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FAQs on Freshwater Aquarium Snail Systems

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

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

Apple Snails and no clue
I have just bought 2 apple snails which do enthrall me, but I know nothing about them, care etc, would love advice also other snails.
Thank you,
<Well Mary, I spend most of my energy trying to get rid of snails! But here is a website devoted to Apple Snails.
http://www.applesnail.net/ Have fun! Don>

Zeolite and aquatic snails     6/14/14
Is zeolite safe to use around freshwater snails?
<Yes, provided used as described by the manufacturer.>
Is it safe to use around marine snails?
<Yes, though zeolite doesn't remove ammonia from saline water, and will in fact release any it has absorbed.>
Thank you.
<Welcome, Neale.>
re: Zeolite and aquatic snails

Thank you Neale.

calcium source for Nerite snails    2/28/12
Hi Neal,
I have two Nerite snails in my 12 gallon unheated tank (room temp high sixties).  I put in three oyster shells....is that enough of a calcium source for the snails?  I could add more if necessary....
<Should be ample, Christine. Small bits of cuttlebone (as sold for parrots and turtles) may be easier to cut up into small blocks can work well too, and may be easier for them to consume. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: calcium source for Nerite snails

Thanks Neal.  Thank you for your reply.
I wasn't sure if the calcium from the shells just leached into the water ...
<Will do this to a degree, and the harder the water, the more slowly (if at all) the shells become "pitted".>
or if the snails climb on them & suck out the calcium ??
<Snails can, will scrape at calcareous materials to eat calcium.>
If it's the latter, then do I have to cut up the shells to make it easier for the snails?
Or should I keep them whole (not cut up) ?
<As you prefer.>
If they climb on the shells in order to suck out the calcium, then is it important to put orient the shells so that the underbelly is sitting down on the gravel substrate?  Or upside down instead?
<Doesn't matter.>
Thanks for your advice!
<Best, Neale.>

apple snail, sys.    10/28/11
Hi Crew,
I have three apple snails, two golden and one opal. I am attempting to set up an aquarium for just the snails. I am inquiring as to what I should use on the floor of the tank. Should I use sand from a LFS, gravel, or dirt from the back yard? I have read on www.applesnail.net that they live in muddy waters and that not all snails need to aestivate, but I would like to attempt to provide the habitat for them that is optimal. One of the snails is the size of a golf ball, and the other two are just under that size. The two Goldens are in a 75 gallon tank right now and have laid three clutches of eggs. As of yet, none of them have produced any babies but I am still hoping. Any advise would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you
<Hello Laura. The Apple Snail site is excellent. Yes, most Apple Snails live in muddy habitats thick with plants, but for all that, a plain silica sand or fine gravel substrate would be fine, perhaps with 10% by volume coral sand stirred in to improve alkalinity. And yes, there is variation among them with regard to aestivation. Nonetheless, the majority don't last longer than a year or so in aquaria, rather than the 3-5 years they should live for. Hence, we only rarely see the tennis ball sized specimens apparent in the wild. So, what's the deal? Likely other factors come into play, and lack of a "rest period" is just part of an array of stresses Apple Snails fail to tolerate under aquarium conditions. Monotonous diet, pecking by fish, constant breeding all year around, and indifferent water quality and water chemistry management may all play a part. I'd recommend cooling them down to 22 C/72 F for 3 months a year, ideally around winter, so they aren't in the mood to breed and they slow down a bit. Then warm them back up in spring, to 24 C/75 F, and hopefully that'll get them back into a growing and breeding modus. With luck, the resting phase will help the snails live longer lives. I kept and bred Apple Snails without much bother, but confess than I was replacing adults with their offspring across the year or so. I now find other snails, particular Tylomelania, all around better snails for general aquarium use. Hope this helps, Neale.>
Re: apple snail (now: where to buy Tylomelania)   10/29/11

Yes these tips do help a great deal. The idea is for the snails to live away from fish so the nipping part is our of the equation. Where can I find these other snails you mention as I have not heard of them.
<Well, in the UK these snails are quite widely sold through the aquatics chain Maidenhead Aquatics. They cost anything between £2-4 (about $3-5) depending on the species and size. Elsewhere you may have to buy them online or have your aquarium retailer order them in especially. If you search online for "Tylomelania" you will find that they're traded under a variety of names -- Sulawesi Elephant Snails, Poso Snails, Yellow Rabbit Snails, etc. There are actually lots of species, but retailers often don't know which one they have in stock. But they are excellent aquarium residents, and generally get along perfectly well with aquarium fish that don't eat snails (Clown Loaches and Puffers would be poor tankmates!). So I do hope that more retailers realise how much better they are than Apple Snails, and start ordering them instead. Do note that you can't sex them (unlike Apple Snails) so buy a reasonably large group if you want to breed them, at least 4 specimens.>
I am limited in my choices of shops to get my snails from. Thank you so much for your time and consideration. I continue to enjoy and learn from WWM and it's crew.
<Glad to help. Cheers, Neale.>

apple snail... sys.  1/27/10
hello crew! I have been thinking about getting a couple of apple snails and I was wondering if they can live in a 5 gallon bowl without filter or heater and there water would be changed 2 times a week at least.
<Short answer is no, unless you live in the subtropics, e.g., Southern Florida, which is where they come from. Anywhere cooler, and certainly anywhere air conditioned, isn't going to work well outside of summer. Do review the needs of Apple snails, e.g., at the excellent AppleSnail.net web site. Most people fail to keep them alive for long. Cheers, Neale.>

