Best solutions for pesty pond snail invasion - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-19-2012, 07:16 PM Thread Starter
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Best solutions for pesty pond snail invasion

I'm just starting this thread because I'm curious to see the different methods that people have tried to try to rid an planted tank of pest pond snails. I struggled with an infestation for several months about a year ago. I didn't recognize it as a problem at first until I started seeing them EVERYWHERE and they started eating holes in my plants. I tried many things to get rid of them.

I have read somewhere that dward cichlids will eat them. I had 2 bolivian rams but they didn't seem interested at all in eating them or if they did, it did nothing to control the population. The first popular method I tried was a few yoyo loaches. The loaches seemed to do an okay job, but I couldn't tell a significant difference, possibly because the snail population was so out of control. Also, the loaches were going to end up being bigger than I wanted for my 30gal. I then traded in the yoyo loaches for 12 assassin snails. These were by far the best solution at controlling the pest snail population. Once I added the assassin snails, i started seeing empty pond snail shells appearing on top of the substrate. The population finally appeared to be under control. a couple months ago, I changed out all of the substrate to remove any snails that may have been hiding in the substrate as well as remove all of the unsightly empty shells.

I have learned my lesson now and I am now much more careful at preventing snails from getting into the tank in the first place.
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-19-2012, 07:37 PM
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Assassin snails worked wonders for me, and it only took two of them to completely clean out my 20g L. The only downside was they also cleaned out the trumpet snails I had introduced purposefully. now I add trumpets occasionally, but they disappear so fast.
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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-19-2012, 08:08 PM
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Adding more snails to a tank that has assassins is like signing their death warrant. It's just a matter of when.

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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-19-2012, 09:01 PM
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I bought 4 assassin snails for to get rid of a nasty pond snail invasion in my 55 gallon. They are in check now, but if I were to do it differently I would manually remove as many as I could, then add 1 or 2 assassins to keep them in check. I did not mind the pond snails, but they were out of control. This way I could add nerites and other snails and not worry about them getting attacked by assassins when there were too few pond snails to find.
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-19-2012, 09:03 PM
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Cut down on your feeding. If you're feeding twice a day, cut it back to once, or if you're feeding daily cut it back to every other day. Pond snail populations generally explode if you're overfeeding.
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-19-2012, 09:05 PM
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Snail outbreaks happen for two reasons: 99% of the time it's due to overfeeding. The other 1% of the time, bunches of egg clutches come in on plants that you aren't cleaning properly before adding them to your tank.

For the most part, pond and bladder snails won't eat plants that are alive and healthy if there's something else to eat in the tank. That's almost always the case. They only eat plant matter that is dead or dying. Also typically don't eat holes in plants - they'll eat around the decaying edges. If you have visible holes in your plants, that sounds like an issue of some sort of nutrient deficiency.

But to rid unwanted snails? Use a trap like an inverted bottle with food in it. Or a lettuce leaf/piece of zucchini. Once it's loaded down with snails, remove it.
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-19-2012, 09:19 PM
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i have three assassin snails. they're lazy...
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-19-2012, 09:36 PM
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I had issues with snails, an as stated all I needed to do was stop feeding. It may not be great but fish can easily live getting fed once a week. I feed probably once every 5 days because it simply doesnt matter. They won't die.
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-19-2012, 09:42 PM
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I am surprised it took until post 5 for someone to post the true reason snail populations get out of control. Snails don't breed and multiply unless there is a large enough food source to get them fat and ready to lay eggs. Feed your tank properly and you should have a small snail population. Any tank that gets a outbreak is being fed to much.
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-27-2015, 07:30 PM
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I know that this is an older post but I thought I would also add something for those that read it later like myself. I had a 20 gallon tank and have a 30 gallon tank. The 30 is without snails and I hope to keep it that way. The 30 has all my fish. The 20 is the thoroughly snail infested one even when I don't feed them at all. My tank water is high ph (about 7.8 to 8.0) and hard. That's due to my Arizona tap water. It's great for Cichlids or saltwater but not so much for fish that like the 7.0 ph range.

While I agree with some previous posters about food source makes them populate faster, they will not necessarily die out even if you don't feed them at all. Once they reach epidemic numbers, they feeed on each other but reproduce faster than they eat one another. So try to stop them early on from existing or it might be too late later. Here was my experience with them.

