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Old 12-08-2003, 09:43 AM   #1
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Another Case of Snails Dying

I have a 90 gallon Reef setup with lots of live rock. I have steadily noticed that my snails don't seem to live very long. Also, some of them seem to become sluggish and I think they are dead, but when I pick them up they still show signs of life. I need them to keep up with the hair algae. I occasionally find them on their back and I put them upright and they seem to be OK, albeit slower than normal, but this seems weird. Also, I occasionally find an empty shell when I turn the light on in the morning. I have fished out a couple of obviously dead ones over the last 6 months. Based on a thread a few days ago I am ordering a copper test kit along with the polyfilters and SeaChem Cuprisorb. I figure I will hit it hard before I lose anything else. My question is where might the bad actor have come from. The only strange thing that I know I have done was to use a medicine called Kick Ich when my fish got Ich about 6 months ago. Could this be the problem? (I was given the tank by a friend, so that could be the source as well.)

Thanks in advance for any advice.

awillemd1
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Old 12-08-2003, 11:28 AM   #2
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Definately check with your friend to see if copper was ever used in the tank. The polyfilter should definately help if there is copper in the tank as well as most other pollutants. Did the copper test yield anything or do you have the test yet?

Also check for predatory snails. I recently found two in my tank after not having added any rock for years. You never know....

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Old 12-08-2003, 12:08 PM   #3
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Thanks for the reply. I don't have the test kit yet. I ordered it this morning from marinedepot.com along with the polyfilter. I am going to check my lfs this afternoon to see if they have any kits. Do you have a copper testkit you would recommend or have experience with? I ordered one from Salifert since I have had good results with their kits. Also, do you know if Kick Ich could have been the source of the copper or the poison?

Thanks again.

awillemd1
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Old 12-08-2003, 09:41 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by awillemd1
Do you have a copper testkit you would recommend or have experience with? I ordered one from Salifert since I have had good results with their kits.
I have personally never needed one and on the rare occassion I suspect something, I get the LFS to test it. As far as what to recommend, I would actually suggest Seachem's as it tests all forms of copper. I am unsure if the Salifert kit is the same but I would assume so.

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Also, do you know if Kick Ich could have been the source of the copper or the poison?
To my knowledge, RubyReef's Kick Ich does not contain any form of copper. If you think that it may be part of the problem, the polyfilter will definately remove it. The product is claimed to biodegrade naturally after 5 days but you never know.

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Old 12-09-2003, 08:34 AM   #5
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Thank you Steve-s for your reply!

OK, so if it is copper it didn't come from the Kick Ich as you indicated. I went to Ruby Reef's website and confirmed what you said about there not being any copper in their product.

I went home for lunch yesterday and found two of my snails appearing to be in bad shape. One of them was one that I had already found upside down a few days earlier and uprighted. The other one hadn't moved much in a couple of days. I moved them into my qt tank thinking that this might get them away from whatever was causing the problem and allow them to recover. This morning the one that I had uprighted was clearly dead. He had a little sliver in the shape of a half moon about 3 mm at the deepest point taken out of him. The other one was cruising around appearing to be doing great. Could something be attacking them? I counted 3 large snails last night that appear to be very healthy still.

I have three types of hermit crabs in my tank along with a lobster (unknown type) and two crabs (unknown type).

I don't have a protein skimmer yet, but I am working on getting one repaired (D&D marine 'The Beast') so hopefully I will have one in operation in a couple of weeks. Could there be a large buildup of dissolved organics that are causing health problems?

Thanks again in advance for any thoughts.

awillemd1
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Old 12-09-2003, 10:45 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by awillemd1
I have three types of hermit crabs in my tank along with a lobster (unknown type) and two crabs (unknown type).
Any one of these could easily be the problem. Identifyiung them is going to be important in trying to figure out the problem. If you cannot get pics of them, it's best to set traps for them so they can be looked at more closely. You might even find something you didn't know you had.

Make sure you still test for the copper and run the polyfilter though, just to be sure...

