Pringlethesnail

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Mystery snail care/sickness guide
Because very little information is known about mystery snails I want to make a full guide of everything I have learned in my years of keeping and breeding mystery snails. I will be posting this on several sites and I mean no harm to any existing care sheets. Please comment questions or suggestions.

Mystery snails are golf ball sized freshwater aquarium snails with the scientific name Pomacea diffusa. They are often called Inca snails or Apple snails. Often also referred to as Apple snails are the much larger (apple sized) Pomacea canaliculata and Pomacea maculata. This is where the confusion comes from; Pomacea means apple snail. Therefor all three of these snails are different types of apple snails (The same as house cats, pumas, and lions are all cats). To avoid confusion their common names are as follows: Pomacea diffusa= Mystery snail, Pomacea calaliculata= Cana snail, and Pomacea maculata= Maca snail. This care sheet applies to Mystery snails only.

Feeding- These snails need their own diet. They cannot live off of algae or left over fish food. They are OMNIVOROUS so they need to be eating sinking pellets containing some sort of meat. They digest small sinking wafers the best. Ingredients to look for in a good pellet/wafer (in no specific order) are: krill, fish, silkworm pupae, seaweed, spirulina, shrimp, crab, etc. They should be fed a sinking pellet containing some of these things at least every-other day. 1-2x a week you can feed them algae wafers or blanched vegetables if you want, but they have no dietary need for them.

Heating- Tank should always be between 75-80 with 78F being optimal temperature.

Ph- 7-8, but it is more important to be consistent. It is okay to use natural methods to slightly alter the ph such as crushed coral or limestone to raise ph and driftwood or peat moss to lower it. Chemicals should never be used to alter ph. The fluctuation of ph when using chemicals is more dangerous than having it be steady a little below or above these numbers.

Water parameters- anything above zero ammonia or nitrites is toxic to these snails. They are especially sensitive to nitrites. Higher nitrates (around 40) doesn't effect them so don't worry if your water comes out from your tap with higher nitrates. The water should be about three inches from the top to leave room for breathing.


Stocking- numbers are a maximum based on an average cycled, filtered, heated tank.
3 gallons- Minimum size for 1 snail with no tank mates except smaller low bio-load snails (nerites, trumpets).
5 gallons-1 non-aggressive Betta* (preferably female)+ 1 snail ,OR three snails.
7 gallons- 1 non-aggressive Betta* + 3 snails, OR up to 5 snails
10 gallon filtered, cycled tank- up to 8 mystery snails with no tank mates, OR up to 5 and a Betta*.
Unless you are running an established (finished cycling over 5 months ago) 10+ gallon tank AND are running double the tank size in filter capacity you should not break from these maximums.

Tank mates- any peaceful fish that will not nip at their antennas, other snails, shrimp.
*****Bettas (especially males) are aggressive and territorial. Mystery snails have long antennas that they wave around that look VERY much like a tasty worm to even the most passive Betta. Before buying a mystery snail for your Betta tank, you need to have an alternate 3+ gallon tank heated and ready for the snail if it cannot live with the Betta. Signs that your snail is being bullied or injured by your fish is if its antennas are short, it walks around with its antennas curled up by its eyes, or if it closes up all the way or flinches hard when your fish comes near it (more than a small surprised flinch).

Basic Anatomy

IMG_2225.jpg IMG_2253.jpg

Snorkel/siphon - used for breathing air from the surface. These snails have gills and a lung, but they need to supplement the oxygen obtained from the gills with air from the surface. Snails do this regularly and it is not a cause for concern or an indication that your water is not aerated enough.


Operculum - oval piece of shell that covers the opening of the shell when the snail retracts.

Mouth- small downward facing mouth, has teeth but they are not strong enough to scrape algae off decorations or glass.

Osphradium- what they use to smell for food, it's on their left side just inside their shell, NOT a sex organ.

Antennas- They use these to feel their way around and judge if they can reach something with their foot because their eyesight is poor.

Sexing- extremely difficult, you have to see far up under the shell unless they have it out during or after intercourse.

