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Old 8th December 2008   #1
Rayson
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Default Getting rid of snails and all

Hi all,

I have two questions i wish to seek advice from regarding my axolotls. Firstly, i have a sudden growth of tiny aquatic snails in the tank. These snails were probably seeded in the tank by introduction of aquatic plants. I wish to get rid of these snails safely without harming the axolotls. I prefer not to use a chemical method as these require very precise accurate and careful measurement to be both effective and yet with minimal effect on the axolotls. Although the snails do not seem to bother the axolotls. Snails in general can affect the slime coat /delicate skin of axolotls and can harbour parasites.

In a normal aquarium, i would have used yoyo or clown loaches to get rid of the snails. However i am in a dilemma as my tank exclusively house only axolotls (and natural aquatic plants) and introducing fish to the tank can potentially introduce harmful parasites/fungal/bacteria etc., in addition to possible damage to the axolotl's skin and gills by the loaches (or they might be eaten instead).

I have considered temporarily housing all axolotls in another tank and treating the main tank first. However, weighing the pros and cons, im concerned that it may be harder to fully eradicate the snails while keeping the water and plants in good condition, while i could very well stress the axolotls from all the moving and changes.

Secondly, iam concerned about one of my axolotls in particular. He is a mature golden albino which i acquired most recently about 3 months ago. I have a separate quarantine tank which i isolate my new acquisitions (including plants) for 1 month prior to addition to my main tank. He was already rather emaciated in appearance when i first acquired him. However, most axolotls in pet shops are in this sad state and i felt that with tender loving care and a good nutrition, he should be in top condition in no time. However, this particular axolotl remained skinny, and his gills appeared shrunken and twisted. He also tends to float on the water surface a lot and also to gulp for air ( i attributed this to the shruken gills which may impact his oxygen exchange capacity). His appetite is still voracious. My other axolotls are all in good condition which made me think that infectious causes as well as water condition causes or nutrition are less likely on the differentials as otherwise all animals will be affected to a certain degree.

Some basic history of my axolotls are as follows:

Generic
- All 5 axolotls are kept only by themselves and natural living aquatic plants.
- 4 foot by 2 foot tank.
- Substrate is clean sand one inch in depth.
- Plenty of plants, rock caves and tunnels for hiding.
- Aerated tank - i use a bubble 'rod' that has small perforations giving rise to tiny bubbles that has better aerating ability.
- Canister filter with carbon and lime chemical filter and mechanical filter. Flow rate adjusted to slow. The axolotls do not demostrate any signs of high flow stress.
- I have an Aquaone marine chiller that keeps the water temperature a constant 18 degrees celsius.
- i run the aquarium lights for 6 hours/day for the plants. Otherwise the axolotls are in shady/dim conditions.
- Tank is kept in sheltered/ coolest part of the house out of direct sunlight.
- I have exclusively aquarium use only buckets and nets etc.

Water chemistry
- I change 20% of the water every 2 weeks. I use aquarium pharmaceuticals - stress coat (water ager with aloe vera) and stress zyme (nitrifying bacteria).
- I test my water chemistry every week. The tank is fully cycled ( i have this tank setup for 3 years). pH is 7.0, ammonia and nitrite are at 0, nitrate around 20.
- I have not tested for water hardness but i doubt its a problem because i have been using the same tap water source for years (with my other axolotls).

Nutrition
- Commerical axolotl pellets and earthworms
- All uneated food are quickly siphoned out.

Axolotls
- Female wild type
- Female axanthic albino (peach colour)
- Male Leucistic
- Male Melanoid
- Male golden albino (with shrunken gills)
- I do not handle the axolotls with my hands.

I would try to get some photos and post it up. However, im quite a technomoron so it might take a while.

I would appreciate any help. Thanks



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Old 8th December 2008   #2
Jay
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Default Re: Getting rid of snails and all

G'day, Ray (I hope that's your name; I just assumed because of the signature ),

It looks like you've got nearly all bases covered. Real good job!

However, I would suggest a few changes:

- A 4 foot tank is too small for 5 axolotls. As a general rule of thumb: a 2 foot tank should be used to house one axolotl.
- Increase the partial water change up to 20% once a week, especially because you have 5 axolotls. Axolotls not only defecate (thus, releasing ammonia), they also secrete ammonia through their skin.

