Common Conditions & General Info

All about health problems of your snails (shell holes, inactivity etc.).
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Common Conditions & General Info

Postby Donya on Fri Aug 10, 2007 9:27 pm

I will be adding additional information to this thread and updating it as time goes on to avoid the accumulation of ever more topic-specific stickies on common conditions/questions/etc. Some existing stickies may be combined into this thread over time.

Current topics in the order presented:

1. Genetic disorders and heritable traits
2. Ammonia/nitrite poisoning & treatment
3. Tetracycline
4. Inactive snail - is it dead?
5. Inactive snails & loss of appetite
6. Patching materials - glues, nail polish, etc.
7. Shell repair case study

EDIT (10/Jan/2008):
Updated links for the snail health doc/pdf:
That document includes my own findings and suggestions along with other information originally from this website. It is a little out of date, but may help to answer some urgent questions.
Last edited by Donya on Thu Jan 10, 2008 4:51 pm, edited 9 times in total.
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Postby Donya on Fri Aug 10, 2007 9:28 pm

Genetic disorders and heritable traits

A heritable trait is one that can be selected for or against by breeding. It is always present in individuals that have the trait, and manifests itself the same way in other individuals that also possess it. Phenotypic plasticity is exhibited when a "trait" only occurs under certain conditions, and offspring raised under different conditions will not manifest it. Phenotypically plastic traits are generally not heritable, but rather environmentally induced. The following is a list of traits and their apparent heritability:

Heritable Traits - these conditions show a strong heritability trend. This means that if a parent snail exhibits the condition, some of the offspring in the vast majority of or all same-trait crossing display that trait.

Thin Shell Disorder. This is a condition in bridgesii that affects the thickness of the calcium-based layer of the shell that gives the shell it's strength. The shell is perpetually very thin, extremely fragile, and breaks easily. It tends to display the following pattern across generations:

Parents: one or both parents may show some tendency towards shell breaks, but not significantly enough that they cannot breed.
Offspring: many offspring may show the same trends as the parents, but some (and in rare cases most) will display severe shell problems and will crush easily. These ultra-fragile snails usually die before they reach reproductive age, die from mating damage, or die shortly after reproduction. There is a strong correlation between these two levels of severity, and often little occurance of snail groups that show a continuous gradient of the condition; there are primarily only two levels at which the condition is expressed.

This pattern suggests that the trait may be a simple Mendelian trait, where the number of copies of the recessive gene determines the severity of the condition:
TT = normal (hypothetically)
Tt = parent condition
tt = severe condition that is usually fatal

Snails that crush easily do not have offspring with thick shells, further indicating that the trait is heritable.

Other shell deformities

There are other, rarer types of deformities in bridgesii that affect the shell and may be heritable. The heritability pattern of these is less certain since mortality rates tend to be high and therefore it is difficult to study such conditions across generations. These conditions often cause the mantle to be improperly shaped and therefore the shell grows strangely. Generally these snails suffer growth complication and do not survive to adulthood, and the parent snails may not show the condition obviously. The mantle may be unevenly shaped, causing the shell to bluge or twist oddly. It has been observed to affect entire clutches of snails raised under different conditions, and the parents may consistently produce clutches of offspring that show the problem, indicating that it is likely not an environmentally induced problem.

Potentially Heritable Conditions - these traits need further study to determine if they may be heritable or constitute a true genetic trait.

Forked Siphon
There have been some reports that snails posessing forked siphons have offspring that later go on to develope a "fork" in the same place on the siphon.

Dysfunctional Siphon
Some snails have siphons that are kinked and do not extend properly. It is questionable whether this is an environmentally induced problem, but offspring of a snail with a dysfunctional siphon may suffer from the same problem (although not always).

Conditions that are not Heritable - these conditions do not constitute true genetic traits because either they do not show a consistent heritability trend, or show a strong correlation with environmental effects (known as phenotypic plasticity--the environment affects characteristics that appear to be genetic traits but arn't in fact genetic at all).

