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

The Trouble with Trumpet Snails...get it? MTS control, CAE incomp.      1/16/13
Dear WWM crew:
In case you didn't understand my subject line, I was making a reference to the original Star Trek episode entitled The Trouble with Tribbles, which dealt with tiny, cute creatures whose abundant reproduction cycle became a danger to the entire Enterprise, which I'm worried might be the case with Malaysian Trumpet Snails in my fish tank!
<Ah yes. Am very familiar w/ both>
 Like many other people who have contacted you, I have recently discovered--for the first time--snails in my 12-year-old aquarium.  I went from being excited at the new discovery, to confused as to how they came to be in a tank with no live plants, to frightened of a snail plague, to semi-knowledgeable from researching yours, and other, websites, to, finally, acceptance.  I have identified the snails as being Malaysian Trumpet Snails, or MTS, and I can only guess they came with the only addition to my tank of 12 years: a Chinese Algae eater I bought at Petco about 6 months ago.  I did not find anywhere on your website where you say that snails could hitch-hike into aquariums from buying fish, but I haven't added anything else.
<Can "come in" thus; as well as with wet foods, most anything wet>
After many hours of research and study on the MTS (most of which was on your website, so thank you!), I have decided that they could be an asset to my tank, but that over-population is a DEFINITE concern in the meantime. 
So, the least drastic response I could come up with was to remove all the snails I could find and place them in a separate 'tank' (I use the term loosely, because it is actually just a glass vase with rocks and some decaying lettuce in it).  I want to keep an eye on them for awhile to get a better idea what I am up against.
<Mmm, well; they/MTS do regulate their own population... to resources available>
 I vacuum 50% of the gravel twice per week in my established 55-gal. tank, and remove any additional snails I find, and add them to their own 'tank'. 
My question is one that I seem to be unable to find the answer to on your site or on the internet, despite much searching.  I may have overlooked it, but what I am wanting to know about is the very small, beige, rice-like specs that are all over the snail 'tank'.
<Likely gastropods/snails... do they "crunch" when squished against the glass, evidencing a shell of some sort?>
 I have watched the snails at length to try to figure out if these specs are their young or if it is their feces, etc.  Or perhaps it is a combination of both, because there seems to be two different things: One is very definitely shaped like a piece of rice, and the other seems to be more amorphous.  Both are the same color, kind of an off-white.  It appears that the amorphous mass of 'stuff' comes out from the tip of their 'trumpet', which is leading me to think it is their waste.  My research shows that they bear live young, but even with my magnifying glass I cannot make out if these rice kernels are mini, baby snails.  If I understand my research correctly, they carry their young in some sort of  'pouch' type thing around their head area. (A clutch?)  I do see that these rice kernel things are most often all around their head area, but also can be kind of hitch-hiking all over their shells.  I read that they can have up to 70 young at a time, so I am thinking that is what these specs are.  But even more of these rice-like specs are at the bottom of their 'tank', under the rocks/gravel.  I have probably at least 10 adult MTS in their 'tank' and numerous other 'juveniles', if that is the correct term.
<Sure>
  If these specs are indeed their young, then there are hundreds, and more likely thousands of them under the substrate (as I can see the underneath through the glass-bottomed container).  If I am correct, and these are their young, then I will probably not return the whole lot to my bigger tank, for fear of an infestation.  Can you help me identify if these specs are indeed their young?
<You'll have to provide image/s... either "blown up" from a photo, or one taken through magnification... a 'scope>
 I would imagine that in my original tank the filter, the gravel vacuum, and the other fish help keep the number of MTS young to a more manageable number, but I'm not sure I am willing to risk that!  My tank gravel is natural, so it makes it a challenge to find and remove the snails, and I would hate to have to use any poisons or even remove and replace all my gravel due to snail overpopulation.  According to my research I do not have any fish that will eat the snails and/or predatory snails in my tank, and my tank is too full to take on any other predatory life forms at this time.
 (I have a 12-year-old, 22" Pleco, 5 schooling Danios and 1 Chinese Algae Eater that I shouldn't have added.  Had I read your site instead of listening to the Petco employees I would not have added the Algae Eater at all! 
<Ah yes>

