Snail population dying - The Planted Tank Forum

 
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-30-2012, 07:20 PM Thread Starter
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Snail population dying

My population of MTS seems to have mostly died off. As in I see empty shells but very few active adults. I still periodically see babies. I have an Amazon tank with pH 6.8 and kH 3 degrees. I have a healthy group of ghost shrimp, and a population of pond snails (I wish they had died off instead of the MTS).

My main suspect is too little available calcium for their shell deposition. Has anyone ever tried putting marble chips in either the tank or the filter?

Other potential problems:

About two months ago I dosed erythromycin to get rid of BGA (worked like a charm). Even if this was a problem for the snails at the time, I don't think it is now. I've done quite a few water changes and have kept clean Purigen in my filter since then.

At one time my rather large piece of driftwood was held down with a brick and copper wire. I don't think the copper should be any more of a problem now than the erythromycin, for the same reasons.

I only feed my fish once a day or once every two days. Still, I have a hard time believing that mature MTS could starve.

It is possible that I have anaerobic substrate. 1" of MTS, capped with 1.5" of river sand. When I poke the sub I see bubbles, but they have no odor. All of my fauna, except for the MTS, are fine. I've never lost a fish in this tank (about 6 months).

Any suggestions?

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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-31-2012, 12:11 AM
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Why do you suspect calcium deficiency? Do you see holes in the shells of the pond snails or in the empty MTS shells?

I believe copper would oxidize in a fish tank, could be wrong though. I know the only "safe" metals would be zinc and stainless steel.

Also, you use MTS to aerate the substrate. They'll dig as far as there is oxygen content in the sand.

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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-31-2012, 12:29 AM Thread Starter
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I suspected calcium deficiency solely on the basis of the 'slightly' acidic pH and the low kH. I do dose trace, but I figure the plants get most/all of it.

I figured that Purigen (and carbon to clear the erythromycin) would have absorbed any copper.

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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-31-2012, 12:32 AM
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If you don't see holes in the shells of the other snails it's probably not calcium deficiency.

If the copper does leech something poisonous in your tank I don't think purigen/carbon will absorb it fast enough. But it's probably not that either or else your fish and pond snails would also die .

No idea what's wrong really :\.

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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-31-2012, 01:39 AM
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Are you sure you didn't just have old adults die off?
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-31-2012, 02:00 AM Thread Starter
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So I originally got ~40 snails from Petsmart and put them in my quarantine tank. I waited a month, then took about 20 and put them in my display tank. Granted, the ones I transferred may have been biased by age (easier to see and catch large ones). Still, I'd expect to see many more adults in my display tank than I currently do (maybe 3).

It also seems that the dead ones are in more age classes than just adults.

The thing that really gets me is that I still have a healthy population of pond snails and *some* MTS. Maybe I AM underfeeding...

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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-31-2012, 02:43 AM
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Get a polyfilter, put it into your canister or HOB. If you have anything toxic in your tank, the polyfilter should be able to pull it out quickly. Plus, when you take out the polyfilter it will turn color to tell you what was in your water. If there is copper present the polyfilter will turn blue, for example.

I even have duckweed in my water bong!
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 07-20-2013, 06:01 AM Thread Starter
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I figured it out! After looking at each individual variable (nitrates, pH, possibly contaminated wood from the local river, phosphates, excel, flourish, prime, tap water, rain water, substrate, etc), I figured out that it was KCl. I used to dose KCl to excess, at about 2-3 tablespoons for my 55 gallon. Since I stopped doing this (with many WC), I've been able to keep ghost shrimp and MTS for months. Perfectly healthy.

Now, I don't think it was an overdose of K+ that did it. I've also since seen anecdotal evidence that Cl- ions in excess are potentially bad for freshwater invertebrates.

Hopefully other hobbyists can use this information for maintaining the health of their own tanks.

Just to be sure; my tank is low-light and low-tech. It's possible that high-tech tanks have plant growth rates that utilize Cl- ions quickly enough to make the water MTS safe. Interestingly, my ramshorns never had much of a problem surviving. Now they are reproducing much more quickly. Also, the pygmy corys are spawning like mad!

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