Fissures. The term fissure applies to a sharply V-shaped wedge that develops as a snail grows. Injured or healing tissue can be generally observed at the tip of the V. There are characteristic growth lines radiating out from the tip of the V where subsequent shell layers are put down. It is a problem that does not occur unless the snail damages the mantle in some way to affect the production of shell in that area. Damage in most snails usually occurs from mating or clamping down on an uneven or sharp object. Pressing the shell firmly against the intersection of two aquarium tank walls can be enough to cause this injury if the snails shell is thin (either due to TSD or rapid growth). This cannot be considered a true genetic trait because of the following that is easily observable in different bridgesii gene pools: two fissure-bearing snails are crossed and produce fissureless offspring that are healthy, and these offspring later go on to produce healthy offspring.

Because two fissure-bearing snails can produce 100% healthy offspring that have no shell problems, even when injuries have occured, it indicates that it is not a heritable treat. This does not rule out the fact that fissures may be a side-effect of other genetic disorders (namely TSD, especially in the Tt form), but it does not mean that the fissures themselves are heritable, since it is an injury-induced problem. It is possible that fissures may be a case of phenotypic plasticity, whereby some conditions produce snails that are prone to fissures, since low calcium levels and high temperatures can produce the problem. However, phenotypic plasticity is not an indicator of heritability (it is the opposite, in fact).

Shell Breaks. For the same reasons as fissures, shell breaks as an injury are not heritable traits. Repeated severe shell breaks may, however, be a sign of TSD.

Misc. Deformities. The majority of strange shell deformities seen in apple snails are actually due to an old injury somewhere in the snail's growth history. Bad shell breaks, and even healed fissures can cause the shell to twist or distort in ways that may even cause the snail to appear to be a different species. These cases are not heritable because the offspring do not exhibit the same condition.
"That's not a's a water goat!"--In loving memory of Eatith - My Research
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Postby Donya on Sat Aug 11, 2007 5:33 pm

2. Ammonia/Nitrite Poisoning & Treatment
(originally posted Sat Nov 06, 2004)

Ok folks, I think I have this thing figured out (finally). First off, ammonia and nitrite poisoning only occurs at levels that are well in or above the toxic range for fish. Many types of fish will exhibit symptoms and kick the bucket long before many apple snails will. However, bridgesiis seem to be particularly susceptible out of the species I have dealt with: Pomacea bridgesii, P. canaliculata, Marisa cornaurietis, and P. insularum.

Symptoms: Inactivity, immobility, noticable swelling of the foot and siphon, and unresponsiveness. The snail will lie on the bottom of the tank for days at a time without moving. In most cases, the snail will sink like a rock and sit on its back extended out of the shell with the foot held open. Snails will be oblivious to all but the most sever prodding and jostling. Affected snails will not be able to close up completely or propperly and often have the foot folded awkwardly in half, sticking largely out the front when they try to close up. The tissue in the foot may be swollen evenly or it may be irregularly swollen; the foot is usually hard to the touch. Frequently the siphon is partially extended and inflamed as well, although it is unsusually squishy when poked.

Treatment: Remove the affected snail(s) from the water and place them on a hard, cool surface. Placing them in a dry or moist tub (no standing pools of water, though a film of water accross the bottom is ok to prevent desication) on a countertop at room temperature and leave them for up to 15 minutes. Be sure to mist the tub if you leave it completely dry. By this time, mild cases should have resolved and the snails should be either able to close up completely and normally, or they should be out and walking around normally. Any snails still exhibiting symptoms should be kept most, possibly placed in detoxified water for a few minutes, and then have the treatment repeated. I do not recommend doing this treatment for more than 3 repetitions. If 3 repetitions pass and the snail is still exhibiting symptoms, leave it in shallow (2-4" deep), detoxified water overnight and try again the next day.

I do not actually know why the treatment works, I just know it does. I had to do this procedure on about 8 of my breeder bridgesiis today due to an ammonia spike and I have had to do it in the past for nitrite spikes. I suspect it has something to do with oxygen binding and therefore exposure to more oxygen gets circulation going again and the swelling decreases, etc.