Yes, he cleaned the algae, but he is very hyper and nervous and zooms all over the tank whenever I approach or try to clean the tank.  But, until my Pleco became ill and I was forced to seek out your website, I did not know there was such a wealth of knowledge available to me other than the pet stores!)  I would also like to let you know that mostly due to your prompt and knowledgeable responses on this site, I was able to bring my sick Pleco, Elwood, to a full recovery.  I followed your advice and his recovery was slow, but he is doing wonderfully once again.  I have also added some things to my aquarium upkeep routine now that I did not know to do prior to learning them from your correspondences.  I can't thank you enough for helping me return Elwood to health, I am SO grateful for your help!
<Welcome>
I guess how I handle these snails is really based again on what is best for Elwood, as he is my main concern.  I even regret getting the algae eater because he treats Elwood like a piece of aquarium furniture.  He has to always be laying underneath Elwood, and will wedge himself into the smallest spaces to keep himself under Elwood's belly.  Even when Elwood lays on the bottom to eat the algae eater wedges himself under him, or when Elwood is 'resting' in the corner of the tank I can always find the algae-eater pushed up against his underbelly.  It is very odd behavior.  I have tried adding hiding places for the CAE of all types to keep him away from Elwood, but he prefers to cling to my Pleco.
<Likely eating part of its slime coating. I would remove this CAE when the opportunity affords itself>

 Elwood seems fine with this and shows no signs of being stressed by it, which kind of surprises me, since Elwood is so mellow.  Have you ever heard of an attachment like this?
<Yes; way too common... the CAE feeding on the slime coat; often damaging, killing other fishes>
I would appreciate any response you could give to me regarding the specs in the MTS 'tank' and maybe even your thoughts on my CAE's strange relationship with my Pleco.  Your site is invaluable to me, as we have no local pet stores and the Petco in the closest city is a limited information source at best.  Thank you, in advance, for your time in reading my message and for any information you may have for me.  Sincerely, Teresa
<The MTS I wouldn't sweat. As stated, their populations achieve stasis in time. The CAE I'd remove, return. Bob Fenner>

FAQs on Snails in Freshwater Aquarium Malaysian/Trumpet Snails (Melanoides sp.)

Related Articles: Snails and Freshwater Aquariums by Bob Fenner, Invertebrates 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, & FAQs on: Freshwater Snail Identification, Freshwater Snail Behavior, Freshwater Snail Compatibility, Freshwater Snail Selection, Freshwater Snail Systems, Freshwater Snail Feeding, Freshwater Snail Disease, Freshwater Snail Reproduction, Snails by Species: Mystery Snails, Apple/Baseball Snails, Ramshorn Snails,

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

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
Neale,
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:
http://www.drsfostersmith.com/product/prod_display.cfm?pcatid=4484
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!
<Indeed.>
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!
Jill
<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!
<Jill,>
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.
http://www.aquariumadvice.com/forums/f20/diy-pond-snail-trap-126550.html
<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:
http://www.loaches.com/species-index/acantopsis-octoactinotos
<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.) 
Jill
<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:
http://en.microcosmaquariumexplorer.com/wiki/The_101_Best_Aquarium_Plants
http://en.microcosmaquariumexplorer.com/wiki/The_101_Best_Tropical_Fishes
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.
<Possibly.>
I appreciate your educated advice!
Jill
<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.
<Sensible.>
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.
<Perhaps.>
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.
<Correct.>
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.>
Jill
<Neale.>

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.
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/keepoutfw.htm
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.
Jill
<Cheers, Neale.>

