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Possible reasons my snails went extinct


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So my 20G long has been running almost 10 months now. I went away for 2 months recently and realized I have no more snails.

When I first started the tank, I had Bladder snails hitchhike on plants (at least I'm 90% sure they were Bladder snails). They had a population explosion around the 2 month mark while the tank stabilized (plants and Endler's). Then I added 3 Hillstream Loaches and I noticed the snail population started to decline. I was also changing water less and less frequently. I thought nothing at the time; the tank was balancing out! Great stuff!

The last thing I did was add 20 Emerald Eye Rasboras about 4 months ago, so the tank is almost at that seasoned state. When I left 2 months ago, there were just MAYBE 5 snails left. I came back, and no fish died, but all snails were gone. Quite a bit of algae growth, but also the plants were healthy! 

My water parameters are: Extremely hard water, 60 KH, 6.8 pH, no nitrites and usually 50-100 nitrate. I do not know my calcium levels. 

Things I think happened:

  • Maybe I had decreasing calcium levels as I tapered off water changes? I did notice the snails' shells were becoming whiter as they aged. My lone Amano shrimp in the tank has molted at least once, however. The shrimp seems healthy enough. Hopefully the calcium is at a good level.
  • Maybe the hillstream loaches? Perhaps they and the Amano shrimp ate all the food the snails were after? Or maybe the hillstream loaches ate the snails? Doubt it though.
  • Maybe I got better at feeding? I know you only have as much snails as you have excess waste, but I would've thought a few snails would still be around.

Any theories on why my snails are gone? I don't miss them by any means, but it was cool to have a few of them around for waste management breakdown. Thanks for reading my post!

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Lots of different potential reasons...you've identified a bunch of good suspects.  One of the additional ones I would consider is a genetic issue(s) of some sort.  Mother nature always leaves a little room for slight changes in replication/reproduction - abnormalities or an undesirable mutation can have pretty dramatic effects when carried forward in a small captive population.

Edited by NanoNano
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