Applicable quotes from original thread:

aimless wrote:Just for reference, those symptoms are also the same my tankful of first snails were showing in a fully-cycled tank filled with water NOT treated to neutralize metals. Just brought up so a newbie can realize this may also be the problem, as I tore my hair out for over a week trying to figure out what was going on with my snails when all the fish were perfectly active and healthy, happy. Bought a different water conditioner (the same one you use Donya! ), added the prescribed amount of drops and after almost 2 weeks of needless suffering (TRUST me, not for my lack of trying, just my lack of experience), the snails started perking up w/in hours.


nannasmom wrote:A really good water conditioner to head off these kinds of issues is Seachem Prime. Just my opinion! Really does a good job in my tanks! Wonderful stuff for shipping snails!

terribryant wrote:That's what I use, it is good stuff. If for some reason I can't do a water change and I know it is needed I also add aquamel + to my tank, it gets rid of everything temporarily. I only recommend this if you have to put your water change off for 24 hours, no longer.


demented_lullaby wrote: just want to let you know this topic more than likely saved the life of my poor Marisa and Cana. I noticed their foot swelling and a lot of inactivity from them, quickly pulled them out of the water I had them in and let them chill out. A few days have passed and they're doing awesome now. Gliding around the tank, swimming up my plants and munching on them

curiel_girl wrote:what if the snail is swollen, but is still very responsive and pretty active. and the other snails in the tank are doing just fine, would you classify that as the same thing and treat it the same way?

SnailTrail wrote:I would say that if a single snail is acting a bit swollen but is able to close up ok it's not a problem if the other snails are all acting normally. I would test the water though just to check there's no ammonia or nitrIte present.

kittikatti69 wrote:I had a nitrite spike and it only affected one of my three large snails and one of my six or so small ones. My trapdoors seemed unaffected as well. I'm sure the others would have been affected eventually, but it was the one large snail that alerted me to the problem.
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Postby Donya on Sat Aug 11, 2007 5:41 pm

3. Tetracycline
(originally posted Thu Dec 15, 2005)

Tetracycline of the type used in aquarium medications is snail safe. I realize it's a long-held thing that it wasn't snail safe, but no one had actually tested it. It's been tested now by more than just myself, and it's safe for APPLE SNAILS. That means: no promises about Viviparids and other types of snails just yet...treat all non-apple snails as an unknown as far as their reaction to tetracycline is concerned.

The dossage that is acceptable for fish is also acceptable for snails. There are some cautions though:

- you need to change the water between each dossage if it recommends it on the medication (the pure stuff in capsuls recommends water changes). The reason being that tetracycline is a very strong antibiotic as far as aquariums are concerned, and if you add x amount today and the same amount tomarrow without a water change, you will have 2x amount in the tank.

- do not use tetracycline unless you have no other snail-safe choice. The reason here is the same for why it's dangerous to use too many antibiotics with other risk creating "super bugs" that are immune to that particular antibiotic, and then you will most likely not have a snail-safe alternative to turn to.

- do not use any calcium supliments while using tetracycline. If you have crushed coral, you should avoid using tetracycline unless the coral can be removed from the tank for the duration of the treatment. Tetracycline will bind to calcium, which lessens the effect of the medication and is a waste of calcium. If you have a crushed coral substrate, you should try to use tetracycline in a hospital tank for affected animals rather than in the main tank.

Also, you can combine powdered tetracycline safely for snails with Melafix, but I don't recommend it, because the two react somehow and produce foam rapidly.


Applicable quotes from the original thread:

joyce tryoon wrote:Donya,
Did you notice the snails get very perky. Real scientific here :o
I noticed that they seem to just get happy and whiz all over and eat everything in sight. Hey that sounds alot like Mary jo symptons :lol:
Sorry I was a 60's child. Nother thing they lay lots of clutches.

