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FAQs on Freshwater Aquarium Snail Selection

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 Compatibility, 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,

A hermaphroditic species, the Ramshorn, loved/hated by aquarists worldwide.

Red Australian snail, article by Bob Fenner     1/5/16
In an article on pond snails on your site, Bob Fenner mentions Red Australian snails. I've read about them in a couple of old aquarium books and I'd be interested in obtaining some, but I can find no information online. The illustrations and descriptions show them to be quite different from red ramshorns, which I already have. Do any of you have a few in a tank or pond? or know someone who does?
<I have not seen these for many years.... do see the "Aquarium Advice" link using the string here :red Australian snails: >
Here's Fenner's article:
Thank you for your time.
Pond Snails, Bane or Boon? - WETWEBMEDIA<http://www.wetwebmedia.com/pondsubwebindex/pdsnails.htm>
Skip down to FAQs on Pond Snails. Back to Articles on Pond Snails II, Pond Livestocking /Aquatic Gardens, Design, Construction & Maintenance
<Do please write back if you have any luck finding this species or further input to share. Bob Fenner>

Apple snails- overstocked?     8/28/15
Hello crew, thanks for this fantastic site. I have a quick question regarding my apple snails. I have 12 (Pomacea diffusa), most medium sized with a few being full grown and now 2 egg clutches just appeared. They are housed in a 20 gallon long tank, but due to the lowered water line, substrate, etc., the tank is only holding about 14 gallons of water. I have 2 power filters, one internal and one hang on back, with a combined filtration capacity of 300 gallons per hour. There is also a small sponge filter. The reason I am concerned is that I am having a hard time fully cycling this tank. I would really appreciate your opinion on this. Thanks so much.
<Can you clone a filter? In other words, take some medium from an established filter and replace it with some of the medium in the new filter. Established filters can lose up to half their biological media without problems. Assuming water chemistry and temperature are similar, the bacteria will adapt to the new filter quickly and immediately process ammonia. They'll also colonise the rest of media inside the new filter very quickly, likely within a few days. This process is very reliable if done properly. It does assume you're using filters that can donate or accept media such as ceramic noodles or filter floss, or else the two filters are identical and can share proprietary modules. If all else fails, adding a few cups of gravel from a mature tank can help, though this is less effective because filter bacteria only colonise the very top layer of
gravel where oxygenated water is to be found. Gravel deeper than, say, 1 cm from the surface won't have many/any of the "good" bacteria we're after.
Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Apple snails- overstocked?      9/5/15

Hello again Neale,
Thank you for the considerate reply. I followed your suggestions and took some established media from one of my cycled tanks. At first I saw no improvement, so I upgraded my main filter to the next most powerful model of it's kind.
<Always a good idea.>
Nitrite levels have decreased by about 75% since.
I am using SeaChem stability with water changes and keeping a close eye on the filter, which consequently is running perfectly at this time. I just tested parameters in the apple snail tank, and although nitrites remain (0.50), nitrates are now my concern (almost 80 ppm). Is this a normal finding for the steps I have taken?
<Can't answer this without knowing the nitrate of your tap water. Put another way, if your tap water has a nitrate level of 50 ppm, then getting something like 80 ppm a week after a water change isn't unreasonable for a busy aquarium. On the other hand, if the tap water nitrate is 20 ppm or less, than that same 80 ppm reading looks a lot more alarming. Test kits aren't very accurate, so there's some wiggle room, but if you get a "low" reading on your tap water and a "very high" reading in the aquarium, then yes, something's amiss. Nitrate comes at the end of the decay of organic material and nitrogenous wastes from the fish, so typically nitrate is high in tanks with (a) a lot of decay and/or (b) a lot of fish/fish food. Make sense?>
Thank you
<Most welcome. Neale.>

Snails in aquarium; Whence forth? Whence go?        8/26/14
Hi crew
Been a few years since I had to write for help. I have had my tank set up for about 4 years now after moving. I have not added any fish, decorations or anything else since then. The only thing that goes into the tank is frozen blood worms and flaked food. I somehow got snails in my tank. Have no idea how. Have you seen or heard o this happening before? I read that a yoyo loach does a good job getting rid of snails. Is this true and do you recommend to get one? My tank only currently has 3 Cory cat fish and a 9
inch black ghost.
<The snails were probably always there. You just never saw them. No, they don't materialise out of thin air, so yes, they have to get in there the usual ways, typically on aquarium plants. The easiest/best way to eliminate snails is a combination of physical removal (repeatedly, likely across many weeks) and the addition of some sort of predator. However, loaches tend to be more trouble than they're worth. For a start, you don't get "a" loach.
They're highly social; you get five. Second, they're boisterous, sometimes aggressively so. The Yoyo Loach is fairly peaceful if kept in adequate numbers, but adding 5 specimens may not be practical. Finally, adding 5 fairly big fish to your aquarium will add more stress to the filter than the snails, so think carefully before doing so. Personally, I think the Assassin Snail is an infinitely better choice. It's small, breeds very
slowly, eats snails, but leaves plants alone. In any event, do start by reading here:
Cheers, Neale.>

Rapidly maturing snails   1/28/13
Hi.  About two months ago, on a whim my friend (who works at a pet store) convinced me to buy a blue "mystery" snail for my Betta's tank.  I'm really mad I did that.
<I bet. Not a huge fan of adding "critters" to Betta systems, and Apple/Mystery Snails aren't good companions for fish anyway.>

I'm always really careful with what I put in my Betta's tank and I can't believe I didn't look more into snails before I got one.  My friend told me that the snail would just eat whatever George (my Betta) would leave behind.  A few days after I had the snail it occurred to me that that was probably not the case.  After some research I found out my snail was most likely a Pomacea diffusa (or at least I thought, now I'm not so sure) so I started leaving bits of spinach and zucchini for it to eat in the tank.
About a month into it the snail had babies and I freaked out.  The babies had started eating George's plants and anyway a Betta, a snail, and a bunch of baby snails were waaay too much for George's 2 and 1/2 gallon tank.  I took all of the snails out, gave George new rocks, changed his filter, cleaned his plants, etc.  His tank has been snail free since then.  I put the mama snail and the four baby snails I had found into the cup I usually put George in when I'm cleaning his tank.  It was supposed to be a temporary fix until I could find them a larger tank, but unfortunately they were in there a little longer than they should have (about four days).  I had been changing the water everyday, but I guess that just wasn't enough because the mama snail died.  It was really awful.
<Unfortunately this happens all too often. Apple Snails aren't as easy to keep as many suppose. Do see the excellent AppleSnail.net website for more.>
I got the baby snails a 1/2 gallon tank.  Everyday I change the water alternating between changing a 1/3 of the water and changing the whole thing.  I give them a new leaf to eat every other day when I do the full water change.  This has been going on for a month and I need to find a more long term solution because I've been becoming a little lax with it and I hadn't done a full water change in about three days and I found two new baby snails (which I threw away because honestly I'm not having more snails, I felt bad but enough is enough).  From everything I read the snails shouldn't have been sexually matured for at least a few months. 
Also, I didn't find any sort of eggs.  My plan was to eventually give most of them to a friend once they were bigger, but they're not really bigger yet. Help!  Should I just give them to my friends now?  If I'm a little more vigilant with my cleaning can I keep the snail population down until the snails are a little bigger?  Could they be pond snails and that's why I haven't seen any eggs (except their mom was white and blue which I didn't think pond snails came in that color)?
<Could easily be. Apple Snails lay very distinctive egg clusters ABOVE the waterline. About the size, shape and colour of large raspberries, so hard to miss! Apple Snails have to be in pairs to breed because they're either boys or girls, unlike some snails which can produce offspring all by themselves (e.g., the Malayan Turret Snail). Squishing unwanted Apple Snails should be easy enough to do, or failing that, just remove the egg cases as you see them. It's not hard to rehome true Apple Snail offspring because pet stores can sell them on easily. On the other hand, pond snails like Physella spp. can breed quite quickly, and it's possible for these more pest-like snails to get into tanks via aquatic plants or on the shells of Apple Snails.>
Thanks, Annie
<Cheers, Neale.> 

