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MABJ

The truth behind snails.

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Hello all, I wanted to add this topic here. It's one of the sections from a short book I wanted to write about tanks in college but never got around to finishing. So here's the outline with some of the content.

So one thing I repeatedly see here there and everywhere is "Oh no! Snails, what do I do?!"

Well I intend to tell you what they're about, help you identify them and learn to decide if they'll be good or bad for your personal goals of your tank.

1. Let's start with what I call "The hasty judgement."

This is usually what people do when they first see or notice a snail they didn't originally purchase: they freak out. They don't know how it got there, but chances are it's a bad thing. This is false. No matter what snail is running around your tank, it is not a bad thing straight away. Go through some thought processes and read some information. Talk to knowledgable people.

2. Next thing to address is the frantic forum post from the above freakout, and the responses these posts can garner:

I see many, across all forums, that I'd classify as frantic forum posts about snails. Take a deep breath, like I said, take your time, there's nothing urgent, unlike if this were a dragonfly nymph. These posts are usually superfluous and can be avoided or forgone with a bit of research or an inquisitive private message.

Akin to the forum freakout is the ignorant response. Usually something along the lines of "Snails is bad, kill before thems be multiplyin'." Don't listen to these. Instead take the above avenue, ask insightful questions and do proper research. Even searching "snail help" on google will get you more information than making a frantic forum post.

3. Now that we got out of the way the first reactions to a snail appearance, let's establish how they made their way to your tank.

Many people purchase snails for their tanks. The very same snails you're finding for free. They most frequently come in on plants, decorations, substrate or even transferred filter media. They can come from sneaky adults (like Malaysian Trumpet Snails in substrate) or as eggs, like we talked about on plants. Egg sacs usually hatch 8-12 babies based on what I have seen from my snails, and not all typically survive in a balanced environment.

4. Time to help you decide what type of snail is in your tank.

There's four main types of snail you'll see come in through egg or by a small baby sneaking in somehow.

There's the Ramshorn, so named for its shell which is curled like a ram's horn. They have fleshy pink/nude bodies with eyes on a distinct rounded head. Their shell almost looks like an @ symbol, and they are usually tan, but come in a pink albino variation, blue, and tiger spotted. They also come in two common sizes. Mini and regular. Regular variations grow no larger than an 1/2 of an inch to an inch, and miniatures stay the size of a large pea.

Next are pond/bladder snails. Simply put, these are the most common and likely most hated of the snails. And for little reason other than they have a wide variety of foods they'll eat. These stay small, growing only a bit larger than mini Ramshorns. The easiest way to tell these snails apart is a football shaped shell with a distinct little spiral at the end of their "bladder" shaped main shell. They're usually brown/tan in color with a nude colored body.

The last of the most common snails are MTS or Malaysian trumpet snails. These are the easiest to tell what type of snail it is, but sometimes the hardest to spot. They are black bodied with cone shaped spiraled shells, and can become as long as 3/4 of an inch. They're sometimes so hard to find because whereas the previous two snails I detailed hunt for food above the substrate, these hunt for food below the substrate.

Last are assassin snails. These are pretty well coveted snails, but I've seen their eggs transferred unknowingly in the past. These are easy to spot, as they have tan and black spiraled shells, grow large and are sold on just about every freshwater invertebrate site there is.

5. Let's get into the basics of and merits of these snails.

The most different of all of them would be assassins. Their diet is snails and protein basically. Ramshorns will eat protein if available to them, some types of algae, mulm and detritus. Bladder snails will eat all of what Ramshorns eat and more. And MTS will eat mulm, detritus and plant matter that is dead. They don't eat algae so far as I know.

Each of these snails can serve a purpose in your tank, based on their diet and how they might fit into your ecosystem. I personally have two types of snails in each of my tanks.

6. Answering the dreaded question: will they mass reproduce and be the deadly bunnies that will crash my ecosystem?! Perhaps. That's on you, not them. They will reproduce to the extent of the food they're given. In this manner, they are FANTASTIC pets insofar as they tell you how much or how little you're feeding your tank. If your snails are getting food enough to keep a stable population, your shrimp are likely getting a perfect amount of food and your ecosystem doesn't have much food going to waste. If their population dwindles, you should feed more. If their population explodes, look at the food imbalance and find a way to fix it.

