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Bacterial Infections of Apple Snail

By Kristi Dorn

This experiment was not controlled and not done in sterile conditions, it was not funded or sponsored in anyway by Maracyn Plus and its producing company.    In no way is this a guarantee that this product will cure your problem.  Please see warning about different species below.

Bacterial Infection of Bridgesii Apple Snails
Extent ranging from mild to severe infections

Symptoms: Spots, shrunken tissue, back flipping with foot exposure, paralysis.
Progression: Snails develop discolored spots on their foot tissue.  These spots spread, and everywhere the spots have developed tissue shrinks.  Shrunken foot often has a ‘brain’ like surface, at first and then resembles more of a raisin. Finally, the foot becomes paralyzed and unresponsive.  The snail’s face and antennae often seem to remain active, however the snail can not reach food and will starve if not put down. 

Cause/Onset trigger: Cause is unknown but became apparent after 20-30 degree warmer than normal weather.  Temperatures reached 90-95 degrees, tanks temps in the mid to upper 80’s despite use of ice.  Heat is obviously a factor in bacteria growth.

Treatment timeline: Temperature lowered via ice and cool air (after heat wave diminished).  The standard treatment of ‘Melafix’ and cool water did not help my snails.  This was done for 8 days. After treating for 8 days, and having to put down several paralyzed snails it became clear this was either not the correct treatment (source other than bacterial) or a very resistant bacteria needing stronger antibiotics.

Next I experimented with ‘pimafix’ the sister product to ‘melafix’.  There were horror stories about this product killing snails, but after 3 doses at 72F I lost no snail to this med.  I didn’t see much of an improvement, if any at all.

At this point the snails had been sick for 11 days.  With no luck, I called around to local vet offices until I convinced a Vet to take a look at a sample under a microscope.  My worst fear was confirmed, this is a bacterial infection, and was resistant to the only snail safe medicine known.

Maracyn Plus: Deadly to Snails….or Not?

It’s widely accepted that the only snail safe treatment is melafix. Tetracycline is also believed to be SAFE for snails at a ½ dose.  However this level of antibiotic is believed to be too weak to destroy harmful bacterial infections. 

Maracyn Plus is a new medicine in the market, a strong one at that.  It contains two powerful antibiotics and an ‘ion filming agent’.  This agent allows the medicine to ‘stick’ to the fish and the infection. It also prevents re-infection in fish. I’m hoping the same results will occur with the snails.

Testing Maracyn Plus:
Maracyn Plus is used for 7 days.  It’s dosed on Day 1, 3 and 5, and a water change performed on day 7 to remove any left over meds.

I began testing this product on June 11th 2006.  I created two groups of ‘test snails’.  These are small snails from a grow out tank.  The tank has possibly been contaminated through aquatic plant transfer, but only 1 snail has shown symptoms.  The snails being tested are healthy, but small so should show distress from toxins rapidly.
 
Testing Round One: Day 1
Test group 1 received 8 drops of the medication per gallon.  This is a ½ dose of the medication.  When no one immediately died or climbed out of the water, test group 2 received 16 drops of the medication.  No one immediately died, and no one has passed over the first 2 days.

Day 3
The test subjects were re-dosed today, still no deaths at 8 drops or 16 drops.

Day 5
This is the last dose per the bottle directions, both tests groups survive the final dose (8 drops and 16 drops respectfully.

Testing Round Two
Once the healthy experimental group passed the survival test, I began ‘testing’ the product on an ill snail.  I selected a Dark Striped Purple Brig, who had significant spotting and shrinkage of the foot.  The snail was still mobile and began treatment in a 2.5g jug.  This snail survived both a dose on Day one and day three of it treatment.  It continued to live through the final dose, and began to eat with gusto, like a healthy snail should.  He was not fully recovered, but with an additional round (so 14 days) he seems to be putting on weight (and restored foot size) and has no more spots.

Treatment with Maracyn Plus:
Despite this Test Round Two not being complete, I did a very bad thing (which ended up being okay), I started treated my tanks. I was desperate and things were rapidly going south for those not being treated. Both the main tank and a ‘sick tank’ I had put the worst cases into, got their first dose.  The second and final doses came in the following days.  I saw some improvements.  A second round left my main tank (with the milder cases) all but healed. I am now on a third round (basically an extended 2nd round) on this main tank.  I had one or two cases which did not heal up completely and I want to be 1000% sure this thing is gone.  I do not plan to use a fourth round on these guys, but will follow up with melafix to help them heal.

My sick tank contains the most severe cases.  Two were able to move out of this tank, and into the main tank as they improved.  Remaining in this tank are 5 snails, 2 purples, a pink and 2 blues.  I’m fairly sure that one of the purples and one of the blues are losing the fight; they are completely paralyzed and eat only if placed directly on food. The blue is a male and yesterday could not hold in his penis sheath, leaving it hanging out and exposed, today this condition is gone but this is never a good sign.  The other 3 seek out food… though they have some paralysis and move very slowly.  Maracyn Plus does not seem to help them once they are fully paralyzed.  I honestly don’t know if any of these 5 will recover.  I plan to pull the meds tomorrow and do another round of melafix/pimafix before trying a 4th round with them.

Conclusion:
I have tested Maracyn Plus exclusively on Bridgesii Apple Snails.  I have tested multiple age groups, snail sizes, temperatures and container sizes.  I’ve found a slight reduction in bioload the biological filter can handle, but this can be countered with lots of live plants.
Small snails, medium snails, breeder sized snails and golf ball size adults all tolerate the medicine at the recommended dose.  I’ve used it in room temperature buckets, 2.5g buckets, and in heated tanks (in 5g, 10g and 20g).  No snail has died resulting from the meds.  The only snails to perish were in extremely poor health and died as a result of the severity of their condition.

Warning!
This medicine has not been tested on Rams, Marisas, or other species of apple snails (cana, hamstrum, ect.)  Using with such species should be done with care until it’s safety is further studied by breeders of these species. 



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