IMG_4416.jpg

Illness/injury

Swollen, wavy, discharging foot- causes: poor water quality, reaction to a chemical recently added, and rarely old age. Test water, do immediate large water changes especially if more than one snail has these symptoms. This is easily fixable and indicates irritation and bad water rather than sickness. If not taken care of the snail can become sick. Most often caused by chemicals such as "invert safe" plant fertilizer or anything with copper in it. If their foot is very swollen and they're having trouble getting around they "tiptoe" this is more common in very old snails that are near death.
IMG_3054.jpg IMG_2994.jpg IMG_1485.jpg

Receding operculum- best indicator of sickness in mystery snails. Small circle of receding means they're sick. Test the water and monitor the snail and changes in operculum. Bigger circle of receding means the snail is very ill, and dying. This is most often caused by sickness or old age. When sick, Mystery snails are more sensitive to water quality, but also large water changes. If this happens do multiple smaller water changes such as 25% a day for 4 days. Remember when testing the water that even the slighest bit of ammonia or nitrite can prevent an already sick snail from healing. If you have had the snail more than 6 months, it is likely to be old age.
IMG_2934.jpg

Mantle collapse- can happen partially or fully and for a variety of reasons. This is lethal. Make the snail as comfortable as possible by putting them in a cup or container of tank water deep enough to cover them and float the container in the tank for warmth. Consider "putting them down" (crushing them quickly in some way) if you feel comfortable.
IMG_4662.jpg

Floating- Mystery snails do this on PURPOSE!!!! When they are not feeling well they funnel air into their shell so they can float. This is because they are too weak to keep climbing up the side of the tank for air. These snails can push air in and out of their shells to float or sink. Females often float after they lay eggs because they got air in their shell while laying eggs, BUT don't want to push it out yet, they want to float and relax. Floating might mean a snail is weak, but it doesn't mean they're sick unless they also have some of the symptoms above. You should leave them alone when they're floating except to move them away from the filter or make sure they're alive.

Shell health- Cuttlebone is widely recommended on this site for some reason, HOWEVER it is not effective in a tank bigger than 5 gallons. I recommend to everyone to purchase calcium powder from the reptile section. Make sure the only ingredients are calcium and maybe vitamin D3. During your weekly water change add a tablespoon for every 20 gallons in the tank. You can do up to two tablespoons the first time or any time you feel you need a boost. This will take around 1-3 to completely dissolve into the water so it will be cloudy initially. If any calcium settles you can stir the water to finish dissolving. You can buy this on Amazon by searching "calcium powder for reptiles" or at almost any store that sells reptiles. This will not harm fish, shrimp, or other snail species.


Common questions/concerns

Should I get a mystery snail to clean my algae?
-No. As states above they need to eat almost every day with an omnivorous diet, also they have a high bio-load, and their teeth are not strong enough to scrape algae off. They may snack on the top layer or some loose pieces, but will not clean it.

Why hasn't my new mystery snail "come out" yet?/ Why has my mystery closed up for a few days?
-If you smelled it and pushed gently on the operculum to make sure it was alive. Try floating it in a container with only enough water to barely cover it. Float this container inside the tank to keep it warm. This will usually work.

What is the black line on the side of my snail's shell?
-On the same side as the whorl you can often see a snail's digestive tract through its shell. I shows especially well on light colored snails.

i'll add more as I think of them and they get asked.

For snail emergencies you can contact my snail email.
Happy snailing






 
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BBnL

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In your water parameters paragraph you say "sensitive to nitrates" when I think you mean NITRITES for you then say nitrates ok to 40.

Thank you for info and photos!!

Just started reading labels. All hikari pellets i have, algae, crab food , etc have copper sulfate.
Aqueon floating flakes...copper sulfate. Shrimp pellets, aqueon, copper sulfate.
All one of last listed, but still there. My snails exposed to all, seem ok, but will they be harmed over time?
How much is needed vs harmful?
 
