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FAQs on Freshwater Aquarium Snail Compatibility & Control

Related Articles: Snails and Freshwater AquariumsInvertebrates for Freshwater Aquariums by Neale Monks, Assassin Snails and Sulawesi Elephant Snails. Keeping Clea and Tylomelania in the Aquarium by Neale Monks,  Fresh and Brackish Water Nerites by Neale Monks, 

Related FAQs:  Freshwater Snails 1, Freshwater Snails 2, Freshwater Snail Identification, Freshwater Snail Behavior, Freshwater Snail Selection, Freshwater Snail Systems, Freshwater Snail Feeding, Freshwater Snail Disease, Freshwater Snail Reproduction, Snails by Species: Mystery Snails, Apple/Baseball Snails, Malaysian/Trumpet Snails, Ramshorn Snails,

How do I "disinfect" new plants   /RMF  12/15/14
Dear Crew
<Yasfir, greetings>
How are you all doing?
<Fine; thank you>
Well I hope. I have a quick question, when ever I bring new plants into my tanks I worry about carrying disease,
parasites and other Hitch hikers into my system. Is there any way to prevent this from happening?
<Yes; a few approaches...>
I usually quarantine/acclimatise my plants for a few days to get ride of the hitch hikers i can see <Good; I'd make this time frame a week or two>
but I still worry that I may have missed some thing like parasites, fungi or bacteria.
thank you for any ideas you may have that will help.
<Historically folks have employed "soaks" in solutions of the oxidizer Potassium Permanganate (KMnO3) and Alum (Aluminum Sulfate)... and commercial products made of these and some other compounds... Do read re on WWM... searching by their names. Bob Fenner>
How do I "disinfect" new plants
     /Neale        12/16/14
Dear Crew
How are you all doing? Well I hope. I have a quick question, when ever I bring new plants into my tanks I worry about carrying disease, parasites and other Hitch hikers into my system. Is there any way to prevent this from happening? I usually quarantine/acclimatise my plants for a few days to get ride of the hitch hikers i can see but I still worry that I may have
missed some thing like parasites, fungi or bacteria.
thank you for any ideas you may have that will help.
<Greetings. A 10-minute dip in a potassium permanganate solution (10 mg/litre) will do the trick nicely, getting rid of snails. It's toxic stuff, so be careful with it. Quarantining plants for a few days at 25 C should break the life cycle of Whitespot and Velvet. You can't eliminate bacteria completely though, and in any case, Pseudomonas, Aeromonas and the like will be latent in your aquarium anyway, so your job is to ensure each fish's immune system works properly. Do that, and these pathogens (and arguably Whitespot and many other parasites) will be kept in check. Cheers, Neale.>

Plecos and snails in same tank.       4/17/16
I recently introduced to snails into my freshwater tank that already had a Pleco.
I noticed the Pleco will not leave the snails alone and constantly bang them up against the tank.
The pet store said they were compatible together however this is hard to believe given the behavior of the Pleco.
Is this merely a competition issue and they shouldn't be together please help thanks Gary
<Mmm; well; have seen and heard, read of occasions where various species of  Loricariids "got along" with snails; and ones where they didn't. If your  "Plecos" are doing more than simply cleaning off the snails shells, they'll have to be separated. Bob Fenner>

Snails; control, FW       1/17/15
Yes, I have a snail problem. I have a 15 g aquarium with a Betta and an apple snail, both of which I love. But I tried live plants for the first time and now I have pond snails. (We learn by our mistakes.) Do you think I should quarantine my snail in or out of my aquarium and get a loach? I know I will never be able to keep up with manually removing the offending
snails. And while no question is stupid....do I keep checking your site for an answer or my email? Or both?
<There is no (traded) loach species that will (a) kill snails AND (b) be small enough for a 15 gallon tank. So biological control via fish is not an option. Assassin Snails, Clea helena, are an alternative, but they aren't widely traded. While they do breed in aquaria, they do so very slowly, and being carnivores, you only get a tiny fraction (a hundredth or less) of them in the same given area as you'd get herbivorous or scavenging snails.
For 15 gallons, 4-6 specimens would do the trick nicely. But if you don't want to go down that path, then the easiest approach is, in all honesty, a combination of manual removing and preventing snail population growth. In other words, every day, remove as many as you can find, including egg masses (jelly-like blobs, usually). Do this week after week, and you will
eventually knock their numbers back a long way. Simultaneously reduce the amount of food for them. Remove any uneaten food at once, and make sure you aren't overfeeding. The big problem here will be the Apple Snail, which eats the same stuff as pond snails, so if you can remove it to another tank for a couple months, so much the better. Snails aren't pests so much as
symptoms, rather like rats in a kitchen. Rats move in where there's food and shelter, and just so the snails, they only breed exponentially where there's plenty for them to eat. So yes, you can starve them into submission, and if you remove as many adults as you can see, then there'll be so little food lying around for any unseen youngsters, most of those young snails will grow so slowly, or not at all, and the snail problem will essentially fade away into insignificance. Finally, don't obsess about
snails. Most do little harm (rarely damaging healthy plants significant, for example) and some good (oxygenating the substrate, for example) so provided you can keep the population at a low level, they're actually not something to lose sleep over. Bear in mind marine fishkeepers treat them as welcome "clean-up crew", so why freshwater aquarists get so het up about them is a bit mysterious to me! Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Snails      1/17/15

Thank you. That is very helpful!
<Most welcome.>

Egg sacs in the Betta tank       11/21/13
Was a little shy about writing in to the crew at WWM, but here is is, I read over the post that came up in the search when I put in "snails" and second term: "eggs"
And tried again with snails in Betta tank and got here:
<Mmm, yes>
I think I understand I might have some Ramshorn freeloaders that reproduced asexually and when the rocks in the tank were disturbed about a month ago
set forth the new snails 'hatching' and now, I have more snail egg sacs that have dotted the tank walls.
I thought I'd check to see if that is indeed right so here is the facts about the set up:
1) I just noticed that there are about 20+ egg sacs around the tank tonight2) 7 gallon nano system with heater, filter media and pump with 1 Betta) I don't test the water and just used San Diego Tap water to refill the tank when I did the water change. So I don't have the ph/ or any stats to share.
<Not important>
Previous happenings:  I did a water change and disturbed the rocks in the bottom of the tank about a month ago (pump failure required about half the water to get changed out and the rocks to get moved about in order to  retrieve/fix the pump)
After the water change the one snail we had disappeared (his shell is abandoned in the tank) after his disappearance and about two weeks later a small new snail appeared.
Now,  about a month later, there are two medium sized snails  and looks like there is a third very small snail on the decorative sponge bob crabby patty figurine and there are the 20 or so egg sacs all over the back wall of the tank and a few on the glass walls under water (none at the water line).
In the readings it sounds like I can just squish the unwanted egg sacs by sticking my fingers in the tank (is that an ok
<It is>
  Or should I let nature take it's course because it sounds like not all the egg sacs will mature.  I am concerned that I'll  end up with a zillion baby snails if I don't do something to clean up the egg sacs.
Thanks for any help/advice.
<I might use a single edged razor blade to skim off most, vacuum or net out. BobF>
Re: Egg sacs in the Betta tank       11/21/13

Thank you very much.
<Ah, welcome. B>

snail issue; control. And plt ID      11/20/13
Hi Neale, hope you are well.  My tanks are doing well, so I haven't needed advice lately.
<Well done!>
Here is a photo of a plant I'd asked about before.  Someone told me it's probably called naja grass.  What do you think, have you ever seen it?
<Certainly looks like Najas guadalupensis
. But no, I've not seen or kept it. Seems to be rarely traded here.>
It has long stringy roots but doesn't succeed in being planted for me at least in the lower light setting.
<Correct. It looks much like other aquarium "tangle weeds" such as Ceratophyllum demersum and Elodea spp. Basically, it wants to be left loose, floating under bright light, and it will send down white roots to form loose anchors onto the sediment. It'll grow from the waterline downwards rather than from the substrate upwards.>
It tends to have explosive growth like the java ferns if it is growing tangled among other floating plants.
The one I'm referring to in this picture is in the center and not the annubias or the water wisteria/water sprite(i have both or one of those). 
It's lacy and the roots are floating too.
Here is my real question though:
In your experience, do assasin snails ever get each other ever? 
<Possibly, but this seems rare.>
I originally had 5.  Some time back I found one smaller empty shell.
Lately I had only ever been aware of 3, though it's possible one is hiding.
 But today I noticed another empty shell, this was one of the larger ones.... It's been there unmoved upside down since yesterday. I had hoped these critters would eventually breed and not cannibalize.  I have heard stories that they do reproduce, but I have seen no evidence of this.
<Ah, they do breed. But they're also unusual in not being hermaphrodites.
So if you (unluckily) got few/no females, then your population would die out.>
Would they ever react badly to a water change, are they sensitive or hardy?
<They seem fairly hardy.>
It's heavily planted.  This time I cleaned it a little more thoroughly in the vacuuming, I changed a little more water than typically (45% maybe as opposed to 25-30%, and my tank has a larger than needed filter for currents), but there's also lots of decor and plants and a well established filter, and the snails were removed and kept in their water during the cleaning.  The fish have shown no signs of stress.  They even gave birth since the cleaning.  The endless lime green endlers....
Do the assasin snails eat baby cherry shrimp?
<Some reports suggest they can, but it probably depends on many factors including whether the baby shrimp had places the snails couldn't go, like behind/inside filters, and how many of each you started off with.>
That tank could use some resident snail cleanup, but I would hate to stick one in there and have him feasting on shrimp instead.  I'm wondering if there's anything that could coexist with them and do snail patrol that wouldn't eat them too.... Probably not.
<I wouldn't keep Assassin Snails with my *only* group of Cherry Shrimps, but I have combined them in one aquarium while keeping another population of Cherry Shrimps going without Assassin Snails in another tank.>
The funny thing...I have never seen one eating a snail, even with baby snails in the near vacinity.  One in particular has been very active since the clean.  I wonder if he was the culptet in the other's demise....
<Oh, Assassin Snails can/do eat snails, but they're scavengers more than anything else, so if there is other food, they'll eat that as
Thank you,
<Most welcome, Neale.>

Re: snail issue     11/20/13
Thank you.
I'll try buying a few more assasins then.  Maybe I just didn't get both sexes.  They're good cleaners and an attractive addition to the tank as well.
<Sounds like a good plan. Cheers, Neale.>

tiny snail problem, ridding, rdg.    9/22/13
Hi there,
I have a 13 g planted community tank, well established (> 2yrs).  In the past few months (after getting some new plants), I started having problems with these tiny (up to 4 mm) Ramshorn-like snails.  They tend to come out when the lights are out.  There are many in the substrate. I have tried a product called snail-zap which was useless.  I tried baiting with lettuce and cucumber overnight.  When I vacuum the substrate there is now a very short-lived sulfur smell which dissipates quickly; this was not present before.  The tank otherwise smells fine. I don't want to get assassin snails as I have a pet Nerite snail in there. My parameters are fine with pH 7.6, zero ammonia and nitrates.
Do you have any suggestions for getting rid of these pesky mini-Ramshorns completely.  I was much happier without them.
<There are a few approaches... Have you read re on WWM? Here:
and the linked files above>
thanks for your help.
<Welcome; Bob Fenner, who has quite a few friends in your town>

Snails! FW, contr. 9/2/2013
Hello Crew,
Thank you or your website and previous help, just made a small donation.
<Ah, thank you.>
10 gallons about 3 months old with 6 White cloud minnows, 1 clump of java moss, 1 remaining red cherry shrimp out of 5 to start, pH7, KH 3, GH 6, Ammonia, Nitrate and Nitrite all 0, 75F-80F as ambient temp changes in the middle of summer in San Diego. I raised my GH from 3 to 6 to add minerals for the shrimp over the last week using additives, perhaps owing to the last shrimp death, but they've been dropping off gradually anyway. I know Neale will disapprove of my reliance on straight RO and additives (neutral regulator for buffer and equilibrium for GH)
<Ah, don't disapprove in the right situation, but if you want to keep calcium-loving animals like shrimps, you want moderately hard water. Even with community fish, middling hardness (around 10 degrees dH) is ideal.
Means you can keep most things without any complaints.>
but the fish couldn't be happier and I've never had a PH fluctuation, my tap water comes out at 14 deg KH and GH and PH 8.2, mixing 50/50 with RO changed hardnesses as expected but didn't change PH.
So... Snails! I guess they hitchhiked in on my Java Moss, I should have read more about dipping, etc. before I threw the moss in, huh. I did ask the guy at the shop if the moss needed any quarantine or anything, guess what he said. Anyway, there are tiny snails now, from my research on the freshwater snail FAQ
it looks most like the pic from 5/31/07 which was some kind of trumpet snail.
<Could well be; is the default "pest" species, along with Physa and Physella spp., in most tropical aquaria.>
They do look white with a little dark brown to the naked eye, in the highly cropped pics I've attached they look brown. They don't seem to have the elongated Ramshorn shape, although they are most likely very young.
<Are not Planorbis spp, no.>
They are tiny, maybe 2-3mm, on the substrate and glass, haven't seen any on the moss.  For scale the large dark round thing to the right on 2 of the pics is my 6 year old daughter's fingernail, she though it would be helpful to point the snails out to you.
If they don't look like a nasty species, I'd be happy to keep some around, manually removing some from time to time.
<Remove them now if you can/want; drastically culling/eliminating Melanoides spp. once they have multiplied is very difficult, essentially impossible. In tanks I think of as "freshwater reef tanks" I don't bother, and they do little harm, never harming healthy plants or fish. But they can be unsightly in formal tanks where you want an Amano-style look or perhaps an accurate biotope, in which case getting rid of them now will be easiest.>
Or maybe an assassin snail?
<In moderately hard water, yes; Assassin Snails will not last long in soft water.>
My tank is pretty small and maxed out, so I don't think a fish is the answer. At any rate, any help on the ID and other advice is appreciated as always.
Thank you,
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re Snails! FW, contr.     9/2/2013
Thanks again, Neale.
I'm going to go with the "freshwater reef" model, my daughter likes the snails and I'm happy to have another animal on board, I don't have many options due to the small tank size. 
<Sounds a plan.>
So, I get the hardness thing, but I'm unclear if I'd be able to achieve 10 deg GH (with additives) and pH 7. I understand pH is not the most important number in fish keeping,
<It's irrelevant for the most part so long as its stable and within the range of tolerances for the species in question.>
but my happy fish have become accustomed to 7,
<They can/will adapt, if changes are done slowly.>
and the phosphate buffer I use keeps it there. I'm unwilling- so far- to monkey with my pH 8.2 tap water to try to lower pH as it's so strongly buffered.
<If you want shrimps to thrive, tweak the hardness up a bit, but do understand that the calcium carbonate your shrimps want more than anything else will slowly push the pH up as its reacts with the phosphate buffer.>
I'm happy to keep buffering ro water with phosphate, algae has not been a problem and I'm just replacing the lost amount at water changes. Is GH 10 and pH 7 even a mathematical possibility?
<Possibly, but in my experience the pH tends to be around 7.5. That said, pH is normally affected by carbonate hardness rather than general hardness.>
I remember the broad strokes, but it's been over a decade my last chem. class so the hard numbers (no pun intended, yikes) are beyond me. All I'm trying to do is keep 4 phyla (fish, shrimp, moss, bacteria) between 3 kingdoms happy in 10 gallons of water, is that too much to ask?
<Nope. Easily done.>
<Cheers, Neale.> 

Re: Snails!    9/14/13
Hi Neale,
Just a quick update, I have been able to achieve 7.0 ph water (in the tank, it's more like 7.4 before going in using neutral regulator, I think the acids in the tank drop the pH once it's mixed in) and 6-7 degrees GH using SeaChem neutral regulator and equilibrium (not advertising, just thought others might benefit). My one remaining red cherry shrimp is alive and active, much less hiding than before I raised the GH, and I have a new batch of 5 quarantining to join her. If I can't get them to breed over time, or they are short lived, I will continue to raise GH to your recommended 10 GH. So far so good.
A little green spot algae on the plastic and silk plants and light dusting of diatoms but from what I've read that's not a problem, normal for newer tanks, am I wrong about the green spot? It's really tough, I don't see how I could get it off without removing what it's growing on, it's sparse and not obtrusive as of now.
<Can be removed from glass using an old fashioned razor blade, but from other objects may be easier to remove by taking said object out and scrubbing under hot water, possibly soaking in something like detergent or bleach if necessary.>
The white cloud minnows are still great, even sneaking and chasing through the java moss on the bottom, so much for just sticking to the middle and top of the tank :)  No complaints from my hitchhiking snails, still just 2 of them, I imagine I'll see more soon. 
<For sure.>
Thanks for everything!
<Most welcome, Neale.>

Planaria snail control ?     5/29/13
I'm ashamed to admit it but carelessly let some pond snails into the tank with a plant introduction. It's not a huge problem, just occasionally get some baby pond snails on the glass which I scrunch out by hand. It's never become as much of a problem as I feared and maybe this is the reason, but I've never read about this anywhere else? While watching the tank through a magnifying glass the other day, I saw a planarian. I know at least one lives in there but as long as it's just a couple I can live with that. In fact, it turns out to be good, maybe …
Anyway, watching it and suddenly zoom ! this guy/girl kicks into overdrive and rushes across the tank and throws a boa-constrictor hold on a tiny incipient pond snail pest. They can actually move pretty fast. Why it chose that one is another mystery, there were a few others in between that he/she ignored. I watched while it wrapped around and around the baby pond snail, then eventually the snail was gone. The juvenile pond snail looked to be bigger than the planarium but eventually it vanished. Then I went to the reference shelf of the world and found that the mouth of a planarian is in the middle of its body. That explains the wraparound.
<Indeed it does.>
I don't imagine most people would want to introduce Planaria into the aquarium to keep down the snail population but I found it fascinating, and now like the Planaria more than previously :) The world is pretty interesting, yes ?
<Quite so, and I've never seen this behaviour nor heard of it. As you rightly point out, people who dislike snails probably won't want to add a bunch of flatworms, but it's good that your aquarium seems to have some sort of ecological balance. This is something marine aquarists strive for, but freshwater aquarists rarely consider. Thanks for writing in with this interesting observation. Cheers, Neale.>

Snail identification and possible infestation     4/9/13
Hello WWM,
The problem: I accepted some plants from a neighbour. It seems that there were some snails in the plants and now there are some snails in my tank. I fear that there may be many snails.
The steps I have taken: First step: Identify the snails. The largest is very small, but I want to act fast if this is the beginning of an infestation, so I took the attached photos.
<... your pix... I'd shoot larger files, crop the subject/s... send these on. These appear to be Ramshorns, Planorbis, from what I can make out. See WWM re the genus>
 The first and third are of a snail and are unfortunately rather blurry owing to their size and the poor quality of my cell phone.
<... a lesson in...>
 The snail is attached to the glass at about the centre of the first photo.
The snail is at the bottom left of the third photo. The second shows white spots which I am seeing on the glass of the tank and on plant leaves.
<Egg casings>
The only thing I can see in your material which looks like this is a snail you have identified as a Planorbis or Ramshorn snail.
<I do concur>
It seems that these can become a serious pest and destroy plants.
Second step: Assuming that I have correctly identified the snails and I do need to take steps to avoid an infestation, it seems that a good way to deal with them is to buy some Clea helena or assassin snails.
<One approach...>
Third step: Check with the people at WWM before acting in case I am incorrect and make things horribly worse.
Conditions:10 gallon planted tank.0 ppm ammonia0 ppm nitrates10 - 20 ppm nitrites Ph is 7.8Temperature is 78 degrees Substrate is gravel Inhabitants: 3 neon tetras1 male guppy 2 Nerite snails I change 1/3 of the water every two weeks or so
1. Have I correctly identified the snails? 2. Is it true that they will wreak havoc with the plants?
Can I leave them?
<Could; though I'd periodically "thin the herd"... w/ baiting/removal>
3. If I must take action, what should I try first?
<Up to you>
 I have seen it suggested that I put vegetable matter in at night and remove it in the morning.
<Ah yes>
Will this just put off the problem?
<"So many foxes, so many hens">
4. Should I go straight to the Clea helena?
<Could... I wouldn't>
 Is it true that I would need  5 to 6 Clea helena to control the problem?
<About this number>
5. Can my tank sustain 5 to 6 Clea helena?
<Not indefinitely no... what would they eat?>
 Will they leave enough algae for the Nerite snails?
<Will kill, consume these as well>
6. Will I ever be free of snails without starting over?
<Possibly not. There are chemical molluscicides... they have their potential and real downsides though>
As always, I am enormously grateful for your help with this.
Elisabeth in Toronto
<BobF in San Diego>

Snail success story.....re: Snail mug shots       thanks again!!  Snail control f'     12/11/12
Well Neale....I stumbled upon a snail trick that works, and feel I ought to share this for other folks with similar issues.  This didn't get them all but it thinned them to more manageable proportions.
<Ah, this is often the case, and if you fix the underlying problems with your tank that allowed a snail "plague" to develop, may be all you need to do.>
If you recall I was going to tear down and clean up as snails were even eating the java ferns.  I'd found a substrate I liked at the local small business garden shop to replace my snail infested batch.  Tiny dark river pebble mix, well worth waiting for.  But, it never came in!
Then the local fish store gave me free hornwort as they'd promised the same weekend that the substrate didn't arrive.  But rather than it being the lightweight, attractive floating type that holds together nicely that I'd expected, it was the coarse, scruffy dog, flop to the bottom and crawl on the decorations and shed all over the place type.  I threw it in, as it was meant to be a temporary fix anyway...I needed something, and I couldn't wait on the substrate.
This ended up being a good decision, because the snails were no longer so visible on the glass the day after.  I had to clean and vacuum more frequently, and I would pull the hornwort (aka: snail magnet) out and rinse it and remove tiny snails.
I discovered that coarse hornwort that falls to the bottom apparently is a perfect snail bait, and you can rinse them off resulting in a quickly reduced snail population.  It is worth having to clean the gravel an extra time or two.  And it starts to grow on you, though I'll be glad when I can build up stock in other more elegant plants.  I do have Indian fern now, and my Anubias is slowly sprouting and one of the crypts is somewhat recovering from her meltdown.
I did read that hornwort is a heavy feeder so I'll feed lightly to help the other plants.
<I don't find it does terribly well in tropical tanks without intense lighting, lasting at best 6 months or so, but your own experiences may be different.>
I also saw a cute thing on the virtues of hornwort here:
They suggest swirling a net around to stir up the drop-off and scooping it out.  I vacuumed again anyway,  but using the net after the vacuum when things were stirred up proved the most effective way to remove stray hornwort fur.
Thanks again.  It may not be the best option (don't get snails in the first place and stock new tanks with assassin snails), but it looks like I've been saved some work.  It is the best snail trap I've found yet....it works like beer in a capful in your flowerbed to trap earthbound slugs.  And it's shedding less and seems to be adjusting.
<Thanks for sharing. Cheers, Neale.>
Re Snail control f'     12/11/12
I agree, the hornwort definitely won't last!  It never did with the Betta tanks which have incandescent light near by and super thriving java plants which do like that environment, and I gave up on it a long time ago for Bettas because I hate when it sheds and dirties the water (as Anacharis unfortunately does as well).
<Indeed. The problem with keeping coldwater plants in tropical tanks is that they grow really fast at first, using their stored energy, but eventually need really strong lighting otherwise they "starve" and then start rotting.>
I'm just glad it was free this time and he gave me so much of it too, and it finally gave me a way to remove snails easier than trying to catch them off the glass in paper towel.
Have a nice week.
<So far, so good! Neale.>

Frog and Betta Fish 9/21/12
Can African Dwarf Frogs be placed with Betta fish?
<Sure. This is for your pond,right? Be careful the frog can't get out.
Snail and Betta Fish

Can mystery snails be placed with Betta fish?
<Sure. - Rick>
Frog and Betta Fish 9/21/12
I will be keeping the frog in an indoor aquarium.
It has a sensitivity to temperature changes and intolerance to 80 degree plus temperatures.
Would a sponge filter work in an aquarium containing both a Betta fish and an African Dwarf frog?
<A sponge filter would work well in this situation. - Rick>

