarium conditions rich in organic matter. It may well be that your tank is less clean than you think, and you're overfeeding your fish far more than you suppose, and if you have a lot of algae, then adding fast-growing plant species might make a difference. Treat snails as a symptom, not a problem, and it's much easier to effect a long term
solution. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: add Figure 8 Puffer to tank? 11/10/10

Thanks, Neale!
I sure wasn't thinking about the Archer going after the Puffer, so thanks for that! (I actually saw the Archer eat one of the snails the other day, but I figured that was an anomaly.)
I'll check out Assassin Snails. Luckily I don't have algae in this tank, but I am trying to find the right amount of food/feeding times for the eels.
I've probably been overfeeding the eels. They seem so temperamental and unpredictable. I understand they shouldn't eat every day and will sometimes go for a couple of weeks without eating, but this makes me nervous! I don't want them to starve. I probably just need to calm down about it!
By the way, I searched but couldn't find how long it takes for a fire eel to reach full size--do you know?
Thanks again,
Laura
<Hello Laura. Fire Eels growth rate varies with age, but specimens under a year old can add about an inch in length per month. Growth slows down a bit after that, but you can expect yours to be at least a couple of feet long within 18 months, and nearer three feet by the end of the second year. If the Fire Eel was stunted for whatever reason while it was younger, it will grow quite slowly, and may never reach its full size, fish growth rate being determined by age, not the need to reach a certain size. This is why some people find their Fire Eels get really big, really fast while others find their Fire Eels quite slow growing fish. A bigger problem will be aggression: all the Mastacembelus species are territorial, and Fire Eels and Tyre-track Eels are unlikely to coexist in a relatively small tank, Fire Eels in particular being notoriously grumpy fish. Look out for unusual white marks on their bodies indicative of fighting. Sometimes juveniles get
along well, even sharing caves, but do be aware than this situation may not persist. When feeding predators, the "art" is providing enough that their bellies are gently rounded, but not obviously swollen; if the latter is the case, you fed too much in one sitting! Earthworms are the best food for Spiny Eels, but they sometimes escape into the sand, and when they die there, you'll get lots of nitrate and phosphate in the water you don't want, as well as food for Melanoides snails. Best to feed little but often, rather than gorging the fish a few times per week. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: add Figure 8 Puffer to tank?  11/11/10

Thanks, Neale, this is very helpful indeed. I think I may start looking to re-home the fire eel now.
Laura
<Glad to help. Cheers, Neale.>

Snails in low end brackish 11/07/08 what types of snails would be ok for a brackish tank of around 1.003? I have puffers and would like to keep a few larger snails to breed in the tank, but they are Ramshorns and I can't find anything to support or deny their survival in low end brackish. I have a 5 gal snail breeding tank already with Ramshorns and pond snails, but some are getting a bit too big to feed the puffers without possibly scrunching...so, I was wondering if they might do ok in the puffer tank, possibly lay eggs and eat algae in the meantime. <Keith, even if your puffers don't eat the snails outright, they will peck at their soft bodies, particularly their antennae, and that's likely to eventually kill the snail. So unless you're planning to offer the snails as food, there's absolutely no point sticking them in the tank. A dead snail is a major source of ammonia, and water quality is critical to your long term success in keeping a pufferfish. So for reference only: among the snails tolerant of slightly brackish water, the ones traded including Nerite snails (particularly Clithon and Neritina spp.), Malayan livebearing snails (Melanoides tuberculata) and the Colombian Ramshorn snail (Marisa cornuarietis). With the exception of the burrowing (and therefore out of danger) Melanoides snails, I would not recommend you add any of these to a puffer aquarium. Cheers, Neale.>

Brackish and small... BB gobies, reading    12/16/07 I'd like to try a small brackish aquarium with the BB gobies and olive Nerites I read about on your site. what kind of easy food do you recommend? can I avoid buying live food often? Any ideas on plants? the science teacher mentioned java fern. is plant acclimatization recommended? can I go with one quarter salt water? what type of salt do you recommend, or can I use rock salt? Thanks, Elaine <Hello Elaine. Bumblebee gobies do very well on a diet based around small chunks of seafood (small enough to swallow), wet frozen bloodworms, and live foods including brine shrimp and daphnia. Under such a regimen, they are easy to keep. In my personal experience they should be given live food once every week or two. Java fern is an excellent choice for a low-end brackish water tank around SG 1.003-1.005. Also very good choices are Anubias and Java Moss. All three plants are epiphytes, so they grow attached to solid objects. They do not like being put into the substrate, and will die if you do so. Otherwise, they are pretty idiot-proof, and will thrive even under quite low light levels. Acclimating plants to slightly brackish water generally isn't required. As for salt, you MUST use marine salt mix (Instant Ocean, Reef Crystals, etc.). Since you only need 10-20% the dose used in a marine aquarium, this isn't a major expense. For Bumblebee gobies, 6 grammes of marine salt mix per litre of water is perfect. This is about 1/6th the salinity of normal seawater. Olive Nerites will also do well in these conditions. Good luck, Neale.>