Carinotetraodon travancoricus water changes, and MTS control     11/14/12
Hi Folks
<Salve,>
I've been in touch recently about removing Trumpet Snails from substrate,
<Good luck on that! Easiest to replace all the substrate, and thoroughly clean the filter. Even then, expect a few to remain: remove these on sight, before the multiply.>
in preparation for a Dwarf Puffer system, and I have done a fair bit of reading on the fish now but still have some questions regarding maintenance. I can see that water changes are going to need to be about 50% per week.
<Or thereabouts. In very small tanks, yes, 25-50% water changes per week are essential. But if you were keeping 5 specimens in a 10, 15 US gallon/37, 60 litre tank, then fewer water changes would be fine. The fact is that many people try to squeeze them into tiny tanks, and for that to work well you do need a lot of water changes.>
Ordinarily I'd never change more than 25% in one go, so would I be correct in saying that they're going to need 2 x 25% water changes per week?
<That's ideal.>
Would 1 x 50% water change be safe in occasional circumstances, e.g. if I'm going on holiday?
<Yes. You can change 90% of the water if you want, provided water temperature and water chemistry stay steady. That's the common misconception. Think about it, a fish in a river is never in the same water twice; it's always moving through "different" bits of water, so to some small degree is always being exposed to slight changes in temperature and water chemistry. So long as any changes are slight, then there's no harm changing as much water as you want. But if you can't be sure the new water has the same temperature and water chemistry as the old water, the doing small water changes (around 20-25%) ensures that any swings stay small.
Make sense?>
Also, I gather the fish have rather voracious appetites.
<Yes. Or at least, in the wild they eat a lot of indigestible material:
snail shells, insect exoskeletons, etc. They probably eat some algae too.
All this fills their stomachs so they feel full. In aquaria we give them nice meaty food which is easily digested but not very filling. It's much like humans: fibre-rich food is filling (like vegetables) while energy-rich food (like chocolate) isn't. Anyway, the puffers seem hungry because they feel hungry, even though they're getting all the energy and nutrients they need.>
Normally, if I go away for a week, I just leave my other fish to it and resume feeding when I get home. Will I need to get someone in to feed the puffers?
<Not for a week or two.>
Getting someone else feed my fish is something I'd really like to avoid as I've read far too many horror stories.
<For sure.>
The system is planned as follows, just in case there's anything I've misunderstood:
A 60 litre tank (c. 2'x1'x1') with sand substrate and lots of  thin, root-like, bog wood. Heavily planted with what is likely to be Limnophila sessiliflora (both floating and rooted), Amazon Swords and Vallisneria sp. Filtration will be provided by a 600 litres per hour internal filter with a spray bar angled at the glass and temperature will be around 26C. I'm planning 5 puffers, hopefully more females than males, and the LFS has indicated they should be able to help me out if I end up with a bad ratio.
<Sounds good.>
My tap water is usually pH 6.8-7.0 and very soft. I'm planning to get a hardness test kit to make sure I'm over 5dH, attenuating with Rift Valley salt mix if necessary.
<Again, sounds fine. These puffers are very adaptable. I'd leave water chemistry alone unless you find pH drops significantly between water changes, but by default, aiming for around 10 degrees dH, pH 6.5-7.5 is ideal.>
Feeding will be twice daily with frozen tropical fish foods, initially, until I can figure out what is pet fish friendly in the frozen fish part of the local supermarket. I've got a little Ramshorn Snail farm going in a 12 litre tank for them too and will feed the fish very small ones. I know someone with Clown Loaches, so if I get an excess of large snails in the farm I can give them to her.
<Sounds good.>
Hopefully my research, both here and elsewhere, is complete but it would be great if you could cast your eye over it and also give me some advice on my initial questions. I'm probably over-complicating things as usual but I'd rather ask first than send you a panicked "Help my puffers are dying" email.
<Sounds to me you're planning ahead.>
Thanks, I really appreciate you giving your time to help me out.
<Welcome.>
By the way, if it is Sabrina that picks this up, I chose to freeze the substrate for four days since someone told me they had tried boiling with no success. I'm on day three now, but if it works, I'll report back. It might be of use to someone else in the future.
<Will post this on the WWM Daily FAQ and let Sabrina know it's there.>
Cheers
Gord
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Carinotetraodon travancoricus water changes    11/19/12

