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Help! My snails aren't happy

Discussion in 'Inverts' started by Florin Ilia, Oct 28, 2011.

  1. Florin Ilia

    Florin Ilia Lifetime Charter Member
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    As for the missing iron, I don't know about generic activated carbon, but I'm 79.41% certain that Premium ROX 0.8 Aquarium Carbon from bulkreefsupply.com does remove iron from the water.

    I replaced the AC tray with a peat tray. At 12:30 I measured total iron in the tank - it was 0.05 ppm. I then added 170 mg Fe 13% EDTA, which in my 40l water would add 0.55 ppm for a theoretical total of 0.6 ppm. I then took measurements with my Hach DR/890 and with my Hanna checker:

    Code:
    Time			Hach	Hanna
    13:30			0.63	0.57
    14:30			0.63	0.62
    15:30			0.64	0.61
    21:30			0.61	0.58
    
    which look pretty consistent and like one would expect and much different from the rapid disappearance of Fe that I measured with the AC tray in the filter.

    I will measure tomorrow as well to make sure.

    Speaking of the peat tray, here's what it accomplished in 24h:

    Code:
    		GH	GH(Ca)	KH
    Yesterday	145	120	89
    Today		122	98	69
    Decrease	23	22	20
    Code:
    		GH	GH(Ca)	KH
    A week ago	145	120	89
    Today		106	85	54
    Decrease	39	35	35
    It also made my water yellow and slightly more acidic.
     
    #61 Florin Ilia, Dec 4, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 10, 2011
  2. Florin Ilia

    Florin Ilia Lifetime Charter Member
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    Adding the morning measurement:

    Code:
    Time			Hach	Hanna
    13:30			0.63	0.57
    14:30			0.63	0.62
    15:30			0.64	0.61
    21:30			0.61	0.58
    04:30			0.59	0.59
    
    Looks like the Fe is staying where I put it and maybe is being consumed veeewy veeewy slowly.

    Unless Biollante comes back and resumes parental guidance :), all 3 mysteries seem solved:
    - sick Ramshorn: primary cause, the Staghorn/BBA that grew on their shells, destroying their periostracum
    - strange prills: Nerite eggs
    - missing Iron: was removed from the water by the Premium ROX 0.8 Aquarium Carbon from bulkreefsupply.com.

    Of course, Mother Nature has her own way of dealing with people who declare that they solved mysteries :rolleyes:, but until then, I consider this thread closed.
     
  3. Reginald James

    Reginald James Junior Poster

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    I know you have considered this thread closed but I have had this happen to me several times. My tank is usually a snail breeding ground but every so often I notice all my MTS stop moving and their shells start decaying. Some even die. Everytime this happens I realize that I did my 50% water change and forgot to add my baking soda and mineralization (Kents RO aduster). I'm unsure if it is a lack of minerals from the Kents or from the drop in PH from the lack of baking soda.

    I've been inclined to say it is the PH. Whenever I notice the snails getting sluggish, I test the PH and find it has dropped to the 6.4-6.6 range. After adding baking soda and getting back to the 7.0 range the snails "wake up" and start breeding like the little rodents they are. Low PH seems to slowly dissolve the shells but this is my less than scientific observation.
     
  4. Florin Ilia

    Florin Ilia Lifetime Charter Member
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    Thanks for the observation Reginald.

    My pH is always in the 6.5-6.7 range and maybe that's a factor. It's now around 6.3 due to the peat. My 2 smaller tanks have higher pH and happier snails.

    In any case, since I removed the AC from my filter, the 2 nerite snails are back to their sluggish, barely moving behavior - they're clearly less happy.
     