Re: brackish and small 12/20/07 Thank you very much, Neale. <You're welcome!> I live in L A City, 90004. I know where to get most of what I need. If locating these Olive Nerites is difficult, I might need another web address, phone number or address. Can you provide me with that? <Ah, probably not, since I live in the UK. The best I can suggest is to search the web for retailers offering aquarium snails using the Latin name of this species. In the hobby it is usually called Neritina reclivata thought correctly it is Vittina usnea. You might also look for Neritina virginea (the Virginia Nerite, an almost unbelievably variable and very beautiful species) and Puperita pupa (the Zebra Nerite). These two Nerites are true brackish water species and will thrive at SG 1.005 upwards.> It would be nice to know some other people who would like to trade/share ideas, extra cuttings, baby fish, etc. <There are fish clubs in most big cities. The back of the TFH magazine has a listing of clubs in the US, and I'd urge you to peruse that list. I've also found that many fish forums develop their own communities, and members will happily exchange or donate livestock and plants. I've sent out surplus plants this way, and in return received live foods for baby fish.> Your site gave me info that that previously was not being shared. <We try!> Until I read your reply, I was not aware that Anubias should be above the substrate. <Often the case. These plants are usually sold in little pots because it is convenient to sell them that way. But they never really thrive in pots. Clean away to wool or gravel, and then attach the thick rhizome (the green horizontal "stem") to a bit of bogwood using black cotton or something similar. You can let the roots dangle wherever, even in the gravel. Doesn't matter. The main thing is the rhizome is above the substrate. The plant will gradually (many months) attach itself to the wood, just like Java ferns do. Since they like shady conditions, try to place them away from strong direct light, or you'll have constant problems with algae encrusting their leaves. Other that that, these are among the easiest and best-value plants in the hobby.> thanks again, Elaine <Cheers, Neale.>

Snail/Puffer Eco System  11/6/07 Hello, I am cycling fishless, currently waiting to set up a Figure 8 puffer in a 30 gallon tank. <Very good.> I have done a good amount of research and one of the things I have noticed is that a lot of sites say F8s don't need snails to wear their beak down, but the ones that seem devoted to the brackish fish all say F8s needs snails, including this one. <It's one of those points where "your mileage may vary". Figure-8 puffers do NOT seem to be among the Pufferfish species prone to overgrown teeth. South American freshwater puffers (Colomesus spp.) and the Asian genera Auriglobus and Chonerhinos seem to be much more troubled by this issue. This likely reflects different rates of tooth-growth, presumably connected to different types of food in the wild. But that said, Tetraodon spp. can get overgrown teeth. So providing at least some shelly food is a good idea, and snails are very convenient.> I am a bit of a softy when it comes to live feeding but under the right conditions (one being I really really like the fish, second being tank sustainability of the live feeder) I will. <Indeed. Sticking live food into a tank adds a load to the filter, and in the case of Pufferfish, there are clear advantages to keeping water quality as a high as possible.> My questions: What would be the minimum to feed F8s keeping them happy and healthy. Say, a basic 'Feed snails every six months for a week' response. <It all depends. If you're giving the Pufferfish just soft food, such as bloodworms, day in, day out, then you may find the teeth become overgrown. In this case, using snails once a week would be a good idea. But if you're feeding them unshelled prawns, frozen krill, live woodlice and other prey that have shells already, the teeth may wear down just fine by themselves. So rather than looking at snails as a "cure", take an holistic approach instead. Try and make sure most meals are "crunchy" so that the puffer's teeth wear down all by themselves. The grocery store and the back garden will both provide plenty of suitable fodder. Unshelled prawns can be taken apart easily enough. You eat the yummy meat, but give the legs and tail-fins to the puffers. My puffers love woodlice, and these make a very satisfying crunching sound, suggesting that they are plenty hard enough to wear down the teeth if used regularly. And so on. Use your own common sense and see what you have to hand.> Second question is, is there a snail that will out reproduce my puffer or out reproduce my puffer enough that I would only have to buy a new set of snails every few months or so? <The ideal in many people's opinion are the small pond snail Physa spp. These are the semi-transparent snails often seen in aquaria. They are easy to rear in ponds. But I have to admit my puffers eat them only grudgingly, and normally only if I crush them first. So again, your own experiences will have to colour your actions.> This site states that the Malaysian Trumpet Snails are okay for Brackish water but I have read elsewhere that they can't live in any salt water. <Melanoides tuberculata will thrive at anything up to around 50% seawater salinity. They are phenomenally durable animals.> I do know they breed very fast. <Indeed. But some aquarists have connected broken teeth on their puffers with the presence of Melanoides snails. I have to admit to being skeptical of this, having watched Pufferfish crack open oysters in the wild, but in the interest of fairness I will at least recount those observations. I have Melanoides snails in many of my tanks, and puffers will sometimes eat the tiny juveniles. But they seem to show no interest in the adults. Quite possibly their shells are too strong for the small Pufferfish I'm keeping to open. On the other hand, I don't have "plagues" of these Melanoides snails in my tanks, at least not in the tanks with Pufferfish. So the puffers presumably do kill enough of the juveniles to moderate population growth.> I know Olive Nerites ARE brackish snails but also read they are slow breeders. <Nerites don't really breed at all in aquaria. Their life cycle seems to be fairly tricky to accommodate in captivity. Some people have had success, but it seems more by luck than judgment. Be that as it may, Nerites are practically bullet-proof, and small puffers don't seem to be able to eat them.> Is there another snail that would fit my bill? <The pond snail Physa is likely the balance between size, ease of care, and willingness to breed. Apple snails could be reared separately, but they don't last long in brackish water so would have to be added "one meal at a time".> Basically my thoughts are, if I have to feed live, I want to do it as minimal as possible, or set up a system where, with other then a few interventions, is nature-like and the live food can benefit from being in the tank also. I am I crazy? <Not crazy at all. I've found Pufferfish teeth get worn down "automatically" in tanks with a combination of Melanoides snails and silica sand; one or the other doesn't seem to work by itself. Possibly foraging in the sand combines enough grit with the prey animal to do the trick. Others have experimented with "feeding stones". These are rough rocks such as Tufa and pumice into which suitable food (such as prawn) is smeared and then any loose food rinsed off. To get the food, the puffers need to work away at the rock -- just as they would do in the wild. Yet others simply get into the routine of doing the dental work as and when required. It's really not that difficult, though admittedly requires a steady hand! Cheers, Neale>

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