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Turbo Snail Problems and Acclimatization

By Various Authors. Posted to reef-l emailing list in January 2001.

John Greenwood

Have a problem with my snails just now they have stopped feeding and hardly move at all within my reef tank. I added two new ones a week ago one of which has since died, but the other seems just ok and is doing a little feeding. Any advice welcome.

Ronald Shimek

Sounds to me like the most likely problem is either starvation or inappropriate salinity.

If the salinity is fine, 35 to 37 ppt, then nutrition is a problem.

Snails will not eat any toxic algae.

Most people overload their tanks with these animals to get the tank walls and rocks nice and clean. Unfortunately these snails need a lot of food, and when these "nice, clean" conditions are approached, there is generally not enough diatom growth to keep the animals alive.

John Greenwood

Thanks for the advice but my tank is now getting quite overgrown with algae and another of my snails has deceased, dont know if I should remove the remaining ones and start afresh with new or what.

Brian

I know it's slim consolation, but I've had this same issue as well. For about 6 months, I've not been able to keep any snails. Salinity is fine, everything else is fine, as far as I know. All of the SPS corals and fish, as well as other inverts, were fine. It didn't matter what type of snails. I'd put them on the rock, and they'd flinch from it, and then just roll over and not move anymore. I've since moved, and the tank is torn down, and all of the rock is still in giant rubbermaid tubs. I'm planning to try adding a bunch of snails again, and just hope for the best. At least the two tangs are fat little pigs, but the diatoms are a little annoying.

Keith Redfield

Check your calcium. They can't lay down new shell without it. I've noticed serious changes in grazing activity depending on calcium levels.

John Greenwood

Thanks for the advice given so far everyone. I have checked salinity, it is fine, have checked calcium and this is a bit high at about 500mg/L and from looking at the tank at the moment there appears to be plenty of algae available. It is growing on heaters powerheads and protein skimmer, not to mention tank walls, again thanks everyone and will keep on trying.

Wenda Stewart

If it is hair algae which is growing around your tank. The snails may well not eat it; not many creatures will.

John Greenwood

There appears to be little if any hair algae in my tank just coralline and the lawn type, with a few of the green ball (ventricaria) dotted around.. I agree about the crustacean I too think I have seen something along those lines. I will remove it immediately.

Bob Schnell

Two additional comments:

  1. I have observed hundreds (thousands in some large tanks) of snails in clean tanks at a wholesaler and at fish stores. The snails have no food supply until they reach a hobbyist tank. This additional time period since there capture could range from a few days to over a month without food. I have had a large loss of snails over a two week time period after purchase when I purchases them from these tanks. When I purchase snails from a display / reef tank in a store, the loss is minor.
  2. I just picked up 10 fish from a wholesaler 2 weeks ago (8 died in quarantine and were replaced) . This time I took a sample of water from the tank with the replacement fish. When I tested the water from the tank, the SG was 1.016, but the water that they packed the fish in was 1.026. They advised that they reduce the SG due to parasites but didn't realize that the SG dropped that low. I have previously picked up inverts. that were in water ranging from 1.018 to 1.030 from different stores. The inverts from the lower and upper SG range didn't last long. One time I picked up 4 cleaner shrimp that were in 0.2 copper when I tested the water. They didn't last. I won't list the excuses or the attempts to blame the hobbyists by the workers / owners of these places. These animals have almost no chance of survival regardless of the condition of your tank.

It is unfortunately that we don't know what the treatment of these animals before we get them.

John Greenwood

Thanks for the reply. I think the reasons you give are probably right for the new additons that I made, however some of my snails have been in my tank for about 5 weeks and have been feeding normally until now.

Ronald Shimek

What kind of algae is overgrowing your tank? Turbos eat diatoms and only diatoms. These will be evident as a brownish-gold film. Given that snails are dying in your system, it would seem to be of questionable utility to add any more of them until you have ascertained why these are dying.

Kim Dienes

Was just talking to my brother about how many fish die when I purchase them from one LFS. He was the one who told me that it was the salinity and to aclimate them to that as well. I use one of the plastic jobbies they have at the LFS to put the fish in and little by little add my water until full and about 30 minutes. Since I have been doing this I have sucesfully brought in two percs into my tank from that store. I know percs are hardy but the fish I lost before were green chromis.. So I do take blame in not knowing but why wasn't I told by the store to take those steps? I'll get off my soap box now.

Jane

and little by little add my water until full and about 30 minutes. Since I

I was thinking that wasn't long enough. I don't know but last night I did the acclimating of a couple of Astreas for, I don't know, maybe two and half hours. I poured off half the water, then just added an 1/8th of a cup maybe less until the bag was full, ever few minutes. We'll see. I thought that was taking the slow acclimation a bit far. The only thing I worried about was that it would get cold. The tank temperature didn't go down though, while I did this.

Ok Ron, what's the thing. How should they be acclimated?

have been doing this I have sucesfully brought in two percs into my tank from that store. I know percs are hardy but the fish I lost before were green chromis.

I think I acclimated my percs for one and half to two hours. Their IQ has gone up since I got them, so I must have done something right. :-)

So I do take blame in not knowing but why wasn't I told by the store to take those steps?