Must be a sulfa high :lol:

Makes sense this drug would help and not harm. The fact that the egg clutches have a high sulfa content tells me that they can handle it. Also look at the high sulfa content of the water the Salton Sea snails live in. They should be deader then a door nail.

joyce tryoon wrote:I have read that tetracycline was the drug of choice for many aquatic critters .Now it is no longer effective on a NEW strain of diseases. These diseases are wipeing out shellfish farms. These super bugs are no longer being killed by the meds that kept them in check. Just like our own diseases. Over use of antibiotics. Bugs mutate and then your much needed drug is of no use at all.

joyce tryoon wrote:I was wondering about something. That nasty infection that I have seen in pictures on the snails foot. A snail has the ability to wall off things it cannot heal. The lumps and bumps . This nasty foot thing they seem to have no way to heal it. Snails in the wild have axcess to natural sulfa, its everywhere we all need it. Aquariums are an unatural habitat for snails. No natural grazing.
I posted a long time ago about my snails eating pond sand. The substance on the bottom of my tanks is straight from my pond. I dig the sand and heat it for an hour. They spend hours grazing and eating it.When I take out part of the old and put new in.They get all jiggy and munch and munch.
Just something to think about- sulfa and snails.

kugger wrote:Have you ever had a snail with a bacterial infection, and if so how did you diagnose it as such? I just wonder if the use of a pretty broad spectrum anti biotic is justifyable especially in the light of the problems you pointed out yourself (bacterial resistance). I personally think that if there actually is wide spread bacterial infection killing snails in your tank(s) there must be some underlying problem, requiring other measures than antibiotic medication.

So I´m wondering, for what kind of problems have you used tetra cycline, and was it succesfull (in the long run also?)

Donya wrote:Kugger: I think you're massively overestimating my capacity for lab work at the moment...true I can do one heck of a lot with 2 tubs and a quarentine tank, but handling contageous snail diseases just for experiment isn't one of them lol. And I've only had Tetracycline this semester. You'll notice I didn't say anything about it being an effective treatment for problems...I tested apple snails' tollerance for it, that's all. The main use of tetracycline is for crays/shrimp and fish. So, you can treat your fish/crays/shrimp without taking the snails out. The only snail use I would currently say is a distinct tetracycline option is for spotty fungal-like problems on snails that don't respond to Melafix/Pimafix (meaning it's not fungus and probably some bad bacteria that for whatever reason don't get had by eugenol). In that case, giving tetracycline a go wouldn't hurt in a quarentine tank. Those problems are also extreemly rare, so it wouldn't risk overusage of antibiotics.

Joyce: that stuff made Marisas come out and be bouncy, so I think that alone says it can make snails perky given how antisocial Marisas are :lol: it must be a bit like Melafix in that respect...the "woohoo!" factor. I didn't see any evidence though that it would do the Melafix thing of raising activity at certain concentrations and then being a knock-out drug at higher levels...that's a good thing given how potent the stuff is.
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Postby Donya on Sat Aug 11, 2007 5:50 pm

4. Inactive snail - is it dead?

This is a compilation of applicable parts of a thread from Tue Mar 05, 2002.

SnailAndPleco wrote:hello,
My black mystery snail (snailbert) seems to be ill or even dead. He has been inactive for the last 2 days. There is something portruding from the opening in his shell. I am not familar with snail anatomy so I don't know what it is. Pressing on it meets resistance so this has led me to believe my great Snail has passed on.

TheHerper wrote:How to tell if your snail is dead:

If A: it is hanging out of his shell & lifeless take him out and smell it (no joke) it is smells pretty bad he's gone...

If B: you take him out and he closes up he is still alive...

If C: he is closed up already try pushing vary gently on one corner of the shell door (the part of the shell, that closes up into the shell) if it moves/opens hes dead

Dead snail
Dose yours look like this?

The previous post gave you all the good things to check. It may not be easy to tell simply by looking at it. I told my friend here to try touching it with a pen or something... if it moves, it's alive.

I think pulling it out of the water is going to be your best option at this point. Try very gently pulling the operculum (shell door) open. If it simply opens, the snail is dead, but if it won't open, the snail is holding it in, and is alive.

Just an interesting note... nearly a year ago (on the old message board) someone posted a message about having a snail that was inactive for over a month and still be alive. So until you perform the above mentioned checks, you really can't say. =)

I recently had a snail at work fool me into thinking it was dead. It's very hard to tell sometimes. My snail even let another snail crawl on it (and chew on it i think) without reacting, but I took him home and put him into intensive care and he's doing great again.
If you think your snail is dead, but aren't sure enough that you are willing to have his funeral just yet, it might be a good idea to put it in an aquarium on its own (because if it is dead, it certainly won't be good for the water)
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Postby Donya on Sat Aug 11, 2007 6:12 pm

5. Inactive snails & loss of appetite

This is a compilation of a thread started Wed May 15, 2002. Selected/applicable quotes have been added.