Quote:
I have two questions i wish to seek advice from regarding my axolotls. Firstly, i have a sudden growth of tiny aquatic snails in the tank. These snails were probably seeded in the tank by introduction of aquatic plants. I wish to get rid of these snails safely without harming the axolotls. I prefer not to use a chemical method as these require very precise accurate and careful measurement to be both effective and yet with minimal effect on the axolotls. Although the snails do not seem to bother the axolotls. Snails in general can affect the slime coat /delicate skin of axolotls and can harbour parasites.


One of the main problems with snails is that they are hermaphrodites, but they are not asexual by any means, it just means that they will mate with any sexual partner. Also, a fertilised snail will remain fertile for the remainder of its lifetime. Basically, as soon as you notice baby snails in your tank, it's already too late.

Snails are commonly introduced into a tank via plants. While rinsing newly acquired plants under the tap, you can inspect them by feeling for snails. Some people have tried bathing new plants in potassium permanganate (10 mg/L) for ten minutes, which is followed by 1-2 days of quarantining. Another method involves an aluminum sulphate bath (2 teaspoons per gallon, i.e. 3.8L) for 24 hours. This method effectively eradicates snails and their eggs. However, the plants should be rinsed thoroughly before being returned to the tank.

In your case, however, the snails have already invaded. You're right about not using chemicals. There are no safe chemicals in the market that will effectively eliminate the snails before harming fish as well or, in this case, axolotls. There are a few techniques that you can use, and are safe:


1). Take small glass bottle with a narrow neck that is baited with sinking wafers, and set it on its side with the opening pressed firmly into the sand. The next day, flush out the snails. This method is derived from Paul Loiselle (the Cichlid guru).

2). The zucchini method (odd, eh?). Use a slice of zucchini that has been softened for at least a day. It will act as a magnet for attracting snails. The zucchini with the bound snails can be easily removed through siphon action.

3). Use a plastic container and press it up against the glass while sliding up/down to knock snails into the container.

4). Manual hand picking (tedious, I know).

Quote:
Secondly, iam concerned about one of my axolotls in particular.


Could you please post a photo of this axolotl? Until then, not much else can be done.

Hope all that I've mentioned helped in some way. Good luck!

Jay.



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Old 8th December 2008   #3
Rayson
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Default Re: Getting rid of snails and all

THanks for the tip. Will try out the zucchini method and try get a few pics up.

As for changing 20% of the water every week, i am still rather puzzled by this course of action. My understanding of water change is to keep the water chemistry in ideal condition, thus my weekly testing of water chemistry. I found that over the 3 years of trial and error, that by 20% water change every 2 weeks, i can maintain the ammonia, nitrate and nitrite levels at 0, 0 and approx 20. The tank still has a canister filter and i top up stress zyme (the nitrifying bacteria) every weekend. I siphon out uneaten food and solid wastes everyday. What beneficial effect will the additional water change cause?

In this case, what would be the stressor of putting 5 axolotls in the 4 foot by 2 foot tank if water chemistry and nutrition are monitored closely? There are hiding places and sandy substrate that reduces stress and aggression. All but one axolotl are in good health and have no signs of stress (forward gills/curled tail/inappetance/ abnormal demeanour) I understand the advice of peventing overcrowding, but i just wish to understand things in great detail. Hope you understand.

Thanks



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Old 8th December 2008   #4
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Default Re: Getting rid of snails and all

Stress Zyme is probably a waste of your money. It really does nothing but add dead bacteria to your tank.

I kept 5 axolotls in a 4 foot tank (a standard 55 gal) for years and had no problems. Is your tank 2 feet tall or 2 feet wide?



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Old 8th December 2008   #5
Rayson
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Default Re: Getting rid of snails and all

Hi again,

My tank is 4 feet in length, 2 feet in width and 2 feet in height. Its not the standard 4 foot.



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Old 8th December 2008   #6
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Default Re: Getting rid of snails and all

That tank's plenty fine for 5 axolotls.



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Old 10th December 2008   #7
Jay
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Default Re: Getting rid of snails and all

I was always under the impression that an axolotl should be given enough space as possible, because they snap at literally any thing that passes by them. But seeing as others have housed 5 axolotls in the 4 foot tank, I guess there is some flexibility to the general rule of thumb.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Darkmaverick
stress coat (water ager with aloe vera)
I see no point in using aloe vera. Aloe vera is typically used for burns because it has a numbing effect. It is also used to prevent damaged tissue from drying. In an aquarium, tissue drying is never an issue considering the organism is surrounded by copious water. If anything, aloe vera is just used for marketing purposes. And, I'm thinking you'd pay less if you just purchased a generic water ager that removes both chlorine and chloramine, and doesn't have the magic of aloe vera.

