i was moving my substrate around for a new plant and i saw dozens of snail shells beneath the surface is this bad?
Can you describe what they looked like? They're most likely Malaysian Trumpet Snails (they're the only one's I know of that burrow in the substrate), and most people enjoy having them (and even put them in their tank on purpose). I'm one of those people :D Snails (especially MTS) do an awesome job of helping to break down organics (decaying plant matter, fish waste, etc).
If you have a lot of them, it means that they're getting a good amount of food from somewhere, and perhaps an indication that you may be overfeeding your fish.
Is that bad, well it all depends on your preference. Alot of people like them due to their burrowing nature in soil and sand substrate tanks. Some like them for part of the clean up crew. Some like them for the complete eco system which is the best of both worlds.
Me personally, I don't like the look of small snails. Mainly speaking of ramshorn and MTS. Nerite, Mystery and Apple, just to name a few, don't populate like roaches. Its very unattractive to see if they get out of hand. I can't house any in my tank due to my water parameters though. I use R/O water in which strips the water of what snails need to survive.
Be advised that RO water alone is also too pure for tropical fish. Fish assimilate minerals and trace elements through osmosis for health and well being. If you use RO water in FW aquariums you really need to add Replenish, Equilibrium and/or Fresh Trace (or other equivalent supplement) to ensure the health of your fish.
I add flourish trace elements at W/C along with the other products in that line here and there. I just don't do it consistently enough anymore, lol. I pretty much have to use R/O mainly to get neutral waters and to lower my gH. I know I have to add back for my plants to stay afloat. What I really need to do is venture over to dry fertilizers. Some day I will though.
As far as the infestation you have a few options. Some better than others. Between traps and natural predators choose one that works in your favor. Examples: food bait traps and assassin snails. I will let you do the research on the methods to broaden your knowledge.
I squish them against the side of the glass when they travel up, and feed them to the fish, and I keep mine under control that way. Just whenever you see a snail on the glass, squish it, and over time it keeps the population down. Mine are just the pesky pond snails, however.
Bad or not is more your decision.
FWIW I always get an initial snail bloom when starting planted tanks. Then a year later only a few remain. So I do basically nothing. After all they are part of a balanced ecosystem IMHO.
But you may not agree with that.
i just let them do their thing. eat stuff, mate, die, repeat. all a part of the ecosystem in my box of water i keep in my room!
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