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Potentially not beginner friendly? (Snails)

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Hello All!

I have been seeing a few things on videos online and I've seen things over the years from pretty much every youtuber that covers the hobby on this topic.  I was reflecting on Zenzo's video in my head while watching a random video this week and it let me to a conclusion.  Snails might not be a beginner friendly option for new hobbyists.  Let me explain.

If we think about this logically there should be some snails that you'd want to avoid just to make your life easier.  Some snails might be better suited for a beginner hobbyist, while others should be avoided.

Beginner Friendly Snail Traits:
1. This snail would help eat algae and leftover food
2. This snail would breed slowly or not be able to reproduce in freshwater as a means to limit bioload impact
3. This snail would not damage equipment easily
4. This snail would not harm anything in the tank, such as other fish
5.  This snail would not cause exceed "need" (more on this later)

In the wild, there are a lot of different methods of survival.  One of the main methods for creatures lower on the food chain is to simply propel the population forward using a sheer number of offspring.  One amano shrimp female can have hundreds or thousands of zoes per spawn.  some fish can do the same thing.  Certain snails also use this tactic in some fashion.  If you put that methodology into an enclosed ecosystem and you don't have a way to control that population boom, then logically it is going to be a perpetual issue over time.  For clarity, I do not know enough to say "avoid these snail species", but I have ran into this issue in the past.  Maybe this becomes an issue in a few weeks or even months, but it is often an issue and something that beginner hobbyists very well could struggle to overcome.  The most often beginner advice is to recognize the tank as an ecosystem and understand that snails can play a key role in that ecosystem, but as Dean mentions in the video above, there are some issues when it comes to how much of a bioload the snails can impart.

Along the same line of thinking, how snails reproduce can compound this issue.  Someone sees this "beehive" looking structure in their tank and it instantly freaks them out.  Honestly, it would freak me out too if I just happened upon the tank and I saw a big snail clutch.  Nerites pepper hardscape and plants with egg casings which can be very difficult to remove for some hobbyist.  Some snails use cloning and don't require a male and female to reproduce.  There is a lot of methods of reproduction and if I was a beginner hobbyist trying to understand what is going on in my tank easily, I would really struggle at times to fully grasp all of the things to look out for in terms of keeping snails.  Worst case scenario, someone goes to the pet store to buy a single mystery snail.  Once they get home the snail lays a clutch that is fertile and they don't notice the clutch under the hood on their tank.  After a bit of time one snail is now hundreds, in a 10G tank that isn't meant to have that load.  I can see how an experience like this would push someone to avoid the hobby if that was their first experience.  This also extends pretty heavily into pest snails (pond or bladder snails) hitchhiking onto a plant. 

FInally, the last point on the list above and trying to avoid a snail that would put too much "need" on a tank.  We do know snails can use up the minerals in the water.  Whether this is done via food or done via mineral absorption, there are going to be some circumstances where someone might run into GH/KH issues in their water and that could lead to a PH crash, shrimp deaths, fish not having the correct water parameters, and a lot of what I am getting at here is some pretty complex issues that aren't immediately intuitive for someone who is just trying to get their hands wet in this hobby.  Especially a younger hobbyist, a true beginner, I can only imagine how slippery the slope can be when it comes to something like this.  (and this is something we have seen on the forums!)

Ultimately, I don't really know what my beginner recommendation would be for a snail.  I think using amano shrimp might be easier for most beginner tanks, but that is just my own perspective.  I have ran into issues keeping snails and I was that beginner hobbyist at the time.  I have learned a lot more about them since and I do plan to have snails eventually.  What do you think?  What would your best "beginner friendly" snail be and why?

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Snails will only increase bioload if the keeper feeds the snail. A ten gallon with ten guppies and 0 snails has the same bioload as a ten gallon with ten guppies and 10000 snails if one is only feeding the guppies. In general, pest snails decrease nitrogenous waste as they are surviving off excess food, fish poop, and decaying plant and animal matter, turning potentially harmful waste into more snails.

Considering most keepers stuggle to kill snails on purpose, i say theyre very beginner friendly. If a tank cant support pest snails its unlikely to support anything.

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I dearly love my Mystery snails, as much as the finned denizens of my tanks.  The fact they lay egg clutches at the top of the tank makes it easy to control the population as I know to look around the top borders of the tank, above the water line.  I love watching them scoot up the tank and then parashoot  to the bottom.  They do a decent job on algae, and I do feed them specifically simply because I have allowed the population to grow a bit.  I feed Repashy and algae tabs on occasion which everyone enjoys.    I know this is perhaps an outlying opinion,   I simply love the little critters.  On the other hand I did not care for Nerite snails because, as noted in the article, they lay tiny eggs all over that are next to impossible to remove.  

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On 7/21/2023 at 11:23 PM, Scapexghost said:

Considering most keepers stuggle to kill snails on purpose, i say theyre very beginner friendly. If a tank cant support pest snails its unlikely to support anything.

They can be extremely difficult not control. Especially when baby snails are the size of a grain of sand.  I'm not saying it's impossible, but I've heard plenty of "well it's time to take down the tank" stories and I did that myself due to a snail infestation. They were started for puffers and I had no way to control them, pretty quickly.

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