Help! Injured rabbit snail 10 Gallon Tank

Discussion in 'Snails' started by Cyndi Warren, Jan 15, 2013.

  1. Cyndi WarrenValued MemberMember

    My magnificent rabbit snail, Abu, is not doing well. He must have fallen or something because his shell is chipped. He does seem awfully clumsy but I thought it was just the way they are. There is only a thin filament of shell before the hole breaks through to his flesh.

    Also he has a strange, long gash on his neck. It is such a straight line that at first I thought it was his normal anatomy. But when I took him out to examine the shell, I saw that the tissue beneath his skin is exposed and there is a gash at one end of the line.

    Abu injury 2.jpegAbu injury.jpeg

    If you click on these pics to enlarge, I think you will be able to see what I am describing pretty well.

    Abu is normally active and resiliant. All day he was lethargic (lying still half out of his shell) but late afternoon and early evening his activity picked up. However, his voracious appetite is gone. He's not even touching his favorite: broccoli.

    I read on that I can mend his shell with marine epoxy and I bought some, but my husband thinks I should get more advice before using it, which is probably smart. I'm a bit frantic and impulsive by nature.

    (Our good aquarium store is closed due to bad weather.)

    I also got some stress coat, and it came paired with another product that gives good bacteria. Stress coat is supposed to increase slime for healing of the gash.

    I keep the water kinda hard with a tsp of Epsom Salts to 5 gal water, and have been adding Calcium citrate (about 1/2 pill) when I change the water.

    I have him in a 76 degree hospital tank (actually it's a large mixing bowl, but don't tell him that. I thought I'd change the hospital tank with fresh water out of the 10 gal cycled aquarium twice a day?

    And I decided to put his buddy in with him (an apple snail). They are always together and sometimes the apple even rides on the rabbit's shell, which doesn't seem to bother him.

    I really, really like him and want to help him. Please give suggestions. I did register with but have to wait to be approved before I can ask for help there.

    [I read that a 10 gal is too small for an apple snail, but the store told me it was fine. Of course, it was the same guy who sold me 2 pristellas without telling me they were schooling fish, even though he knew I was new to fishkeeping and unfamiliar with pristellas. \:( grrr]
  2. kb9plcWell Known MemberMember

    Snails can be kind of clumsy in the tank. Mine run into decor a lot :)
    But a gash that deep is kinda serious. I'd certainly be sure his water is loaded with calcium to help his shell rebuild. I have also heard of the marine epoxy to kinda of protect and create a faux shell while the real one heals. However, I cannot offer any personal experience with that. I've never had to use it. He MAY be lethargic because he is concerving energy to repair his shell. But I'd definitely keep a watchful eye on him.

    Apple snails have kind of a high bio load. I'd keep an eye on that water in the bowl. Twice a day changes should keep it at bay, but I'd keep a really close watch on the water parameters. Also if you are changing a bowl size amount of water numerous times of day, you will want to try and temp match as close as you can. And of course use a dechlorinator.

    As for the 10 gallon..... If you are talking a true apple snail (and not a mystery snail), then my opinion would be that a 10 gallon will eventually be to small for him. Apples can get to the size of softballs! Or bigger! Now a mystery can get big, but not THAT big lol. I think 1 in a 10 gallon would be okay. Id prefer larger but I would consider a 10g the minimum. You may get other opinions on that. But for larger snails its a matter of the tanks's foot print and if its large enough to keep them happy without having to share it with too many other bottom dwellers. Mysteries get somewhere around ping pong ball size. Some of the girls seem to grow a bit bigger if you have one on the super-grower-end of the gene pool :)

    Hope this helps :)
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2013
  3. JunneFishlore LegendMember

    Hi Cyndi
    Gosh I don't know how to help you - I second the info stated above - keep the water clean. I think the temps are fine if he is used to that.
    The stress coat is a good idea too. I hope your snail gets better soon. I'm sorry, I don't know much about Rabbit snails :(
    Just keep offering his favorite broccoli and hope he comes around soon! :)

    Keep me posted on how he does!
  4. Cyndi WarrenValued MemberMember


    I noticed what looked like some waste coming out of the shell where the injury was so I decided to take action.

    I wrapped his soft half in a moist paper towel to keep him wet and still and dried the area to be expoxied. While I was doing that I put an egg shell in the microwave to use for a patch. Then I molded the marine epoxy putty over the tip of his shell covering the patch and the other holes that had not broken through. I'm hoping it will act as a buffer from further damage. The shell now needs to dry for 30 min! I have him up side down in an old fashioned cup for boiled eggs with 1/4 inch of water in the bottem. I'm afraid he is not very warm. I think I will put the cup in a warm tray of water?

