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HELP! White material on the shell of my zebra nerite snail in quarantine - need to identify!!!!

Discussion in 'Freshwater Invertebrates' started by KohakuRiver, Oct 31, 2018.

  1. KohakuRiver

    KohakuRiver Registered Member

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    FFA1AC36-D2F1-49AD-ADB1-EFDA36CAFE40.jpeg 86ECF1B1-3DD8-4AE0-A7ED-88DE693300FE.jpeg 27FE04DB-5622-4E2A-B465-932DCCF0C2B0.jpeg

    I bought this snail from a LPS a week and a half ago. I put him in a one gallon bowl to quarantine him before adding him to my 5-gallon marineland portraitview betta tank. I do not know the gender of the snail but will refer to him/her as *male* in this post. A few facts about the snail and the problem I’m having:
    • He came from a highly planted community display tank with other fish, snails, and shrimp.
    • He was in his bag for a full day (car starter broke after buying him—waited 4 hours for a tow—got home after midnight and hadn’t set his bowl up yet).
    • Noticed before taking him out of his bag for the bowl that he had what looked like poo and a little bit of the white frothy stuff stuck on his shell and wiped it off with a paper towel before adding him to the bowl.
    • I have been feeding him algae wafers; at first he wouldn’t touch them, then I saw him go for one and other times pieces seemed to be missing as if he’d been feeding.
    • The wafers seemed to make his water very ripe-smelling in a few hours so I haven’t been putting them in as often. I thought originally it may be leftover wafers clinging to his shell, but it’s the wrong color/consistency.
    • I do a complete water change every other day; a couple times I’ve changed it daily.
    • I originally put red root floaters and parrots feather in with him because they came from the same tank at the store; then I soaked the plants in alum and they went into my betta tank.
    • He has developed this frothy, lumpy white stuff on the outside of the shell, and some of it looks almost like flat, clear segments.
    • I took a photo of him to two different pet stores. No one could identify what was on the shell. One person suggested it may be a wound.
    • Another customer at one of the stores said the flat segments look like planaria and the frothy part looks like a fungus.
    • A student of mine who has aquariums said the snail was “bubbling to protect itself” — from being lonely or something in the water.
    • I put a half teaspoon of aquarium salt into the one gallon bowl and brushed the white stuff off his shell with a new toothbrush. I then returned the snail to the bowl. I’ve been told and read numerous times that nerites can tolerate salt because they come from brackish water.
    • This morning the snail was on the lid of the bowl completely out of the water. Sometimes he will hang out by the waterline, but it’s the first time I’ve seen the snail completely out of water.
    • I was sold some Tetra Lifeguard fizzy tabs to put in with him, however, upon getting home I noticed the back says not to use it on invertebrates.
    Can anyone confirm if any suggestions I’ve gotten from various sources are accurate? Does anyone know what is wrong with this snail? Any help would be greatly appreciated!!!!
     
    #1 KohakuRiver, Oct 31, 2018
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2018
  2. authmal

    authmal Pseudonovice

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    Okay, not a expert, but I saw in the second and third pictures that white thing that looks like a piece of plastic, and wondered if that was planaria. More water changes (dechlorinated, right?) and feeding less will help with that. Do you have a test kit for you water parameters? These should not be kept in an uncycled aquarium, bowl, whatever, if at all possible, because the ammonia build up can be lethal, and that goes for all aquarium dwellers. You really want the readings for ammonia and nitrite to be 0, and nitrates to be low, as in under 20 is what is commonly considered ideal.

    The white frothy stuff I would expect is some kind of parasite or bacterial infection. I don't know enough to say more on that. I have had, and currently have nerites in freshwater, but have never seen them "bubble to protect" themselves or heard of it happening, so I think that idea is unlikely to be useful. It may be a behavior for other kinds of snails, or even nerites in marine set ups.

    Yes, most nerite species come from brackish waters, but you need to acclimate them to the salinity. Just taking them fresh to brackish, or brackish to salt, is hard (sometimes fatal) on them. That said, I don't think that quantity of salt in that quantity of water is going to do much, so that shouldn't be problematic.

    Nerites come from a habitat that has changing water levels. They will sometimes come out of the water, and it's no big deal. In fact, my last set of nerites were shipped to me wrapped in damp paper towels.

    Be careful with additives to any tank that has invertebrates in it. Many contain copper, and that's lethal to invertebrates in the doses you're going to find. I've heard that extremely minuscule dosages of copper can be tolerated or are even beneficial from a single source, but I've seen no corroborating evidence.

