I noticed that a photograph that I took of my snail is used without permission in the article http://www.ratemyfishtank.com/articles/150
Normally I am quite nice about sharing my photos but I prefer to be asked first.
Also the article writer's opinion of snails is not mine.
Snails do not affect the net nitrogen balance of a tank. If we did a mass balance on the tank for nitrogen it would be as follows:
Accumulation = In - Out + Generation - Consumption
= food - water changes + rotting creatures and plants - new plant growth
The snails do not affect the net nitrogen balance. The food is the nitrogen source and whether the snails are eating it and holding onto it for a while or not, that same nitrogen atom is eventually going to enter the water column whether it's now as ammonia as the food is rotting or later as ammonia in snail excretion or even later when the snail's body is rotting. The snail cannot prevent that nitrogen atom from entering the water column. Its presence is basically of no consequence. Where snails do matter, and where I think people might have problems, is when you kill all of your snails at once. Even though they're small, if there's a lot of small bodies rotting all at one time you can get quite an ammonia spike.
Ammonia spikes are especially a problem in bacterially filtered tanks, which rely upon nitrosomonas bacteria to convert ammonia to nitrite and nitrospira bacteria to convert nitrite to nitrate. These bacteria populations are slow to grow (as demonstrated when they take weeks almost months to establish themselves in new tanks) and do not respond to the ammonia spike quickly enough to prevent the fish from becoming ill. This is not as big of a problem in plant filtered tanks, or tank where at least one growing live plant is present, as the plant will switch from eating nitrate to eating ammonium the moment it is present. Citing Diana Walstad on the website http://theaquariumwiki.com/Plants_and_B ... r_Nitrates , most aquatic plants preferentially absorb ammonium first over nitrate, and will remove it from the water over the course of hours.
So. Snails. They are really not a problem. They are only eating food that would have just rotted on the ground anyway, not altering its path of eventually entering your water column as ammonia. If people kept fish that ate the snails then they really wouldn't increase to large numbers. I keep gulf coast pygmy sunfish, which eat them, so I barely have any snails in my tank. Before I did that I sold my snails about once a month and made $10 off of them. Snails and I have never had anything other than a positive relationship, except that one time that darn apple snail literally bit chunks out of my aponogeton. Yeah, I don't like the plant-eating species. But the physa fontinalis, lymnaea, and ramshorn snails that I have don't annoy me at all. I actually really enjoy breeding things so back before I got the pygmy sunfish and I sold 400 snails a month, I would selectively breed them by shipping away the snails who were the least bit of a color that I wanted. I was able to breed for white physa fontinalis and red ramshorn after starting out with dark brown populations of both, which entertained me quite a lot. (I love breeding things).
My point? Oh yes. Snails are cool. They neither clean nor dirty your tank. Don't get stupid apple snails that eat your plants. And yes, stick a live plant in your tank. The only thing to fear is fear itself, and an ammonia spike in a tank with no plant filtration.
Photo used without permission
Member introductions and random (non-aquarist) topics.
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I have apple snails (gold mystery snails) in my planted tanks, they do not eat your healthy plants. They will however eat any dead or dying plant matter. They do a brilliant job of keeping my plants looking nice!