  5. Reginald James

    Reginald James Junior Poster

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    I found this when I googled PH and snails. http://www.applesnail.net/content/various/snail_disease.php

    shell detoriation: superficial wormholes; deep holes, loss of shell top
    To have a good understanding about the causes of shell detoriation, one needs to know some basic shell anatomy [sread more about shell anatomy here]. The most important thing to remember is that the rigidity of the shell is provided by a strong, calcified inside, with a protective protein layer at the outside. It's the latter that prevents the chemical detoriation of the calcium at the inside. Once the protective outer layer is damaged, the calcium layer is exposed to the water. This shouldn't be a big problem, as long as the water is rich in calcium and is not acid, but once the pH of the water drops and the water becomes acid (pH below 7), the calciums starts to dissolve. As long as this process advances at a slow speed, the snails is often able to enforce the calcium layer, although only at the inside. The ouside of the shell is dead material, and cannot be repaired by the snail itself, so once damaged, it will stay that way. The oldest parts of the shell (the shell top) and those places that are often hot when a snail fall on the bottom are also the places that are most vulnerable as the protective outer layer is often damaged at those parts. Problems arise once the shell is detoriated that much that holes are formed, exposing the soft tissues below. In case of large holes, the snail can get problems with keeping the mantle cavity open, with lung collapse and other problems as result. Nevertheless, smaller holes an pose a problem as well, especially in a crowded tank, as other snails and fish won't hesitate to eat the exposed tissues. Luckely, snails do have some kind of repair system: they simply calcify the exposed tissues to protect them.
     
  6. Biollante

    Biollante Lifetime Charter Member
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    Not So Sure

    Hi Florin,

    “Parental guidance” :beguiled:a nicer way of saying “old gasbag,” :rolleyes:and as a documented “old gasbag” I appreciate that.;)

    :torn:I find the Staghorn/BBA answer to the reason the snails are unhappy, unsatisfying, then again, if the cause isn’t a parasite, say a nematode, rat lungworm, Angiostrongylus cantonensis or any number of tremetodes (round versus flat), I am not sure I can refute it either.

    I have been running various water combinations to see what I get. I have been trying to duplicate your range of water and I have seen some disruption in shell development in water with high DOC and in water with a lot of fine particulate matter. These have been baby snails; I have seen no deterioration in mature snails. :confused:

    The possibility of killer cyanobacteria intrigues me, though I have never seen (I confess I haven’t looked) snails killed by Cyanobacteria or any algae. I wonder how the algae became so advanced on the snails to (allegedly) cause the damage to the snail’s shells.

    • I am aware that certain cyanobacterium, Anabaena, come to mind,
      • and is used as larvicide against mosquitoes.
    A quick bit of research leads me to Microcystis aeruginosa, a freshwater cyanobacteria that that produce toxins and is often involved in harmful algal blooms (HAB) in eutrophic lakes.

    Another bit of looking about and I find Toxic potential of microcystin-containing cyanobacterial extracts from three Romanian freshwaters, about Microcystis aeruginosa, Microcystis viridis and an unidentified aeruginosa. As you may have guessed Microcystis spp. is where we get Microcystins. So now I am thinking (always painful and generally fruitless) perhaps there is a cyanobacteria based toxin at work.:surprise:

    I do not have any Microcystis aeruginosa or Microcystis viridis currently culturing (that I know of anyway). As luck would have it, I do have a couple of clean strains of aeruginosa that produce Neurotoxin(s) (Anatoxin-a, I think) that I have been culturing, so I am going to try growing some on a few snails:chargrined: as well as exposing some to my version of a HAB.:eek: I will see if I can get Microcystis aeruginosa and Microcystis viridis cultures.

    I agree the “prills” are likely Nitrite snail eggs. Have you tried hatching any?:confused:

    I do not understand how activated charcoal removes soluble iron.:confused: Rather than adsorption, I think better answers are going to be consumption or precipitation.
    I suspect consumption of iron by plants and bacteria; I would not underestimate the role of plants (including algae) and bacteria in converting iron.:)

    Anyway, I have a few more comments later saved up.:gw

    Biollante
     
  7. Florin Ilia

    Florin Ilia Lifetime Charter Member
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    Bio! Welcome back!!!

    I'm happy to "see" you again, et de plus en pleine forme :)

    I'm at work now and can't answer specifically to your points, but I have to say I'm grateful for the lengths you went to help me with my quest.

