Could plants or snails pass on a previous fish's bacterial infections?
(I apologize if there is already a topic like this. Please feel free to link me to any existing threads that you think would be of benefit to me regarding this!)
Sometime last year, I had a betta who had what appeared to be fin rot, as well as a swim bladder issue that didn't respond to fasting or daphnia (I didn't know about epsom salt treatment at this point); he was given antibiotics in a hospital tank and seemed better in the fin rot department, though he still couldn't float worth a darn. He then died a few months later for whatever reason. (I suppose there was still something nasty in there that took hold in a period of stress.)
I am a bit concerned that his illness(es) could be present in my live plants (anacharis) and snails (MTS) and might come back to haunt me if I don't do something. I'm fishless at the moment and plan on taking apart the tank for a good disinfecting before getting a new betta; while the plants and snails are in quarantine, is there anything I can do about them? Should I even be concerned at all? I do have a tendency to overthink things a bit. ;-)
 To clarify, I'm worried about bacteria that could affect future fish, not me. I'm rather lacking in fins to rot. :-P
Asphalt - always good to find another member of Over-thinkers Anonymous! A blessing and a bit of a curse, neh? Too bad you don't have fins. . . for a moment I thought I was talking to a real live merperson! :D
I'm no expert, but from my understanding based on various things I've read, the short answer to your question is - Yes. Depending on the pathogen, it is very possible (likely, depending on exactly what it is) that it can be carried over into a clean system on plants and/or snails. . .
The good news here is that parasites that need fish to act as a host can't get what they need from a plant or (in most cases) a snail. Snails are capable of carrying their own nasties into tanks, but for the most part (and again, from what I have seen/read) parasites that affect snails and can ALSO harm fish typically have a fairly complicated life cycle, which goes through a few stages that require multiple hosts - often other animals like birds, rats, or very specific fish, etc - to complete. Most of the time the entire chain can't be found in our tanks, so the parasite will die off, unable to complete it's life cycle and reproduce.
What this means is that IF something that was to have affected your lost Betta was to be on (or in) a snail or a plant, it is only there by association - simply being on or ingested - and should not be able to live for long without the fishy host it requires.
The best thing to do, I think, is exactly what you're doing - keep any potentially infected plants or snails (including new arrivals from a fish store!) in a fishless QT for a period of about 4 weeks. After this time frame, nearly anything parasitic that could use a new fish as a host should have died.
My understanding on bacteria is that a lot of the various bacteria that can affect our fish are often already in the water, and unless you have a uv sterilizer (which most of us do not, and is somewhat debated, anyway) there is no way to be rid of them. It's not a bad thing, or at least, nothing to fear. For the most part fish that are healthy, un-stressed, and kept in clean water will have a strong enough immune system to keep the bacteria from causing harm. It's only when you're dealing with a fish who is ill or stressed that the uggies are more easily able to gain the upper hand and cause problems - same as with people, and - I imagine - merfolk. . .
That said, there are some people who would choose to use bleach/peroxide/or medications on the plants. I'm not sure what they would do about snails. . . I have tried 'cleaning' plants in the past, and found that the plants didn't really appreciate it. Now I QT all plants and animals before putting them into my main tank - without exception.
I hope this helps somewhat!
That was extremely helpful and informative! Thanks! :D
And if I ever meet a merperson with an internet connection, I'll be sure to ask them to send you a PM. ;)
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