7. Deciding if you should keep your new pet or not:

Have you ever thought about having snails? If not, consider these things: they control excess food, and if you have no excess food, their population will take care of itself. They can be a food source. They are intriguing little pets, whimsical to watch, and they have a great reproduction cycle, so at any given point when someone looks at your tank, you can show them how life exists. From the empty shells to the egg sac on your plant leaf to the baby just growing through to adulthood.

If your answer is a resounding no: no snails. Don't purchase something to eat them, because just like New York now has a problem with coyotes brought here to eat deer, you'll have an issue once your new predator runs out of food.

Consider these options: If you remove all adults and RAOK them, you have eliminated all sources of new snails for a while. Just squish the little ones as they grow with tongs. They make a fantastic meal for shrimp.

Alrighty, that's all I think I have to say for now on the subject. There will be no questions. Are there any questions? (Reference from The Office)

Seriously, let me know if you need pictures, frankly disagree with what I'm saying or have something to add. If you've been helped by the topic, perhaps ask for it to be stickied if you think others will be helped by it.

Much love from NY,

Mark

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Thanks for the info. What are the two types of snails you keep in your shrimp tanks and how many?

i keep dozens in each tank. Honestly as many as my system will support. No more than that.

I keep Ramshorns and MTS. I love the MTS for what they do underground and the Ramshorns for what they do above ground.

Thanks for reading :)

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This is great! I LOVE snails but they do get a lot of hate on forums, its good to see some of their useful qualities brought to light and practical info. Back when I had a small cichlid tank, I had an infestation of bladder snails (plant hitch hikers) which was hard to handle (personal reasons not to kill them on sight) but it was solved by bagging them up and sending them for free to someone who actually needed them. So not so bad, and I was obviously overfeeding, oops.

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Just an interesting observation- one of my snowball tanks had not berried in a pretty long while.  A couple days ago I threw in 2 ramshorns in the snailess tank to help with clean up.  The next day I walk in to find 3 berried.  Weird, huh?

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Great post! I was ecstatic to see a couple of snails in my newly set up tank because I know they have value in my nano tank's ecosystem. I documented my findings on my YouTube channel and immediately got several responses claiming that snails are the worst and should be eradicated. I just let them be and although they have multiplied, it's nowhere near the apocalypse some have foretold. The population is currently stable, and they're actually pretty cute to look at. Thanks for the info! =)

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Thanks for this info. I have also read many reactionary posts about snails and instant suggestions on how to eradicate them.  After reading those I have been scared to accidentally get snails (like its a disease) lol.  I have been very opposed to the idea of anything messing up the purity of shrimp tank.  When I think about it, an ecosystem would theoretically be more diverse and hopefully stable with more organisms.  This migh have changed my mind on the possibility of obtaining snails, I like the idea of having two types of snails for balance.

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On the subject of folks hating snails.. We haft to remember your average person that keeps aquariums desire an ascetically pleasing tank... And as shrimpers we are trying to mimic natural environments to the tee so our shrimp reproduce and that requires a more balance ecosystem than per-say a person with a bunch of platys in a planted display tank

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More than one person (including myself) freaked out when being a newbie starting a shrimp tank because of all the nematodes and worms and "bugs" that are seen. 

 

Fish eat 'em, so we never see them in a fish tank.  Shrimp don't, and so they are part of the ecosystem.  Sometimes it takes time to accept that.

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I really like the Eco system idea as opposed to pristine. Seems more harmonious and once you accept it, probably less headache inducing. A mystery snail clean up crew sometimes is too efficient, the poor shrimp sometimes can't eat fast enough!

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More than one person (including myself) freaked out when being a newbie starting a shrimp tank because of all the nematodes and worms and "bugs" that are seen. 

 

Fish eat 'em, so we never see them in a fish tank.  Shrimp don't, and so they are part of the ecosystem.  Sometimes it takes time to accept that.