Mystery snails, sys. water quality  11/10/09
Got one quick question, am i supposed to have a few extra empty shells in my tank for the mystery snails when they start to grow?
<No, though if you live in a soft water area, adding a few seashells is a good idea. They'll buffer the water a bit, and the snails will chew them to extract the calcium carbonate they need.>
or does the shell grow with the snail?
<Yes, indeed, this is what happens.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Nerite snails and shrimps  10/15/09
In a previous message I asked about the compatibility of Bolivian Rams and Neon Dwarf Rainbows for a 30 gallon aquarium that we're converting from cold water to tropical.
I asked what else we may want to add and Neale suggested shrimps or Nerite snails. However, our water tends to be very soft and I'm wondering if this would be a problem for these critters. Hardness is 50 ppm and alkalinity is under 80. One pH test indicated 6.8 but another test indicated 7.1.
<So, we're talking neutral rather than basic water. Fine for both species of fish, but would tend to harden it a little.>
Our LFS says they mix some crushed coral (or something like that, I think)
with the gravel in their tanks. Is this an adequate solution?
<Can be, but tends to be unpredictable in efficacy. By all means try it and see what happens. A half-cupful, placed in a media bag, should do the trick. Obviously, as it becomes covered with silt and bacteria, it will dissolve less, and so you do need to be removing and thoroughly cleaning this crushed coral under a hot tap, likely monthly.>
if so, how much needs to be added? My concern with this is that the water we add during water changes will be the softer water. Will this be too much of a shock to the fish?
<No, it'll change the pH slowly, as it dissolves. No worse than acclimating fish from the pet shop to your home aquarium.>
We have maintained this aquarium for several years by performing a 40 to 50% water change every 2 weeks. (It seems to require that much in order to vacuum all the gravel completely.) On one hand, we hate to fix something that ain't broke, but I understand the Bolivian Rams may be more sensitive than the types of fish we've kept in the past (goldfish for the past couple of years and Congo and other tetras before that). What would you suggest we do?
<By all means try out the crushed coral route. Me, I prefer to add something to each bucket of water. If you look here:
You'll see there's a Rift Valley salt mix. If you added one-fourth the dose per bucket of water, that should harden the water significantly and in a totally consistent way. You might up the dose to one-half the quoted amount. Either way, this mix adds general hardness (the Epsom salt) and carbonate hardness (the baking soda) and together these create water conditions that will suit the species you're after.>
On another note, we've had trouble finding test kits for hardness and alkalinity. Our LFS doesn't seem to have anything for fresh water, they just have marine test kits. All we found was a 5-in-1 test strip.
<These are adequate for freshwater fishkeeping. It's ball park figures you're after here; precision isn't critical. In terms of water chemistry, a pH test is essential, and a general hardness and/or carbonate hardness (sometimes called alkalinity) test kit are both useful.>
Can you recommend any reputable online aquarium supply dealers where we might find the test kits we need? And what should we look for? (Brands, names, etc.)
<I guess the Tetra Tests are well regarded, but they're all much of a muchness, using very, very basic chemical tests. So get whatever's available and to your budget.>
Thanks, Jeff
<Cheers, Neale.>

Vase Environment, Snail. sys.  09/14/09
Hello, I'm not sure if my question has been answered already but most of the FAQs involve aquariums. I have a vase (on the small size ~3/4 ga) that I have water lettuce growing in. The vase gets dirty and requires that I empty and clean the vase a rocks. I was curious about putting a snail in the vase to eat the dead plant matter. Do I need to have circulating water and/or a filter, or would a snail survive in just the vase? If a snail
would survive what would I need to do to maintain a healthy environment for it? Also I was interested in using a red Ramshorn snail, would this be a good option or is there a snail better suited for this environment? Also are there plants that are better for this sort of snail set up?
Thanks for your help.
<The short answer is none of the ornamental snail species sold in pet stores would survive for very long. Most either need tropical temperatures, or clean, filtered water, or both. Now, adding a couple or three Physa or Physella spp. snails might well work, but you'll have to collect these yourself. Aim for air-breathing snail species native to your particular corner of Planet Earth, and you might luck out. Non-pulmonate species wouldn't be a good idea because they tend to be more sensitive to water quality. Of course, pulmonate snails have a tendency to crawl out, so you will find them outside the vase (likely dried up and dead) from time to time. In fact the bottom line is that while your idea has its merits, in practise it really isn't all that practical. A five-gallon tank is workable, but the volume you're talking about really doesn't have much potential for stability or long-term success. Cheers, Neale.>

