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Q: Setup for snails

Hey, all:

I want to raise ramshorn snails for my clown loaches.  I don't want to give
them snails from another tank that has fish in it, since I don't know
whether or not the snails can carry fish pathogens, and I would rather err
on the side of caution.

So, I was thinking that a small (5-10 gallon) tank or plastic tub with a
sponge filter, no lighting, and with a crushed shell substrate, would be
about right.  I'm assuming that hard water and high pH are good things for

I also plan to feed algae wafers, flake food, and vegetables, rather than
promoting the growth of algae for food, since it seems like it would be
best not to risk introducing any more algae strains into the fishtank.

The questions are:
1)  Are the above assumptions correct?
2)  How important are water changes and filtration in a snail-only tank?
3)  Would it be better to have lots of light and to add fertilizer to
promote algae growth?  It seems like that might be a good thing for the
snails, but that eventually more phosphates and algae end up in the
fishtank (one reason that I want more snails in this tank is that the
trumpet snails aren't able to keep the glass clean) - or perhaps it makes
no difference.

Does anyone out there have a snail-only tank?  Any thoughts?

thamiter at jps_net