    I'll be back with more specific responses tonight.

    Cheers!

    Florin
     
  8. Florin Ilia

    Florin Ilia Lifetime Charter Member
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    You, Sir, underestimate this newbie's ability to mismanage his aquarium.

    I am including for your (dis)pleasure an image of my tank, back when it had algae and after I returned from a 2 week holiday. The snails didn't have algae yet (at least not the ones visible in this picture) but imagine them with thick, 6-8cm long bushes of algae on their backs - longer than what is visible on the rightmost rocks in this pic.

    [​IMG]

    Not all snails were affected by algae.
    Brown bodied Ramshorns - not affected
    Orange bodied Ramshorns - affected
    Tylomelania - not affected
    Both Nerites - affected

    I hadn't yet learned that physical removal and aggressive management are needed against algae. I was trying various methods to get rid of algae and intentionally left them hanging to see which method would eliminate them.

    Regarding your cyanobacteria studies, I am embarrassed for (a) being completely unable to contribute to the discussion and (b) you working more than me to solve my problem! Please let me know if there is anything I can do (can I mail you some toxic Microcystis? ironically that would be via snail mail :beguiled:)

    However if I understood Tom's hypothesis correctly, he proposes that Staghorn/BBA physically damaged the periostracum, leaving the shell exposed to my acid water/other factors that eroded it - not that the algae produced toxins to damage the snails.
    Nope, didn't get around to setting up a saltwater tank (not enough know-how, time, and space).
    Well, maybe MY activated charcoal is special :)

    How about an experiment:
    1. measure Fe in tank water
    2. strain some tank water through activated carbon several times
    3. measure Fe in the filtered water

    Would you say this is sufficient to (dis)prove that my specific brand of AC tampers with Fe? (of course the mechanism - adsorbtion/... would not be evident)
    Please share! And don't forget the cories...
    Thanks!

    Florin
     
  9. csmith

    csmith Guest

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  10. Florin Ilia

    Florin Ilia Lifetime Charter Member
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    Thanks for the pointers, C!

    Good discussions there, but that is not my case, I don't run an UV sterilizer.

    Florin
     
  11. Biollante

    Biollante Lifetime Charter Member
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    Iron Eaters or Specks on My Lower Leaves

    Hi Florin,


    The photograph suggests a possibility where the iron is concerned.:)


    The first thing that pops in what passes for my brain is that parts of the tank are in low dissolved oxygen with plenty of carbon that may provide a number of borderline or even transition zones that support microaerophilic microorganisms such as iron bacteria. Perhaps Siderocapsa vulgaris, Siderococcus limoniticus, Naumanniella pygmaea or Siderocapsa anulata, (I suspect these as they are the most aerobic) particularly with added Carbon dioxide. :gw



    Microbial mats built by iron bacteria” by J Schieber and M Glamoclija, while not exactly what we are looking act gives a good and easily understood depiction and explanation of the process.


    “Recognition of the Iron BacteriaSiderocapsa” as. Arthrobacters and Description of Arthrobacter siderocapsulatus sp. nov.” by G. Dubinina and A. V. Zhdano is interesting and descriptive. Labeled 1a of Figure 1 on page 342 (page 3 of the pdf) is a wonderful look at classing microorganisms as microaerophilic.


    Please indulge my old-gasbag review :rolleyes:
    {Microorganisms fall into two groups,


    1. those that require oxygen, “aerobic” and
    2. those that do not, “anaerobic.”
    The test is rather simple; drop the little bugs in a test tube filled with liquid.
    We then categorize the bugs further.

