Snail Issue

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Hello my name is DizzyBlue and I have a snail issue .....

There it's out in the open I have confessed!

Ok this is probably NOT the correct folder to pop up a post regarding snails generally doing my head in. I have it would seem two species of snails in my shrimp tank and getting rid of the little blighters is proving to be a full range nightmare. Bladder and rams horn snails. They must have come in on plants.

Apologies to those who like snails and keep them as pets.

I have purchased a snail trap .... so far no snail wants to go into it. They have obviously heard what it's for and decided its not the des-res they wished for.

I debated getting another snail to get rid of the pest snails oh yes I debated the assassin. But having been freaked out by watching somebody's YouTube video of an assassin grabbing a cherry shrimp and just about having a nervous breakdown watching the poor cherry struggling for a very long time to get away and seeing the damage she sustained ..... well that was the end of that thought process. The thought of watching my tank to relax and seeing that happening instead would probably just about finish me off.

Don't want to put fish in there that may think my shrimp buddies are lunch either. Not in to fish, although I have some neon tetra in the tank and they have decided to breed which is going to be a nightmare waiting to happen in the future should their young survive. They have been good around the shrimp young and have rarely seen any baby shrimp end up as lunch thank goodness. The tetra were a very bad judgement purchase on my behalf but it's not their fault so they have stayed. 

At the moment I use a small net and an artists paint brush (new unused and scrubbed within an inch of its life) to sweep the little beggars up and in to the net and then pop them into a jam jar with tank water in it just to double check I don't inadvertently sweep up a baby shrimp. I have also used a meat baster to suck up the little blighters and it's great for removing snail eggs. 

So tips on snail gathering / removal would be appreciated. Is there a little kind of L shaped sieve or riddle that can be purchased to gather them up out of the substrate as they "march across"? Perhaps a long handled perspex collector of sorts (so I can see what's in there) sort of like the shape of a tiny household dustpan with mesh at the back to allow the water to drain? ANTHING really! I am becoming obsessed by snail removal and would like to get back to just watching me shrimp buddies.

I feel cleansed now I have this off my chest :) Any tips gratefully received and mass apologies to snail fans worldwide.

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What type of food are you using to bait the trap with? I usually bait my snail traps with either algae wafers, catfish wafers or sinking catfish pellets. All things the snail can not resist. But the traps I have are better suited to nabbing MTS, which are the bane of my tanks.

For Ramshorn and bladder snails the best method to manually remove them I have used has been chunks of carrot. Some people use lettuce leaves but I find carrot lasts longer and you get more uses out of it before needing a new piece. Put the carrot in the tank (preferably cut length ways) and sit back and wait till the snails swarm all over it. Then you can either carefully just lift it out of the tank and scrape the snails off (being aware one or two snails will most likely let go during the ride and fall back in the tank), or scoop a net under the carrot and pick up the carrot with snails in one fell swoop. Using the net any snails that decide to drop off get caught rather than living another day and laying more eggs.

As for eggs I found a length of air hose very handy to scrape the eggs and suck them up and dump into a bucket of water to go out on the garden. I use the same technique with hydra and it works a dream if time consuming.

I know people say you will "only have snail issues if you over feed your tank" but I find shrimp tanks with lots of live plants, organic matter like timber and the need to add food to keep the shrimp well feed and enough food for the offspring is a prime habitat for snails. And you cant use any chemicals to get rid of them without also killing your shrimp.

Therefore thinking slightly outside of the conventional box for snail control here are some other ideas.

I have heard and seen Macrobrachium species eat snails, mind you I have also watched them hunt and eat fish. I usually find them in same place as glass shrimp, so don't know if the Macrobrachium would be considered entirely "shrimp safe". Although I did have a species a friend sent me from Cairns that lived happily with fish and cherry shrimp but would hunt snails. She had very long spindly front nippers and was a fascinating shrimp to watch since she often seemed to watch you in return.

Once near complete removal of the pest snails is underway perhaps add a desired snail that will fill the niche and remove some of the excess food source that the pest snails are partying on. In my tanks I have Nerites (great snails and can not successfully breed in fresh water, although they will lay eggs) these will mainly only eat algae but would also eat biofilm. I also have notopala species these can breed in fresh water but they have live birth young (cute little tackers too), and are mainly going to be eating decaying organic matter like old leaves, while leaving healthy plants alone. Then I also have a nice (sorry don't know its name) black shelled snail that gets really long and spends the vast majority of its time in the substrate. This black shelled snail that looks similar to MTS but smoother shell and much larger also does not seem to breed in fresh water fish tanks.

I know you said no fish to eat the snails but I have found khuli loaches and Dwarf Chain loaches to be shrimp safe. and the tanks that house these guys are so snail free I add snails from other tanks as a treat for the loaches. I suspect the Khuli loaches might mainly eat tiny baby snails or the eggs, while I have watched the Dwarf Chain loaches tackle full grown Ramshorn snails and even manage the odd MTS. Even when a highly desired food has been fed I have watched both khuli loaches and Dwarf Chain loaches scramble all over the food but totally ignore the cherry shrimp that have also beelined for the treat.

Hope some of these suggestions help you out.

Edited by Baccus
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