I was actually told to "just float the bag for five minutes and then throw them in". :-( I didn't do this, but I wonder how many people would?

Ronald Shimek

I generally acclimate about 2 or 3 hours per 0.001 sp. g. unit. So for a change of 1.022 to 1.024, I would acclimate about 4 to 6 hours. A lot of animals can be acclimated more rapidly, but stressed snails can't. The article I wrote at this URL explains why they need the slow acclimation. http://www.animalnetwork.com/fish2/aqfm/1999/july/wb/default.asp

Jane

Ok, I was about right here, though I'm not sure how the snails will do. Snail A is gliding around and eating. Snail B is parked and was found upside down. I righted it. But things don't look so good for it. :-(

As for a really slow acclimatization, how do you keep them warm, since I would think they need to be warm too. My sump isn't really big enough for a bag for animals. (Even snails).

Someone on the ng talked about a slow drip method of acclimatization which he claimed effective. Sounds good, but really I don't know how you would do it without a sump that was large enough.

So what is the how to on this?

I go buy a snail (or so) from the lfs. I bring him home in the bag. Now what? I'm presuming that first I do float the bag, but now what? If I follow the instructions from the lfs (the one I use now), the answer is I take out half the water and keep adding a half cup until the bag is full. I slowed this down, adding maybe an eighth of a cup or less. But now the snail can get cold.

Got a better way?

Btw, by the time I acclimate an animal or two I am usually ending up adding a gallon of water! I'm still ending up with dead animals.

Water quality is very good. So I am assuming it is still acclamation. (Rugged animals such as clownfish and hermit crabs are fine.)

Dallas Warren

So what is the how to on this? I go buy a snail (or so) from the lfs. I bring him home in the bag. Now what? I'm presuming that first I do float the bag, but now what? If I follow the instructions from the lfs (the one I use now), the answer is I take out half the water and keep adding a half cup until the bag is full.

There is quite a variety of different ways.

Personally I float the bag in my sump and allow the temperature to equilibrate. Then undo the top, add a little bit of water, seal up again, leave for 10 minutes, repeat. Amount of water you add depends on the amount of water in the bag. If the bag gets too full then simply take some water out of it. Continue until you reach the appropriate acclimatisation time.

The drip method you have heard of consists of placing the animal in a container (best if you float in the sump to keep the temperature right) below the level of the aquarium. Set up some airline from the tank to the container, and allow the water to drip slowly into the container. Remove water as required, and again continue until you reach the appropriate acclimatisation time.

Each method though aims to change the water in the bag to that in the tank slowly. How you do that is up to you. If your sump is too small to float a bag in then do it in the main tank. Fix a small bucket to the side of the tank and pour the bag contents in there. Then simply pour some water in from time to time, and remove water as required to stop it overflowing. NB: remember that it isn't a good idea to put water from the bag into your aquarium, especially in the case of fish that may have come from a system that was using copper.

Derek W

I normally acclimate everything for anywhere from 1 1/2 to 3 hours, keep it floating if possible for temp and drip water in slowly.

To keep them warm if there's no room in the sump, pre-heat a bucket of water with a heater (duh) and then float the bag in it, if you are careful, you can just use tap water and make sure none of it gets into the bag.

Bob Schnell

The method I use for all of my livestock is to place them into a small pail first. I then place the small pail into a 6 gallon pail. I use tubing that is used for air pumps with a small clip to reduce the flow. I allow the water to drip into the pail holding the livestock from the quarantine tank (main tank if inverts or coral). I occasionally remove some water from the small pail. If the livestock salinity differs by more than a few 0.001 than I add an airstone due to the time they will be in the pail. I allow this process to continue for anywhere from an hour to over 12 hours. The large pail is for the water overflowing the small pail when I forgot to empty some water. When the SG is the same, I transfer the livestock to the quarantine tank.

Jane

I think I get this, but what about the heat? When I went up to almost three hours with the snails the water in the bag got pretty cool. I doubt the snails would like this.

Btw before I try this I am getting a flood alarm. It is bad enough in the kitchen where I make my DI water. My tank is in the living room!

Brian

Interesting to note: most of the LFS I have talked to just toss the snails in when they get their shipments. No acclimation. But they do fine. But I've acclimated for 4-6 hours, using a drip, and same thing happened as I mentioned before. Flinch and death.

Ronald Shimek

That they DON'T due just fine is evident in their deaths in hobbyist tanks. Death from this sort of mistreatment may take a week or more. Initial mistreatment may well make them more suseptible to further damage. The responses will also vary with the species, and given that I have yet to find any dealer that can correctly identify the snail species they sell, I have little confidence in tracking down which species are more likely to drop dead than any others. Additionally, most LFS that I have worked with also can't keep track of their snails very well, and really have no idea what either long term or short term mortality with their animals are.

Jane

If you were to bag them ideally how would you do it? My lfs adds quite a lot of water with fish and other inverts and O2, but not with snails. They put in the same amount of water, but no 02. Is that ok?

Interesting to note: most of the LFS I have talked to just toss the snails in when they get their shipments. No acclimation. But they do fine.

