Snail Killer - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 02-13-2013, 09:01 PM Thread Starter
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Snail Killer

Nope, not how to kill snails (for once) but a question on whether anyone's ever run across info on specific pathogens or parasites that affect snails--but not shrimp, scuds or fish.

Last summer I set up a planted vase for a selective breeding project with bladder snails (black and striped shell variations). Gradually, the population explosion waned and I found fewer and fewer succesful hatchings and started seeing a bewildering number of adult snails dead on the substrate. Commonly the shrimp and fish found the dead snails before me and I only found empty shells, but observation eventually turned up a pattern of the snails appearing to have at least partially, if not entirely, left their shells before death, with the bodies lying just outside the shell or with only a small portion of the tail still holding it in. Snails found in the process of dying confirmed this.

I quarantined the vase, did a thorough gravel vac, replaced the hardscape and most of the plants with new trimmings from my main tanks (with healthy snail populations)--but any snail introduced to this vase dies within four days: pond, bladder, nerite, rams horn, even MTS!

While I've maintained a quarantine on plant transfers between tanks, fish taken from the vase and set up in a new tank have apparantly NOT brought the problem with them--as the new tank has a healthy population of ponds, rams and MTS several weeks after the fish being introduced.
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 02-13-2013, 11:07 PM
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Some plants have pesticides on them before shipping. Is it possible any plants may have had this when transferred? I know you said you quarantine, however what are your quarantine procedures?

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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 02-14-2013, 01:53 AM Thread Starter
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The vase was originally planted up with a variety of trimmings from long established plants in my other tanks. The problem started sometime after I added some native plants gathered from the nearby Salt River Basin area.

The plants (along with some coontail, wild scuds, a damsel fly larvae and umpteen varieties of planaria) spent 3 weeks in my scud tank before I transplanted them to other tanks. Impossible to say if the scud tank would eventually have succumbed to the same problem as it was wiped out shortly thereafter thanks to the unwieldy intersection of a small child and a double handful of cat food! However, my 20g riparium, which received some of the same plants, never developed the problem.

The river edge was littered with empty apple snail shells (and egg masses along the banks) but had healthy populations of a variety of micro and macro organisms. Forest management records don't show any intentional introduction of any herbicides, pesticides or biological agents nor any known accidental spills in the area within the past six months.
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 02-14-2013, 03:14 AM
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If the plants were surrounded by dead snails, why are you surprised your snails are dying?
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 02-14-2013, 03:18 AM
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Originally Posted by PuddlesAqua View Post
If the plants were surrounded by dead snails, why are you surprised your snails are dying?

For a second a thought Puddles was being a smarty pants...then I reread your last post. If I saw tons of empty snail shells along the river's edge I wouldn't have brought ANYTHINg from that area into my tanks. Can't help answer your question as there is truly no way of knowing. Folks can give you 50 reasons it could happen.
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 02-15-2013, 02:11 AM Thread Starter
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I'm not terribly surprised (or upset) at the snail deaths in this particular tank--what I'd hoped is that someone with a bit of experience or knowledge on the pathogens and parasites that affect snails (but not other aquatic species) would see this and chime in with some ideas. So far I haven't found much literature on the subject.

It may not even BE the collected materials that brought the problem in as a portion of the same plants went into my riparium with no ill affect on the snails there (pond, bladder, rams, mts, and nerite).
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 02-15-2013, 02:30 AM
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Perhaps one of the plants is killing the snails by releasing a chemical that it produces. It is called Allelopathy, and plants will use chemical warfare to reduce competition from other plants. Just a thought, I have very very little knowledge of the subject.

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