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Old 02-24-2020, 11:07 AM   #1
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3 zebra nerites dead in under 48 hours

Hello everyone. So, I decided to try out some zebra nerite snails in my tank. I bought them at a LFS, acclimated them over a 3hr schedule, and added them to the tank. 36 hours later all 3 were laying upside down on the bottom of my tank.

I retrieved them and quarantined each to its own container floating in my tank. 12 hours later the snails are still upside down, and each container now tests positive for ammonia... Therefore, I suspect each snail has died.

I double checked my tank water parameters (46-gallon bow-front with moderate flow).
Temp = 79.6(f), Ammonia = 0, Nitrite = 0, Nitrate = <20ppm, ph = 8.3, dGH = 3, dKH = 35 (not a typo). I'm using well water, and have always had low GH and very high KH.

Tank residents include 2 "Cuckoo Cats", 2 "Julii Corys", and 4 Guppies (no plants). Residents seem "Happy", and show no signs of stress. A very large male molly did die last week, but I assumed from old age (was around 4yrs old).

My gut says that my high KH killed these snails. Do any of you have any insight, advice, or recommendations? I am now seriously thinking about using distilled water to significantly lower my KH. How would my current residents react to a 50% water change if the new water was all distilled supplemented with Seachem Equilibrium to increase GH to around 6 dGH, and reduce KH to around 17 dKH? After doing so, future water changes would be made using a 2:1 ratio (distilled:tap) and would continue to reduce my KH over time to around 12 dKH... Should my KH goal be lower than 12?


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Old 02-24-2020, 11:24 AM   #2
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Hello lux...

A couple of things: Do you treat your well water? And, any attempt to change your water chemistry is never a good idea. Because, you can't maintain that change.

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Old 02-24-2020, 12:06 PM   #3
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Hello B,
I have settled into a monthly routine on water changes. Evaporation consumes about 5 to 10% during that time and I vacuum the substrate until I am replacing about 20% to 25% ( 8-10 gallons) with untreated well water. All I am thinking about doing is diluting my well water to reduce KH, and occasionally supplementing to keep a little higher GH... I am not trying to change the pH (which i agree would be a moving target). I believe distilled water will not affect my pH (am i wrong?).

My well water is consistent and distilled water is just pure water. If I maintain a consistent ratio shouldn't my replacement water remain consistent? I would eventually like to plant this tank, and have not done so because my KH is so high... I'd eventually like shrimp also, and my research has led me to believe shrimp do not do well in high KH tanks.

I have done some small experiments with different ratios and a 2:1 ratio (distilled/tap) does indeed produce 12 dKH on a small scale... i believe i can scale these results and apply them to my tank, but will not do so unless it will benefit my tank without killing my stock.
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Old 02-24-2020, 01:37 PM   #4
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Are you sure they didnt just get knocked or fell off the glass, landed on their backs and couldnt right themselves? They arent very good at flipping themselves over. My angelfish often knock them off and i have to flip them back when they cant right themselves.
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Old 02-24-2020, 01:45 PM   #5
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As long as your well water is consistent that would be fine but in general we tend to advise people not to mess with their ph/kh/gh because as you said it can lead to a bunch of manipulations aiming for a moving target that may not even be necessary (most common critters will adapt to a wide variety of conditions as long as they are stable.)

That said nerites prefer higher hardness and ph water. Most people have difficulty with their snails for the opposite reason and the high kh just means your water is very resistant to ph change which is generally a good thing unless your fish are not comfortable at that high a ph. You could put some cuttlebone in the tank as a calcium source since the gh is a little low.

Do you know the parameters of the water these guys came from? I think you might just want to do a very long acclimation rather than changing your own water. If the parameters are vastly different you could even acclimate them into a small holding tank with 50% your water 50% store water and let them get used to that for a while and then do small water changes with your own water until the parameters match over days/weeks.
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Old 02-24-2020, 03:37 PM   #6
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Hello Liberty and Aiken,

Yes they were/are very dead and smelly... already in the compost. I only tested the store water's pH which was at 7.1... I never mix store water into my aquarium. I acclimated the snails the same way I do any new fish I buy (perhaps this was my mistake). The LFS generally has great tanks. They quarantine all of their incoming fish and treat all of them for common issues before mixing them into their retail stock. On my next purchase I'll check all of their parameters before beginning acclamation... they get a little mad at me when I tell them i need fish that like high pH and low hardness... they try to sell me "pH down" and want to argue when I tell them that such nonsense will not work with my water source. Great LFS in every other regard though.