Hi Neale
Thanks for your answers and your reassurance. I'm ready to start setting up the system now that the last few pieces of the jigsaw are in place. I think this setup is going to be a brilliant experience, so thank you for helping me to realise it.
Cheers
Gord
<Real good. Much written about these puffers online, but they are basically easy to keep provided the aquarium is fully cycled before they're introduced. You can use Cherry or Amano shrimps for that, if you don't have mature aquarium filter medium lying about. Cheers, Neale.>

Dwarf Puffers and Malaysian Trumpet Snails (Sabrina's Old Nemesis!) - II 11/04/2012
Hi Sabrina
<Hi, Gord!>
Yes, me again! I'm like a bad penny. Thanks for a very entertaining email. I read that over my morning tea and you had me in stitches. It really set me up for the day.
<Hah!  I'm glad.>
I can only assume that you don't like Trumpet Snails then?
<Can't imagine where you got that idea!  *grin*>
Given what you've just told me, I'm not too sure I like them now either and it's not because of their evil laughter and pointy beards! Eat my plants? No way!
<Many/most folks will claim otherwise, but I've seen it firsthand.  They do eat any/everything else first, but as they grow too populous for the tank, they'll take down plants too.>
The worst thing is I put 4 into my community tank (60 litre, Barbs and Tetras) a week ago when I decided to conserve some Trumpet Snails for future use. I feel it might be time to go on a snail squashing spree and give the Barbs a little extra protein.
<My opinion is that trumpet snails aren't for my tanks.  Your mileage may vary.>
I'd be hesitant to take on life purely to rid a tank of a pest,
<Botia striata really are a wonderful fish, if you've got the room for a small school.  Quite a delightful little loach.>
so that leaves me with your buddy’s nuclear winter idea for the puffer tank.
<Heeee!>
I might go for a different take on this, though, and boil the substrate then sieve out the bodies. Unless these super-snails are immune to 100C water, that is! To my mind, it shouldn't be any different to cooking whelks. I wonder if you can eat Trumpet Snails? I have some quite big ones (kidding). 
<Mmmm, tasty....  Or not....  Wait 'til you smell 'em.  DO NOT do this if you have a significant other in the house, or if family is going to visit.  Trust me.>
Anyway, thanks. I think I have a way forward that doesn't involve too much hassle now. 
<Good luck!  I, personally, prefer the loach option, as for some reason I can't bring myself to kill things in one way if I think there's a "better" way, and for something to become a meal is, in some messed-up way, "better" in my mind.  It's an odd quirk.  I don't even kill spiders in my own home.  I guess I'm a pretty weird case.>
Thanks for clearing up the filter bacteria issue. It made sense to me that equilibrium would be reached, but often I think that there might be something I've overlooked in an aquarium setting.
<Seems like you're a pretty sensible guy, Gord.>
It is useful to know since I don't like moving fish just to keep feeding a filter, nor do I like feeding empty tanks.
<Feeding the empty tank just keeps a higher load of "waste" - mimicking having fish in the tank, basically, so that there will remain a greater amount of nitrifying bacteria.  Nothing wrong with doing that.  If you don't, and the tank is left alone, it just means being slow and careful when you add fish again.  No biggee either way.>
Cheers
Gord
<Best wishes again and always,  -Sabrina>
Update - Re: Dwarf Puffers and MTS (and filter bacteria) - II - 12/18/2012

Hi Sabrina
<Gord!>
Looks like I'm stalking you today!
<Yay!  I mean....  Yikes!>
I thought I should send you a quick update on the Malaysian Trumpet Snail annihilation. No longer will they laugh at me from the substrate. It's over a month now and I've not seen
one.
<Excellent!  What triumph!>
My method was less smelly and actually quite easy. I filled the bottom freezer drawer with my sand substrate and then vinegar-washed the tank. I thoroughly cleaned the filter, heater and rocks. Three days later I removed the sand and defrosted it.
<Brilliant.>
Job, I think (hope), done.
<This is a very useful piece of information; I am sure others will profit from this.  Thank you very, very much for letting us (and everyone that reads this) know!>
Thanks for the discussion on the subject, I certainly wouldn't have come up with that otherwise.
<Delighted to have been of service again.  Thank you again for sharing this.>
Cheers
Gord
<Warm wishes to you,  -Sabrina>