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

Freshwater snail 05/29/09
My name is Sanet
Its been about three weeks since we last took our snail out of the tank to clean the tank. We've noticed today that the shell has holes in it and is very soft and crumbles easily. The snail shares the tank with two Fancy Gold Fish. What could be wrong with the snail and will this affect our fish?
<Hello Sanet. It's likely your water is soft and acidic. Snails use calcium carbonate in the water to make their shells, and in acidic water, this calcium carbonate dissolves from the shell into the water. So snails are best kept in water that is hard and alkaline; aim for pH 7-8, hardness 10+ degrees dH. It's a good idea to provide some carbonate hardness as well, around 5 or more degrees KH being ideal. Funnily enough, Goldfish like exactly the same water chemistry, and also do poorly when exposed to soft, acidic water. Do read here:
Consider using the Rift Valley Cichlid Salt Mix described; it costs pennies to make, and will optimize the water chemistry in your aquarium automatically, if used correctly. Cheers, Neale.>

Mystery Snail Mating... beh., sys.  - 03/06/09 I bought two gold mystery snails the other day and tossed them in my 10 gallon tank with some zebra Danio. A few days later I noticed they were mating. After a few hours I returned to find that one snail had buried itself under the gravel almost completely (see attached photo) (you have to zoom in on the center under the bridge). Is this normal? What is going on? I thought they laid their eggs above the water line. Should I dig the snail up? Thanks for you help! Coleman My info: 10 gallon tank, over the back filter, water temp at 74 degrees, live Micro Sword Grass (Liaeopsis novae-zelandiae), pH 6.8 - 7.4, lighting on timer for day and night modes. <Greetings. Your Pomacea is likely attempting to aestivate, i.e., to enter its normal resting phase. In the wild, Apple snails live a life that involves a few months of dormancy each year. The reason they don't survive in tropical aquaria for more than a year is because aquarists deny them this. Kept active for more than 12 months they usually "burn out". So what should you do? Ideally, you'd remove the snail, place it in a container with some wet mud, and let it snooze for at least a month somewhere, taking care that it (and the mud) stayed damp. You could then try and wake the snail up by placing the snail in a bucket and partially covering it with water from the aquarium. Don't cover it with water or throw it into the aquarium just yet, or it will drown! If the snail starts moving about (this may take some hours, because it's in "suspended animation") you're good to go, and can put the snail in the aquarium. The alternative is to leave the snail in your aquarium even though its resting. Sometimes this does no harm, but sooner or later, Apple snails do die when kept going all the time, which is why you never see the full sized (tennis ball sized!) specimens in pet shops or home aquaria. By the way, your pH variations are insanely dangerous, and need to be looked into. Remember, one "step" on the pH scale means a ten-fold increase in acidity or alkalinity. So while 6.8 to 7.4 doesn't sound much, it's actually a huge change, and quite possibly one that is stressful to your fish and snails. Review the carbonate hardness of the water, and check that you're doing sufficient water changes to dilute the nitrate and organic acids in the water. A 10-gallon tank is really too small for Danios, so I'm concerned you have an overstocked, under-filtered system. Cheers, Neale.>


Want to check with the experts...   9/19/08
AFCs, snails... sys.

Hello crew,
I have African Clawed Frogs and Apple Snails in the following water conditions:
PH 7.8 (on a dipstick, but liquid showed 8.8, not sure what that's about)
<Liquid test kits are supposedly more accurate, but to be honest all consumer-grade test kits are pretty inaccurate compared to the science-grade kits. In any case, I find it hard to believe the pH is 8.8 given you have low hardness and zero ammonia.>
KH 80ppm
<That's a middle to low carbonate hardness, so do watch pH stability.>
Chlorine 0
GH 25ppm
NO2 0
NO3 0
NH3 0
<Sounds fine.>
This is a brand new tank that's currently cycling with just the snails in it. The frogs are still tadpoles and are in a separate 10g tank. My main question is with regard to PH, KH, and GH. I read in the FAQ that the frogs aren't going to care about a high PH as long as it's stable, and that what I really needed to be concerned about was KH, and GH. So are these levels good?
<They're fine. Keep on top of water changes, and if you observe the pH changes from the day you do a water change to the day before the next one (i.e., it drops) then add a bit of crushed coral to the filter. This will put some carbonate hardness into the water and buffer the pH.>
If not can they be changed to make it better for my new friends?
Thanks for existing.
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Want to check with the experts...   9/19/08