Snail nix cure?  re: better!!....re: Salt for fungus? (Bob, any obs. re: Java Ferns and snails)<<Most don't eat. B>>    11/24/12
The snails are almost finished devouring the plants.  There's too many...it's too out of control.  The plants were expensive and they're almost all gone.
<These are Java Ferns, which are toxic, so few animals eat them. Fish certainly won't, and generally snails and shrimps leave them alone too. So try and identify the snails. Melanoides, Physa, Physella and Planorbis snails will not harm Java ferns or indeed most other healthy plants (Melanoides, whatever their other faults, won't eat *any* healthy plant of any kind, even seedlings). Nerite snails of all kinds are equally safe. About the only truly destructive snails commonly kept or encountered by tropical fishkeepers are the Apple Snails and their relatives: Pomacea spp. and Marisa cornuarietis. In virtually other situations where snails are "eating" the plant, they're actually eating at dead or dying plant material. Of course there are exceptions for some of the softer plants or for seedlings, where possibly an excessive number of Physa spp. might cause harm. But ordinarily, and especially with something as inedible as Java fern, the question is why is the plant failing not why is it being eaten by snails. For what it's worth, Java Ferns are not as easy to keep as many suppose, and are (in my experience) much less reliable than Anubias spp. One issue may be that "fake" Java Ferns are traded at the budget end of the market, and these simply don't survive for long underwater. But otherwise do review the needs of this species. While undemanding in terms of water chemistry and temperature, it will not do well planted too close (let alone in) the substrate and is best kept an inch or two clear of the substrate attached to bogwood rather than rocks or ornaments. Strong water currents seem to fragment the plant, and algae-eaters, especially raspers such as Panaque spp., can cause real damage very quickly. It grows slowly, and because of that, doesn't do well if constantly buffeted or pecked at. To be brutally frank, it's a plant I've given up with years ago, as I have with Neon Tetras among fish, because there are better, more reliable options available. One last thing. Your Anubias looks fine, and my golden rule with plants is this: buy one of whatever you like to begin with, see what does well, throw out what doesn't, and buy more of the species that seem happy. Your aquarium looks a bit sterile, and my gut feeling is any snail and algae problems you have is more to do with the lack of "balance" than anything else. Try and grab some floating Indian Fern (Ceratopteris thalictroides, but as floating plants, not the more difficult to keep rooted plants, though if you snap off fronds from the rooted plant, they'll grow into floating plants just fine). This is the #1 plant, I think, for jump-starting an aquarium. It's easy to grow, seeds the tank with plenty of good bacteria, provides food for herbivorous fish, grows rapidly enough to shake off any nibbling by snails, and helps to prevent algae. Sure, it looks a bit scrappy to begin with, but a thick canopy of the stuff below the waterline has its own beauty (I tend to trim away over the waterline growth before it burns under the lights). It also provides shade, which Java fern and Anubias really appreciate.>
I've had two local fish shops recommend Skunk Botia to nix the snails and they have hard water too...though the one is selling water too so they have non hard water available.
They're the smart shops...not just a chain store.
<Skunk Botia, Yasuhikotakia morleti, are social (keep 5+ specimens), aggressive amongst themselves and towards other fish, and grow quite large. Think very, VERY carefully before purchasing.>
One lady said they're perfectly ok in hard water.
<Up to a point, yes, like most loaches they're tolerant. But they do prefer soft to moderately hard, pH 6-7.5 water.>
The guy I just spoke with (at the shop that also sells water) suggested skunk Botias are ok with Mollies, which actually implies they tolerate hard water based on Molly's sensitivity to soft!
<Not a wise combo. Do visit those folks over at Loaches.com for second opinions, or read over the excellent Loaches book some of them wrote on behalf of TFH.>
When I checked my facts online it looks like it's not so though....the skunk Botia looks like any other Botia in water preference..but these hard water folks say it's great for our water!!! You say you have hard water....do you know of people keeping skunk Botia in hard with any success (fish thriving)?  Is it a flexible species?
<It is, but there are better choices. The Horseface Loach for example can thrive in even slightly brackish water (around SG 1.002) and as such can be kept with Mollies.>
I think I definitely shouldn't keep it with Mollies.  They like marine salt to thrive, a loach no no.
<For the most part, yes, loaches avoid brackish water, though some species enter slightly brackish water, notably around the Caspian Sea. Among traded species, Acantopsis choirorhynchos, the True Horseface Loach, is the classic slightly salt-tolerant species. It's a fun species and will eat small snails, but does need a sandy, not gravel, substrate.>
I think I can get my water to 7.5 with mixing it like you said.  I think that would probably be alright for a Botia.... Should I add peat filtration too?
<No real need and unpredictable anyway.>
Do you know of anyone using this water system for filtration with success?
<Peat filtration is fiddly (not to mention questionable in terms of environmental sustainability!). Remember, few fish care about the pH _per se_, and provided you reduce the hardness down to around 10 or 12 degrees dH, soft water fish can thrive at pH 7.5 without the least trouble.>
It looks like this removes hardness and even the water softener's salt.  I could do 50/50 with this water and the outdoor spigot that's hard water that I have been using....  The filter is at this link:
I just thought....I wonder if there's something out there to filter water for tanks, and I checked online and there it is.  How good is it, is the question?....$40 is inexpensive comparatively.
<Still a waste of money. Your fish don't need this kind of molly-coddling. If we're talking standard community tropicals -- barbs, danios and whatnot -- then a 50/50 mix of hard tap water with RO bought from your local retailer will be just fine.>
Reverse osmosis not practical...it wastes too much and is too slow!
Since I have the million snail thing going on........do you think the Botia could tolerate it if temporarily I put a whole bunch of fake plants in the tank?
<Likely so, but Skunk Botia are a unwise bet for a small tank in many ways. You need 5 or more, and they'll get to around 10 cm/4 inches in length, and they fight amongst themselves a lot, and they chase slow-moving fish. Do read up carefully on this species.>
The guy suggested it would be easier to get rid of them if there were less food supply for them.  However Botias like a heavily planted tank.  And are known to be aggressive and territorial.  I'm wondering if they'd tolerate fake plants..or is that an issue?
<Do try floating plants as mentioned above before giving up. Remember, if you switch to fake plants, algae will make up the difference; few tanks without plants are algae-free without huge amounts of hard work.>
In a 29 gallon what is a good ratio of females and males to keep with this species?  He said 5 to 10 fish..... I'm ok if it's my only fish species.  I can live with that.  I just remember I understocked mollies and had issues and I wonder if 9 is best, or is it ok to start with 5 since the plants will be fake in the beginning?  I want to make sure there are enough and not too many, if that makes sense.
<Are we talking about the Skunk Botia here? An odd number, with more females than males is the ideal.>
I really want living plants and the java fern was absolutely covered in baby snails last night even with adding the plant food and an increased light source.  They look like java-lace-fern and there's not much more to eat on them!!!
<Bin 'em.>
I attached a picture.  They were $8.00 lg investments!
<This is actually a low, too low, price for Java Ferns, which is my concern. Here in the UK, a good sized "mother plant" Java Fern growing on a bogwood root will cost around £25, that's around $40 US. That's a bargain mind you, because a healthy Java Fern mother plant produces lots of baby plants on the tips of its leaves, at least some of which can be removed successfully and transplanted to new bits of wood. Such a healthy plant will live for many, many years so is a sound investment. But cheap Java Ferns may or may not be a bargain. If money is tight, there are many better species that I'd recommend.>
I want my tank back and I am willing to work with the skunk Botias based on their reputation of being snail annilators!
<Don't expect any fish to annihilate snails. Just isn't that easy. Dealing with snails demands an holistic approach, not just removal, but also understanding why they're thriving at the expense of your plants. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Snail nix cure?  re: better!!....re: Salt for fungus? (Bob, any obs. re: Java Ferns and snails)     11/25/12
Wow....this is embarrassing.  I had bought a replacement bulb a couple months ago and that's when the plants started to noticeably go down hill. 
The guy really sold the bulb, he had claimed it was SO much brighter and great for plants too, so he said.  It was what HE uses.  I should have known better.  The bulb he enthusiastically sold to me is called actinic. 
it doesn't even grow coral!
<Actually, actinic tubes are used, alongside white tubes, in marine aquaria, and yes, they do encourage good coral growth. But you are correct that they're mostly for looks, helping to make the blues on marine fish really bright blue.>
There is so much misinformation in this hobby.
<Hard to argue with this. But perhaps a more charitable opinion is that there are many different opinions on things, some based on experience, some on sales and marketing literature, and sifting through these for what'll help in your situation isn't always easy.>
There should be a class for fish store employees because people will ask them questions and they will give out free advice.
<Can't speak for where you live, but here in the UK, yes, there is college called Sparsholt College that has vocational courses on fish husbandry, including one aimed at retailers. It's been running for some 20 years now and is very well respected. There may well be others offering equally useful courses, and I agree with you, it'd be helpful if retailers made an effort to train their staff more fully. If nothing else, mis-selling equipment such that hobbyists end up with dead fish or plants pretty quickly dampens any enthusiasm. That in turn means such people leave the hobby, never to come back. Proper training means sales staff can nurture good aquarium practice in their customers, and long term, such customers will come back for more stuff over the many years they stay in the hobby.
Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Snail nix cure?  re: better!!....re: Salt for fungus? (Bob, any obs. re: Java Ferns and snails)     11/25/12
Thank you Neale!
I had been totally sold against skunk Botia in spite of their supposed snail eating prowess, due to the negative things I'd read about their temperament.  But then the LFS were selling it as a miracle cure to snails and downplaying what I'd read about it's aggression.  As there were two LFS recommending it, they'd convinced me against my better judgment to get them. Thank you for confirming that it's a bad idea!!!  I was ready to go and buy a bunch and it probably would have been a disaster.
<Could well have been. On the other hand, Assassin Snails (Clea helena) are generally safe, being harmless towards fish (though probably not fish eggs and fry) and much slower to multiply than plant-eating snails. Do consider these.>
I wouldn't do a pea puffer either I don't think...but the lady at LFS recommended a pea puffer for snails instead when I'd told her I worried about skunk loach aggression, and she said it wouldn't bother other fish if I just got one.  She said it's mouth was too small!!!!  LOL!  It sounded so cute I was tempted.  But all the authorities say it occasionally does ok with Otocinclus (because they're bottom dwellers and they swim FAST enough to get away), but that it will attack larger fish and it ought to be in a species only tank.  Also it's freshwater not brackish tolerant so I couldn't keep it with mollies.
<While I'm sure the Dwarf Puffer will tolerate a little salt without the least complaint, you are quite right that they're a bad species for mixed communities. Some people have had success mixing them with a variety of other fish, but on the whole, the results have been poor.>
They guy at the other LFS actually told me I could just keep a school of pea puffers but that also disagrees with everything else I've read, as they fight each other once they mature.  (His were young stock.)   Anyway they're so small.....  they probably wouldn't make much of a dent on millions of snails in the amount I could keep of them!
<Indeed. Big scheme of things, it's often easier to remove snails manually (or, _in extremis_ with snail-killing chemicals) as far as possible, then add something that will stop the remaining snails multiplying too quickly, such as the Assassin Snails. Adding big but harmless snail species that compete with pest snails can also keep snail populations down; Tylomelania spp for example don't eat plants but do eat leftover fish food. They're big (up to about 10 cm, but commonly around 6 cm) and valuable, so any new specimens that appear can be removed easily when they're 2-3 cm long and returned to retailers or shared with fishkeeping friends.>
I will buy a whole bunch of Indian fern and return the hideous plastic plants I purchased last night!!! I will also build up stock of fish again. 
I think I'll go all female this time, and I'll chose baby mollies about the same size as the two that I have now so they're equal. 
<Good luck with all.>
Hopefully I can balance the tank and with regular plant feedings and some supplemental light or a better bulb, the plants will grow again.    I'll offer more vegetable to the fish so they don't live on flake and algae alone. Neale, ironically, I've had incredible success with java ferns in the Betta setup, and that's why I was freaking out that they were failing in the large tank...it seemed such a hardy and durable plant in the Betta setup.
<For sure. Java Fern is one of those plants that either thrives amazingly well or fails abysmally; it rarely seems to just potter along.>
They do reproduce, hundreds of little off shoots which come loose and I stuff those into the java moss where they grow.  They grow super slow of course, but predictably.
<One issue its lighting. If overhead lighting is strong, red algae grows on the leaves (typically blue-black brush and hair algae, which are red algae despite the colour). Anyway, these algae are a sure sign that the Java Fern isn't in a good place. In the wild the Java Fern lives in shady places, usually above the waterline to be sure, but places like waterfalls in rainforests where the overhead light is filtered through trees and shrubs.
If you just dump a Java Fern in bright light, then this algae problem is common. Does the algae cause any specific harm to the plant? I don't know; but I've rarely seen Java Ferns thrive when covered with red algae.>
I did think they looked inedible... I think I'd also read somewhere that a fish that nibbles plants won't eat them.
<They contain poisons, supposedly, like many other ferns, and even if fish bite them, they don't like the taste, and won't eat them again. Snails of course have different metabolic systems to fish, and may well be able to handle eating Java Ferns. But that said, neither Bob nor I have seen much sign of snails eating them in our tanks. Indeed, I have a tank with lots of plants and lots of snails, and the snails do no harm at all.>
I was therefore shocked that the snails were devouring it.  So I suppose I have the notorious apple snails.
<You would know if you have Apple Snails, Pomacea spp. -- they're very big.>
Though....the javas in the big tank aren't reproducing.  Maybe they are imposters!!!  wow. That Anubias had more leaves.  At least it's holding stable.  I'll buy a ton of Indian fern..   hopefully I can find it.  I'll feed it too.  I suppose that was the issue too.  
<Do be careful with feeding. Anubias grows slowly, and like Java Fern, will become covered with algae if exposed to bright light. If you have a mix of Anubias and Indian Fern, I'd dose the tank at about 25% the amount the bottle says, only going upwards, to maybe 50%, after a few months if you see signs that the plants need more minerals (e.g., the leaves are going yellow, not green). Too much fertiliser will simply promote algae growth (and waste money, too).>
My tank became sterile as plants died back and I had trouble with mollies bullying and they slowly died out. The guy I spoke with yesterday at one of the shops said he's found if he does a vegetable like zucchini twice a week it really helps to curb molly aggression.  I tried squash to catch snails and while they ignored it....the mollies loved it.  I think I'm struggling for lack of experience at this!!! 
<Perhaps. But you're gaining experience, and that's the main thing. As I've said before, look for what works, and stick with it. If some plant or fish simply doesn't work with you, then skip it.>
I am going to try this cool home made snail trap today.....  i think the shrimp pellets will be more enticing than lettuce or zucchini.  I have a small plastic container.  I hope I can thin their population somewhat.
<Worth a shot, but generally traps are less than stellar in their performance. Here's what I'd do: strip the tank down to the glass. Put the fish in a bucket with the plants. Stick the filter into this as well, or if possible, into another pail of water big enough for you to leave the filter running (though switching it off for an hour won't do any harm at all, especially if you can open the filter to let the bacteria inside "breathe"). Clean everything as thoroughly as possible. Bin whatever you can, preferably the gravel if nothing else because removing all the snails from that is a chore. You can buy snail-killing potions that work well if you want to sterilise the gravel, but that may or may not be cheaper than replacing with new gravel. You can also use boiling water to clean the gravel, but that's surprisingly ineffective unless you do it in batches so that all the snails are killed. Dead snails tend to come to float to the surface if you stir small batches of gravel. But honestly, replacing with new is easier. Anyway, do this and then rebuild the tank. Fill up with mostly new water, and then top up with water from the buckets. Reconnect the filter and heater. With everything shipshape, net the fish out and put them back. They're doubtless be a few snails in the buckets that hitchhiked their way in on plants and filters, so don't pour them in by accident. Now go buy some Assassin Snails, 4-6 per 10-15 gallons of water. Add to the tank. They'll vanish into the gravel or sand, but if they take, they'll breed slowly, and they'll be a built-in anti-snail system!>
I thought horse faces get to 11" so I hadn't thought him an option, but I searched again today.
<Ah, they do get quite large, around 15-20 cm/6-8 inches being typical. I couldn't remember the size of your tank. Suitable for, say, 55 gallons upwards.>
There's a 2" variety that is rare, but is totally cute if I could find some.   Then there's also a 4.5"- The link to 4.5" here:
<This species is quite aggressive and predatory compared to the "true" Horseface, Acantopsis choirorhynchos.>
I guess it needs a small group due to the species.
<With these semi-aggressive loaches, they're best kept singly or in groups of 5+.>
I wonder if it would it bother full grown mollies?  (The article said it finds danios tasty.)
<Indeed Acantopsis octoactinotos has a rather poor reputation as a community aquarium fish!>
I'll see if a LFS could order the dwarfs..... I like the look of them and they're a perfect size.
<The smaller Acanthopsoides species like Acanthopsoides robertsi are fairly tolerant, schooling fish, but being so much smaller, their impact on snails will be much less intense.>
Thanks again, Neale, enjoy your weekend.
<So far, so good.>
These issues I have will take some time to resolve I think.  There's a learning curve for sure.  (Especially with LFS selling imposter plants and trying to get people to purchase mean tempered fish for a smallish aquarium.) 
<Soon enough, all will click into place. Do spend time reading a good aquarium book, there are many, but here are two inexpensive ones you might like:
Both are written my former aquarium magazine editors with lots of fishkeeping experience, and both take pains to point out species you shouldn't keep as well as ones that should do well. If you're looking for used book bargains, both "An Essential Guide to Choosing Your Tropical Freshwater Fish" and "Interpet Guide to Community Fishes" cost pennies on Amazon and cover the basics well (indeed, the second book named was my very first aquarium book, bought in the early 80s!). I like the "Complete Aquarium" by Peter Scott as well, even though it takes the quirky approach of step-by-step descriptions of around 20 different types of tank (about six pages for each). Do try and look at this one, it's inspirational!
Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Snail nix cure?  re: better!!....re: Salt for fungus? (Bob, any obs. re: Java Ferns and snails) - 11/25/12

