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Dealing with pest snails!

William

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I'll start off with the pest snails which many of you find hard to rid from your tank and go through the methods of removing them weighing up the pros and cons of each.

Chemical solution for killing snails:
Had-A-Snail is just one of the many chemical solutions - usually using copper and sulphate ions (incedently fact of the day human red blood cells contain haemoglobin (iron), snails have copper in place of iron and their blood is actually blue!). I'm not sure why the copper kills snails, but you'll have to take my word for it. The pros are that it is very fast however the cons are two fold:
1) You'll tend to have many little shells just left lying around in your tank (may/may not bother you).
2) The dead snails pollute the water TERRIBLY. People sometimes use a medications with copper in it and have found out that inadvertently their population of trumpet snails (or others) is wiped out, as they rot the ammonia and nitrite readings will shoot up and you have to be alert not to lose a few fish because of it. Obviously this will only happen if you have a VERY serious snail infestation.

Biological- snail solution:
A better solution that using chemicals is a solution involving other living organisms or in this case more fish! (Yes a great excuse!) However it is not always ideal. The most common fish suggested for snail munching is the clown loach which as you will see on the Clown Loach Profile grows up to 12" or 30cm. Obviously, this is not practical for many aquariums as they will soon outgrow the tank. Keeping them in a tank too small for them will limit their lifespan (they should live to about 15 years) and make them more susceptible to diseases. Other fish such as puffers are sometimes suggested to combat water snails, but these are generally not suited to a community aquarium as they use their beaks to rip tails and fins of other fish.

Manual- snail solution:
As you will see the other two solutions do not work for everyone and have problems for the bulk of wanabee snail haters. This is probably the most obvious and the most boring solution to the problem, results won't be instant but you have to assess the causes of the snails:
1) The snails are there - not because they eat fish mess (it has low energy value as well as probably not tasting nice :X ), they are there because there is excess food for them. Perhaps you are overfeeding your tank - cut back the feeding to every other day and reduce the amount you feed to your fish - they should be furious at the surface fighting for food everytime you feed them not lounging about in the middle of the tank and waiting for it to sink down to them and looking bloated. Cutting back feeding will also solve any algae problems you are likely to be suffering.
So the snail population will decrease over time - not because snails die off and pollute the tank, but because - well yes they will die over time but the fact is the food is no longer in great excess and so they don't rapidly multiply in a period of relative "snail boom".

To help them on their way you can manually remove them, there are many "methods" for making it easy to remove vast amounts of snails but unless you are SERIOUSLY overun with pest snails I have found them to vary in success never the less I will list them later. One solution is to pick the snails off in the tank - this is time consuming you drop them and they then lurk in the gravel, a modified solution to this is crushing them when they are in the tank instead of taking them out - i do not know a single fish which will not eat squashed snail! They make a sort of crunch - perhaps pest snail squashing isn't for everyone though :) .

The two main methods I hear as the "miracle cure" may work for you, but didn't for me.

1) Anchor a piece of lettuce under something, leave it overnight and when you turn on the lights the next morning it should be covered. Just pitch them in the trash. Simple and completelty safe.

The second method varies only in that it uses courgette /zucchini (I believe you Americans call it that?) inside a glass, and feeding the caught snails to a tank of puffers or clown loaches instead of throwing it into the trash.

Note, I'll update this as I have time and add to the sections in the order they are in the title. Feel free to add comments which I can include in the article as it will be pinned and people redirected to it for all common aquatic snail issues.
 

MAM

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there are a number of smaller loach varieties that will also eat snails. keep in mind, loaches do best in groups.
to find out more about smaller loaches check out this helpful site:

http://www.loaches.com

puffer are not a good choice, as said, they are NOT community fish. now, if you have a puffer tank, then manually removing the snails from the infested tank into the puffer tank is a wonderful idea, as it provides you a plethora of free food for you puffers.
 

Lisecw

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I probably have thousands of snails...too many for my clowns to eat. I've been using the lettuce but I also find them on the side of the aquarium and stuck to ornaments which I remove and rinse daily. I'm not sure if I'm making any progress and am thinking about going with a chemical. From what I read, it will only kill the hatchhed snails though and ont the eggs.