Jay.



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Old 12th December 2008   #8
Rayson
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Default Re: Getting rid of snails and all

Just some information i found regarding aloe vera.

Quoted from axolotl.org website under water chemistry heading.

"I use Aquarium Pharmaceuticals' Stress Coat, which also contains aloe vera, a plant extract that, although slightly toxic, replaces the natural slime coat that fish have. It seems to have a similar benefit for axolotls and it's not harmful. Hagen's Amquel also contains aloe vera. Aloe vera also has a slight anti-biotic effect."

I suppose there are different schools of thought on this and as long as the axolotls are healthy and receive the best. After all, they are kinda like babies



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Old 12th December 2008   #9
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Default Re: Getting rid of snails and all

Aloe isn't 'bad', but it's not necessary. It will add bioload to your tank, but if you have an appropriate biological filter in place, the minimal amount of nitrogen it will add to the tank will be easily neutralized by your bacteria.



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Old 17th February 2009   #10
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Default Re: Getting rid of snails and all

Hey Ray! You haven't posted how did it went with that zuccini method, I'll try it as well, I think I just got snails too! I just spotted 2, which in a week will mean a hundred from what i've read all over the net, So if anyone else has other methods of killing them without harming the axies, or doing a full tank move which will stress the little thingies from here to kingdom come.. It will be greatly appreciated!

Thanks Darkmaveric and Kayse for your replies too!



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Old 17th February 2009   #11
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Default Re: Getting rid of snails and all

Hi Darkmaverick,
Your description of how you keep your axolotls reads like the definitive 5 star handbook guide to keeping these creatures in luxury. I think your 4ft by 2 ft is fine for 5 axolotls. I change 20 per cent of my water weekly, even though the tanks are totally cycled -- but that's probably down to my obsessive compulsive personality. I must admit that the water change seems to energise them, as it does with my tropical fish. As for snails -- total pests. I go for the pick-them-out-by-hand approach, but I have wondered about putting nematodes in the water -- they are slugs' and snails' sworn enemy, and apparently can be fed to axolotl larvae, so it might work (but I haven't tried it -- could they survive in waterlong enough to slay? -- I don't know). Maybe your golden one is just inherently sickly, because if your regimen isn't curing and reviving him, I can't think what will!



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Old 18th February 2009   #12
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Default Re: Getting rid of snails and all

Hi all,

This post is so vintage i actually forgotten about it. Well i guess i shall just give an update.

I did try the zuchinni method. I intially had some problems 'submerging' the vegetable as it floats. I settled for pressing it down with a saucer in the end. It does work to a certain degree, being that it does attract some snails to feed on it and hence easier to remove in a cluster.

However, even up till now, there is always a certain number of snails left. It is like a never-ending cycle. I tried a combination of the zucchini method plus manual handpicking to try keep the snail numbers down. Alas once they are there, they are super difficult to eradicate completely. I have since accepted the presence of some snails and have somewhat resigned to it.

Yes, unfortunately that golden albino has a poor constitution (from his younger bad childhood in a pet shop) and there is nothing more i could have done. I would not introduce nematodes as a means to eradicate snails though. Firstly snails can remain somewhat asymptomatic and just act as perpetual nematode carriers, and secondly nematodes can actually establish in axolotls, causing parasitism.

Cheers



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Old 18th February 2009   #13
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Default Re: Getting rid of snails and all

Glad I never tried the nematode "solution" then.



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Old 18th February 2009   #14
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Default Re: Getting rid of snails and all

Way, way back when I fed my axolotls goldfish, I noticed that the goldfish were very efficient at eating snails. They virtually killed off my whole snail population. I wouldn't encourage mixing goldfish with the axolotls, but you could do a temporary set up for the axolotls while the goldfish eat snails. There are also certain species of leeches that feed solely off of snails, and quite effectively. I've never tried this, but thought it might be an option, and the axies, would likely eat the leeches in the end.



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Old 19th February 2009   #15
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Default Re: Getting rid of snails and all

I'm finding that Flubendazole, a drug used in Discus wormers is 100% effective at killing snails and is harmless to fish and amphibians up to an overdose rate of 10x!

Hope you're able to get it but it's an over the counter treatment here in the UK.