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Pringlethesnail

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Great question! Copper sulfate is used to prevent fungus growth on the food. It is used on human food as well. In larger doses it’s lethal to aquatic life. Snails are especially sensitive to this, but it is used in almost all fish food. As long as it’s at the very end of the ingredient list it is fine. This is another reason why it is important that the food doesn’t sit in the tank more than 2 hours. I’ve noticed that when these foods sit too long and “dirty” the water. The snails foot becomes more irritated than it should from food waste. This can be solved by several large water changes. So it’s fine, as long as it’s not dirtying the water
 

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@Pringlethesnail can I go through and combine your info with the care sheet that we have stickied in the snail forms so that it's all in one place and easy for people to find?
 

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20180401_164805.jpg


What am I seeing?
 
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Bithimala

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Is there any way to pin this one?
Would have to get the mods to approve and pin it, which could be done. I would just be concerned it might cause confusion having the two pinned, which is why I was thinking I could just edit the one I put togther a few years ago. You've got a lot of great info in here, but don't want to take your stuff and add it without your ok.
 

Pringlethesnail

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Poor little guy! Very very swollen. This could be really bad water quality, a chemical in the water the snail is reacting to, or trauma like falling out of the tank or having a rock fall on him. Change the water if it is a water problem, either way you should put him in a container floating in the tank with only enough water to cover him. Lay him in his side, spiral side down so that the breathing tube is right below the surface.
 

Siphon

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What do you think of this?

jesus murphy! Iam almost worried its going to smother Phillip J Fry and his 7 brothers Fryday, The frying dutchman, French Fry, Deep Fry, FryMason, and Carl
 

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Pringlethesnail

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HAHA I JUST LAUGHED SO HARD AT THAT. Yes that powder is perfect and it should be cleared up by now! Omg I actually can’t stop laughing! You broke me. It concerned my fish the first few weeks I did it but now they don’t care. That’s about what mine looks like for an hour or two. I’m seriously dying. I’m sick so I keep laughing and coughing and laughing again!
 

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Hahaha awesome. All i can say is half a table spoon might be much for the 5 gallon, everythings white in it now
 

Skye_marilyn

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Mystery snail care/sickness guide
Because very little information is known about mystery snails I want to make a full guide of everything I have learned in my years of keeping and breeding mystery snails. I will be posting this on several sites and I mean no harm to any existing care sheets. Please comment questions or suggestions.

Mystery snails are golf ball sized freshwater aquarium snails with the scientific name Pomacea diffusa. They are often called Inca snails or Apple snails. Often also referred to as Apple snails are the much larger (apple sized) Pomacea canaliculata and Pomacea maculata. This is where the confusion comes from; Pomacea means apple snail. Therefor all three of these snails are different types of apple snails (The same as house cats, pumas, and lions are all cats). To avoid confusion their common names are as follows: Pomacea diffusa= Mystery snail, Pomacea calaliculata= Cana snail, and Pomacea maculata= Maca snail. This care sheet applies to Mystery snails only.

Feeding- These snails need their own diet. They cannot live off of algae or left over fish food. They are OMNIVOROUS so they need to be eating sinking pellets containing some sort of meat. They digest small sinking wafers the best. Ingredients to look for in a good pellet/wafer (in no specific order) are: krill, fish, silkworm pupae, seaweed, spirulina, shrimp, crab, etc. They should be fed a sinking pellet containing some of these things at least every-other day. 1-2x a week you can feed them algae wafers or blanched vegetables if you want, but they have no dietary need for them.

Heating- Tank should always be between 75-80 with 78F being optimal temperature.

Ph- 7-8, but it is more important to be consistent. It is okay to use natural methods to slightly alter the ph such as crushed coral or limestone to raise ph and driftwood or peat moss to lower it. Chemicals should never be used to alter ph. The fluctuation of ph when using chemicals is more dangerous than having it be steady a little below or above these numbers.

Water parameters- anything above zero ammonia or nitrites is toxic to these snails. They are especially sensitive to nitrites. Higher nitrates (around 40) doesn't effect them so don't worry if your water comes out from your tap with higher nitrates. The water should be about three inches from the top to leave room for breathing.