Thanks a ton. I've done my research and have decided to switch to sponge filters per your recommendation. If I do notice a drop in pH between water changes, would putting a small oyster shell in the water do the trick?
<Hi Laura. Adding calcareous items like shells to aquaria will inhibit pH drops or cause slight rises in pH over time -- but only up to a point. Once said item becomes covered with bacteria and algae, it's isolated from the water, and it consequently stops reacting. Think of it like the crispy shell around an M&M, in the sense that the sugar coating there stops the chocolate melting when you handle these confections. For now, I'd simply go with what you have, but do a pH test every week or two for the first few months just to get a feel of how pH changes over time. If the pH stays stable, then don't worry about manipulating the water chemistry. Cheers, Neale.>

Ich (y) tank and tankmates?   9/19/06 Dear WWM Crew, <Amanda> I have several questions that I have Googled, but don't seem to find the answers that I seek.  (I am an amateur 10-gallon tank owner.) I have a planted tank with : 2 Sunburst platys 2 female Bettas 4 neon tetra 1 yellow 'mystery snail' ...and a snail problem. My first question is this :  how can I rid my tank of all the little brown snails that keep popping up out of (seemingly) nowhere? <Mmm, posted: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwsnailcompfaqs.htm> My second question has a bit of background to it.  My 2 lovely lady Bettas were purchased from a major pet retail store, and were immersed in blue medicated water.  I believe I introduced 'ick' into my tank when introducing these fish.  What are some 'Betta-safe' measures that I can take to rid my tank of these parasites? <Mmm... Copper and Malachite Green containing remedies (almost all the effective chemical treatments contain one or both) are toxic to your plants and snail... I would try elevated temperature alone... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwich.htm and the linked files above...> My third (and final) question also deals with 'ick'.  Are snails susceptible/possible carriers of this protozoan parasite? Thank you very much, Amanda <Ah, no. Bob Fenner>  

Coming Soon... Dwarf Puffers, and snails   8/20/06 Dear Crew, <Shel> Previously we have discussed my goldfish, specifically, the Fantail named Sara. As you know, tanks are addicting <Heeee! Oh yes> and my son decided he wants Puffers in their old 10-gallon tank. I have it very nicely planted (thank you AZ gardens for your Plants for Dummies habitat kits) and ready for Puffs. I have what may be a really stupid question but I need to ask it anyway. I know elsewhere you recommend raising snails in a separate tank for them but I was wondering why you cannot just put the snails in the tank with them. <Just hard to impossible to control many of the hermaphroditic species numbers/population mainly, and that the puffers may eat them all...> If this is one of those, "Duh" questions, I am truly sorry. I have enclosed a photo of the prepared tank purely because it's a nice picture. The water level is low because I had just finished planting.  Thank you once again for all you do. Shellie <Though puffers of most sorts/species will make short work... eat the snails. Bob Fenner>

Snails and Sand - 05/10/2006 Hello, I have learned so much from the information you provide on you website.  Learn something new everyday they say.  Wow!!....that's an understatement. <Excellent!  Thank you for these kind words.> My question is this... I came across a bag of Bone Aid Calci-Sand, T-Rex brand, pure natural calcium carbonate substrate.  Would this be something I could add to my snails tank?   <I wouldn't.  This will significantly change the pH and alkalinity of your water.> It appears to be for reptiles.  If it is alright for my freshwater tank, how much should I add and how would I add it to the tank? <Unless your tank's inhabitants want/need a very high pH and alkalinity, this is not a good plan.> I have a very handsome Golden Apple Snail, Dale.  I take very good care of Dale and his 10 gallon aquarium.  Dale has a heater, filter, bubbler (which he plays on), and a pump.   <Sounds great!> His shell is growing so much, I'd say about a half inch of new so far.  He amazes me. <Sounds like he's a pretty happy snail.> I'll look forward to hearing from you. <For now, I'd suggest to leave well enough alone, and not add this to your tank.  Sudden changes in pH are not good for your critters.> Thank you for your time and expertise,  -Jill <And thank you again for your kind words!  Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>
Re: Snails and Sand - 05/11/2006
Thank you Sabrina for the valued advice. <Glad, as always, to be of service.> We'll definitely nix the Calci Sand. <A good plan, I think.> Wouldn't want to upset Dale. <Me neither.> Thanks again!! <You bet!  Wishing you and Dale well,  -Sabrina>