Wow, I'd love to attend those classes!  I suppose they have something in TX at College Station or maybe in a University near the coast, but it's likely more commercial and not for hobbyists.
<Likely so.>
I'm studying real estate classes now, though I read a lot about fish in my spare time, and having some classes to help me better understand the chemical biology of tanks would be useful. Now I know the actinic is what caused the downward spiral with the plants.  I'm mad at myself for letting myself be sold on that bulb in spite of misgivings, but I guess if I get a two bulb strip I can use it in the future beside a plant bulb.
I appreciate your educated advice!
<Most welcome, Neale.>
Re: Snail nix cure?  re: better!!....re: Salt for fungus? (Bob, any obs. re: Java Ferns and snails) - 11/25/12
Thank you, Neale, I'll try those books, the used book I started to read last night contained outdated info and I was wanting to find some reputable ones! The last book sounds like fun.  I have a short book on biotopes that I love, and it sounds like that one's even more detailed about the different kinds of tanks.
<It is a good book.>
No one had Indian fern….
<Do search under "Water Sprite", another name often applied to this species.>
but soft hornwort was working reasonably well before the light bulb change, and it's popular locally.
<Hornwort tends to be demanding (of light) in tropical conditions, but it can do well, yes.>
A guy's going to give me a huge bunch free this Friday as they throw it out at that shop anyway....it's just what their cherry shrimp are shipped in. (I'm hoping I'll find a tiny shrimp or two in it!)  Other stores sell it and claim it grows like a weed.
<Indeed, though I've found not indefinitely in tropical tanks without strong lighting.>
I ordered a bunch of Indian Fern from him also as no one carries it but the farthest away store who was out Saturday and needing to reorder… These plants will provide a quick planting replacement, the hornwort bridging the gap until the Indian fern grows larger.
This way I don't have to spend a lot and I can rebuild my plant stock gradually.  I may temporarily hook hornwort to decorations to simulate rooted plants... To give more hideaways.  I'm sure the fish won't  be picky.
<But the Hornwort; it does prefer floating, especially if lighting levels are low to middling.>
I'm up to 5 assassins..... I've been buying them weekly.  It looks like a couple of them are growing larger...probably from the massive food supply.
I guess it will best to wait till the new plants arrive next weekend to do a thorough clean and gravel switch, as I don't want it to get too sterile.  I have a Quick Start too...whether or not that will be helpful remains to be seen. 
<It's not that helpful, and if the tank is already cycled (if you don't have an undergravel filter, of course) then it's pointless because hardly any of the bacteria you want are living in the existing gravel.>
Thanks again.  I'm going to hit up some garden stores now for fine gravel.  It's cheaper to rinse it than pay all that money for the gourmet pet store variety.
Though I saw some on sale claiming to already have the bacteria......  That is tempting and may be worth a little extra cost.
<It's not.>
But Quick Start was $3 and claims to be the bacteria needed.
<It's a claim, and not one many experienced aquarists take too seriously.>
I could probably soak a little of the gravel in it and add it that way to make sure it takes as opposed to just dumping it into the water.
<Rinse well; the silt is messy. Otherwise, the existing aquarium fixtures, especially the filter, have all the bacteria you need.>

Snail mug shots       thanks again!!   re: Snail nix cure?  re: better!!....re: Salt for fungus? (Bob, any obs. re: Java Ferns and snails)       11/28/12
Thanks Neale.  Yes, it's  called Water Sprite here, and I used the Latin name too when asking around.
<Real good.>
The chains used to carry it I think, ages ago, but they all went to small packaged plants...only one chain store still has a plant tank except for the specialty stores....and they all carry limited stock in their plant tanks, planted in gravel not substrate, with a few fish and apparently lots of tiny snails and every kind of algae imaginable!  That's why I like the ones packaged in moisture beads that are clean!  They also have the Latin name.  The only fern they carry is Peacock and it isn't the same Latin name.
<Ah no. This isn't even an aquatic plant; a species called Selaginella willdenowii that inevitably dies underwater.
Not even sure why this plant gets traded.>
Here are some mug shots of the snails. If you don't really look you might not know they're there.
<Most of these seem to be Melanoides spp.; they're harmless to healthy plants.>

The one on the java is dead center and harder to spot.  I use a paper towel to wipe-capture as many as I can from the glass but some still fall back into the gravel so restarting is the best option. Thank you again!  I'll take your advise and see if I can save this tank.  I guess if it works, thinking very optimistically, I'll need to drop live food occasionally for the assassins?
<Nope. They're as much scavengers as predators, and need very little extra food beyond the odd bit of fish food they'll find themselves. But they aren't herbivores, so they don't eat plants.>
Maybe a little live food is ok for Mollies even though they're primarily vegetarian.
<Cheers, Neale.>

