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Starting a Planted Tank

Plant Nutrients 101

Phophates in the Planted Tank

Activated Carbon

Fertilizer & the Planted Aquarium

CO2 & the Planted Tank

Algae Control

Safety Around the Aquarium

Cleaning Aquarium Glass

Mysterious Fish Deaths Explained!

Aquarium Photography

New Tank Syndrome

Choosing an Aquatic Heater

Tips for Beginning Fishkeepers

Salt in the Aquarium

Outdoor Patio Tubbing

Malaysian Trumpet Snails

 

 

Malaysian Trumpet Snails in a Planted Aquarium

Malaysian Trumpet SnailMalaysian Trumpet Snails, Melanoides tuberculata, are a small but very valuable and useful resident of aquariums.  These elongated snails are unlike other snails.  They do not eat plants (although they will eat dead leaves or decaying plants), which makes them safe for the planted aquarium.  MTS reproduce by a process called parthenogenesis, i.e., they are livebearers that do not require two parents.  The individual snail carries both male and female organisms, so that it can reproduce by itself, asexually. 

MTS are very tolerant of just about any water conditions.  Any temperature suitable for fish is also suitable for MTS.  As with all snails, they prefer their water to be a little on the hard side.  This helps them to build strong shells.  pH can be anything from 7.2 up to 8.2 or so, and they’ll do fine.

MTS have many useful qualities.  They hide in the gravel during the day, so that you rarely see them during daylight hours.  After dark, they come up out of the gravel and spread across the tank, performing their janitorial duties.  MTS eat algae, including hard-to-control hair algae.  They also clean and aerate the substrate, preventing pockets of anaerobic bacterial formation, which can produce deadly Hydrogen Sulfide gas.  Their burrowing keeps the substrate loose, but they don’t disturb even delicate plant roots. 

Finding MTS can be a problem.  Most fish stores don’t sell them as such, but often they have them in their plant tanks, where they have hitched a ride in on new plants.   If you ask politely for a few of them, most fish stores are delighted to give them to you.   Frequently, they will travel home to your tank with new plant purchases, and one day you’ll look in your tank and discover that you have a nice new population of MTS.  If you belong to an aquarium club, you can usually find several members who have some of these valuable snails, and who will give you a starter population of them.

MTS regulate their own numbers.  When food is plentiful, they multiply.  When food is scarce, they stop multiplying.  Thus, your tank will eventually reach a point of equilibrium, where you have just enough MTS for your tank, and no more.  They will rarely reach plague proportions unless you heavily overfeed your fish. 

 While many fish prey on snails and wipe them out, MTS seem to be more immune to these fish predators.  Angelfish will leave them alone, and so will Discus.  However, if you want to keep your snails, it is wise not to put them in a tank with a Clown Loach or Goldfish, which will eat them. 

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