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Old 12-09-2003, 10:47 AM   #7
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Quote:
I have three types of hermit crabs in my tank along with a lobster (unknown type) and two crabs (unknown type).
I am not sure if this will help or not but posted a forum last week about a hermit that I have that for sure killed 2 large turbo snails. He went after them almost immediately after putting them into the tank. He now switches back and forth from shell to shell. Do you know what type of hermit you have? Not sure if that is the right track but you may watch them to see if they are moving into the snails shells.
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Old 12-09-2003, 11:05 PM   #8
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Thank you both for your replies.

I am working on getting pictures and will hopefully be able to post them soon. Also, I will have the water tested for copper in a day or so and I still plan to use the polyfilter.

As for the types of hermit crabs I have, I have 3 or 4 Scarlet Hermit Crabs, 3 or 4 Blueleg Hermit Crabs, and several Dwarf Red Tip Hermits.

Thanks again.

awillemd1
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Old 12-10-2003, 02:52 PM   #9
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As for the types of hermit crabs I have, I have 3 or 4 Scarlet Hermit Crabs, 3 or 4 Blueleg Hermit Crabs, and several Dwarf Red Tip Hermits.
I found this information that may help

The Dwarf Red Tip Hermit Crab has a red face and legs. Both claws are of equal size, and members of this genus are sometimes called "Equal-handed Hermit Crabs". This tiny crab lives in abandoned snail shells, or it may attack and eat the snail, then use the shell for its home.

Good luck
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Old 12-10-2003, 11:44 PM   #10
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Thank you for your reply. I am definitely not seeing any of the Hermit Crabs exchanging shells. Most of them are really tiny compared to these really big snails and the two that are about half the size of the snails have very distinct white shells that haven't changed since I got them.

I found another one dead today and this one didn't seem to have any body damage at all. He was sluggish for several days and today I checked him after he hadn't moved for 24 hours and he was definitely dead.

Could poor acclimation lead to a very slow death?

This is very frustrating.

I should be able to check for copper tomorrow as I found a lfs that claims they can check for it.

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Old 12-10-2003, 11:56 PM   #11
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Could poor acclimation lead to a very slow death?
Yes. If acclimated too quickly it could take a few weeks before they succumb. How have they been introduced?

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Old 12-11-2003, 07:01 AM   #12
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I have introduced them by floating them for at least and hour in a bag and then tried to introduce roughly 25% of the tank water into the bag and float for another 15 minutes to half an hour. Then I have put them in the tank by hand. This is a far cry from the drip method that I have seen described somewhere.

What is strange is that the ones that have survived appear very healthy. This to me suggests that there isn't a 'poison' in the tank like copper or an organic hurting them.

I should be able to get copper tested today.

I haven't been able to get any photos of the crabs because they only come out at night. My one attempt resulted in a large white spot from the flash.

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Old 12-11-2003, 10:35 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by awillemd1
I have introduced them by floating them for at least and hour in a bag and then tried to introduce roughly 25% of the tank water into the bag and float for another 15 minutes to half an hour. Then I have put them in the tank by hand. This is a far cry from the drip method that I have seen described somewhere.
<<This>> artcile should help next time. It details how to drip acclimate properly. It's not just the time you float the bag but the speed in which tank water is intruduced. If done correctly, the process can take a few hours. For more sensitive inverts, it can make or break their successful introduction to the tank...

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Old 12-11-2003, 12:20 PM   #14
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Thank you that is a great help. I think this could potentially explain the problem if it makes sense that the snails would die slowly if poorly acclamated. Also, the article clearly mentions snails as being very sensitive to acclamation.

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Old 12-11-2003, 01:53 PM   #15
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My Cu came out to be zero, along with zero for Ammonia and zero fo Nitrate. Interestingly, my pH came in at 7.8. My lfs did this analysis for me. I hadn't checked my pH at home for a couple of weeks. Typically I get between 8.0 and 8.4. I have a hard time getting it any more precise than that with my test kit.

I think the hypothesis I am going on right now is that I screwed up the acclamation.

Thank you all, once again, for the help.