Snail Infestation     7/31/12
First of all, I would like to thank you for your site. Your articles and FAQs have been very helpful in establishing and maintaining my tank.
<Glad it's helping you.>
I have a 29 gallon freshwater tank. The current inhabitants are 2 mollies (one is still very young), 2 South American puffers (*Colomesus asellus*),
<Not always a good community fish; in fact, usually nippy.>
one barred spiny eel (*Macrognathus panculus*),* *and some sort of bushy nosed plecostomus.
<Ancistrus sp.>
The tank has sand substrate and the decor includes lava rocks, driftwood, java fern and Anubias. About 20% of the water is changed weekly and the water parameters have remained consistent - no ammonia or nitrites, nitrates stay low, and ph usually tests around 7.8 (but my testing kit doesn't seem to be the most accurate). The tank has been running for about 8 months. Now here is my problem - I have what appears to be a Malaysian trumpet snail infestation.
When I first saw the snails, I was surprised (I haven't added anything new to the tank for several months), but I assumed the puffers would get them.
<Yes and no. SAPs will eat the very small ones if hungry, but if they're hungry, they'll also nip fins. So the obvious solution -- don't feed the SAPs and let them eat the snails -- isn't an option.>
I am aware that this type of snail has an exceptionally hard shell and that they can crack puffer's teeth,
<So it is said, but that *is* what Puffers have teeth "designed" to do.
They aren't so stupid as to bite something that will damage their teeth too seriously.>
but at the time they were quite small snails and I wasn't too worried.
<As/when you see them, squish the shells, and let the SAP eat them.>
At this point, there are hundreds, and many of them are quite large. The puffers have paid absolutely no attention to the snails, I'm hoping it's because they know better than to go for such hard shelled snails, but I am still a bit worried about them. I'm a little confused as to why they haven't gone after the small snails, though. I have not fed them snails of any type for about 6 months, so maybe they've forgotten how delicious snails are?
<Possibly, but the thing is that an established population of Melanoides snails will produce more baby snails (they don't lay eggs) than the two SAPs will eat.>
The puffers currently eat pellets and freeze dried shrimp and krill (and a few worms every now and then). This diet has done wonders at keeping their teeth down, so I haven't felt the need to feed snails (but I do wish they'd help me control the population of the MTS!). Another reason that I'm concerned about the snails is that they've been eating my Pleco's algae wafers.
<Is what they do.>
I feed her at night when the snails are out, and they converge onto her food immediately. From what I've read, the snails will continue to breed as long as there is food for them... but I don't want to starve my Pleco, so I can't exactly stop feeding them.
The main reason that I want them gone is that I recently lost my black molly. One day, out of the blue, she was sitting at the bottom of the tank, panting and covered in snails. I tried to rescue her from the snails, but now I can't even find her. I assume she didn't make it, but I can't even find her body. Since these snails are supposed to be peaceful, I assume that there was something wrong with her before the snails latched on... but at this point, I've lost my tolerance for these snails.
<Melanoides snails can, will consume dead bodies -- but so will your Plec.
In fact, the Plec will be far, FAR more active in this sense. If the body of a fish is gone overnight, it won't be the snails but the Plec that are to blame.>
So... I'm hoping for tips to get rid of them.
<I see.>
From what I've read, it seems that the options are: add chemicals to the water,
<No. Bad idea.>
pick them out by hand/trap them,
<You will be doing this regardless of any other ideas.>
or introduce predators.
<Specifically, Assassin Snails.>
I am very reluctant to add any chemicals to the water, and I don't think it's very feasible to pick them out by hand, so I may end up adding a predator. I'm not sure what to go for, however. I'm worried that my puffers would pick on an assassin snail.
I definitely don't have the space for a group of clown loaches.
<For sure, and loaches are poor snail controllers.>
I hesitate to add another South American puffer since the two I have get along so well (it'd be a shame to mess up their social structure), plus it's not like they've been going for the snails anyway (and even if they did, it could be an issue for their teeth). Are there any kinds of loaches that are big enough to eat the snails (and not get eaten by my eel), but small enough to avoid overstocking my tank?
I'm also concerned that my eel might not tolerate the addition of some bottom feeders, since they are supposed to be territorial.  Are there any other options?
<Clea helena, the Assassin Snail is the best snail-killer. But otherwise, here's the deal. Either live with the snails, or else take apart the tank, remove all the snails (may be easy to throw away the substrate) and rebuild the tank snail-free. Add some Assassin Snails if you can, because there's a risk some baby snails will survive, e.g., inside the filter media. If you must use a snail-killing chemical, do so *outside* the tank, e.g., to wash gravel and plants.>
Thank you so very much! This is my first tank, so I've never dealt with snails before. I'm at a bit of a loss.
<Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>

Snails, control...     6/16/12
What I have is around a 10 gallon tank, has sand filling the bottom, a plant, and fresh water from the tap. They survive well. I was given a thing of snails and a plant. A basic water plant but the snails adore it.
Anyways, I have no clue what these snails are. There's one that is round, spiral, and is all brown. The round part does not protrude out of either side, actually, sinks in. He's the only snail like that. He's completely an asexual snail. His babies, are all tiny. They have a wide opening with a pointy back side, not long.  Basically looks like the kind of snail you'd see in your back yard. These ones cannot live outside of water, once they come out, they freeze where they are. I was wondering, how do these ones breed? Do they lay their eggs underneath the rocks/sand, in the plants, on top of the sand?
Also, I have seen them 'cluster' together, multiple of them will just cling to each others shell and stay like that on the walls, on the sand, but always attached to something. Is this normal? I've seen some of the snails start to swing their shells if they're not interested. Do they breed with each other?
I'm sorry if I haven't been specific enough with what they look like. I have searched all over Google and so far, nothing. Thank you.
<The usual (accidentally-introduced) snails in aquaria are Physa, Physella, Planorbis, and Melanoides spp. Look up these using your search engine of choice to find some pictures. Physa, Physella and the smaller (3-4 mm across) Planorbis species are normally harmless to healthy plants and breed fairly slowly so are usually easy to control. They lay eggs in jelly-like masses, often on plants. Newcomers to the hobby often mistake these egg clusters as fish eggs. In any case, they rarely cause serious problems in well-maintained aquaria and I don't worry about them in the least. They are coldwater snails. Melanoides are tropical, livebearing snails and breed extremely rapidly, turning any and all organic waste in your aquarium into baby snails. Aquarists have a love/hate relationship with them. On the plus side they are harmless to plants, are excellent scavengers, and keep sand spotlessly clean by burrowing through it much like earthworms. But on the minus side they breed very fast and can reach populations in the thousands given half a chance, so it's important to keep removing them while they're still comparatively scarce in your tank rather than putting such "culling" off until next week! Cheers, Neale.>

Snails!   3/20/12
First off, I love your website and have learned so much reading it.  I have a problem, though, that I'm having trouble finding information for.
I recently bought some plants from a local fish shop and (surprise, surprise) snails hitchhiked into my aquarium.  Info on my aquarium - I have a 20 gallon long aquarium with three small (green?) Cory cats, six neon tetras, six mature guppies and around ten babies (the female is going back to the fish shop as well as most of the babies, once they grow large enough to move), and a male sword.  I keep the water temperature at 77 degrees and the water is slightly basic (it stays around a 7.8 and the water I use in water changes has the same pH).  I have recently started to try and grow plants in the aquarium.
 My substrate is gravel ( I wanted to switch to a sand substrate but I was afraid to do that with the aquarium already set up and containing fish).  I have noticed different snails at different times over the last week and I cannot tell if they are just hiding well or if they are dying off.  I was not wanting snails, but now that I got stuck with them, I'd hate to kill them off without good reason.
At first, I saw some sort of trumpet snail, though I haven't seen him since.  Last night I saw four snails, all seemingly of the same species (or at least genera).  Today I was only able to find three, but I became worried when I saw something black and antenna-like sticking out the wrong end of one snail!  The snail seemed to have a hole in its shell at the apex, and had squishy stuff coming out of it.
He disappeared on me and I haven't found him again.  I started to closely observe the other two snails visible in my tank, and got even more worried when I saw that their shells are translucent. 
<New, young>
They seem to be pond snails, perhaps tadpole snails (I've attached a picture of one from today).
<Looks like Physa...>
  Is the translucency of the shell natural, or is it a sign of sick snails?
<At this pH... likely natural... there could be a biomineral deficiency here, but I doubt it>
  Should I be doing anything special to care for the snails, or will food not eaten by the fish be plenty for them to eat?
<The latter>
 I'm a newbie to aquarium care - how easy is it for the snails to get out of hand and overtake my aquarium? 
<Heeee! A bit too easy in most cases>
I feel responsible for the snails now that they are in my aquarium, but if they are going to be bad for all of the aquarium, I will look for ways to get rid of them (the lettuce trick seems safest for everyone).
<Yes; agreed>
 I'm assuming I will need to kill them one I remove them from the tank so that they don't get accidentally released into local rivers.
<Yes... put in a plastic bag, in the freezer... painless... and place this in your solid/landfill trash bin later>
 Oh and one more question - do I need to worry about accidentally sending snails into the local river during water changes?
<Not if the water is drained onto your lawn, or placed in your house plants... The toilet is likely safe as well>
 I'm now worried that tiny snails or eggs might get sucked up and go down the drain without me noticing them.
Thank you for any help you are able to give!
<Certainly welcome. Oh, do read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwsnails.htm
and the linked files above when you can make time. Bob Fenner>

snails! FW    2/12/12
Snails!: Hi I wanted to know why I keep finding snails in my five gallon fish tank.
<A 5-gallon fish tank is almost a contradiction in terms. Anything other than a Betta, shrimps, or perhaps Dwarf Puffers don't belong in a tank this small. Certainly not Guppies, Goldfish, and so on.
So one very real problem here may be overstocking, and snails can, will turn excess food/waste into baby snails.>
I have one snail (he/she). I have found four baby snails in my tank so far. I put them in a container with water in it while I find the other snails.
Will I find more snails?
How many could I find? Was there eggs on the snail when I got my snail? How do I get all of the snails?
<Do read here and the linked articles:
Will my tank get over run by snails?
<In proportion to how well or badly you run/stock your aquarium. Snails don't do any harm, but like rats, they turn our mistakes into their survival.>
I don't want to kill the snails. should I give them to my nature-loving friend?
<What for?>
Does Pet World take them? (Pet World is where I got my mystery snail). I only have one snail. My snail had a crack in his/her shell when I got it.
<Is this an Apple Snail/Mystery Snail? They lay distinctive raspberry-like clusters of eggs above the waterline, e.g., on the hood. Other snails, like Physa spp., lay eggs under water. Melanoides spp. are livebearers. Review the snails you have, and act accordingly.>      
please help, Kayla Cottrell
<Have linked to articles that will allow you to help yourself. Cheers, Neale.> 
Re: snails!     2/12/12

<Most welcome.>
I've decided to keep the baby snails for a while until they get big enough to give to a pet store. This is a mystery snail.
<Then you would have seen the bright pink egg cases. If not, these snails aren't Pomacea spp.>
My "nature-loving friend" used to have a snail so I figured she would like them.
Actually it was a pretty Off topic Question to ask. How small can snails be?
<Some species have shells barely 1 mm across. The largest have shells well over 50 cm long.>
Can I get the baby snails all at once?
<Snails lay clutches of eggs periodically. Each clutch can contain a dozen or more baby snails. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: snails!     2/13/12

Thanks again! the babies are so cute!
<Sounds like you're becoming a Friend of the Mollusc! My favourite phylum.
Cheers, Neale.>
Re: snails! Control   2/14/12

Hi. I wanted to ask a few more questions about the baby snails. How do I get them out of the tank efficiently? I heard that if you put a piece of lettuce in the tank they will all be there by morning. I used romaine hearts/romaine lettuce. Does this work? I tried this and had no success.
what do baby mystery snails eat besides algae off sides of tanks? Do they eat fruit or veggies? I just want to make sure.
Thanks again, Kayla Cottrell
<Yes, this can work very well. Sliced cucumber works, too. Because Pomacea spp. snails are air breathers, what you mustn't use are snail traps because the snails will drown. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: snails!

Hi again, all of my baby snails this morning weren't moving and their shells are clearish instead of wild colored. They are all dead. I'm a murderer! There hasn't been a sign of any more snails in my tank. Will there be any more snails in the tank?
<Depends on what species we're talking about. Pomacea spp. need a male and a female snail, and after they mate, you'll see those raspberry-sized, coloured and shaped egg cases ABOVE the waterline. Most other snails are hermaphrodites, and provided you have at least two adults, you should end up with offspring. Physa spp. lay small (2-3 mm long) jelly-like clumps of eggs. A few snails are viviparous, notably Melanoides spp., and these produce fully-formed, if small, young, not eggs.>
My snails all dried out.
<Snails will crawl out of the water if environmental conditions are wrong (oxygenation and/or temperature are often the key things, but potentially water quality and chemistry too).>
Thanks again and again and again, Kayla
<Glad to help. Cheers, Neale.>

Assassin Snails for Snail Control in Soft Water    1/28/12
Hello again!
I made a mistake last week.  With my last plant shipment I absent-mindedly added the plants to the tank without a thorough snail inspection.  By the time I realized it was too late and, of course, this shipment must have had a few snail eggs.  I have removed three snails from the tank already and see snail eggs littered across the glass.  My lfs has assassin snails which I want to use, but my GH is 125 and KH 71 ppm and I know this is soft for snails.  My tank already has a school of Danios and I will be adding a school of cherry barbs after they finish quarantine next week (although I can hold off on this) so I wasn't sure about adding shells or something similar to increase the GH.  I don't necessarily want/need to keep the snails and was wondering how they will do temporarily.  I can easily remove them and put them in a small hard-water tank after they finish off the other snails but, as I have never done this before, I don't know how long this will take.  I considered adding Gouramis as I saw these will bug snails, but as my tank is a 20 tall and I already have two schools of 6 fish each this doesn't seem like a viable option (unless I decide to permanently keep the barbs in the 10 gallon).  I have a couple shrimp in the 20 tall so I can't use a molluscicide but will definitely use it for any new plants in the future.  I assume if I rinse new plants in this and then rinse them in plain water I will not need to worry about the chemicals leaking into my main tank?  Any advice would be helpful!
Thank you!
<If the water is soft, the other snails should breed only slowly, if at all, so removal by hand would be the ideal here. If you must use Assassin Snails, provide a small piece of cuttlebone for them to consume. You can't stop snail shells dissolving ("pitting") in soft water, but you can at least make it easier for the snails to grow their shells in the first place. Even so, these snails will probably do poorly in acidic water in the long term, and may have a rather short lifespan. Cheers, Neale.>

snail in HOB power filter   1/19/12
Hello everybody at WWM,
Thank you for the fantastic job you guys (and gals) are doing. I will have to think hard to name things I enjoy more on the web than exploring your wonderful site!
I do not have a question per se, but I feel like sharing this with you.
<Please do>
I have a moderate-to-heavily planted 24 g community tank. I use a Dolphin H 500 HOB power filter which obviously runs round the clock. The tank has some snails, I won't say an infestation, but surely in numbers I want reduced. I have tried methods recommended by you and they are yielding good results :)
Most are Malaysian Trumpet Snails *(Melanoides tuberculata)*, very few really tiny Ramshorn ones (I am not sure of the species, but not the Apple Snail lookalikes) and of course some Pond Snails *(Physella gyrina)*.
Over the last few days I have heard the otherwise whisper silent HOB give spurts of jarring 'krrrrcckk' type noise, which only lasted a few seconds at the most so I attributed them to probable fluctuations in the supply voltage. I was wrong.
Last night I woke up and did not hear the background hum which is very faintly audible if there's no other noise. A tiny MTS had slipped into the space between the impeller and its housing, jamming it. The filtration had stopped, the current kept flowing through the armature and warmed the filter mechanism. The stagnant water collected inside was really hot!
I dismantled it, threw away the hot water, allowed it to cool somewhat and it was back working. I shudder to think what might have happened if it was in an empty room and went unnoticed through the night! I was simply lucky.
<And thankfully observant>
So all with HOBs and tiny snails, please take note and be careful Thank you again. You are just too good!
Devakalpa. India
<Thank you for sharing. Bob Fenner>
Re: snail in HOB power filter   1/20/12

Hello Bob,
Thank you for your reply.
<Thank you for your sharing. BobF>

Invasive snails   12/31/11
I have some water sprite in a twenty gallon long with a Betta. I got this water sprite about a month ago and I am now noticing small brown snails.
The shells have a few spots on them, but mostly they are plain brown. I am thinking they came in with the water sprite. Are these the type that self reproduce overtaking the tank?? If so, does this mean a full clean out of the tank?? Thank you!!
<These sound like Physa and Physella spp. Quite common; do breed, but slowly, laying a few eggs in jelly-like masses. They don't usually cause plagues; those are Melanoides spp. Remove or ignore them, as you prefer. Squishing them provides useful food for many fish, especially loaches, catfish, cichlids.
Cheers, Neale.>

Potential snail problem 11/30/11
Hello WetWebMedia Crew,
Several months ago I was given a small floating plant by LFS. I do not have a planted tank, know nothing about them in fact, but thought it might provide a lovely bit of additional shade. In keeping with the perpetual "learn by experience" aspect of fish keeping, I now know that one has to be careful of snail eggs coming in on plants.  I have a 21Gallon (tall) aquarium that has been established for 7 months. It houses 10 Neon Tetras, a small Angelfish,
<Mmm, a note re... will get larger in time; too likely consume your Neons>
 a Glass Cat
<A social species; best kept in a group>
 and a Plecostomus.
<A smaller species I hope/trust, like an Ancistrus>
 and now, many little snails rapidly growing into large snails that are making yet more little snails!
They seem to be regular pond snails and research tells me that there are a few different types of fish I can add to my tank that will take care of this soon-to-be problem.
<Mmm, there are other controls... Please read here re:
and peruse the related files linked above>
I was considering Clown Loaches but am thinking that my tank is probably not big enough for 3 of them. (and 2 would be too few if I'm not mistaken?)
<Correct on both counts>
Someone also told me that a Red Tail Black Shark would eat them but I have yet to find any such information online.
<Also mean and potentially large... like the Angel>
I figured it best to ask advice!
Thanks for your help,
<Welcome! I'd read; consider another avenue... simple collection and removal may be the way to go here. Bob Fenner>
Re: Potential snail problem   12/1/11

Hi Bob,
Thank you very much for the suggested reading. I really appreciate your and Neale's insight on this matter and I am always excited by what I learn on your site!
<Ahh, welcome>
Regarding my potential pond snail overpopulation, I will definitely try your "food in a dish at nightfall" suggestion, but I will also keep researching Clea helena per Neale's endorsement. So far, the only incompatibility I can see with putting Assassin Snails in my tank is that it has gravel substrate. Is this completely unacceptable?
<Mmm, no... most can/will live exposed>
 They do seem to be the only biological solution considering the small size of my tank. I really haven't been able to find any downfall to having this seemingly wonderful little snail; are there any?
<Not many, no... w/ the loss of suitable food, they can die off en masse, polluting water and what that portends>
Regarding your observations on my existing tankmates, I'd like to take a moment to explain and I certainly welcome further advice. Inexperience lends that I don't always know to do the right thing, but I do try to research before I purchase new fish in order to provide the most appropriate environment that I can. I am quite new to the hobby but I am aspiring, and my goal is to have a 55 or 75 gallon freshwater tank established by this time next year. Re: Angelfish... it had been at the LFS for 3 weeks+ looking a little the worse for wear, its companions dying off one by one, so (right
or wrong) I brought it home aware that it would someday want to snack on the Neon Tetras but hoping to have my larger tank in place before this happens.
Compassion overruled logic I'm afraid. (I'm working on that)
<I see>
I also live in a small, somewhat remote town in northern Ontario, Canada which has the only LFS within a two hour drive in any direction. There is only one supplier willing to ship fish to our LFS every second week, and their selection on offer (to us) is often random at best. Ordering online would be an alternative but it comes with its own exorbitant shipping costs and questionable success rate. Re: Plecostomus... I waited (and am still waiting) for an Ancistrus. A Starlight Bristlenose Pleco to be specific.
But, alas, the supplier has not come through yet. The LFS offered me a small
common Pleco that I could exchange once they were able to bring in an Ancistrus.
<Very good>
They will then put it in the store's 75 gallon display tank. And finally, the single Glass Catfish. My fault, lack of consideration on my part. Per planetcatfish.com, a school of 4 is acceptable but 6 is preferred.
Would 6 be too many for my little 21 gallon tank?
<Yes... I'd go w/ three as a minimum and maximum here>
I thank you again and look forward to more lessons!
<I look forward to our future sharing. BobF>

Loach/Pleco/Frog Question... snail removal     11/27/11
Hi, I hope you can help me with my dilemma
<Sure thing.>
I have a 55 gallon tank with a 7" Clown Loach, a 6" African Clawed Frog, and an 18" Plecostomus. We have a pretty bad snail problem (over 100, easy), and while we remove them as we see them, I can plainly see that they are in the substrate rocks. I am sure there are eggs all over as well. What's the best way to get rid of them? The Pleco and the loach don't seem to be eating them - or if they are, they aren't making a dent. :)
<I assume these are the Livebearing snail Melanoides tuberculatus. These convert organic detritus into baby snails. The dirtier the tank, the fewer snails. So, the fact you have hundreds of snails is a symptom rather than the problem itself. Given that 55 gallons is far too small for these fish, it's almost certain the tank contains lots of uneaten food, fish faeces, and algae for the snails to eat. Hence, your "solution" is to fix this. More water changes, better filtration, less food, introduction of fast-growing plants to outcompete algae, regular cleaning of the substrate will all help. Realistically, in an overcrowded tank, unless you remove all the snails in one fell swoop, all of this will take time to have any effect at all. Removing everything from the tank, deep cleaning it, and reintroducing the fish will provide a surer way to knock back the snails to near zero levels, though mature filter media can carry some snails, so you will need to prevent these survivors multiplying through the methods described above. Clea helena snails can help as well.>
I know getting more loaches may be the answer,
<Is not the answer at all. Will make things much worse because your tank already provides excellent conditions for Melanoides.>
but I worry about the large loach (or the Pleco or frog) being aggressive to the smaller newcomers. We thought about moving them to an entirely new tank, but I can't work out how to set the new tank up and get it cycling because - how on earth do you lift a full 55 gallon tank onto the stand at that point?
<You don't. Assuming you aren't using an undergravel filter, then moving mature biological media from one tank to another, you merely keep it damp. No need to transfer gravel or water.>
We only have one stand, and while we could afford a new tank, we can't afford a new stand as well. I also know that when setting up a new tank it is wise to use some gravel or decor from the old tank to help establish healthy bacteria in the new tank - but doesn't that defeat the purpose, as those items would have to be thoroughly cleaned to remove the snail eggs?
Help! :)
<Do read:
Cheers, Neale.>

Possible snail treatment poisoning of FW shrimp? Oh yes    11/24/11
Hello there
Firstly I'd like to thank you all for maintaining such an interesting and informative website.
Despite searching here (and beyond) I've been unable to find the answer I seek; apologies if it's been here all along and I've simply overlooked it.
<No worries>
After keeping a large, heavily planted FW aquarium for the last 8 years, I decided it was time for a change. About 6 months ago the last of the ancient fish inhabitants quietly passed away, leaving what I thought would be a few cherry and tiger shrimp that I'd adopted about a year ago. As I slowly dismantled the tank I discovered more and more shrimp - I gave up counting after a while but I'd say I salvaged about 60 or 70 of them all together.
I've never really bothered about the shrimp other than ensuring them a healthy environment, but having been forced to house them in their own tank while I get round to setting up the old one again I've kind of grown fond of them, now that I can actually see what they're up to. During the summer I helped my 12 year-old granddaughter set up her first FW aquarium, and a few weeks ago gave her 3 sub-adult cherry and 3 sub-adult tiger shrimp. All was going well until this afternoon when she bought a large, potted plant
(Limnophila sessiliflora) which I suspect had been treated with some snail killing agent or other (I shall visit the shop tomorrow to ask).
<Most of these are toxic to other life as well...>
The plant was dutifully checked for snails (none found), rinsed, and planted in the aquarium where it stayed for the next hour or so.
Luckily my granddaughter lives next door, so when she arrived in floods of tears telling me that her shrimp were all dead we were able to quickly take action; the shrimp were in fact still alive but in a very sorry
state. We managed to remove them all and subsequently spent most of the evening watching them in their makeshift hospital tank.
Amazingly they seem to be slowly recovering, but I can still find no information on symptoms of poisoning.
The shrimp were at first immobile, but would suddenly flick into life and swim erratically before drifting to the substrate and laying on their backs, legs waving. Two of them showed little sign of life at all but have
since rallied.
<Does read as some sort of poisoning. Glad you were quick to act>
The 5 neon tetra that live in my granddaughter's 20 gallon tank are fine; we've removed the plant and are currently filtering the water with active carbon, having carried out a 20% water change. The tank was properly cycled and the water parameters were/are all good. Other than blaming the plant I'm at a loss...
Is it possible that the shrimp could have been made 'unwell' by this supposed snail treatment as opposed to being killed outright?
<Oh yes>
Any comments would be gratefully received.
Cheers :)
<Mmm, how to be clear, more complete here? There are "pretty" specific molluscicides, that mal-affect snails et al. relations more exclusively; however, the products sold in the aquarium trade include a few that are generally toxic/problematical for other invertebrate groups... And not much in the way of "warning labels". Blue solutions/tablets are often metal-based... being toxic to both snails and crustaceans.
Bob Fenner>
Re: Possible snail treatment poisoning of FW shrimp?     11/24/11

Hi Bob, thank you very much for your prompt and friendly reply.
<Certainly welcome Wendy>
I visited the pet shop today and discovered that they do use snail treatment in their plant tank. Unfortunately I was unable to find out which product it is, as the owner was absent and the young lad left in charge was unable to help. I'm guessing whatever they use probably contains copper and that the plant my granddaughter bought was well enough contaminated that despite her rinsing it, it still caused the problem with her shrimp.
<Sorry to hear/realize>
On the upside all 6 of the affected cherries and tigers are still alive and appear to be behaving normally.
<Ahh! Then I give you/them good odds at recovery>
Whilst I've never had cause to use snail treatments I'm still aware of the dangers that they (and various medications) can pose to inverts, etc. With this in mind, I suggested to the lad at the pet shop that maybe they could display a sign advising customers to thoroughly wash the plants before placing them in an aquarium. Whether they will do so or not remains to be seen...
<Ah yes>
A seasoned fish-keeper once told me "Every time you think of putting something in your tank - whatever it is - think again. And then think again before you decide." I consider that to be pretty sound advice, no?
<I do agree, yes>
Cheers, and thanks again :)
<And you, BobF>

Re: Those nasty snails (sooo happy!) 10/22/11
Hello again, Bob.
Good news! I took the snails out and there's been a wonderful result; about 90% of the fungus has disappeared!
I put the snails in a one-gal. jug and it made a big difference. But in a couple of days, there was a thin layer of that fungus covering the surface.
They don't seem to mind, but I think it's starting to eliminate some of the oxygen, so I need to aerate it more than I would have to. (boy am I going to have a hard time getting rid of them)
But anyway, the babies are doing better! So I guess it WAS the snails after all. Except they have a bit of a hard time eating their food. They have to do that whole eat-and-spit-out routine over and over again. But they eventually eat it.
So I've got a plan: I'm going to keep one of the five babies, give the rest to my brother's girlfriend, and after I get the pond and the twenty, I'm going to try breeding the angelfish or some more platies. My mummy platy finally stopped having babies (THANK GOD). I don't think I can't stand to see the same black and yellow coming from her anymore. So I'm going to use the old ten gallon as a breeding tank.
So far, everything is going good :) Nitrates are still going down bit by bit.
Still can't wait to get that twenty gallon, though!
Thanks for your help!
<Welcome. BobF>
Re: Those nasty snails (back to sad, I think)  10/27/11

I guess you can call this an "update" even though it's only like a week after my last message. Well, the day after I got your last reply, I needed to change some water. So usually, I look for the big snail and make sure I don't hit her with the water. I couldn't find her, so I figured she was on her favorite plant in the back. So I poured in the water and I didn't see her on the back of a different plant, so she got a face full of uncycled water.
I didn't know if she'd survive, since I've done it on accident many times and she recovered within four days or so. But since Sunday afternoon, she hasn't moved from her position she was in, and I can't see her in her shell. So she was pronounced dead, about an hour before I sent this.
I don't mean to sound cruel, but it's kinda good that she died, because she wouldn't stop killing off my plants, which costs about 6 dollars each, and I have about ten plants in there.
Also, there was a small spike in nitrates and my angelfish is starting to get a little stressed, either that, or she's stressed from me only feeding her every two days.
So I'm going to use some Amquel plus to lower nitrates, and any ammonia that's in my tank. It'll take a while, though...
I also read that ribbons are not fully aquatic,
so I'm going to see if they start dying, which I think they already have.
Then I can get my money back at Petco. Now I need to get different aquarium plants. :L. But at least I'll get my money back.
So I guess that's all that's going on right now.
I'll make sure to email you again when I need some more help. :)
Thanks, Jenny.