Dropsy? Epsom salt and mystery snails?   4/9/06 Hi, <Ki> I have been reading your website on a fairly regular basis for about three months now (from the time we discussed purchasing an aquarium & since then--especially before purchasing any new species). Currently we have a 10 gallon tank with 4 platies, 4 Cory catfish, 3 snails (gold mystery, black mystery, and blue mystery), and 2 glass shrimp. The platies have been with us about 6 weeks. The Cory cats about 2 weeks. The golden snail-6 weeks, the black one-4 weeks, the blue one-about 2 weeks. The ph is 7, the ammonia is 0, nitrite 0, nitrate 20. <Take care to keep those nitrates no higher> We do not plan to increase the community, though I am aware that the platies might make that decision for us, in which case we will get another tank. First, while this did not seem overcrowded to me based upon what I have read, I am starting to have doubts. Namely, do we have too many snails? <Not yet... and these are not "bisexual" species listed... so, easier to monitor...> Also, until tonight we had 5 platies, but I found one of them dead this evening. She ate fine in the morning, but then died at some point in the afternoon/early evening. Her abdomen looked somewhat swollen, but not at all "pinecone-like." Her scales were still flat against the body and only the underside of the abdomen was swollen. Still, because of the swelling, I am wondering if it is some form of dropsy. If so, are the other fish in danger? <Not likely> I have read that many dropsy conditions are not contagious, but I am still worried. Now I am paranoid that the other platies look swollen, though my husband says I am imagining it. Also, would it be safe to do a treatment with Epsom salt to be sure? And would the Epsom salt kill the snails & shrimp? <Too likely so> I have seen a reference to the safety of Epsom salt with invertebrates, but the ones listed in that person's question were all saltwater creatures, not freshwater ones. I just want to be sure before I do anything. I apologize if these questions are all answered in obvious places on the website that I missed. Thanks, Ki <No worries. I would be conservative here re adding anything... Likely the system, fish being "very new" and this being a "first batch" of young, some have died more easily. Bob Fenner>

Weekend feeder / snail shell erosion  12/30/2005 Hello! I have been doing some Google searches trying to figure out what was wrong with one of my snail's shell and read some of your responses. I have two apple snails, two tiny goldfish and a Ramshorn snail in a 6 gallon aquarium. I believe the Ramshorn has shell erosion from some form of nutritional deficiency or soft water. <These are the most common causes, yes> The apples are fine, there shells look pretty good actually, and everybody eats sinking algae pellets and goldfish flakes. If it is because my water is too soft, how can I make it harder? <By adding a source of alkalinity... the simplest? Likely sodium bicarbonate (Baking Soda)... a level teaspoon per ten gallons of new water, mixed in, allowed to set for a day or more before use> Will doing this hurt the fish? <Not if done in moderation, with pre-mixed water> I read on another website that adding a weekend feeder may help because of the plaster of Paris, <Yes> but I don't know of that was a joke. I went to my local aquarium supply and the woman behind the counter suggested a salt bath or antibiotics!!!! <Mmm, no> (Also, they did not carry the marine iodine) I need some real help, that won't kill my snails. Thank you so much for your time. Sorry if these are elementary questions. Sincerely, Kuniko <You're welcome. Bob Fenner>

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

Snail Waste 7/18/05 First, I love your site and find myself reading for probably way too long. However, it has provided me with a wealth of info. I recently went through my first fish tank "live and learn" scenario. My daughter won a couple of goldfish from the fair and they did great with daily water changes during the cycling. Then, everything died from a pet store fish with Ich. Ick! Bad advice from a (loud cough) PetSmart person. I am starting over. I've been an online fiend about everything I need to know now. I'm currently in the middle of a fishless cycling. I have plants planted. I'll be adding CO2 at the end of the week and all my equipment ducks are in a row. Now for the long awaited questions. I want to start a platy tank because of their hardiness and their colors are great. The only thing to survive my poor goldfish was a mystery snail I'd removed from the tank while medicating. Since his separation I've learned just how much waste one snail can make. What can I put in with everything that will eat it (the poop)? any shrimp? will shrimp bother the platies? or their fry? I don't want to vacuum too often because of the plants. Or will the plants and substrate be enough to break it down and use it? Okay, I think I'm done for now. Looking forward to a response. Thanks for your help, Osh Leveque (yes, like osh kosh b'gosh. geesh) ; ) < The snail waste can be utilized by the plants. Lightly vacuum the upper portions of the gravel when you do you water changes so you don't disturb the roots and you should be fine.-Chuck> Snail I know it seems silly to ask about a snail, but I'm curious.. My husband recently took over my old tank when I got a new one. He has a silver tip shark and an Oscar (It was against my advice to get the Oscar!!!) We had a storm that knocked out the power at about 12:45 am (which sucks since I work for the electric comp!) I stirred both tanks w/ a wooden spoon before going to bed to oxygenate the water. Power came back at about 3:30 am.. In the morning I poked my head in to ck on my husband's fish and they were fine.. Don't remember seeing the snail.. That night when I went to feed them, snail was dead.. Are they that sensitive to outages..  <not at all! Quite the contrary... many tidal, shore dwelling species... leaving, breeding even feeding out of water and living in not so pristine conditions. Its death may very well have been coincidental.> The house was around 76 deg which is what they are used to. <best regards, Anthony>