Murdock wrote:Greetings everyone. I'm new to the board and have a question for you. I have a very small tank on my desk at work. I can't add a filter, so I clean it once per week. I use filtered Crystal Springs water. I have two african dwarf frogs and one brown Apple Snail. My snail has been extremely heathly since I got him (about 2-3 months ago). We named him Race Car because he cruises around the tank at a speed we thought impossible for a snail! The other day I came to work and he was being very inactive, which is unusual for him. Then his entire body came out of the shell, all weird looking protuberances stretched out as far as possible. His shell hung over to the side an upside down. Since then he's been inactive and not eating. I just now changed the water again and he is at least moving around, but hasn't approached the wafer I put in for him. I guess my question is - do I need to be checking the Ph when using a filtered brand name water? Does their Ph stay fairly consistent? I put the frogs and snail right back in the tank immediately after cleaning. I don't use a thermometer, but I do add a little warm water so it isn't quite so cold when I put them back in. I know that other people keep their snails with frogs, so I assume there isn't any conflict there. I've really enjoyed watching Race Car in my tank and don't want to lose him. Also, is this stretching out activity normal for them? Oh, also, does a lack of calcium only affect the shell, or does this bother their health in other ways too?

Murdock wrote:Okay, R.C. just now started eating the algae wafer and seems to be acting normal. That has to be a good sign if he's getting his appetite back.

phantomphish wrote:Hi I'm having the same problem w/ my snail. I cleaned the tank and did a 25% water change before I put him in. It's in the tank w/ 4 gold fish in a 20 galon tank w/ a filter. I've had him for about 3 weeks.
The first few days he was all over and then the past 4 days he's been in the fairly inactive.
for two days he stayed in the same spot and would open ajar at night then by morning would close up again. He then moved to another location and I haven't noticed if he's opened.
he also came either gave birth to or had attatched to his shell two small baby snails. I haven't seen them and believe they are inside my castle.
should I add spring water when changing the tank. Iused to do this but, it was getting costly every month. I also added a watersoftener to the water as I always do when I cleaned the tank.

thanks in advance..........

Leonora wrote:Hello everyone,

I fell bad...I did a partial water change on my snail tank yesterday, and added a little (a few drops, maybe 6) Kent Liquid Calcium. Since then, one of my Gold apples is very inactive, just floating in the water....
What is going on? Please, someone help!

BugBarb wrote:I am sure you can find a small filter to fit your tank. I have a 2.5 gallon tank at work and had to search far and wide to find a 6 inch heater to fit it. I also have a goldfish bowl that is maybe 16 ounces, and I use a sponge filter in it. I had to trim it to fit, but it does. I have read of people who take tubing and a film cannister and make tiny filters for beta tanks and such. I could not imagine a tank with no filter.
Uou might consider investing in an eclipse explorer starfish tank like I have. It comes with a filter built in. As well as a biowheel.

Dimitra wrote:Leonora,
I had the same thing happen when I first dosed the calcium. I changed the water again minus calcium and had to stop watching because they were freaking me out.

Everything should be ok just give her a bit to get over the shock, try tempting her out with favorite snack after letting her rest.

I now use a very small amount of Kents. 4 drops per 3 gallon bucket of changed out water to a 20 gallon tank and I usually change out no more than 1, 2 if the tank is in bad shape. I add the kents while filling the bucket and adding dechlorinating product. I also put the drops into my palm and then mix them into the bucket so I know I am not adding more than I want with an accidental squirt instead of a drop.

