Water changes, baby snails, plants and overstocked?

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Sneakythesnail

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Sep 23, 2020
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Hello. I am a newbie that was gifted a used freshwater 10 gallon tank. I went in search of an answer to one question and realized I have many. So here we go! I will try to be as detailed as I can since I don’t know what is important and what isn’t.

Current tank - 10 gallons, 7 ember tetras, 1 two mo. old dwarf pleco, originally 1 trapdoor snail. All seem happy and active. Unsure how many baby snails are new arrivals.
Water parameters: pH between 7 and 7.5, ammonia undetected, GH 120 (hard city water), nitrite 0, nitrate 20? (I have a hard time reading nitrate on the test strip. It is not zero, and definitely not 40), 80 degrees.

Background:
In July my family was gifted a used tank with gravel, led light, air stone, plant, and whisper filter. We surrendered a lone fish for 5 ember tetras and a trapdoor snail. One tetra didn’t make it thru the first few days, several weeks later we added 3 more ember tetras (to total 7) to try to round out their shoal. We also added a baby dwarf pleco and a second small plant. Just this week our Trapdoor snail has given birth to babies, at least 2. We feed the fish once a day, sometimes twice if they seem interested. We give the snail and pleco either partial algae wafer or zucchini slice up to a few times a week. I check water parameters at least once a week and will do a water change (1-2 gallons) if nitrates are 20. This has been a most every other week up to this point.

Questions:
Snails: There have been 2 or 3 babies. They are so tiny I am really not sure how many there may be. How quickly do they grow? Any other information anyone has (on care, survival rate, how many there may be, etc) would be appreciated! I couldn’t find much on gestational period. Do you think these were already in the making before our purchase? Or I also read somewhere that females could potentially store sperm. Just trying to gauge if this is going to be a repeat thing.

Plants: I don’t know what type of plants we have. The newest one is doing fine, the one we were gifted seems like some of its leafs turn brown (dying?). Any suggestions on care? I will try to include photos. I usually leave the light on for about 9 hours a day. It varies as we don’t currently have a timer.

Overstocked?: I have heard mixed information when checking (prior to purchase) if my tank would be overstocked. The main one that seems to be back and forth is the pleco. Since it was borderline, we opted for the dwarf pleco and to monitor the parameters. I am even more concerned now that there are likely additional snails. If I continue to monitor the water conditions and do changes as needed - is there concern with this stock? What other concerns would there be if this is ‘overstocked’?

Water changes: I have completed water changes (1-2 gallons) when nitrates start to creep up to 20 or just over. I do check the water at least once a week, but don’t need to change the water based on the test. I know plecos esp. are known for their waste. Should I be graveling/ changing water every week regardless of the nitrate readings for that reason? Sometimes I feel like water evaporates faster than water changes too. Is it bad to ‘top off’ the tank with conditioned water? Or should I be cleaning the tank more often for that reason also?


I think that is all my questions. I appreciate 0AFC64AA-CC97-4D50-A084-02F3B5298608.jpegB0C7D52A-5A4E-4C66-A320-8FB73961C76F.jpeg765595D3-E2FA-4B31-A6EB-BBDC9038018A.jpegany information!
 

Sneakythesnail

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Sep 23, 2020
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I think we are up to 5 baby snails. And the one plant doesn‘t appear to be doing well. I did not mention before with the parameters - KH has been around 40. Is that an okay level for the current inhabitants?

Would some of these questions be better in the other forums? Just thought since I know next to nothing I would try here. I really would appreciate any information someone more knowledgeable could pass along! Trying to learn and do right for my tank. :)

Thanks in advance.
 

fishorama

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Jun 28, 2006
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Welcome to AC!

Well, I'll start at your last post & work up I hope. How certain all your "baby snails" are trapdoors? I have a few pest snail species but no trapdoors, not saying you don't have them, your last pic could be 1. I "think" they maybe livebearers but don't really know...

In your first pic it doesn't look like your plant is in the substrate...but maybe it should be. I'm guessing a cryptocoryne or swordplant. Both should be planted in the substrate with a root tab fertilizer every 3 or 4 months.

I try to keep nitrate below 20ppm in most of my tanks, below 5-10ppm in very planty tanks. I shoot for 30-50% water changes every week or so. My tanks are lightly stocked & heavily planted. You may need to do more +/or more often, there's a learning curve to what is optimal for your tank. There's no such thing as too many WCs if done regularly, but there can be too few...Go big & go often!
 

Sneakythesnail

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Sep 23, 2020
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Thanks Fishorama!

The trapdoor snails are livebearers. That is pretty much all I know for sure. Other information on them has been hard to find. The other baby snails all look the same as the one in the picture. I was assuming that I started with a trapdoor snail, so the babies would be too? But confidence level is very low. If they are “pest” snails - what would be the best way to handle them? Can I pull them out into another container? (I don’t have a second aquarium) If there are only a few and they won’t crash my tank I don’t mind keeping them, but my priority would be to my fish and original snail.

