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shell damage, how to add calcium?


A.A.ron
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A high calcium diet as well as harder water would most benefit them. Sulawesi locale snails overtime will more than likely get shell damage without being in hard water, but as long as you keep the minerals present in their diet, buffer the water as much as you can without impacting other tank mates they will be fine. 

I feed my various rabbits a mix of shrimp foods, since they are housed with shrimp. They seem to love Dennerle Shrimp King Snail pellets as well as the Shrimp King Mineral. Besides that it's blanched spinach and kale for them. 

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A couple of points:

* @Tihshho is spot on.  Lower pH (lower 7s or below) will speed shell erosion due to acidity and swings in pH will cause uneven shell growth.  Rabbit snails have a difficult time going backwards,  so the tip of their shells tends to get worn from digging into the gravel or from "base jumping" off the glass back onto the substrate. 

* Snails can't repair existing shell damage,  only grow new shell from near their head area.  Existing areas of damage may get smaller as the shell increases in size,  but the damage will never "fill in".  I always remind myself that snails are living things that show they've lived a life,  not perfect gems.

* I've owned a bunch of varieties of rabbit snails and it appears to me that they do need some amount of fish/crab/krill protein in their diets to grow and stay healthy.  I would suggest that you add some shrimp food to your feeding routine in addition to veggies.

* I'm not a fan of feeding Tums as they contain additives like artificial dyes and color as well as artificial sweeteners (Splenda in specific).  The "safety" of said artificial things and stuff has been gauged against small does to full grown human beings (snails are 1000's of times smaller) and there's still ongoing debate about potential health risks to people. Most places that sell Tums also sell Calcium Carbonate (as a food supplement) without any added flavors or colors usually for cheaper than Tums.  Better choice in my book.

 

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Oh, one thing to note as it slipped my mind before. When it comes to buffering to the extent that these snails are naturally found it's not as simple as adding buffer and letting it dissolve, you need a catalyst to kick off the dilution of the buffer into the water column. To make the water to the level of liquid rock, like the waterways these are found in Indonesia, you'll have to inject CO2 into your dilution container in order to break down the solid buffer/crushed coral/shells or what ever it is that you're using in order for you to get to that level of saturation. It's not necessary, but I figured I'd throw that info in here incase someone else is looking to setup a Sulawesi style tank. 

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Some other methods to add calcium are wondershell, api liquid calcium, Kent s liquid calcium.  I prefer wondershell available from coop because it also has magnesium.  The snails need mag. In order to utilize the calcium. If you go the liquid route a small pinch of epsom salt works for magnesium supplement

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On 8/30/2021 at 3:46 PM, Tihshho said:

Oh, one thing to note as it slipped my mind before. When it comes to buffering to the extent that these snails are naturally found it's not as simple as adding buffer and letting it dissolve, you need a catalyst to kick off the dilution of the buffer into the water column. To make the water to the level of liquid rock, like the waterways these are found in Indonesia, you'll have to inject CO2 into your dilution container in order to break down the solid buffer/crushed coral/shells or what ever it is that you're using in order for you to get to that level of saturation. It's not necessary, but I figured I'd throw that info in here incase someone else is looking to setup a Sulawesi style tank. 

Good info.  Probably worth calling out that with Sulawesi shrimp and snails in particular you want to make sure that you understand if you're getting wild caught or captive bred stock (and the water parameters that they've been raised in)...It's my understanding that a combination of the Sulawesi government cracking down on harvesting and the introduction of invasive predatory species like Talapia into the native lakes have put a huge dent in wild caught exports of late.  Lots more stock being sold these days that are several generations into being captive raised in 7.0-7.5 pH much lighter mineralized conditions (e.g. Petco)...That's what's "natural" to them.

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I agree you need to understand the source of what you get. In terms of the species requirements though, especially inverts or anything with high demands for calcium, you can't just expect to migrate them to a softer water tank. The shrimp specifically, captive bred or not, rarely live their full lifespan or live without molting issues in softer water tanks. There are a few people who have been successful, and even some who advertise otherwise, but people who have purchased with the intent of keeping them in softer water tend to not be successful. In the case of the snails, the shell itself is a little more rugged than an exoskeleton of a shrimp, they are a bit more forgiving. The issue you run into is the overall degradation of the shell (naturally) being accelerated with acidic (compared to what they need) environments. I keep my rabbits in with Neo's currently and those tanks I have in a higher pH buffered substrate with a fairly high TDS. The snails proliferate, but even still between the water still not being hard enough and the rabbits tendency to base jump to the ground from the top of the glass damage to the shells are inevitable. Younger specimens tend to be OK for a while, it's when they get older that the damage is more obvious to the eye. My original 3 that I started with look horrible, but that's because the shells were already in bad shape when I got them. Since they cannot regenerate damaged areas of their shell it is what it is when the damage is done.

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The cause and solutions to shell erosion in snails is actually very simple. Shell erosion is caused by water that is too low in pH (also normal wear and tear but that's not controllable). More specifically when it's below the calcium carbonate saturation index which is influenced by pH. The threshold for this fluctuates depending on other variables like temperature but generally the conditions in a home aquarium leave it around 7.6. When the pH drops below this threshold, the water pulls calcium carbonate out of the shell. A snail's shell is ~98% calcium carbonate and the lower the pH, the faster it's pulled out. The only solution to this is to increase your pH to reach the saturation point. Diet has very little to do with it. It would only affect new shell growth and as long as you're feeding a reasonable diet, it rarely is much of an issue.

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Lots more stock being sold these days that are several generations into being captive raised in 7.0-7.5 pH much lighter mineralized conditions (e.g. Petco)...That's what's "natural" to them.

This may be true but doesn't have any outcome on the snail shells. Firstly the shells are just calcium carbonate, they can never be more/less resistant to the water chemistry. Genetic selection also doesn't apply here as it would require most snails to die and the only ones to reproduce are those that survive low pH. 7 is nowhere low enough for that and I doubt breeders are raising snails in pH of less than 5 so only a handful survive.

Shell erosion also isn't the doom and gloom that many people seem to think. It's actually not detrimental to the snail unless it erodes to the point where it exposes flesh. I've raised many snails in ~pH 7 and they do get some erosion on their shells but all live long lives to die in old age. It's generally more detrimental to our aesthetic pleasure than it is to the snail.

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