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Old 12-12-2007, 07:59 AM   #1
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Crunch goes the MTS! (new use for the snail pest)

So I have had for quite a while an MTS outbreak in my main tank. Originally started by a helpful member on here with 10 baby snails, my 20 gallon is now crawling with them. Mainly due to my homemade food (which I forgot to use gelatin) which when eaten clouds the tank a bit with little food particles. These then settle to the substrate where the army of MTS eat away.

I had tried to give some away for a while but shipping issues and costs prevented that. I have a very soft side for any living thing and so couldn't bare to just flush them.

I have had a dwarf puffer tank at work for a couple months now and really enjoy watching him eat the pond snails I breed. There are conflicting opinions on MTS being fed to puffers, so I tried it, and while the puffer hasn't been injured, he also can't seem to get at them due to the trap door and their substrate living.

So I had an idea, and it required a pair of pliers...... 8O

I dug out about 20 or so MTS and put them in a shot glass. These were medium-sized buggers that I'm guessing are the most active in terms of reproduction and growth. There are so many MTS I've seen calcium deficiency symptoms with my plants!

I held the tip of the shell in one hand and put the pliers over the body of the shell (where the snail is). I put my hands over the top of the tank, turned my head (couldn't bare to watch), and crunched one. Instant death, no pain, and dropped the mushed snail into the tank.

My tiger barbs turned into piranhas. They charged at the snail as it sank and started taking huge bites out of the snail remains, spitting shell pieces all over the substrate. My large gold barb saw a tiger with the "foot" of the snail in his mouth (too large to actually fit IN his mouth) and quickly gulped it down.

In less than 10 seconds all that remained was the broken shells.

So while I do not enjoy the practice, it is a humane way to lower the snail population slowly while also feeding the fish, and hopefully the shell fragments will help to keep the calcium level above deficiency between fert dosing.

For those of you will large MTS or othe snail populations that cannot bare to just pluck them out and flush them, its worth a shot. You might find your fish treat them as a delicacy!
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Old 12-12-2007, 08:25 AM   #2
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A quick death, at least!

Nice to hear when someone care enough to do it humanely; I know they're "just snails", but still. [applause]
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Old 12-12-2007, 08:47 AM   #3
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Yeah I was really careful to use the proper tool for the job. The pliers have a flat section near the tip that is the perfect size for a MTS shell. It completely crushes the body of the snail so there is no chance of suffering.

And I make sure to clean off the end with tap water and a paper towel after the deed to make sure it stays clean.
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Old 12-12-2007, 12:02 PM   #4
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Interesting. What do you think the chances are of a fish eating a piece of shell accidentally? That would be my only concern.
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Old 12-12-2007, 01:12 PM   #5
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Interesting. What do you think the chances are of a fish eating a piece of shell accidentally? That would be my only concern.
Eating a piece of shell should be fine, I would assume it would just dissolve in the stomach/digestive system. I'm more concerned about a fish taking too big a bite of the snail/shell and not being able to get it back out!

I freaked out when my large gold barb ate the foot portion of the snail, it looked like he couldn't get it in his mouth, but that was almost 2 days ago and he seems fine.

I don't plan on exclusively feeding snails to the fish, only as a snack every other day or so, but will definitely keep an eye out for constipation issues.
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Old 12-12-2007, 01:19 PM   #6
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Let me know if you see any issues. I'm totally interested in trying this. I'm probably getting the same calcium deficiency you are now.
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Old 12-13-2007, 06:29 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by theotheragentm
Let me know if you see any issues. I'm totally interested in trying this. I'm probably getting the same calcium deficiency you are now.
Fed another one or two last night, still no problems. And they have caught on....the second the snail hits the water they all charge after it.

After watching them last night the biggest problem may be the ferocity during feeding. The 3 tigers go nuts over the snail, the large gold barb charges in and normally gets picked on while he's trying to get a bite. I may have to quickly crush 2 in opposite sides of the tank to make sure they don't seriously injure each other.

But that's how you know you've got a food they like!
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Old 12-13-2007, 11:07 AM   #8
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I wonder if they will start nipping at the live snails in the tank. I had 3 Columbian Ramhorn snails that my angel totally destroyed.
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Old 12-17-2007, 01:38 PM   #9
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Are you sure snails don't live a little just because their shell is broken?
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Old 12-19-2007, 11:57 AM   #10
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I'm with you on this one. I have sort of a too large population of MTS in my tank and I used to have real issues with killing them. So what I do now is I crush the smaller ones against the side of the aquarium when I see them. They fall down and the shrimp go crazy. I'll also start feeding some crushed ones to my crabs.

But here's a question and I hope I'm not threadjacking. I am also seeing what I think is calcium defficiencies in my plants. Mature leaves curl up and die after a while. If the population gets cut down, do the shells of the dead one disintegrate and in turn replenish the calcium defficiency, or should I look into filter media? Does calcium have anything to do with water hardness? Mine is quite hard, well water, pH of 8.4 even.
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Old 12-19-2007, 06:19 PM   #11
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I think the calcium does indeed raise the hardness of the water. I don't know for sure though, just a thought.

I would think that the old shells would add calcium to the water, but I'm interested in seeing if anyone can fill us in on this.
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Old 12-20-2007, 07:35 PM   #12
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doesn't the Calcium in their shells come from the same water anyways? With the outbreak I have of pond snails, I've wondered if they offset KH as they lay down shell layers.

I just have neons and a cory in the tank with them, but we've gone from 2 to 30+ in just a couple of weeks and the plants are starting to take a hit. So I'm going to have to have some sort of 'intervention'
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Old 12-21-2007, 12:20 PM   #13
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The calcium comes from the water, but in the time that the snails have created their shells, you have added calcium from tap water again. As long as regular water changes are kept, it shouldn't be a problem. New snails will pull calcium from the tap water and some from the old shells.
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