Avoiding Hitchhikers?

Egmel

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How do people ensure that hitchhikers don't get into their tanks on the plants they buy?

I recently purchased a large batch of plants from greenline and now, a few weeks later I've discovered that I've got several dragonfly larvae running around my tank, of 2 different types! Now these are apparently predatory creatures so while they wont do much damage whilst small as soon as they get big enough to take on my shrimp I'm going to have serious problems. As it is I'm fishing them out whenever I see them (they're difficult blighters to catch) and I practically stripped my tank down when I first discovered what they were. For those that don't know what I'm talking about I've found these lovely creatures...
2451079253_537e58f805_o.jpg

damselflyNymph.jpg


What I really don't want though is for it to happen again when I decide to add/change plants.

Now I did bleach dip all the plants before putting them in, risky on the plants I know but I felt it was worth it to ensure that most stuff on them was killed. However this doesn't seem to have done the trick.

Do people quarantine their plants, i.e. have them in a second set-up with all the lights and CO2 etc for a month or so before putting them in their main tanks?
 

ceg4048

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Hi Egmel,
My feeling is that any method or chemical used to kill hitchhikers will most likely damage the plant. A lot of people use various chemicals such as bleach, as you have used, Potassium Permanganate or even Aluminum Sulfate (Alum) which can be effective in killing snails and their eggs. As you suggest, ideally a quarantine tank would be the way to go but that's yet another required resource and complication, and may not even guarantee success. Probably a more careful visual and tactile inspection along with soaking/washing them in tap for a few hours does as good a job as any.

Cheers,
 

Wolfenrook

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Yeah, I had a damsel fly larvae in my axlotl tank once, wasn't a risk though as he's more than too big for a damsel fly nyphy to bother, so I just let it mature and leave the tank under it's own steam.

Stupid thing is, it came in by a damsel fly flying in through the living room window unnoticed, laying some eggs on some plants, and only one of these survived to a noticeable size (Blobl is a big and greedy boy. :lol: ). Only way it could have, as I had had the plants for quite a few years before they were transfered to his tank.

Ade
 

Egmel

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ceg4048 said:
Hi Egmel,
My feeling is that any method or chemical used to kill hitchhikers will most likely damage the plant. A lot of people use various chemicals such as bleach, as you have used, Potassium Permanganate or even Aluminum Sulfate (Alum) which can be effective in killing snails and their eggs.
This was what I was expecting people to say, anything that'll kill off the eggs will likely as not kill the plant as well. The only thing I could think of would be ammonia (like the stuff you would use for a fishless cycle), a soak in a relatively high concentration solution of that should be fine for the plants but quite damaging for any tag alongs... though I'm not sure at what point the solution becomes too strong even for the plants.
ceg4048 said:
As you suggest, ideally a quarantine tank would be the way to go but that's yet another required resource and complication, and may not even guarantee success. Probably a more careful visual and tactile inspection along with soaking/washing them in tap for a few hours does as good a job as any.
By my reckoning you'd need to have the plants in quarantine for at least a month, during that time they would have to receive the usual TLC, almost makes me want to set up a plant only tank ;)

I've no idea what the eggs even looked like, obviously I did check the plants over as I sorted and dipped them, I still have no idea what they even came in on.
Wolfenrook said:
Yeah, I had a damsel fly larvae in my axlotl tank once, wasn't a risk though as he's more than too big for a damsel fly nyphy to bother, so I just let it mature and leave the tank under it's own steam.
TDI-line said:
They do look pretty cool though. :D
True, as I said in another thread, had is not been for the shrimp I'd be happy to let them stay.
Wolfenrook said:
Stupid thing is, it came in by a damsel fly flying in through the living room window unnoticed, laying some eggs on some plants, and only one of these survived to a noticeable size (Blobl is a big and greedy boy. :lol: ). Only way it could have, as I had had the plants for quite a few years before they were transfered to his tank.
I think that's probably how they got there at greenline, was probably just my bad luck/timing, a week earlier and there would have been no eggs a week later and they would have hatched and gone. I spied some Damselfly nymphs too but they're too small for me to photograph as easily, since they're only bloodworm size I'm hoping my guppies will discover them and get them before they get any bigger. I only managed to get one out myself, I'm really bad at catching these little blighters!
 

Steve Smith

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I had damsel fly larvae in one of my tanks, they would always cling to any buts of wood I removed, so I would catch them with tweezers, crush the head and feed them to the fish. Only ever caught 4 or 5 though.

That is of course, not including the fright I got one blurry eyed morning when I opened the tank lid and an adult flew out and made me jump :lol:
 

Egmel

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SteveUK said:
I had damsel fly larvae in one of my tanks, they would always cling to any buts of wood I removed, so I would catch them with tweezers, crush the head and feed them to the fish. Only ever caught 4 or 5 though.
Unfortunately mine choose to cling to plants :mad:
SteveUK said:
That is of course, not including the fright I got one blurry eyed morning when I opened the tank lid and an adult flew out and made me jump :lol:
I'm waiting for this to happen, then my housemates will freak out because it's a flying thing! :twisted:
 

Egmel

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Just for completeness I found this thread on TFF. While Clive has already pointed out the problems with chemicals damaging plants I think for those with precious small fish/shrimps and no means of quarantine then it might be a risk they're willing to take. Still don't know if any of these methods would have stopped my intruders.

Interestingly enough I dipped all my plants in a strongish bleach solution, it was a scented variety (tesco's had run out of plain the last time I needed to re-stock and I didn't think about the tank at the time) and I dipped them roots and all. The only plant not to have fully recovered was the Elodea densa, I've never had any luck with it, it always melts within a week of being in my tank :( Then again I didn't have many speciality/delicate plants (that I was aware of anyway) so it may not be the case for all plants.
 
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