Overwhelming Numbers

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Overwhelming Numbers

Postby Steph on Sat Oct 01, 2011 9:45 pm

I was going to add this to the Horrors of Hatching thread, but then decided it had enough of its own content to merit a new thread. It's on the same vein as the Horrors of Hatching, though.

Back in May 2011, I adopted three small apple snails. A wild-type I fell in love with at the LFS, and two goldens who were in the tank with her. Sadly one of the goldens died young, but the other golden and the wild-type thrived - both doubled in size in about a month. 6 weeks after bringing them home, the wild girl laid her first egg clutch. She went on to lay a phenominal ten egg clutches in just over a month. From June 27th (first clutch) to August 3rd (10th clutch) she was a busy girl. Very sadly, I think she wore herself out because after the 10th she did not lay again, and early in September she passed away.

This isn't about her though, it's about the babies. I (intentionally) allowed two clutches to hatch. A third one which was well-hidden also ended up hatching. I removed and destroyed the other seven. I did have a plan of course, for the babies: my local fish shop will 'buy' (for store credit) juvenile snails if they are about the size of a nickle - say about 5/8" to 3/4" across. They will accept pretty much anything if it's free though.

The three clutches hatched over a span of 15 days - July 10th, July 14th, and July 25th. These were what I would call average-sized clutches - I've seen bigger but these seemed to be typical for the P. diffusa I have kept. About 2 to 2.5 inches long, and a little over 0.5 inches across at the thickest point.

In the time since the clutches hatched, I've been trying to tend to the snails in my 38-gallon tank, which is also home to a few fish and a small frog. As the snails got bigger, they were of course consuming more and more food, and producing more and more waste, putting a greater and greater strain on the tank - not to mention on me, trying to look after them. To make matters worse, I ran into some health issues of my own which made it even more difficult for me to look after them.

Yesterday I finally realized that I was not going to be able to care for them all long enough to get a suitable number of them to the 'sellable' size my LFS wanted. I had 2 or 3 dozen that were easily big enough, but many, many more which were not. I ended up pulling out what I estimated to be about half the number of snails, ranging in size from pea-size (lots!) to nickle-size (a couple dozen) and donating them to the LFS. I also took a handful of pea-size ones out and dropped them in my 23gal tank, which is normally a fish-only tank.

Today, now that the numbers were thinned out, I took a headcount. First in the 'fish' tank. I did not count every single snail, but visually divided the tank into sections and counted the snails in a couple sections. I came up with between 100 and 150 pea-size snails! That was the 'handful'! The numbers I took to the LFS were 3 to 4 times that. There was at least two pounds of snails in the container that I took there.

And in my 38-gal tank, now that their numbers are cut by 'about half', a headcount brings me to over 300 snails still in there. The snails in the big tank have a wider range of size - the smallest are the size of a BB, or about 3mm across, up to 3/4" across.

Using conservative figures, I am estimating that between what I still have in my 38gal tank, what I have in my 23gal tank, and what I took to the LFS yesterday, there were at least 700 to 800 baby snails, out of the three clutches that hatched.

Staying on the conservative side that is still 700 snails, each of whom as an adult would require 2.5 gallons of water, filtration, food, heat, and regular maintenance -- a total of 1,750 gallons of maintained aquarium space.

That would be thirty-five 50-gallon tanks, housing nothing but snails.

Personally, I find that completely overwhelming!

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Re: Overwhelming Numbers

Postby pbgroupie on Sun Oct 02, 2011 1:17 pm

Thanks for posting the warning Steph! It's what I tried to explain in the "Horrors" thread viewtopic.php?f=8&t=15142 and your experience is exactly what happens when you hatch a (very) successful clutch or more. Sorry you're having problems and I hope everything gets right soon. I'm going to sticky this because I think it's a good warning.
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Re: Overwhelming Numbers

Postby Steph on Sun Oct 02, 2011 4:18 pm

Thankyou pbgroupie!

The numbers are still pretty overwhelming and I can imagine another trip to the LFS in the coming weeks, though I'm hoping that I'll have a better chance of staying ontop of the tank stats now.

One thing that I think has been a bit lucky was that the other inhabitants of my 'snail' tank, like the apple snails, can take oxygen from the air. The corydora catfish and (female) bettas can both 'gulp' air. And of course the African dwarf frog is an air-breather. The fish have been going for air more often I think, and unfortunately I did lose one of my bettas during all this.

The snails seem to be doing well once they escape the overcrowding - I gave 8 babies to my sister in early September and in four weeks they had all rapidly grown to over an inch.

And that actually leads to the next 'big fear' - with so many snails growing and maturing at different rates, it's almost a given that some of them will reach maturity and start laying new egg clutches, while I'm still dealing with the 'aftermath' of the previous generation.
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Re: Overwhelming Numbers

Postby Steph on Mon Oct 31, 2011 4:37 pm

Another update... appropriate for hallowe'en because it's Scarey! Well maybe not any more so than the rest of the thread.

Image

Here is a picture of one hundred and eighty snails that I took to the LFS this morning. There were 120 which were 3/4 of an inch or larger, and 60 who were between 1/2 and 3/4 of an inch.

I still have well over 100 more snails still in my tanks, all going back to the three clutches which hatched in July.