Dwarf Puffers and MTS (and filter bacteria)
Dwarf Puffers and Malaysian Trumpet Snails (Sabrina's Old Nemesis!) - 10/31/2012

Hi Folks
<Hi, Gord! Wait. Gord? You again?! Just kidding. Didn't realize this was from you until I just now scrolled down to take a look to see to whom I should be saying hi. I just happen to have a soft spot in my heart for eliminating Malaysian Trumpet Snails.>
I'm planning a Dwarf Puffer setup in a 60 litre tank
<Neat!>
that currently holds a pair of Lamprologus ocellatus with a sand substrate.
The N. ocellatus will be going to a new home at the weekend. I had introduced Malaysian Trumpet Snails (MTS) into the tank,
<Nooooooooooooo! Malaysian Trumpet Snails.... My old nemesis! Every time someone says, with an innocent tone, "I added some trumpet snails!" a piece of my soul cries.>
since I'd read they keep the sand aerated and I have positively encouraged them to thrive.
<.... I have nothing good to say here. I'm trying. See, I do know people actually seek them out intentionally, and add them to tanks, but.... I just can't wrap my brain around it. THEY'RE EVIL. Complete with little pointy beards and moustaches, and maniacal laughter. Not kidding, listen closely to your substrate. They're laughing at you *right now*.>
However I also read that puffers can damage their teeth on MTS.
<I wouldn't be surprised. And these little trapdoor devils can thwart puffers, too. I only know one fish that can definitely dispose of them.>
I'd like to use the same substrate for the puffers but I think I need to get rid of the MTS to do so (please correct me if I'm wrong).
<I would get rid of them, but for other reasons. Your reason, however, is reasonable, too.>
My options as I see it so far:
1: Dump some molluscicide (copper?) or bleach in there and wait a month for decay to complete. Wash substrate and tank.
<DON'T do this. Trumpet snails may survive it, for one, and for another, the copper that leaches into your substrate may release at some time in the future - and your puffers are very sensitive to copper. Don't do this; it's not worth it.>
2: Starve them. Don't feed the tank for a few months.
<Won't work. Evil doesn't need to eat. Okay, the snails *do* need to eat, but there's plenty for them, whether you feed them or not. Even if only one of these livebearing nightmares survives, you'll soon be repopulated.>
3: Sieve the whole substrate.
<Won't work. Newly born baby snails will still make it through. And they grow up to be evil.>
4. Dump the substrate and start again.
<An excellent option. But there are others.>
5. You tell me I don't have to get rid of the MTS, I celebrate.
<Well, you could do this. But I think you're not unreasonable for being concerned for the puffers' well-being.>
Obviously I'd rather go for option 3 since it doesn't involve decaying organisms in the substrate but I don't know what size the newborns are and whether they would pass through the sieve.
<They will.>
I have a feeling option 5 isn't going to happen.
<That's up to you, and how risky you feel it is. I, personally, for just the reason of the puffers' teeth, would probably eliminate them.>
Any guidance on this would be most welcome. I feel bad asking since there's already so much on ridding tanks of snails on WWM but I'm in a (to me) fairly unique position of being able to do it without any livestock in the tank and have an opportunity to break the system down if necessary. I'm not trying to get rid of an outbreak but a deliberately cultivated population.
<That concept still makes me cringe. Anyhow, you have a couple of other options. One of them stinks, literally, and one of them involves Botia striata. I have seen, firsthand in my own tank, Botia striata suck Malaysian Trumpets out of their shells with no problems at all. It's like the trapdoor isn't even there; they just knock the snail over and suck, and it's empty. I don't know how successful other Botia would be at this, but B. striata are a dream come true. They're also super cute. Try 'em, you'll like 'em! The smellier option a buddy of mine tried with success.
It's less than ideal, if you ask me - even cruel, perhaps - but it works.
Microwave the substrate. He did his in microwave-safe casserole dishes for an extraordinarily long time, and said the smell was appalling. But he was giddy with glee to have gotten rid of the little soul-sucking demons. Just don't miss a single pebble, nuke it all. Or just get a little school of B. striata. Oh, and drying the substrate out - for months - won't work. Been there, tried that. They just shut their little shells and nap, only to wake up and laugh when they're wet again. Why do I hate these snails so, so much, you might ask? They are really, really good at growing to a huge population and eating every speck of anything in the tank. Folks say they won't eat plants, but after they eat everything else, they most certainly do. And when they get to that point, they're like lawnmowers. First it's any decaying bits (they really don't take the live parts until last), but eventually, they just plow through everything. And have you ever seen, just after lights-out, how the substrate starts to crawl, and then they march up the sides of the tank like they're coming to take over the world?
Evil.>
Also, while I'm writing, can I clarify a concept that's been bugging me for a while?
<I'll try. No promises!>
To my mind, if I remove all of the livestock from a cycled tank and the bacteria is no longer being fed, it will START to die off,
<Eventually>
and release the nutrients it held back into the water column. If this happens then there will be ammonia present from the decay and the remaining bacteria will eat that, grow and die again when it completes, so the system should stay cycled, albeit to a lesser degree.
<Yes, to a lesser and lesser degree over time, until a balance is struck.>
Would this equilibrium occur?
<Yeah, basically.>
It's relevant if I need to fallow this system to get rid of the snails.
<Still won't work. So sorry.>
I can't thank you enough for your help and resources. You've taken a guy that didn't even know what cycling was to overcomplicating it with questions like that!
<Haha! Isn't life, and learning, just wonderful?? So glad to have added to your life in this way.... and for you to have added to all of ours, and our readers'!>
I've also managed to do about 4 hours reading on Dwarf Puffers long before I've even set up the system, thanks to the influence and hard work of the Crew.
<Wonderful. Wonderful. Thank you, Gord, for your very fun questions, and for your kindness and encouragement.>
Cheers
Gord
<Best wishes to you always, -Sabrina>