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Old 12-11-2003, 07:40 PM   #16
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Based on the above info, I would agree about the acclimation. It's good that you know for sure it's not really chemical. Although the ph test will not be accurate. Once you remove water from the tank it is affected by ambient O2/CO2 and skews the reading. If you transported the water sample to the LFS to test the ph, I can assure you the results are false. It is best tested within a few minutes of removing from the tank.

I would suggest testing the ph for a few days at 3 different times if possible. Once before the lights come on, midway through the photoperiod and just before the lights go off. This will give you a decent idea of what the ph is doing. Just be sure the time of day tested is always the same. ph is greatly affected by many things but in most cases will be from lack of proper gas exchange, insufficient water surface aggitation and/or excess ambient CO2...

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Old 12-11-2003, 09:41 PM   #17
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Thank you for taking the time to explain that! The water sat in my car for a couple of days, so it was definitely not an accurate reading of pH. I will take your advice and check it over the next couple of days.

I will continue to work on getting pictures to hopefully rule out the possibility that my crabs or lobster are the ones killing the snails, but it seems logical at this point that acclimation is the problem.

Thanks again.

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Old 12-12-2003, 08:51 AM   #18
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I read the article and unfortunately I have no sump and no air lines so that would not seem to really be something I could pull off. But maybe I can come up with something once I think about it more.. Also how can this be.. I just don't understand how if something makes it 3 weeks then dies it is due to acclimation..It would seem to me if it goes in and is eating and healthy for 3 weeks it has probably adjusted well but there was a problem with the water. I guess I just don't understand how it could be a problem down the road. I could see it even taking a few days for it to die but weeks?? I am not questioning you guys because you have been right about everything so far I just can't seem to figure out how a bad acclimation can effect the critter that far down the road..That being said you guys know alot more than me so I will take it as gospel.
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Old 12-12-2003, 10:10 AM   #19
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Thank you for saying that. I am struggling with this concept as well. That is why I want to still pursue figuring out the identity of the crabs and the lobster in my tank. I have no idea what the lobster is eating. For all I know he could get hungry and come out and pick at the snails such that they slowly die. Or for that matter, the small hermit crabs could be doing this. Also, my Coral Banded Shrimp is very aggessive and he could be picking at the snails, as well. My son observed him eating one that had fallen and was on his back. However, we have no idea why the snail was on his back since we didn't observe that event. Furthermore, the snail was still alive. Could the Coral Banded Shrimp be the culprit?

I'm still confused, but at least I know now it isn't copper.

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Old 12-12-2003, 10:38 AM   #20
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I read the article and unfortunately I have no sump and no air lines so that would not seem to really be something I could pull off. But maybe I can come up with something once I think about it more..
Airline tubing is quite inexspensive so it should not be a concern. Having a sump just makes it much easier to do this, less mess and provides a more constant temp. Without one though, just substitiute it for a large pail and hang the transport bag from the inside edge and use the same procedure. The constant drip of water should keep the temp somewhat close.

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Also how can this be.. I just don't understand how if something makes it 3 weeks then dies it is due to acclimation..It would seem to me if it goes in and is eating and healthy for 3 weeks it has probably adjusted well but there was a problem with the water. I guess I just don't understand how it could be a problem down the road. I could see it even taking a few days for it to die but weeks?? I am not questioning you guys because you have been right about everything so far I just can't seem to figure out how a bad acclimation can effect the critter that far down the road..
Acclimation shock can be immediate or prolonged and sometimes not be evident for weeks. There is also the chance that the animal wa unhealthy from the getgo. If all your procedures for introduction and tank parameters are fine you may also try a different LFS or source store for future purchases. It is not always going to be something you did. As with awillemd1 situation, you need to eliminate all possible causes to be sure. It's sometimes not as easy to pinpoint and each possibility should be investigated.

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That being said you guys know alot more than me so I will take it as gospel.
Gospel... not really, hopefully accurate information backed up with the experience of having gone through these things ourselves... Very few things in this hobby are written in stone but there are many tried and true methods

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