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FAQs on Snails and Planted Tanks

Related Articles: Snails and Freshwater Planted Aquariums,

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Potassium permanganate overkill! 05/14/08 Hello WWM crew, <Jeanette> I am having a few problems with plants, green algae, snails & white powdery stuff/cobwebs on my Anacharis in my new tank set up (2nd week of azote cycle). I am wanting to have a low light low tech planted tank for fantails. <Okay> The plants I have are Anacharis (Egeria densa), Echinodorus quadricostatus, Anubias barteri & Anubias nana on driftwood, the driftwood has a bit of green furry algae on it. All the plants except the Anacharis have had a 10 min.s bath in PP after a lot of hesitation. Now the leaves are going brown stained looking with burnt edges - complete disaster! <Mmm, KMnO3 is a powerful oxidizer... dangerously so. You've "burnt" these plants> - I think I've stewed them! <Mmm, yes> What should I do? Do you think they are dying? <Perhaps...> Afterwards I bought three Anacharis from a reputable dealer, these plants were not amongst fish so I decided to clean them thoroughly as I felt the PP. was a bit too aggressive. <Yes> Now because of that I have snails; the tops of the Anacharis are going brown and has white powdery stuff on the leaves - is it a fungus or another type of algae? Is this all due from poor lighting. <Likely just the permanganate> Anyway the tank is 190 liters 50 cm in depth Situated 10 ft away from a north east facing window with no direct sunshine Eheim 2026 with carbon active for 1st month lighting is fluorescent tubes 2 x T8 60 watts 12 hrs a day (going to upgrade to T5 because I don't think this is strong enough. I would like your advise <The lighting should be fine here> For the substrate I have 3cm aquabasis plus then covered by a mosquito grille then pebbles then 5cm of gravel No C02 1 air stone added 3 flourish tabs and a dose of flora pride fertilizer. P.H 8 completely out of whack as the water I introduced was 7.4! <Why has it risen thus?> K.H 6 GH 8 N02 0 Used bacteria from an established tank plus 4 ampoules of bio digest and then added fish-food. (I do not know if this was wise) <Should be fine> I do not know what I am doing wrong, should I change the lights & add an anti- algae medication <No to both> & throw away all the plants, poor things? <I'd just be patient, wait here. Hopefully some of the plants will recover in time (weeks to months)> if you could help I will be so grateful I don't think I will be using P.P again & certainly stop using dodgy info from the net. thanks in advance Jeanette <Please read Neale's pieces on water pH, hardness: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwsoftness.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner> Re: potassium permanganate overkill! 5/17/08 Hi Bob, <Jeanette> Thanks for your reply, <Welcome!> I thought you were on holiday as I didn't get a reply by e-mail. <I see/saw that the mail/response was "bounced back" somehow... glad you saw it posted> As you can see I am newbie to this hobby - I will get there one day!! <Ahh! Is a constant process... for all!> I will hold on to the plants & keep pruning the brown leaves. <Good. Is what I would do> Now my gravel is going brown and brown spots on the glass (I guess this is another algae problem as the few snails I have are going crazy over it!) I have heard that this is normal in new setup's, is this true? <Oui> (or could it be the KMn03 seeping out of the driftwood eek! Anyway I've took the driftwood out & put it into an hospital tank just to see) I have no algae issues in my 60L tank.  After searching through the net I have figured that the rise in pH & the white deposits on the Anacharis which I think are calcium deposits are due to the lack of co2 injection! Am I getting warmer? <More Carbon Dioxide might well be of use here> SO I have ordered some flourish excel by Seachem's, hopefully this will sort out the algae problem & help stabilize the pH. (I don't want to get into co2, too complicated for me at this stage) <The Seachem product is very good. I use it in my freshwater tanks> By the way do you know of anything else I can use instead of KMn03.  I've used vinegar once but I don't think this works to kill ick, snails & other diseases brought in by plants. Thanks again Jeanette <Yes... for the purposes intended the old-fashioned use of Alum (aluminum sulfate) in solution is effective... and very safe. Do look up its application on the Net, in books. Cheers, Bob Fenner> Live plants and snails 12/07/2007 I have a planted aquarium and spend every morning (when I turn the lights on) picking out every snail I can find. Is there something out there that can kill snails, but not harm the plants. <There are commercially manufactured snail traps like the JBL 'Limcollect'. Or you can make your own using small saucers. At night put one saucer on the gravel. Add a few small gravel particles and some catfish food. Put the other saucer on top. The idea is to have a narrow gap between the saucers the fish can't squeeze into, but the snails can. In the morning, remove the saucers, which should contain lots of slumbering snails. Repeat as required. There are also snail-eating snails. Clea helena (also known as Anentome helena) is a small freshwater whelk that eats meat, not plants. It catches snails and eats them, apparently at the rate of about one per night. I've yet to try them out, but a local store to me is selling them, and the reports I've read are positive. It breeds in fish tanks, but very slowly. Probably the ideal biological control. As far as fish go, Puffers and Loaches can work, but neither are perfect community fish. Doradidae catfish will eat snails, but while peaceful, many get quite big, and some very big indeed (including the wonderfully-named "Mother of Snails Catfish"). Some cichlids will eat snails quite readily, but not necessarily the peaceful cichlids!> Every snail solution I have found has a warning that it might harm plants. I started with live plants about 6 months ago and they're really growing and multiplying now. I don't want to ruin that. <Agreed; most poisons for snails, algae, etc. will do a greater or lesser degree of harm. At the very least, you have a sudden die-off in the aquarium of unknown proportions that can overwhelm your filter, ruining water quality.> In case you need to know, I have pearl gouramis, rasboras, a Cory catfish, Otocinclus fishs, freshwater gobies, and neon tetras. <Otocinclus are very sensitive to poor water quality, and would be the first to go if things turned nasty.> I also have ghost shrimp, but I figure anything that kills snails will wipe them out, too. <Correct.> Which brings me to another question. If there is a solution for snails, can ghost shrimp be fed to saltwater fish? <Yes. But I suspect this won't be necessary. Use the trap-and-remove method. Crushed snails will be eaten by many marine fish quite happily, especially puffers and their ilk. Do also remember snail populations can go down as well as up. They go down when they starve. Review your feeding and look for what the snails are eating. Dead plant leaves, algae, and uneaten fish food are classic sources of food for snails. Rapidly growing plagues of snails usually do so because they're getting lots of food.> Robin <Cheers, Neale.>

