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Dreaded Snails-tank tear down

1274 Views 18 Replies 13 Participants Last post by  Complexity
I have read several threads about snails on this website but have not found the answer to my question. I have been fighting with snails in my fresh water tank for several years.

I will start out by telling you about my tank. I have a 36 gallon tank with an angelfish, a larger sucker fish, some type of catfish (not sure what he is, got him at Walmart almost 6 years ago) and one guppy.

I have tried a puffer fishe to try to control the snail but he nips at my angelfish constantly. Because of this I have not tried any other snail eating fish.

I am tearing down my tank completely and starting from almost scratch. I have read a lot where people say not to do a full tear down of the tank. I am doing this because I am moving to a new home and had to take a lot apart already. I have boarded my fish at a local fish store and have the time to do this correctly. I have done this once before and had the time to leave my tank set up and running soaking everything in bleach water (boarded the fish of course). This worked wonderfully until maybe 6 months later when I purchased two freshwater shrimps. My heart broke when I saw that first snail.

To the point:

I have trashed all the gravel I had in the tank as well as the filter and all decorations. I have let my tank sit empty for 1 week. Is this long enough to kill and snails and eggs that may have been left behind in the empty tank? Or should I do a bleach soak of the tank for a few days? I was just getting ready to set back up to start getting ready for to get my fish back and thought I might want to do a little more research while I am able.

Thank you in advance for any help you are able to offer.
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I would still soak the tank in bleach water.
Make sure you do the same with your filters and pipes. Use nothing that has not been cleaned and dried properly and you should be good.
The way I see it it's almost impossible to keep a tank completely snail free, and you'll just cause yourself a lot of headache trying to do so. Snails don't really harm the tank, and if the tank's healthy their numbers shouldn't be very high at all.
I bought a new filter and air hoses. The only things I am keeping are the heater and the air bubble strip which I have already soaked. I'm going to soak it in bleach water. Its an extra day of work for a guarantee of no snails. I was sitting here thinking about it and there is no reason to jump the gun a set it back up. I am going to take the extra steps to ensure I get rid of those pests.
Once upon a time in my 75 I had a snail invasion. Bought two yo yo loaches. Took maybe a month or two but never and I mean NEVER seen a snail since.

Puffer fish are brackish fish anyway. Now I read about yo yo loaches for years taking care of snails and I was skeptical but I gave it a shot. These guys are no joke.
Assassins are great! The puffer was probably a brackish fish. Green Spotted Puffers and Figure 8 Puffers are brackish and sold everywhere.

I'd say you are probably safe from the snails with what you've already done. Going forward you'll have to make sure you don't introduce any hitch hikers if you want to stay snail free.
Its the plants you have to worry about. I doubt that two fresh water shrimps had snails on them. Plants unless dipped to kill snails will usually have snails on them or at least snail eggs. Assassin snails and cutting back on feeding might help. I don't mind snails because they keep the whole system in order but I do drop some veggies in my tanks to take them out if they are over populating the tank. My only tank that does not have snails is my dwarf puffer tank.

I want to see how much damage my one assassin snail is going to do on my snail population in my 10g. I don't know where I go the assassin snail from but it is growing.
I agree with the assassin snail recommendation. I was having a snail problem in my 29 gal, bought 4 assassins, and they ate all the pest snails within 2 weeks. They also tend to bury themselves so you rarely see them, and they make great scavengers once the pests are gone.
I fought Malaysian trumpet snails (MTS) for years, and nothing I ever did could get rid of them. The best I managed to do was get loaches to eat the ones that were not hiding in the substrate, but that only left a zillion snail shells all over the tank. I finally got to the point in which I realized the only way to get rid of the snails was to do what you're doing. So I got rid of my substrate and bleached everything. I literally ran the tank with bleach water. I ran it through the filters and all.

After cleaning up from that mess, I started over with fresh substrate. Everything else was cleaned out very thoroughly (and I do mean thoroughly). My tank has been up and running for a few months now, and I could not be more pleased with having done it.

You're going about it the right way by either replacing or bleaching anything and everything that's connected to the tank. When it's time to set things back up, you can jump start your cycle with Tetra's SafeStart. It has the right bacteria for the cycle.

However, there is another step you'll need to take once you've eradicated the snails from your tank. You'll need to immediately put in place some means of protection against future snails. Try as hard as you might, it is simply not possible to guarantee that you'll never get another snail in the tank again. The solution then is to find a way to ensure that any snails that do make it into the tank are killed before they are able to repopulate the tank.

My choice for this protection has been to use assassin snails. But here's the thing. You can't just put 1 or 2 assassin snails and think that's going to do it. The larger the tank, the more assassins you need to get. So far, I have accumulated about 100 assassin snails (distributed among my 5 main tanks). I'm also breeding them to increase their numbers. The idea is to have enough assassins in the tank to increase the odds that at least one assassin snail will find and kill any other snail that accidentally gets into my tank.

I chose assassin snails because I have a breeding pair of Pelvicachromis in the tank and thought loaches would be too disruptive to them. Otherwise, I would stick with loaches. The zebra loach (Botia striata) is an excellent choice for smaller tanks because they don't get too large. They are wonderful fish and good tankmates towards others (just not breeding cichlids with fry).

However you do it, it's something you need to do or all this work will be for nothing. Snails can reproduce at an incredibly fast rate, and the MTS snail is extremely hard (if not impossible) to eradicate once it gets into the substrate.

I wish you the best of luck in getting rid of the snails. It's a lot of work and expense to go to this extreme to get rid of them, but having done it, I have to say it's well worth it. I don't regret doing it at all.
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I like the idea of an assassin snail. That's something I haven't heard about or tried. I hope the steps that I am taking setting the tank back up will take care of the problem. If it doesn't I will try the assassin snail as I will not be taking my tank apart again.

Thanks for you input everyone. :icon_lol:
What is wrong with snails??? I have snails but they never grow larger than the size of a peanut. My water is soft with 6 degree of GH and 4 degree of KH. My water is too soft for any snails to survive long enough to cause me problems. My CO2 is too high for them to thrive as well.
What is wrong with snails???
Personal choice. I don't like the way their light colored shells look when littered all over my black substrate. I use a black substrate and black background to show off the colors in the plants and fish, not highlight a bunch of dead snail shells. The snails made the tank look trashy.
Good way to go to get rid of them, and ditto the other posts about being REALLY SURE.

Set up everything in your new home, but do the fishless cycle before bringing the fish home. This will give you another 3 weeks to watch for snails, and make sure the system is fully cycled for the returning fish.

Snail eating fish:
I would not put Yoyo Loaches in a 36 gallon. They get too big. You could sure try some Zebra Loaches, though. They are half the size of Yoyos, and are good snail predators.
Personal choice. I don't like the way their light colored shells look when littered all over my black substrate. I use a black substrate and black background to show off the colors in the plants and fish, not highlight a bunch of dead snail shells. The snails made the tank look trashy.

I couldn't even see my substrate....:)
The pond snail population on my tanks exploded. I cut back on the feeding and added some bottom feeders (corys and ghost shrimps) and slowly I noticed a decline in the population. I have 0 snails except for mts (which i added) in my big tank while, my smaller 10g has small amount that is not concerning.
Pond snails are easy to control. MTS are the ones that are so difficult because they bury themselves in the substrate.
I didnt have very good luck with assassin snails. But I have 2 yoyo loaches in my 46 planted and they really keep those buggers in check. I plan to add 2 more just to be sure I never see them again.
How many assassin snails did you put in the tank? Did you put them in after a total clean out or when the tank already had pest snails?
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