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FAQs on Chemical Control of Snails in Freshwater Aquariums

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

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

Molluscicides... none are entirely "other life" safe. Copper, other metal solutions... Biocides like bleaches

Using Copper (for snail control) and then Adding Shrimp (BobF, may need to review/correct my comments on Cu in aquaria)<<Ok>>       2/20/14
I am setting up a tank (currently only gravel, one fish, basalt, plants, wood, aquatic moss).
<<Biota and wood, mulm... will absorb a good deal of Copper... NEED to employ a test kit... NOT simply pour in and hope>>
Very recently (less than two weeks) contracted snails in my aquarium and bought some copper sulfate on sale to try and combat it (can't stand snails for whatever reason or another). Still haven't added it, and I'm hesitant to due it because upon reading around I discovered it
would be harmful to shrimp, and I had been planning on keeping some cherries and hopefully having them breed once I got my hands on some.
<You are right to be cautious. Copper compounds are extremely toxic, not just to snails but to fish, plants, you! While they do kill most types of snails quite quickly, you're then stuck with a bunch of rotting snail carcasses in the tank, and the more dead snails, the worse water quality will become. Other types of management are usually best, not least of all manual removal if the number of snails is small.>
Reading on your site in the marine section I heard of people managing to get rid of the copper enough to keep shrimp using several products, most notably CupriSorb which I also ended up buying.
Now others are telling me using any copper will just muss it up any shrimp keeping plans completely.
<There is that risk. Essentially, copper is absorbed by various sorts of non-organic <<And organic>>  materials in the tank, as well as being dissolved into the water. Quite quickly copper in the water can be diluted through water changes or removed using Cuprisorb, but the copper that's been absorbed by, say, calcareous rocks and shells in the tank will leach out slowly over time. If you have fresh Cuprisorb in the filter for a long time thereafter, then all well and good because that'll remove any carbon that leaches out of the rocks and shells, but remember that Cuprisorb needs replacing <<And testing for free cupric ion>> and of course gets clogged up with bacteria and detritus quite quickly as well, reducing its usefulness.>
I also read something about chelated copper and ionic copper being more or less harmful in a tank, and about using chelated in freshwater so it doesn't bind, or something along those lines.
<Not aware of this, but generally we have less calcareous material in the freshwater aquarium than the marine aquarium. Let me direct you to Bob's Copper FAQ, here:
In a nutshell, if you choose to use copper, best to remove as much material as possible from the aquarium, even the rocks and gravel. <<Yes>> The emptier the tank, the better the copper will work and the less potential for absorption of copper by rocks, gravel, etc. Obviously you can wash gravel under a hot tap to remove snails, and do likewise with rocks and ornaments. Plants are trickier, but can be dipped in dilute potassium permanganate solution to effectively kill snails and eggs (such potions are sold in aquarium shops and reasonably safe to use, though KMnO4 is extremely toxic so handle with
care, especially around children). Run the tank "empty" save for the water, filter, and heater for as long as recommended with the snail-killing potion you have, then do a series of water changes, use the Cuprisorb, and once Cu ion concentration reaches zero (use the test kit sold for marine aquaria) reassemble the tank. It would be easiest to have the fish (and plants) in a QT/hospital tank while all this is going on, but not essential unless your fish are notably copper intolerant ones such as loaches, catfish, most oddballs and some of the more delicate tetras, cichlids and such. If you aren't using a QT tank, then I'd still keep the plants out of the tank while all this was going on, perhaps in a container of water somewhere sunny for a couple (no more) hours a day (a cheap plastic goldfish bowl would be ideal). Sound like a faff? Yes indeed. The use of copper is a pain in the backside in freshwater and marine aquaria, and to be honest, there are almost always safer ways to tackle problems we used copper for in the past.>
So should I go ahead with copper and Cuprisorb? Would I be able to keep shrimp after doing it?
<If you do as described, you'll have minimised the risk of copper remaining in the system. So yes, the maintenance of shrimps should be doable.>
Will chelated or ionic copper make some sort of difference?
Or should I quickly get used to the site of shells in my tank?
<I do. Do read here:
<<Yes; or employ other means of control>>
Snails generally become a pest in tanks where one or other parameter isn't balanced; too much food, too much algae, too much waste accumulating on the substrate. I think of them like miners' canaries: if the snails are troublesome, then there's something amiss with the tank. Not always, but usually. A few small snails doing their thing in a balanced, healthy planted tank will generally do no harm and perhaps some good, particularly the Malayan livebearing snails and little Physa species which aerate the substrate and consume algae respectively. You can also add non-breeding snails, Nerite snails, that will remove algae and keep down the populations of other snails by removing their food, or even add carnivorous snails,
Assassin snails, though the jury's out whether these also eat small shrimps too. Some of the big snails are good "uber-competitors' too, the Tylomelania species especially, and by letting them loose in your tank, you'll go a long way towards suppressing populations of other, less attractive snails.>
Thanks a ton!
<Most welcome, Neale.><<RMF>>
Re: Using Copper and then Adding Shrimp (BobF, may need to review/correct my comments on Cu in aquaria)     2/21/14

I just wanted to write back and thank you both for your time and effort in answering my question. You have both helped me very much, and while I still haven't chosen my route yet I'm glad I finally have some good information to base it off of (oh, and I apoligise for not inserting a hello in the beginning, I must have been sleep writing :) ). Thanks again, and have a great day!
<Most welcome and good luck with the aquarium. Neale.><<RMF>>

Re: ? Sick female swordtail   2/14/14
Thanks for the advice - I appreciate it. Do you have any experience using Paraguard on a tank with snails? I've seen anecdotal evidence that states it's safe.
<No experience at all -- it's not sold in the UK. If all else fails, remove the snails to a bucket or similar, and then treat the fish. Keep the snails warm and ideally aerate them with an airstone if you don't have a small filter you can add, and change some of the water every day or two. Should be fine like that for a few days. Acclimate them back to the aquarium
carefully, taking care to do a water change to the aquarium beforehand, and ideally running carbon for a day to remove any leftover medicine. All sounds like a faff to me, so I'd just risk it, and only remove the snails if they were "clamming up".>
<Cheers, Neale.>

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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