Small black/brown snails, ID    9/11/11
Good day
I have these small brown/black snails in my freshwater aquarium. I don't know where they came from. They seen to multiply each day. Don't know if they came with the live plants I bought.
I have three apple snails that do a good job, but these small 'pests' seem to eat my plants. I try to take a few out every week, but they don't seem to get less.
How do I get rid of them?
Thank you
<These are likely Physa and Physella "tadpole" snails. Generally harmless, but they will eat weak or dying plants. I have some in tanks with healthy plants that are growing rapidly and they do no harm at all. My point is that it's easy to blame snails for simply clearing up decaying plant material, and in doing so, assume they caused the problem with the plants in the first place. That said, they may damage certain very tender plant species, but not things like Amazon swords or Vallisneria. Physical removal is probably the best way to control them, but Clea helena Assassin Snails are good, too.
Cheers, Neale.>

hi crew   8/10/11
My query is regarding Apple snail or golden snail ,. I wanted to know the reason behind my two snails coming out of tank mostly at nights ,
<Travel, reproduction>
. For the past 5 days ,. I put them back again I find them on the floor near my fish tank again ,. Can you all please let me know how to prevent it,
<A better, complete cover... Do read re... These are not entirely aquatic animals/species:
and: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/MollusksFW.htm/MystSnailsF.htm
. And also why are they coming out ,. I had them with me for more than six months ,. I have put them together with my discus fishes
<Not compatible... hard, alkaline, cooler water vs. the opposite for Symphysodon...>
,. 400 liter tank ,. Water parameter are fine with a heater ,. Filtration is fine ,. I always do water changes ,. Thanks in advance ,. Appreciate the time and effort you guys put in to reply our questions ,.
God bless ,. Azam from India .
<Keep studying Azam. Bob Fenner>

Snail Compatibility    3/28/11
Hi, Crew. I have a yellow freshwater snail that I'm guessing is an apple snail that hitchhiked on some freshwater plants I bought today.
<Mmm, an unusual hitchhiking species... may well be a xanthistic/yellow variety of Physa or...?>
I tried to take a picture of him to be certain it was indeed an apple snail, but in my search for my camera, he crawled into who knows where in my aquarium.
<Heee! An equivalent aquatic "law" of Murphy>
My aquarium is a 35 gallon with 6 Danios and 5 black Neons, and about 10 cherry shrimp. Will everyone be happy together?
<Could well be. I'd leave as is, unless you have a fear that this one snail is of a hermaphroditic species (some are, not all) and will multiply out of control. Cheers, Bob Fenner>
Thanks much in advance,
Re: Snail Compatibility 3/30/11

Bob - Thanks for your reply. I have attached a small picture of my snail in the hopes that you can identify him as NOT a hermaphroditic species.
<Mmm, looks to be a xanthistic "mystery snail"... see the Net re ID... genus Ampullaria/Pomacea... dioecious spp.>
(If you need a better quality/different picture, I will be happy to oblige.) I have dealt with hitchhiking small snails before that multiplied out of control in my last tank. I even took out all of the gravel and bleached it, got rid of all my real plants for fake plants, and bleached out the aquarium and decor, and I STILL had snails multiplying in my tank.
The only way I got rid of them was to take a two year hiatus from fish tanks and let my gravel dry and sit in a covered bin. I'm moving back to real plants now (being very careful to examine my plants, let them quarantine, and to destroy any small snail I come across), but this guy is definitely not the common snails I had before, and he's kind of cute. I called the store where I bought the plants, as they had these snails in their plant tank for sale, and they told me he came labeled as simply an "assorted snail" and that no, I didn't need to come back and pay for him since he came home with me of his own free will. Hoping he'll pass the non-pest test!
Thanks again,


They win this round... FW Snail Armageddon!   1/4/11
I followed the advice, I did the right things, but for all my efforts a horde of pond snails have stormed the ramparts of the wife's guppy tank.
<Dang! How?>
They are everywhere their rampant growth unstoppable. I have lost the war but their victory will be pyrrhic!
I am initiating "Operation Hammer Down" Tuesday at 18:00 hours! The complete eradication of life in that tank!
<Good gosh; this is reminding me of the Dune movie/book... the Padisha Emperor's prophetic statement of "eradication of all life on Arrakis!">
I plan on washing out the filter and tank with tap water, and letting both dry out completely and sit for a
day or two.
<Mmm, this "won't do it">
Now here is the rub, the wife wants me to spare a lovely piece of driftwood alive with java moss and java fern. I worry that it would be a snail lifeboat. Is there anyway to kill all the snails and save the wood?
<A few... the simplest biocide to use: Chlorine bleach... rinse all (the tank, gravel, filters, driftwood... all things wet) and over-dose with dechlorinator... let run for a few days... Best to leave the wood out of
the water to air-dry for a week or so...>
As always thanks for your help, and Happy New Year!
<Thanks for the levity Rob the Gastropod Terror! Bob Fenner>
Re: They win this round...  1/5/11

Thanks, if only I had tiny Sardaukar terror troops in that tank I would probably be in better shape.
<Or that floating fat man, the Baron Vladimir Harkonnen... then "they'd know!">
I had no idea that I needed to use bleach, can you imagine my chagrin if those darned snails won again!
<I don't know if I can imagine this...>
I was planning on using filter media from another tank, which I suspect has had the same species of snail infesting it but never to the same degree and for months none have been observed. Is it foolish to clean out the tank and then try to reboot it with media with snails in it?
<Umm, only foolish if you don't think you'd be spreading them>
My LFS has a shipment of Aphyocharax Paraguayensis - Dawn Tetra coming in next week, and I want to set up a heavily planted species tank.
Should I score media from the store and just jam it into the filter?
<Yes I would>
Have them hold onto the fish and do a super boring fishless cycle?
<Mmm, not so much a fan of this approach... Moving some water from snail-land is likely okay>
Hold off the OP and heavily dose with snail killing chemical?
<Not a fan... though Assassin Snails might be a call>
I have a new substrate ready to go, one of those nice planted tank types. So one way or the other I'm tearing the thing down but I'm hoping to keep a filter going for the new setup.
Thanks for your time Doc.
<Welcome! BobF>

Snails, FW, contr.   11/4/10
Hi , I bought some green Cabomba for my 25 gallon show aquarium , but , before I put it into the show aquarium I decided to put it into a 5 gallon tank I setup , with some other small plants and a led lighting system , and now I see those snails that most people say are bad crawling around . Do you think I should try to kill them or keep them? I have heard they can be good for the planted aquarium and that they are misunderstood , people say that they only turn to eating the plants when there is no dead plant mater , algae , and fish food left , ( like apple snails do ) , I hear they also eat detritus under the gravel . Is this true ? Should I keep them or kill them ? And what way is the best way to keep them under control or just to kill them , or to prevent them from getting to my show tank when I move the Cabomba into it . Thanks. :)
<Does depend on the snails. Most are fairly harmless, but if they breed quickly they can be annoying -- though more as a symptom of poor aquarium hygiene than anything else, since all they do is turn unremoved waste into baby snails. If you want to stop snails and snail eggs getting into your tank, a very dilute concentration of potassium permanganate can be used for this, no darker than rosé wineup to 10 mg/lto create a suitable dip. Plants can be dipped for 10 minutes before being removed, rinsed in a bucket of lukewarm water, and then placed in the aquarium. Alternatively, a few Clea helena "Assassin snails" will keep pest snail populations under control. Do read:
Me? I don't worry about them too much. I have some Assassin snails, and basically let them do their thing. Once in a while I might cull any snails I see, but otherwise I have better things to do with my life. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Snails  11/4/10

Hi again I looked around and it looks like a common pond snail , and I do not have access to any potassium permanganate , can I use salty water ?
<No. Cheers, Neale.>

Zebra Loaches, snail cont., comp.  7/30/10
Hi Crew, hope all is going well for you. I have a couple of questions, please. I wanted to know if it is true that zebra loaches indeed do eat snails
<If hungry, yes, up to a point. But this is misunderstood by many. They will have near-zero impact on Melanoides livebearing snails for example, and really only tackle small Physa and Physella. They generally ignore the tiny Planorbis snails. In any case, if you're feeding them -- or the other fish they're kept with -- they'll generally eat that "easy" food rather than the snails. Any retailer who tells you a given loach will cure a snail problem is not really being honest. Many fish eat snails on occasion, for example Oscars, Synodontis and many of the Mbuna, but that doesn't mean these fish are snail cures.>
and if they would be good tank companions for angels and Corys.
<Bit on the boisterous size, so it does depend on the size of the tank.
Assuming 55 gallons/250 litres or more, yes, a group of Botia striata will get along with most community fish. There will be competition for food though, so take care with Corydoras. Personally, I prefer not to mix Botiine loaches with Corydoras except for Dwarf Chain Loaches. Angels generally dislike strong water currents, so you'll need to be careful ensuring proper circulation for these loaches while not buffeting about the poor Angels. Would recommend Kuhli Loaches as the classic "pond" loaches as opposed to these stream-dwelling species.>
Also, what is the minimum grouping that is healthy for them
<As with all Botiine loaches, 5 or more, or they'll fight all the time and will be so shy you'll never see them.>
and are they hardy to keep?
<Given the right conditions, i.e., low to moderate temperature, lots of water current, and a soft substrate, yes, they're quite hardy. The usual cautions apply though with regard to copper and formalin.>
Thank you for your time.
<Happy to help. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Zebra Loaches  7/31/10

Thank you Neale, I guess I won't try to use that method then.
<Perhaps not.>
Could you please recommend some safe product (if any) that will rid my tank of snails?
<I wouldn't use any "product", but I will recommend the snail-eating "Assassin Snail" Clea helena, a species that will consume snails and over time does establish an equilibrium. They aren't an instant fix, but you will find they have a strong negative effect on snails by eating the juveniles, so that the number of adult snails declines. Clea helena breeds but since they're either male or female you will need a reasonably large group to be sure to get males and females. They breed slowly, and it is several months before you'll spot any juveniles.>
I do not even know what type they are. I had never used live plants of any kind until I set up this current aquarium and the ones I have now are java fern. I assume that is where the snails came from. I try to vacuum as many as possible when doing a water change (I have a sand bottom). I know of a product called "rid a snail" but have heard that would hurt my cories.
<Indeed. The molluscicides sold to aquarists typically contain potassium permanganate, and this is very toxic indeed. Broadly, it is safe used as short dip for new plants, but otherwise should not be added to the aquarium. Even if it was safe in the aquarium, having handfuls of dead snails rotting in an aquarium will bring down water quality. So why bother?>
Also I currently have 6 angels and 3 gold gouramis in addition to my cories. I am getting tired of the gouramis and have decided to have just an all angel (except for the cories) tank. Will there be fighting if I add more angels to the ones who have been in the 75 gallon tank for over a year? Thanks again for all you do.
<Angels can be territorial, so fighting is definitely a risk. You should be okay because you already have six of them, but there's no guarantees. For what it's worth, I think you might want to leave the Gouramis; I find they
have a "disturbance" factor on the Angels that ensures the school of Angels stays together. They do what cichlid keepers call acting as the target fish, a focus for the aggression that maintains pair bonds. In a 75 gallon tank the impact three gold Gouramis will have on water quality is minimal, so I'd honestly leave them there, or at least replace them with another largish Gourami species like Lace or Moonlight Gouramis.>
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Zebra Loaches 7/31/10

Hi Neale, as far as this "target fish" thing goes, does that mean that the aggression some of the angels have towards one another may be directed towards the gouramis thus keeping them from fighting among themselves?
<No. Target fish are *different species* that are threats that cichlid social units recognise, and those threats help to keep the cichlids working together. Without target fish the cichlids have more energy to divert into fights over hierarchy. Also, without target fish, pairs tend to be weaker, so males are more likely to bully the females. In other words, by ensuring the cichlids are "scared" a bit, the social group works better. It's complex, and I'd encourage you to read Paul Loiselle on this issue, in 'The Cichlid Aquarium'.>
I do think they are pretty fish but even though I have one male and two females I get tired of seeing the male always chasing one of the females around the tank all the time.
<Male Gold/Blue Gouramis -- varieties of Trichogaster trichopterus -- are notorious bullies, and as you'll see elsewhere I recommend people just keep females. Lace and Moonlight Gouramis are much less aggressive.>
That is the only reason I want to get rid of them. I don't know if the male chases the same female or not, but would adding one more female help the situation?
<Possibly, but I'd prefer to remove the male if you can, or swap for another Trichogaster species.>
Thank you again. James
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Zebra Loaches 7/31/10
Thank you for the information. It is always good to learn new things in the aquarium world. I managed to catch the male gold Gourami and take him back to the LFS. Do you recommend me buying any more females or is having just 2 OK? Thank you again.
<For the purposes of target fish, two is fine. Cheers, Neale.>

Freshwater Snails Overtaking My Tank   5/31/2010
Hello Everyone,
I have searched your site to try to find out the best way to rid my 20 gallon freshwater quarantine tank from snails.
<If it's a QT tank, then manual approach will work best. Strip the tank down, clean the tank, deep clean or replace the gravel, and that should be that.>
I received quite a few plants from someone and knew from past experiences that they would most likely have snails within the leaves.
<Can be the case; use a potassium permanganate dip. Take care not expose the plants for too long though, as snail-killing potions are harmful to plants.>
I set up a tank only for the plants so I can monitor them for a month or two to see if my suspicions were correct, and guess what, I was right. Now since there are no fish, I have been leaving the tank alone, with only co2 and some dechlorinator when I do a water change, roughly once a month hoping they would die from lack of food.
<The bigger problem is that the filter bacteria will die without a source of ammonia. So to a degree, the snails are helpful here, since they eat food and excrete ammonia.>
They don't seem to me eating my plants (I don't have any idea what types of plants or snails I have) but they eggs must have hatched recently. I have a good 50 babies latched onto glass, leaves, roots, etc. there is no gravel or decoration in the tank. Strictly plants.
<Dip the plants, siphon the remaining snails from the tank, and then return the plants.>
I just bought one of those cheesy snail catchers but I know that doesn't work very well and liquid snail killer is also a plant killer.
<Not if used for short periods, typically a 20-minute dip.>
I was squishing them but they are just too many snails with too many hiding spots. What should I do? If I continue to not feed, will they all just eventually die?
<Population size is certainly related to food availability, so eventually yes, population will drop to that supported by ambient algal/protozoan growth.>
Some of the leave seem to be dying off which is causing some debris at the bottom.
<Snail food.>
Should I give it a good cleaning to get it all out of the bottom so the snails have nothing to feed off of?
<If you want.>
Thank you for your time.
<Snails aren't really a big deal, so I tend to ignore them. Clea helena is a good snail-eating snail, and breeds quite slowly, so adding a few of these will control most snail populations nicely. Otherwise in themselves snails do little harm, barring a few species that eat plants. Cheers, Neale.> 
Re: Freshwater Snails Overtaking My Tank  6/1/10

Thank you for your reply Neale. Most people don't mind snails but I am one of the few that will do everything I can to avoid them.
<I see. Well, you're probably wasting your time here.>
I don't like them climbing everywhere and they multiply too fast which makes aquarium maintenance more work that I need.
<On the contrary, snails can be very useful for keeping aquaria clean.
Melanoides sp snails, the ones often called MTS or Malayan Livebearing Snail are the equivalent of earthworms, burrowing through the substrate removing organic matter and aerating the substrate. Now, can you have too
many of them? Sure. But when that happens it's a result of chronic overfeeding and/or under-cleaning of the substrate. Think about it: these snails need food to grow and breed. No food, no baby snails. It's like finding cockroaches in the kitchen, and blaming them for making the kitchen messy. No, the cockroaches are there precisely because a messy kitchen has lots of food for them.>
I am glad you mentioned the potassium permanganate but I have been unable to find this within any US Fish supplier. I found that Jungle brand liquid Water Clear has potassium permanganate in it but have not been able to buy it since only the tablets are what seem to be common. There is nothing to tell me if the tablets have the same active ingredient. Can you please point me in the right direction?
<Potassium permanganate is fairly toxic, so should be used with care. When dipping new plants, immerse them in a dilute "rose wine" coloured solution for 5-10 minutes. Rinse off the plants before putting them in the aquarium.
There's no real way to kill snails in an aquarium without risking the lives of your fish and plants. So ultimately snail control comes down to [a] keeping them out; [b] minimising waste food so snail populations cannot grow rapidly; and [c] stocking some type of snail-eating animal.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Last Check before First Trip, FW snails 5/11/10
Please help bring a couple things together that I understand in general but am not sure on my specifics.
As a recap, in addition to four species of fish, I added four zebra Nerite snails to help with algae control and found a "baby" hitchhiker. Well, now I've found two more. Still to small to get a good pic of but they are growing very fast and I hope to God there are no more. I'm still baffled as to how they got there since I hand placed the much larger zebras by hand so they were upside up in the tank. I'm not sure the environment can handle a total of seven at 36 gallons!
<They aren't Nerites, I'm sure. Much more like Physa or similar.>
They also don't look like zebras at least at this point. More like apple or at least more cochlear. They are hard workers mostly clinging to fake plants but they are on the move just like their larger mates.
<I have Physa in planted tanks and they don't do any harm that I can tell.>
I'm not talking about his because I am some proud parent pleased to have more wildlife. Just the opposite, I'm looking for balance and have had enough problems with getting ammonia under control.
Is it possible that having a large crew of snails working fast on a tank will create ammonia that wouldn't otherwise be there?
<Not really.>
In other words, scraping algae doesn't create ammonia
<Yes it does.>
but having a snail eat and poop it does.
<Protein becomes ammonia, whether fish food, rotting vegetation, or baby snails. Just because algae and plant material contains a lower percentage of protein than animal material, it doesn't mean it's protein-free. Put another way, snails consume plant material, and appropriate the nitrogen in the plant material into their own tissues. They don't make protein from nowhere.>
I still like this better than scraping and honest the snails are extremely fascinating to watch and ponder the Creators intentions.
The main question is, I know already that fish can go a bit without eating and that has a benefit of reducing ammonia from being increased over a few days.
I will be leaving town this upcoming Saturday at around 4pm and returning the following Thursday around 2pm.
<They don't need feeding for this short period. If you feel the need, leave a slice or two of cucumber or a piece of lettuce, and they'll nibble on that.>
What is your recommendation for me specifically please? I want to do a water change and would like to know what percent you recommend for this scenario and what to do about feeding. I know three days is OK but five seems pushing it. Would a two day weekend feeder be a good idea to bridge the absence of feeding to only be three or should I put in a veggie slice or what?
<Skip the feeding block option; minimal benefit and they can mess up water chemistry as they dissolve.>
I'm sorry to bug you about something so specific, I wouldn't consider feeding them if it was three days, but with the ammonia issue in the back of my mind I'd like to maximize survival the best as I can. Haven't lost anyone yet.
And finally, what to do with these small snails and when to do it. Perhaps return them to the LFS when they are a big larger or are these tiny animals enough of a threat to this trip that they should be pulled out before then.
<Manual removal of the adults should prevent further generations. Otherwise let your Clea helena eat them, if you have some.>
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Last Check before First Trip 5/11/10

Thank you for the ID on the snails. They do look like Physa but there are no adults.
<Eggs are common on plants.>
Well, I guess I shouldn't say that since I never heard of this species until 10 minutes ago.
<Well there you go.>
More reading to do! Unless they hitched inside the closed shells of the Nerites then it's either the snail fairy or both myself and the LFS need new glasses.
Should I do an extra percentage of water change? 20%? 40%?
<Just do a regular water change. No need to complicate things. Cheers,
Re: Last Check before First Trip 5/11/10

Neale, if you see this before replying to the last one. Is this species of snail a nuisance?
<Physa spp. you mean?>
I mean is this a typical hitchhiker that one would otherwise not buy or want in the tank on purpose? So far I see that they are fast breeding.
<They may eat soft and tender plants, but I've never found them to be a particular problem. They prefer algae, and most of the time my specimens are either on the glass or on top of the floating plants. I consider them pretty harmless, but then I do have Clea helena, puffers, Synodontis or loaches in the tanks with them, so their populations are bound to be kept in check somewhat. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Tadpole nursery, now snail chatting...  5/10/10
I have had an amazing outbreak of snails in my tank. Literally hundreds of
Plus almost every leaf surface has sticky jelly like egg clumps stuck to them. Impossible to siphon out.
I have added 4 assassin snails but they don't seem to be making a dent (and in fact appear to be burrowed in the sand most of the time).
<Is what they do; they mostly feed at night, though once settled become day-active.>
I am pretty sure it is the daily supply of blood worms for my frogs that is fueling this population explosion.
<Could well be, in part at least. Uneaten organic material of all types, whether fish food, frog skin, feces, dead plant material -- all these things can become snails.>
How many days can my frogs go between feedings?
<Oh, several days without problems.>
And, can I withhold food for a few days so my assassin snails go after snails versus worms?
Also, I have added 3 Amano shrimp to help keep the tank clean hopefully leaving less food for the snails.
<May or may not work. To be fair, I rarely worry about snails, since they aren't really doing any harm. Manual removal of adults is the best way to crop their numbers. There are snail traps, but I'd fear frogs would enter them too easily. You should find the numbers are not significant in tanks with good filtration, regular water changes, and a few snail-eating predators of some sort. There are many things to worry about in life, but snails aren't among them.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

FW, remedy for snails in a community tank - 03/28/10
I have 2 tanks of community fish currently set up and had a few of the small snails come in on plants. As you can imagine, the few snails have turned into a few hundred.
<Yes, this can happen, but do understand why. Contrary to popular misconception, snails cannot break the laws of physics. To make one snail takes a certain amount of energy and food. To make hundreds takes a lot more energy and food. Snail populations are limited by the amount they have to eat. If you have a lot of snails, you have a tank with enough food (i.e., uneaten fish food) for them to multiply and grow that rapidly. The best way to control snail numbers is to keep a tank clean, remove uneaten food, remove dead plant material, and then let the snail population die back to a lower level.>
Short of picking the out daily by hand, I'm having trouble keeping them under control.
<Indeed. Unless conditions change, snail numbers will always rise up to the level supported by the amount of food available to them.>
I tried assassin snails, but they don't appear to be doing much.
<You do need a sufficient number. Try doubling the number you have.>
Tanks are vacuumed about weekly with 15-20% water changes; I have well water so no additives needed; pH stays around 7, no detectable ammonia or nitrite in either tank. Current tank inhabitants are as follows: 10 gallon
tank with 3 white skirt tetras, 1 rubber lip Pleco, and 3 fancy guppies;
<Wrong fish for this size tank, which may be one reason conditions favour the snails.>
50 gallon tank with 4 black skirt tetras, 4 zebra Danios, 8 Neons, 6 fancy guppies, 3 dwarf Platies, and 3 or 4 ghost shrimp (hard to count them-they mostly hide). My thought was to get some loaches to take care of the snail problem but I'm not sure which species would be best. I was primarily looking at Dwarf Chain Loaches or Zebra Loaches just based on internet research.
<Depends on the snails, but to be honest, Loaches and Pufferfish for snail control sound much better in theory than in practise. If nothing else, the extra food you put out for these fish will increase the amount of uneaten food available to the snails. Also, Loaches and Puffers really only eat snails very much smaller than they are, and things like Dwarf Loaches have hardly any impact at all. Once Loaches and Puffers learn you're feeding them nice, soft food items like bloodworms and catfish pellets, they won't eat snails anyway.>
My plan is to put them in the 10 gallon tank temporarily to deal with the snails (perhaps relocating the current inhabitants to my quarantine tank for that time), then move them to the 50 gallon tank to live. I'd like to get rid of the snails, but don't want to exchange one problem for another.
Any suggestions would be appreciated.
<Cheers, Neale.>