I am a newbie to invert only tanks, and when i saw some bryozoas in my 2.5g I freaked out and thought it was fungus, but I soon figured out it isn't, and they are pretty cool, but are annoying, they move aroundand form stringy things and get all in the moss and DHG so I am adding 2 least killifish to rid the the things, but I think setting up a small walstad bowl with only that little things that aren't in fish tanks would be cool.

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Well I was a 'freaker-outer' when I had my first hitchhiker. Why - because so many things I read screamed to 'get those suckers out of there now!'. 

 

I have to be careful in my betta tanks, but that is because my bettas will eat a lot of snails. But each betta has a 'pet nerite' as I like to call it, and the nerite has a job to do and is also pretty darn cute.

 

As I started to get into the planted tanks more, I would get hitchhikers and... again OMG freak out. I'm on a FB page of very local folks that do planted tanks and I can still remember the pic one person posted of their shrimp tank with (what looked like) hundreds of snails and he was furious. That helped instill the fear of those 'pond snails'.

 

Then one person finally told me - you got a pond snail hitch hiker... lucky you! My jaw dropped. What? Lucky? Then I read about the 'too many snails means YOU are doing something off, not them'.

 

I will admit the knee jerk reaction of AHHHH get them out!!! Took time and I still closely watch, but I have tried to warm up to the 2 pond snails currently in the snowball tank and even thank them (yes... out loud, when no one is looking) when I see them cleaning the glass. :)

 

This is my betta "Bubba's" pet nerite. The snail's name is Sam - like the sidekick/bff in Lord of the Rings, ha ha They have been together for about 9 months now.

post-507-0-78827600-1420690511_thumb.jpg

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Well I was a 'freaker-outer' when I had my first hitchhiker. Why - because so many things I read screamed to 'get those suckers out of there now!'. 

 

I have to be careful in my betta tanks, but that is because my bettas will eat a lot of snails. But each betta has a 'pet nerite' as I like to call it, and the nerite has a job to do and is also pretty darn cute.

 

As I started to get into the planted tanks more, I would get hitchhikers and... again OMG freak out. I'm on a FB page of very local folks that do planted tanks and I can still remember the pic one person posted of their shrimp tank with (what looked like) hundreds of snails and he was furious. That helped instill the fear of those 'pond snails'.

 

Then one person finally told me - you got a pond snail hitch hiker... lucky you! My jaw dropped. What? Lucky? Then I read about the 'too many snails means YOU are doing something off, not them'.

 

I will admit the knee jerk reaction of AHHHH get them out!!! Took time and I still closely watch, but I have tried to warm up to the 2 pond snails currently in the snowball tank and even thank them (yes... out loud, when no one is looking) when I see them cleaning the glass. :)

 

This is my betta "Bubba's" pet nerite. The snail's name is Sam - like the sidekick/bff in Lord of the Rings, ha ha They have been together for about 9 months now.

attachicon.gif7.30.14 sam the nerite snail.jpg

 

I wasn't a snail person till I got nerites . I love the zebra's and horned .

 

 

''The snail's name is Sam - like the sidekick/bff in Lord of the Rings''

 

Plenty of room also for a Frodo .

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I don't like snails in my tanks except nerites (zebras, tigers and horned) and a mystery snail in a goldfish tank. At one point I had 3 mystery snails (one female and 2 males). I really like them and think they are cool. I also would like to buy red nerites but couldn't find them. And I  like the look of those Sulawesi snails.

 

Once I got some pond snails and those very tiny "ramshorn-like" snail I fed them to my goldfish. Sorry...

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When I decided to get back into aquariums I wanted a fluval spec 3 with a pea puffer so I started cultivating snails in all my tanks.

If I was not stuffing baby bettas full of food I would have run out, luckily the over feeding has that tank generating snails at an amazing rate. I expect in a year or two to be able to talk about the puffer tank and its 100% snail shell substrate. I'm considering making a snail pain with a foam filter and just dumping the unhatched BBS eggs in there to keep the snails flowing. I may want to try MTS or ramshorn snails for a different look.

As far as I can tell the problem with snails is when they climb on the front glass and obscure the view?

As glass cleaners they are awesome if you lack otos.

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