Snails, calcium supply for same Yes, i have a question my snails shelves 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 Stuff Hi Scott The pH reduction was on the advice of the fish shop man. but he said he didn't have a book to look up in so he was guessing. What should pH be for a Ramshorn? Liddy <Well- no specific pH. Like with other aquatic creatures, stability is what works best...Make sure that the snail has plenty of food, a stable water temp, and he/she will be just fine! Good luck!  Scott F.>

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

Red Ramshorn snail Hi <Hi there! Scott F. here today> My friend has a single red Ramshorn in her tank (no other inhabitants).  The shop she bought it from had no idea about giving info on how to care for it properly.  She has had it for several weeks but over the last month it's shell has been getting very dark (almost black).  He spends his time lying on his side in the tank (he is not dead). She checked the pH it was 8 but is now 7 Any suggestions? Thanks, Liddy <Well, Liddy- the Ramshorn snail is a remarkably adaptable animal (just ask anyone who has them in their planted tanks!). They do eat a large amount of vegetable matter, can eat uneaten food, etc. Snails do spend a lot ofttimes just "sitting around". I know that you've heard the term "slow as a snail"...It's for a reason! I would keep an eye out on that pH. A downward shift in pH is a call to re-examine husbandry procedures (i.e.; water changes, etc.). If this pH reduction was intentional, please disregard this! Good luck! Scott F.>

One of Millions of Questions from a Novice >Please don't laugh.   >>Oh, alright.  ;)  Marina here today. >I visited your site and have learned much.  I don't come anywhere close to the serious care of fish and other aquatic animals.  My wife gave my daughter Aquababies two years ago. Of course the fish have died.  However, I have been caring for snails that started with two.  This is the third year of caring of what the LFS referred to as Tiger snails.   >>Fairly easy keepers.  Though they can be somewhat prolific. >They are small dark brown with a spiral cone and have never gotten larger that about three quarters of an inch.   >>Sounds like the animal to me. >I don't have the heart to let them die.  So I've tended to cleaning the little tank and cleaning the stones once or more a month.  They float upside down and suck what ever they can from guppy fish food.  I have been curious as to what would be normal for life cycle, what do they normally eat.   >>Don't know their life cycle, and they're very common in planted systems.  If you want to add some easy to grow plants, Anacharis and the like are good, though you'll have to pull a lot of die-off out.  You can also try weighing down stuff like zucchini for them, too.  Of course, good old fish food works, just don't give too much. >I noted that if I supply a lot of floating food the eight to twelve come to the surface.  A day or so later there appears a cloud or smoke beneath them.   >>Snail poo?   >I allow one of these cycles but usually clean the tiny tank.  Generally the tank will turn brown like nicotine about a week or two later.   >>Does it require anything more than a water change?  If so, consider a small sponge filter (air driven) to help out. >I may not being doing these guys any favors keeping them in such a small environment not knowing too much about them.   >>They truly don't know the difference, don't worry about it. >If I let them, they multiply very fast.  Randell >>You're very kind to take heart to these little mollusks, and it sounds as though you're giving them a good home.  I wouldn't really change anything.  I'm sorry I can't give you more/better information on them.  Marina