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

Re: Snails and Planted Tanks Hi Mr. Fenner, Thanks for your reply! Regarding snails, I have been told that I could not place apple snails in my Amazon biotope tank because of the softness of the water (60 ppm general hardness and 45 ppm carbonate hardness). <Mmm, is hard on Pomacea at times> But there are apple snails in the Amazon, that I know for sure. How are they doing in very soft water without calcium for their shells? <At times, just fine... a good deal seems to depend on their previous habitat/s... they're raised in hard, alkaline water, mainly in Florida ponds... fed "wall-board" to add to their shell strength/growth... need to be adapted to softer, less hard, warmer water conditions> Or are they really in very specific "micro-biotope" where water is harder? Anyway I would like to try keeping my planted-discus-tank as close to the natural biotope as I can and sort out anything that is not found in this habitat... Thanks for your time again! Regards, Dominique <Do keep your eye on them... that they don't successfully reproduce (you'll see the egg cases at the water's surface)> P.S.: By the way, as I already told Anthony, I got the "Reef Invertebrates" book and find it really awesome. You got a lifetime reader here I'm afraid. Will be looking for the "Conscientious Aquarist" now. <Real good. Bob Fenner>  

Plants being eaten Hi, Folks. Let me again express my amazement at the vast amount of information and the willingness of the "crew" to share. I have looked through the FAQs and have not been able to find an answer to my question, so here it is: I am in the process of setting up a 90 gal marine aquarium, and since that is going to take awhile, I recently brought up a 46 gallon freshwater system. Everything seems to be going well, except that one or more of the critters has apparently taken a liking to my carefully-planted plants, primarily the broad leaf sword plants (that is what the dealer calls the plants). Every morning when I check the aquarium, the plants show evidence of having provided food for something. This morning, the last of the plants were gone. SO ... I am trying to figure out which critter is doing this. I have - tiger barbs - green barbs - blue tetras - serpae tetras - neon tetras - Corydoras - banjo cats - 1 apple snail - one other snail whose name I don't know. I suspect the apple snail because I have seen it riding the sword plants often. Thanks in advance for your help! Thanks Dave Daniel <Hi Dave, Don here. The only thing on your list that would eat a plant to the root are the snails. But you seem to imply that this is happening pretty quickly. I don't think two snails could do that. Have you ever turned on the lights at night? Trumpet snails will hide in the gravel all day, then emerge enmasse at night.>

SNAILS HELP!!!!!!!! I have a 55 gallon tank and had live plants about 4 to 6 months ago this morning nothing was wrong with tank except a dead fish  now tonight I have hundreds of dang snails baby one how did I get them and how do I get rid of them will crab eat them? <Mmm, many of the smaller, common snails are hermaphroditic (only takes one to tango). Likely the crab won't serve as an exterminator... but there are other candidates for the job. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/PlantedTksSubWebIndex/snailsags.htm Bob Fenner>