I moved all my fish from the snail infested 20 gallon to the new 30 gallon tank and was about to use some harsh chemicals to kill off all the pond snails in the 20 gallon. I don't have live plants (only artificial ones) so I could use anything on them. But I saw the info somewhere on the web about using loaches or Assasin snails to kill pond snails. I thought that would be a better solution and have some happy fish to feed them to.

Tried clown loaches 1st who had absolutely no interest in the snails at all and just got too big for my tanks and were eventually given to friend with a 55 gallon tank. They didn't eat even one snail.

Next, I tried Yoyo loaches. They were very hard to find here and cost a pretty penny. They also showed no interest at all in the snails. I've since moved them to the larger uninfested tank. They also never ate a single snail that I saw. They also are escape artists. They love to jump and can find a 1 X 1 inch hole in the top and jump out. Had to loach-proof my tank top.

I finally introduced 10 Assassin snails to the infected tank. They are almost never sold here. I had to get them online and each of them cost more than I would pay for most freshwater fish. Immediately, the pond snails attacked the assassins in mass, killed and ate all 10 of them in 2 days. All that is left of the Assassins is their colorful shells. About 20 or so pond snails would attack the Assassin snails as soon as they were found. Felt really bad about sending these Assassins to their death. They never had a chance to eat any pond snails as the reverse happened rather quickly.

When the pond snails get hungry and there is not enough food left, they prey on one another. It's not uncommon to see a gang of them climb onto the shell of another and literally pin him and eat him. When I stopped putting food in the tank, they preyed on each other. Too bad it's not like the Highlander "There can be only one!" scenario. They repopulate faster than they eat each other.

So going back to my original plans for the chemical means of eradication, I put large amounts of salt in the tank. Salt in large quantities had no effect on the pond snails I could see after two weeks. I drained that water out and added two different kinds of snail killer chemicals with copper sulfate and frankly overdosed the tank on purpose. About half the snails died over two weeks but the population came back strong after I quit dosing a month later.

Finally, I just drained the infected tank and threw out the artificial plants and gravel and ornaments. I had been using an older cheaper hanging filer and just discarded it too as I noticed snails and eggs were inside it's parts too. Used a razor blade cleaning tool to scrape any eggs off the glass walls of the tank. I washed the empty tank with scalding hot water. I let it completely dry out and left this empty tank in storage about a month. I decided to set it up as a platy tank a few days ago. Within 2 days of adding new gravel/filter/ornaments/artificial plants, I saw 20-50 little baby pond snails. I squashed all I saw but now it's back to about a hundred small pond snails. They are not being fed at all. There were obviously some eggs somewhere I missed in a tank lip or something. I finally just gave up, drained the tank and again purged all inside it. I broke the tank walls so no one else tried to use it and threw it in the trash.

I got another new 20 gallon and started it with all new stuff. So far no snails in my 20 or 30 gallon now.

Moral to this story is once you are infected you may never completely get them out of your tank without purging every infected item like you were dealing with a plague. Certainly don't take them to a pond or stream or just what you add there could destroy a whole ecosystem. These are the best surviving creatures I've ever seen. Some little Noah's ark collection of eggs would always survive.

I did some reading about them. Their egg sac gel can dry out completely and still the pond snail's embryos can hatch years later when water is applied. Two ponds snails can produce over 50,000 little ones in their less than 1 year lifespan and can completely lay eggs and therefore reproduce every 2 or 3 days. The eggs seem to survive almost anything.

Don't wait if you see only a few. Kill them all why you can or you'll have huge problems a few days later, whether you overfeed or not. None of the eradication methods worked for me.

Last edited by Graystone55; 04-27-2015 at 07:47 PM. Reason: Grammar bad
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post #11 of 11 (permalink) Old 11-19-2015, 09:49 PM
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Re: pond snails. Have <500 gal outdoor water feature balanced ecosystem w Koi and Comets, Over the years have had a waxing and waning population/plaque of pond snails. Used (Red Ear) shellcrackers initially but snails out reproduced them.
Was a scene out of Alien, when I found a "huge" snail in the pump system. (shudder shudder eeeeek!) Just pumping out the eggs. Have stopped feeding fish (temp too low) any suggestions for an Rx over the winter.
Only good to come out of this is to demo to g'kids the embryos in egg masses under microscope.
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pond snails, snails

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