    I'm praying this works!! Will let you know.

    My other snails: I have two that were sold to me as mystery snails but they do have a siphon, so they may be apples. then the rabbit snail is his own species.
  5. JunneFishlore LegendMember

    I hope that works too! Good luck

    oh and Mystery snails have siphons too like Apple's - the only thing that I have been told as far as difference is the size they get to be - Apples get much larger than mystery snails.
  6. Cyndi WarrenValued MemberMember

    Thanks for the speedy reply :):)

    He seems eager to come out and about but i nudge him from time to time to keep him still while it dries

    Too bad they don't have snail 911 lol
  7. JunneFishlore LegendMember

    You are a good snail mama! :) you're doing everything possible! I wish him well!

  8. Cyndi WarrenValued MemberMember

    I saw him bubbling so I poured out his water to put in some new with about an inch this time. There was a lot of mucous in the water I poured out. Argh! A lot of mucous must mean some kind of distress. I sure hope he'll be OK.

    He's ready to go back. The epoxy is dry. I think i'm going to put him in my guppy breeding net in the main tank for the sake of water quality. Just shooting from the hip on all this.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 16, 2013
  9. cichlidmanWell Known MemberMember

    i have seen epoxy used to fix turtles shells . Worked great. Good luck with your snail and good thinking
  10. Cyndi WarrenValued MemberMember

    Thank you so much for the encouragement. I'm afraid I stressed him terribly. He's all scrunched up, about a third of the way out of his shell, motionless. I'm reminding myself he is instinctively resting which is what he needs. but my gut is all in a knot. I know mending a shell perforation is do or die, literally, but i pray the cure isn't worse than the disease. :( :( :(

    I don't know if rabbit snails have lungs like mystery snails. I hope so.

    Will try to do one more post before I go to bed. Thanks for being here. I'm new to all this and probably need to not get quite so attached to everybody. Not sure how to do that tho. I feel like I have all these little lives in my hands, and not enough knowledge to really take proper care of them. I know fish can live for years, but mine are not having such good luck. sigh.

    No change but noticed a similar injury on my other snail. I am upset and mystified. Doing another thread on that.

    Not sleeping to well so I'm up by the tank and noticed Abu finally woke up and enthusiastically ate some brine shrimp! He perked up as he ate and his little antennae stopped drooping and waved around. I feel like I can breathe again. I put a little more shrimp in there. Also some of his beloved broccoli and part of an algae wafer. He has made a lot of normal looking poo, so that is good as well.

    He is quiet again now, but not as kind of rigidly scrunched as he was. More relaxed or something. At least at this point it doesn't look like he is going to die as a direct result of the procedure to repair his shell!!!
    Thank God!
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 16, 2013
  11. AquaristFishlore LegendMember

    Good morning Cyndi,

    So hate to hear about your snail. It sounds like you're doing all that you can for the little guy/girl.

    Make sure your pH is above 7.0. Good that you are using a calcium supplement to keep the snail shell strong. One thing I would like to suggest is that you not add Epsom Salt or any type of salt to your tank. Salt really isn't necessary in a freshwater aquarium:



    Best wishes for your snails and please keep us posted.

  12. kb9plcWell Known MemberMember


    Sorry I didn't get back to you quickly. I'm glad jwebbe was around to encourage you :) I'm typically on randomly during the day and the early night hours (CST).

    I think you are doing everything as best you can! I would have been nervous as heck with the epoxy, but it did seem like the right thing to do, in retrospect. Bonus points to you for acting so fast. I will certainly retain and insert into my mental snail files what you did with the egg shell, in case I ever need to do this!

    Snail 911: no kidding! Many of us wish that snails had little signs they could hold up to tell us what is wrong or what they need. They are mysterious little creatures and very hard to care for when something has gone afoul. :(

    Well him eating is certainly a good sign! And yes, I would definitley keep telling myself that his lathargicness is probably due to him concerving energy and putting all he's got towards healing his shell. I'd keep putting calcium rich food near him so he doesn't have to go far for the food. Plus he will smell it if he is hungry and can just grab a much from his current resting position. Agreed with the breeder net, too. Water quality and consistent (high-ish) ph is going to be important to him now.

    Keep us posted!

    P.S. I agree with jwebbe. Mysteries really are in the apple snail family, they just don't get as gi-normous. And both have syphons.... rather long ones, sometimes!
  13. Cyndi WarrenValued MemberMember

    Oh dear, I read it in a recipe to harden the water. I didn't think Epsom Salts were really "salt" like soduim chloride. Is there another way to harden the water? Dang this is so complicated. Thanks for the info tho.
  14. Cyndi WarrenValued MemberMember

    morning update ... some improvement ... me still agonizing

    Well, he is spending a little more time moving around. Last night he was just scrunched kind of rigid and still. Now when he rests, more of him is out of the shell, like he's more relaxed, I think anyway. There is a lot of waste in there, so he must be eating or was eating? I have no idea how long their digestive process is.