I suppose I could try a longer acclimation, but would want to be very sure that nerite snails can actually thrive in such a high KH... the internet is low on information in this regard. It is quite easy to find recommendations to reduce KH by diluting with distilled, but less easy to find advice to just leave it alone. I'll try again if everyone agrees that I need to acclimate them over a longer period of time (days not hours). I specifically bought them because they like high pH conditions. How would I feed them? Algae wafers i assume. I could literally float them in plastic containers with lids to prevent escape.

I agree that they like hard water, but my water isn't actually "hard" in fact it is quite soft at only 50ppm GH. It is just very high in carbonates/bicarbonates at over 600ppm KH. So, I do have the same problem as everyone else with soft water... would soft water kill them this quickly? The only reason I am targeting my KH is because it is the "worst" or "most abnormal" parameter, and I would like to add shrimp and other species to my stock options.

I have used Seachem Equilibrium in the past for cichlids... they were very happy and made lots of babies (way too many babies... turned into quite an issue as a matter of fact). I have never tried cuttle bone to increase my GH (i thought fish & invertebrates had to eat it for the minerals they need).

I appreciate everyone's input.
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Old 02-25-2020, 02:00 AM   #7
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That’s a large ph difference and I do think a longer acclimation time would benefit. Still it’s not like you just dropped them in. The time course of death is so fast only a few things could explain it. Parameter shock/ Acclimation difficulty or toxin would kill that fast and I can’t think of anything else. Have you had any other inverts survive in the tank? Have you tested for copper or any other heavy metals. Inverts are very sensitive to copper so if your well water has copper that could explain the rapid deaths.

You’re right about the hardness which is why I suggested cuttlebone. Cuttle bone will introduce calcium in two ways. It will slowly dissolve into the water but they can also graze directly on it if you put it in the main tank rather than your filter.

Remember that kh is tied to ph. What you’re actually saying when you say you have crazy high kh is that your water has very high acid buffering and as such your ph will be very stable at a higher value. The acids produced by livestock will be buffered easily and have little effect on tank ph. Most people wish to lower this number because their livestock prefer more neutral or slightly acidic conditions which you can’t get with lots of bicarbonates buffering at a higher ph. Of course given the opportunity I would advise most of them not to mess with kh/ph as well for the same reason I told you. Very few popular species in the hobby cannot adapt to water parameters within reason.

I’d definitely check for copper or other heavy metals if you haven’t already that is my number one theory at the moment.
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Old 02-25-2020, 07:54 AM   #8
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Hello Liberty,

I have tried dwarf crayfish and amano shrimp. I had mixed results and would not buy the crayfish again, but would love to try more colorful varieties of shrimp.

The well has never been tested for copper, but I do not believe copper is common to wells in this area. I will research water testing options and local labs for answers. I would like to be sure my well is metal free before trying again.

I'm off to work.
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Old 02-25-2020, 08:54 AM   #9
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There is an api test kit available for copper easily enough so I would start there.

You might also consider dosing prime. I Know you donít have chlorine but prime also reportedly detoxifies heavy metals so it might help if youíre going to keep inverts.
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Old 02-26-2020, 07:59 PM   #10
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Liberty,

Thank you for the letting me know about the API copper test. I'm ordering one tonight. I do dose with prime but only every other water change or so, maybe I should be dosing with prime every water change.

I really appreciate your input and should know very soon if copper is my issue.
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Old 02-28-2020, 03:38 PM   #11
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Just following up to officially report that my water tests negative for copper.
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Old 02-28-2020, 10:39 PM   #12
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Interesting. I was almost hoping it wouldnít be as an easily fixable explanation.

(Prime still might help in case there are other metals that might mess with inverts.)
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