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Old 01-02-2013, 01:24 AM   #1
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Join Date: Jan 2013
Age: 29
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Default New Aquarium Owner!

So, like many (I presume) new fish owners, it all started with a visit to Petsmart. My girlfriend and I have talked about getting a good sized fish tank when we are in a place with more room, but both wanted to get our feet wet. So we each opted for a Betta. Her's lived quite contently in an approximately 1 1/2 gal container for about a month. She recently upgrade to a 3 gallon tank for him.

I however had no such luck. I purchased what at the time I though was a huge tank for a Betta, considering all the tiny little things that people like to shove them in, and got a 2.5 gal tank. I killed off my first little girl betta with cold water, and the second we both believe was sick from the start.

Not wanting to become a death-bringer to all fish, I finally started reading up on aquariums like we should have from the start.

Now to the good bits:

I decided to get an Apple Snail instead of a fish to help cycle my little tank. I have had him for going on a month now. It's been an interesting adventure from day one, I never even realized how entertaining a snail could be. About a week ago I finally started seeing nitrites arrive. My ammonia was still on the higher side and the nitrites were between .5 and .7 As of this morning, the nitrites have broken down all the nitrates and my ammonia dropped to .25, which is about the lowest I have seen it not following a water change.

As for my 2 questions:

I have been working a lot the last week and haven't spent much time really observing Cadan (the snail), just been doing water ammonia checks and water changes. I noticed today that there is near an inch of shell that has a totally different color than the rest of his shell. I can't really tell if it is just paler, or more translucent/thinner than the rest of his shell.
(The picture does not quite do it justice as the color difference is more striking in person, but between the reflections you can get a feel for how it changes right in the center of his shell)

I am endlessly hopeful that this is new shell growth that, while faster than I would expect, is completely normal.

If it is *not* healthy shell growth please ignore the following question as would then be far more concerned with Cadan's well being:

*IF* my little tank stays stable for the next few weeks, is it large enough to sustain a small fish in addition to Cadan? If so, what? I was hoping that perhaps a small Guppy would not add too much waste additional waste to the tank. I really want to do this right, and learn to keep appropriate chemical levels, water changes and such so that when we get a large tank, the investment and little fish lives will not be wasted.

This all turned out much longer than I originally anticipated, so any feedback, advice, chastising will be greatly appreciated.

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Old 01-02-2013, 02:22 AM   #2

Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Johns Creek, GA
Posts: 12,525

Does your tank have any sort of filter? "cycling" is pretty useless w/o one.

I see a lighter patch, but don't know enough about snails to answer. Is more of the snail sticking out? It may be as simple as the snail's body is not up against that portion of shell.

However, If it looks like the shell is getting thinner, you should feed the snail something with calcium carbonate to help it grow shell. A "cuttlebone" from the bird section should cost ~$1 and you can break off a smallish piece and drop it in. Unless you have "hard" water (you often use CLR or lime-a-way or have to soak your shower head or coffee pot in vinegar) some sort of calcium supplement for the snail is a good idea. What are you feeding it?

IME a small tank is far more difficult to keep "balanced" (right temp, consistent pH, gH, etc.) and "cycled" (all ammonia is quicker converted to nitrate) than larger tanks. If you can managed to keep a 2.5 healthy long-term, you will able to handle a large tank easily. I am always amazed by the quantity of these tiny tanks sold, often for more money than an equipped 10 gallon would be.

The more fish & animals you add, the more you have to change water and the closer you have to watch. A male endler's would add only a small bio-load, but a big, fat, female guppy that soon drops 35 fry would likely be too much for the tank. If you don't already have a filter, I would suggest you add one (and cycle) before adding a fish. Same for a heater. Another non-fish option is red cherry or ghost shrimp. They are small and surprisingly fun to watch.

Low-light live plants could help water quality or could be snail food (or both), but they may be what to try next.

Last edited by emc7; 01-02-2013 at 02:36 AM.
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Old 01-02-2013, 05:20 AM   #3
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go to the petstore and buy a cuttlebone...break off a piece and put it in the tank..the snail will feed off of it so it can get the calcium it needs for a healthy shell..

if we ignore nature;maybe it will go away

10 gallon..nothing but air

10 gallon...just more air

10 gallon...stale air

just don't ask about the rest
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Old 01-02-2013, 05:52 AM   #4
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Age: 29
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Thanks so much for the replies. I do have a small filter and heater. The water here tests as "hard" for what it's worth. I will go pick up a cuttlebone today.

As far as food, I have been feeding him sinking Algae wafers and occasional fish pellets that I soak and then squish so they sink and land right in front of him.

I think I'll take your recommendation on simply integrating some small live plants and trying to keep a healthy tank instead of a potentially over populated tank.
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