Can one dead snail cause nitrates to spike?

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Can one dead snail cause nitrates to spike?

Postby edmlfc1 on Mon Jul 14, 2008 8:57 am

Desc. Tank 120 6' long, Elvis (stars & stripes approx 7-8") & Cheech & Chong (GSP approx. 3")
Last wed.(7/2) I added 3 snails to my saltwater tank. 1-tubo snail and 2-cerith snails. Friday (7/4) morning I checked my nitrates and they were at 80, ammo. .5, nitrite .25 :shock: . I checked the turbo snail and it seemed to be dead. In two days my nitrates went from 5 to 80. I did a 50% water change and took all 3 snails out and threw them away. This is the only thing I could figure that caused the nitrate spike. On saturday (7/5) I checked my water again it was at nitrate 40, amm. 0, nitrite .25 I did another 50% water change on sunday (7/6). On Wed.(7/9) my nitrate 20, amm. 0, nitrite 0 again I did another 50% water change. I checked my nitrate saturday (7/12) and it was still 20, amm. 0, nitrite 0. In the meantime I was making more water and goofed. I added the salt first which made the water in my holding drum very cloudy and I was waiting for it to clear. I ended up dumping it yesterday (7/13)and started over. I am now letting the water sit until tonight when I get off work to do another 50% water change. This morning Elvis is not his spunky self. He has been eating good and he just ate yesterday. Could the high nitrates be causing him to act lazy? His color is good but he's staying in his cave and not swimming about begging for food like normal. He does come out to meet me at the glass but goes back into his cave shortly afterwards. The ph has been 8.2 the whole time, no temp changes (steady 79). Just a little worried and need some advise. I put the snails in there as a test. I wanted to see if they would eat them or if I could actually add snails to the tank. I won't be adding any more "ever". Cheech and Chong are acting normal, zipping around and begging for food. I have been feeding them mussles, clams, shrimp (soaked in vitamins and garlic guard) and sea veggies. After they clean the shells I take them out, usually within 3 minutes or less. The actual food is usually gone within 30 seconds but I leave the shells in there a bit longer to give cheech and chong time to get a few more bites. Feeding is every 2-3 days. I then empty my protein skimmer which goes nuts during feeding. I will be at work all day so when I get home, I'll do another 50% water change and post an update. Just let me know if there is anything else I should do.
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Re: Can one dead snail cause nitrates to spike?

Postby bazil323 on Mon Jul 14, 2008 11:58 am

How long has the tank been set up and how/when was it cycled? How long have the puffers been in there? It sounds like it's cycling. It looks like the tank is large enough that a couple dead snails wouldn't throw it out of whack that much.

I'm no expert, but the tank questions I asked will probably help others who are experts answer your problem.
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Re: Can one dead snail cause nitrates to spike?

Postby edmlfc1 on Mon Jul 14, 2008 12:34 pm

The tank started as freshwater (July 2007) and was gradually raised to saltwater. It was full marine by Oct. 2007. At that time lr was added. In Feb. 2008 (selena, porcupine puffer was added after qt she went blind and was moved back to qt where she passed last month.). Also in Feb. 2008 Elvis was added (after qt). Tank mates are 2-gsp and 1-stars & stripes puffer. The readings for the last 6 months have been amm. 0, nitrite 0, nitrate 2.5-5 then the snail died and it spiked to 80. I test my water 2-3 times a week and keep a chart on every water test I perform. I do water changes 1-2 times a week at 25% each time. If my nitrates are 2.5 I change 25% once that week. If my nitrates go past 5 I will do 2 25% water changes that week. I do my water changes every wed. and sunday. I use ro/di water and I don't add any chemicals to my tank. I mix the water and salt and let it sit in a 55 gallon plastic water drum for at least 24 hours before I change the water. The drum is food safe.
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Re: Can one dead snail cause nitrates to spike?

Postby edmlfc1 on Mon Jul 14, 2008 5:02 pm

Ran by the house to check on Elvis, he was spunky and swimming around as normal also begging for food. But the question still stands.
Can one dead snail spike the nitrates like that or do I have another problem somewhere? I must also say this was not a small snail it was almost the size of a very large mystery snail. I'm not sure if the two smaller snails were dead or not. I just removed them and threw them away. I never had a tank crash and didn't know if this is what happened or if it was because of the snail. Thanks.
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Re: Can one dead snail cause nitrates to spike?

Postby StormySkiez on Mon Jul 14, 2008 5:29 pm

I raise ramshorns and pond snails. I had 4 apple snails, 2 danios, 3 shrimp in with them in a 10g FW tank. Weekly 50% WC's. I lost every applesnail. My Apples seemed to sleep a lot towards the end. They were about the size of a quarter. I would wait 4-24 hrs before I would check the snail to see if it was alive. I never had an ammonia spike from the snails. I did however have a mini cycle when I changed out my gravel (I know not your case).