Stocking- numbers are a maximum based on an average cycled, filtered, heated tank.
3 gallons- Minimum size for 1 snail with no tank mates except smaller low bio-load snails (nerites, trumpets).
5 gallons-1 non-aggressive Betta* (preferably female)+ 1 snail ,OR three snails.
7 gallons- 1 non-aggressive Betta* + 3 snails, OR up to 5 snails
10 gallon filtered, cycled tank- up to 8 mystery snails with no tank mates, OR up to 5 and a Betta*.
Unless you are running an established (finished cycling over 5 months ago) 10+ gallon tank AND are running double the tank size in filter capacity you should not break from these maximums.

Tank mates- any peaceful fish that will not nip at their antennas, other snails, shrimp.
*****Bettas (especially males) are aggressive and territorial. Mystery snails have long antennas that they wave around that look VERY much like a tasty worm to even the most passive Betta. Before buying a mystery snail for your Betta tank, you need to have an alternate 3+ gallon tank heated and ready for the snail if it cannot live with the Betta. Signs that your snail is being bullied or injured by your fish is if its antennas are short, it walks around with its antennas curled up by its eyes, or if it closes up all the way or flinches hard when your fish comes near it (more than a small surprised flinch).

Basic Anatomy

View attachment 424297 View attachment 424298

Snorkel - used for breathing air from the surface. These snails have gills and a lung, but they need to supplement the oxygen obtained from the gills with air from the surface.


Operculum - oval piece of shell that covers the opening of the shell when the snail retracts.

Mouth- small downward facing mouth, has teeth but they are not strong enough to scrape algae off decorations or glass.

Osphradium- what they use to smell for food, it's on their left side just inside their shell, NOT a sex organ.

Antennas- They use these to feel their way around and judge if they can reach something with their foot because their eyesight is poor.

Sexing- extremely difficult, you have to see far up under the shell unless they have it out during or after intercourse.

View attachment 424244

Illness/injury

Swollen, wavy, discharging foot- causes: poor water quality, reaction to a chemical recently added, and rarely old age. Test water, do immediate large water changes especially if more than one snail has these symptoms. This is easily fixable and indicates irritation and bad water rather than sickness. If not taken care of the snail can become sick. Most often caused by chemicals such as "invert safe" plant fertilizer or anything with copper in it. If their foot is very swollen and they're having trouble getting around they "tiptoe" this is more common in very old snails that are near death.
View attachment 424250 View attachment 424248 View attachment 424249

Receding operculum- best indicator of sickness in mystery snails. Small circle of receding means they're sick. Test the water and monitor the snail and changes in operculum. Bigger circle of receding means the snail is very ill, and dying. This is most often caused by sickness or old age. When sick, Mystery snails are more sensitive to water quality, but also large water changes. If this happens do multiple smaller water changes such as 25% a day for 4 days. Remember when testing the water that even the slighest bit of ammonia or nitrite can prevent an already sick snail from healing. If you have had the snail more than 6 months, it is likely to be old age.
View attachment 424256

Mantle collapse- can happen partially or fully and for a variety of reasons. This is lethal. Make the snail as comfortable as possible by putting them in a cup or container of tank water deep enough to cover them and float the container in the tank for warmth. Consider "putting them down" (crushing them quickly in some way) if you feel comfortable.
View attachment 424265

Floating- Mystery snails do this on PURPOSE!!!! When they are not feeling well they funnel air into their shell so they can float. This is because they are too weak to keep climbing up the side of the tank for air. These snails can push air in and out of their shells to float or sink. Females often float after they lay eggs because they got air in their shell while laying eggs, BUT don't want to push it out yet, they want to float and relax. Floating might mean a snail is weak, but it doesn't mean they're sick unless they also have some of the symptoms above. You should leave them alone when they're floating except to move them away from the filter or make sure they're alive.

