raising KH for snails

ShrimplyTheBest

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Hi all, fairly new to the hobby. I have a 10 gallon tank with 7 neon tetra, 5 zebra danio, 1 nerite snail, and 2 golden mystery snails. There are also many live plants in the tank. I use a HOB filter. I use the API freshwater master test kit, and also the API liquid KH and GH test kit. I do water changes about once a week, even when it's not necessary according to my water parameters. My tank has been fully cycled for about 1.5 months.

My current water parameters:
Temp = 78*F
pH = usually 7.2-7.6 (tap water is around 7.6-7.8)
Ammonia = 0
Nitrites = 0
Nitrates = 0-10
KH = 3 dKH (tap water is 4)
GH = 8-9 dGH (tap water is 6)

I've read that snails require 7.5+ pH, 12-18 kdH, and 8-18 dGH.

My understanding is that cuttlebone is made of calcium carbonate, and any acid in the water will dissolve the cuttlebone, and the carbonate will neutralize the acid, thus keeping the pH from becoming acidic. The cuttlebone will also slowly leech and dissolve putting extra calcium and carbonate into the water column, raising GH and KH.

I put a cuttlebone in the tank (boiled it to make it sink) over a month ago expecting it to raise (and stabilize) pH, KH, and GH. The pH has risen from a value of ~7.0 to ~7.4, however the KH never rises and is actually lower than the KH straight out of my tap water. The GH is higher than my tap water.

Why is my KH value not rising above 3? I'm hesitant to purchase a KH up supplement because I don't want to play a game of having to add and constantly test in order to chase specific parameters, I'd much rather have something natural and stable which is what I expected from the cuttlebone, but it doesn't appear to be working.

Anyone have any insight on why my KH is staying so low, and what should I do about it?
 

Colin_T

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Hi and welcome to the forum :)

Snails only need the pH to be above 7.0 so their shells don't dissolve due to acid water.

Your GH and KH are fine, so don't bother adjusting them. If your pH drops then you can add some limestone or shells to the tank to help raise the pH, but it doesn't need it currently.
 
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ShrimplyTheBest

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This is Goldie. She was tiny when purchased. You can see her growth line from when I got her (about 7-8 weeks ago). She had a white, pitted shell. All the new growth looks fantastically healthy IMO. It's nice and gold and shiny.

IMG_20220930_212140408 - Copy.jpg
 
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ShrimplyTheBest

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This is Guppy. He was quite a bit larger when we got him and looked very healthy. However his new growth looks...gross, which is what prompted my concern. They are both very active and happy snails. They seem to play all the time, climbing and falling. Sometimes Goldie will get on the airstone and go parasnailing in the bubbles. I assume Guppy is male and Goldie is female because he constantly mounts her and they mate for hours. Usually Goldie just rocks around the tank doing her thing while Guppy is, uh, doing his thing. No egg clutches yet though.

IMG_20220930_212019597 - Copy.jpg
 

Donya

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This is Guppy. He was quite a bit larger when we got him and looked very healthy. However his new growth looks...gross, which is what prompted my concern. They are both very active and happy snails. They seem to play all the time, climbing and falling. Sometimes Goldie will get on the airstone and go parasnailing in the bubbles. I assume Guppy is male and Goldie is female because he constantly mounts her and they mate for hours. Usually Goldie just rocks around the tank doing her thing while Guppy is, uh, doing his thing. No egg clutches yet though.

View attachment 167903
The type of change in growth this snail is showing is often the result of factors other than just pH/KH. Temperature is a big one - apple snails often grow darker, thicker shells at colder temperatures. If a snail from a colder environment is put in a warm one, its metabolism will speed up and it will start eating more, growing faster, and not necessarily keeping up with shell thickness the way it did before. Fast growth results in a much thinner leading edge to the shell, which is more easily damaged by them doing that thing where they suddenly clamp down when something startles them (a fish, air bubble, etc.) and press their shell against the glass. And then when it grows out again...you get a rumpled appearance. If dietary calcium is sufficient, the shell will still thicken up and be healthy even if it doesn't look nice. This is not to say snails can't be in warmer water - just that the conditions that yours were grown in were obviously different than what you have. It's very common when a snail is taken from one environment and put in another to see a change in growth pattern.

Dietary calcium is also important for apple snails, not just availability of free ions in the water. Although I've never seen a snail eat cuttle bone, they love those week-long feeder blocks that are basically calcium carbonate with food embedded. Although the blocks are intended to dissolve slowly (and they can increase KH a bit as they do), snails will eat the white matrix to get to the food pellets and that helps as a supplement.
 
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ShrimplyTheBest

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This is Guppy. He was quite a bit larger when we got him and looked very healthy. However his new growth looks...gross, which is what prompted my concern. They are both very active and happy snails. They seem to play all the time, climbing and falling. Sometimes Goldie will get on the airstone and go parasnailing in the bubbles. I assume Guppy is male and Goldie is female because he constantly mounts her and they mate for hours. Usually Goldie just rocks around the tank doing her thing while Guppy is, uh, doing his thing. No egg clutches yet though.
I moved Goldie out of this tank and into one of the larger tanks I just set up. Goldie is definitely a male, as he has been mounting all my new mystery snails in the new tank. I guess he was just submissive and let Guppy mount him all the time (and never returned the favor). That would explain why I never got a clutch of eggs.
 

StevenF

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If your snails are feeding on algae and any food you add to the tank that will probably supply all the calcium and magnesium they need. Additionally algae will consume calcium and magnesium from the water and the snails will consume the algae and get calcium and magnesium that way.. A GH of 1 or 2 is sufficient to insure enough calcium and magnesium in the water.

Cuttlebone is mainly calcium carbonate put will probably have a small amount of magnesium carbonate.The cuttle bone should last for at least 1 year and insure the PH will not drop below 7. Add another when the 1st on has almost dissolved away. Calcium and magnesium carbonate will not dissolve in water if there is no acid present Acidic water has a PH of less than 7. A ph of 7 or higher is not acidic Calcium and magnesium carbonate will not push up the KH but will increase GH if the water is acidic.

IF the water is acidic the snail shell will dissolve and appear white and or damaged. The damage will not heal. If the PH stays 7 or higher it will not be damaged. The only other way a snail shell can be damaged is by abrasion when the shell rubs agains an abrasive substate. Whenever possible use pollished gravel to avoid abrasion damage.
 

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