Snail & Plant cohabitation 11/10/09
Hi. I have 1 single snail that should not reproduce on it's own.
<In theory. Depends on the snail species. Some, like Melanoides spp., are parthenogenic, and one snail will quickly become dozens, hundreds...>
The same day, I tried to plant several different plant bulbs.
<Indeed. Do bear in mind that many "bulbs" don't actually want to be below the substrate, e.g., Crinum bulbs and many Aponogeton bulbs. If you stick these under the sand, they'll probably do badly and may well simply die.>
I've seen the snail dig them up & eat parts of them.
<Some snails will do this.>
Is there any way to prevent the snail from doing this temporarily?
<None at all. Snails cannot, unfortunately, be trained. It's up to the aquarist to choose snail/plant combinations that work.>
At least until the plants establish themselves?
<Do read here:
Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Snail & Plant cohabitation 11/10/09

Thank you for the information.
<You're welcome.>
I have an idea I think I want to try.
What if I put the snail in a separate container & feed it algae wafers, until the plants take root, then reintroduce it to the aquarium?
<Depends on the snail. Something like an Apple snail (Pomacea sp.) needs to be kept in a heated, filtered aquarium, so putting such a snail in a bowl won't work. But little snails like Physa snails can be kept in bowls for a while, since they're air-breathers and from temperate rather than tropical habitats. That said, the little snails don't normally cause major problems.
Melanoides spp. will burrow, but they won't harm the plants. In fact, they're beneficial. Physa spp. may nibble on plants, but don't cause any harm if the plants are healthy. I have both these types of snails in my
planted tanks, including with "baby" plants such as Aponogeton seedlings.
Apple snails on the other hand are a real menace, and whole *some* people report than *some* species do fine in planted tanks, I can't recommend them. And I know from bitter experience that Colombian Ramshorn snails (Marisa cornuarietis) won't stop until they've eaten every plant in the tank.>
The plants may then have a chance of survival.
<Doesn't really work this way. Keep combinations of snails and plants that will coexist, or keep just one or the other. Imagine trying to have a garden with pretty flowers and things while also keeping sheep. Won't work.>
Your thoughts?
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Snail & Plant cohabitation 11/10/09

Since I am unsure of the type if snail I have,
<Hence my use of Latin names. Use Google, search for images, and you can match the snails you have with the ones I mentioned.>
perhaps it would be best to give up on the live plants, rather than risk putting the snail in a separate container. Should the snail perish, I'll try live plants again.
<If you choose the right snails, mixing with plants isn't an issue, so I suspect this is overkill. At the very least, things like Java Fern won't be eaten by snails of any species.>
Thank you again for your help & information.
<Happy to help. Cheers, Neale.>

Our new snail... Apple, comp., sys.  8/11/2009
Hi. Thank you for taking the time to read this,
<Happy to help.>
We set up an aquarium for my daughter about a week and a half ago.
<If your daughter is a minor, then you're setting up the aquarium *for yourself*. Always remember that. Children make very poor guardians of animals, so the responsibility for any animals you buy rests squarely on your shoulders.>
It is a 6 gallon, Marineland.
<Too small for Goldfish or indeed any other fish except Bettas.>
It has a carbon filter and a BIO-Wheel. We have a small Fantail & a small Black Moor, we got a snail on Sunday.
<This aquarium isn't acceptable for these fish. They WILL get sick and they WILL die prematurely. So let's cut to the chase here. A 20-gallon tank will be fine while they're small, up to about 10 cm/4 inches in length, but you need a 30 gallon system for these two Goldfish once mature; see here:
As for the snail, it's an Apple snail, and won't live more than 6-12 months in an aquarium. Wild snails aestivate in mud for part of the year, and without this resting phase, they seem not to live for their normal lifespan in captivity. When they die, they cause massive pollution. They mix poorly with fish. Fish nibble at them, damaging their "antennae", allowing secondary infections to set. Millions of Apple snails are sold to inexperienced shoppers, and the vast majority of them die for one reason or another. There's a great Apple snail site, here:
Take a look at the needs listed in the Quick Guide section. Since you'll be taking the Goldfish out of the woefully inadequate 6 gallon tank, you might elect to dedicate that tank to the needs of Apple snails. They make interesting pets, and when kept in groups, breed quite readily. Rearing baby Apple snails isn't easy, but with luck, you'll get enough to keep a steady population going.>
The lady at the pet store checked the door to make sure it was alive. We have never had a snail before & thought it would start moving around by now. It has not moved around the tank at all & I have not seen the whole body come out.
<Often, they start moving, and then the Goldfish buffets them, and the snail goes into it's "scared" mode again. As I say, you can't usually keep Apple snails and Goldfish together. Many have tried, and most of them failed.>
I saw the siphon come out this morning & it did go from being totally closed up to being part way out of the shell. I read a LOT of the other FAQ's & did not see anything about this kind of behavior. Do you think it is okay?
Or did we buy a dud?
<Apple snails tend to be either healthy or dead. You're at the tip-over point perhaps where a healthy snail isn't able to move about and feed, and yes, after a few days, it will die if it can't act normally.>
We do not have any live plants, so I put a piece of zucchini in the tank next to it & it didn't do anything. The fish pick at it like it is gravel.... It moves in & out of the shell a bit, but never all the way & it doesn't go anywhere.
<Just as I said.>
Is there another site you could direct me to, I looked at the ones I saw on your site, but I didn't see anything that looked like my issue......
Thanks a lot for any advise!
<Well, your first priority is to re-home the Goldfish. You CANNOT keep them in a 6-gallon tank. Period. End of story. If you ignore my advice here, they WILL get sick and the WILL die. Assuming you do this in the next day or two -- the only responsible course of action, really -- then your Apple snail may well recover of its own volition if left in the 6-gallon system.>
Here is a picture of what it looks like right now. Sorry in advance for any spelling or grammar errors, I used my spell checker & tried really hard to make it nice, but I am not very good at such things. :)
<Thanks for taking the time to write to us properly. It's appreciated. Good luck, Neale.>

Snails, FW, control    7/31/09
I have a number of small snails in my 20 gallon tank. They came in on a live plant and have multiplied like rabbits. I must admit they do seem to keep the tank clean. Is there an effective way to keep the population of snails in check? I'd like to have some, but not dozens and dozens.
<Snail populations grow fastest in tanks with lots or organic debris, so one way to control their population is to keep the tank (and the filter media) as clean as possible. Manually removing snails is an option too,
with various DIY traps described in books and web sites. JBL manufacture a device called the LimCollect that could be used if you want a commercial product. None of these traps works particularly well, and you have to use them night after night to have any hope of reducing a snail population.
Snail-killing potions should be avoided as these usually do more harm than good: a bunch of dead, rotting snails will do far more damage to your water quality than they would alive! My favourite way to control snails is to add a few Clea helena. These are snail-eating snails that, over time, have a remarkable impact on populations, removing most of the snails smaller than they are, so only a few larger ones survive. Cheers, Neale.>

Snails and Duckweed: FW Snail and Duckweed Control. Also Plant health. 7/23/2009
Dear Crew:
<Hi Tricia.>
First, I can only restate what so many others have said before - your website is awesome and absolutely my favorite browsing spot. Thank you again for all your hard work!
<Thank you for the kind words.>
I live in fear of repeating a silly question you have answered a thousand times before... but I cannot seem to find clear answers myself. Here goes...
<Fire away.>
I have a 30gallon planted freshwater tank. Fluorite substrate, 180gph power filter, 96watt Coralife lighting 6700 spectrum, temp at 78. I live in a hard water area and try to do as little "messing around" with my water as possible. Ammonia, nitrites at zero. Nitrates at 15ppm (in local water unfortunately). Ph 7.7, GH 22, KH 5. I add marine salt to raise density to about 1.004.
<Sounds great. Thank you for these details.>
Tank residents are 3 Sailfin mollies (1male, 2 females), 4 female swords, 2 Otos and 2 pygmy Corys (oh, and a random fry if the swords aren't hungry).
All seem to be doing well.
My problem is with my plants. Most are doing fine. The anarchis (sp?) grows so fast that I trim it at least weekly. The Ludwigia looks spectacular and the Bacopa has doubled its original size. The swords are doing fine though not growing quite as fast - same for the Val.s.
<Swords need a deep substrate or they get root-bound. You can try removing the swords, adding some more substrate in that area, and then replanting if you want them to take off.>
But the Cabomba is horrible! It is dirty grey-green and shreds apart if I touch it. I am seriously considering just removing it as I would really love the real-estate to widen the Ludwigia patch.
<Cabombas are touchy at best (I've never had luck with them) They like very calm water and specific water chemistry. The salt that you are adding for the Mollies is not likely helping either.>
I also acquired (though I never intentionally ordered or placed) some floating duckweed. It grows like gangbusters. I like it - it is pretty and the fish seem to enjoy it. Just one problem - when the floating plants hit the current of the filters they get driven underwater. Most simply resurface a few inches away but some get tangled in... well in just about everything!
<That sounds like duckweed.>
After a day or two I can easily have duckweed nearly covering whole plants.
<Not surprising.>
I even find it "trapped" under the edges of the driftwood log. It is irritating and I worry, of course, about shading out my other plants. Is there some trick that I don't know to prevent this?
<Aside from manual removal, not really I'm afraid.>
I do not think I have too much current - there is very little agitation on the surface. I currently "scoop" duckweed out of the tank weekly and it seems to make only a small difference. Anyone want a few handfuls of duckweed? :)
My second question is about the growing cadre of snails in my tank. At first I diligently removed every one I could find. Then a brief algae problem convinced me to give them a reprieve. Now, algae is (praying hard here) under control and I don't think I "need" the snails. Apart from appearances, is there any good reason to remove them?
<Assuming they are not damaging your plant, I wouldn't worry too much.>
Do they cause trouble?
<Some species can be destructive to plants, but based upon your comments, I don't think you are having that problem.>
If I just leave them alone, exactly how many of these things will I eventually have??
<Snails turn waste food into more snails. As the food supply runs down (algae control) they will breed less frequently. Also, most snails lay their eggs above the waterline, so you can remove the eggs when you see
them. You can read here for more information:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/fwsnailcompfaqs.htm >
Again, thank you so much for your site - I have spent many happy hours reading and learning!
<My pleasure.>
Tricia in PA
<MikeV in FL>
Re: Snails and Duckweed: FW Snail and Duckweed Control. Also Plant health. 7/24/2009

<Hi Tricia.>
Thank you for such a fast reply. If I may, a follow up or two?
I understand you to have said that there is no other control mechanism for duckweed other than "scooping and picking".
<It is the only method that is safe for your plants and livestock.>
Do many aquarists keep duckweed?
<I know a few.>
Would you suggest that I declare war on the duckweed? Or just keep blowing at it with my turkey baster and scooping out the excess? Could I even win such a war if declared? :)
<That is a matter of personal preference. If you like how it looks and are willing to live with it, by all means keep it. If not, you can win the war by getting as much of it as you can out every day for a week or so.>
As for the snails, I suspect that they arrived with some live plants and that their population soared when the algae did. Now that the tank is clean and clear... will they all die off at once and foul my water?
<No, they are actually pretty effective when it comes to resource partitioning, they will just slow their breeding down.>>
Will they begin munching on my plants (and with my luck, NOT the Cabomba that I don't like ...)
<It is a possibility if they completely run out of food, but that isn't likely to happen.>
Exactly how many snails are too many?
<Hehehe... when you think you have too many.>
Do I redeclare war? Selectively thin? Ignore completely? What is your recommendation?
<If you think you have too many snails, I would selectively thin, This page: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWsubwebindex/fwsnails.htm  has an excellent method of "herding' them into one place, making them easy to remove.>
Finally, I am having a hard time identifying the type of snail I have.
Actually, I know I have a couple of tiny ramshorns. These others I am not so sure about. Could you look at these (terrible) pictures?
<Actually, those pictures are quite nice.>
Anything I need to know about them in particular?
<It looks like you have both Nerite and Trumpet snails. The first 'in tank' picture is a trumpet snail. In your second picture, the trumpet snail is the one on the bottom, and the Nerite is on the top.>
<You can read more about them specifically. here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWsubwebindex/fwbrnerites.htm >
And by the way, taking a close up of your tank is a great way to convince yourself to clean a bit more frequently! Yikes!
<Hehehe, remember, a clean tank is not necessarily a sterile one.>
Again, thanks SO much. My husband swears I spend as much time reading your website as talking to him! (You DO know considerably more about fish than he does... he likes his battered and fried with chips!)
<Heheh, funny, my wife says the same thing about me.>
Thank you in advance.
<My pleasure as always.>
Tricia in PA
<MikeV in FL>

Snails... FW, control...    6/29/09
Hi this is Aaron from Michigan and i had snails in my 55 gallon tank and when i moved about 9 to 10 months ago.
<Snails are generally not a problem as such, though some species, Colombian Ramshorn snails and to some extent Apple Snails will eat healthy aquarium plants. Neither of these species breeds rapidly, and since they lay their eggs above the waterline, it's easy to limit populations by simply scraping away the egg masses as you see them. Most other snails are more or less harmless in themselves, though their numbers will go up the messier the aquarium becomes. So snails are more of a symptom than a problem in themselves. In fact the burrowing Malayan Livebearing Snail (Melanoides tuberculatus) is more of a benefit than a pest, circulating water through the substrate the same way earthworms keep air flowing through mud. I have snails in all my tanks, and simply add an appropriate predator or two but otherwise ignore them completely.>
When i moved i decided since I got snails I would just start over so I took all the fish to the local pet store and gave them the fish. When I moved into the new house i clean the tank very well (took all rocks and gravel out, got rid of the gravel and boiled the regular rocks that I got from trips to Missouri and florida because i want to put them back in the tank).
I did not add water to the tank until today June 29, 2009, I see a few shells floating in the water they are dead and everything but it is worrying me. The tank has been sitting without water in it for at least 6 months and i was wondering could the snails come back even though I haven't added any fish decor or even rocks in the bottom. I know I can still get them from buying stuff from the pet shops but I am meaning can my old infestation come back?
<Depends how long the gravel or sand has been dry. Most aquatic snails can survive out of water for some weeks, even months, provided they are kept cool and damp. But if the sediment is allowed to completely dry out, then most aquatic snails will die within a fairly short period, just a few
As soon as I seen the snails floating I stopped setting up the aquarium.
<Empty shells float: they're nothing to worry about.>
So I guess my question is could I get snails back from the dead ones and if so what is the sure fire way to kill them without having to buy new pumps and a new aquarium?
<Nope, dead snails won't produce live ones.>
Thank you for your help
<Snails simply aren't a problem unless your aquarium is badly maintained.
Snails turn uneaten food, solid fish wastes, and dead plants into more snails. If you don't overfeed them, and if you keep the mechanical media in the filter clean, and if you remove dead plants, your snails will have little to eat beyond algae and won't multiple that fast. It's really as simply as that. Snail predators include things like loaches, pufferfish, crayfish, Synodontis catfish, various cichlids, and even the famous snail-eating snail Clea helena, so if you feel you need some biological control, there are plenty of options. Cheers, Neale.>

Pest snails and planted tank 05/20/09
Hi all,
Thank you in advance for taking the time to read my email. I searched your site and found some wonderful material, but I still have questions on two topics.
<Fire away.>
An experienced fancy guppy breeder told me that soaking aquatic plants in a strong aloe vera solution for a day would kill pest snails and their eggs. This sounds less messy, less dangerous to the plants and more environmentally friendly than the potassium permanganate dips that I am currently using. Do you know if soaks in aloe vera really kill snail eggs?  If this does work, do you know what concentration of aloe vera should be used?
<Never heard of using Aloe Vera, so can't comment; as for environmental friendliness, perhaps, but if you happen to drive a car then you already do far more damage to the environment in a day than a lifetime's dipping of plants in potassium permanganate! So if that's a motive, perhaps focus on stuff where you actually can make a difference.>
Also, before I became careful about plants, I accidentally introduced some pest snails into my 29 gallon BioCube tank (actual capacity is more like 22 gallons). I have been manually removing the pest snails and using homemade snail traps, but it seems to be a losing battle. I am interested in a non-chemical way of controlling the snails in the tank, but I have some concerns and questions about the methods suggested on your site.  Assassin Snails - I thought about the "assassin snails", but I have heard from some people that after they eat the current snail population, then they overrun the tank.
<They eat protein, not plants; in other words, if the tank is filthy with uneaten food, their population can, will, expand to use up those available resources. Though it's unarguable science, many people still don't grasp that snail populations are depending on the energy (food) available to them -- they cannot magically multiply if there's nothing for them to eat.  Hence, a clean tank will always be a tank with few snails; a messy tank will always have the potential for snail plagues.>
Other people have said that after the assassin snails eat all the pest snails, they starve and the dying assassin snails pollute the tank. Do you know what happens with the assassin snail population after they are introduced?
<My specimens seem to maintain a low population that causes no problems at all. Since they don't eat plants, the upper limit on their numbers is firmly fixed by the available protein: fish food, dead fish, other snails.>
Loaches - I thought about the small Botia sidthimunki loaches (max size about 2.5 inches), but it looks like they are most happy in groups of at least 5 (total of about 11 inches of fish).
<Correct; in fact, I'd have six or more.>
I am afraid that this would be too much fish for my aquarium that has an actual capacity of about 22 gallons. I currently have 2 dwarf cichlids (Apisto cacs - max size about 3 inches each), 7 panda tetras (Aphyocharax paraguayensis - max size about 1.5 inches each) and 5 ember tetras (Hyphessobrycon amandae - max size about 0.75 inches) for a total of about 20.25 inches. Would it be acceptable to put 31 inches of fish in an aquarium that has an actual capacity of 22 gallons?
I have very good built-in filtration with a mechanical filter and bioballs and I do a 25% water change every week. The tank is lightly planted and will be heavily planted if the snails ever stop eating all my plants. I don't know if this is relevant, but I have soft water (10GH, 40KH) with 0 Nitrates, 0 Nitrites, 0 ammonia and a pH of 6.8 kept at 80 degrees. I don't overfeed my fish, but the population of "pond-type" snails continues to grow because they are happily eating all of my plants.
<I suspect you'd find Clea helena very good in this tank. I use them and like them.>
I would appreciate any advice that you could give me.
Thank you,
p.s. In my search I found and read this article. . .
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Pest snails and planted tank 05/20/09

Hi Neale,
Wow! Thank you for the fast reply and thank you for reassuring me regarding the Clea helena. I am glad to hear that the Clea helena snails work well and that they stay at a low population. Now I just need to fine some. I have a few more follow up questions if you don't mind.
Would the Clea helena eat much larger apple/mystery/Briggs snails? I have some pet apple snails and I could move them to another tank if they would
be in danger.
<My Clean helena ignore larger snails, including adult Nerite snails and adult Tylomelania snails. In fact, they seem only to take snails their own size or smaller. So while I can't guarantee it, certainly mine have not killed larger snails in a year of cohabitation. They will of course eat baby snails.>
Can you recommend a good source for the assassin snails?
<Here in the UK at least, they're reasonably widely traded at the better aquarium shops including such places as Wildwoods. Elsewhere in the world,
I'm afraid you'll have to consult aquarists in your area.>
I also have a few comments/observations below.  I do focus on things where I can actually make a difference. I don't own a car. I am lucky enough to live in a place with good public transportation. I use Zipcar, (car sharing by the hour), and I walk to places when I can.
<Sounds cool. Since I never learned to drive, and either walk, cycle, or train anyplace I go, it's quite easy for me to be a little too casual with telling others they shouldn't drive. But, as you appear to realize, choosing not to drive so often is one of the best ways to "do your bit" for the planet.>
I am OK with population dynamics (I actually have a Ph.D. in physics).
<Mine's in palaeontology, yet here I am talking about fish...>
I just didn't know whether the Clea helena are exclusively carnivorous.
<They're carnivores that also eat carrion; in other words, they eat snails and worms in terms of live (or frozen) food, but also dead fish and shrimps, probably fish eggs, and certainly catfish pellets, flake, etc. What they don't eat are algae and plants, and unlike Melanoides snails, (adults) don't consume micofauna either (though I suspect the burrowing juveniles do so). There's very little written about their biology, but they're whelks, and much said about saltwater whelks (Buccinidae) applies to them.>
If they were omnivorous (e.g. they might eat some algae or plants), then it would be possible for them to overpopulate the tank even without overfeeding. I also didn't know their rate of population expansion.
<Slow; it's something like one egg every couple of days, and there may even be cannibalism between adults and juveniles. Certainly, when I bought a starter population of four specimens, it was some months before I saw a juvenile, and even a year later, the population is probably 20-30, which in
a 20 gallon tank is a trivial load, especially given the tank is otherwise snail-free.>
Although the population will eventually reach a stable equilibrium, if their population expansion is rapid enough, then there could be a massive
die off in the short term when the population of pest snails has a sharp decline.
<More likely, the snails won't breed; that's the usual thing with these sorts of animals. What tends to happen with animals that don't have set
breeding seasons is that their reproduction rate rises or falls depending on the availability of food.>
This paragraph isn't meant to dispute what you are saying. I just wanted to point out that for some systems there can be wildly fluctuating
population levels in the short term before the system settles down to a stable population.
<Yes, indeed; this is the classic Lynx and Snowshoe Hare thing. But with warm-blooded vertebrates, which typically breed once a year, offspring are initiated (mating takes place) some time before the offspring actually need food, so the parents gamble that food will be present. As I understand it, with small invertebrates (and indeed fish) that live in relatively stable, tropical habitats, breeding can take place all year around, and there tends
to be diverting energy into reproduction depending on what's available. More babies in the good times, fewer in the bad. Since the newly hatched
snails are very small, even if they did die (e.g., lack of food) the amount of ammonia produced by a whole batch of their little corpses would still be
less than one uneaten catfish pellet. In other words, no big deal. Whatever the science, all I can say from experience is that I've never found Clea
helena a problem, and in fact a rather lovely addition to what I call a "freshwater reef tank" alongside larger snails (Nerites, Tylomelania) and
various shrimps.>
Best regards,
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Pest snails and planted tank 05/21/09

Thank you for the in-depth explanation. I really appreciate it.
<Most welcome.>
I hope that the job market for palaeontologists in the UK is better than the job market for physicists in the US.
<Not really! Hence, I work as a writer for fish magazines! Ironically, I learned most of this stuff while looking after the display aquaria at my university during my spare time, so my four years at college were not entirely wasted...>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Snails... control... no reading or referral... Please!  4/27/2009
Hello Crew, hope all is going well for you and you aren't too busy. I have a 75 gallon tank that right now only has Cory cats in it. Even before I had any fish I found several snails in my tank which I caught and killed.
I assumed they came in on my driftwood because I have no live plants.
<Possibly, if the driftwood was stored in an aquarium. Unlikely to come in via dried wood sitting on a shop shelf. Snails sometimes come in via aquarium fish, especially if you (foolishly) pour water from the fish bag into your aquarium. Just to recap, you put the fish bag water and the fish into a bucket, add water from the aquarium to that bucket over half an hour, and then net out the fish from the bucket into the aquarium, discarding all the water in the bucket. Not only does this keep out snails, it also stops the ammonia from the fish bag getting into your aquarium, and also reduces (though doesn't eliminate) the chances of parasites getting into your aquarium.>
Now that I have the cories I am noticing more of them even though I am trying to keep the feeding to a minimum. Do you know of a product that is safe and effective in killing snails that will not hurt the fish.
<None. Anything that kills snails will result in their decay, and that messes up water quality.>
I know clown loaches are said to eat snails, but I have read that they should be kept in groups of at least 3, and I don't want that many.
<Three! Clown Loaches should be kept in at least twice that number. If the snails are small, then any of the smaller and more peaceful loaches might work, for example Dwarf Chain Loaches (Yasuhikotakia sidthimunki) or Cherry Fin Loach (Acanthocobitis rubidipinnis). The Yo-Yo Loach (Botia almorhae)
is another option, but like many in its genus, it's fairly boisterous, especially when not kept in sufficient numbers (six or more, please!).
Synodontis will also eat snails, and some species, like S. nigriventris, are good community tank fish except perhaps around things with long fins like Fancy Guppies. It should go without saying all these fish only eat snails when hungry. But really, snails are almost never a problem, and I don't mind them at all. In a clean tank all they really do is eat algae and a bit of uneaten fish food, and provided you eliminate the plant-eating species, they do no harm.>
Thank you for your help.
<Cheers, Neale.>