The plant in the picture was not in the substrate. It was originally, but I had moved It when I cleaned the tank a few weeks ago. I struggle to anchor it in the gravel and the tetras seemed to like plant cover up higher so left it up higher. I will move it back down. Advice on how to keep it anchored down? Any suggestions on a different plant that may be possible to have higher up in the tank? I am definitely not a green thumb - for a root fertilizer - is it just a tablet that you place near the roots? I would assume it is safe for the rest of the tank.

I will make it a point to complete the water changes at least every week if there is no downside. I had only been doing 10-20% during the changes. I can easily up to that 30%. May make it easier to clean more area of the gravel each time. Though I may need to find a different bucket if I plan on doing more than 30%. :) Is there a benefit or any issues to completing larger water changes each week?
 

fishorama

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Well, it depends on your tolerance of pesty creatures. They all eat & poo, but less food = less snails. You can try feeding a piece of zucchini & remove it to your compost pile or trash with any snails. It may seem harsh but, well, otherwise you may be overrun with snails...feed less!

Yes, root tab ferts are placed near the plant roots. Your gravel is awfully coarse (too big) for most plants, it can crush the fine roots. Think about replacing it with fine gravel or coarse sand like pool filter sand.

I would suggest you practice vacuuming the gravel, the big stones can trap a lot of detritus (poo, etc.)...where it becomes more snail food...Don't be worried, there's a learning curve with all tanks. You need to find the "sweet spot" between what you put in in & what you remove. Do you have a test kit to help you decide what's happening?
 

Sneakythesnail

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Sep 23, 2020
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I usually only feed the fish once a day - adding little crushed up flakes, (Occasional blood worms and/ or shrimp) and watching them eat for a few minutes. If they finish, I add a little more. Guesstimating (since I crush it up) it is usually about 1/2 a flake. Then I add either a quarter to third algae wafer or small zucchini half slice maybe twice a week. The pleco is usually all over those. Should I still be feeding less?

I have a seachem ammonia alert in the tank and I use the API 5 in 1 tests strips to monitor at least once a week.

I feel like changing the gravel may be a daunting task. Is it easily done with the fish in the tank? Would that affect the bacteria/ cycle at all?
 

fishorama

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Changing substrate can be done with fish in but it takes a few gradual rounds of removal & replacement over a few weeks. You can start at 1 end & replace ~1/3, then work your way across the tank. A squared off "scoop" will help.

The other option is to use plants like java fern & anubias that are attached to wood or rocks with thread or super glue gel. They may send roots into the substrate eventually, that's ok. They must have the "rhizome" (the sideways stem where both leaves & roots grow from) above the substrate.

You could also try a "hybrid" approach & change out some big gravel, say 1/3 or so for finer substrate & plant the sword? in that area (with a root tab). & try anubias &/or java fern on decor at the other side. There will be some mixing of substrates where they meet.
 

Sneakythesnail

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Sep 23, 2020
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Thanks Fishorama for the information on the plants and substrates- I will look into both options over the next week or two to see what may be best to implement in my tank.

When cleaning the area of the tank with the sword - is it ok to pick it up and move it, then ‘replant’ it? Or is there another way that is recommended?

Is there any way to know if you are under or over feeding the fish?
 

fishorama

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I wouldn't uproot the sword all the time, it damages some roots each time with your big gravel. Try just vacuuming the surface around the plant. If you kind of swirl the vac it can help get more detritus sucked up. Try to clean inside your decor at least sometimes, food can get trapped & rot if water doesn't flow through them.

Feed just enough that all is eaten in a couple minutes, except the pleco's wafer & squash. Many fish will still strike food even though they're not really hungry & may not really eat it. In nature they would always be looking for food. Some fish will overeat, tetras don't usually IME. Fish can become obese or constipated. Rather than adding more food at once, try 2 small feedings for young growing fish. Adults, once a day is ok, some of us don't feed every day.

Is it a clown pleco? I don't think you're overstocked but may get there fast with the snails...I haven't kept those
 

Sneakythesnail

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Sep 23, 2020
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Pretty sure it is a bristlenose pleco. I am always scared of underfeeding the pleco and snail- but they both seem to be doing okay from what I can tell.

By cleaning the inside of the decorations - is it anymore than just wiping them down?

I don’t mind a few of the smaller snails. My daughter thinks they are adorable and tries to find/ count them. I am beginning to think you might be right about it being a ’pest’ snail. Maybe a bladder snail? A few is okay, but I don’t want them to hurt the trapdoor snail nor do I want there to be dozens upon dozens. If I just keep the food in check do you think the number would stay down?

I really do appreciate your help (and patience)! Thanks again for taking the time to explain everything.
 
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