    I really feel like I must have done something wrong during the procedure, although I followed the instructions on
    But he was acting much more normal before I patched the shell and much worse immediately after. do rabbit snails have lungs like apple snails? You have to let it dry for half an hour and I kept the soft part of him moist, and half of him in water for the last 20 minutes, although he was upside down. I would have waited and gotten more support/info, but there was none available at that time of night, and when I saw stuff coming out of the hole, I felt I had to act. Bah! I don't know.

    I posted in the other thread about something sharp in the tank that was my fault, and how both snails have the same long slash injury. I am just nauseous about the whole thing. I really feel like I am letting everybody down (fish/invertebrate-wise). I wish I could just learn everything at once but I can see many things are only learned by experience (meaning, mistakes). Sigh.

    I will keep him in the breeding net until he begins to act more normally. There is stress-coat in the water, and calcium. Someone told me that Epsom Salts is bad, so I will do a 50% water change today. How do you make the water hard without it? Will search the forums on that one.

    Thanks for being here. Don't know what I would do without everybody here.
  15. JunneFishlore LegendMember

    I too have heard the epsom salt raises GH in water but as far as it good for the fish/snails, I think its on the fence. Some aquarist recommend, others don't so for that reason, I would say NOT to use it. There are other ways to raise the hardness such as Limestone and crushed coral.
    What are your readings for ph, kh/gh?
    I also read that the salts would not be good for snails such as mystery but I am not certain if that applies to rabbit snails or not.....
  16. Cyndi WarrenValued MemberMember

    Thanks, Junne,

    I err on the side of moderation with the salt and epsom salts and calcium.

    I use
    2 teaspoons epsom salts
    2 teaspoons baking soda
    1 teaspoon of sea salt

    in my 10 gallon tank.

    This morning water levels are as follows. (I am still using "Tetra Easy Sticks" but saving for a master test kit.)

    Nitrate 0
    Nitrite 0
    Hardness 300
    Chlorine 0
    Alkaline 130
    pH 7.5
  17. kb9plcWell Known MemberMember

    I would agree with the salt thing. Salt kinda makes me nervous because of all of the hype about it, be it both good and bad. I've only used it on sick fish that have been QT'd by themselves. And I honestly don't know if it really helped or not. The calcium on the other hand is a very very good thing for snails. It's really imporant for healthy shell growth and maintenance. But you don't need much of that either. As an example, the Instant Ocean Calcium booster only calls for a small cap full for 50 gallons. I think that equates to about 5mg.

    And don't be too hard on yourself. Fish keeping is trial by fire. Seriously. All of us have made mistakes at one point or another. :) I'd take the sharp object out of the tank and call it good. Think of it this way... you've gained more snail knowledge thru this occurance :)

    I really feel you did the right thing with the patch. But sometimes even your best efforts with snails are in vein. They are very mysterious creatures with this sort of thing. I personally believe that if he was leaking puss and what not, something very bad may have happened during the night if you wouldn't have acted. Snails leaking anything is not a good sign. He may just need time to heal up and start feeling better. And yes, the process of patching him I'm sure was stressful to him.... but there really was no way around that. If he keeps eating like he did, I think you will be fine with time!
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2013
  18. Cyndi WarrenValued MemberMember

    K. Then I am addding too much calcium. I am putting a half a 500 mg capsule in 10 gal. Will change to just sprinkling it.
  19. NovemayuneValued MemberMember

    I concur with kb on the salt - makes me too nervous. Besides, I add enough other things to my aquarium (ferts, CO2, going to get some Instant Ocean soon-ish) that I don't want to put another thing on my list of adding to the tank. Fwiw: I don't even test my hardness - I only use the API FW MTK - and my snails shells are growing very well. What was your water hardness before you did any of the salting??
  20. kb9plcWell Known MemberMember

    My measurement are for a liquid. I'm not at home, so I can't check my IO CB bottle, but I know it is eaither 5mg or 10mg. There are two measurement caps on the bottle, and I don't recall which one is for what off the top of my head. However..... I dunno if dry capsules are different. With that, I'd probably disolve it in a cup full of tank water and then put it back in.
    Honestly I don't think you can OD a snail on calcium :)
    I mean some of jwebbe's snails and mine chew on zucchini for what seems to be 1/2 of their lives. LOL!!! They'd certainly of OD'd by now!!!

    The salt on the other hand is another story. Too much can definitley be a bad thing.