Pond snails... stkg./sel.   11/5/11
My daughter brought home a pond snail from school that was raised in our math & science center. Can we introduce this snail to our established freshwater aquarium?
<No... are cold water organisms; not suitable for indoor use, and too likely to harbor/vector disease... DO wash your hands after touching. Bob Fenner>
Re: Pond snails   11/5/11

Even though our aquarium is not heated, it is keep at room temp.
<Even though>

Neritidae snails, FW, sel.   7/13/10
Hi, I have been looking for freshwater Neritidae snails. Can you please tell me if you handle them or where to get them? Also, in the information that I have been able to find about them, some say that they will not multiply and others that they will. Which is right?
<Greetings. Where to buy them depends on where you are. Here in England they're quite widely sold in the bigger aquarium shops, such as the Maidenhead Aquatics chain. Asking your local tropical fish shop to get them in shouldn't be hard, but note that some retailers haven't a clue what these snails are properly called, so it may take some effort to connect the common names on his wholesaler's list with the Latin names of the species you want to buy. As for reproduction, most do not breed in aquaria. They certainly will lay eggs, but the larvae are planktonic and in many cases float into the sea to develop, and only return to freshwater later on.
Consequently these snails aren't easy to breed in captivity. There are a very few exceptions, like the European species Theodoxus fluviatilis, that can complete their life cycle in freshwater. But the ones you see in pet shops, such as the African zebra Nerite Neritina natalensis and the Indo-Pacific zebra Nerite Vittina coromandeliana will not breed under aquarium conditions. Cheers, Neale.> 

Choosing a snail, FW, Apple admonition... again   6/24/10
We bought a very lovely Apple snail, Carl, who was about an inch in diameter. He seemed to be thriving for about a year and a half. He was mobile and active a lot of the time and did a great job cleaning algae and I suppose any food debris. I also made available to him (her?) the algae pellets every few days or so and he also liked the shrimp pellets.
Then one morning, he was dead. No signs of trauma. Just dead. I checked the usual suspects (temp, chemistry, etc) and nothing was out of whack.
<As I've stated here at WWM endlessly, Apple snails do not survive for much beyond a year under most aquarium conditions. They need an alternation of warm, watery conditions with a couple of months when they're kept out of
water in damp soil. This replicates aestivation. If kept constantly in warm water, they eventually "burn up". They are, generally, poor choices for aquarium pets.>
I then read that the life of Apple snails is shortened by keeping them in a common aquarium temp of 73 degrees.
<On the contrary, keeping them relatively cool for at least a few months can be beneficial.>
So even though I wanted to immediately replace Carl, I didn't think it would be right to knowingly place a snail in an environment that would shorten his life.
<With Apple snails, you may as well treat them as disposable pets. They very rarely live more than a year.>
Is there a non-pest snail whose life is not shortened in a 73 degree tank?
<Oh, you could try some of the Nerite snails. They come from tropical streams so do well slightly on the cool side provided the water is briskly moving and has plenty of oxygen. Because they eat ONLY algae, they will starve if the aquarium is too small, so allow one large specimen (about 2 cm long) or two smaller ones (1 cm long) per 10-15 US gallons. They need moderately hard to hard water, and won't live long in acidic conditions.
Alternatively, you could try Marisa cornuarietis, the Colombian Ramshorn, which is very much like the Apple snail but does rather well kept
underwater constantly. It's a very bad plant eater though!>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Snail and Java Fern... sel., sys., Betta.... sys...  3/8/2010
I have two questions. I have a Red Ramshorn Snail I bought about five hours ago.
<Planorbis spp.; these are coldwater snails that don't last long in tropical tanks.>
At first, he was coming out of his shell a little bit. I put him in my four gallon tank with my Betta and now he doesn't come out. My Betta hasn't touched him as I've been monitoring the tank.
<These two life forms aren't really compatible. Bettas need to be kept at 28 C/82 F, or they eventually die. The snail will soon suffer if kept this warm, and won't last more than a few months.>
First time I put him in I accidentally dropped him but he landed on my plant, so I don't think he got hurt?
His shell seems to be fine. He is defecating at the moment. What's wrong with the little man?
<Little snail, surely...?>
Also, my Java Fern looks like it has a white cottony- growth all over the leaves and the roots. I was told to just wash it but I can't get it all off.
<Likely fungus, a sign of organic decay in aquaria with poor water quality and not enough water movement or filtration.>
It's not dying as there are other little plants growing on it.
<Actually, one thing Java ferns do when unhappy is to produce plantlets at the tip of the leaves while the big leaves rot away. Java ferns need at least some proper lighting, and won't live in tanks without lighting. Aim for about 0.5 to 1 watt per gallon.>
I thought it may of been the oxygen shell that was in my tank as the growths first started on the plants roots. I threw out the oxygen shell.
<These are the white lumps in the shape of a scallop shell, right? Useless products. No substitute for filtration.>
Is the plants problem connected to the snail problem?
<Review the environment. Both may be suffering for the same reasons.>
How can I solve both? Any information will be greatly appreciated. Also, my tank is not filtered or have a heater.
<You're keeping a Betta in a tank without a heater? Who told you that was a good idea? They lied to you. Read here:
Bettas are tropical fish. The word "tropical" means they come from somewhere hot and sunny. A centrally heated home in the temperate zone won't be hot enough. You MUST have a heater AND a simple, air-powered
filter for this aquarium.>
It's just plain freshwater with water conditioner.
<Tap water with water conditioner is fine, but don't use water from a domestic water softener.>
I also replace 10% of the water every few days with new, conditioned water.
<No substitute for filtration.>
Thanks :)
<Cheers, Neale.>
re: Snail and Java Fern  3/8/2010
Thanks for the response :)
<Happy to help.>
I got the Betta as a present from somebody in a brandy glass. I knew that this is an improper home for him so I got him the larger tank as soon as I could. It is a round bowl as that is all I could afford unfortunately.
<Won't live long. A few weeks if the house is warm, much less if the house is cold. But not for anything like the two years or so they should live for.>
I haven't been able to find any filtration, pumps, heaters or lights that can fit or a suitable for my tank.
<Are available. A 25 watt heater should be fine for a 5 gallon tank. A small air pump and internal sponge filter will be adequate for filtration.>
I've searched many pet shops, aquarium specialists, I've asked people and I've looked on many websites including eBay but I've had no luck.
I plan to get a rectangular tank and all these things as soon as I can but I don't know how long this is going to take as I am a full time student, not working and living on my own.
<I see.>
So is there anything apart from all the above mentioned that I can do?
<Not really, no. Regular water changes will help offset water quality problems, but even with clean water, the cold will eventually kill the Betta.>
Also, my snail has moved as its fairly far away from where I originally put him (from on top a leaf on the plant to close to a rock, he's also the right way up, foot touching the ground). My Betta seems curious, he stares at the snail and sleeps right next to him. He doesn't flare up at him or look agitated or aggressive, he just simply stays next to him. Would this be a good indication that my Betta is OK with the snail?
<Cheers, Neale.>

Snails, sel., FW   2/13/10
Hello crew I am very confused... I have always wanted snails.
<Snails are fun. But you do need to choose carefully. Do start reading, here:
On the whole, you need to choose snails that won't harm your plants and share the same requirements as your fish.>
I have researches them allot and know what they need well kind of.
<If you don't mind me saying so, you have an interesting way with the English language.>
So the other day I went to Petco to see if they had any. Well they did but most of them were dead from shipping so he found me 3 that were still alive he thought. 1 was called a mystery snail and it was real dark brown and
black. The other two where called golden Inca snails.
<Both varieties of what are generally called "Apple Snails", Pomacea species, typically Pomacea bridgesi. Although fun to keep, they do have very specific demands, and they don't mix well with fish.>
Well I wasn't satisfied I wanted more than just three. So I traveled about an hour to another pet shop. They had a whole bunch so I got 2 blackish mystery snails and one that was called ivory mystery snail and a golden mystery snail also a blue mystery snail. Well I am happy with all of them but I want them to breed but I don't know what species they are so I don't know if they will. So what are the difference between these snails and will they breed together?
<Yes, very likely they will interbreed if all Pomacea bridgesi. These snails need somewhat warm water in summer, cool water in winter, and if kept properly will lay their eggs *above* the waterline in raspberry-like egg masses. These hatch after a couple of weeks, and miniature snails fall out into the water. In a filtered, well maintained aquarium they're quite easy to rear. But overall, people rarely keep Apple Snails alive for longer than a few months. Do take some time to research their needs in terms of diet, temperature and water chemistry. Cheers, Neale.> 

Re: Cleaning used equipment - follow up question re: snails   9/2/09
Greetings - thanks for the advice below.
<My pleasure.>
I successfully cleaned all the components of the 55 gallon aquarium with vinegar and it worked quite well. I hope to start the tank this weekend and move the fish in 6 weeks.
<Very good.>
My follow-up question has to do with snails in the aquarium. At the beginning of the pond season I purchased 10 Japanese trap door snails. I think they have done very well and are about 1 1/2' in size.
<Sounds like you've done well with them. Viviparus malleatus gets to about twice that size in shell length.>
My question:
How many of these snails should be brought in to place in the 55 gallon aquarium with the 3 fish.
<Difficult to say... ten specimens should be fine though.>
If none of the snails should go in can I keep them in a separate aquarium so they can go back in the pond next Spring?
<Yes, it's a very good idea to keep snails in their own aquarium over the cold months. While Viviparus malleatus is tolerant of cold water, you may want to remove a few of them late in autumn so you have a starter population that could be pressed into service next spring should the winter be so cold the snails outdoors don't survive. A 10-20 gallon tank with a simple box filter should be ample. Don't overfeed during the cold months when these snails tend to be fairly inactive.>
Thanks so much
<Cheers, Neale.>

Can and/or do Oto Catfish tolerate slightly brackish water?   5/17/09
I put about a tablespoon of aquarium salt per 5 gallons.
<Why? Adding salt at this concentration does precisely nothing to make your fish healthier or happier. Utter waste of money, and potentially harmful to freshwater fish in the long term.>
If not, what small algae eating fish does well in brackish conditions?
<Best bets are Mollies and other Poeciliidae; algae-eating snails such as Nerites; and salt-tolerant algae-eating shrimps such as Amano shrimps. Most of the large herbivores like Scats will also eat substantial amounts of
algae, though they're not normally used for algae control. As ever, if you have an algae problem, the solution isn't fish but making sure the tank is "balanced", in particular, that there are enough fast-growing plants under strong light. Most algae problems occur in unbalanced aquaria.>
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Oto Catfish and brackish water? 5/17/09

