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Old 09-02-2014, 10:07 AM   #1 
NorthernLights
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Why do my snails keep dying?

I wasn't sure if I should post this in the illness forum, since it specifically states that it is for betta illnesses.

In the last 5 months or so, I have had 4 snails (3 mystery and 1 nerite, never more than 2 snails at a time live in the tank, and I got the second pair after both of the first pair had died) live with my betta, a hyper HMPK. All of the snails have died, and my betta appears to be healthy as a horse -- and he is NOT killing the snails. He barely knows they exist, and when he does finally see them, he stares for a few seconds, then swims off to go investigate his reflection. I have watched this for many hours at a time, and the snails are not being eaten. They die in their shells, and I verify death by smell (and oh my is that a bad smell)

Water parameters (tested with API liquid tests) always show 0 for Ammonia, Nitrate, Nitrite (sometimes just a hint of ammonia (like not even 0.25), since I do my water testing with water changes (i.e., I test a cupful of the old water). Tank is kept at 81 degrees, 5 gallon heated with sponge filter, load of live anubias, wisteria, and java fern plants, bare-bottom. I drop a drop of Flourish in about once per week, and I make sure the snails are near the bottom of the tank before I add it). There are a few clean shells in the tank and some cuttlebone for calcium, and I drop fragments of OO veggie-algae wafers and some bits of extra OO or NLS pellets for them. Obviously, the nerite ate algae, and was the biggest pooper ever to grace a tank.

The nerite (Batu Khan, maybe 1 cm across) died after about a month. His tankmate Nokhai Khan (golden mystery snail, about an inch across) died after about 3 months. Ogedei Khan (wild-type mystery snail, about 0.5 inches across) died after 6 weeks. Chaggedei Khan (golden mystery snail, started out at 0.5 inches across and doubled to at least an inch after 1 month), died after 10 weeks.

All this time, the betta had been well and does NOT harass or eat the snails -- he's not the brightest fish, and I think he forgets they are there most of the time) The nerite was shut tight in his shell when he died, and had been for about 5 days. The mystery snails were in typical dead snail position, slightly open. 3 of the 4 snails died about a week after moving, but seemed happy enough right after the move. All 4 seemed to be relatively closed up for most of a week prior to death.

The only other clue is that the golden snails developed a brownish color on the shell which seemed to get more pronounced and the snail got a bit less active with time. I have attached a photo of Chaggedei about 10 days before his death.

All snails were bought at Petsmart -- the first two from the same place I got the betta, and the last two from a different Petsmart (but both from the same store).

Does anybody know what is killing my snails? This is getting very depressing! Perhaps they are just old (I know warmer water makes them more active but die faster)? Are Petsmart Snails usually short-lived? Am I doing something wrong?
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Old 09-02-2014, 11:25 AM   #2 
hrutan
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I don't know, but...subscribing.

One of my tanks kills every Ramshorn snail that goes in it, while they live just fine in the other two. The only difference is that the tank is plastic, while the others are glass. All other factors, minus substrate (it's bare-bottom), are the same. I provided food - blanched lettuce - since there's not much in the way of plants or algae in the QT tank.

This happened in a second plastic Kritter Keeper, and I got so frustrated I threw it away. A dozen MTS died! How did I kill MTS?? They're like cockroaches!

