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A Close Observation: Clown Loaches vs. Snails

Recently there has been discussion about ridding an aquarium of
snails and someone mentioned using loaches to do the dirty work, so
I thought I'd pass along my experience with this. In my 75g, some Pond,
Ramshorn, and MTSs eventually hitchhiked into my system via
plants over time. I never cared for the Pond snails, so I purchased
two Clown Loaches that were 6.5cm long - not including caudal fin.

The first snails to disappear from the system were those that were less
than about 1cm in size - with the Pond Snails being eradicated first.
I had more Pond Snails than any other type in the system, so I tend to
believe that these Clown Loaches had a "preference" for them "maybe,"
OR maybe it was just because the Pond Snails were always less than 1cm
in size.

Over time, months, the entire snail population in my aquarium was
history. I couldn't find a snail in there no matter how hard I looked.
Well, I decided to "add" a few *large* Red Ramshorns just to see what
would happen. This is when things got a bit more interesting. I
observed, several times,  the Clown Loaches, and even some Angelfish,
"hitting" on the shells of the large Ramshorns (approx 1.5 to 2cm) and
then leaving them alone. The larger Ramshorns are definitely able to
survive the attacks of the Clown Loaches for the most part, and will live
for many weeks. Many weeks because I have an acid PH, very soft water,
and don't go out of my way to feed the snails either. The really interesting
part is that "none" of the Ramshorns are able to propagate with the Clown
Loaches in the system. I never even get to see the babies - if there are any. I
suspect that maybe the Clown Loaches are even getting the eggs.

Someone also raised the question of using chemicals to do the job of
ridding snails. This is another area I researched a bit when someone once
told me my aquarium might have leeches after I made a plant trade with
them. I came across the very clandestine approach of using "Ivermectin"
(a cattle and swine wormer) which would surely kill anything considered an
"invertibrate" in an aquarium at very low dosages and presumably leave fish and
plants unharmed. The only drawback seemed to be the possibility of creating
ammonia and nitrate spikes by killing off so many things at once. I
reckoned that in my case, this would only give my plants a boost
though. There are also commercial aquarium products out there, I believe
"Trifon" might be one, that are designed to do pretty much the same thing.

I think it's safe to say that Loaches are the more "elegant" approach,
but not everyone wants, or can have, loaches for a variety of reasons.
If one were to use chemicals, I can see the person having to do it
over and over again unless they start treating every new plant before
they put it into their aquarium - otherwise the system becomes more
chemical dependent to maintain - which is never a good thing IMHO.

- Emmett