Snail Central!

Today is a big day here in our 120 gallon aquarium. I managed to catch one of the snails "in the act"----laying her clutch of eggs. She was kind enough to place this clutch at the front of the aquarium, where I was able to take the cover off and photograph her activities. I took over 70 pictures and uploaded the best ones to my flickr "aquaria" set. Here's one of the best of the best:

While all this was going on, a little farther back in the tank (where my camera cannot go!), our third clutch was hatching! The back left corner of the aquarium is now covered with little tiny, light-colored snails. Does this mean I've got some ivories finally? Only time will tell!

Stay tuned for more exciting news. *wink*

Clutch count rising

My 120 gallon aquarium is now up to a total of eight clutches, with two already hatched. The third clutch is due to hatch real soon, based on the color of the clutch.

I read over on that water changes (and the accompanying drop in temperature) usually precipitates egg laying. Now that the ammonia and pH levels are in good places, I think the babies from these clutches should be gorgeous! I won't be able to sell (and maybe not trade) the grown snails which are the parents, due to their shell damage.

I bought two ivory snails the other day, hoping to add some variation to the results. I'm still learning about snail genetics. So far, I understand that two blues have a 25% chance of ivory offspring, with the remaining 75% being blues. Two ivories have a 100% chance of ivory offspring. "Ivory" is the lack of shell color and the lack of body color. Hmm. I wonder if this is "albino" for snails?

I've got a few who keep burying themselves down in the gravel and that worried me for a while, but I guess it's common in fine gravel or sand aquariums. I guess everything is going well, now that I've got the chemistry balanced again. All I need to do is find homes for all these babies!


Update: I've managed to get a number of pictures. I've selected a large number of them to highlight here. If you've got a slow connection, you might want to go get a drink or a snack...

I am hoping to add photos to this post later, but glass + flash = challenging....and we all know I am not a photographer in any real sense of the word!

Sunday I hosted a "Snail Painting Party". What fun! First, why did my snails need painting? And second, why did I ask my friends to help?

For the answer to the first question, the pH in the aquarium had dropped (I've been bad about testing!). I only noticed when I started seeing pitting on the snails' shells. In some cases, this has caused holes to open up where there shouldn't be any holes. Not good. The solution (after fixing the pH problem with measured additions of baking soda to bring the pH up) is to paint their shells with clear (or colored, but why???) nail polish. This strengthens their shells, since they can't re-grow new shell in the areas which have been damaged.

Still, why would I ask friends to come over and paint snails with me? Well, remember this post? I've got close to 100 of these guys in my aquarium! And that's not counting the two recently hatched clutches--each snail of which is barely the size of a lentil. Plus three more clutches to go---one just discovered today.

Adding in pictures of the babies!

Look how many there are! Every one of those pale "dots" is a baby snail! And this is only two of the five clutches already hatched! I'm going to be drowning (ahem, pardon the really, pun?) in snails!

What's the worst a friend could say? No? So, I asked. And I got four "yeses". The actual painting went faster than I expected it to. I had thought I might mark each snail with a unique letter/number, for identification purposes. Instead, we decided that those painting could add a dot of color (each painter picked a color). Frank picked one of my glow-in-the-dark Powder Puff Girls nail polishes. (Where did I get this? I'm sure it was only because of the glow-in-the-dark aspect!) And after the tank lights have been on for a long time, we can turn off all the tank and room lights around the tank and see the little dots! *grin*

Frank was bold and counted 90 snails collected from the aquarium. I'd guess between 10-20 couldn't be painted because of holes in their shells. I'll probably be plastering them this coming weekend. I really wish I'd been ready to do the plastering at the same time 'cause now I'll have to find all the ones who need it all over again!

In the meantime, I've got many many many more baby snails already growing and eating their way around the aquarium. It's too early to tell what the first two clutches that have hatched will be color-wise. I'm guessing blues: dark body in an ivory shell. Since snails can hold sperm for six months, I think there's a possiblity one of the females had a chance with the single striped snail I had for a brief time last fall---but I don't even know the sex of that one, so perhaps not.

This is one of the larger P. Bridgesii snails: ivory shell, dark body. This coloring is called a "blue". There's a 1 in 4 chance of a blue x blue mating resulting in an ivory snail (ivory shell, light body). So far, all the snails in my tank are blues. None of the ivories I've purchased from the store have survived. And with so many in the tank now, I don't know which one is the original blue I bought.

Clutch #3 of 5 (as of 20 January 2009)

This is one of my best aquarium photos ever!

And this one too. I'm tickled to have won the battle with my camera and managed to get it to focus on the snails! Could this group be ivory snails? They sure look light colored enough. I guess time will tell!

There's more images in my flickr aquaria set

Here's a big "thank you" going out to Frank and Lindsay and Patrick and Karen for all their help. And a special thanks to my chef/hubby who prepared two large platters of nachos and a veggie platter.

Now to see if I can actually photograph the new babies and the clutches well enough to post to flickr and add them to this post! I guess I did okay.

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