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Old 19th February 2009   #16
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Default Re: Getting rid of snails and all

Hi Tappers,

Actually you have given a fantastic idea. Im actually a vet and can obtain fenbendazole easily. I normally use them to treat nematodes (intestinal parasites) in many animal species, including axolotls. However, i am always hesitant to use any drugs unnecessarily, especially if it involves dosing the entire tank. It is easy to dose and monitor individual axolotls separately but would be rather difficult to dose an entire tank for snails. There are a lot of considerations. For example, firstly my canister filter would remove a large proportion of it and/or make the dosage/potency assessment difficult. Secondly, fenbendazole can alter the tank water properties such that plants can be affected. Also i don't really have the resources to temporarily rehouse all the axolotls during the process. The list goes on.

You are also right that fenbendazole has a rather high safety margin, especially compared to other drugs like ivermectin, although dosing still has to be done accurately to prevent any resistance developing or causing adverse side effects like neurological damage.

I am not exactly sure if they are efficient against snails , nor the best route to administer but your idea has sparked me to go research into it as a possible treatment. Thank you for your suggestion (as well as everyone else).

Pete - Thanks for your idea of using fish, actually i have thought of using loaches initially (my very first post) but the cons seems to outweigh the pros. It is nontheless a valid alternative.

Cheers



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Old 19th February 2009   #17
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Default Re: Getting rid of snails and all

My axolotls developed a taste for snails! You could try cutting the food a bit and see if the snails suddenly become scarce. It hasn't eradicated them but they are not a problem.



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Old 26th February 2009   #18
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Default Re: Getting rid of snails and all

Hi everyone!!!

My tank has developed snails too and there are a coupple of different situations I want to share.

1. I have a planted tank, used to have two apple snails in there. Last week I bought some mopani root, put it in a bucket with water for 24 hours and then boiled it for 2 hours. I put it in my planted tank, and the snails were in the root all the time. Then, my snails died and I was able to see little mopani chips (im thinking snails poo?).

2. I spotted a snail in my bigger tank wich I am preparing for axies, took the snail out and put it in my planted tank... then I saw lots of tiny tiny snails in the tanks compartiment where my filter is.

3. The snail that was originally in my big tank that was transfered to the planted one spent a lot of time in the mopani root. The snail is still alive.

So I was thinking about putting the mopani root where all the little snails are and observe if they stick to the root. If there is any disadvantage about doing this, any advice will be apreciated. Anyway, if there isnt, I will do this on saturday and post later about what happened.

Thanks!!



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Old 10th March 2009   #19
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Default Re: Getting rid of snails and all

Ok, so it didnt worked as I wanted to.... I guess is time to pick up them one by one...



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Old 11th March 2009   #20
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Default Re: Getting rid of snails and all

In all honesty, the only 100% effective way to remove snails from a tank once introduced in my experience, was to get a comfortable chair, a bottle of my favorite booze and this excellent set of 30 cm long stainless steel tweezers and then manually crush snails whilst having a nip or two at the bottle. Boring, monotonous, and slightly revolting but very, very effective. My axies enjoyed crushed snail snacks. However, this will take a few weeks in a tank of the dimensions you described.

I have also had great success with a supersaturated iodized salt treatment, however this requires removal of all plants and animals from the tank, treating the plants with a lime-based commercial sanitizer and then replacing 25% of the tank water with a supersaturated iodized sodium chloride solution for 48 hours.Then the fun of doing a complete water change, substrate rinse and establishment of your biological filtration bed plus reintroduction of the plants and animals tops it all off. In a tank your size, I would not recommend this method. However advantage to this method is that it wipes out ALL the freshwater snails and their eggs with ltlle or no resdiual left overs that will harm your axolotls.

I have found that commercially available lime (not the fruit, the other one) based plant sanitizers work exceedingly well for killing off snails and eggs from live plants before they are introduced to a tank.

On the "use a fish to wipe em out method" I have found loaches to be ineffective at total snail eradication, however I had great success with the Spotted Green Pufferfish Tetradon nigiovirids however these little guys are brackish water fish and aggressive as all get out. So you would have to remove your axies and plants anyway and add salt to the tank...




On that note- In the USA (not sure about the rest of the world) most if not all commercially available snail killing solutions sold for aquariums are copper based and will also kill off your caudates, their eggs and larvae, and most speices of scaleless or plated fishes (Plecostomus sp., Corydoras sp., and pretty much the entire Order Cyprinoformes). There are also a few newer ones that are iron phosphate based (1% by volume active ingredient). I do not know about the safety of iron phospate with caudates.



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