Hmm that's weird because I thought that Mollies do best with a little bit of salt...
<They do. One tablespoon per 5 gallons doesn't make brackish water, and neither does it do anything useful for freshwater fish. Adding such a trivially small amount of salt is pointless. Mollies do well upwards of 6 grammes per litre, which is about one level teaspoon per litre, and one litre is 3.75 US gallons, so that's about 3.75 teaspoons per US gallon. Since one tablespoon is three teaspoons, that's a bit over a tablespoon per gallon. You're adding less than a fifth the amount needed to optimize Molly health. In other words, you're not doing much of anything. Plain vanilla sodium chloride ("tonic salt" or "aquarium salt") as opposed to marine salt mix (what you use in a brackish water tank) only raises salinity, which has some therapeutic value in terms of nitrate toxicity. Marine salt mix contains carbonate salts that buffers the pH and raises the carbonate hardness, improving the stability of conditions in the tank, and this also helps Mollies dramatically. Bottom line, you cannot safely keep Otocinclus with Mollies: to create conditions that Mollies need for maximum health and longevity, you need to add more salt than you're doing now, and that would be harmful to most freshwater fish, including Otocinclus. Trust me on this: I literally wrote the book about brackish water fish! Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Oto Catfish and brackish water? 05/18/09

Thank you much! I'm going to put some more salt in and look into the Nerite snails... Thanks again
<Good-oh. Nerites work well in brackish water, especially Clithon species; these eat a lot of algae! Cheers, Neale.> 
Re: Oto Catfish and brackish water?  05/23/09

I went to my LFS and they didn't have any of the Nerite snails... They just had "mystery snails."
<Not Nerite snails... Apple snails (Pomacea spp.)...>
I was told that they ate algae, but they were just sitting on the bottom.
<Eat some algae, but hopeless algae-eaters in most aquaria, being happier eating plants or fish food... also very difficult to maintain in the long term. Most specimens die within a year; need a resting phase in cooler conditions for 2-3 months per year. Generally fiddly; leave in the shop, or at least read up on Apple Snails first, e.g.: http://www.applesnail.net/ >
I was able to test how salty my tank was and it was > 1.000 I'm not sure what that means...
<Nor am I; "> 1.000" simply means more saline than pure water... but that includes the sea! Apple Snails not tolerant of brackish water, so not an option for the Molly aquarium. You're after a specific gravity ("SG") of 1.002-1.003 for Mollies; see WWM re: Brackish water fishkeeping:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/bracsystems.htm >
I could add more salt and keep looking for those snails.
<Don't buy the Apple snails for this system.>
Just wondering: do Oto cats tolerate that?
I know they can be very picky when it comes to water parameters... What do you think is best?
<For Otocinclus, you want low to middling temperature, around 23-26 C; you want soft to moderately hard water, so 5-10 degrees dH is about right; and pH 6.5-7.5 is fine. Water turnover should be medium-high to high, so say 6-10 times the volume of the tank in turnover per hour. Water should be clean, and the tank well established. Green algae MUST be present in the tank, or else provided via substitutes such as algae wafers; Otocinclus DO NOT eat diatoms (the golden brown algae on the glass); hair algae; brush algae; thread algae; or blue-green algae. They are not compatible with Mollies or other fish that want hard water, let alone brackish water. The majority of Otocinclus sold die a few weeks after purchase simply because their needs aren't met. If you don't have the right tank for them, don't waste your money!>
Also, I was told that the Nerites were hard to find ??? Is that true?
<Not even remotely true in the UK; most good fish shops have them, for around £1-2 a throw. In your own country may be different; consult fishkeepers in your area. By far the best algae eating snails.>
Sorry for throwing all these questions at you.
Thank you so much
<Cheers, Neale.>

Snail Questions, Mystery, sys., sel.  04/21/09
Great site! Now I just have to find the time to ready through it all. So far I think it's the best one out there.
<Thank you.>
I am setting up a 10 gallon tank for the first time. I have a Mystery Snail that I rescued from a Betta Bowl where he was being harassed. So the snail will be part of my 10 gallon community. A friend gave me an old
10 gallon tank, but nothing else. Researching what I need I thought the "Eclipse 1" would be good, however I'm concerned about how it works.
Tank Question:
I have not seen the eclipse 1 yet, but if the filters work from the top, doesn't the water have to be topped off for it to work?
<Don't know this filter myself, but you should see a "minimum" waterline somewhere on the filter. Usually, the water is about keeping the motor from overheating more than anything else. Anyway, if the water is below this line, it's unsafe.>
Don't snail need at least 1" of air space for their respiration?
Reference From: www.peteducation.com
Respiration: Snails of the Ampullariidae family have both gills and a lung.
They use a siphon, much like a snorkel, which the snail can extend out to the water surface allowing the snail to breathe while submerged. Therefore, in an aquarium setting, there should be two to four inches of open air space above the waterline to provide the snail with open air to breathe.
The siphon of the Pomacea genus is typically longer than the length of the snail's body.
<Contrary to what people imagine, Apple Snails actually aren't good additions to fish tanks. There are multiple reasons, two of which are the need for air and the tendency many fish have of nipping at the Apple
Snails. But Apple Snails are also seasonal creatures that spend part of the year in "hibernation", usually during summer when the water level is low.
Without a resting phase, they simply burn out, which is why so few Apple Snails ever get as big in captivity as they do in the wild.>
Snail Health Questions:
The snail has not been looking good since he was being harassed. Now he has a lot of white cloudy stuff all over his shell and a lot of gooey stuff coming out of him all the time. He also is very inactive. Is he dying?
<Quite possibly. Once damaged, Apple Snails are prone to dying, which is why I recommend people keep them in their own quarters, away from fish.
That way, you can control all the variables. Prevention is definitely better than cure.>
Will it be safe to add him to the tank or is he too sick?
<I wouldn't; a lump of rotting snail meat wouldn't help water quality one bit. Much better to leave it in a reasonably large bucket (say, 3-5 gallons) with an airstone, and see what happens. Assuming it's not too cold where you live, you might not even need a heater.>
Any idea what is wrong with him and how I can help him recovery.
<Snail medicine is very much in its infancy! So far as we can tell, Apple Snails are either in rude health or dying; there isn't much in between.>
I've tried searching for the answers, but wasn't having any luck and I want to get the tank setup this week if possible.
Thank you for your time & knowledge,
<Hope this helps, Neale.>
Re: Snail Questions
Hi Neale,
Your answers were very helpful - thank you for your time.
<My pleasure. Good luck! Neale.>

Question about miniature freshwater aquarium snails 01/09/09 I was wondering where miniature freshwater aquarium snails come from. <Depends. Usually attached to aquarium plants (sometimes as eggs) or less often as stowaways in bags of new fish. Some folks, like me, actively go out and collect or buy snails to add to their tanks; snails do little harm and much good.> One day, I happened to notice a miniature, dark brown snail, about a centimeter long in my turtle's freshwater aquarium. <Do look at Physa and Physella spp, as these are the most common small brown snails in freshwater tanks. Malayan livebearing snails (Melanoides spp.) are typically green with very pretty red-purple markings.> Could they grow by themselves? <Not from nothing, no.> Could they somehow develop from the goldfish I bought? <Not as such, no. But they could come in the bags your goldfish travelled home in.> I have no idea where they came from, either someone put them there without me knowing, or they grew from bacteria if that's possible... <It took snails about 3 billion years to evolved from bacteria, so unless you've had your tank set up a fair while, this particular pathway isn't likely!> What do you think? <I'm a snail fan. Enjoy them. They're fun and do some useful work scavenging and aerating the substrate. They only multiply to plague proportions in dirty tanks where there's stuff for them to eat. Remove any excess snails you don't want, but otherwise keep the tank clean and your snails won't do any harm.> Thank you for your help- Sincerely, Corinne <Cheers, Neale.>

Malaysian trumpet snails... comp., sel.   12/18/08 Good afternoon, I don't have a question but I wanted to share a problem I had with Malaysian Trumpet snails. I used to have a 30 gal hexagon freshwater tank with some tetras and snails. At a LFS, I saw in a tank a tiny Malaysian Trumpet Snail and asked if I could take him home. After a couple of months, they had taken over the tank. Some times I would pick them out and be able to fill up a shot glass with them, and the next day it was like nothing happened. Finally, I emptied the tank, and switched it to a fish only salt water tank. I had I guess left a little water in the bottom along with the gravel. I then filled it up with fresh water and added salt. A week later, I noticed one trumpet had survived and was climbing the glass. It had acclimated to the salinity of 1.023. I then completely drained, rinsed, and started over again to never have the problem again. Once you get them, unless you have a puffer, they are impossible to kill, even with salt. Beware. Just wanted to give someone a heads up if they were interested in them. <Hello Bobby. Melanoides snails are misunderstood. They are neither bad nor dangerous. In fact they do much good. Let's start with the basics: reproduction. Yes, they're livebearers. Although individually not especially long lived (likely less than a year) they are livebearers that can produce a lot of offspring across their lives. Males are rare, and females can apparently reproduce by cloning themselves without the need for males, producing offspring parthenogenetically (like aphids). However, like any animal, they can only breed when conditions are right, specifically, if they have enough to eat. In clean tanks they breed slowly. The dirtier the tank, the faster they breed. Note that a "dirty" tank isn't necessarily a bad thing, and I'm not talking about water quality here. Rather, anything edible, including uneaten fish food, dead fish, decaying plant leaves, algae, and fish faeces. Remove these from your tank aggressively, and Melanoides snails will breed slowly. When it comes to controlling their numbers then, the best thing is to simply limit the amount of food available to them. Then their populations settle down to an acceptable level, with births doing little more than countering deaths. There are predators that will eat these snails happily. Pufferfish may be examples, but also loaches and various catfish (if hungry) including Synodontis and the various species we call "talking catfish" such as Platydoras costatus. But the best predator is Clea helena (sometimes called Anentome helena), a predatory freshwater whelk that is increasingly widely sold in the UK at least. It greedily hunts down these snails, and while it does breed under aquarium conditions, as a predator it can only maintain much smaller populations than herbivore/scavengers like Melanoides tuberculata. It's also rather pretty and brightly coloured, and you can easily remove surplus snails and share them with other aquarists. Why bother with Melanoides at all? The answer is that it is an astonishingly good scavenger. If you have a tank with a sand or gravel substrate, this is the PERFECT animal to circulate through that substrate, removing organic wastes, and thereby preventing unwanted decay. By cleaning up the substrate it reduces the chances of pathogenic bacteria collecting in the substrate of the type that irritate catfish and other bottom-dwelling fish, and it also keeps the substrate loose enough that plants can dig in easily. I'm very much with the authors of Baensch's Aquarium Atlas in viewing these snails as a blessing, not a curse. Wild populations can consist of thousands per square meter, but even in large numbers in aquaria, they don't actually do any harm. Unlike the majority of snails they do not seem fussed about copper-based medications, so there's little risk of a mass die-off next time you're treating for Whitespot or Finrot. As a "clean-up crew" for planted tanks they're second to none. They're even safe with fish fry, though mixing them with fish eggs is probably unwise. You are indeed correct in noting the high salt tolerance of these snails; while freshwater snails, they are known to inhabit brackish water at over 50% seawater salinity, and likely will tolerate higher salinities for extended periods, though likely not indefinitely. In other words, don't be too hard on these snails! All they do is highlight problems *we* have keeping our tanks as clean as we should, by converting waste organic matter into baby snails. In a clean tank, they do little harm and much good. Cheers, Neale.>

