Monday, June 13, 2011

Lookin' good!

Got a huge job done today. We made the mistake of replacing our apple snails with black snails. Unfortunately, the type of snail we got was a pest variety (how nice of the pet store to be selling those...) and before long, there were hundreds of tiny snails. It turns out they don't need to get very big before they can start laying eggs, either. Those hundreds of tiny snails laid thousands of eggs. When I took the decorative items out to clean them and change out some of the water, they were slimy with eggs, inside and out, and minuscule snails layered the inside. Thousands more began to emerge from the gravel. Since our pleco, Boris, had so enthusiastically eaten our apple snails, I thought he might eat these, but I guess they don't taste good or something, as he ignored them. Even when they crawled all over him.

Today, we put an end to it (I hope!). We fished our Danios and Boris out and into a bucket. Boris was not happy with this. It's remarkable just how far he could splash water while trying to not get netted! When I put him into the 10 gallon bucket, there was just enough room for him to sorta rotate on the bottom - he's bigger than the diameter of the bucket!

Next was getting the decorations, filter, thermometer/heater and aeration stone out and into another bucket. Everything was slimy with eggs. Even the suction cup holder on the thermometer had to be taken apart for cleaning. The filter we were using was a type that had most of it in the water, and snails were actually getting inside it. I couldn't touch anything without hearing little crunching noises as tiny snails were crushed by my fingers. Gross!

Then there was the fun job of emptying as much water as I could before I could bring the tank down to the floor from its pedestal so I could reach the bottom - ours is a tall and narrow hexagon, rather than the usual rectangular tank. After scooping out even more water, I reached down to start scooping out the gravel and stopped in horror.

I could actually hear all the snails moving around in the gravel!


The gravel got scooped out into a water proof bag, double bagged, sealed tight and thrown away.

Yes, I am a snail murderer!

Then it was time to clean everything. Lots of soap, scaling hot water and scrubbing! The tank had to be washed out twice, and everything got an extra rinse in scalding hot water. That all took a couple of hours.

While my older daughter started setting up the aquarium again, my younger daughter and I headed out to try and find filters. Among the stuff we got with our aquarium, which we bought second hand, were a couple of pumps of a different type, with only an intake pipe going into the water. I had no idea if they worked or not, or if the filters for them were still available. Since I needed some chemicals for the water anyhow (and more gravel, it turned out - we went colourful this time), my younger daughter and I visited a couple of pet stores to get what we needed and look for more filters. It turned out they were easy to find, so it was just a matter of testing the pump to see if it still worked.

By the time we got back home, the tank was half re-filled with water. Little by little, everything got put into place and more water was added until we could safely put the fish back.

Oh, dear.

The Danios were easy enough, but Boris was not a happy camper! I ended up having to use both the net and my hand to get him in, though he left us with quite a lot of water to clean up in the process!

Boris, I discovered, has very course scales, like very rough sandpaper.

When I finally got him into the net and into the tank, I found another problem. I couldn't get him out! At first we thought he'd managed to tangle himself somehow and get stuck, or had hurt himself somehow. After several attempts to swish him gently out of the net, I finally had to use my hand to get his body out of the net. I couldn't get his head out, though. It turns out he'd bitten onto the net, and wasn't letting go!

No, they don't have teeth. They do have grasping mouth parts, though.

Once his body was free of the net, Boris finally let go and dashed off. He is one ticked off fish! As I'm writing this, I can see him now, with his sail and fins in full aggression mode.

The tank looks good though! And so does Boris! :-D


I just love his markings! See those barbels on the sides of his mouth? That's what he uses to grasp and manipulate his food (and grab onto nets!). They're surprisingly dexterous.

I couldn't resist. He was posing so well! I got some more detailed shots. Check out this sail!


You can also see the spiky ends of his scales. No wonder he was so rough to the touch!


He was watching me the whole time I took the pictures, too. His eyes move almost like chameleon eyes.

Did you know plecos can blink? It's only about once every minute and freaked the heck out of me the first time I saw it. I had no idea there were fish that could blink!

So now our tank if finally all clear of snails. I hope! It's still possible we missed something and they could come back. If they do, we'll invest in an assassin snail. They eat other snails and nothing else.

If we'd known about them earlier, we could have saved ourselves - and our fish - a lot! You'd think, with all those snails, the tank would get really clean, but it got really disgusting, instead.

Live and learn!

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