Snail Questions - 06/19/2004 Hi, <Hello.  My apologies for any lateness in reply....> I have a pretty large happy seeming apple snail, not P. bridgesii but one of the canaliculata group (plant eaters as opposed to decaying matter eaters.... she ate a little rotunda plant almost to death before I moved it to the other tank, and nearly killed my wisteria as well :/ but now she has plastic plants).    <Heh, learning' the hard way!  At least the snail enjoyed the snacks, I'm sure.  And after you replant, you can give the snail cuttings from the planted tank when you prune.  Yum!> She's currently living in a 10 gallon tank with varying numbers of her offspring and 3 zebra Danios. (The Danios must eat the eggs & young snails as my tank has not been overrun, but I have seen eggs and baby snails at various times and even a few as big as peas)   <Mmmm, peas....  Whups, wrong topic, sorry!  It would not surprise me that the Danios might dine on the eggs of these snails.> This tank was originally home to a Betta, <Ah, now *he* would dine on very small snails, too.  Another boon to your snails' population control.> 5 Danios, 3 scissortail Rasboras, and a Cory.  (The Cory and the Rasboras have been moved to the bigger tank that has also, 6 harlequins and an Oto).    <Corys will eat smaller snails, as well.  Well, not in a separate tank, but if you get overrun, you could consider reintroducing the Cory.> Two of the Danios and the Betta sadly succumbed to hex, which I treated for multiple times but could not seem to cure in such small fish :(   <So sad to hear that.  My apologies for your loss.> I have two questions about this snail (Jaws is her name... it seemed appropriate).   <HAH!  Appropriate, indeed!  I love it.> How do I know if she is eating enough?   I feed the Danios every day or two, sometimes three, and about every other time I feed the Danios I throw in an algae pellet or two.  (oh yea, the snail when we got her was about as big around as a quarter, and now is more like a golf ball - she's almost completely grown a new round on her shell since Jan/Feb when we got her!).   <Sounds like she's eating plenty.  If you have any concerns, you might get her some elodea/Anacharis/Egeria and let her munch at leisure, and just replace these inexpensive plants as they are devoured - many folks use this plant as an excellent food source for goldfish; it would taste quite good to Jaws, I'm sure.> Her newest shell growth seems pretty thick and is a very nice rich golden color, <A wonderful sign.> although when my brother fed her an algae pellet every day for a couple weeks she grew a quarter of an inch of pretty thin looking shell :/ that was shortly after we got her though.   <As you seem to be well aware, it might be best not to use that feeding scheme ;)  Sounds like she's doing great now, though, eh?> My other question, which I didn't even think about until I was browsing your forums... Should I be concerned if she is getting some flaking on the middle few rounds of her shell? <I would be concerned, yes.> She was completely algae covered when we got her (the new shell has been growing in a beautiful gold color and the algae hasn't spread) <Excellent.> and now about a pea sized area of her center spirals on the outside is flaking to a creamy white.   <Possibly a lack of calcium, perhaps even iodine....  the few large-ish snails in my shrimp tanks have very obviously benefited from adding Kent Tech Marine iodine, at a rate of one drop per ten gallons each week (*not* the normal marine dose).> Also how do I test water hardness, and other nutrient levels necessary for the snail? <You can test total hardness (GH) and carbonate hardness (KH) with test kits available from most fish stores, or can purchase the kits online from online e-fish stores, like some of our sponsors.  Be sure to get kits for freshwater aquaria.> I don't really have any money to spend on them now sadly (and the next cash I get has to go toward plant food for the bigger tank as half the plants are falling apart and dying) <Yikes!  You might benefit from reading through our plant sub-web:   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/PlantedTksSubWebIndex/AquariumGardenSubWebIndex.html > but when I do have the cash I would like to be able to take care of all my animals properly.   <A good plan, for sure.  Your snail can probably wait for you to get test kits, I imagine her problem is not imminently life-threatening.  I would, however, try the Kent iodine for sure.> Our town water is usually pretty hard though (leaves hard water stains on all the faucets, etc). That's a good thing for snails right? <You bet.  Hard water stains usually indicate high-ish levels of calcium and other minerals in the water - certainly good news for Jaws.> Thanks for any help you guys can give. :) <Any time, Anna.  Please feel free to let us know if we can help you further.  Wishing you and your inverts well,  -Sabrina> Anna R. Dunster
Snail Questions - II - 06/22/2004
Thanks! <You Betcha!> So is the shell flaking off from the conditions she was raised in, or conditions in the tank now, or both?    <Perhaps a bit o' both, but more due to the water she's in now, I'd wager.> I'll keep an eye out for the Kent Iodine. Do they replenish the old shell as they grow, too? <Not really.  Hopefully, though, there isn't much damage, and it will not be very obvious or apparent once you are keeping an eye on hardness and dosing with iodine - remember, just a drop per ten gallons of the Kent Tech iodine, *not* the marine dose listed on the bottle.> Also, is garden lettuce a decent thing to feed her?   <I don't see why not.  Most lettuces don't have a whole lot in the way of nutrition, so you might try for the little bitty baby leaves way down in the center of the lettuce head when you open it up for dinner.  Spinach would be another good one to try.  The younger leaves are probably better, again.> We don't use chemicals on it (more from laziness than anything but they don't really need it either).   <Sounds like a tasty treat.  Other green garden goodies, like asparagus, shelled peas, green bean innards (just open the bean), and other such yummies will be of good use, too.> I gave her a piece a couple days ago, it's all gone now.   Can I assume as long as she's growing new healthy shell that she is eating plenty, and if she's growing too fast she's probably eating too much? :) <Sounds like a plan.> Thanks again for your help. :) <Any time, Anna.  Wishing you and Jaws well,  -Sabrina>

