01-21-2010, 01:53 PM
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On this issue I cannot agree with my friend Natalie
Shells are calcium, period. That is what snail shells, clam shells, all shells are made of (along with other things of course). And any calcareous item will over time dissolve in water. Snails do not fare well in my soft water simply because there is not sufficient calcium for their shells (a natural means of control).
If you have very soft acidic water, the shells may be useful to add some calcium, but in acidic water I would be careful of the extent to which they will do this. This is why people put crushed coral, dolomite, lava rock, etc. in their filters, to add some alkalinity. In water which is already above pH 7 and moderately hard, I would not add any calcareous object; the last thing you want with plants and such fish is more alkalinity/hardness.
I do not recommend putting shells in a freshwater aquarium. The boiling might handle the salt issue, but not the calcium.