Please help me to identify this snail!
Hi
I recently started a new aquarium and I noticed 2 snails in my tank.
According to the fish shop, I should remove an snails I see as it will turn into an infestation over time! Oh, I live in Singapore if it will help the identification.
However, I'm inclined to leave it be if it doesn't do any harm to the aquarium. So can you please help me to identify this snail and tell me if it can go with my guppies, cardinal tetra and fire shrimps? Many thanks!
Cheers
Melissa
<This is a Melanoides spp., like Melanoides tuberculata, often called the Malayan Turret Snail. It's harmless and in fact does some good aerating the substrate as it burrows through it, but Melanoides tuberculata breed notoriously quickly. They don't eat healthy plants and only eat dead animals and plants, algae, fish faeces, etc. but it's best to remove them on sight if you want a snail-free aquarium. Some aquarists hate them, others view them as a blessing. Personally, I don't mind them, but do try to keep their numbers down, for example through the use of snail-eating snails (Clea helena) and prompt removal of uneaten food, dead fish, and so on that would drive excessive population growth. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Please help me to identify this snail!
Thank you very much for your help and your prompt reply. We have decided to keep them :)
Cheers
Melissa
<Cool. But do make sure you understand the risk -- these chaps breed quickly, and once you have them, removal can be difficult (though certainly not impossible). Keep the tank clean, and every few weeks go on a "snail hunt" removing all that you can see. Rest assured, some will be hidden away and those will quickly make up the numbers.
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/MollusksFW.htm/MalaysianSnailsF.htm
Cheers, Neale.>