Shell health- Cuttlebone is widely recommended on this site for some reason, HOWEVER it is not effective in a tank bigger than 5 gallons. I recommend to everyone to purchase calcium powder from the reptile section. Make sure the only ingredients are calcium and maybe vitamin D3. During your weekly water change add a tablespoon for every 20 gallons in the tank. You can do up to two tablespoons the first time or any time you feel you need a boost. This will take around 1-3 to completely dissolve into the water so it will be cloudy initially. If any calcium settles you can stir the water to finish dissolving. You can buy this on Amazon by searching "calcium powder for reptiles" or at almost any store that sells reptiles. This will not harm fish, shrimp, or other snail species.


Common questions/concerns

Should I get a mystery snail to clean my algae?
-No. As states above they need to eat almost every day with an omnivorous diet, also they have a high bio-load, and their teeth are not strong enough to scrape algae off. They may snack on the top layer or some loose pieces, but will not clean it.

Why hasn't my new mystery snail "come out" yet?/ Why has my mystery closed up for a few days?
-If you smelled it and pushed gently on the operculum to make sure it was alive. Try floating it in a container with only enough water to barely cover it. Float this container inside the tank to keep it warm. This will usually work.

What is the black line on the side of my snail's shell?
-On the same side as the whorl you can often see a snail's digestive tract through its shell. I shows especially well on light colored snails.

i'll add more as I think of them and they get asked.

For snail emergencies you can contact my snail email
Happy snailing





Wow! Thanks for all the info! I am going to start making some calcium, krill, veggie snail gel soon as well as adding calcium powder. My snailies are so cute and luckily haven’t exhibited signs like these since I had to rescue them from a dirty store with about 20-50 mystery snails (some bigger than an apricot) as well as a ton of nerites (about the size of a jawbreaker) in a 5 gallon tank. They are happy campers now but boy do they poop. I put some krill pellets in there to get their attention, it’s so cute how they crawl towards the pellets and slurp them up their little “trunk”.
 

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DaleM

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HAHA I JUST LAUGHED SO HARD AT THAT. Yes that powder is perfect and it should be cleared up by now! Omg I actually can’t stop laughing! You broke me. It concerned my fish the first few weeks I did it but now they don’t care. That’s about what mine looks like for an hour or two. I’m seriously dying. I’m sick so I keep laughing and coughing and laughing again!
Great write up! (Not this, the original post, haha!)

Quick question, is the liquid calcium used in marine tanks for coral and invertebrate health suitable? Or some calcium tablets from the pharmacy crushed up? Finding it difficult to find calcium powder at any of my LFS, even though they sell reptile stuff
 

Pringlethesnail

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@Skye_marilyn They’re so stinking adorable! They actually look really good so wherever the store got them from must have been a good home. I always go and check out the store before I sell them mystery snails to make sure they’re taken care of. One store had them in a 3.5 gallon with the water directly up to lid (literally zero air) and just a bubbler, no heater. These poor babies were shoving their snorkels on the lid trying to find air. I told the manager they couldn’t breathe and he was like okay whatever. So I told the assistant manager and he took a cup of water out for them to have space and the manager got mad at him. They had an amazing store and their fish were so well taken care of but I never went back there and I definitely didn’t give them any of my snail children. Anyway, a lot of pooping is good it means they’re well fed!

@DaleM
I’ve never personally decided it was worth it to risk it. One thing is that liquid calcium is around 4% calcium and the powder is around 40%. So I think you’d need to add a lot of the liquid. The liquid is 96% water already. At some point I want to get a calcium test kit and try it in a empty tank to figure out dosage and if the cost is worth it, but I don’t have the time and money right now. I would just stick with what you know works for now. Also, calcium tablets for people are a no go because they have a ton of other ingredients in them. I’m not sure what area you’re in but they have powder at petco and petsmart and you can order it on amazon.
 

