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How to help snails to repair their shells when adjusting enclosure parameters is not enough

I got really upset again recently when I found out that information I had shared got twisted completely and is now circulating on social media, living a life of its own. The "invention" of treating snails with colloidal silver is not mine, and it wasn't discovered by anyone in the Czech Republic either. We owe it to one of the best snail breeders, who I am honored to call my friend - Thamara Tiefenbacher from Austria. I'm getting a bit tired of seeing people on Facebook using others' discoveries and passing them off as their own (at best), or worse, just parroting something without really understanding what they're talking about.

What is colloidal silver

Colloidal silver can be bought at any pharmacy. I recommend the highest concentration, which is 50 ppm. It is indeed the most expensive but also the most effective (= fewer applications are needed to see results). Buy it directly in a spray bottle or pour it into a regular sprayer like I do. The brand doesn't matter; I have many snails, so I take advantage of sales promotions.

How do you apply colloidal silver

Gently spray not only the affected part of the shell but also the mantle (where the cells that produce the shell material are located). It doesn’t matter if the spray hits the snail's foot, in fact, it's beneficial. Recommendations are being spread that you should rub and avoid the foot – both are NONSENSE! Rubbing, even gently, will likely damage the already fragile shell, and you won't be able to reach all the cracks and crevices (a damaged shell isn’t exactly smooth like a mirror). Silver very gently destroys microorganisms and doesn't harm the snail upon contact with its body.

However, don't overdo it; I hope no one gets the idea to bathe the snail in colloidal silver. I'm not exactly a microbiologist, but I assume that even snails have beneficial microorganisms on them that shouldn't be completely removed. For affected snails, I apply colloidal silver at each feeding until a new growth appears that is completely healthy.

This is how I do it. I buy a big bottle of colloidal silver 50ppm (the highest available concentration) then pour a part of the content to a clean spray bottle. It is important to keep the silver liquid away from light so the bottle should not be see though.

Why it works

It is generally known that most problems with shells (if not all) arise as a consequence of environmental issues, although I often encounter the claim that poor selection or genetics are to blame. In my opinion, this is nonsense and a way to elegantly shift the blame from the owner to the breeder. Just using logic: if that was true and the issues would be in fact directly related to poor genetics, colloidal silver would have no effect.

The real culprit is most often excessively high humidity. That likely causes an overgrowth of some microorganisms (bacteria? fungi? I’m not sure). As a result of such an overgrowth, the snail either constantly nibbles on the shell - usually he keeps biting the edge of the whole growth strip or just a certain spot. Sometimes the shell just doesn’t form properly - it is rough instead of smooth and shiny. Logically, the first step is to reduce the humidity, ideally partially replace the substrate (some species do not tolerate well a complete replacement) = remove the primary cause, i.e., the unsuitable environment. Apply colloidal silver to eliminate the microorganisms that subsequently cause nibbling or poor growth.

Is colloidal silver for everybody

In conclusion, I’d like to mention that the sooner the colloidal silver is applied, the greater the chance of 100% correction of the issue. Some species respond to the treatment more successfully (e.g., knorri), while others less or not at all (e.g., suturalis).

I should also add that I will try to gradually add more photos to this post. Some results I have seen are close to a real mirracle.

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