Malaysian Trumpet Snails 11-13-08 Hello All, Hope you are having a great day! <Hello! Yea, wouldn't be so bad except for that exam tomorrow.> Recently I read an article on your site about Malaysian trumpet snails and I had made up my mind to use some in my aquarium after setup since it will have a sand bottom. However; I have read in other places that the snails will multiply to the point of almost taking over the tank, and even though they do keep the sand stirred up, they do not eat the fish poop, causing it to fall farther into the sand when stirred up. Please give me your feedback on this. Also, I have planned on getting at least 6 or 7 of the same species Cory. Would they do just as well keeping the sand stirred up, and do they eat fish poo? thank you for all your help. You have been a lifesaver so far in helping me get this tank set up. I had a tank a few years ago, and it seems everything I knew (or thought I knew) I have forgotten. As I am getting older I think senility is setting in. <Well, I personally have had problems with snail populations in my tanks. But, never with Malaysian trumpet snails, only with Ramshorn snails. You would have to be careful about introducing them in you tank considering populations will get out of control. They do keep the sand stirred up and I know the snails are scavengers but I am not sure about the fish waste consumption. The Corys are strict scavengers and will not eat the fish waste, so your best bet is to try a few Malaysian trumpet snails. If they get out of control give some to friends or sale them.> Have a great day!! James <You are welcome! Merritt A.>
Malaysian Trumpet Snails Part II 11-13-08
Thank you. Do you feel that if I do not go with the snails and have about 7 or 8 cories in a 75 gallon tank that they will keep the sand from compacting? And lastly, I am only going to have artificial plants so I was thinking of starting at the back with no more than 1 inch of sand and sloping it gradually to the front. Does this amount of sand seem adequate? Thank you again. James <Hello again! That many Corys should be just fine for the sand. Also, with my 75 gallon sand bottom tank, when I do a water changes I just run my fingers slightly through the sand to help my group of Corys out and it helps with the compacting. You might want to have a little more sand in your tank. I would go with at least a 1.5 inches in the back and .5 inch or more in the front. You don't want to have to worry about adding more because it can get messy. You are welcome again! Merritt A.>  
Malaysian Trumpet Snails Part III 11-14-08

Thank you Merritt, and just curious (not disagreeing, just learning) why do feel I need at least 11/2 inch of sand in the back?
<Not a problem. You can have less, I think in my 75 only has 1 inch in the back to be honest. It is just when designing a tank the back should be higher than the front to give an illusion of more space. You can easily
put just an inch. You are welcome again! :-) Merritt A.> 

Malaysian Trumpet Snails and Male to Female fish ratio 11/04/2008 Hello all, Hope things are going well for you today. Kind of gloomy and rainy here. I am considering adding some Malaysian trumpet snails to a 75 gallon fw aquarium. I have read of all of the benefits they can provide, but do I have to worry about them not getting enough detritus for their food source and dying? <No risk at all. In fact overfeeding is why people end up with crazy numbers of these snails. In a clean tank you basically get a healthy constant number limited by food availability.> Also, I have read that if this type of snail dies there is no requirement to remove it as it will not foul the tank. Is that correct? <Pretty much.> My other concern is with male to female ratio of certain fish. I am planning on stocking my tank with gouramis for a slow moving fish to occupy the top as well as banded rainbowfish for the middle. Please tell me how many males to females of each of these I need please. <Rainbowfish are best kept in equal numbers of males and females. The ratio of Gouramis depends on the species. Colisa spp. are often kept in pairs without problems, and the same can be said for Trichogaster leeri and Trichogaster microlepis. Trichogaster trichopterus is a bit more tricky; males are quite short tempered. They're best kept one to a tank, with as many females as you want. In a big tank you could keep multiple males, but make sure there are at least twice as many females.> Thank you so much for all you do to make aquarium life better for people like me. James <Happy to help, Neale.>

Magic Snails, FW, sel., ID    10/5/08
I've looked over all the FAQ pages, and I haven't quite found what I'm looking for, so I resort to asking you. I have a 75g reef tank as well as a 30g freshwater tank. I've noticed over the past few weeks that I have dozens of what appear to be Cerith snails in my freshwater tank.
<In the freshwater tank at least, these are likely Melanoides spp. (such as Melanoides tuberculata). They're useful, predominantly nocturnal snails that burrow through the sediment feeding on organic matter. They are livebearers, and can become very numerous if they find enough to eat -- a comment on the cleanliness of the tank more than anything else! They don't do any harm, and numbers can be controlled by physical removal, trapping, cleaning the tank, or installation of a suitable predator such as the whelk Clea helena.>
The tank has been established for several years, with nothing being added in the past 2 years but fish. I've let all of the ornamental fish complete their lifecycles, and I only have one Pleco and a few feeder fish for my fuzzy lion (I'm weaning him off successfully, but he's taking his time). I've had a ton of Cerith eggs in my reef tank, is it possible that they hitchhiked on the net while in the plankton stage, and developed in my fw tank?
<It's certainly possible for certain intertidal or estuarine marine snails to survive in freshwater conditions, for example Puperita pupa and Neritina virginea. These are sometimes sold as freshwater snails despite doing better in brackish/marine conditions. They don't tend to breed in freshwater tanks though, because their larvae need saltwater conditions to develop. This said, most snails sold for reef tanks will be stenohaline rather euryhaline species.>
I can't think of any other place they could come from.
If this is the case, is there any way of re-acclimating them to saltwater? Thanks for your
<Cheers, Neale.>

Nerites Snails in Canada?  11/13/07 Hi guys and girls, as always I really appreciate your work and help! <Good> Wondering if you know where I can find Nerites Snails (Freshwater or Saltwater) in Canada? I have tried to get some shipped from the United States, but they will not ship them up here anymore. My LFS have never even heard of them. I once got a shipment from Arizona Gardens, and they cleaned the algae on my glass like nothing else. Thanks so much for your help. Deryck <I saw them at the Big Al's locations in Toronto last year... Are there any locations near you: http://bigalscanada.com/storelocations/storemap.htm Bob Fenner>

Re: Nerites Snails in Canada? Converting FW to BR... not all    11/14/07 Thanks, they had closed down a while ago, but looks like they are reopening! I will give them a shot when they are open for business. <Okay> I still have a few freshwaters Nerites, I have researched and heard they may breed in brackish water. Think I can give it a shot to acclimate them to brackish? <Not if they're totally freshwater species. Please read here: http://www.google.com/search?q=freshwaters+Nerites&rls=com.microsoft:en-us:IE-Address&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&sourceid=ie7&rlz=1I7PCTA The first couple citations> Thanks again for your help. Deryck <Welcome. BobF>

Ramshorn Snails. Sel...    10/21/07 Hello, I came across your site today and found it very useful. But after reading up on the snails, I was left with questions. Recently (maybe about 2-3 weeks ago) we got a 10 gal. fish tank and put in 2 live plants, 2 male guppies, 2 balloon belly mollies, and 4 neon tetras. <Hmm... be careful with this selection of fish. Mollies often (if not always) get Finrot and fungus when kept in freshwater aquaria. But while adding marine salt mix makes them much much hardier, Neon tetras don't like salt at all.> Within a week I found this big snail (he's big for popping out of no where, he's probably like 1/4 of an inch). He must have been an egg on the plants, because I inspected them very well and they didn't have a live snail on them. We Googled and found out it was a Ramshorn snail. <Can't confirm that from your photo. Could be Planorbis sp. certainly, but Physa sp. "tadpole snail" is possible too.> Suddenly I have counted up to 6 snails, and today I found a baby fish (I think its a tetra- but it is tiny, black with orange on it's head). <Many snails will breed freely in aquaria. Controlling snail numbers can be tricky if you let things get out of hand. They primarily turn uneaten food and decaying organic material into snails: control the food and remove algae/organic wastes, and the snail population stabilises. The baby fish could be either a Molly or Guppy. Guppy babies are smaller.> My question is where in the world are all these new creatures coming from? <From their parents.> I look at that tank everyday and have yet to see any eggs in there, but I keep getting new little snails. <Snail eggs aren't always obvious, and some are viviparous anyway, i.e., they produce baby snails, not eggs.> Where could the eggs be hiding? <Usually on the glass, but can be elsewhere, even inside pipes and filters.> I thought they liked to lay their eggs out of the waterline? <No, that's Apple snails and their relatives.> I attached a pic of the first one on the glass with some tetras in the background.:D Thanks for your help! Ashley <Do take care to control snail numbers before you have problems. Snails are a fun addition to any aquarium, but in large numbers they can be unsightly. Some species eat plants as well. None are a threat to your fish. Cheers, 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.>

