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Snail eaters

Hi y'all,

I need some recommendation for snail eaters that do not get
too big.

I got rid of my four really large clown loaches a few weeks
ago.  Clown loaches are very efficient at eating snails
including large MTS's.  Maybe too efficient when they get
large.  I was left with very little snails in my tank.  I
don't like a really high number of ramshorn snails but they
do help with algae clean up.  I'd rather keep some snails in
my tank.  Now that these colorful marauders are gone, I
expect a population explosion among my snails.  So now I
need to find less efficient snail eaters.   I was told
cherry barbs eat snail eggs and can keep snail population
down.  Is this true?  Any other suggestion?

Another problem with clown loaches is that it is very
difficult to capture them.  I ended up nearly trashing all
my plants trying to capture these guys.  They are skeptical
and very smart.  Trapping with a net breeder or a bottle
trap never worked for them.

Incidentally, I have been struggling with green/bronze dust
algae for quite a while.  I can scrape the glass but not
each leaves of plants.  Without the help of my snails my
Hemianthus micranthmoides, Didiplis diandra and all my
foreground plants were smothered by the dust algae.  Only
the top part of the plants stayed green and plants stopped
growing vigorously.  The high water temperature was also
hurting some plants (especially the Ludwigia group) as well
and seemed to make the algae problem even worse.

The dust algae problem seemed to be cyclical in nature in my
tank but not related to seasons (the tank temperature and
the light level in the room.)  Now that I think about it,
this could be related to the presence of my large clown
loaches (I have been trading large ones with small ones
about every 6 months) and the corresponding small snail
population density.

After I got rid of the clown loaches, I noticed an increase
in the number of MTS babies.  I also added some ramshorn
snails from another tank.  With the help of snails and the
lower temperature over the last two weeks, my dust algae on
my plants disappeared and plants are doing much much better.
I have to still scrape the front glass but the plants are
really clean looking now.

Some time ago someone with gold fish on this list mentioned
that disturbing substrate made the dust algae problem worse.
My clown loaches constantly disturbed the substrate going
after MTS and grindal worms, etc.  They were very hard on
newly renovated glossostigma carpet, too.

I love the looks and the comical behavior of clown loaches,
but it looks like I need to find an alternative.