    Nerites do like it kind of warmish. 72-78 Farenheit is their preference, if I recall correctly. When I last researched their care, I determined that my tank parameters meet theirs, and didn't really retain the full details.

    And when in doubt, a water change isn't a bad idea. I don't know what you know, so I'm going to recommend reading up on the nitrogen cycle, because while especially important for your unhealthy snail, it's also relevant for your betta. There's a sticky under the newbies forum called Freshwater Cycling that has a ton of good information in it if you're not already familiar with it.

    If you do have a test kit, preferably liquid since they're much more accurate than strips, what are your ammonia, nitrite and nitrate levels? PH is less important usually, because fish can adapt to it, but nerites tend to like around 8 or so.
     
  3. KohakuRiver

    KohakuRiver Registered Member

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    Thank you so much for the information!! I looked at the API Freshwater Master Test Kit on Amazon yesterday but have yet to order it. The reviews seemed to be pretty good, so I will probably go with that one. I realize I should have bought this sooner, but I just reentered the hobby upon seeing this betta I have swimming sideways at a Pet Co and being unable to leave the store without helping him. (He’s fine now btw and thriving - 1/4 of a pea did the trick.)

    I took my water to a pet store to have it tested (under the impression they would use a liquid test kit there) and was disappointed that they only used those 5-in-1 strips. The only thing the worker said was that my water was hard and that my other levels were fine.

    The water I use has been Crystal Geyser spring water or tap water treated with Seachem Prime. I really don’t trust the water quality where I live so I have been using the Crystal Geyser most days when I change the water.
     
  4. authmal

    authmal Pseudonovice

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    Most fish stores are going to use strips, unless you go to a pretty high end (as in super into their livestock) one. They're quicker, easier, and less expensive. They are also less accurate. I have, and many of us on this forum have, that same API freshwater master test kit.

    Test your tap water straight out of the tap, and then test it 24 hours later. You can add Prime to it first. See how the results are. They may not be as scary as you fear.

    Now, having done some other research, I've seen that sometimes terrestrial snails will produce a foam to protect themselves from small attackers. So, if that holds true for aquatic snails, there might be small amounts of damage to the shell where the planaria are inside doing unpleasant things to your snail, and he's trying to protect himself.

    One of the most common ways to get rid of planaria is frequent water changes, to clean up water quality, combined with reduced feeding. If the bowl isn't cycled, that's going to be something you should be doing anyway. Febendazole can also be used to kill planaria, and yes, it's a dog dewormer. It should be safe with shrimp and snails, as there are many success stories you can find here about it. You can do a search for more info on that. Of course, this is supposing that the white worm like thing really is planaria.
     
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  5. KohakuRiver

    KohakuRiver Registered Member

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    I so appreciate the information!! You’ve been such a great help :) I have been reading up on the Fenbendazole, and it does seem like my best option. I am almost positive it is some type of worm, maybe a fungus too. After monitoring him this weekend with daily water changes, there are distinct [segments of?] worms in the bottom of the bowl. I realized Thursday evening I had some treatment that is all natural and safe for invertebrates (imagitarium bacterial & fungal remedy) with neem oil and eucalyptus oil as the active ingredients. I added it with the aquarium salt, and so many worms have come out to die on the bottom since. They’re white in person but look brown in pictures. If I can’t get ahold of the Fenbendazole locally, I may just take him back to the store he’s from and give him back. I am very “grossed out” — I guess is the best way to put it. I don’t want to kill him or add him to my tank with my fish, so his life may be better spent back where he came from with other buddies who are most likely carrying whatever he is.
     
  6. authmal

    authmal Pseudonovice

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    The good news is that he looks much better, much more like I'd expect from a zebra nerite.

    You've apparently done the hard work and gotten him cleared up of a parasitic infestation. At this point, he's likely to be cured, and taking him back seems like a wasted investment. I'd try to keep him isolated in quarantine for another month or so, daily water changes until the bowl starts showing enough beneficial bacteria to keep ammonia readings at 0 and you get nitrate readings that are more than 0, but low. If the worms don't make a reappearance, I'd feel pretty confident that it's safe to put him in your main tank.

    Oh, and feed him a little. A smidgen of wafer, or a piece of zucchini, something. Just take any excess out the next day, to help keep the water clean.
     

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