Goldfish and Suckerfish    8/7/06 Hi! <<Hey, there. Tom this afternoon.>> I currently have 3 small goldfish, and lately there has been some algae growth. Is this due to the cycle of the tank, because it has recently matured? <<One of the signs of a cycled tank is algae growth so I would say this is more than likely the case.>> I was wondering if there was any types of algae-cleaners that I could buy to put in my tank. I have read that the common Pleco will suck on the goldfish. Are there any other types of suckerfish that would get along with goldfish? <<Your information on the Common Plecostomus is correct. Unfortunately, there aren't any of the so-called Algae Eaters that will do well in a Goldfish tank. Very few fish will, which is why it's recommended that Goldfish stay segregated with their own kind. What you might look into, provided it's aesthetically pleasing to you, is the Olive Nerite snail (Neritina reclivata). I'm not a "snail guy" myself but these critters are used by many aquarists to control algae (something they do very, very well by all accounts).>> Thanks! <<You're welcome. Tom>> <http://yatfs.com/new_page_11.htm>

Snails, Wherefore art thou?   7/30/06 Hi there. <<Hi, Norma. Tom>> Just a quick question. I have just cleaned the fish tank out and I found two small snails in the ornamental castle. I have discarded them. Have I done right and, where on earth have they come from? <<Chances are that the snails you "inherited" wouldn't be overly helpful, or harmful, to your tank, so it's a matter of personal choice as to keeping them around. These, nearly always, "hitchhike" on live plants. A "bath" in a weak solution of potassium permanganate for 15-20 minutes prior to introducing plants into the aquarium will take care of the eggs/snails that have come along uninvited.>> Thanks Norma <<You're welcome. Tom>>

Baby Snails  - 04/27/06 I have an 80 gallon tank that contains three Plecostomus, one rainbow shark and two Oscars.  I have not introduced any new fish in over 6 months.  The only thing I feed the fish is frozen brine shrimp gumdrops.  Recently I noticed what appear to be tiny baby snails.  They stay on the bottom of the tank or on the glass.  They have suction cups and small cone shaped shells, in dark brown.  Where did they come from?  Occasionally we fill the tank with a garden hose passed through the window.  Could this be where they came from? <they could have came from anywhere, they are nothing to be worried about!, IanB> <... Ian? Likely were introduced with some of the shipping water when you placed the new fishes. RMF>       Thanks for your help.       Sally Rosenfeld Snails in Livebearer Tank - 2/4/2006 Hi Bob, <<Lisa writing tonight.>> I always wanted a healthy planted, livebearer, tank. <Sounds great.>> This is 15g tank with mollies, platies, swordtails. It was cycled by "fishless cycling" , and I have not lost a single fish since last six months when this tank was set up. <<Good stuff!>> Well the problem is that the living conditions in this tank are so good that it is now having lots of unwanted guests "Snails". I do not want to use chemicals. <<I wouldn't either.>> I read that loaches eat snails, but right now, they are not available at LFS. Do bettas eat snails, <<Not usually.>> can they be put in this tank? Any other method? Picking them manually is very tedious and stresses the fish, which I want to avoid. <<Search on WWM for tricks to catch them.  Know that where there are snails, there is snail food.>>   Thank you Sandeep Raghuvanshi India <<You're welcome. Lisa. Canada.>>

Snails Lots of snails  9/28/05 Hello! Your site has been helping me the site has been helping me a lot with my current aquarium "experiment".  Thanks for the time and effort spent doing this. <It is for you...> To explain a little bit about my experiment:  I have kept several community tanks during my life and even a 20 gal reef tank at the age of 12 through 15 that died abruptly when my little sis' decided that pennies would be a good decoration. <Yikes... not good luck> Recently I have taken a fancy to the idea of a more beautiful looking tank.  To achieve this I wanted to go small and heavily planted 5 gal. 20+ plants.  I am using a pH monitored CO2 system and a 4x overdriven 8 watt T5 5500K light. (by the way it needs to be trimmed at the very least once a week.) <I see> I have: 2x Otocinclus mariae 3x Aphyosemion australe 1m 2f 10x Caridina serrata (cherry red shrimp) <Very nice> I also have (uninvited): at last count, 450 baby Ramshorns and pond snails. I skipped the dip thinking that nothing bad could happen. <Uhhh> So I have built a snail trap with a 35mm film canister I bait it with blanched zucchini and pull out around 35 - 40 snails over the course of a day.  The holes to the trap are too small for the Otos and they sit staring at the canister all day like the cat stares at the tank. <Heeeee!> Now for the real questions: My snail removal plan is to remove any and all adult snails.  I thank that part is done now.  And then to keep trapping for the babies until they are gone.  I would like to know at what size these snails reach maturity and start reproducing, so that I can remove those (mature ones) by hand as soon as I see them. <Am guessing, but likely about the size of your fingernails...> Also: After I get this mess cleared up I am interested in introducing Melanoides tuberculata, (Malaysian Trumpet snail) as a soil maintainer. <A wonderful animal... but... just as improbable to remove...> I am worried about their prolifictivity. <Neat word!> I was planning on baiting for the young of these once a week once they are established.  Would that be too often or am I risking another population explosion? <As burrowing animals... Might I suggest a change in your experimental stocking? To Mystery Snails... easier to control population-wise... Bob Fenner> Thank you much for any help.

Healthy Snail Search - 08/12/2005 Hi Robert, <Actually, Sabrina here, in his stead> I enjoyed your snail articles, and noticed you've mentioned farms in FL that supply parasite free snails.  Do you have any company names?  I'm having a heck of a time finding any on the net...  I'm looking for snails that reproduce and grow quickly, about the size of a dime.  Any recommendations? <Try here:   http://www.applesnail.net - in addition to more snaily information than I've ever seen anywhere, they also have a discussion forum, where you could perhaps meet others who have what you're looking for.> Thank you,  Karen Sprague,  Baltimore, MD <Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

Garden Snails Aquatic? 7/22/05 Hi there, I love your site! I visit often and would like to thank you for all your very useful advice. I have a question for you. Today a friend of mine at the local grocery store found a snail cruising around the back room, produce department and offered it to me for my fish tank. <Be on the lookout when you buy your tomatoes next time...> My problem is.. I don't know what kind of snail this is, and I have a tank in which I just added some aquarium salt to yesterday. ( which my guppies are very happy about) So I'm worried the salt will harm it. <Aquatic snails have no problem dealing with salt. However, it does not seem as if this one was aquatic. If it was found on dry land, leave it on dry land, don't stick it in water.> I looked online and think it may be a garden snail, if it is, can it survive in an aquarium? <Doubtful.> Right now its in a fish bowl with some cabbage and a tiny bit of water, until I find out what to do with it. I'd like to keep it, the kids adore it. So any advice on what kind of snail this is and how to care for it would be very much appreciated! Thanks in advance. (Picture is attached.) <I'm sorry, I didn't receive any photo, so I really cannot help you there. However, Google is magic: do an image search on Garden snails, see if it matches your snail. If so, switch to a web search and start reading! Mike G> -Gina

Snails for Bug Tank Hi, I just started a 10 gallon tank for predacious water bugs. Right now I only have ferocious water bugs (Abedus herberti) in there but I would like to add some other non-fish animals/bugs to my collection. I want to add a snail to the mix, but I am afraid that 1, snails will take over the tank, and 2, parasites from the snails will hurt the water bugs. The ferocious water bug supposedly will eat snails, which has led to another problem; I can only get a large snail for the tank. I live in southern New York and know of a pond where there are these really big snails (about 2 inches). I would love to put one of these in the tank, because I know the bugs won't eat them and they look cool. I was wondering what you thought about this. I've read that the parasites can be harmful to fish, but are they to water bugs? < Bugs in general have a pretty short life span and probably over winter as eggs so I wouldn't worry about parasites on your bugs.> And another question is: what kind of snails do you think they are.  And how do they reproduce? < My guess is that are black mystery snails released from an aquarium. There are males and females. They will mate and the female will lay a clutch of eggs outside the water. Usually on the inside lid on the tank. They will stay there for about a month. After that they will hatch and fall into the water where they will become food for your bugs.> They are large, usually black (that's all I've ever found), have a trap door, and are more blunt, not conical. Thank you so much for the help. Jeff Osborne < You could always buy some snails at a local fish store. This way you will know exactly what you have.-Chuck>

ABOUT SNAILS Do you think it's ok to put a snail that we find outside in our freshwater tank with our fish and if so, what should we feed it? <tough to say from your general question. If the snail that you find is terrestrial... then definitely no. If it is aquatic but you live in a temperate climate, the answer is still no. The truth of the matter is that it is generally a bad idea to capture wild animals indiscriminately for captive care without correct identification of the species needs/husbandry and quarantine. There is a very real risk of introducing a fatal disease to your fishes by such random introductions. Kindly, Anthony>

Where did they come from? I HAVE HAD AN AQUARIUM FOR TWENTY YEARS NOW. ONE DAY I DISCOVERED A SNAIL IN THERE. NEVER HAVE I NOTICED SNAILS BEFORE. WHERE DO THEY ORIGINATE FROM? <If freshwater, from live plants mostly likely. If saltwater, from liverock.> THE FISH FOOD WAS MY FIRST THOUGHT. ALGAE WAS MY NEXT. WILL THEY HARM MY FISH? <No> HOW DO I TAKE CARE OF THEM IF THEY ARE GOING TO BE IN THERE? <They generally take care of themselves. -Steven Pro> <P.S. Please do not write in all capitals.>

Re: SNAILS!! HI Ronni, boy were you right... <Drat, sometimes thats not a good thing!> This morning I woke up and there was a snail moving about on my driftwood- from your website it looks like a Ramshorn. Now its small, but hey, don't want it there. <I dont blame you!> The driftwood did come with a note saying it was 'live driftwood' <Oops, this may not be a good thing unless you want little crustaceans in your tank.> and I've seen little mollusk looking creatures on it from time to time, and I think I actually caught another snail and pulled it out- it was black. However, I guess since I didn't QT plants (the Bacopa and the Mondo grass)- even though I washed it sooo well--I thought- there was a snail this morning  I tried to 'get him' but he was pretty quick <My guess is that you probably got snails from both the plants and the driftwood.> and I didn't want to upset the Amano (who as you predicted are ok--up and out munching on driftwood this morning)- <Glad to hear this part anyway!> So is it true that snails are like mice, you really never have just 1? <Unfortunately yes. Freshwater snails multiply like crazy.> If yes, how do I get rid of him? I looked at fish called Yo Yo loach, but they say it gets up to 5 6 inches, too big for my tank. Is there another smaller (like 2-3 max) fish to eat snails? Or should I let it go for now? <There are several smaller fish that eat them but not really any that will work in your system (Bettas, Puffers, etc). I would go get one Loach, either a Clown or a Yo-Yo and let them do their job for a while. Fortunately, the Loaches do seem to grow fairly slowly so if you keep one for a few months and then trade it back in you should be fine.> NEVER AGAIN no QT!! <Im glad to hear this but sorry that you had to learn it the hard way. But its better that you found out from snails than from a disease like so many people do.> Also, my otos survived their first night-- they are small, smaller than the Rasbora and white cloud and the fish were circling around them and freaking them out, but everyone seems on today. I figure if otos make it through weekend, they won't 'die'- read they do sometimes.  If they are happy for about 2 weeks, then can I add either rummy nose tetra (2) or the cherry barbs? <If possible, it would be best to wait about 4 weeks.> And if I get a fish that eats snails, I guess I'll get it and omit the rummies- arghh. <Youll be able to add the Rummynose Tetras once your snail problem is taken care of and you trade the Loach back in.> Thanks for help, have a GREAT weekend, Best Rosa <Hope you have a great one too! Ronni>