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

Keeping Malaysian Trumpet Snails with Blue Rams  9/5.5/11
Hey, Crew! I have a quick question for you! Right now I have Blue Rams, Harlequin Rasbora, and Marbled Hatchets in my 30 gallon aquarium. I'm planting it at the end of this week with some low light plants. I also have some Malaysian trumpet snails coming in the mail later this week to help stir up my sand substrate. Basically, my question is what is the lowest pH the MTS can live in?
<Around pH 6.5, maybe a bit less.>
I've heard they're kind of hard to kill. I keep my water anywhere from 6.4-6.8 pH-wise, and want to know if this would be ok for the MTS. I know they like hard, alkaline water but I keep mine soft and acidic for my Rams, as they take precedence for me. I want to know the lowest pH I can keep them at basically, and if they would be ok with my current parameters. If not, what pH should I raise it to?
Thank you, Charles
<I'd try a few snails and see what happens. In soft water they tend to have thin, brittle shells, but the snails themselves seem unharmed. Low pH levels promote erosion of the shells, but provided the pH isn't below 6.5, they can do okay. If your water is too soft and acidic, you'll simply see your snails fail to thrive, and that'll be that. There are better choices for this aquarium when it comes to sand sifters, perhaps Kuhli Loaches or Banjo Catfish, depending on the temperature. Cheers, Neale.>

Fluke Tabs Safe   10/29/06
Are these "fluke tabs" absolutely safe for the fish?
Thanks.
< If used as directed they are deadly to invertebrates such as snails. If the snails are very numerous their decomposing bodies start a very strong ammonia spike that will affect the fish. Many people use this to treat Malaysian Burrowing snails. The snails are livebearers and make up most of the gravel. Then the tank is treated and the snails are all killed. Their bodies are high in protein. Buried under the gravel the bodies are being broken down by bacteria. The bacteria use oxygen and generate ammonia as waste. The combination is very bad for fish and when they have problems they blame the medications. I would recommend that you check for ammonia spikes when using any medications.-Chuck>

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.>

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

Small snail like parasites???  5/30/07
Dear Crew:
It has been a long time since I have had any problems, all has been great since the death of Maggie, platy. Your site has been a great help, and I have spent many hours learning about my aquarium and habitants. I recently had a Betta die, who was otherwise very healthy, when I found her she was covered in a white fluffy like substance,
<Perhaps after the fact... decomposers>
and I noticed these very tiny snail like things on the tank walls. I treated my tank with Maracide,
<For?>
every other day for 3 treatment days, and on putting the first dose in, noticed a platy and another Betta rubbing their bodies on the gravel.
<Perhaps, most likely, due to the medicine addition...>
all seemed to be going well. Today, I find the tank once again infested?? with these very tiny worms? Or snails, they do not have backs, and they do have what appears to be feelers. There is a lot
<No such word...>
of them, I can not seem to find out what they are. Do you know what they are? and what I should do with them? I appreciate and thank you for any feedback. Thank you for your time.
Charlie
<Likely are worms, very likely not harmful... Opportunistically reproduced to noticeable levels given the abundance of food (the dead Betta)... will "go" in time. I would leave them be for now. Bob Fenner>
Re: Small snail like parasites???  5/31/07
Hello Mr. Fenner:
<C und B>
Thank you for your time. I think you were right about the decomposer, I did not think it happened too quickly,
<Oh yes... many 'things' happen quickly underwater, compared to terrestrial events>
and I thought it must have been a disease. I treated the tank for ich, velvet, and other external parasites. The other fish appear to be fine. I do not know why she died, the tank seems fine as are the water conditions. After spending many hours on your site last night, it is wonderful, (me thinks you are too),
<Why thank you>
I wonder if they might be trumpet snails?
<Mmm, maybe... don't look quite long enough to be Malaysians... but might just be small... Where would they have been introduced? Ah, yes, on the plants>
I have taken a picture, I hope you can see it.
<Yes>
At night there are hundreds of them, on the plants, glass and gravel, on closer inspection, they appear to have tiny shells. During the day, only the very tiny seem to be active, they appear on the glass. I have had no new additions to the tank in a year, I do not have live plants, and is it possible they
lie dormant until conditions are favorable?
<Yes...>
I am just baffled to where they might have come from,
<This species mainly lives in/under the sand/substrate by day, coming out to forage at night>
they are quite fascinating to watch, and my four year old son thinks they are bees knees!! You are right about them being harmless, they appear to not bother the fish at all, and vise versa.
<Correct... within not-too-high population numbers they are an asset... keeping the gravel stirred...>
Thank you again for your help. Have a wonderful day.
Sincerely,
Charlie and Benjamin
<Thank you my friend. BobF>

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

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

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>

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