Skye_marilyn

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@Skye_marilyn They’re so stinking adorable! They actually look really good so wherever the store got them from must have been a good home. I always go and check out the store before I sell them mystery snails to make sure they’re taken care of. One store had them in a 3.5 gallon with the water directly up to lid (literally zero air) and just a bubbler, no heater. These poor babies were shoving their snorkels on the lid trying to find air. I told the manager they couldn’t breathe and he was like okay whatever. So I told the assistant manager and he took a cup of water out for them to have space and the manager got mad at him. They had an amazing store and their fish were so well taken care of but I never went back there and I definitely didn’t give them any of my snail children. Anyway, a lot of pooping is good it means they’re well fed!

@DaleM
I’ve never personally decided it was worth it to risk it. One thing is that liquid calcium is around 4% calcium and the powder is around 40%. So I think you’d need to add a lot of the liquid. The liquid is 96% water already. At some point I want to get a calcium test kit and try it in a empty tank to figure out dosage and if the cost is worth it, but I don’t have the time and money right now. I would just stick with what you know works for now. Also, calcium tablets for people are a no go because they have a ton of other ingredients in them. I’m not sure what area you’re in but they have powder at petco and petsmart and you can order it on amazon.
Btw that box is not their whole tank, the tank is actually 10 gallons but the betta was being mean so they are in a breeder box. I’m just keeping them in a breeder box until I’ve got my 20 long set up. They eat like crazy, I feed them soaked pellets, repashy, zucchini, cucumber, algae from around the tank they love it. Poor things were not good at all when I bought them (all swollen, inactive, digging under the substrate, not eating) luckily now they live in clean, warm water with lots of food!
 

DaleM

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@Skye_marilyn They’re so stinking adorable! They actually look really good so wherever the store got them from must have been a good home. I always go and check out the store before I sell them mystery snails to make sure they’re taken care of. One store had them in a 3.5 gallon with the water directly up to lid (literally zero air) and just a bubbler, no heater. These poor babies were shoving their snorkels on the lid trying to find air. I told the manager they couldn’t breathe and he was like okay whatever. So I told the assistant manager and he took a cup of water out for them to have space and the manager got mad at him. They had an amazing store and their fish were so well taken care of but I never went back there and I definitely didn’t give them any of my snail children. Anyway, a lot of pooping is good it means they’re well fed!

@DaleM
I’ve never personally decided it was worth it to risk it. One thing is that liquid calcium is around 4% calcium and the powder is around 40%. So I think you’d need to add a lot of the liquid. The liquid is 96% water already. At some point I want to get a calcium test kit and try it in a empty tank to figure out dosage and if the cost is worth it, but I don’t have the time and money right now. I would just stick with what you know works for now. Also, calcium tablets for people are a no go because they have a ton of other ingredients in them. I’m not sure what area you’re in but they have powder at petco and petsmart and you can order it on amazon.
I'm in Australia, very hard to get stuff over here a lot of the time!

I'm in Australia, very hard to get stuff over here a lot of the time!
Found some at the LFS, has vitamin D3 in it too though. About 37% calcium. Can get pure calcium powder online so will order.
 
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Pringlethesnail

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That’s what I use. Mine is 38% and has vitamin D. If you get pure calcium be careful with the dosing because they can over dose. Maybe do 1/4 of what I recommended above to be safe.
 

DaleM

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That’s what I use. Mine is 38% and has vitamin D. If you get pure calcium be careful with the dosing because they can over dose. Maybe do 1/4 of what I recommended above to be safe.
Just added 4-5 teaspoons of the calcium + vitD into my 35g, so about 1.5 tablespoons. Very cloudy of course for a few hours, but has settled down. Hopefully the tetras, corys and cherry barbs don't mind the calcium hit!
 

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Btw that box is not their whole tank, the tank is actually 10 gallons but the betta was being mean so they are in a breeder box. I’m just keeping them in a breeder box until I’ve got my 20 long set up. They eat like crazy, I feed them soaked pellets, repashy, zucchini, cucumber, algae from around the tank they love it. Poor things were not good at all when I bought them (all swollen, inactive, digging under the substrate, not eating) luckily now they live in clean, warm water with lots of food!
This repashy looks like a great food for them! What do you think Pringlethesnail? I'm thinking about trying it out.
 
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