So I guess my question to you is, what material is your tank made of? Glass? Acrylic? Plastic? I've heard that some types of materials can hold on to bacteria, while others don't. There's also a question about what chemicals were used in the manufacturing process...I suppose it's possible, especially considering most products have been outsourced to places with poor quality control, that there's something inherent in the container.
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Old 09-02-2014, 02:16 PM   #3 
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you using anything chemical to regulate algae? snails and many other invertebrates are very sensitive to copper.
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Old 09-02-2014, 10:51 PM   #4 
NorthernLights
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I use Prime and StressCoat+ to condition the water, and I do not use any other chemicals besides a drop of Seachem Flourish about once per week.
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Old 09-03-2014, 03:37 AM   #5 
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Have you tested the water you put in the tanks? I mean above the prime. If the water is unfiltered and goes through a softer there could be salt and you could have heavy metals like iron in the water. I mostly had that sort of problem with my shrimp though. I had one mysterious nerite and mystery snail death though myself. Both were petsmart snails. My lfs nerite is over a year now and my other petsmart mystery Godzilla is reaching 3 inches in size. One thing I have found with Godzilla, petsmart keeps a lot of dead snails in the tanks and they don't seem to have much calcium. Godzilla has a lot of shell damage like splits and cracks from when I got him. They have been repaired now but it took him a few months to really patch those up and they still look like pretty bad scars. My best guess is its petsmart. I always pick the snails on the sides of the tank if I do buy from them though I do that much less these days.
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Old 09-03-2014, 05:55 AM   #6 
RussellTheShihTzu
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I can't speak to the other snails but I can address the Nerite:

They are very picky eaters and often starve to death because they don't have enough algae in the tank. Mine glide right over algae wafers and vegetables. If you don't think there was enough algae in the tank that may have been the problem with the Nerites.

Are you using Flourish Comprehensive or Excel? If Comprehensive that's not a problem; Excel is hard on inverts.

Hope you figure it out. Maybe this will help:
Snail diseases and problems
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Old 09-04-2014, 09:49 AM   #7 
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Thank you for the replies, everyone!

The tank itself is acrylic -- the 5 gallon MarineLand Eclipse Hexagon tank. I don't use the filter it came with, and use a sponge filter instead.

The water I've had everywhere is naturally hard water -- so no concerns about a water softener with salt. As for the metals, doesn't Prime neutralize heavy metals? Or is that a temporary effect, like the way it neutralizes ammonia?

How would I test for heavy metals?

I use regular Seachem Flourish, which I know contains copper, toxic to inverts. That's why I use only a drop once a week or two weeks -- is it possible that is still too much?

One possibility I have considered is mantle separation, and both golden mysteries seemed to be unable or unwilling to completely retract into their shells toward the end, even when poked gently. I did not see any sign of mantle separation from the shell when that happened -- it was more like the snail was too large to fit all the way into the shell.
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Old 09-04-2014, 06:29 PM   #8 
RussellTheShihTzu
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The copper in Comprehensive is so minute it's not a problem for inverts. I dose regular strength and I have CPO, Nerites, Assassin Snails, Sakura and Vampire Shrimp.
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Old 09-05-2014, 11:39 AM   #9 
UpNorthChickadee
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What was the snails' behavior leading up to death? Were they inactive immediately or was it a gradual thing? Did they float or just sit on the bottom? Did they climb to the surface and breathe air and use their siphons often? Were they sliming at all? It often looks like cottony fuzz around the opening. Was this tank ever used to medicate fish? Is the brownish stuff on the shells like a slime coating (bacteria)?

Years ago I had this same problem and was completely baffled. Someone asked if I'd medicated the tank, and the answer was yes. I had used Maracyn to medicate a betta a year prior. That stuff can leech into the aquarium sealant and substrate. When I moved the snails to a different tank and changed out the filter media (basically started from scratch and had to re-cycle) then the snails were fine. Not saying that is your problem, but just throwing it out there to consider.

I heard that the copper in Flourish is such a trace amount that it's probably okay. Personally, I wouldn't add it weekly though. There is an API test you can get for copper if you wanted to rule that out.
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Old 09-07-2014, 04:54 PM   #10 
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I found a local LFS though a helpful PetsMart employee. Their conclusion was my snails were aging very rapidly in the 81 degree water, and died of old age. That makes sense, since they tended to be very active until week or two before the end, then got the swelling (where they couldn't get retracted all the way into the shell) that is typical of old snails. Basically, I was told to make the temp about 76. I may try again with snails in the future. For now, though, do you folks here with Mystery experience think this is correct?
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