I was reading a Dr F&S an article in the mag they sent me today about ammonia spikes in a cycled aquarium. I found the article: http://www.drsfostersmith.com/pic/artic ... tegory=582

It does not seem to apply to you.
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Re: Can one dead snail cause nitrates to spike?

Postby Pufferpunk on Mon Jul 14, 2008 11:58 pm

1 large dead snail can wipe out a tank.
You are getting sleepy... you only hear the sound of my voice... you must do water changes... water changes... water changes... water changes...

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Re: Can one dead snail cause nitrates to spike?

Postby edmlfc1 on Tue Jul 15, 2008 6:55 am

Thanks PP. Now I know I'm not crazy. :D I am so glad I check my water often.
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Re: Can one dead snail cause nitrates to spike?

Postby pufferpoison on Tue Jul 15, 2008 6:29 pm

yeah just take one of those dead apple snails and smell it, you'll see why a dead snail can foul a tank REAL QUICK.
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Re: Can one dead snail cause nitrates to spike?

Postby StormySkiez on Tue Jul 15, 2008 7:31 pm

It's odd none of the dead apple snails crashed my 10g tank. Good thing it didin't.
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Re: Can one dead snail cause nitrates to spike?

Postby edmlfc1 on Tue Jul 15, 2008 9:45 pm

How large do apple snails get? The snail that died in my tank was about 1.5" wide and about 1" in height. I know it may not sound that big but compared to a golf ball or a ping pong ball it would be pretty close. Plus I also had the other two smaller cerith snail and I'm not sure if they were dead or not. Could have been caused from all 3. Either way, I am not going to put another snail in my tank. Can you imagine how high my nitrates would have gotten if it were stuck behind my lr and I didn't notice it right away? The thought of it makes me sick. I could have lost my beloved puffers. :( Then who would I talk too? My babies are way too important to me. No more snails in my tank unless they are food!
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Re: Can one dead snail cause nitrates to spike?

Postby StormySkiez on Wed Jul 16, 2008 10:10 am

My apples were the size of quarters.

I'm with you though as I would rather not risk a spike at any time. I can't imagine trying to find a snail in a 120g tank. At my lfs they run a very very large beautiful LR marine tank. Nothing for sale in it. It's for show only. They have the large shrimps, snails, tangs, clown fish, anniomes, corals and other various fish. How in the world do they keep track of everything alive in there? The rock caves are so narrow and deep a fish could get lost in the tank. Perhaps the way the tank is filtered makes a difference? I have no idea. I wouldn't want to find out the hard way.

Lord knows I will not be touching a marine tank anytime soon if ever. I have my hands full with what I have.

I'm glad you caught the spike fast. What would we do without our babies! Are your water parameters back to normal? Are your babies ok?
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Re: Can one dead snail cause nitrates to spike?

Postby bazil323 on Wed Jul 16, 2008 10:14 am

Oh thank God! I almost thought you weren't going to feed snails at all! Please don't give up on feeding snails to your puffers. They are a great way to trim the teeth, and they give the puffer a chance to do some hunting, which is very stimulating for them.

I guess I didn't realize the snail was so large. My snails are pond snails, and the largest is about a 1/4". So I guess I can see why the large size snail could have been the source. Well, it sounds like it's the only logical source of the spike.

My only recommendation would be to keep a separate tank for breeding snails (more economical in the long run) and then you can keep an eye on how active they are.
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Re: Can one dead snail cause nitrates to spike?

Postby edmlfc1 on Thu Jul 17, 2008 10:48 am

StormySkiez , yes my param. are almost back to what I call normal. My amm. 0, nitrite 0, nitrates 10 (still a little high for me) I like to keep my nitrates under 5. :D I like to keep them that way just in case I have to leave for a week or more or if I can't do a water change that week for some unseen reason. Our lfs has a large tank with lot's of ls, lr and snails also but they also have a massive filtration system. Also lots of coral in the tank. I'm with you, I don't know how they keep track of all the living things in there. Unless the shrimp and other things in there eat the dead or dying snails. I'll have to ask them about it when I go back.

bazil323, I don't feed my puffers snails often. Only the ocassional snail. What I feed them are mussles, clams and shrimp, this keep their teeth worn down. I also feed them seaweed and other things. All my puffers are in full marine, the snail that caused the problem was a saltwater snail. I didn't put it in there for them to eat it. I was testing to see if they would leave it alone. My two gsp's will eat snails if I put the ramshorn or pond snails in there but my stars and stripes won't touch them. :? I thought if I get a super large snail the gsp's would not eat it. The test actually worked for the two days the snail was in there. Unfortunately the snail died and caused my nitrates to spike.
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Re: Can one dead snail cause nitrates to spike?

Postby bazil323 on Thu Jul 17, 2008 11:19 am

I realize that. I did read the entire thread. It's good to know you're feeding them a good varied diet. I was just concerned that they wouldn't get that hunting experience.
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