You'll notice that you have achieved the perfect calcium recipe for your tank when every snail seems to be in love.

snailstreaks wrote:Hello Murdock...
exactly how little is this tank? The reason why I ask is that african dwarf frogs are messy. I have a planted 10 gallon set up w/ 1 male betta, 2 african dwarf frogs, and 2 snails. My tank is maxed out... no more room. The frogs really create a need for a filter.. and lets face it ... snails are great fertilizer creators themselves. If you are going to keep with a tiny tank, get an ammo alert for it, and be prepared to make many water changes. The filter will also create more oxygenated water. The frogs, like the snail, absorb through their skin. Ideally, they would be happier in a 5 gallon tank. The 5G Mini Bow has a few drawbacks... the image of my frogs swirling around comes to mind. Eclipse's bio wheel is great. The frogs are fun... and they love reptotreats (by Tetrafauna) the gel stuff... but it is messy too. OK... admitted frog fan here.

eporter wrote:"he" looks terrible (shrunken, curled up tentacles, pot marks in his shell, insides are very pale) and he is hardly moving and is not eating. I am afraidhis mantle may have separated, because I can see way too much of a gap inside his shell. He has fallen from the top a few times and does not seem to right himself (or is just doing it so slowly that I can't tell) and his footplate/gills? don't seem to move like they did. He was previously very active, came when you called him, and I could hand feed him. He is the first snail I have ever had, so I don't know a lot. I don't have anything to check the Ph with tonight, but no major changes in the tank. It does need to be cleaned, but it is not awful. I did recently have several fish die of unknown cause - do snails "catch" things from fish? If you have any ideas, let me know. I don't think I have the heart to euthanize him - I have been hoping he was just hibernating, but he is obviosly ill. This has happened within the last 4 days or so.


Turns out the water WAS bad - unsafe nitrate level, too low pH. I did a half water change last night, and it was somewhat better this morning. I just added some pH adjuster, since it has been 24 hours since the water change and Prime. Last night he actually got up and "walked" around a little. But this morning I found him again at the bottom, upside down. I put him back in the breeder box, but it doesn't look like he has opened up or moved all day. So I am just waiting to see if comes out again. But he didn't react when I touched him, so he may be dead. But I have thought that before (like the first time I found him floating). Keep your fingers crossed. I will keep you posted. Thanks for all your help.

luvfishies wrote:eporter, you'll probably need to to 50% waterchanges EVERY DAY for a few days.

If you know the pH out of the tap, and it's above 7.4, you probably don't need the "pH adjuster". They're usually a waste of money, and can lead to unstable pH values.

eporter wrote:OK, I did the "trap door" test and he is not dead. Also, a tiny little sliver of a tentacle is showing....Is it really safe to change the water every day? It isn't too stressful? I don't want to shock anyone, although if they have survivied so far, they must be pretty hardy. The nitrate level dropped a color bar, but is still in the unsafe zone. I will test the tap water for pH, although I already added the pH fizzies. I was thinking I needed to add another dose of Prime, but I will change the water again (and add the appropriate Prime) if that is better. I am really hoping he will make it!

badflash wrote:Yes, you can safely do a 50% water change every day with conditioned water. No worries other than the work involved.
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Postby Donya on Sun Aug 12, 2007 12:05 am

6. Patching materials - glues, nail polish, etc.

This is a compilation regarding patching. Please keep in mind that the best method at this point is to use a thin layer of epoxy putty over either smooth flexible plastic or eggshell lining. The epoxy putty brand does not matter as long as:
- it cures when wet
- it has a cure time of 1 hour or less (1/2hr to 1hour is best)

These other methods listed below have worked for other people, so if you need an emergency patch and do not have epoxy putty on hand, the information below may be useful.

Also, the references to nail polish are correct. Nail polish can be applied as a preventative measure in cases where the periostracum has been worn off exposing the white aragonite layer to prevent further erosion. However, other snails will chew at the nail polish and it will wear off over time. Nail polish is also effective for marking snails for scientific study for brief periods of time (and I emphasize the word "brief" here) because it does not damage the shell when used in small amounts. Nail polish can also be used to mark snails on the operculum, which may be preferable to marking the shell.


Pam wrote:The most successful shell repairs have been...

A combination of 1:1 liquid quick set epoxy and ground eggshells for surface injuries that do not contact the body tissue.