Yes I agree obviously they don't. I think the large one I got was almost dead anyway. The reason I say this is I saw the same kind of snail at another lfs, and they were NOT all out practically crawling out of their tank. My guess is these were not happy snails.

Dallas Warren

An interesting question: how do you acclimatise an animal that is shipped in wet newspaper? That is how the snails are shipped to LFS here.

Derek W

Umm, I guess I will retract part of that last statement. I have received snails that way and did just dump them in the tank, what else are you going to do? Now as a point of fact, I have had better survival rates with snails shipped that way. I do alot of mail-order, and sometimes they come that way, sometimes not. Might be a key to better success rates depending on the type of animal.

Ronald Shimek

They should be put directly into full strength sea water. If they were shipped from a normal locality their blood/hemolymph is at sea osmolality. This is the best way to ship them by the way.

Dallas Warren

They should be put directly into full strength sea water.

So the snails maintain their internal tissue at the salinity adjusted to what they were exposed to before being packed, essentially? Which then means you have to assume that the water you are putting them into is the same salinity as that which they were pulled out of. I know I can say it is pretty close at the store I work at, but others I am not so sure.

Now if it isn't then we have a problem don't we? No way to slowly acclimatise the snail to the water conditions. Isn't it then safer to ship them with water, and then acclimatise them at the other end for a long enough time?

The snails I've seen here were always shipped in normal bags.

Actually, in wet newspaper is the only way I have seen them shipped here. With the exception of my own shipping attempts in bags with shreaded plastic and a little water (just like Acropora).

Ronald Shimek

So the snails maintain their internal tissue at the salinity adjusted to what they were exposed to before being packed, essentially?

Well, sort of. If they were healthy when collected and maintain, they can osmoregulate to a fair degree. They "try" to keep their blood at sea water osmolarity. If they are maintained in low salinity prior to shipping and then shipped moist, they will lose excess water making their internal concentration more saline.

Which then means you have to assume that the water you are putting them into is the same salinity as that which they were pulled out of. I know I can say it is pretty close at the store I work at, but others I am not so sure.

The water should be as close to full strength sea water as possible.

Now if it isn't then we have a problem don't we?

Yes.

No way to slowly acclimatise the snail to the water conditions. Isn't it then safer to ship them with water, and then acclimatise them at the other end for a long enough time?

No. Shipping in water is really an awful way to handle most reasonably robust inverts with high metabolic rates. But it has nothing to do with salinity.

When animals are shipped they respire normally as long as their gills are wet. If they are immersed in sea water, and they have a reasonably high metabolic rate (snails, clams, crustaceans, many worms), they will rapidly exhaust the oxygen from the sea water and fill the sea water with carbon dioxide. This gas is exchanged at the water surface in the bag, mostly by diffusion and some by turbulence. This is a very slow way to replenish oxygen.. Assuming some motion in the bag, this water will be partially mixed, but it will always be lower oxygen tension than is normal or optimal. Sometimes very much lower. This REALLY stresses the animal. Recovery at the end of this treatment is always somewhat iffy.

If the animals are kept moist in 100 percent humidity air, the gills are covered by a thin film of water, both carbon dioxide and oxygen can diffuse rapidly through this thin layer and the animals will survive a whole lot better than if kept submerged in water. The animals suffer no oxygen deficit and remain inactive as well. They basically just "wait it out." When put in water at the far end of the trip, they are ready to go...

I use to ship temperate marine inverts from one lab I worked at pretty much all over the US. I wrapped 'em in algae (kelp - lotsa mucus, keeps everything damp), then in damp newspaper, then into plastic bags. Most species could live a week or more under these conditions, and be fine at the far end.

Keith Redfield

I plan to get an algae eating blenny. (Right now nobody is shipping much, what with the weather).

The most common ( Salarius fasciatus - or so everyone thinks) requires a pretty big tank to stay fed. In my 100g with about 200lbs rock (some florida) it is doing fine, but you should see it with a very pregnant-looking tummy almost constantly. They also leave a funny, but not very effective pattern of "kisses" on the glass, though snails are not much better.

One answer to the snail dilemma is to get snails that breed in the tank. This will help serve to match the population to the capacity of the tank, although in small systems like these disruptions are common, so getting to a stable balance is likely impossible (i.e you'll see algae blooms, then snail blooms, etc)

I've got a snail and a limpet that both reproduce (I scour LFS looking for any sign of things breeding - they usually give them to me for free). The snail is quite small and the limpet does not appear to scratch the plexi (as has been reported by some). I haven't gotten the limpet to reproduce yet, but the snail goes constantly. I suspect the limpet is seasonal. I have not asked the good doctor to ID these yet because they are too small to get a good pic with my camera (new camera for B'day I think), but I will when I get a chance. I do have a couple of empty shells, so maybe that would work.

And hermits seem to feed voraciously on the young snails, so they have to go if you are going to try this.

There are other snails (Nerites and Cerith) that people report reproducing in-tank, so you can always try some of those. We've even had some trochus reproduce at our wholesale facility, though not in great numbers.

 

Created by liquid
Reefs.org
Last modified 2006-11-24 18:42
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