Snail Questions Hello: <Hi, Mike D here> I have been trying to locate some basic information on snails. My boyfriend bought a snail for his son at PetSmart a few months ago. We were wondering about a few things and was wondering if you could answer our questions. I guess I should tell you that I don't know what kind of snail this one is, as far as species goes, but as far as size goes, it's a little smaller than an egg and it has a brown shell (don't know if that helps or not)<Yes it does. The most common large snail in the aquarium trade is the Mystery Snail>. Our questions are:   1). We keep the snail in water, in a jar that has an hourglass shape to it (bigger at the bottom with a narrowing around the neck that is big enough for your hand). Is this the proper environment for a snail because I have read some things on the Internet that talks about placing a snail in a jar with soil and sticks and such. We are really confused!<MY first suggestion would be to look up "Mystery Snails" on your browser or in the Google feature here. I'd attach a link myself for you, but we've been experiencing technical difficulties all day and I keep losing the entire question when I try> 2). The water gets dirty very quickly. We change his water (bottled spring water) about every week now. I was wondering if this causes any trauma to it, transferring it back and forth and is there something that we can add to the water to help it stay clearer, longer?<Actually a bowl or small aquarium such as the 2 gallon complete set ups offered in many shops would be a better choice for a snail of this size.> 3). We noticed yesterday when we got home that the water look a light grey. We changed the water and the snail has been floating ever since. I've read articles that talk about how snails like to "float". How long should we wait to determine if the snail has passed or not?? We would like to replace it before a little boy finds it floating.<I'm truly afraid that your speedster has gone to the great snail beyond already, and before long you'll notice an extremely unpleasant smell as well> I think that covers the main questions or concerns. Any other advice and info that you could share with us would be great!<Sorry I couldn't be of more help. If you wish to keep using the same vase that you're currently using, a smaller species, such as a Red Ramshorn would work better. I'm almost afraid to ask, but were you feeding it anything?> Thank you in advance for taking the time to read my note.<You're so very welcome, and even snails can be a simple introduction into the wonderful world of pets for a young guy such as yours. Do just a little reading and your next experience out to be much more satisfying> Carly   
Snail Question (Continued)
<Hi, MikeD here again> Thank you for the information. We will look into your suggestions about either a larger container or a smaller snail.<I assume the last one had indeed passed on?  They make small 2 gallon Aquariums, complete with a light, filter and pretty much most of what's needed. While this may seem like overkill, it's often the beginning of a life long hobby. I got my first tank when I was seven, fifty years ago. **grin**> We were feeding it the small disks/wafers (that look like a button) as per the instructions, which were every other day. Is that the norm or should we look into other food??<That's one of the things snails will eat, assuming it was an algae wafer. They also eat many marine plants, the green algae that grows on the glass and some even lettuce> Thanks again.

Super-Short Snail Question - 08/01/2004 Do snails found in the river need to stay in the water at all times? <Without knowing the particular type of snail, or at least the location of the river, the short answer is "Yes".  Keep in mind, though, that some land snails will venture into water to absorb moisture and to drink, and some aquatic snails will venture onto land to lay eggs (though this is NOT true of all species).  If we are talking about an aquatic snail, then chances are, yes, it must remain submerged to live.  Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

Iodine and Inverts - Freshwater - 08/22/2004 Hi, <Hello.> You guys recommended Kent iodine supplement for freshwater snails. <Not so much "us guys" as just me, I think - Sabrina here, the freshwater-shrimp-obsessed.> I had the chance to order some and when I received it I discovered that it is a marine aquarium product.  Did I get the right product? <Yes.> If so, what's the correct dosage for a freshwater tank with one big snail? :) <I use one drop per ten gallons every week for my freshwater shrimp tanks.  This seems to have worked wonders for the animals, despite the *seemingly* insignificant amount of iodine - it has proven the difference between life and death in my tanks.> Thanks!! <You betcha!  Wishing you and your snail well,  -Sabrina> ~Anna

In search of perfect snail water Hi, I know you can answer my question (love your website). I currently have a 75 gallon aquarium with 5 hatchet fish, 5 Corydoras, 6 Pristellas, 2 apple snails, and 1 common Pleco. All water parameters are good - zero ammonia, zero nitrites, 10 nitrates. <Great> My pH is 7.5 but my hardness is 5 degrees GH and 4 degrees KH. <All good> I know that the snails would do better with harder water but don't know about the rest of the fish. <Wouldn't mess with it> The question is if the water does need to be a little harder for all <only the snails will like it harder> how can I go about doing this without raising the pH??? <I wouldn't tinker with the water chemistry here. You may want to dose with iodine to help with shell formation. Kent Marine Iodine is what I use. Add one drop per 10 gallons per week or after water change. This is a tiny amount, no more! Do not add at the strength listed on the bottle. Other brands have different concentrations, so the dose would vary if you try another brand. Your conditions are much the same as mine and my snails have no problems growing and reproducing. They do too well in fact. Don> Thanks for your help.

Apple snails and salt Hi! Oh please don't laugh at this question, but I really haven't been able to find a conclusive answer to it: <Okay> Can Apple Snails survive in a tank with salt? I have a fancy goldfish tank with a weather loach (yup, they all get along at 75 F) in a 60 gallon tank. Every time I do a water change I add salt at a concentration of 1 rounded tablespoon per 4 gallons. I use Aquarium Salt. Sill the salt harm my apple snail? Thanks! Mr. T <These and most all other freshwater snails do NOT care for salt in their water, but there IS some salt (in chemistry, ionic combinations of metals and non-metals) in all freshwaters... the amount you list should be okay. Bob Fenner> 

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

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