experiences with mts in substrate? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 23 (permalink) Old 06-02-2017, 04:41 PM Thread Starter
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experiences with mts in substrate?

Seems to be two differing opinions on Malaysian Trumpet Snails in aquariums.

Some say they are beneficial, serving as aerators of substrates that can develop noxious gas pockets. Their burrowing prevents any compaction of tank substrate and they are not unsightly as they only come out at night.

Some say they are pests. They burrow to only the first 1" of substrate, letting gas pockets develop either way. On top of their lack of aeration capability, they also uproot plants with delicate root systems and in the process of hanging out under the substrate they also leave their waste which over time can add up and become noxious. They over-reproduce and cause more harm in the tank than good due to their excessive collective bioload, and their shells litter the tank as past generations die, leaving more shell than substrate over time.

What are your experiences with them, specifically in the long run?

I have a colony in my betta's 5g tank. Sometimes the betta tries to eat them, but immediately spits them out. They don't seem to do much with the type of algae I have in my tank, so I don't even know what they're eating! I have to feed my betta by hand since they seem to be partially blind, so no excess food reaches the bottom of the tank. Maybe they eat themselves. Who knows. I've had the tank for almost two years at this point and the colony is still thriving.

I'm looking to switching to a sand substrate for my tank, debating whether I should just leave the MTS in the gravel or introduce them to the sand. Thank you!

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post #2 of 23 (permalink) Old 06-02-2017, 10:27 PM
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I'm curious myself as to what other aquarists' experiences have been. I'm also considering adding them as part of my clean up crew when I start my next tank.
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post #3 of 23 (permalink) Old 06-02-2017, 10:38 PM
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I find no reason to fight either argument. They came to my tanks with a fish swap and I've never gotten rid of them. They move to almost any tank I set up. Almost as if by magic, they just show up in the new tank. I would assume from shared nets?
I find they do reproduce and do leave lots of shells but then I find no advantage nor disadvantage to them. I keep cichlids who do keep them under the sub so that they are out of sight until their shells show up. I've never had any sub that packed so tight that gas would not pass through and have never seen any harm from the gas attacks that I read about. The gas that I read about comes from the food which filters down and is trapped there so decay but the gas can't come up.
So my thoughts center on what material will pass solids down but not gas up? Sounds kind of fishy to me!
I feel the reports of fish death are more likely to be a desperate attempt to solve sudden fish deaths which we can't explain in other ways. Fish die suddenly so if must have been gas?
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post #4 of 23 (permalink) Old 06-09-2017, 01:21 AM
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I purposefully add them to all my tanks, they do a great job of degassing my dirted tank since I have a less than 1/2" cap and less than 1" of soil. I have also found that they greatly increase the survivability of my shrimp populations (Lup diesel/Flip Aquatics on Youtube talked about this in one of his videos). Further more, they are very useful for feeding fish that eat snails, and maintaining my assassin snail population. As everyone always says, there are only as many snails as your tank can support so if you have cut down feeding to the minimum then however many are there are part of the carry capacity of your tank.
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post #5 of 23 (permalink) Old 07-06-2017, 09:03 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Roshan8768 View Post
I purposefully add them to all my tanks, they do a great job of degassing my dirted tank since I have a less than 1/2" cap and less than 1" of soil. I have also found that they greatly increase the survivability of my shrimp populations (Lup diesel/Flip Aquatics on Youtube talked about this in one of his videos). Further more, they are very useful for feeding fish that eat snails, and maintaining my assassin snail population. As everyone always says, there are only as many snails as your tank can support so if you have cut down feeding to the minimum then however many are there are part of the carry capacity of your tank.
Sweet! I did not know of the effects they had on shrimp populations. I'll search the video!

Did not consider them important source of food for other snails. Assassin snails always seemed cool, should maybe look into getting a few.

Thank you!
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post #6 of 23 (permalink) Old 08-14-2019, 10:53 AM
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Hydrogen sulphide

Shaun the Prawn here. Those gas pockets that most think are nitrogen or Co2 are mainly Hydrogen Sulphide. As it dissolves in the water column in any great quantity at once it forms sulphuric acid and can DRASTICALLY drop your ph fast if reaches 'bubble up' point.. MTS very much do alleviate this by keeping substrate moving slightly and eating decayables, excreting a less volatile, more filterable product. Many planted tanks need either mts or frequent 'poking' of the substrate to release gases in much smaller. more frequent bursts.
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post #7 of 23 (permalink) Old 08-14-2019, 04:30 PM
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I also add them to every tank. In my experience, there's no real downside to them. As for longevity, my oldest tank is about 15 years set up. I used to remove shells, but at some point decided to leave them in there and let the shells dissolve. Interesting thing is, they don't seem to, even after several years in soft water. I have a MTS graveyard in the right front corner of that tank now. Not sure if that's where they go to die or the water flow just gets the shells over there at some point.
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post #8 of 23 (permalink) Old 08-14-2019, 07:07 PM
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Personally, I hate MTS. I've added dozens and dozens of assassins to eliminate them in 4 tanks and they have taken care of them, for the most part. Two tanks are completely MTS free and the other 2 have minimal populations that I can tolerate, although the assassins are still at work.
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post #9 of 23 (permalink) Old 08-14-2019, 07:57 PM
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I have them and love them. They're like the earth worms of planted tanks. They will eat lots of decaying matter and even some soft algae. In my experience, so long as you're not over feeding, their population doesn't just boom and take over.


