Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Fickle Fishbowl - Gripes and Grouches of an Aquarist

Malaysian Trumpet Snails

In this Fickle Fishbowl installment, I'm going to address the little critter that has become the bane of my existence... that's right, folks ~ the dreaded Malaysian Trumpet Snail, aka Melanoides tuberculata. And for those of you who don't know what snail I'm refering to...

Taa Daa! Here's his mugshot:

Grrr ~ Just looking at the pic gets my blood to boiling. lol

Now, to be fair ~ not everyone shares my feelings about this little guy. Some people actually like them and PURPOSEFULLY add them to their aquariums because they do provide certain benefits. (Yeah, I was one of those in the beginning - sad, but true). They're great at eating leftover food that falls to the bottom and they burrow into the substrate during the day, reducing the risk of developing those nasty pockets of anaerobic bacteria. As a bonus, they do NOT eat all your live plants.

Sounds great huh? Well, in small numbers, these snails would be a great addition to an aquarium. But notice I said "small numbers." Ahhh~ there's the catch you see, because these are some prolific, live-bearing little buggers! Just one trumpet snail can easily and quickly become hundreds and you may not even notice them until it's too late because they hide during the day and come out after lights-out.

These little suckers have managed to infiltrate nearly every tank in my fishroom. I've tried nearly everything, short of chemical treatment, to evict them and they always come back.

Hand-picking them out of the tank is an exercise in futility ~ you always miss at least one and it's terribly time-consuming. I've tried reduced feeding, but I have other bottom-feeders that need to eat so that's a little tricky. Plus, they'll eat algae if there aren't any left-overs for them to munch on and let's face it - it's nearly impossible to keep all the algae out of a planted tank.

I've thought of stocking the tank with something that will eat the snails, but Trumpet Snails have such hard shells that most fish can't eat them. Puffers have been known to suck them out of their shells, and ooooh ~ I'd love to have one! But they're a demanding fish to keep. Puffers should be housed by themselves and do best in at least a low-end brackish tank. Considering the fact that my hubby is holding my new living room flooring hostage against my promise to not set up any more tanks, that's just not an option right now. *sigh*

Light on the Horizon

So, one day I'm cruising around one my favorite forums, Fishgeeks ( I run across a post about an Assassin Snail! Yep, you heard me right ~ Assassin Snail, aka Anetome helena. WOOT! *nods* These guys eat other snails! The really cool part is that they supposedly prefer the pest snails so will eat them first. Once those are all gone, these sweet little hit-men turn cannibal and start taking each other out. Instant population control. Wanna see this blood-thirsty beauty?

Taa Daa... Here he is:

Isn't he a beautiful little killer? :)

But as always, there's a glitch to any perfect solution ~ Assassin snails aren't commercially available in the US yet. Believe me... I tried. lol I even when so far as to call one of the lfs nearby and ask them if they would special order some for me. No go. Even they can't get any.

But wait! Don't give up hope yet! They have been found on Aquabid, from a seller in Germany. 3 snails for $20 - shipped. Shipped, I say! Now, compared to the price of your average snail (free to $1-2) that might seem steep, but think about what they can do! They eat other snails! I am soooo getting my hands on some of these (as soon as I can figure out how to get them in my house and into their tanks without my hubby seeing). I'll be sure to post an update of my Assassin snail adventure.

Anyone else have an experience with either of these snails? Feel free to share!


Leanne said...

Cool! I like the Fickle Fishbowl! Catchy title. Maybe you should do these on Fridays. haha.

Do they have freshwater Puffers? I had no idea. We had a salt water one who was soooo cute, but sadly he died. Grr.

Good luck with your murder for hire snails. I hope they do their job professionally. lol

Nikabee said...

"Friday's Fickle Fishbowl?" lol I like it! Thanks! I can't wait to get my sweet little killers! :)

To answer your question about Puffers ~ there are several puffers that are marketed as freshwater and many of them will do ok for A WHILE in a freshwater environment. Truly though, they do much better in a brackish to marine tank as this more closely reflects their natural environment. There is a lot of background to this idea, so I will add puffers to my list to profile.

**Anyone interested in learning about puffers can either check back with me later or swim over to (a link in my sidebar) to learn more.**