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Snail Tank -- What am I Doing Wrong?


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Hi Everyone! 

I'm attempting to create a 5g snail tank to feed my puffers. It's been set up since March and has bladder and ramshorn snails in it. They cleaned the tank pretty quickly and I started to see die off awhile ago so I started feeding them algae wafers to try to get the population to increase again. I'm battling ammonia now even though the remaining snails make quick work of the wafers. I'm still seeing die off for some reason. I just can't get the population up! I feel silly because I thought this would be a breeze. What am I doing wrong? How do you successfully raise a large supply of snails? What's causing the Ammonia? The algae wafers? 

Tank parameters:

Ph: 7.2

Temp: 78 

Ammonia: .25 consistently even with water changes

Nitrite: 0

Nitrate: 10

Ammonia from the tap: .5 

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On 7/10/2021 at 8:25 AM, eatyourpeas said:

How often do you do water changes and how much water do you replace?

I was doing a ~30 percent water change every week to 10 days but now that I have the Ammonia issue, I test once a week. I usually need to do a ~50 percent water change one day and ~30 percent the next to get the Ammonia down. 

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What’s your TDS, kh, and gh? Do you have a calcium source in there? Substrate should be aragonite, crushed coral, or you can just put a bag in the tank this is not an overnight fix takes weeks or you’ll need to add wondershell which is a quick fix with cuttlebone a Slower releaser to help with shell development and reproductive health. 

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On 7/10/2021 at 8:32 AM, Beardedbillygoat1975 said:

What’s your TDS, kh, and gh? Do you have a calcium source in there? Substrate should be aragonite, crushed coral, or you can just put a bag in the tank this is not an overnight fix takes weeks or you’ll need to add wondershell which is a quick fix with cuttlebone a Slower releaser to help with shell development and reproductive health. 

I didn't even think to run those tests. Ha! I'll test today and try adding wondershell. Thank you! 

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On 7/10/2021 at 8:29 AM, eatyourpeas said:

I think your tap water may be the culprit. 0.5 ammonia is pretty high, and the buces are epiphytes which means all that ammonia is making them happy.

I would suggest doing a water change ensuring the ammonia is 0 and then not do water changes for a while, letting the plants do the work.

Ok! I'll try that and report back if the Ammonia spikes again. 

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I raise bladders.  If your water has too much ammonia or nitrite they will not reproduce. Give them full fish food as protein signals them to reproduce like mad … just my observation.  If your snails are the only thing in the tank water change your water to quality. 20-40 nitrate is where I keep mine. Check your tank for copper

i give mine fresh blanched veggies green beans are vitamin rich

when hatched they immediately need a calcium source or the shell won’t harden and they die. I use windershells

Edited by Guppysnail
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On 7/10/2021 at 11:01 AM, GameCzar said:

You can always try using distilled water for your 5g if your tap ammonia is too high.   Obviously if the tank was bigger, that would be prohibitively expensive, but not too bad with a 5g. 

Funny you say that. I just this morning finished my jug water quest. API kit in hand I checked 4 stores for distilled natural spring and spring water. Distilled was neutral no kh gh. Natural spring ranged from 6.2-6.8 extremely low kh/gh except one was 7.6 great kh/gh… so yes jug water is great awesome suggestion but check your Params on each!  My tap starts at 20 nitrate so I dilute it. 😁

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On 7/10/2021 at 10:07 AM, Guppysnail said:

Funny you say that. I just this morning finished my jug water quest. API kit in hand I checked 4 stores for distilled natural spring and spring water. Distilled was neutral no kh gh. Natural spring ranged from 6.2-6.8 extremely low kh/gh except one was 7.6 great kh/gh… so yes jug water is great awesome suggestion but check your Params on each!  My tap starts at 20 nitrate so I dilute it. 😁

Which brand had the 7.6 if I may ask!?  I knew we had tested some spring water and it was higher than the distilled. 

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The algae wafers might have ingredients that don't benefit the snails, since they tend to be made for fish. If so, the snails wouldn't be getting as much good as they could be out of their time and energy spent eating, and the unused ingredient(s) would add ammonia to the water too.

It might be better to use a food intended for snails or other animals with shells. 

I also second the idea of putting a piece of cuttlebone (or wonder shell?) on the bottom of the tank. I do that, and notice a young bladder snail sitting on it about every day.

The time it takes for the eggs to hatch (and snails to mature) can probably be sped up using their ideal breeding temp range - though I don't know what that is. Might be worth researching.

The only other thing I haven't seen here is the mention that they do need to breathe air, so make sure they have about an inch of glass above the water line to go hang out. 

Edited by CalmedByFish
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On 7/10/2021 at 8:14 AM, Jennifer V said:

Hi Everyone! 

I'm attempting to create a 5g snail tank to feed my puffers. It's been set up since March and has bladder and ramshorn snails in it. They cleaned the tank pretty quickly and I started to see die off awhile ago so I started feeding them algae wafers to try to get the population to increase again. I'm battling ammonia now even though the remaining snails make quick work of the wafers. I'm still seeing die off for some reason. I just can't get the population up! I feel silly because I thought this would be a breeze. What am I doing wrong? How do you successfully raise a large supply of snails? What's causing the Ammonia? The algae wafers? 

Tank parameters:

Ph: 7.2

Temp: 78 

Ammonia: .25 consistently even with water changes

Nitrite: 0

Nitrate: 10

Ammonia from the tap: .5 

78 is toasty have you run them at 70-74?

Id try the wondershell, crushed coral etc I have trouble with snail shells melting due to low calcium in the planted tanks unless I add a crushed coral or another buffer. I've also used those nano banquet blocks for shell strength. Shrimp and snails will directly eat that. The plants uptake the minerals and limit what is in the water for the snails for my system.

Algae wafers normally have a ton of ingredients so it could be those. I would feed whatever I had around to snails and uaually use the extreme spirulina flake. I try canned or fresh vegetables as foods toosalt free canned green beans or the organic zucchini washed thoroughly cut and frozen to allow for sinking when I feed them.

I drop a disk of frozen zucchini semi regularly and it sinks to the bottom fast once frozen and allowed to thaw in the tank. Everything eats it including snails, all sizes and types of fish, cherry shrimp, etc eat it. I net it out when there is a rare remnant and it floats up to the surface.

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