Snail Problem, comp., sel.    04/23/09
I have been reading feverishly for the past night and day regarding how to safely remove snails from an aquarium. My problem is that all the snails I have seen are located in my sump/refugium.
<Nothing really wrong with that, is there? Marine aquarists go out of their way to put invertebrates in their refugia!>
My "specs":
75G FW with two Comet GF (6-8") and one Pleco (6-8"). Tank is heated/chilled (it's a hobby...) to around 75/76F.
I have a 20G sump/refugium with plants (Anacharis, if I remember correctly) that I purchased a few weeks ago, and this is likely where they came from. I thought they were clean, but I was obviously wrong. I have an Eheim 1262 pump in the refugium for return flow, and I need to know if the snails/eggs can transfer through the pump into the main tank? I have not noticed any snails in the main tank and boy did I look around hard last night after finding the snails in the sump. The sump has a 6" deep Seachem Fluorite
Black Sand substrate. Will the snails burrow into this?
<Some genera of snails are burrowers: Melanoides, Clea for example; others, like Physa and Pomacea aren't really burrowers much.>
I haven't noticed any, but then again, I might not be able to see them.
I've been reading that the "put-food-in-something-and-remove-in-a-day" method helps control population, and I will be doing this (cleaned salt shaker with algae wafers in there now) over the weekend as I am leaving on a trip tomorrow morning and won't be back until Monday night.
<Takes a long time to have much impact.>
However, I also know this won't kill/capture all of them, but merely maintain the population. Since I have the plants in the refugium, I'm concerned about them being eaten. I am also concerned that due to the large
amount of algae in the sump/refugium, I'm never going to catch the snails.
They don't seem to be concerned with the "free food" when they have all they can eat off the glass. Which brings me to more concerns, such as upsetting the balance I had with nitrates, and potentially getting into the main tank where I will most likely lose the war and have to restart the entire aquarium (something I'm not really wanting to do for obvious reasons and since I don't want to put the fish through the stress).
<Repeat after me: Snails are harmless. There is X amount of protein in your aquarium, and some goes into the fish, the rest into the snails and heterotrophic bacteria. The snail population expands to equal the amount of protein. Provided you don't overfeed the tank, the snail population CANNOT expand indefinitely. It reaches a level. In itself, all the snail population does is speed up the decay of organic matter into the ammonia that the nitrifying bacteria can use.>
I've also read that chemicals, like Had-A-Snail is a bad idea for the fish and possibly the plants.
It especially says to "take care with catfish". Not something I'm willing to risk unless the experts (you) say it will be ok for my Pleco.
<Snail-killing potions do more harm than snails do! Think about what happens if you kill all the snails, and they rot away all at the same time!
Ammonia spikes galore!>
But, I've also read that Fluke tabs may solve the problem.
<Copper at least will kill all sorts of invertebrates, but it's also toxic to fish, some more than others. Catfish, loaches, Mormyrids, puffers are among the species most intolerant of copper.>
However, I can't tell from reading online and the manufacturer instructions how detrimental it will be to catfish and plants. This would obviously be the easy solution and I'd be happy to try it if you guys think it won't hurt any of my fish. I would take the fish out of the aquarium if I had another place to put them, but
all I have is a 10G tank I use if I ever have to move/do construction on the main tank. This is definitely not a suitable home for them for more than a day.
<Specific fluke medications other than copper will have little/no impact on snails.>
Another idea I read about, a loach, doesn't seem feasible as the environment just isn't suited for them. I'd hate to put a fish in a place that isn't suited for them just to help me out. No reason it has to suffer for my mistake.
I was thinking the following in regards to killing the pests: Replace the sump for a couple of days with a canister filter I have and remove the water from the sump leaving it mostly exposed to air (the sand holds a good amount of water) and attempt to "dry out" the snails. Does this work? Will the snails die out of water?
<Some will, but others, such as Melanoides, can survive for months out of water in a hibernating state.>
Will they try to burrow into the sand?
<Some will, yes.>
If that isn't a good idea, what about mixing only the water in the sump with a large dose of aquarium salt? If I do this, will the sand absorb the salt?
<Melanoides can tolerate up to 50% seawater, so your plants and fish will die long before they will...>
Will the plants die if I leave them in there? I want to try to disinfect everything I can, so I'd attempt to leave pumps and heaters in the salt water if I did this.
Will this be fatal to the fish upon reinstalling the sump? I understand I can dilute, like a couple of 100% water changes, but I'm worried it will ruin the substrate which will kill the plants and harm my fish. I can't
find any of this information on your site. Surely I can't be the only one that ever had a sump infected with snails, but then again, maybe I'm one of the rare people running a sump on a FW tank?
<Snails aren't that big of a problem. Simply remove the surplus snails as you see them, but otherwise ignore, and instead control excess protein via better aquarium management.>
Help! And THANK YOU so much!
<Do see here for a useful snail-eating snail, Clea helena.
Widely sold in the UK at least, sometimes as the "assassin snail". Cheers,

Snails 3/28/09
Hello I could really use some help. Have a 90 gallon with Cyprichromis (15). I have an infestation of snails that just keeps getting worse. No live plants and unsure where the snails came from. Any help would be greatly appreciated. You have helpful to me in the past. Thank you. Phil
<Snails aren't that big of a deal in terms of fish health, and population explosions tend to reflect overfeeding and/or under-cleaning, so do review overall conditions. But more specifically, avoid snail poisons, and instead either use snail traps (e.g., the JBL LimCollect) or add some type of snail-eating fish or invertebrate. My snail-eater of choice is the Assassin Snail, Clea helena (sometimes called Anentome helena). It's a small, pretty snail that eats snails such as Malayan livebearing snails alongside bloodworms, fish food, etc. I can't recommend it highly enough. There are some snail-eating Malawian fish, but a lot of them tend to be highly aggressive (Melanochromis, Pseudotropheus, etc.). Labidochromis caeruleus is perhaps one exception, but being fairly small, it'll only take small snails, and then only when hungry. The same goes for Synodontis catfish. Cheers, Neale.>

FW 20 gal tall stocking question: snail remediation solution 3/18/09
Hi! I've learned invaluable things from your site but need to be some confirmation or redirection regarding my tank.
I have a 20 gal tall FW, artificially planted, smaller substrate gravel w/ several drift wood pieces, double hang-on-back filters (each rated for 20 gal). Water parameters are ammon: 0, Nitrite: 0, and Nitrate 10. Ph 7.8+ due to municipal water source. Tank is kept at 78 degrees F.
<Sounds nice.>
Current stock: 1 bristle nose Pleco, 10 glass fish. I will be adopting an unaggressive female three-spot Gourami in another week and have already provided a dedicated cave for her (on opposite side of tank from the Pleco's preferred cave).
<Hmm... like children, fish often want to play with the SAME cave, even if there are caves to go around!>
I also, unfortunately, am now the not-so-happy owner of unwanted pond snails (most likely came in with the last add of glass fish). I've already removed a dozen or so and yet babies are cropping up all over! I read that Botia sid dwarf loaches are an excellent natural solution to this problem.
I know I don't have room for FIVE as suggested, but have read others have kept them in happy groups of three. Do you think I have room in my tank for three? I need a snail remediation solution, but don't want to disrupt my currently peaceful tank.
<Yasuhikotakia sidthimunki (formerly Botia sidthimunki) is a schooling fish, so keeping a single specimen isn't fair. They're intensely gregarious, and even in groups of six look pretty forlorn. To be honest, the idea of choosing a fish for snail control rarely works in practise.
Puffers and Loaches will eat snails when they're hungry, but they cause problems of their own. Loaches tend to be aggressive and sometimes bully other fish, while Puffers are often territorial and frequently nippy, even putting aside the fact some of the species sold need brackish water. By far the best control for snails is manual labour. Begin by keeping snails out, for example by dipping new plants in an off-the-shelf snail-killing potion for a few minutes. Secondly, kill any snails you see on sight. Squish them, and leave your catfish or whatever to clean up the corpses. Thirdly, make life difficult for your snails: keep the tank clean, and in particular remove uneaten food. Finally, consider adding a predatory snail or two.
Clea helena (sometimes called Anentome helena) are sold as "Assassin Snails" quite widely now, at least here in the UK. They're attractive animals that get to about an inch in length and are prettily marked with
yellow and brown. They eat snails, but don't eat plants. While they do breed, they breed so slowly that they're unlikely to cause problems. Worst case, you remove any you see. They're amazing little snail-eaters, and though their impact is slow, it is substantial in the long term. You end up with a balance of predators and prey, and the snails stop being a major problem.>
As always, thanks for your thoughts and support!!!
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: FW 20 gal tall stocking question: snail remediation solution 3/18/09

Just to clarify, you say not to add a SINGLE sidmunk (Botia sidthimunki), but I asked about adding a small group of three (knowing they are best with buddies).
<Yes, I caught this. My point was you shouldn't keep them in groups of less than six, and ideally twice that number. They really are nervous animals kept in too-small a group, by which I mean they're skittish and prone to "unexplained" deaths.>
Aside from this, though, it doesn't sound like an over-stocking issue to add these but rather an action that may create a rather aggressive tank.
Did I read your reply right?
<Precisely. While Yasuhikotakia sidthimunki isn't particularly aggressive (far from it in fact) most of the loaches big enough to actually deal with a snail problem tend to be more trouble than their worth: Clown loaches, Skunk Botia, etc.>
I did reading on the Assassin Snails - doesn't appear to be common here in the U.S. I think I'll just crush them as you suggest and hope for the best. I've already scaled back on food for the tank, so don't know how much I can change that. My daily feeding habits for the tank are: AM: small amount of flake and PM: 1/2 small block of bloodworms OR 1/2 small square of brine shrimp with an algae wafer for the Pleco every once in a while).
Any changes suggested in my feeding given my livestock and the snail problem?
<Nope. Sounds fine. A certain number of snails are good. They're like earthworms, keeping the substrate aerated. Vast populations of snails, on the other hand, tend to come about through chronic overfeeding and/or under-cleaning.>
And - I will repeat over and over - THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!
<There's also a little device called a "limcollect" from JBL. It catches snails. Or is supposed to, anyway. My unit never seemed to catch any at all! May depend on the snail species in question. On the other hand, the
tank with Assassin Snails would be snail-free if I didn't deliberately add more (small) snails to keep them well fed.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Do goldfishes eat snails   1/11/09 Hi, I have a quick question we had a tiny snail hitch a ride on the live plant that we bought for the aquarium and yesterday it disappeared, he had taken refuge on the top of the canister filter half in water and half outside from the goldfishes who were continuously nudging him. We have one red cap Oranda named Luna (1 inch w/o tail) and one red Oranda named Goldie (1.5 inches w/o tail) in a 20 gallon tank with a decoration rock, and a live plant. Could they have eaten him, my son is really worried about his see-see the snail. We have searched the whole tank even opened the filter and looked inside. If the goldfishes have eaten him will they be alright and should we be worried about them getting sick. Thank you very much ..... your website is amazing and thank you for helping me out again and again and again. Best Regards, Midhat. <Goldfish don't normally eat snails, but they will eat anything they can swallow, so if the snail was unlucky, then yes, it might get eaten. This won't do the Goldfish any harm (they have powerful teeth in their throat for grinding up food). If you want a pet snail to add to a Goldfish tank, then the best bet is something like a Ramshorn snail (Planorbis spp.). These are often sold in garden centres, at least they are here in the UK, usually for people to put in their ponds. For various reasons I don't recommend Apple snails (Pomacea spp.) even though they are often sold as "scavengers" for aquaria of all types. The reality is they don't do all that well in fish tanks, and when they die, they cause major pollution. Cheers, Neale.>

A question of loaches, sel.... Snail control,  10/23/08
Hi guys and girls :D
Need some suggestions/recommendations regarding a trumpet snail infestation of biblical proportions occurring in my 40 gallon (180l) Amazon tank! The snails were originally introduced (would you believe) to provide a natural food source for our three dwarf puffers, who are now no longer with us, however the snails have thrived... the tank is currently home to two discus, a variety of tetras, hatchet fish and two dwarf golden bristlenosed catfish.
<Ah, Carinotetraodon spp. puffers are too small to handle Melanoides snails. So this combination wouldn't have been one I'd have recommended...>
Our local LFS has recommended adding a couple of clown loach, but I'm loathed to do this for several reasons, mainly that I don't think our tank is large enough for even one, let alone a group of these fish, but also that we're planning on adding two juvenile discus to our current pair (we recently lost our third discus) so I don't want to increase the bioload that much... the tank is 5 years old and water parameters are stable, but not worth the risk! I've read on here that zebra loach (Botia striata) are also good snail eaters but not sure if any other fish could do the job?
<Adding animals, even Clown Loaches, to fix snail problems rarely works.
That said, the Assassin Snail (Clea helena) can do a great job if kept in sufficient numbers. But the main thing with Melanoides is this: it turns organic matter into baby snails. It cannot break the laws of physics; ergo, no food, no baby snails. If you have a Melanoides problem, you also have a lot of organic matter decaying away in your tank. Dead plants, uneaten food, fish faeces. Review filtration and general maintenance. Make the tank cleaner and less food-rich, and the population of Melanoides will decline over time.>
All suggestions gratefully received - it gets a bit eerie every night when the army of snails migrate up the sides of the tank and you can hardly see in through one side!
<Doradidae catfish would be the obvious options, being peaceful, usually gregarious South American catfish; a school of Platydoras costatus for example would eat some snails, if sufficiently hungry. But do bear in mind the Melanoides don't actually do any harm, and in fact do much good.
Wouldn't risk mixing Cobitidae with Symphysodon; not only are more Cobitidae a bit on the boisterous size, but rather few appreciate the very high temperatures Symphysodon require.>
Many thanks,
<Cheers, Neale.>

Super Snails just won't die  11/19/08 Okay so I haven't needed to write in a very long time because thankfully I have had nothing wrong with any aquariums of mine. Recently though the amount of snails in my 20 gallon planted aquarium has begun to sky rocket. First I should probably list the livestock and plants as to create a better view of the picture: 2x Angelfish, 10x Columbian Tetra, 3x Otocinclus, 3x Agassizi Corys. (Yes I know overstocked) Plants are Corkscrew Val, Ratola Sp., Amazon Sword, Water Sprite, Crypt Sp, and Moneywort. After researching Had-A-Snail and also getting a good review from an employee at a fish store I trust (Said it works just don't use to much or it would kill the fish and plants too, just dose for the "actual" amount of water) I used it after taking out the carbon filter, and dosed the aquarium for 15 gallons. It seemed to be working but their were still a few stragglers the next day so I did a 50% water change and dosed for 16 gallons. It has since been 3 days and I am out of water conditioning drops so I can't do water changes for awhile until I get some new stuff. Anyways what can I do? Am I doing anything wrong? I don't want to add a dojo loach because I want to keep the South American theme going and I know just crushing the little buggers isn't enough. I was fine when all I saw was a few but now its just plum annoying. Any help at all is very much appreciated. Thanks guys! <Greetings. Whenever you have "too many snails", there's a problem with overfeeding or under-cleaning. Snails can't break the laws of physics: they need energy to breed, and that energy comes from food. No food, no baby snails. Put another way, a snail problem is a tank hygiene problem. Snail poisons should NEVER be used because they cause all kinds of problems. Think about it for a second. Would you leave a handful of dead meat to rot in the gravel of your aquarium? Obviously not. So why kill a handful of snails and leave them to rot in the tank? Decaying meat is decaying meat, whether it was once a snail or not! So here's your thing: the snails are eating food, fish faeces and likely decaying plant matter. If your tank was cleaner and less food was put in, the snails wouldn't be there. I think you can see what the solution is by now. Scale back the amount of "stuff" in the tank for the snails to eat, and over time, the snail population will die back. Problem solved. Cheers, Neale.>

Snails and clown loaches... contr.   11/26/07 Hi guys, I was wondering, I have a snail problem and I was thinking about getting a clown loach. <For a start, no kind aquarist gets "a" Clown Loach; they are schooling fish, and should be kept in groups of three at least. Single specimens are nervous, unhappy, and constantly stressed.> Do you know what community fishes go well with clown loaches? <Almost anything too large to be eaten and robust enough to deal with their pushy personalities. Classic tankmates are things like Spanner and Clown barbs, Silver Dollars, medium-sized gouramis, Australian Rainbowfish, Plecs, Brochis spp. catfish, etc.> Are they aggressive? <More boisterous than aggressive. Singletons sometimes turn nasty (frustration more than anything) but in groups they mostly confine their aggression towards one another. I wouldn't mix them with anything else that was a territorial bottom-dweller, that would be asking for trouble, but otherwise Clowns are pretty good pets.> I so far have a 45-50 gallon tank with lots of snails, 3 platies, and 2 swordtails. Also, do my fishes I have eat snail eggs because I have seen them eating things on the plant. <Platies and Swordtails both eat algae. They *must* eat algae. Aquarists often ignore this. For lack of anything "green" in their diet, Livebearers will peck at the green algae on plant leaves.> Another question is, about how many snails do clown loaches eat? (I have gold Inca snails.) This is because I don't want all the snails gone. <They will all be gone. Imagine keeping cats and mice in the same enclosure. That's what we're talking about here.> Will the clown loach eat all of it or just some and the snails reproduce again...and the loaches eat and etc.? <The Clowns will eat them until they are all gone.> I'm planning on getting just one clown loach. <Don't. Keeping one Clown Loach is cruel. A single Clown Loach is one of the saddest sights in the hobby. They have strong social instincts and a deep desire to be with their own kind. Only aquarists who don't care about the feelings of their fish keep them singly, and I have no time for such fishkeepers! Serious Loach-keepers actually recommend they should be treated just like any other schooling fish and kept in groups of 6 or more. I certainly consider keeping 3 the absolute, non-negotiable minimum. If you want a singleton bottom-dweller of some sort, get something that doesn't mind being kept alone. Loricariid catfish tend to fit into this bracket. Besides Plecs, many of the whiptails make fascinating pets and they won't harm snails. There are also some lovely Synodontis out there that can work well in medium/large-sized fish communities, such as Synodontis decorus and Synodontis angelicus. A school of Brochis spp. catfish would also be a lot of fun.> Thanks for all your help. ~Chris <Hope this helps, Neale.>

Snails, FW, sel., contr.   09/08/07 Hi crew, The other day, Neale gave me some advice on keeping my sand 'safe' for my freshwater tank. It was suggested that Malayan livebearing snails would be good to keep the sand aerated and to eat debris, etc. It's just a small 6gal., and so far just two fish. So I've done some reading, but here's my questions. If I get the Malayan snails, seems they'll reproduce prolifically; will they eat up all the algae? I'm worried that my Otocinclus won't have enough to eat if this happened. Also, being that they would reproduce so much, do they contribute to the bio or waste load much; or is it negligible? Thought I'd ask since my tank's so small. Lastly, would the water condition needs differ much from the Oto? Thanks so much! Vanessa <Hello Vanessa, Malayan livebearing snails (Melanoides spp.) do have a bad reputation among some aquarists, while others consider them a blessing. I fall into the latter camp. Here's why. Melanoides turn organic material into snails. They don't eat gravel, they don't eat sand, and they don't eat live plants or fish, EVER. So if the Melanoides are multiplying, they only do so because there's "stuff" in the tank for them to eat. That might be uneaten food, it might be decaying plant leaves, it might be a dead fish, or it might be algae. Provided you keep the tank free of those things, the snails won't multiply very much because they can't. In a clean tank where all they have to eat is algae and tiny amounts of organic detritus, they just don't become a problem. They may be breeding, yes, but they're dying too, so you end up with a more or less steady population. It's in messy tanks where people have inadequate filtration and overfeed their fish and don't remove dead plant leaves that the snails become problematic. Even in large numbers though, they don't do any harm, and removing them isn't especially difficult. You can buy little snail traps for about $5-10 (it's called the JBL "Limcollect") and you could use one of these every six months or so if you thought things were getting out of hand. Some folks make their own lobster pot-type traps from small plastic cartons and the like. Since the snails crawl onto the glass at night, it isn't difficult just to turn the lights off early one night, and then wait for the snails to emerge, and then scrape them off with a net or suck them up with your siphon. It's no big deal. But really, I leave them to their own devices. No, they won't out-compete you algae-eating catfish, and no, they don't add much to bioload on the filter. On the plus side, they ensure there's no anaerobic decay in the tank and they help aerate (if that's the word) the substrate encouraging good plant growth in the same way earthworms do on land. They are also very good "early warning" monitors: if you see them on the glass in the daytime making a bee-line for the surface of the tank, it means you have a problem. As far as water chemistry goes, they're not fussy. In soft/acid water they tend to reproduce very slowly, which may or may not be a good thing depending on your needs. I'll also add that they are extremely pretty little animals. Take a look at one close-up: they have beautifully sculpted shells with red and purple markings. If they were rare and difficult to keep, aquarists would covet them... but because they're so easy to keep, we scorn them. Strange. I hope this helps, Neale.>

Tiny white bugs/crustaceans, FW...  8/29/07 Hi. Hope you can help me with this one! <Will try.> I have a 5 gallon freshwater aquarium with a Betta fish in it. A few months ago I noticed a few things: 1) tiny white bugs, barely visible to the naked eye, that swim/jump through the water and sometimes scoot along the surface of the glass <Those are very small insects or insect-like animals. Thrips, collembolans, mites, and so on. Harmless.> 2) tiny things that stick to the glass and plants. They remind me of barnacles more than anything else. They are scale-like, flat, transparent beige in color, and have a small red-orange colored center. They start out as specks on the glass and progressively grow bigger, to about the size of a pin-head. They have a hard outer "shell"....I know because I've been killing them off as best I can ("crunch"), but they continue to multiply. <Sounds like snails of some sort. Basically harmless.> 3) tiny red-orange bugs that jump/scoot on the surface of the water, which remind me of mites or water spiders or chiggers. <Again, some sort of harmless arthropod. Quite possible red mites.> I have no idea what any of these are, and my internet research thus far has not helped. I'm wondering it is it possibly a single organism that I am witnessing at different points in it's life growth cycle?? <No, not really. Aquaria become ecosystems of a sort, and animals in house attracted to warm, damp places congregate on them. Hence you find the same sorts of things on the aquarium as you'll find in the bathroom.> A few weeks ago I did a major overhaul of my tank. I boiled the gravel, driftwood, and filtration components. I threw away all the plants. I replaced all but about 10% of the water. Two weeks later, there are tons more of the white bugs, and I'm seeing more and more of the "scale" looking things on the glass everyday. <You can't get rid of them. Remove them, and more will move in from your house. I'm guessing your tank doesn't have a proper filter; these little arthropods don't tend to be such a pest where the surface of the water is agitated by a filter. In "bowl" type situations, the still water surface is a perfect habitat for them. Furthermore, in Betta bowls the water tends to have lots of nitrate and organic material in it because the volume is so small, and this encourages the growth of algae and molds. It is these that the little arthropods are feeding on. In bigger tanks with proper filtration, there's less of this stuff, and so the arthropods are less of a big deal.> These critters are such an EYE-SORE and NUISANCE in my Betta's home. Can you please help me diagnose this infestation and how I can get rid of them? <You can't. Learn to love them.> With gratitude, Shawna B. <Hope this helps, Neale>
Re: tiny white bugs/crustaceans 8/29/07
Thanks for your response about the critters in my tank. I believe a partial solution would be running the filter more often.....I only currently run it a few hours a day. <Arghhh! Why are you running the filter only a few hours per day? That's not how you use a filter, and all you're doing is killing off the "good" bacteria every time you switch the power off. A filter should run 24/7 -- end of story.> Also, I've heard to get rid of snails you can add copper to the water? They are the major eye-sore of the tank. Can you confirm this and suggest any products that accomplish that? <You heard wrong. Copper is toxic to crustaceans (which you don't have) and to a lesser extent to fish. Snails are largely indifferent to it, and you'll kill the fish long before the snails get bothered by it. Learn to live with them. Remove them by hand if you want. Otherwise just let them be. Snails only increase their numbers in "dirty" tanks. Snails eat leftover food and algae. If there's a surplus of leftover food especially they will turn that into more snails. In a clean tank, they don't have enough food to breed all that quickly. Show me a person with a "snail problem" and I'll show you a person who overfeeds their fishes or doesn't clean their aquaria properly. It's as simple as that: basic laws of physics; without the extra energy from surplus food, the snails could reproduce as quickly. So, take the snails for what they are -- a symptom of another problem. Act accordingly, and you'll find the snail population will gradually decline to the point where you'll view them as harmless additions to your aquarium.> Thanks again!! <No problems, Neale.>
Re: tiny white bugs/crustaceans   8/30/07
Hi Neale ~~~ <Shawna,> Again, I really appreciate your help and advice on the unwanted critters I have. However, I am not sure that a "dirty tank due to overfeeding" is the problem. I have a single Betta in a 5 gallon tank, who gets about 4 pellets of Betta food twice a day, and eats it all within about a minute. I generally clean the tank every 4 weeks. <A properly maintained tank shouldn't need "cleaning" this often. Betta bowls are different I admit, but really, it's the water that needs replacing regularly not the tank decorations. Now, as for the role of food, uneaten or otherwise: snails simply cannot multiply in a tank with no food added. Try it yourself some time. Put a few pond snails in a bowl and don't add any food. See how quickly they multiply. They won't. Except maybe for algae, there's nothing for them to eat, and they starve. Basic biology. The reason snails prosper in fish tanks is that the food (and to some degree fish faeces) provides them with high-protein fodder. They multiply at a rate directly proportional to the amount of food available. It really is that simple. Now, it doesn't sound like you're overfeeding your fish, I admit, so perhaps the food source is something else. Decaying plants perhaps?> I am really stumped....because as I mentioned about 2 weeks ago, I scoured the tank and boiled everything in it (with the exception of the fish of course!) To see such a dramatic re-appearance of the crusty-scale-like critters in such a short period of time.....in a clean tank....with no plants....well, I just don't get it. Believe me, I have seen small aquarium snails before, and what I have looks different. I wouldn't mind a few snails, but these guys are prolific in numbers....still multiplying....and make the tank look sick and infested. <Need photo. There are very few other shelled invertebrates that live in freshwater. Ostracods perhaps, but they're very distinctive and don't "turn up" announced. Snails are really the only common shelled stowaways in freshwater tanks. Nematodes and flatworms can be a pest, but they're wormy, not snail-like.> I had no idea I needed to run the filter all day, and I can see now how that could create a stagnant environment for unwanted critters and such. I was not doing so because I thought my Betta liked to have calm waters most of the time. I will change that habit immediately. But the snail-scale like things have got to go!! <OK.> I plan to clean and scour and boil everything in the tank again, in hopes that I can further reduce or eliminate the problem. If you have any additional thoughts, I would greatly appreciate your feedback. <Waste of time. Assuming these "critters" got in by themselves and are prospering under whatever conditions you have, my assumption would be if you clean the tank, they'll be back to full strength in a month. So I'd tend to reflect more on filtration, water changes, removal of potential food (dead plants for example) and so on.> Thanks so much. Shawna <Cheers, Neale>

