NAILS AND PUPPY DOG TAILS
By Jim E. Quarles
I am sure that at one time or another ninety nine percent of the
tropical fish hobbyists have had a complete infestation of unwanted
snails. You know those little small horn looking creatures that make such
a mess in the tank, and multiply like electrons going through the world
fastest computer! Certain fish will eat at them but they generally
increase at a rate faster than the fish can rid you of them. Well that
species of snail is indeed a pest. A little copper in the water will end
the problem once and for all but massive water changes are required to
remove 100 % of the copper. Plus, if you have a massive infestation,
killing them all at one time could overload your filter system resulting
in a lot of dead fish and a big mess to clean up. I just drop a few copper
pennies in the tank and that generally will kill them off slow enough that
you don't pollute the tank. Depending upon what kind of fish you have,
some fish just will not withstand any copper treatment.
A LITTLE INFORMATION ABOUT
There are a few snails that do well in a clean tank arrangement, and
can be very helpful in the control of algae. The giant Rams horn and the
super large Apple snails make great additions to most tank setups. As a
rule they will not damage plants if properly fed like your fish. But you
should remember the snails are living creatures that need their own
special requirements to do well and not damage your plants. I have found
that any living thing not properly fed and cared for will turn to what
ever food source it can find to live.
Snails are no different in this regard. They can a will eat and damage
plants if not properly fed.
DID YOU KNOW
That many of the fresh water snails are of great medical importance?
They serve as the intermediate hosts for different kinds of parasites,
that can and do afflict both man and animals. Schistosomes, a type of
fluke or parasitic worm is the most important parasites that need snails
to complete their life cycle and more than 100 million people in America,
Asia, and Africa are infected every year! Nematodes of the genus
Angfostrongylus also afflict man severely, Angfostrongylus cantonerisis,
is a parasite that produces eosinophilic meningoercephalitis and is
transmitted by freshwater snails. Neotropical species that have been
introduced in Southeast Asia and is currently spreading all over the
oriental areas, has been the source of epidemics due to ingestion of raw
snails. In oriental markets the snails are considered a delicacy worth
culturing as a side crop in rice and taro fields. It now has been found
that the damage these snails cause to useable crops far exceeds their food
value. But of course as with most non-native introductions once started
they become impossible to control or require great effort and expense to
THE APPLE SNAIL IN THE AQUARIUM
The apple snails, family Ampullaridae, (also known as Pilidae), are
almost entirely confined to tropical and subtropical areas. They are found
from central Mexico to the La Plata basin, and in the West Indies. They
are also found in Florida and Georgia in the United States. In Africa it
is found northward along the Nile into lower Egypt.
Apple snails have separate sexes, and subtle sexual dimorphism is
evident in some species. Males have a short penis inside a heavy sheath.
This is used to transfer sperm to the females.
The females typically lay egg clusters out of the water on stalks of
aquatic or rocks, bridges or other hard substrates. The egg clusters very
in form and color and can be white pink, orange, red, yellow or green.
It is interesting that apple snails have a long fossil history in the
Old World. They can be dated back 37 to 54 million years ago. Fossils have
been found in what now is the Sahara Desert, as well as the super cold
mountainous areas of northern India.
Taking care of an apple snail is simple. As long as you give them
clean, warm water, access to the air, and sufficient food. The water
should be basic or at least neutral and preferably basic (alkaline). The
snail's shells are calcium compounds bonded to a living organic membrane
and acid water dissolves calcium compounds.
BREEDING ALMOST NEVER,
Very few hobbyist have much luck keeping apple snails for more then a
year or so, or breeding them. This possibly is because they just don't
have the facilities to let the snails estivate each year.
In nature many apple snails seem to live three to four years, but at
least four months of each year may be spent buried in the mud, inactive
and barely alive. Growth and breeding resumes with the coming of wet
season rains. It seems likely that if an apple snail is kept constantly
active in warm, wet surroundings, it simply bums itself out and can not
In considering the above factors the element that comes to mind with me
and others is the challenge to do the impossible, keep and develop an
aquarium breeding method for the golden apple snail. After all ,most of us
in this hobby love a task that others consider impossible ( That is why we
are considered slightly Nuts.)