Marine epoxy putty to cover gaps and areas that do come in contact with the body tissue. Followed up by the first solution to smooth in the edges after a week or so.

I tried using liquid epoxy by itself and the results were not acceptable. Once the epoxy had cured it pealed off easily, even where the shell had been made rough so that it would adhere. By mixing in the egg shell I have achieved a thicker substance and when set it does not peal easily and is less likely to come off in the aquarium, although it can be removed with effort.

The biggest disappointments have been the loss of two of the test subjects. :sad:

Pud had extensive shell deterioration and during the last repair some of the liquid epoxy came in contact with his body tissue. He died a day later.

The escapee had a large hole over his lung, and although the repair seemed successful, and he appeared normal for over a week he succumbed to an infection at the site of the original injury.

Patch before & after repairs

I am happy to report that Patch, one of my first live bridgesi test subjects is doing well, laying eggs and other than a funny looking shell she is normal. Also the Zebra snail, three trapdoor snails and another blue bridgesi are all doing fine. :grin:

Any questions, comments or suggestions (as always) are welcome.

Pam wrote:I rinse my snails a few times in the first hour after the epoxy sets. They I put them into a separate container of water, changing it a couple of times over the next hour. I rinse once more under lukewarm running water and then back in the tank they go. I have put repaired snails in my amphibian tanks with no ill effects to the other tank inhabitants.

Of course if you have very valuable fish or other critters you may just want to keep your repaired snail in a little quarantine setup until you feel ok about returning it to it's original tank. Check the epoxy label and see what the cure time is. That should be a good indication of when it is safe to reintroduce the snail.

One of the reasons I chose epoxy for repairs is that the toxic components dissipate into the air in a relatively short period.

Pam wrote:Aquarium silicone was one of the first things I thought of. There were however two concerns that kept me from experimenting farther than on old shells.

The first is that it's quite toxic until completely cured, and that takes too long.

Even using the fast setting epoxy I have had to pester a snail into remaining inside its shell until the epoxy was hard enough to let the little guy wander around an empty damp container.

The second concern was that silicon will peal easily once set.

If I could find a less toxic, faster curing silicone I would strongly consider testing it though.

Stijn wrote:Just a thought....

Sillicone often contains acetic acid, which would dissolve the shell at the place of attachment. Once it's hardened, the acid is gone...
So if someone is thinking of sillicone, be sure to use an acid free version.


boyelectric wrote:I would tend to head back to the epoxies. They are, as a rule, very tough and durable resins. Silicone resins are useful for very specific things, like high temperature, or flexibility, or other special qualities. They are not usually a broadly applicable resin group.

At least that is what I remember from my days as an organic chemist in a surface coatings lab about 10-12 years ago.

TurtleSteve wrote:My opinions:

i'd just use common super glue. it was designed for use in war to be used to close otherwise mortal wounds. It's safe to use when placing coral in a salt tank, so i'm assuming it's safe for all invertebrates. it even works underwater. when you go to the petstore, you often see dead snail shells in the tank w/ the live snails, ask them if you can have a couple. then break/cut them into patches that can be glued over the hole.

Pam wrote:I tried Krazy glue a few times (it's what is recommended on this site) but I had trouble with it not holding for more than a few days at a time, not getting a good all over attachment and leaving edges that caught on plants etc.

I looked into the medical suture glue, and discovered that it is designed to come off after a period of time and is not designed to be kept wet. So that was out.

I'm not saying it doesn't work well, just not for me. That's why I went about experimenting with the epoxy. You can buy both at the same place, and the epoxy doesn’t require you to deal with shaping the shell bits to fit over the holes amongst other things, but is a bit messier.

Whatever works best for you is what you should use, as long as it's safe for your critters.

tgrupert wrote:

Deputy Stankus wrote:I have two snails who had "craters" (not holes) and all I did was slather on some "Hard as nails" nail strengthener, let that dry, then slather on some "hard as nails" clear nail polish. Once that had dried, I just put the snails back in the tank. They look kinda crappy, like their covered with donut glaze or something...but so far they're doing fine and so are all the rest of the snails and fish. Phew!