    The aerobic into two more categories;

    1. [*=1]microorganisms requiring oxygen are called “obligate aerobic” and gather at the top of the test tube.
      [*=1]Microorganisms requiring oxygen but at a low concentration are called microaerophilic and gather in the upper part of the test tube but not at the top.
    The anaerobic into three more categories;

    1. [*=1]those microorganisms not affected at all by oxygen are said to be “Aerotolerant” and will spread evenly throughout the test tube.
      [*=1]Microorganisms that find aerobic respiration beneficial though lack of oxygen does not hurt them are called “Facultative aerobic” and gather mostly at the top but are found throughout the test tube.
      [*=1]Microorganisms that cannot use and are harmed by oxygen are called “obligate anaerobic” and gather at the bottom of the test tube to avoid oxygen.}

    A bit more later on recognizing iron-eating bugs.

    I have a few more thoughts on the snails and another possibility or two. :)


    Please forgive my slowness; I seem to be having a problem getting thoughts out…:chargrined::rolleyes:


    Biollante

     
    #71 Biollante, Dec 17, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 17, 2011
  12. Biollante

    Biollante Lifetime Charter Member
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    The Solution Is Iron In Solution

    Hi Florin,

    No offense intended but your AC isn’t that special! Activated charcoal will remove particulate iron but not iron in solution, so if something, Potassium permanganate for instance, is precipitating the iron then the AC can remove it,:) though just as likely it would simply fall to the substrate. :rolleyes:



    I would also note that lower grades of AC are sufficient for planted tanks, save the expensive stuff for reef systems, we are really only trying to grab the big chunks.:surprise:



    Biollante


     
  13. Florin Ilia

    Florin Ilia Lifetime Charter Member
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    Well, when I bought it, I reasoned that better grade AC=better :) so I just got the one with the most positive reviews.

    I did my little experiment today:
    1. I took some water from the aquarium. I measured Fe with both my Hach and my Hanna photometers.
    2. I strained the water through AC a dozen times or so
    3. I measured Fe again:
    Code:
    				Hach	Hanna
    Straight out of the tank	1.22	1.23
    Strained through AC		0.04	0.00
    The snails are still in the "sluggish" state, not as happy as they were when I was running the AC.

    On an unrelated note, my peat seems to lose very quickly its softening capabilities. The water is back to its original GH and the KH is halfway between the original value and the lowest point:
    Code:
    		GH	GH(Ca)	KH
    Two weeks ago	145	120	89	(original)
    A week ago	106	85	54	(lowest)
    Today		141	118	69
    The water is still more acidic and yellower than normal.

    Thanks!

    Florin

    PS I have PP now :)
     
    #73 Florin Ilia, Dec 18, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 18, 2011
  14. Biollante

    Biollante Lifetime Charter Member
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    See Above

    Hi Florin,

    See above;)

    Hopefully more later...:)

    Biollante
     
  15. Florin Ilia

    Florin Ilia Lifetime Charter Member
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    I'll try the experiment with another type of AC. I saw your link to BRS's lignite AC but I don't insist on buying from them - if you know another brand of AC that has a predictable behavior, I'll be glad to give it a try.

    On the other hand, if I understand correctly, AC is a crutch, which should only be needed in specific situations, not permanently. I am still worried that my Nerite snails changed behavior in the presence of AC. It means there still is something they don't like in the water, even if we accept Staghorn/BBA as cause for the shell deterioration.

    Also, please don't forget to comment about the cories :)
    Thanks,

    Florin
     
  16. Biollante

    Biollante Lifetime Charter Member
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    Iron Eaters or Specks on My Lower Leaves

    Hi Florin,

    It seems to me there must be something in the water; I am not convinced the cyanobacteria are the cause, though I think it is an interesting (1) possibility, (2) complication or (3) symptom.