Apple snail input for WWM and Betta woes <Incomp.>  7/12/07 Hi Crew! <Greetings.> This email is mostly to relate my experience in the hope that it might help others facing the same issues, especially since there is not a whole lot about Apple snails on WWM yet. <There's plenty. Go here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwinverts.htm  and go here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwsnails.htm and then read the various connected articles as your fancy takes you.> After reading a couple of comments from Neale about Apple snails not faring so well in community tanks, I began to get worried about mine. <Sad but true. They don't really mix, and the reason aquarium shops sell so many of them is because they die quickly and people just go on replacing them.> He's been sharing an Eclipse 3 with our Betta for about 5 months. The temperature is around 80 normally, but in the summer it regularly climbs to 84-86, even with lights off and top door open. <Way, way too hot for an Apple snail. Anything in the 70s is fine, and a bit cooler in winter if possible.> But the main problem is that I recently noticed that the Betta was stealing food from the snail. He'd violently push the snail aside to get at the sinking wafers and then parade around the aquarium shaking his prize until it crumbled enough for him to eat (he ate one of our cherry shrimp too in our other tank, but we don't know if the shrimp was already dead or not). And since the Betta eats about anything (pellets, flakes, peas, Nori, sinking wafers, bloodworms, brine shrimp) and actively hunts for anything that falls to the bottom, I'm afraid the poor snail has not gotten much to eat in a while... <Indeed. The best thing would be to put aside something for the snail the Betta can't eat. Thinly sliced courgette (zucchini) and blanched lettuce (*not iceberg*) would be a good start. The snail will graze this stuff happily.> Not to mention that the snail is now keeping everything permanently tucked in (I used to enjoy the graceful antennae-waving dance, but now he keeps them where they're safe, under the "hood") and his shell very low over his head like a shield because the Betta kept picking at it... It got to the point where the snail was barely moving around the tank, and I became very worried. <Unfortunately what you're describing is all too common. If this persists, the snail will starve and then die.> I've now moved him (actually, if I can believe applesnail.net, it's a *her* because her operculum is concave - I've just referred to it as a *he" for so long I can't get used to thinking of him as a girl) to an unheated, unfiltered bowl that probably contains about a gallon of water - easy to change because there's no substrate yet, just a rock taken from our 10 gallon tank and a few water lentils that the other tanks keep producing in amazing quantity). It's going to be cooler too because there is no motor and no light, and it's uncovered so evaporation will do its job. I gave him plenty of food (found out he likes cucumber, will try other fruits and vegetables along with fish food) and a piece of a vacation feeder for calcium, until I get him either crushed coral or cuttlebone (his shell is very scratched and the new growth is very pale, so I'm trying calcium, iodine and food to see if it will make a difference on the new growth). I'll see how things go. I've wanted a fan shrimp for a long time and this might make a cute companion to my apple snail, if my research proves they're compatible (and be an excuse to get yet another tank!). <This all sounds dandy. Apple snails are terrific fun, and you do want to have a go at breeding them. it's quite something to see the HUGE egg mass, and when the babies hatch, they're a delight to watch.> So... Betta and Apple snail, in my case, didn't work out so well. The Neritina might have fared better because he eats algae (never seen him show interest in anything else) and already scoots around like a little tank with everything tucked in, even if everything in the tank ignores him. <Nerites are generally much more resistant to fish because of their very heavy shells. They evolved in the sea where there are many more snail-eating predators, not just fish, but crabs, mantis shrimps, whelks, etc. Apple snails are a strictly freshwater group, and the diversity of aquatic snail-eating predators is fairly small. In fact the main predator on apple snails is a kind of hawk, the Florida kite if I recall the name correctly. Anyway, be that as it may, Apple snails are not heavily armoured because evolution hasn't driven them that way. When kept in the tight confines of an aquarium, they end up being harassed by fish quite a lot.> Well, thank you for your time and I hope this can help someone! Audrey <It's always good to know when people have furthered their research and made good decisions. I'm sure you're going to have some fun with the Apple snail. There are some books out there about them, including one from TFH called "Apple snails" or something clever like that. A fascinating read, and well worth tracking down. Filled with stuff about their natural history and biology as well as aquarium care. Cheers, Neale>
Re: Apple snail and Betta woes 07/18/07
Hello Neale, or other Crewmember, Here are some updates about my snail... and some comments to your email! > there is not a whole lot about Apple snails on WWM yet. > <There's plenty. Go here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwinverts.htm  and go here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwsnails.htm and then read the various connected articles as your fancy takes you.> Yes, I've read those already. But until Neale started commenting on Apple snails, nothing indicated that I might be having a problem with mine. Those pages kind of say the same thing over and over again, which is really not that much when you remove the redundant information. > This all sounds dandy. Apple snails are terrific fun, and you do want to have a go at breeding them. it's quite something to see the HUGE egg mass, and when the babies hatch, they're a delight to watch.> And then they get sold to those people who keep buying them because they keep dying... sad fate :-) My boyfriend would probably frown if I tried to breed them - he wanted to avoid the multiple-tank syndrome, and we're already at 3 permanent wet dwellings... and planning for a 30 gallon brackish system... :-) But it is very tempting. > <It's always good to know when people have furthered their research and made good decisions. I'm sure you're going to have some fun with the Apple snail. Thank you. I certainly try. There's nothing worse than the feeling that I'm not providing an adequate environment for my pets - they're so entirely dependent on us! The snail, by the way, is doing better. He actively moves about the tank looking for food, eats well, has a grip on the bottom of the bowl he hasn't had in a while, and now closes his door entirely shut when we move him (this he hasn't done in months). I will get him a small tank and filter, if only to avoid having to change water daily, which is a real annoyance. How can people stand to keep fish and animals in bowls for any length of time? It's such a hassle! Thank you again (and big thanks also from the much-happier snail!) Audrey <Hello again, Audrey! I'm not sure I get why you think those snail articles say "the same things over and over". They look pretty comprehensive to me. But OK. Anyway, it sounds like you've fixed the snail problem and are enjoying your pet. Please do try and hunt down that Apple Snail book, it really is *that* good, and covers everything from natural history to evolution to breeding. I think you'll get a kick out of learning how cool these animals are. They've very underrated in the hobby, but once you get to play with Apple Snails a while, you appreciate that they're really nice animals. The baby snails, by the way, if you don't keep them make good food for predatory fish like puffers and loaches. In fact a *lot* of fish eat snails, given the chance. So get rid of the babies isn't usually a problem. You can also eat Apple Snails, I'm told. They aren't big here in England (we prefer sea snails of various types, with generally much filthier habits, like whelks) but in their native countries Apple Snails are considered fine fare. So that's another option! You're right about bowls. People buy them thinking they're cheaper and easier, and then find out they're nothing but a hassle as well as a death-trap. The reality is with fishkeeping that the bigger the tank and the better the filter, the easier the hobby becomes. I've certainly had far less problems with 200 gallon tanks than 10 gallon tanks. It's a question of scale, I suppose. Anyway, good luck with it all! Cheers, Neale>

Help, I have an infestation of snails- - 06/27/07 They're 1 centimetre by maybe 1/2 centimetre they are darkish brown ,and there's like 1000!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!what should I do?!?!?!?!? <Well, for one thing calm down. Snails aren't a major problem. In most cases, they're not even a minor problem. It basically comes down to this: snails multiply at a rate proportional to how much food they find in the aquarium. If you overfeed your fish and don't clean the tank out regularly, the snails will turn all the yummy leftover food they find into baby snails. If you have a clean tank and fish that are not overfed, the snails have nothing to eat and breed only very slowly. So to start with you can look at the tank and see if it is snail Heaven or snail Hell. Next thing is to identify the snails. Pond snails (such as Physa spp.) lay eggs that look like masses of jelly. They are brown and shaped like little beans. Malayan livebearing snails (Melanoides spp.) do not lay eggs. They live in the sand and come out mostly at night. They are greenish in colour with tall conical shells. Pond snails are the worst in some ways because they sometimes eat plants. Malayan livebearing snails are basically harmless and only eat algae and detritus, never plants. Both kinds are most easily controlled by keeping the tank clean and removing snails on sight. A snail trap can be purchased to remove them if you don't want to hunt for them yourself. Or you can make a trap -- all you need is a pot of some sort with a small hole in the lid. The idea is you put some "bait" in the pot, the snails crawl in, but cannot crawl out. Make sure the trap is not dangerous to your fish! Finally, you can use snail-eating fish. There are many kinds. Loaches are the most popular. Pufferfish, some cichlids, and some catfish will also eat snails. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Snail egg help... en media res...  06/29/07 Um, actually none of those. we can't find the eggs! <If you have a snail problem, you either have Melanoides spp. or Physa spp. Those are by far the two commonest "problem species". The eggs of Physa spp. are very small, the whole egg mass being about 5 mm long and often deposited halfway up the tank, on glass or plants. Melanoides are livebearers, so produce no eggs. Just baby snails. This cannot be stressed strongly enough: snails do not break the laws of physics! They can only multiply rapidly where there is lots of food. No food, no baby snails. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Snail egg help... en media res...  06/29/07  how about getting rid of the ones there < When did people stop saying "please" and "thank you"? Anyway, read here for more about snails: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwsnails.htm . Cheers, Neale>

Barnacle like parasites in freshwater aquarium  6/20/07 Hello, <Greetings,> I'm hoping someone can help me with what I believe may be a parasite problem in my 75 gallon goldfish tank. I've recently developed a problem with what appears to be a gray barnacle appearing parasite in my tank. <Need photo. There are no freshwater barnacles. Brackish water ones, yes, but no marine ones that I'm aware of. So likely something else. Perhaps a freshwater bivalve or a "shell"-building aquatic insect like a caddisfly larva.> They're about the size of the small brown snails that can sneak in a tank when you buy aquarium plants at the pet store. <Sounds like regular snails.> They mainly cling to the walls of the tank and the only way I've been able to keep them out is to remove them from the walls everyday and throw them in the trash. <Again, sound like snails.> I've never seen anything like them before and I've been unsuccessful in getting rid of them when I treat them with "Life Bearer". Any suggestions on what they are and how to get rid of them. <Why are you so anxious to get rid of them? They sound rather interesting. Snails don't do harm in most aquaria, and only prosper if the tank is basically badly maintained, i.e., there's plenty of leftover food and algae for them to eat. In a clean aquarium snails barely eek out a living, and it's easy enough to remove them with a snail trap or by adding a snail-eating fish, such as a loach or pufferfish. Life Bearer is brand of medication for removing gill flukes and other external invertebrate parasites *on the fish*. It is rather nasty stuff, and shouldn't be used willy-nilly. I seem to say this daily, but here goes: identify a disease first, then treat appropriately; don't add a random medication and hope for the best. How would you like it if your doctor simply gave you a random medication without listening to you explain your symptoms? Because Life Bearer contains copper salts, it irritates the gill membranes and other sensitive tissues in fishes, and certain fish, such as puffers, Mormyrids, and clown loaches, are notoriously intolerant of copper and may die during such treatment. So, treat all medications with respect, and use ONLY when you have fully identified the disease.> Thanks, Sharon <Good luck, Neale.>

Problem with Snails Taking Over  1/6/07 Hello.....help!   <Hi Ginger, Pufferpunk here to try!> I am exhausted from hours of seemingly endless research and am now turning to you. Here's the deal:   20g. tank, 7 ADF's <African Dwarf Frogs... RMF> , 1 male Betta and a golden mystery snail.  I had a live plant in with them and apparently there were snail eggs.  Now, my tank is becoming infested with baby snails.   <No surprise there.  Always inspect live plants for snails & rinse well, to remove any eggs.> I've talked to all the pet and aquarium stores and no one has any solid suggestions or even entertainable ideas.  I can't use chemicals such as "Had-A-Snail", etc. because these cannot be used with the frogs.  Can't get a loach because of the Betta.  There has to be a way to be free of these snails once and for all! In the meantime....I continue netting and picking them out.  Thank you in advance for any assistance you can offer. <You've got it--this is pretty much all you can do.  Inspect the glass/decor/filter daily, for eggs & remove promptly, along with the adults. Otherwise, take everything out, replace filter material, clean with hot water & OxyClean & recycle with Bio-Spira. ~PP> Sincerely, with Wrinkled and Cramped Fingers, Ginger <<RMF would remove the Betta and Frogs... use copper or a Loach or two for a while...>>
Re: ADF's & Snail Issue. Snails & Frogs  1/7/07
Thanks so much for responding!    ("Pufferpunk"???  ROFL)    <Hey now... :P> After reading your response, I went back to your web site to see what snail eggs look like, as I'm clueless to what I'm to look for.  I saw my letter and your response posted with the end comment that if it were you, you'd remove the Betta and frogs and "use copper or a Loach or two for a while".   <I wrote that???  I said to clean out with OxyClean & hot water.  maybe another Crewmember added comments?  Ah, I see it now, that comment was by the great, Bob Fenner--he knows all!> <<Heeeeee! Am adding this to my resume! RMF>> Arg, I'm so concerned about stressing these dudes out.  When I moved them into the bigger 20g. tank, the frogs acted like they were being killed.  Although dramatic in that ADF kind of way, it was hard for me to watch their stress.   <Did you dechlorinate the water?  You'd think they'd love a bigger tank.> Now that I've finally got the temperature, pH and all the other intricate details balanced for these guys, the thought of temporarily moving them in order to "cure" their current home seems overwhelming.  So, I must follow-up to ask...do/will the invading snails ultimately cause harm or damage to the ADF's or the Betta?  Or their home?   <Nope> Or are they just perpetual nuisances?   <Yup> If I were to get the loaches to "clean up", what do I do with the loaches afterwards?  Lastly, if I moved them out and did the copper treatment, how long should I wait to return everyone back into their home?  (concerned about the fragility of the ADF's skin) <I do not suggest copper myself personally but if Bob does...   See if your LFS will let you "borrow" some loaches, if that is the course you wish to go.> For such little fellows, ADF's sure require a lot of attention and care in order to make their tiny lives happy! <But they're so cute & well worth it!> Thank you again for assisting with your response, it is greatly appreciated.    <No problem.  ~PP> Still Pickin'.... Ginger

Snail et al. infestation  - 12/07/06       I have two tanks which have been established for approximately one year.  The problem began in my daughter's 10 gallon aquarium.  We found a small snail in her tank.  We removed the snail, but soon found the tank infested. <With snails I take it? Mmm, no, more than this, I see below.> Despite the fact that we do not add the water from the fish store, I can only assume they hitched a ride with a fish we added at some point to the tank.  As the infestation has progressed, we have lost fish in the tank.    First, we lost my daughter's Ampullaria followed by a Betta and 2 Platys (leaving us with 1 Guppy, 1 Otocinclus catfish, 1 Mickey Mouse Platy) .  We added a Yoyo Loach from our tank hoping it would eat the snails, but it isn't interested and the infestation is now in our 27 gallon tank.  Now my Angelfish in my 27 gallon tank (2 Angelfish, 4 Lemon Tetras, 1 Yoyo Loach, 1 Otocinclus catfish) is lethargic and laying on its' side on the bottom of the tank.  Earlier it looked like it was trying to bury itself into the rocks, but lacked the energy and gave up the effort.  The fish that died in my daughter's tank wasted away.  They stopped eating and they hid behind plants for a week or so before they finally died.              I read that snails sometimes carry flukes (I know that the information that I have given you isn't the greatest description) and I was wondering if this was possibly the problem.      <Is a possibility, yes>        If so, what medication would you recommend to try to fix the problem.        Thanks for your time,      Leslie <There are general <Molluscicides> to more specific remedies... I would look for/use "Fluke-Tabs" in this case, at this time... Bob Fenner>

Snails... control, FW    11/14/06 Hello Crew, <OldG> I have one question, I just added some floating cabbage plants  from my moms pond into my planted tank, she was taking them out for the  rest of the season. <Mmm, might go... need an air space at the top> I made sure to wash them well but somehow some snails or  snail eggs got past me so now I have about a million snails in my tank! I have  those little blackish - brownish snails, the ones that I believe can reproduce  asexually. <Very likely so> My question is that, if I don't mind the snails being there, do they  harm the leaves of plants? <Can> I don't mind them because they are very small but I  take out the larger ones because they seem like they can do some damage to  the leaves of my plants. Thanks for the informative  site! <Might be that you can strike some sort of balance here... by as you say, removing the larger individuals... BobF>

Snails in the sewer   11/8/06 I bought a snail and a plant from the pet store and now 4 weeks later I  have over 20 baby snails and I don't really want them. Will they survive in the sewer if I flush them? What should I do? Please help!!! <Hi Kim, Jorie here with you this afternoon. I hate to say it, but generally once snails have introduced into the freshwater aquarium via plants, or directly (as in your case), it is very difficult to get rid of them.  To directly answer your question, the snails will likely not survive the chlorinated toilet/sewer water, and this will kill them.  But be aware that you've probably snails eggs in the filter, filter media, etc. that your naked eye can't see, and you will probably keep finding babies forever. This is one the nuisances planted tanks created.  Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwsnails.htm > Depending upon the size of your tank and other factors, you may be able to introduce a snail eating fish - such as a puffer, or some species of Botia, such as striata, to control the snail population.  Alternatively, there are chemicals out there that will likely kill the snails, but I hesitate to suggest putting those copper-based meds in any tank.  In all likelihood, you'll have to learn to make peace with the snails (as I have, 1.5 yrs. later in my brackish water planted tank), as many species can survive even mild beach or potassium permanganate dips.  These are resilient little buggers... Kim <Best of luck.  Learn to love the snails! Truly the only way to safely eradicate them is the completely tear down the old tank, bleach everything, and not re-plant the aquarium, but use plastic/silk plants instead.  Jorie><<Please put such pests in a plastic bag, freeze them (as in the freezer) and put this in turn in your trash can/s near "trash day". Release nothing alive to the wild. RMF>>

Snail Problem  10/26/06 Thanks very much.  We have replaced the driftwood that was yucky with a large rock.  I now have too many snails.  I read that this might be from overfeeding the fish.  It was a population explosion.  I am pinching the little ones and letting them fall to the bottom.  The fish do seem to want to eat them.  And, I am removing the large ones with a net.  I am going to wait a day before I feed the fish again.  Our friend said that the guppies and mollies can go for two days without any food, so I guess they will be alright. I'm going to be stingy with the food from now on, because I prefer to see fish when I look at my aquarium rather than snails.  Any other advice? Thanks. < The snails can be easily killed and removed for good with Fluke-Tabs.-Chuck>
Fluke Tabs Safe   10/29/06
Are these "fluke tabs" absolutely safe for the fish? Thanks. < If used as directed they are deadly to invertebrates such as snails. If the snails are very numerous their decomposing bodies start a very strong ammonia spike that will affect the fish. Many people use this to treat Malaysian Burrowing snails. The snails are livebearers and make up most of the gravel. Then the tank is treated and the snails are all killed. Their bodies are high in protein. Buried under the gravel the bodies are being broken down by bacteria. The bacteria use oxygen and generate ammonia as waste. The combination is very bad for fish and when they have problems they blame the medications. I would recommend that you check for ammonia spikes when using any medications.-Chuck>

Snail Problem   9/2/06 I want to start out by saying thank you for your web site. My question is about a month a go I started my tank with guppies and the females were pregnant so I bought some live greenery from the local pet store, a few days latter I noticed I had a couple of snails. Well the couple has turned in to a lot with a lot of egg beds all over the sides of my tank and in the live and plastic plants and on my rocks and logs. I don't have a problem with them I really like watching them hatch and as they get bigger, my question is what kind are they and how do I care for the? <Probably common pond snails. They eat just about any leftover food, algae or plant material.> What other kind of other housing I can put them in? I need to get them out other wise they are going to take up my whole tank? <Welcome to the world of snails.> If I was to count all the eggs I would problem have over a thousand. Do you think pet stores would be interested in some? < Pet stores are not interested in your snails. Some fish like Botias and puffers will eat them. You could always kill them off with Fluke-Tabs. If you wanted to try and keep them all then you would need a huge vat with filtration, aeration and feed them lots of lettuce. The snails will take over if not controlled.-Chuck> thank you so much for you time and help.....Dani

Oranda Goldfish and Mystery Snails   8/24/06 Hello WetWebMedia Crew! <Me Bob, you Jane> First of all, I am very impressed by your website. I am new to the aqua world, and I found so much useful information here. <Ah, good> Here is my story. Four months ago, I got a ten gallon tank, cycled it for about a week with filter, water conditioner and then got a small Oranda. <Mmmm, likely needed to cycle longer...> Everything was going well, he was eating well and growing fast. I was feeding him flakes, sinking pellets and peas or spinach. I was also fascinated with mystery snails, so I got five of them from my LFS. <Yikes...> For a while, everybody looked good and healthy. Then, one of the snails stopped moving around. I separated him from the rest but he died few days later. <Stinky!> One by one, three more snails died. I think that one of them was in the tank for a while before I noticed that it has died. I should mention that I was changing water more or less every day, about 2 gallons each time. But when the snails got sick, the water turned smelly and greenish and I had to do water changes twice a day. <Oh, yes> Ammonia levels were good according to the color chart. Then one morning I found my Oranda on the bottom of the tank, not moving much and not interested in food which was unusual for him. I continued to do water changes, then went to my LFS and they suggested Maracyn 2 medication. <... for?> Got that, took the filter out and started medicating. By then, Oranda was gulping for air all the time, and the water was slimy. Yesterday I found my Oranda dead. He was beautiful. Do you think he got sick because of the snails? <To a large extent, yes... their deaths likely poisoned the water, increased stress levels too high, too fast> Is it a bad idea to have mystery snails with goldfish? <Mmmm, no... "like" about the same water quality, not predaceous with each other... But both need to be healthy, fed...> Is it possible to have both and keep them healthy? I appreciate your advice. Thank you! Jane <Yep... please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwsnails.htm and here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/gldfshsystems.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner> Re: Oranda Goldfish and Mystery Snails  8/25/06 Thank you, Bob. <Welcome Jane> LPS <LFS... the other applies to stony corals...> guy recommended Maracyn 2 for dropsy after I described my situation to him just as I did it to you. <... okay> I have to confess, I got four more snails right before my Oranda died (again from the LPS). Now I am somewhat afraid to get another goldfish. At least for a month or so, until the water is clean again and assuming the snails are alive and well. <A good idea to wait at this time... Cheers, BobF>

FW Snails ... why?   8/6/06 Hello!  I'm back with yet another question.  My son (almost 8) has  a 10 gallon community tank.  He wanted a plant for his tank, so we  purchased one about 3 weeks ago.  This week, we started spotting tiny  snails.  The most we've seen is three at a time, but they are close to the  color of our gravel, so who knows how many he has.  What do we do?   Will they harm the tank?  He works so hard to keep his tank balanced!  Thank you-Lou < Little snails are common hitchhikers on aquatic plants. They usually eat leftover food and act as scavengers. Sometimes they can eat some soft plants. They can be easily removed by using Fluke-Tabs.-Chuck>

Plant sticks / golden apple snails / feeding... Synodontis comp., fdg.  7/5/06 Hallo. I think before I purchased three golden apple snails my plants were looking a little eaten / worn -  some more than others. All I currently have is two Synodontis nigriventris which I feed every other day with one to two pinches of flakes (morning and evening for example). <This small African Catfish species can make plants ragged... chew small holes. Generally at night> To add variety I include frozen bloodworm / peas and greens. I think that I am feeding them enough, better to give too little than too much? <Hard to so... Mochokid catfishes are so active that they seem to "swim off" any excess food> I have three plant sticks embedded in the sand - should I stick one underneath each plant, if that's the case then I had better use the others as I have around eleven plants in my 18.6 gallon. <Mmm, worth trying... though it may be that you have "too many foxes, too few hens"... that the catfish will still be too much for the volume of plant material present> I expect the snails will accelerate the plant munching though one of the reasons I chose them was because I was informed that they weren't a major problem in this respect. <Mmm, generally not... though Pomacea/Ampullaria species are individualistic...> Please advise me. Many thanks team. Steve. <Best to keep your eyes on all, consider moving the Synodontis. Bob Fenner>