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post #10 of 23 (permalink) Old 08-14-2019, 09:42 PM
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I intentionally added some when I started my tank 3 mos ago for the reasons stated above: aeration, because they're "detrivores" (which I assumes means they eat fish poop), etc. They exploded with the algae blooms, but now that the algae is mostly under control, a couple of pea puffers & some assassin snails seem to keep keep them at non-scary levels.

They only come out at night when I see them on the tank walls, but they don't seem to be very efficient algae eaters--they don't leave a clean trail behind them in the way that the ramshorn or bladder snails do. Between the fish & the ghost shrimp, no food reaches the bottom, so I assume they're living on fish poop & algae. We'll see what happens to their population as I continue to eliminate algae sources in the tank.
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post #11 of 23 (permalink) Old 08-14-2019, 10:55 PM
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As mentioned, I like them and add them to every tank. But I did want to address the negatives you mentioned other hobbyist's saying
Quote:
Originally Posted by limeslide View Post

Some say they are pests. They burrow to only the first 1" of substrate, letting gas pockets develop either way.
I can't say if this is true or not, I've never dug into my substrate to find the maximum depth they will burrow. I'd reckon this is largely dependent on the substrate itself -how heavy it is, how much it compacts, etc. But the snails aren't "letting" gas pockets develop that wouldn't if they weren't in there, so that logic sounds a bit faulty to me. Gas pockets can be created over time, more will be disturbed by having snails than by not.

Quote:
Originally Posted by limeslide View Post
On top of their lack of aeration capability, they also uproot plants with delicate root systems and in the process of hanging out under the substrate they also leave their waste which over time can add up and become noxious.
I've never had a problem with them uprooting plants. Not to say they've never done it in any tank I own, but I have a lot of tanks running for a lot of years with a lot of plants and MTS. If this was a problem, I'd be dealing with it. As for their waste, they aren't consuming anything that you aren't putting in there! Even algae is brought on by nutrients we add to our tanks. And these tiny things aren't capable of producing that much waste. When I put a handful in some 20 gallon aquariums I'm recently setting up, I was hoping for more waste. But on bare glass bottoms after weeks of algae growth, the amount of snail poop was disappointing. I think any waste accumulation would have been there with or without snails. If tanks are overfed and under-maintained, that's just an eventuality.

Quote:
Originally Posted by limeslide View Post
They over-reproduce and cause more harm in the tank than good due to their excessive collective bioload, and their shells litter the tank as past generations die, leaving more shell than substrate over time.
As has been mentioned, nothing reproduces past its resources. If there isn't too much food there will not be too many snails. As for shells, I'm trying to see how bad this can get. Have quite a few building up, I stopped picking them out several years ago. Still bet I could pick virtually all out in 20 minutes.



Whether or not to add snails to your aquarium is up to you. And I would be lying if I said they are easy to completely eradicate if for some reason you change your mind. But I do feel like most of the so-called drawbacks are using warped logic. At worst, snails don't provide a ton of upside, just a little. But I'm hard-pressed to find a downside.
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post #12 of 23 (permalink) Old 08-15-2019, 09:12 AM
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I add them to all my tanks. Never had any problems. Probably the best helper or cleanup crew I could add to any of my tanks. Best part is that I rarely see them during the day. At night I'll see hundreds of them crawling around.
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post #13 of 23 (permalink) Old 08-15-2019, 03:42 PM
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Not sure how one writer misunderstood my last post but.... MTS can PREVENT gas pockets (hydrogen sulphide and methane, not air) from reaching dangerous volumes that 'pop' out of the substrate and gas your fish and water. Detritus they eat is reduced to filter bacteria available ammonia and converted to nitrates-nitrates instead of far more dangerous decay products. The methane production (fermentation) is similar to how natural gas is formed on a large scale underground. (and in cow's guts)
I like MTS populations as an indicator that I'm overfeeding too. But what the heck, I know they're not everyone's cup of Catappa.
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post #14 of 23 (permalink) Old 08-16-2019, 12:11 AM
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Just for the folks that want to avoid MTS... if your soil is well chosen; without excessive organics or sulphur, you will not get harmful gas pockets even without MTS.

My aquascapes generally have between 2 to 4 inches of raw soil, then topped further with a couple of inches of aquasoil. There is no harmful gas build up (and there is no need to poke or stir the substrate either). The key is using the correct soil from the start. (avoid compost, aim for organic content 20% or less).

2-3 inches raw soil capped with aquasoil at the rear. Front part soil capped with sand


4 inches of raw soil in the rear for this one.
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post #15 of 23 (permalink) Old 08-20-2019, 09:22 PM
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I have thousands of MTS in my tank. No idea if it is a net benefit or not but I haven't noticed any negatives from having them. I guess with population booms they might compete for calcium with other inverts, and they do add some bioload to the tank. One thing I noticed is that they will tend to crowd algae wafers leaving zero room for shrimps.

Sometimes I feel like I have a MTS tank rather than a shrimp tank lol


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