Lisecw
 

beta 1991

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Puffers will eat snails, and loaches tend to do it also. (like the Dojo Loach)

Good info William! :D
 

*Kristy*

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i was over run by snails for the past month, i just did a 50% water change and sucked up as many as possible and by hand took out 40 more. i moved the big "mama" snails to our other tank, so the ol meanie fish could eat their babies if they had anymore. so far ive seen about 5 more in my tank since the water change about 9 hours ago. i wonder how many ill find tomorrow lol

thanks for the tips on getting rid of these pesty snails. ill try the lettuce tomorrow, as i am making taco's and will be using lettuce lol hopefully it will get rid of any of the others :nod:
 

Scorp1on

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My cichlids love getting these "treats" from the livebearer tank. Have even seen them eat them whole if small enough.
 

JoLtNbolt

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I'll start off with the pest snails which many of you find hard to rid from your tank and go through the methods of removing them weighing up the pros and cons of each.

Chemical solution for killing snails:
Had-A-Snail is just one of the many chemical solutions - usually using copper and sulphate ions (incedently fact of the day human red blood cells contain haemoglobin (iron), snails have copper in place of iron and their blood is actually blue!). I'm not sure why the copper kills snails, but you'll have to take my word for it. The pros are that it is very fast however the cons are two fold:
1) You'll tend to have many little shells just left lying around in your tank (may/may not bother you).
2) The dead snails pollute the water TERRIBLY. People sometimes use a medications with copper in it and have found out that inadvertently their population of trumpet snails (or others) is wiped out, as they rot the ammonia and nitrite readings will shoot up and you have to be alert not to lose a few fish because of it. Obviously this will only happen if you have a VERY serious snail infestation.

Where can I find these medications or solutions? Would they be suitable for dipping plants? Or would I need to soak my plants for an extended amount of time.
 

ILM

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A clorine bleach solution will kill both snails and snail gels (eggs) (my tap water will kill snails and gels--and fish too, stuff is potent). As well as most other aquatics including fish. Salt will also kill snails (not sure about the gels--I'm sure if you used enough of it.... Using an fish (like a puffer or loach) will eventually leave you with a fish to have to care for after the snails are gone. The best way, and it probably won't get rid of all but most, is to bait the snails with a slice of vegetable (prpobably have to do this for many days running since not all snails are hungry at the same time) (also a bit of meat or raw fish tied ot a string or in a net bag will lure snails) and rinse all your plants regularly in a salt or chlorine solution (rinse copiously, use dechlorinator).
 

black angel

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Did anyone read in PFK about putting a piece of liver on a plate and to stop the fish eating it to have another upturned plate on top, and then in the morning there should be snails on the meat?
Havent tried it myself, and wondered if anyone else had.
 

Themuleous

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I wouldn't personally, you dont know what you're adding to the tank if you start chucking raw meat in there! And besides, lettuce and/or cucumber are supposed to work well, have you tried these?

Sam
 

Vicky&Dad

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Thanks for this: most helpful, even if the best method is the most time consuming. We (my daughter has just convinced me to start a small 30l tank) are beginning to suspect that the slow, natural solutions are generally the best.
V&D
 

carpaddict

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Thanks for the snail info some good tips there on how to get rid of the blighters. brought the chemical to get rid of my snails but decided against using it after reading that it can cause distress to the fish. :no: So ive decided to stick with the time consuming method and take them out by hand.i own a 60l bi-orb and ive found that they get inside my internal filter,and all i have to do is remove the filter and pick them off along with the eggs. :good: Also a good place to find snails is underneath any rock.TIP:Whenever you bye new plants,before planting them in the tank add snail killer to the bag it was brought in,and add some water. Leave it for about 5mins and then rinse them off. You'll be suprised at the ammount of snails that fall off.This also kills any eggs that might be on the plants. :nod:
 

Underwurlde

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We still need a total solution to the problem of pest snails to suit ALL setups...

Some of these methods simply do not work:
Manual removal
'Use a cucumber/leuttice/zucchini'
Snail traps.

Some of these methods connot be employed if you have a small tank or are fully stocked
Use Clown Loach / Puffer / Yoyo Loach (@Bozza, Yoyo loaches do eat snails and will be more suited to a smaller setup that Clown Loaches).

The chemical methods mentioned pollute the tank with copper & connot be used if you have shrimp:
Use Had-a-snail / Snail control etc.
I don't think these chemicals kill the eggs anyway so what's the point....

Andy

PS
Sterilize your plants BEFORE putting them into your tank..
http://www.fishforums.net/index.php?showtopic=167686
 
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