Can I Release Snails into a Local Pond? To whom it may concern: <Hello there> I searched via Google, but I could not find an answer to my question.  I apologize if it has been asked and answered previously.  I bought some plants for my fish tank.  Unbeknownst to me, some snails were attached to the plants. About one month ago, my fish died.  I am not going to buy another fish, so I wondered if there was a safe way (safe place) to release the snails.  Certainly, I do not want to kill them, but I do not want to keep a tank filled with snails.  Can you help? Thank you.  Pete <Can help. It may seem cruel, but please DO NOT release the snails (or anything live for that matter) into any natural environment... Not only for the sake of not causing competition with local species, but snails in particular are very common vectors (carriers, hosts) for many, MANY parasitic diseases... of fishes, invertebrates, even humans. Far better to place them in a plastic bag, put them in the freezer (this is painless) and dispose of them in the trash later. Bob Fenner>

Snail Stocking Hello again, Sorry to bother you with what's probably a simple question, but I can't seem to find a set answer on it anywhere else. I was wondering, is there any set rule as to stocking mystery snails in a tank? I know the '1" of fish per gallon' rule (and the surface area rule, and...) but how should mystery snails of this species be counted in regards to the tank's bio load/stocking levels? <Well, honestly, I was not to sure either so I checked with Bob for both of our benefits. "I think about one per five gallons of any of the common species is "about right"."  You could also try starting with 1 per 5 gal, then slowly adding more and testing your water quality.> So far the only advice I've been able to find is one individual who doesn't think they add much bio load since their nitrate levels haven't changed since adding two to their 10g Betta tank, and another who has about 40 small ones in a 1 gallon container with a 60gph filter and air stone.   <I am willing to be 40 snails in a 1 gallon container will be hard to maintain in the long run.> I know the snails produce a lot of waste, but they (at least the ones I currently have) also seem to do a good job of roaming the tank cleaning up leftover food and dead leaves (and have left my various live plants completely alone, other than occasionally using them as ladders) that might otherwise pollute the water. Also given they get some of their oxygen from the surface. (It's weird watching one of them crawling up a wall, air siphon extended :) ) <CHARGE!!> Thanks for your time and any advice you're able to offer, I'll likely pass it on to the two forums I posted this question on (Aquamaniacs and Applesnail.net) for the folks there as well. <Hope it helps, keep a record of your trials and tribs for others benefit as well. Best Regards, Gage>

Snail Stocking Part Two Hello again, Thanks for the response, I've got two in the 10 gallon right now (I had a regular brown one in there, what I've seen called the 'wild-type' shell pattern, then saw a little blue one shoved into one of the 'Betta cups' at Wal-Mart the other day and decided it needed a home). The only other one I'm possibly planning to add in the future is maybe the one from my 6g African dwarf frog tank if any water problems develop there. So far no problems with the 10g since adding the second mystery snail, other than slightly elevated nitrates (25 rather than 20), but I think that's likely due to overfeeding of the bottom feeders, or my trimming back a lot of the anacharis that's in there. I'm going to try adding a little duckweed (I know, it takes over tanks. I read somewhere about someone making a 'corral' with airline and airline clips to keep it within an area of their tank. So I'll see if that works.) to pick up the extra nitrates. Plus I heard there's a chance the mystery snails might like to nibble on it. <Duckweed is an excellent way to suck up excess nutrients.> I'll let you know if there's any problems with either level of snails in the future. On a different topic, since WWM's amphibian area is a bit sparse right now, I thought I'd offer the following feeding idea, if you'd like to post it:  One of the biggest problems I had with African dwarf frogs was trying to get them to eat before their food (frozen bloodworms) fell between the gravel, resulting in hungry frogs and food polluting the water. So as a solution, I got a plastic water bowl from the reptile section of PetSmart and half buried it under the gravel. The plastic's a single piece of unpainted molded plastic, so I figure it should be safe to use. Now I just squirt the defrosted bloodworms (mixed with water from the tank) into the bowl with a turkey baster. The frogs swim right over and start feasting, they've also taken to trying to nip at the turkey baster if it's in the tank since they've figured out that's where food comes from. Posted this idea on a few forums and the regulars seemed to like it, so figured I'd pass it on incase it's of use to any of WWM's regular readers. <Great idea, I have heard of something similar for feeding Corydoras live worms that dig into the substrate before the fish get a chance to eat them.  Thanks for the info, best of luck, Gage> Thanks again,        -Chris

New Betta!  1/14/04 <Hi, Pufferpunk again> Thank you so much for the advice! <You're welcome, happy to help.> Today I bought Tate, a blue and red Betta. <My favorite colors for Bettas> He seems happy and energetic in his new home, and he's eating 2 pellets of food twice a day. In a few days I am going to look for a snail to live with Tate. (I would have gotten one today, but none of them looked very healthy at that particular store.) <Yes, make sure you get a healthy one.  Nothing fouls a tank worse than a dead snail.  Phew!  If he doesn't move for a while, take it out & press lightly on the "foot".  If it has resistance, it's still alive.  If the body caves in, or it smells bad, it's not.> Basically, I am wondering what I should feed the snail, and if I should move it into the tank the same way I would a fish. I've never had an aquatic snail before, so this should be quite an adventure. <It wouldn't hurt to acclimate your snail.  Whatever your Betta eats, the snail will eat, just make sure he gets some.> Thanks again!  -Kathryn <Enjoy your fish!--Pufferpunk>

Canister filter Qs + tank setups Hey WWM Crew, <Jamie> A big ol' Thank You! to Gwen for answering my last email (the one below this one). It helped me picture what's happening with the canister filter. I'm sure it'll all be crystal clear once I bring one home, lol. I'm also hoping that the plants won't become snail food, hehe. The snails are Pomacea bridgesii effusa Apple snails, the ones that do not eat live plants and safe for the planted tank. They haven't eaten any of mine for the year or so I've had 'em so I think I'm in the clear, lol. <We'll see> Anyway, I have indeed pondered more and more about my setup with the 20Ls. Since putting them together with one canister filter is not a good idea, I've been thinking what would. Maybe two Whisper power filters, but I am afraid that the water turbulence may be too much for both inhabitants and plants, and that they wouldn't bring up much of the snail mess. <These are actually a good choice... not too turbulent...> Then I thought maybe sponge filters would work but wouldn't I be compromising space for my plants and the snail mess might still pose a problem. Any suggestions??? I'm open-minded and all ears :) <I would go with hang-on, outside power filters> Also, I've looked over more of the Eheim canister filters and found the Ecco Comfort Plus Filter 2232 and 2234. Is this a good one or should I just stick with the Filstar for either the 30 or 33L?? <I prefer the Ecco products over the Filstar> Sorry for all the questions, figured that while you're all available I should ask the pros everything I can ;)  And, as always, thanks for help, it is greatly appreciated :) ~ Jamie <Bob Fenner> Snails and Planted Tanks Hi! I would like to add a single already grown Pomacea bridgesi (mystery) and one Melanoides (Malaysian trumpet snail) specimen to my heavily planted tank. I'm afraid that they could already be fertilized when I bring them in the aquarium. <Me too> How much time can it take between fertilization and time to give birth/lay eggs? In other words, how long should I quarantine them to be sure they wont lay eggs or give birth in the display tank? Thanks! Dominique <I would wait a good two months here. Bob Fenner>

Mollies and Snails WWM Crew, First, I must say your site has been very informative. I've learned so much! I have read plenty about Mollies etc, but I have a couple concerns re: my mollies. I currently have 3 of them. 1 silver molly (M), 1 silver lyretail (F), and black molly (F). My concern is with the two silver mollies. I did read that it is not uncommon for the male to chase around the female trying to breed. However my male is NONSTOP harassing the other silver female (she's pregnant too), and rarely messes with the black molly. Is there a special reasoning behind that? <Mmm, no... or not really. Some males are just like this... having more females, more "other" fishes, plants, other decor to break-up the physical environment... helps> I am worried that he will just wear her out, but I don't want to stock my tank with more females as I am already taking care of 16 fry as it is. Any ideas on the best way to handle this randy boy?? hahaha <Isolate him... at least for a while... perhaps in a floating, plastic colander if you don't have another tank> Second question... When is it safe to put the fry back into the larger tank with the adult mollies without the risk of them being eaten? <When they're "big enough" to not be consumed> I have 2 that are about a month old, but I don't want to take them out of the net too prematurely. The others are only a day or two old. Do you judge based on size? or age? <Size> And lastly (are you sick of me yet? haha), about a week and a half ago I noticed a small snail in my tank. Have NO IDEA how it got there as I sure didn't buy one from the store!! Then, when doing a water change the other, came across ANOTHER one that was twice it's size. I'm assuming it was under gravel somewhere because there's no way you could miss it otherwise! How do I know if it's ok to keep in the tank and breeding of snails etc?? I do NOT want more snails!! I have looked at the info on this site re: snails, and haven't come across one that looks like mine. Is it better to wait till they're more grown to determine the type of snail? And just out of curiosity... any ideas on how snails got in my tank? <Come in... with fish purchases in the water, some live foods... can be eliminated in a few ways, but not likely a problem... perhaps a help in keeping your tank clean... Not harmful to your fishes> Is it possible they hitched a ride on the fish as tiny lil thingies on them? Sounds crazy but, I have no other clue as to their appearance!  Thank you so much in advance for any help you can give! I will continue to research your site for more information. It's a great tool!! Sarah <Thank you for being part of it. Bob Fenner> 

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