07-14-2010, 08:09 PM
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I appreciate that many aquarists rinse plants in this or that, I never have. One has to be careful about harming the plants as eileen points out. But more importantly perhaps, I consider snails very useful in a planted tank.
Here's a paragraph cited form Peter Hiscock's book, concerning snails:
Generally speaking, a small and controlled snail population is beneficial in a planted aquarium. Snails are scavengers, so as well as eating algae, they will also feed on any waste organic matter, be it in the form of fish waste and fish food or plant waste in the substrate. As they remove some of the organic debris found in the top layer of the substrate, which is not useful to plants, they reduce levels of harmful bacteria. In addition, they continually move the substrate about, preventing algal growth.
On the last point, Malaysian snails also move throughout the substrate right down to the bottom, which allows better water circulation to bring nutrients to the roots, and maintaining a healthy colony of good bacteria, and certainly helping to prevent compaction of the substrate.
Diana Walstad writes,
Although snails are frequently disparaged by some aquarium hobbyists, they are actually quite useful in the aquarium. First, snails clean plant leaves of debris, algae, and bacteria. Second, they greatly speed up the decomposition process, so that nutrients are recycled much more quickly to plants. I keep snails in all of my aquariums.