Discarding Snail Eggs    6/26/06 Could you tell me the most humane way to destroy Ramshorn snail eggs?   <Yes... place in a plastic bag and place this your freezer. Put in trash later...> Should I just throw them in the garbage where they'll dry up before hatching or flush them down the toilet? <Mmm, no... some potential to "get loose" here> I don't want them to hatch in the sewer system which would be a nasty fate but assume the temperature and toxicity of the water would kill the eggs before they hatch? Thanks very much. Mitchell Bogard <Bob Fenner>

Snails in A Lake Malawi Tank - 05/06/2006 Hello Bob, I am in the process of setting up a African Cichlid (Malawi) aquarium. It has been in cycle for 5 weeks. I have 5 Black Mollies in the tank to aide in the cycle period. Water parameters are all in a range conducive for a proper Malawi habitat (I have read volumes of information and tried to come up with a "middle of the road" approach as to these water parameters). With the pH at 8.2 and specific gravity at 1.003 is there a species  of snail (omnivorous) that I could introduce that would aide in keeping the tank clean as well as being compatible with the other inhabitants. Thank You, Jack < Livebearing burrowing snails keep the substrate very clean, are relatively small and pretty much nocturnal. The only problem with them is they seem to get into everything and may impede the moving parts of a power filter.-Chuck>

Undesired FW snails with amphibians    4/10/06 I have some Firebelly frogs and have noticed that's some really small snails just appeared. this is the second time this has happened to me with different aquariums. I find this extremely odd any info you can give me about these snails and how they manage to appear from thin air would be greatly appreciated <Likely "came in" with some live plant, food material... Can be removed... killed in a few ways, but I want to emphasize the need to remove the frogs if using toxins. Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwsnails.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Snails as Fish Killers   2/24/06 Dear Crew. I have a question for you, have you ever known Apple Snails to kill fish??  I had an Apple Snail kill a Black Molly tonight and I think they killed 7 of my Ghost Shrimp and several Neon Tetras.  I fed them Algae Wafers to make sure they were fed and still they killed my fish and shrimp. I suspected the Snails when I saw one of them on top of a dead shrimp.  I just thought the shrimp died and the snail was eating it.  I know for a fact a snail killed the Black Molly tonight after the lights were out on the aquarium.  I went back in a couple of hours later to see if a shrimp had gone back to a broken pottery home I put in the tank for them, and when I turned on the aquarium lights there was that darn snail on top of the Molly and it was partially eaten.  The Molly was just fine before lights out.   I just can't believe a snail killed my fish but I saw it with my own eyes. Just a warning to all out there who are missing fish with Apple Snails in their tanks.  Needless to say my Snails are in a bag in the freezer and I will NEVER put another Snail in my tank.  They are dangerous!!!!!  Oh I am missing two frogs too.  I tore down my whole tank looking for them and they are no where to be found.  I only have Mollies, Glowlight Tetras, Platies and Redtail Sharks in my tank and I am sure the fish did not kill the shrimp or the frogs or the Black Molly.  I am just sick about this whole incident. Thank You, Pam < Never heard of snails killing fish. If you think this is really happening then treat the tank with Fluke-Tabs and the snails /worms/ shrimps will be dead.-Chuck>
Killer Apple Snails II  - 02/25/06
Do you think flukes or other parasites caused this behavior in the snails?? <I think your fish died and snails ate the bodies. Their is no way the snails could catch and eat a healthy fish. They could eat a fish that was dying and unable to move.> Is that the reason you suggest fluke tabs?? < Fluke-Tabs will kill the very small baby snails that you cannot see.> I removed the snails from the tank last night and froze them.  I really don't want to get rid of the shrimp and I have 2 frogs in the tank.  Do you think my fish need to be treated with fluke tabs??  What was the reason behind your advice??  I truly don't know what to do here. < If you truly believe that the snails killed your fish , then I suggested a treatment that will get rid of all the snails once and for all. There are baby snails in the gravel and on the plants that you cannot see right now but you will in a week or so. You can continue to remove them by hand if you do not want top treat but you will be busy.-Chuck> Thank you for your email and your time on this matter and for your help.  I am grateful for your help. Pam FW Snails, fish eggs, food   2/13/06 Good evening... I've looked carefully around your FAQs-- great site!-- but haven't seen this question addressed directly. Maybe everyone but me knows the answer! Here goes: Is there such a thing as a freshwater aquarium snail that won't eat fish eggs? I'd love to have non-plant-eating detritus-loving snails in my planted Corydoras species tank, but if the cats spawn, I want the eggs to have a chance at hatching without my setting up a separate hatching tank. But everything I've read says that all snails love fish eggs. True? <Yes... there are no snails that will "leave these alone" as far as I'm aware. Bob Fenner>

Persistent High Nitrite Level FW  1/31/06 I have read other messages on your site and other articles on other sites about high nitrite levels, but I still don't quite get it. I have a 10 gallon tank with 10 fish: 2 balloon belly mollies 2 ghost catfish 5 orange von Rio tetras 1 algae eater There are many, many small snails that were acquired accidentally with an aquatic plant that died some time ago. . . The snails, however, live on and reproduce at a staggering rate. <Mmm, you might want to collect and remove a bunch of these periodically... easy to draw to a small glass tray with a sinking bit of algae based food or blanched vegetable... as bait> Until today, I had a philodendron sticking out the top of the tank with its roots submerged. I took it out thinking that this was perhaps contributing to the problem. <Oh! Yes> About a week ago one of my mollies (there were three) started to act strangely as if she couldn't submerge. She would still eat when given food, but couldn't swim down to eat off the bottom like she always had. She had also lost a lot of weight. Eventually, she became very lethargic and got to the point where she was upside down and couldn't turn over. I took her and another sample of tank water to the local pet store. They said it didn't look like she had any disease and offered no explanation as to her condition. I assumed it was just old age and I only include this description in case it is symptomatic of some other problem. Anyway, when the girl at the store tested the water (something I had never done--shame on me), she said that the pH level was low and that I should increase it with a pH increaser. I bought the pH increaser and a test kit that tests for NO3, NO2, GH, KH, and pH. When I got home, I did a 30% water change and added 1 tsp of salt, which is my normal routine. (I keep around 3 tsp of salt in the water at all times.) I did not add any pH increaser. I tested the water immediately afterward and it looked OK except the water was hard, so I added a teaspoon of salt. The next day, however, the levels were as follows: NO3 = 40 <I'd keep this under 20 ppm> NO2 = 1.0 <Dangerous... should be zip, nada, zilch> GH = 300 KH = 0 pH = 6.8 I added another teaspoon of salt and changed the filter which was very dirty (because I had made the water very silty the last time I changed it--explanation below). The next day, the nitrite level was at 3.0. <Yeeikes!> I did another 30% change and waited an hour before testing. The nitrite had gone down to 1.0. One day later, it was back up to 3.0. The next day, 3.0 again. The following day, 5.0. Today, it was still 5.0 so I did another 30% water change. One hour later, the levels are as follows: NO3 = 40 NO2 = 3.0 GH = 150 KH = 40 pH = 7.2 There is currently about 8 teaspoons of salt in the water. <Mmm, you might want to mix some of this salt up in tapwater and test it for nitrite...> The strange thing (to me) is that the fish seem to be happy and healthy. From everything I have read in the past few days, a 5.0 nitrite level should have them dropping like flies! <Let's see... luckily your pH is low... if it were a little higher, the nitrite would be MUCH more toxic> I have checked for brown coloring of the gills and see none. They are not gasping for air at the top of the tank either. I can only surmise from what I have read that the salt is keeping the nitrite from being as toxic as it otherwise could be. <Oh, yes... this also> I have noticed the mollies scraping themselves occasionally on a structure in the tank. I read today that this was one sign of nitrite poisoning. I have had this tank for 8 months now and only three fish have died in that time (except for the batch I introduced right at the beginning before the tank had cycled!). About a month ago, I did a very thorough cleaning of the tank. I really stirred up the waste on the bottom, trying to get as much out as possible. I took out all the structures and washed them with hot (not soapy) water. I changed the filter as well. I also started feeding them much more around that time. Basically, I unwittingly did everything I could to raise the nitrite level! My questions are this: 1. Why isn't the level decreasing? <I suspect the houseplant> 2. Why are the fish still alive and acting normal? <They're tough, adapted to it, and the salt> 3. I have read on some sites of a biological filter or a biofilter: Is this (a) just another name for the normal filter, <Mmm, of a sort... all filters are ultimately biological to degrees> (b) a different kind of filter that I should have, or (c) just a term that refers to the nitrogen cycle that occurs within the tank? <Mostly the latter> 4. Could the snails be causing problems? <Yes... carry disease... and can influence water quality in high numbers> 5. I have read that most of the bacteria live on the filter. Wouldn't changing the filter then lead to these levels getting all out of whack every time? <Yes... a common problem/occurrence. In established systems not such an issue> Thank you for any help you can provide. - Bryan <I would read over WWM re FW filtration, add more filtration, remove the houseplant, reduce the number of snails, test the salt... Bob Fenner> Re: Persistent High Nitrite Level... Betta systems and snail removal technique  2/3/06 Thank you. After removing the philodendron, the nitrite levels immediately dropped and are now < 0.5 ppm. Other levels are beginning to even out as well. <Ah, good> I thought you also might like to know that I have rigged up a plastic fork on some fishing line as a snail remover. I stick a piece of vegetable on the tines of the fork, and when a few snails crawl on, I hoist it up and scrape them off. It's not pretty, but it's been fairly effective! <Neat! Bob Fenner>

Betta, snail, together - 1/30/2006 Hi Crew, <Mario> I was thinking of introducing a snail in my 2.5g with heater/filter/java fern and a male Betta. <Okay> Is this a good idea, what are the pros and cons? <I think it's a good idea... is posted... on WWM> Will they eat the java ferns? the waste on the glass/bottom? <Some will some...> Do they require a separate food that you buy at the LFS? <Nope> I do not have a cover will they crawl outside the tank. <Unlikely> Which ones do you recommend that are compatible with a Betta? <An Ampullaria sp.> Thanks, Mario D. <Welcome. Bob Fenner>

New tank for goldfish, but a snail?  12/21/05 Hi, <Hello> I have recently set up a 50 gallon home for goldfish.  No goldfish yet but the tank is up and running, with live plants. <Good order> The plants are anchored in driftwood and come from the fish tank in the LFS.  I thought this would help with the cycle for when I do buy the goldfish, but this morning I noticed a snail,  I guess from your website this is one of many,  and now I think I did more harm than good buying the plants <Mmm, not necessarily> Considering there is no fish in the equation yet, do I empty the tank, throw out the plants, wash everything and start from scratch?  Find some chemical means of killing off the snail(s)? <Possibilities, but there are other means...> I don't really want a tank full of snails,  but I could put up with a couple,  any chance the goldfish would like them for lunch? <Not much> Thank you for your advice. <I would try "baiting" the snails first... in an attempt at their physical removal. A bit of sinking food in a glass or plastic container on the bottom will attract, aggregate them. Using a plant soaking solution (most are alum-based), in advance of their introduction to the tank will likely eliminate new snail (eggs). Bob Fenner> SLH

Bettas, Snails, and Glass Cats - 08/04/2005 Hello, WWM Crew!! :) <Hello, Stella and Jared!> First off, thanks so much for all the work you put into getting this info. out there! I spend *way* too much time reading things on this webpage. <And thank you very much for your kind words; this is much appreciated.> Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find answers to everything I was wondering-- maybe I just didn't look hard enough. <No worries.> Currently, my husband and I have two tanks set up.  One is the Eclipse 3-gallon and it houses a happy, fat Betta fish, 3 Ghost Shrimp and various live plants.   <Sounds perfect.> I was thinking about adding some Java Fern and getting a Golden or Black Mystery Snail for this tank. The shrimp do a fine job cleaning up, but I think I'd like a snail, too. Would that overload this tank? And how can I make sure that the snail won't come with a bunch of baby snails? (I suppose I could get a male...?) <Mm, honestly, I would not add a mystery snail to this small system.  Too much potential for pushing out more biological waste than the tank can easily support.  Do-able, though, if you are very meticulous about testing and changing water.  Do please take a look at http://www.applesnail.net , though, for lots of snaily information.> The other is an Eclipse Hex 7, which has... one Glass Catfish and various live plants. (The other Glass Cat we bought died the morning after it was brought home.)  Normally, there is a Betta in this tank too; unfortunately, he seems to be sick.  I pulled him out, placed him in a vase (I don't have an "official" QT tank yet), tried to get the water temperature a bit warmer than his water (82F) and a little extra salt. I also added a half dose of CopperSafe. The sick Betta has feathery stuff flaking off of him, almost from beneath his scales.  He seems to be doing much better, blowing bubbles and swimming around happily. Maybe he prefers having no tankmates... He's been quarantined for 2 days now-- how much longer should I keep him out of the 7 gallon? 3 weeks? <A week or two after he has regained health completely is probably sufficient.  A side note - DO NOT add CopperSafe (or ANY other copper-based medication) to aquaria with invertebrates, as it is highly toxic to them.> As for our lonely Glass Cat (who still won't eat much!!), <Try offering frozen meaty foods, such as frozen bloodworms, or live foods like mosquito larvae, just after lights-out on the tank.> how many more Glass Cats can we put in the 7 gallon tank without overloading it? I know they do much better in a shoal/school, but I'd really rather not make them all miserable in a small space. <This animal is easily capable of reaching six inches in length....  In all honesty, I would plan on a larger tank (20 gallons or more) and aim for at *least* three of these fish; shy schoolers like this really seem to be more "at ease" in numbers.  Please consider the 7g tank a very temporary home.> By the by, I was also considering getting a Black or Golden Mystery Snail for this particular tank. Would having snails mean less gravel-vaccing? <No.  Snails, like other animals, produce waste; you'll still need to do the same regular maintenance.  I see no problem adding a snail or two to this tank.> We're still set on having 10-15% water changes/testings once a week, but we're afraid too much gravel vacuuming is bad for the plants... <Well, yes, there *is* a happy medium.  Try not to vacuum too much at the plants' roots, but in areas absent of plants, vacuum all the more.> Lastly (I'm sorry! So many questions...!!), <Really, no worries!  I'm glad you're asking, rather than not!> since we have smaller fish, what size tank would be adequate for a QT? <As above, I would like to encourage you to think about a much larger tank for the glass cat(s)....  They might be "smaller fish" right now, but they won't stay so.  Ahh, in fact, here's the Fishbase entry on 'em:   http://www.fishbase.org/Summary/speciesSummary.php?ID=10920&genusname=Kryptopterus&speciesname=bicirrhis .  If you do a much larger system, the 7 would make a fine QT, or a cheap 10g setup would serve just as well.> It's been difficult finding a heater that works well for such small size tanks. <A small, 25w heater would be fine for the 7.  I even use a 25w in my own 3g eclipse; works great.> Thankfully, we live in San Diego, so the temperature of the tank water rarely drops below 77. <Ahh, very good indeed.> Thank you so so much in advance! Look eagerly forward to a reply :) --Stella & Jared <Thank you again for your kind words!  Wishing you and your fishes (and future snails?) well,  -Sabrina> Pond Snail Problem 7/30/05 Hi, I was hoping someone could help me with my snail problem. I have a 20 gallon US aquarium with 2 Otos, 1 guppy, 4 neon tetras, and 2 Black Phantom Tetras. I had some small pond snails get into my tank from the plants I bought from the fish store, I tried to remove them manually, then tried Had-A-Snail, with no luck. <Unusual> I'm wondering with the size and population of my tank if there is a fish I could get that would eat the pond snails. <There are a few... the best are loaches... oh, I see you know this from below> I know one is a Skunk Loach, but I am having trouble finding one, do you have any other suggestions. PS I have tried to get them with the food trick, but they keep coming back. Thanks Andrea <Keep reading... on WWM re. Bob Fenner>

Snail Problem 8/3/05 Hi again, with my tank size and amount of fish do you think I would be able to get a YoYo Loach. If so, would I be able to get one or two? Thanks again. < Try Fluke-Tabs to get rid of snails and any other invertebrates in the tank. Go to loaches.com and you can find info on any type of Botia. Two Yo-Yo loaches look like they would get crowded and fight. One small one at most.-Chuck>

Shocking, Vicious Snail 7/23/05 Ahoy, mateys... <Aye be gar, actually, I be Bob, what's up?> I have a tale of two snails to impart: I bought two large "Mystery Snails" from a pet store that shall remain Unnamed. <Perhaps that's their mystery?> They are chocolate-brown in color, and bigger than my thumb. Wait, I have very small hands (see?), so they are, if you are male, bigger than YOUR thumb. These snails have roundish shells. Please hold up your thumb: Yes, bigger than your thumb. <Can't type while looking at me digits> To continue: One snail is chasing down and nipping the other snail. I clearly see it nipping. I might have seen the glint of a fang, even (okay, exaggerating). The Victimized Snail jerks around, and pulls everything in, but the other snail is relentless. I keep moving him/her/it away with the handle of the net, but the chase begins anew the moment of re-emergence. <Bizarre> "Googling" about "snails aggression" and "aquarium snail aggressive" and so forth yield only advice about being aggressive in removing infestations of snails. Let's no go into what searching for the terms "aggressive snails sex?" turned up. This has gone on two nights and I'm getting no sleep. Any help would be appreciated. Here is a lovely Virtual Box of Chocolates in appreciation:   [__] Thank ye, Snowie <Am looking out to see if there's a full-moon... don't know what this is... maybe a shortage of calcium? Reproductive behavior? Bob Fenner>

Snails & Bettas Hi, highly informational site. I've learned a lot more than I originally intended to from sifting through the site. <Ahh, our intention> Though, I either missed or have a new question that I haven't really been able to find a specific answer to... I have a healthy and very active Betta in a 10 gallon tank, he's been there for about 6 months and he loves it. He's always spicy. Anyways, I recently bought a gold mystery snail for the tank and the Betta has been nipping at the poor guy every time he comes out of his shell. My question is... Will Betta's normally get tired of the snail and leave it alone? <Usually, yes... you may want to add another "dither" organism... something else it can chase about> If not/so, will one of the larger baseball sized apple snails be less prone to being nipped at by the Betta? <Perhaps> My thinking was that the Betta is picking on the little snail because he (the Betta) is bigger and feels like something is invading his territory, but he'd leave a bigger snail alone.... So, those are the questions that have been plaguing me for days. Anyways, thanks again for the site. <Thank you for being part of, adding to it. Bob Fenner>

Snail Problem "Had-A-Snail"? Forgot to ask one more thing: how do you handle a bad snail problem in an 80 gallon. I've already tried "Had a Snail" (copper treatment or something like that), keeps em down but doesn't get rid of them. I also have a clown loach, but he doesn't seem to be able to keep up with them, although he's very fat because of them. Any ideas would be appreciated. I'd buy another clown loach, but I've got too many fish as it is. < Fluke Tabs will take care of all you snail problems.-Chuck>

SNAILS! Somehow, someway one of our tanks (the 30 gal. one) "developed" these very ugly brown snails...which seem to multiply daily...we have not a clue as to where they came from or how to rid our tank of them. What, short of breaking  down the tank, can we do, if anything? Thanks for your anticipated response. >> Is this a freshwater set-up? My fave methods of snail eradication for tropical aquariums are the Loaches... one or two Clown Loaches (Botia macracantha) or if your tank's a little crowded, one of the smaller species, like the Skunk (B. sidthmunki)... a day or two later... nothing but snail shells! Bob Fenner, who says, please write back if my guess is wrong about your tank... and it's marine...

Controlling Snails Dear Pet Store Hi, my name is Brian Halstead and I was wondering if you had any suggestions for me. I have a bunch of fish and I went to a pet store and bought some live plants. The plants that I bought had snails on them and now I have snails in my aquarium. I cleaned it out but they kept coming back. Since they multiply by them selves I don't know what to do and it drives me crazy because they make the water dirty. It is like there is a million of them and if I try to take the net and get some out they just come back. If you have something that would kill them for ever and kill the eggs than that would be good. Thank you for taking the time to read this letter and I hope you have some suggestions. Thanks Again Brian Halsted  >> There are a few approaches to freshwater snail control... and I'll briefly outline them for you here: First off, in terms of long-term success, and least problems, are biological means... there are some animals that are tireless snail eaters. My favorite pick are the fishes called Loaches (family Cobitidae)... and you didn't say how big your tank is, but I'll assume it does have a thermostatically controlled heater... If the tank is small (less than twenty gallons) look into a couple of Skunk Loaches (usually Botia sidthmunki)... If it is bigger, maybe a couple of small (to start) Clown Loaches (Botia macracantha)... you will be amazed at the job these will do... and they're neat to have as wet pets as well. There are other types of approaches, manual/mechanical and chemical... but let's not even consider them, as the loaches mentioned above will "do the job" much better and safer. Bob Fenner

Snail infestation problem in my 75 gal freshwater tank. Hi I have a problem with snails in my freshwater tank. <Not uncommon...> I purchased plants at a local pet store few months ago and it came with uninvited guests. It started out with one cute snail and now there are whole colonies of them. It's out of control!!!! It is amazing how fast they multiply. I try to pick them out as much as I can everyday but without any dent on the snail population. ARGGGGGH I would like to get rid of them. What should I do? <Take a look here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/snailsagb.htm and the associated FAQs... you will know, develop a control strategy. Bob Fenner> thanks -Thomas

Re: snails-Ramshorn Thank you in regards to the question of sex of the single birthing mother snail.  Now another for  you please.  I have 3 large goldfish or carp now, and was wondering if I can put snails in the same tank without them getting eaten. <This should work out fine. These minnow fishes don't generally eat snails>   Also, I do not use a heater in my carp tank, just room temperature, and do have snails born in another tank I have that have a heater, will they survive the temperature of room and if yes or no, can you tell me some names of snails that can survive with my carp in room temperature.   tanks, Paul <This also should be fine. Please see here re your last question: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/PondSubWebIndex/pdsnails.htm Most all of the larger species of snails sold in our interest (particularly of the genus Pomacea (= Ampullaria) will do well. Bob Fenner>

Up late stressing about my four Corys <Ananda here this late night/early morning, fielding the puffer questions...> I just did what now seems to be a very stupid thing. I had an overflow of snails so I read all about loaches and went to the local aquarium store to buy myself a small pack of them, having read they where a schooling fish. I was a little nervous about this and was easily manipulated by the evil aquarium experts?   <Always stick to your guns when you have researched something...keep in mind that the people at the store are trying to sell you something and that non-commercial web sites about fish generally have the fishes' best interests at heart.> Anyways they told me I would be better off buying a single Puffer fish, and after asking what fish I already had in my aquarium told me to add a teaspoon of rock salt per gallon of water to my aquarium. <Knowing you had Corydoras catfish? Shame on them!!> It has been a little over a week now and my Cory Catfish are not eating, and I just read that Corys can not tolerate salt, <Usually not well at all. I would do a 50% water change with no salt in the new water.> but I now have a green spotted puffer fish as well. <Cute and intelligent fish, requiring salt as they mature.> Tell me how to safe my fishies without buying a second aquarium please.  :(    <Oh my. That is difficult, because the puffer needs salt, and the Corys can't tolerate it. Very young green-spotted puffers (under 2" in length) can tolerate freshwater for short periods. But your long-term solution is another tank for the puffer.> <Best wishes, Ananda>  

Clown loaches for snail control <Ananda here tonight, answering the freshwater fish questions...> hi guys need your help again if you do not mind . <Not at all -- that's what we're here for.> 100,s of stinking snails. these are the cone shaped type not sure of scientific name. <Probably the ones commonly called "Malaysian trumpet snails".> guy at local fish store said clown loaches will not eat them shells too hard <Baloney. My clown loaches eat these all the time. They don't need to crush the shells; loaches suck the snail out of the shell.> want to refrain from chem.s-  he suggested a product called had-a-snail. <I'm surprised he's trying to sell you chemicals rather than more fish.> at my wits end  heeeeeeelp meeeee rocky <Check out our loaches page and its associated FAQs: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/cobitids.htm ...also http://www.loaches.com has much info from loach fans. --Ananda>