Re: snails-Ramshorn Hi, I think I bought a Ramshorn snail for my 10 gallon tank of a few fish, just for the sport of it.  Now, about 4 months later, it has laid eggs, or I should say baby snails, I love them all, but one of two questions is, how did one snail get pregnant after 4 months by itself? thanks  Paul <Turns out that many small snails are hermaphroditic, both male and female! Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/PlantedTksSubWebIndex/snailsags.htm Bob Fenner>

Re: snails-Ramshorn Thank you in regards to the question of sex of the single birthing mother snail.  Now another for  you please.  I have 3 large goldfish or carp now, and was wondering if I can put snails in the same tank without them getting eaten.  Also, I do not use a heater in my carp tank, just room temperature, and do have snails born in another tank I have that have a heater, will they survive the temperature of room and if yes or no, can you tell me some names of snails that can survive with my carp in room temperature.   tanks, Paul <Hey Paul, some species of ramshorns can survive cooler temperatures.  Apple snails would probably work as well, check out the links below for more snail info.  Best Regards, Gage http://userpages.umbc.edu/~rrhudy1/snail2.htm http://wetwebmedia.com/PlantedTksSubWebIndex/snailsagfaqs.htm  >

A question about snails Hello folks <Howdy> You guys were quite helpful the last time I asked you a question, so I figured you'd be able to help with another one. <Okay> In my freshwater, 10 gallon tank, things are going fine.  Fish are happy, ph is doing well, gravel is cleaned, so on and so forth.  But I noticed the other day that there was a small snail crawling along the wall of the aquarium.    I haven't bought any snails.  I have no idea where this thing came from.  I don't know what kind of snail it is (I'm going to go out on a limb and assume there is more than one kind), if its harmful, or beneficial, or anything. Should I be concerned?  And where did it come from? <Mmm, I wouldn't be overly concerned... unless you start seeing a whole bunch of these and they're unsightly. Might have "come in" with a new fish additions water... perhaps a bit of decor... definitely with live plants if you've added any. Likely no big deal. Please read here re: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/PlantedTksSubWebIndex/snailsags.htm Bob Fenner> Thanks.

Snails, hermit crabs, and frogs, Oh my. I have a tank with three garden snails in it, would i be able to put hermit crabs or small frogs in there with my snails? <Hmm.. I would not go with the hermit crabs they like to pinch and may have a go at your snails.  Frogs may be a possibility depending upon what type of frogs you are considering.  You will need to make sure that environmental requirements for all inhabitants are properly met (heat, light, food, water, humidity, etc.)-Gage>

Snail Tale I have recently set up a 75 gallon freshwater plant aquarium....To say I am an amateur would be overstating my fish or plant expertise a bit.  I have followed all the advice I have been given and to my surprise, my plants are happy and growing like weeds. <Fortunately, weeds don't devour your prize plants, huh?> I am waiting to add fish until I understand thoroughly how to care for the plants, but my tank is being overrun by little snails....They multiply faster than interest on credit cards and I would like to know if this is normal...Do they help the tank?  Are they necessary or just pests??? And if I need to get rid of them how do I do it? Thank you thank you thank you....Cindy <Well, Cindy- snails do benefit the system in that they are terrific little scavengers. Unfortunately, as you discovered, they multiply at an alarming rate, and can damage plants if left unchecked! There are a few ways to reduce the population (notice I said "reduce", not "eliminate", as it's downright impossible to get rid of all of 'em!). First, you can hand pick them (yeah- that's fun...). another alternative is to "bait" them onto a small, inverted plate with some lettuce anchored to it. The snails are "drawn" to the lettuce and will congregate on the plate, which can be removed. This is an old, old trick- but it does actually work! Finally, you can employ fishes, such as blue Gouramis, which seem to munch on snails with some degree of consistency. Give these ideas a try- no doubt you'll find some others. Good luck! Scott F.>

Snails, calcium supply for same Yes, i have a question my snails shells look really ugly I have mystery snails and i guess they need calcium. what kind of food do i give them the has calcium? thanks -----Jeff c. <Many choices here. A bit of a "feeder block" made for vacations for freshwater systems will do a good job for you here. Bob Fenner>

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

Snails (freshwater, info.) Hello, Im a form seven student from Palmerston North and I was just wondering if you could please send me some information on aquatic snails as I need information for a biology animal study for bursary. Thank you it would be much appreciated. yours sincerely, Julia <Please see the section, "Snails, Bane or Boon?" posted on the Freshwater Section of our website: www.WetWebMedia.com for what you're likely looking for. In you have further questions, please feel free to re-contact me here. Bob Fenner>

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

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

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