Is there such a thing as too many snails?

FriendlyGeek

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We have a large number of MTS in our tank and to be honest, we quite like them - they help to keep things clean and some of their shells are actually really beautiful. We have all sizes from teeny tiny ones to quite large ones, so they are at all stages of development and clearly thriving.

But we were discussing the other night and I just wanted to know as per the title, is there such a thing as too many? As in, is there a point where they will become too numerous and start to cause problems in the tank? My concern is that we have shrimp in there and they love the algae, but will the snails completely wipe this out if we allow too many to inhabit the tank?

We really don't want to get rid of them, but do we need to control the numbers for any reason? Or simply let them get on with life :)
 

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Once you've decided what's the right amount that you like start picking the excess out. Some snails are very fruitful and multiply greatly. But . . . it all depends on the food that's there for them. Yours is a tricky question. Everybody has a different experience with snails.
 

flipperfeet

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The thing I am most concerned about with the hundreds of MTS in my tank is sudden die-off due to occasional Rx treatments. I watch water parameters like a hawk during those periods in case decaying MTS cause an ammonia spike. Otherwise, the population seems to have only a positive impact on the tank, rising and falling with avialabitly of food. A good size crew of Corydoras does a pretty good job of competing for their food source and keeps the population down.

I have also noticed my kribensis does a better job of keeping them in check than the zebra loach I purchased for that job. If he spots them at the surface of the gravel in daylight hours, he sucks them out of their shells like a kid with an ice cream cone
 
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FriendlyGeek

FriendlyGeek

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If he spots them at the surface of the gravel in daylight hours, he sucks them out of their shells like a kid with an ice cream cone
:D This made me chuckle!! It seems we should be ok then in that case, they are certainly not causing any problems at the moment as far as we can tell, so they are welcome to stay

Thanks as always for your input guys!
 

Rocky998

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You can keep them in good numbers with controlled feedings. Let a little food go to the bottom BUT not a lot because if you let a lot of food go to the bottom then they breed a lot more. I would say there is a thing as too many snails, so just dont over feed too much to where they make a lot of snails.
 

Alauahio

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I currently have 12 bladder snails 3 unknown snails and i am thinking about assassin snails. Of course that is not your idea. However you could sell your snails. If you have enough then they could keep reproducing while you remove them. Or are there too many?
 

GaryE

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One snail is a good number for too many.

Seriously, they do have finite lives, and when they die in their shells, there can be water quality issues. They are such dynamic tank inhabitants, especially when they bury themselves, that they can surprise you.
 

Colin_T

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When it comes to Malaysian livebearing snails, if you can see them during the day, then you have too many in the tank.

Snails compete with fish and other aquatic organisms for food, water and space, and they create waste. If you have lots of snails, you will get more waste and the water quality can degrade faster.

If you have 2 or 3 big Malaysian livebearing snails, they use the same amount of stuff as a small tetra. If you have 500 snails in the tank, and you can easily have that many, it's like having 100+ tetras in the tank (from a biological load perspective).

The snails also get inside power filters and can block up impellors and filters. And when they die, they rot in the gravel. I have seen tanks that had so many snails, over half the substrate was empty snail shells.
 
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FriendlyGeek

FriendlyGeek

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When it comes to Malaysian livebearing snails, if you can see them during the day, then you have too many in the tank.

Snails compete with fish and other aquatic organisms for food, water and space, and they create waste. If you have lots of snails, you will get more waste and the water quality can degrade faster.

If you have 2 or 3 big Malaysian livebearing snails, they use the same amount of stuff as a small tetra. If you have 500 snails in the tank, and you can easily have that many, it's like having 100+ tetras in the tank (from a biological load perspective).

The snails also get inside power filters and can block up impellors and filters. And when they die, they rot in the gravel. I have seen tanks that had so many snails, over half the substrate was empty snail shells.
Oh we can definitely see them during the day, there's lots of them. We didn't have any at all (that we could see) we bought a new plant thinking nothing of it and a little while later, all of a sudden they just seemed to appear from the gravel so I can only assume they were carried in on the plant that we bought

We have no issues with them being in there as I said, but it seems that they may well cause problems if we don't control the numbers quite tightly

So my next question is, of course, how do we do that? There's literally hundreds of them mooching around so will we just have to pick them out and euthanise?? :no:
:sad:
 

Colin_T

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use a torch (flash light) at night and scoop them out with a net. take them outside and step on them or just chuck them out in the sun.

if you put a bottom feeding pellet in the tank an hour after dark, then wait 30-60 minutes, the snails should swarm all over it and make it easier to get more out with a scoop of the net.
 
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FriendlyGeek

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Thank you for the advice, I'm guessing that will be this weekends job (although I won't like it much)

I know they are only snails and are classed as pests generally, but I still feel so bad about having to do this :( Needs must I suppose!
 

Beastije

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I would like to disagree with the most often opinions here. I had MTS for 12 years in all of my tanks. They can be seen sometimes on the surface, sure, if there is a lot of leftover food, or mine spend time on the wood that is decomposing in the tank. They should however spend most of their time in the substrate, so if they are not there, there is food available for them elsewhere that they find easier to access. This alone is a golden information, MTS are only visible in the evenings, which is correct, if it is during the day, pay attention, something is wrong with the tank.
Secondly, I have never in a normal tank had MTS overpopulated. They multiply, sure, the sand is full of them, but I have large root systems of plants that are not affected, there are no millions of them on the glass. They die of old age, you notice the empty shells in the corners when you turn over the substrate, or they just naturally appear. I was once convinced I had zero MTS, so I started sifting through the substrate, found like 200 of them. They keep the sand clean, they overturn it, so it doesnt sit and create anaerobic places. They also do not eat all the algae on the glass, they eat it on the way to the surface, but the coating remains, so no worries for the shrimp.
Only thing that I would agree with here is the use of something that can be harmful for them, and not noticing they died. Would destroy the tank, so I guess, dont use stuff that can kill snails and you are safe.
 

wasmewasntit

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The worst outbreak of Snailitis I have had was a few years ago when I had my absolute last attempt at real planting

The Snailitis was so bad that I literally could not see through the glass for the pesky blighters

My fish thought it was Christmas and birthday all rolled into one cos every morning I went round the top of the waterline squishing the peskies and the fish munched them before they hit the substrate (especially the Cories)

Took about 3 weeks of daily pesky squishing to rid the aquarium of Snailitis...but we got there eventually :)

I have a few peskies in the current aquarium but thankfully the fish are helping the Assassins in keeping numbers under control.
 
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FriendlyGeek

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"Snailitis" 😂 brilliant!

They mainly stay in the substrate but we have a large piece of wood in the tank and they seem to really like that and that is mainly where we see them in the day time. It's very rare we spot them on the glass, they are either on / in the substrate or on that wood, but there are lots of them. Also we are yet to spot any empty shells.

We used to have a puffer so that would have solved the problem and provided an endless supply of free food, sadly we don't have her anymore :( (but that's another story)

I think at the weekend we will spend some time removing any that we can easily get to and then make it part of our maintenance routine to scoop some out each time we do water changes. That way we still have some but not too many that it might cause a problem. TBH I never even gave a thought to what happens when they die naturally! :sick:
 

wasmewasntit

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If you are not keen on squishing them and you don't want or can't use the Snailitis repellents...you can either put a cabbage/lettuce leaf into the aquarium overnight and then scoop that out with hitchikers attached to it, buy special snail traps that go into the substrate or get Assassin snails that will happily munch on the peskies and leave empty shells dotted around the place.
 

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