    I am not a fan of routine use of activated charcoal, particularly when adding “black water extracts” and/or using peat. In your case, I think you need to continue the AC use until you know the root cause of the problem. As far as a source of cheap AC, pretty much any will work for you, I happen to like the BRS guys as it is clean, but frankly a little AC dust getting in to the tank will cause no harm, may even do a little good.;)


    3Fe[SUP]2+[/SUP]+ KMnO[SUB]4[/SUB] +7H[SUB]2[/SUB]O --> 3Fe(OH)[SUB]3(s)[/SUB] + MnO[SUB]2(s)[/SUB] + K[SUP]+[/SUP] + 5H[SUP]+[/SUP]

    Do you ever notice any cucumber, swampy, rotting vegetation smells?:confused: The cucumber smell if quite distinct.:surprise:


    • Maybe a whiff of petroleum?:eek:
    • These may be easier to pick out if you remove a sample from the aquarium introducing as little air as possible and
      • let the sample set covered (at least a couple of cm head space) 30-minutes or so, take a whiff as you remove the cover.
      • Look and see if you notice an oily sheen on the water, shiny perhaps even a rainbow.
    • Do you ever notice any sticky, gooey slimy deposits?
      • These may be brown, grey or yellowish. T
      • hese deposits tend to form in and around intakes and so forth.
      • May be mistaken for brownish algae, but are crumbly in a slimy sort of way.
    • Any brownish-grey or yellowish deposits on lower leaves?
      • These may appear to be holes, may be brushed, or possibly scraped away, sort of like odd or dead algae
    [FONT=&quot]H[SUB]2[/SUB]O + Fe[SUB]2[/SUB]O[SUB]3[/SUB] --> 2Fe(OH)[SUB]2[/SUB] + O[SUB]2[/SUB][/FONT]




    [HR][/HR]
    Treatment time for me, hopefully I will get back to my old gasbag-self in a day or two.
    :p


    Biollante

     
  17. Florin Ilia

    Florin Ilia Lifetime Charter Member
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    Hi Bio!

    Thanks for taking (again) the time!

    BRS lignite it is then. Small or large particle?
    To quote someone I know, I am not trying to make you mad :), I just want to make sure that I choose a product that won't have unexpected side effects or add new variables!
    I never noticed any smell in my aquarium. I smelled it "on purpose" a few times in the last months (I was inspired by your questions to other people on this forum) - never any noticeable smell.
    I did the 30-min-wait-then-whiff routine - no smell.

    There is no oil film on the surface of the water. I have a lot of surface agitation though (from 2 holes of a vertical spraybar left intentionally above the water and from an airstone - see movie below & please ignore the UG leaves floating around :)).
    [video=youtube;d8NgkQThd2A]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d8NgkQThd2A[/video]
    What size would these deposits be, roughly?
    I hope you will. Best wishes!

    Florin
     
    #77 Florin Ilia, Dec 20, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 20, 2011
  18. Florin Ilia

    Florin Ilia Lifetime Charter Member
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    Mature content warning

    The reason I asked about deposit size is that, back when I had algae (about 5 months ago), I noticed tiny deposits on:
    - the Staghorn algae
    - fine leaved plants such as Rotala wallichii (which was full of algae so maybe it's the same thing)
    The deposits were very small and I always assumed they were organic (particles of mulm, sort of). They were dark yellow/light brown, with sizes of around 1mm perhaps, some more some less. They were the reason for which I suspected that my Staghorn was linked to biologic overload/insufficient oxygenation of my tank.

    In the spirit of full disclosure I will add some pictures from back then. Brace yourself.

    [​IMG] The following images are extremely ugly. Viewer discretion is advised. [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Clicking on the pics links to higher res versions (if you have the stomach for it :))
     
    #78 Florin Ilia, Dec 20, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 20, 2011
  19. Florin Ilia

    Florin Ilia Lifetime Charter Member
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    For the record, I now have cysts of Brachionus calyciflorus available for future water quality experiments :)
     
  20. Gerryd

    Gerryd Plant Guru Team
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    Hi Florin,

    Trust me, I have pics of MY tanks that would scare the color out of your pics :)

    A few years back, a 'professional' maintaining my 180 while I was away set the light duration to 23 hours daily. I came back to a tank full of thread algae, BBA, BGA, you name it! Fish were healthy and water was clean though. Just some work to get it right again.

    Anyhoo, I think we all have some skeletons in our fishie closets that we are a bit ashamed of...

    Thanks for being brave and sharing!
     
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