Plague of snails in the aquarium
Snails are undoubtedly one of the most useful creatures in domestic tanks because they are part of the cleaning crew. They perform a very useful function in the aquarium: they eat dead plant remains and the remains of uneaten food. Nevertheless, their plague can be a potentially difficult nut to crack because, like all living creatures, they produce faeces, which has an impact on maintaining the cleanliness of the aquarium and, consequently, the water parameters. What's more, so many snails make the aquarium look simply unaesthetic and the snails often go outside. That's a real snail problem.
The most popular pest aquarium snails that we can meet in home aquarium are mainly bladder snails, Malaysian trumpet snails and ramshorn snails. Their excessive breeding is usually caused by overfeeding aquarium fish.
The plague of snails in the aquarium - how to fight it?
There are various methods of fighting aquarium snails known in aquarium hobby. Below we present some of the most popular among fish keepers.
1. Chemical substances for the control of snails
The method of use is simple: pour the appropriate amount of the preparation into the aquarium according to the manufacturer's recommendations. However, this method has a number of disadvantages. Copper sulphate, which is usually contained in the preparation, is lethal to snails. However, when our unwanted visitors begin to die, their dead remains will decompose, contaminating our tank. When using this method, make sure that the preparation does not contain substances harmful to other fish or plants.
This is a popular method. All you have to do is to place a carrot or lettuce or other vegetables in the aquarium overnight. The snails are supposed to settle on the vegetable and in the morning you can take out a lot of snails attached to the delicacy. The disadvantage of this method is low efficiency. Just think ... How many snails can fit on a small vegetable? And how many of them are smart enough to settle on it at all? In order to get rid of them effectively, the activity must be repeated many times without a guarantee of success.
3. Snail traps
A trap is nothing more than a disc in which we put a bait, for example a vegetable. Snail traps are readily available in many shapes and sizes. The snail goes inside but cannot get out anymore. However, the question arises again: how many snails will be intelligent enough to enter the trap?
4. Fish eating snails
While searching forums for answers to what fish are great snail eaters, you can come across a species of green pufferfish (Dichotomyctere fluviatilis). And in fact, it is undoubtedly a snail dog. However, when taking it to your aquarium, take into account that sooner or later he will eat the snail population and what then? Remember that this is an aggressive and large fish that likes saline water. So it should not be kept in an "ordinary" fish tank.
But another fish is an almost perfect choice. We are talking about the clown loach (Chromobotia macracanthus) which generally feeds on different fish food, but snails are a real delicacy for it. It sucks snails out of the shell. Loaches are herd fish, therefore it is recommended to introduce a few individuals, otherwise they may show aggression. Due to clown loach size, it should be kept in an aquarium with a minimum length of 100 cm. Loaches should not be kept together with shrimp, except for dinner.
5. Snails eating snails
Fight fire with fire - you know that saying? Well, the real massacre for snail population is definitely Clea Helena (assasin snail). Even a few assassin snails released into the aquarium can fight with the whole plague. The question arises when we consider what will they eat when the plague is gone? That is why it is recommended to put 2-3 assassin snails in 50-100l of water. A few snails will not eat the entire snail infestation in the aquarium at once, but will slowly reduce their numbers. Remember that if you have other ornamental snails, e.g. from Ampullariidae family, you should not use assassin snail, because they will suck out other snails slowly. This carnivorous snail also should not be used in the presence of shrimp.
6. Manual catching
This method is the least invasive, but requires a lot of patience if the plague of snails in the aquarium is large. Nevertheless, it should be emphasized that for manual selection it is best to use tweezers, the size of which can be matched to the size of the aquarium snails to facilitate the process. It is not recommended to pick snails out with bare hands.
7. Lowering the temperature of the tank
Lowering the temperature of the tank is quite a controversial method. It consists in lowering the water temperature to 12-13 Celsius degrees. At such a low temperature, tropical snails will not be able to withstand and some or all of them will die. Remember that not only snails are exposed to low temperatures, but all creatures that require warmer water. Therefore, this method is usually used in restarted tanks that are large and you do not want to replace the substrate.
In conclusion, snails in an aquarium are not evil. They show us how is our general aquarium maintenance going, and their number usually indicates excess food provided for aquarium fish. This means that the water does not have the right parameters, there are more dead aquatic plants remains and, suddenly: congratulations, you just created perfect conditions for snails to breed. If we reduce the amount of fish food, it will mean that snails will have worse breeding conditions because of the lack of food sources. Therefore, think about whether it is worth removing all snails from the aquarium - after all, they are honorary members of the cleaning crew and visibly alert you about overfeeding your fish.