Snails and starting over I love your site and thought if anyone can help it will be you. I have a HUGE snail problem in my 30 gallon tank. It started with two snails and now is up to oh, 200 or so. <LOL! I'm sorry for laughing but I've had this same problem myself.> My tank contains a black angel, a balloon molly, a platy, a crab, a Plecostomus and now two clown loaches.  I tried aquarium salt (no effect) <Salt won't have an effect on the snails unless it's in very large quantities, nearly brackish conditions and this can harm some of your fish.> None of the fish or the crab wants to eat the snails except the tiny clown loach that is an inch long.  The large one 4 inches just hides!  I am moving march first and wonder if it would be easier to get new gravel and start over (my gravel is the same color as the snails) Do I have to do the gold fish thing again and of so what do I do with the fish and crab till that's done?  Or can I just set up the tank and put in the fish? <To avoid having to go through the whole cycle process again you should set it back up with the same gravel and filter media and some dirty water from this tank. Unfortunately, this won't help the snail problem. I'm going to tell you how I would do this to avoid the cycle period again and still eradicate the snails. It's up to you if you want to try this though because it doesn't always work and sometimes your tank will still go through the cycle period again. So use this method at your own discretion. Get yourself several bottles of a product called Lime-It (if you can't find it at your LFS you can mail order it from several online stores). Follow the directions and use this to soak your gravel/plants/decorations/etc. The Lime-It will kill all of your snails. Rinse all of your stuff very well. Set your tank back up using all of the stuff you just rinsed. Have your LFS give you a large bag or two of *very* dirty water from one of their tanks or you can use dirty water that you saved from when you tore your tank down. Dump all of this water into the tank and fill it as normal. Your water will be very murky but will clear. The more dirty water you can add the better, for a 55g tank I used 4 gallons of dirty water so I'd recommend at least 2 gallons of it for your tank. This should provide enough of a bacteria start that you will be able to avoid at least the worst of the cycle. Still keep a very close eye on your ammonia and nitrite levels and do water changes as necessary.> Thanks for your help. <Good luck! Ronni>

Clown loaches and snails Hi gang, <Greetings!> I have a planted tank with several medium (3") clown loaches...initially stocked to control snail stowaways on plants, which they do well.  In fact, not only have the loaches become one of my favorite fishes in all my tanks, I actually breed and raise Ramshorn snails just so I can give them a treat a few times a month!  =) <Im sure they love this, I do it myself with my clowns.> My question:  I have a couple LARGE (2" or so) Gold Inca (not exactly sure of the species) snails in need of a home.  They've been housed in my quarantine tank for nearly a year, so I doubt introducing pathogens would pose a risk to the tank, however, would the clown loaches pose a risk to these big guys? <Very possibly. I know Ive seen clowns eat snails that were over an inch in size so Id be afraid to try it even with snails as large as yours.> Also... now that I have your attention, hehe.  What are some species of plants (if any) that would do OK in a moderately aerated tank?   I'm not looking to win any awards in these tanks, just to add some "live" decorations. <A lot would depend on your lighting. Some of my favorites for moderately lit, moderately aerated tanks are Anacharis (this one is rumored to be touchy but Ive always had good luck with it), Elodea, and Anubias.> Thanks a bunch, and keep up the good work on WWM! Cheers, Michael <Thank you and youre welcome! Ronni>

Rams' Horn Snails - Good Guys or Bad? I have been reading through a lot of the FAQ's and didn't find my question...so here goes.  I have a Ram Horn snail recently placed in my 55 gal. freshwater tank.  There is also an old large Pleco and an old large Tiger Oscar.  No one seems to bother the snail.  My question:  The Ram Horn snail has laid several clusters of eggs in the artificial plant.  Will these eggs hurt my Oscar and Pleco?   <No, not at all.  The Plec may even eat some as he cleans.> Should I remove the eggs?   <Heh, that depends on whether or not you want lots of snails.  They can multiply tremendously.> How do I handle this? <You can either do nothing, or you can pull out the plant and scrape the eggs off - but I'm fairly positive there will be eggs elsewhere in the tank, as well.  Either way, it is nothing to be horribly concerned about, except that they can become an eyesore when there are too many of 'em.  More here:   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwsnails.htm .> Thank you for any help you can give.  Beverley <Sure thing!  Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>
Rams' Horn Snails - Good Guys or Bad? - II
Thanks so much for your quick reply.   <You bet!  We do try to answer things quickly.... with the volume of questions we get, things sometimes slip through the cracks, but we certainly try to do our best!> You have made an instant fan.  Beverley <Ah, wonderful to hear!  Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

Cichlids, wanted plants, got snails, doesn't want snails... loach solution! Greetings!  <Greetings to you.>  I am the sad owner of a 90g Mbuna cichlid tank, I tried having plants (they survived quite a while, but ended up looking pretty ragged) and all I got was a lousy snail infestation.  <you are not the first person to have that happen to him.>  I reluctantly introduced three clown loaches - I prefer to have a biotope aquarium (with the exception of the rubber Plecostomus that keeps algae that also came with the plants under control) of sorts. The small (1.5") loaches seem to have no idea what a snail is - there certainly are enough to keep them busy round the clock if they so desired.  Here are my three questions: do the loaches have to get to a certain size before they'll start eating snails?  <Not really, I have seen smaller loaches eat snails also. But, I have found that it happens more with the larger loaches. It might be that they don't like the Malaysian trumpet snails. I know many fish that don't like eating them. I have puffers, that normally eat snails like there is no tomorrow, have Malaysian trumpet snails living quite nicely in their tank. They do eat a few but not as much as one would expect. The Trumpet snails have a really hard shell that many animals can't get around. By either sucking them out or cracking threw the shell it's a hard job to eat those guys.>  (There are some tiny snails in this aquarium.) Do some loaches just not eat snails, the way some cats are birders and others are mouse catchers?  <I have known loach owners saying that one loach eats snails better than the others. But, it's only a casual observation. It could be possible, but I think that every loach has it in him to eat a snail if hungry.>  At what point do I know all hope is lost and my tank is overrun (at which point I'll board my fish, get all new gravel, turn over the filters, cycle the tank and start over, I guess)  <I think the loaches are simply getting enough food elsewhere (from the plant matter and extra fish food) that they aren't bother with the snails. I think you might want to cut back on the food you are feeding the other fish and see if it has an effect on the loaches. Without the food I think they will quickly switch to the snails.>  Thank You, Daniel Heller  <Good luck with the snails. Magnus>

Snailicidal Goldfish; Reader's Experience - 03/27/2004 Hi, <Hello, Sabrina here, today!> I'm writing to respond to a conversation between Candace and Sabrina on 2/22/04.  I think it was Sabrina that said she didn't think Goldfish would be ambitious enough to eat live snails.   <I did, indeed.> Just to set the record straight, we have large goldfish, and about a week or so after purchasing large snails, I witnessed one of the goldfish thrashing something that resembled white flesh.  Then I realized that it was a snail!  It still had the plate(?) attached to it.  The goldfish had ripped it right out of its' shell!   <Holy goldfish!  Er, Mackerel, that is.  But WOW!> A few days later, our entire family witnessed the same scene while eating dinner.  Absolutely amazing!   <Agreed!> We still have 2 large snails remaining, but it's probably just a matter of time.  :(  Margie <I must honestly say, I've never, ever experienced this, nor expected it to be a likely scenario!  Thank you so much for writing in with your experience, Margie, and I will definitely keep an eye or two out for any signs of other snail-eatin' goldies!  Thanks again,  -Sabrina>

Yoyo Loach and other questions Hi I emailed you a couple of weeks ago. I have the over-population of snails. I called about 11 different pet stores that sold fish. Finally I found a Aquarium store. Well no one has Skunk Botias. The people at the fish store told me to get the Yoyo's because they are smaller and wont kill my baby fish. Yeah I'm experimenting with breeding fish. Well I have 5 guppies and I have no clue how many babies. I have 2 from almost a month ago but I saw some really small ones today. I have 3 yoyos and 2 shrimp. I can't remember what kind it is. It isn't a ghost shrimp. Also I have 2 big snails.. They sell them at pet smart. Will the Yoyo's do the job?  I read that they don't like Malaysian snail. Could that prove a problem. My fish tank is 15 gallons. Is it too over populated? If so what is a good way for catching baby fish? Or what would you recommend. I have a 2 gallon in my kitchen I can transfer them to. It is empty. thanks
<Should work out. Bob Fenner>

Too much Escargot! My fish tank is over ran with I think Malaysian Snails. I thought it was cool when they first popped up. but now that I don't have cichlids in the tank and guppies instead... I can't keep them under control. My tank walls are covered. I know they are the earth worms of the fish tank world but how can I bring them down in Numbers without killing all of them? >>A fish known as a skunk loach or skunk Botia. I don't know how big your tank is, I'm hoping around 15-20 gallons at least for this animal. They stay relatively small and peaceful as far as Botia are concerned. Botia morleti Marina  

Possible Odd Question - Escargot coming out of our ears! I have a simple 5-gallon tank, and have been lovingly maintaining it for almost 2 years with the same fish in it...We have 5 Rasboras (black and yellow stripe), 5 Day-Glow(?) Tetras (these are Orange and black striped), and three Neon Tetras (I know this one for sure), and a Pleco (standard semi-ugly, but very useful fish).  In addition, and here lies the problem, we have an overpopulation of snails.  We originally had a single large Mystery snail, but were given 4 small (and I do mean small, like pin-head size) snails on a whim by someone after only 6 months of having the tank. For a little while all was bliss in my tank, though after a water change, I lost the Original snail. No big loss, by then I had a dozen mini-snails to fill in....Heh, now I can conservatively say that I am the proud owner of nearly a hundred of these lovelies in my tank... did I mention it's only a 5-gallon?  So, my question is such; Is there a way to cut back on the snail explosion? Some small fauna that will trim the population without upsetting the rest of the fish, or maybe just a way to keep them from profligating so quickly next time I manually cull the ranks?  Any help would be appreciated... I like having the little guys, but enough is enough, you know? Thanks, Ben <<Dear Ben; First, I must mention that your 5g tank is WAY overstocked. You should be keeping 5 small fish in this tank, total. Including the Pleco, which is probably a Hypostomus species and will grow to two feet in length. Yes, it will still try to grow in a such small tank, until it cannot any more, at which point it will become sick and die. Possible transmitting it's disease to all your other fish. Also, what are you feeding it? I'm surprised it hasn't died of sheer hunger yet. Anyways, I would seriously recommend that you buy some test kits to measure fish waste, e.g. for ammonia (which should test at zero), nitrite (also should be zero) and nitrates. Keep the nitrates at around 40ppm (or lower) with regular partial water changes. I can guarantee you that your nitrate level is off the chart right now...not healthy long-term AT all. How often are you doing your water changes? IF you have not been doing them twice a week, my advice to you is to start right away doing small partial water changes, DAILY, until you get your nitrates to 40ppm (or lower..) Pick 5 or 6 of your favorite fish, and give the rest away (including the Pleco), or return them to the LFS. Five or six fish will still require weekly water changes, but the nitrates should be easier to keep at a low level. Also, physically remove all the snails. Every single one. Replace these fast reproducers with one gold apple snail, hopefully it won't reproduce :P One snail, an inch in diameter, is plenty enough to keep a 5g clean. As the snail grows, it will need extra food, you can feed it algae wafers, sinking pellets, etc. They eat everything they can nab. Normally I would tell you to forget any snails, algae eating fish, etc, and just do the inside glass cleaning yourself, since 5g tanks are so small. But since you seem to like your snail pets, here is a website about apple snails for you to look at: http://www.applesnail.net/ and hopefully give you an understanding of their needs. Have fun :) -Gwen>> 
Possible Odd Question -II
Gwen, (or whosoever is manning the station this eve) I must profusely apologize, as I have given misinformation, and it makes a hell of a change in the situation, though if the Pleco gets as big as you say, it might be a problem anyway. He's about 4 inches now, and has been about that for almost a year. The tank in question is a *10* Gallon. I know, smack me with a stupid stick, but there ya go. Must of had an old brain injury come ba... um, what was I talking about? Anyway. I don't think I could have kept a 5 gallon alive and well for 2 years with this many fish in it, mine has been humming along nicely with no sick fish, and with the exception of the dead snail, and a jumper that was scared out of the tank entirely by our family cat, who didn't even have the decency to eat it, everyone seems to be happy and healthy. I will go ahead and manually remove the snails, if that is the most probable way to rid the tank, though with snails being so prolific, I doubt I will be able to find all of the eggs hidden around, but it's worth a try. I suppose I could also remove most of the rocks and scrub em down, but I would hate to think of all the good stuff that I would be scrubbing away, too.... Sorry about the mix-up, and Thank you very much for the assistance. Ben <<Dear Ben; LOL! That's much better. A ten gallon does make more sense, though I do hope you are doing the water changes weekly...Yes, manual removal of the snails is the best way to go. There are chemicals out there, e.g. Had-A-Snail, (which is copper) but I do not recommend these products. Basically, killing a bunch of snails in your tank all at once makes for an instant ammonia problem, and a fully stocked 10g will not be able to handle that, as you must already realize. There are also snail-eating fish you can add, but again, the tank is fully stocked so that idea is out. That leaves manual removal. You can place some food in the tank before bedtime, and remove what is left in the morning, hopefully full of snails :) You can use romaine lettuce held by a rubber band onto a rock. Search and crush all snails you see on the glass and decor, and eventually you should get it under control. Also, you can remove 50% of the water into a bucket, then net out the fish into the same bucket, and carry the tank to the sink and rinse the gravel with tepid water to flush out anything else. Scrub all the walls of the tank, then carry it back, re-add the fish and their water, and top off the last 50% of the water. Clean the filter and impeller chamber, but not the media. Just check the filter media for snails, and put it back into the cleaned filter. You don't want to destroy too many bacteria at once, and the gravel washing may remove a certain amount, so play it safe and keep the filter media intact for now. You can clean the media next water change. As you know, always rinse filter media in dechlorinated water. Remove all snails and any eggs you find. This should help immensely. Let me know how it goes :) -Gwen>>

Snails, freshwater, unwanted Hi Bob, My first time here.....but I have a 10 gal starter aquarium and I had 2 platys (1 male & 1 female) . The male died today after about a week of some stress we just could not guess; he kept to the surface of the water & was very lethargic. About 8 weeks before, the female died of ich & we treated the water with "Rid Ich+"  so could the male have had the same? < Unless you saw the white spots then it wasn't ich.> Our tank seems infested with common water snails. could they be the cause for this? < Snails are scavengers. They eat excess food and decaying matter. They are rarely cause for disease.> Would like  some advice on how to save 2 baby platys still alive? < It sure sounds like you are overfeeding your tank or don't have enough filtration. I would recommend a 30% water change and service the filter. Next week vacuum the gravel to remove uneaten food lodged in the gravel. Feed only enough food so the platies eat it all in a couple of minutes each day. No more.-Chuck> Thanks Sad beginner

Snail Questions - 06/19/2004 Hi, <Hello.  My apologies for any lateness in reply....> I have a pretty large happy seeming apple snail, not P. bridgesii but one of the canaliculata group (plant eaters as opposed to decaying matter eaters.... she ate a little rotunda plant almost to death before I moved it to the other tank, and nearly killed my wisteria as well :/ but now she has plastic plants).    <Heh, learnin' the hard way!  At least the snail enjoyed the snacks, I'm sure.  And after you replant, you can give the snail cuttings from the planted tank when you prune.  Yum!> She's currently living in a 10 gallon tank with varying numbers of her offspring and 3 zebra Danios. (The Danios must eat the eggs & young snails as my tank has not been overrun, but I have seen eggs and baby snails at various times and even a few as big as peas)   <Mmmm, peas....  Whups, wrong topic, sorry!  It would not surprise me that the Danios might dine on the eggs of these snails.> This tank was originally home to a Betta, <Ah, now *he* would dine on very small snails, too.  Another boon to your snails' population control.> 5 Danios, 3 scissortail Rasboras, and a Cory.  (The Cory and the Rasboras have been moved to the bigger tank that has also, 6 harlequins and an Oto).    <Corys will eat smaller snails, as well.  Well, not in a separate tank, but if you get overrun, you could consider reintroducing the Cory.> Two of the Danios and the Betta sadly succumbed to hex, which I treated for multiple times but could not seem to cure in such small fish :(   <So sad to hear that.  My apologies for your loss.> I have two questions about this snail (Jaws is her name... it seemed appropriate).   <HAH!  Appropriate, indeed!  I love it.> How do I know if she is eating enough?   I feed the Danios every day or two, sometimes three, and about every other time I feed the Danios I throw in an algae pellet or two.  (oh yea, the snail when we got her was about as big around as a quarter, and now is more like a golf ball - she's almost completely grown a new round on her shell since Jan/Feb when we got her!).   <Sounds like she's eating plenty.  If you have any concerns, you might get her some elodea/Anacharis/Egeria and let her munch at leisure, and just replace these inexpensive plants as they are devoured - many folks use this plant as an excellent food source for goldfish; it would taste quite good to Jaws, I'm sure.> Her newest shell growth seems pretty thick and is a very nice rich golden color, <A wonderful sign.> although when my brother fed her an algae pellet every day for a couple weeks she grew a quarter of an inch of pretty thin looking shell :/ that was shortly after we got her though.   <As you seem to be well aware, it might be best not to use that feeding scheme ;)  Sounds like she's doing great now, though, eh?> My other question, which I didn't even think about until I was browsing your forums... Should I be concerned if she is getting some flaking on the middle few rounds of her shell? <I would be concerned, yes.> She was completely algae covered when we got her (the new shell has been growing in a beautiful gold color and the algae hasn't spread) <Excellent.> and now about a pea sized area of her center spirals on the outside is flaking to a creamy white.   <Possibly a lack of calcium, perhaps even iodine....  the few large-ish snails in my shrimp tanks have very obviously benefited from adding Kent Tech Marine iodine, at a rate of one drop per ten gallons each week (*not* the normal marine dose).> Also how do I test water hardness, and other nutrient levels necessary for the snail? <You can test total hardness (GH) and carbonate hardness (KH) with test kits available from most fish stores, or can purchase the kits online from online e-fish stores, like some of our sponsors.  Be sure to get kits for freshwater aquaria.> I don't really have any money to spend on them now sadly (and the next cash I get has to go toward plant food for the bigger tank as half the plants are falling apart and dying) <Yikes!  You might benefit from reading through our plant sub-web:   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/PlantedTksSubWebIndex/AquariumGardenSubWebIndex.html > but when I do have the cash I would like to be able to take care of all my animals properly.   <A good plan, for sure.  Your snail can probably wait for you to get test kits, I imagine her problem is not imminently life-threatening.  I would, however, try the Kent iodine for sure.> Our town water is usually pretty hard though (leaves hard water stains on all the faucets, etc). That's a good thing for snails right? <You bet.  Hard water stains usually indicate high-ish levels of calcium and other minerals in the water - certainly good news for Jaws.> Thanks for any help you guys can give. :) <Any time, Anna.  Please feel free to let us know if we can help you further.  Wishing you and your inverts well,  -Sabrina> Anna R. Dunster

Snail Missing Antennae 7/4/04 Hi, <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I took a good look through your website (great) but didn't find my question answered. I just got a 'zebra snail' for my aquarium, and he's doing a great job in it so far, but when I got him he had lovely, long tentacles, and I'm afraid my Betta has bitten them to about 1/4 their proper size. My question is... do they grow back? I'm considering moving the Betta out for a couple reasons, and if I knew the tentacles would grow back that would encourage me to do so. (If they won't grow back then the damage is done). <Yes, they will grow back.  I have never heard of a Betta doing this though.> Thanks guys! Lynn <Good luck with your snail friend.  I'm a snail-lover too!  I have an apple snail the size of my fist!  ~PP>

About Kuhli loaches and snails hi, I have a bit of a snail problem in my 20-25gal tank. (size isn't 100% sure since it's not a standard tank) I pick out snails whenever I see them and I don't usually notice them much but sometimes it gets to be a problem. Also on my java fern which is in separate living quarters at the moment because of the education I am using) there are a ZILLION baby snails. (not surprising - I noticed several snail egg sacs on the fern when I moved it to its current quarters) I'm treating the separate bucket with Had-a-snail. oh yes and I am currently treating the main tank with CopperSafe for ich, which is supposed to be 'dangerous' to invertebrates but it doesn't seem to bother the snails at all! <Figures! But it may be doing a number on your filter. Please check for ammonia and nitrite spikes. Much better to QT fish for treatment and allow the tank to be fish free for a month. Treating the main tank can cause you more problems than snails.> (I am using a half-strength dosage to be gentle on plants, tetras and Otos) Anyway I am concerned about this as the last thing I want is a big snail infestation. I'm wondering if Kuhli loaches might do the trick? Obviously a clown loach would be the most effective, but I don't want to have to trade the fish back again as I live over an hour's drive from the nearest pet store.  Also I was reading your faq a bit and you guys mentioned zebra loaches - I've never seen one but they also sound like a good option if I could actually find them. <Hi, Don here. Please check the link below for an thread on this subject going on in the forum right now. Please feel free to join in. Aquabid.com is great for finding fish not stocked in most LFS. Of course with the price of shipping added in, it can be costly. Perhaps talk to the manager at a pet store. > [l] http://wetwebfotos.com/talk/thread.jsp?forum=3&thread=23318&tstart=0&trange=30[/l] Can you guys give any recommendations?  a permanent, live in fish would be best. If the Kuhli loaches might do it (I have heard in a few places that they may eat snails) I have had them in the past and I quite enjoy them :) If zebra loaches wouldn't get too big (the tank is around 36 inches long and about 15 wide, and 10-12 deep, I don't recall exactly), and if I could find them, they seem like the best choice. Thanks for any help you can give, your site has always been helpful :) ~Anna

Goldfish dilemma Hello <Hi there Lukas> I have a question about gold fish and their survival outside. My in-laws have a large pond in there back yard and we were all wondering if we could place some gold fish in to it and leave them in there over winter?   They are not Koi.   How ever I have been told that a lady that my mother in law knows keeps gold fish and Koi out side all winter and does not house them in side at all.  I also have to mention that they live just out side of Calgary Alberta.  So it does get quite cold out there. <Does the pond freeze all the way to the bottom? If it is deep enough, perhaps protected from the elements... Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/PondSubWebIndex/pdmaintwint.htm> My other question is I have just bought 4 small clown loaches and I have been told that they will eat snails.  I have 2 rather large Ramshorns in my tank and I kind of want them gone.  They have been happily munching and destroying my plants.  So now  for the question will these loaches eat the rams horns? <Very likely so. May take some time due to the relative size of the prey, predators> I also wanted to say good work on the site I use it every time I have a dilemma with my fish, and manage to get an answer with out emailing you guys. Lukas <Be chatting, Bob Fenner>

Snails and Plecos Dear WetWeb Crew,      We have a 30 gallon tank with one snail (1 to 1-1/4" inches in diameter), one Pleco (1-1/4"), <Tiny!> one Bala shark, two Hatchetfish, two blue Paradisefish, two Rasboras, two tiny frogs, one brown Knifefish, and one glass catfish.  After the blue paradise fish battled each other for dominance (about 2-3 weeks), the tank has been harmonious for the past two months or so.      Question: Our snail is behaving erratically; several times, he(?) has just "closed up shop," and floated around the tank.  Then he re-adheres to the side, and behaves normally for awhile.  He spends most of his time now floating, with his shell half-closed.  He started doing this (we think) shortly after we observed the Pleco eating algae off of his shell.  (The algae was there when we got him two months ago, and has not seemed to have caused any problem thus far.) Concurrently, we noticed the snail appears to have suddenly grown about 1/8" of new shell right above his body, not touched by any algae. <What you describe so well is likely simply "natural" behavior... a way that these snails "get around" quickly... compared with going at a "snail's pace" via their "feet"... and no problem with the small Pleco cleaning off its shell. Bob Fenner>

Murderous snails? dear sir, <Or maam?  ;)  Sabrina here today> my boss has requested me to ask you for some information regarding snails and lobsters.   <First chunk of info I need here - are we talking freshwater snails and lobsters, or saltwater snails and "lobsters" (crayfish, Macrobrachium shrimp)??> You see, she recently put two snails into the same tank as her lobster.   <Do you happen to know what kind of snails, and what kind of lobster?> Three days later, the lobster was dead.  The day before he died, he was exhibiting sluggish behavior and even turned himself over onto his back twice? <Two things come to mind; one, that he had a 'bad' molt and didn't survive it, or that water parameters were out of whack - what are/were your readings for pH, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate (and salinity/specific gravity and calcium, if we're talking saltwater)? Is it possible that the slugs murdered him with their deadly pH?   <Uhm, I'm a touch confused, here....  snails, or slugs?  And by "their deadly pH" what do you mean, exactly?  Did the pH change after you added them?> I would appreciate any input you have on the occurrence. Thank you for your time. Cricket McLeod p.s. it was a little blue lobster. <Just a touch more info (FW or SW, water parameters) will greatly help us to help you.  Wishing you well,  -Sabrina.>
Murderous snails? continued
He/she was a fresh water little blue lobster (well that is what the pet store told me anyway) about four inches long. <Likely either a Macrobrachium shrimp or a blue crayfish then; a few species of these are often sold under the name "blue lobster".> Fresh water snails also. I don't know what kind light brown in color, does that help? <Since we're talking freshwater, I think the type/species of snail is irrelevant; there are a few marine snail-types that are quite venomous; although it'd have been a long shot, it was a thought.> Not sure if the water was out of whack. I did not test it after adding them. Could the snails have altered the ph, ammonia, etc..? <If one died, yes, but other than that, I'd think it far more likely that the water quality was going downhill (do you change water regularly, vacuum gravel, etc.? how big of a tank?) or that the 'lobster' simply had a bad molt.  This threat can be avoided (though not completely eliminated) by dosing the tank with Iodine (I use Kent marine) at a rate of one drop per ten gallons every week.> But if all ph, ammonia, etc. is normal is there any reason they can not live together? <Well, these (both the big arm shrimps and the crayfishes) are really equal opportunist eaters.  I remember as a kid feeding crayfish in a friend's pond stale potato chips (not a good idea, though!).  I might be concerned that the 'lobster' would decide to munch the snails, but that's the only issue I see with it.> thank you again!

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