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A Tale of Two Snail Species

Posted 2009.12.30 10.44 in Aquaria by Stephanie

I don’t really like using labels like ‘good’ and ‘bad’, but they have the advantage of being short, concise, and not-too-inaccurate.¬†Good Snails are the ones that a) you pay money for, b) you give names to, c) you care for, and/or d) that you’ve intentionally raised from babies.

Bad Snails are the pests that sneak in on plants and things, that reproduce like rabbits on fertility drugs, eat all the food, clog up the filter, and generally have all the appeal of fleas on a dog. These are the ones that you spot one or two, then the following week there are four dozen, then the following week there are eleventy million.

They actually pick on the Good Snails, clinging to them like the aforementioned fleas, picking at any faults or flaws in their shells, laying their eggs on them, and driving the Good Snails, and myself, quite mad with frustration.

In the past 6 months, I’ve encountered several species of pest snail. There are the Physidae, commonly known as bladder snails, tadpole snails, or occasionally pond snails. These ones are sort of foot-ball shaped and have sinestral (left-handed) shells, with no operculum (no shell door). The Physidae breed quite quickly, but have thin shells that are easily squished or cracked, and many fish will eat them.

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Posted 2009.08.16 6.47 in Aquaria by Stephanie

WMDSThere comes a time when one must stop and consider the ramifications of having eleventy-million pest snails in their fish tank. Specifically, that time is when there are so many pest snails that they start taking up residence upon the other critters that you actually paid money for and gave names to.

Then, as adverse as I am to such concepts, it becomes unavoidable to realize that the pest snails have become a problem, and have outstayed their welcome. It is still a difficult choice, but when weighing the wellbeing of the three big cute applesnails that one has paid money for, given names to, and observed the development of their individual personalities, versus the aforementioned eleventy-million nameless identical tiny pests that have now invaded every nook and even the crannies… it becomes clear that something must be done. One realizes, it is time to deploy the Weapons of Mass De-Snailing.

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WTF is Non-Toxic Lead?

Posted 2009.07.20 16.29 in Aquaria, Pointless Blather by Stephanie

Not long ago I went through a whacky adventure while trying to deal with plants in my aquarium that wouldn’t stay rooted in the gravel substrate. Lest anyone want to give me a slap and tell me that there are already products on the market that make plant-anchoring easy, I promise you I am already aware of them.

That’s the first thing I looked into, in fact – I went to my LFS (local fish shop) and tried to find a good product that would keep the plants down. There was one such product they sold. I looked at the packaging. I read it. I read it again. And then I asked, What the F***?


Click for a larger view.

The first bullet-point tells you that the product does what you want – keeps those pesky plants planted. Great!

The second bullet-point tells you that it’s safe and non-toxic. Also great! I don’t want to put dangerous or poisonous stuff in my aquarium, I like my fishies and snailies.

The third bullet-point… says it’s made of soft lead? Excuse me? Since when was lead considered safe and non-toxic?

What exactly is non-toxic lead? Is it some other metal that is like lead? Something tells me, if it was made of bismuth they’d have said bismuth instead of lead. No, I think lead is lead. It certainly is soft and would be easy to wrap around the stems, and it is heavy, so it would keep them down. But, I mean, really? If lead were safe and non-toxic, then we wouldn’t have words like Lead Poisoning in our vocabulary, our regional water processing people wouldn’t be making a big deal over Testing for Lead in our drinking water, and we wouldn’t make fun of the Romans for using lead pipes to deliver their water.

So.. how can they claim that a lead product is safe and non-toxic? Especially when you’re supposed to put it into a tank full of water in an enclosed system, and let it sit and soak in there…

I’ve sait it before and I’ll say it again – WTF?