Don't get the wrong idea, I love my snails and do my best to keep them from suffering. I was not trying to cut any corners here, and even though this was successful I will quarantine them next time. Also, I will keep a close watch on these guys.
"That's not a's a water goat!"--In loving memory of Eatith - My Research
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Postby Donya on Sun Aug 12, 2007 12:15 am

7. Shell repair case study

This is a compilation of another thread that was stickied. This post serves a good example of cases that should/shouldn't be patched and what to do. The thread was originally started by Shari on Wed Sep 15, 2004. Selected quotes are below.


Shari wrote:I was moving snails today. I placed several of them on a large plate with a little tank water in it. I set the plate on top of another tank. One of my big jade Bridgesii "jumped" of the plate and hit the concrete floor. She has a dent and a big that goes about 75% of the way around her. She is now in a bowl (with a lid) and a 1/2 inch of water. She is crawling around a bit.
How do I repair her shell?
I did read the sticky post at the top, but I am still unclear. What kind of epoxy? Where do I buy it?
Is epoxy and egg shell the best way to repair this kind of damage?

Your help is greatly appreciated.

Donya wrote:Try an epoxy patch where the crack is open. Don't worry about the front part where it's just fractured unless pieces start comming off. Heres what you'll need to do:

1. Get Marine Epoxy Putty from your local hardware store. It's in the glue section, and make sure it says it's putty so it is not liquid stuff. It comes in little tubes, the stuff I have is half green half white.

2. break open a raw egg, gently wrinse out the shell, and nuke it in the microwave for about 2 minutes. After that, here's what I prefer to do rather than using the straight hard shell: peel off large sections of the inner leathery lining and use that to cover the exposed soft tissue. It does not concentrate pressure on places like the shell itself does, so it works wonders on things like fractured and crushed spires.

3. Make sure you don't touch the snail's soft tissue after you have mixed the putty with your hands. Flatten the putty ball out into a very very thin sheet (I try to get it so thin that it will tear if it goes thinner), put the egg lining over the exposed tissue, and put the epoxy sheet over that. Flatten it down. You will need to keep your hands moist but not wet while you do this, and make sure the shell is bone dry, otherwise the putty will either stick to you and not the shell or it won't stick to anything!

4. Let the snail sit somewhere safe out of water for the cure time. Cure time on my putty is 1 hour, and I keep a direct eye on them for this time. After the time is up, I wrinse them in a bowl of water to get any excess putty residue off and then plop them back in the tank.

Hope that helps

debi wrote:Hi Everyone,

I really need your help (I'm new here on the board), while transferring Gary (my favorite) snail from one tank to another he fell to the floor and his shell broke (not cracked), Gary is big, about 2" - how do I help him? I'm sick to my stomach, I saved the broken piece and put gary in a small 2 gallon aquarium with some baby ghost shrimp so nobody will pick on him - Oh, my - how do I help Gary??

Donya wrote:Debi: can you give a better description of where exactly the damage is on the shell and what type of damage occured? Is it just a crack, are pieces missing, is the whole shell like a crushed egg, etc...if you could post a picture that would be best. You may need to do a shell patch, but sometimes patching can actually be worse for the snail than letting the injury heal on it's own if it's minor.

Have a look here: ... oc&docId=8
(see the health download document, link edited 12-Aug-2007)

and see if any of the shell break pictures match your snail's condition. Please keep in mind that those pictures aren't the be-all & end-all of snail shell breaks...those are just some of the more common ones.

EDIT: If you can't post a picture here or don't know how but have a digital camera, e-mail me the pictures in JPG format to I can receive pretty big attachments, but if you could squeeze the pics into 500k that would be easiest for me since I am on dialup.

jennifersnail wrote: have a snail (brig) with a large fissure, extending from some pretty old growth all the way toward the rim. will the epoxy patch method work for this one? the soft tissue is exposed, and it seems that the fissure is just growing with the snail...

Donya wrote:Don't patch a fissure that is growing out. You'll only risk damaging the new shell & mantle edge and irritating any exposed tissue. Keep the snail away from anything it could injure itself on and allow it to heal naturally (e.g. keep it in a breeder net).
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