Cheers!
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Re: Overwhelming Numbers

Postby pbgroupie on Mon Oct 31, 2011 7:27 pm

You have some beauties in there! Hope they find good homes quickly.
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Re: Overwhelming Numbers

Postby Nerite and Apple Mom on Wed Nov 09, 2011 10:35 am

Good luck with the snail management. I really like the darker gold ones with the stripes, they remind me of tiger's eye stones almost.
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Re: Overwhelming Numbers

Postby Steph on Thu Dec 01, 2011 2:47 am

Thanks for the comments! The brown striped yellows with the pale feet have become one of my favorites as well. I want to call them tiger-striped even though I know they aren't really anything like tiger stripes...

It's been a month since my last trip to the LFS, so today I rounded up another huge pile of snails to take in...

Image

That is 215 more apple snails. These are all still out of the same three clutches that hatched in July.

After I had this gallon-o-snails ready to go, I took a quick headcount in my two tanks. I figure there's around 50 to 70 snails remaining, though the majority are marble-sized and smaller - little guys who aren't growing, who probably weren't able to compete as well for the food. I did keep four bigger ones; two of the 'tigerstripes', a dark-striped and a golden.

Then at the LFS, I ran into another one of the hazards of Overwhelming Numbers... When I told them I had 215 more snails for them, they balked. They offered to pick out 50, then they wanted to send me back home with the rest.

Nooooooooo! :toomuch:

I asked if they'd accept 50 on the arranged terms, then let me donate the rest to them. I couldn't bring them back home, it's been killing my tanks for the past 3 months having so many snails. (Changing filter inserts almost daily. Doing cleanings and water changes every other day.)

So they took the 215 snails, and I got credit for 50 of them. They're the only LFS in town who will take livestock - we have two Petsmarts but they won't take anything, they told me they can only accept stock from their head office.

Anyhow, so it's been about four and a half months since this all started. It's been quite a wild ride. With maybe 60 snails, I'll still have to find homes for more of them before it's all over, but hopefully this will take the pressure off of my tanks.

Cheers!
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Final Chapter

Postby Steph on Thu Mar 29, 2012 1:31 pm

This little saga came to its conclusion last week, when I took one last batch of 66 snails to my LFS.

I thought I had kept 10 snails for myself but it turns out the number is actually 13 - so I have a bakers dozen of apple snails now, out of the hundreds and hundreds and hundreds that hatched back in July.

Once that last batch was out of my tank, I was finally able to restore the tank from a crisis / emergency zone into an attractive show-tank. During the whole crazy population thing, I had been forced to remove the substrate and most of the decore just to ensure I could clean it thoroughly.

The money I got from the LFS for the babies was basically a token amount, a pittance, compared to what it cost to support them. Just the cost in food, water conditioner, filter inserts, etc. was enormous. The 'cost' of time in all the extra cleanings was something else, then there was the stress of watching a formerly stable tank go into 'permanent crash' mode.

And finally there was a cost in terms of the toll it took on my other aquarium inhabitants. That cost was spread over two tanks, as at one point I put a 'handful' of young apple snails into my fish tank, where they quickly grew and overwhelmed that tank's ecology. (the handful turned out to be about 150 snails.) Between the two tanks, I lost 1 yoyo loach, 2 zebra danios, 2 mollies, 3 harlequin rasboras, and 3 female bettas. I'd had all of them for at least a year, and all were doing well before the snail explosion.

At this point, I have to say - never again! You can bet I'm very careful about removing egg clutches, and hope to never repeat this arduous and stressful situation. Now I plan to once again be able to relax and enjoy watching my snails doing their fun snaily things.

Cheers!
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Re: Overwhelming Numbers

Postby pbgroupie on Thu Mar 29, 2012 7:41 pm

It belongs up there with the horrors of hatching thread so I'm going to make an announcement out of it as well. Thank you for sharing your educational first-hand experience.
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Re: Overwhelming Numbers

Postby Mombo2 on Wed Oct 10, 2012 12:07 am

I know that your initial post was quite a long time ago and it is scary; I'm trying to hatch my first clutches, 5, that I didn't get rid of. I'm still in the honeymoon stage since I haven't seen any hatch-lings yet, but it brings up a question; if you can freeze human eggs, why not snail eggs? Would you have to do it in liquid nitrogen? If you could spread out the hatching it sounds ideal. I haven't researched it at all, just a question that popped up!
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Re: Overwhelming Numbers

Postby Goldibug on Wed May 01, 2013 12:16 am

Thanks for this post! I was thinking of keeping two clothes that are on the smaller side but am now going to remove all but a quarter of one clutch. I still have a week or two. I also now realize that unless I want more snails than I need I better talk with my lps and petco to see if they'd like some babies. Fortunately two of my neighbors each have one tank so it'll help if they're interested too.
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Re: Overwhelming Numbers

Postby firefly on Wed May 01, 2013 4:09 am

The first two snails I got for my current tank just happened to be a male and a female. We started getting clutches like crazy. My roommate kept begging me to let us hatch a clutch or two. I was very diligent about looking for and removing them. (I'm only allowed one tank in my apartment and I'm really pushing it size-wise at 37g). She thought it would be fun to raise baby snails. I didn't want hundreds of babies. (she really didn't think one clutch would produce hundreds of babies). I did manage to find some purple and pink snails on e-bay that came to us about pea-size, so hopefully that counts as raising baby snails. I think she would be a little disappointed in hatchlings because she wouldn't be able to see them.

Of course, once I am allowed more tanks, I do plan to breed again. But, only one clutch at a time hatched, and those snails must find homes before I hatch a new one.... (this is a long way off in the future, when I move, so we're talking years here).

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