Operation Firebomb

Remember the time when I replaced a dead snail, only to find out that the dead snail was not, in fact, dead? And then when I found out that baby snails can survive just about anything? They are seriously like little shell-enclosed zombies. They just keep coming and coming and coming no matter how many of them I get rid of. Every morning, I’d go into X’s room and it was a game of how many snails I could count before he’d actually get his butt out of bed.ย Mind you, nearly every day, Jay or I would be pulling snails out of the tank and flushing them down the Express Funeral Services depository in the bathroom. Last week, I counted 17. Then 25. Then 30.

Four fish. Thirty snails? The odds were not in the fishes’ favor. Decisions were made and this weekend was labeled as Operation Firebomb. If the snails were going to spread (and reanimate) just like zombies, I was going to treat them as such. What does the government do in many a fictional zombie outbreak situation? Firebomb the city. They did it to London in 28 Weeks Later. They did it in New Orleans in Left 4 Dead 2. I was going to do it in X’s room.

Not having access to a miniature B-17 with matching incendiaries, I had to modify the military tactic for use in a 5 gallon fishtank.

First, the fish were evacuated and re-homed in temporary housing. I know, I know, usually the government doesn’t care and if you don’t evacuate on your own, you get torched just like the infected, but I’m giving these guys a shot. The temporary housing situation is doubling as a quarantine facility to make sure there are no snail eggs on their bodies or in the water itself.

Next, the aquarium decor was removed, inspected for snails and eggs, scrubbed with a scouring pad, and then placed in a pot of boiling water. If anyone cares to know, it turns out that aquarium decor does not like this. One fake plant was destroyed and the pirate hat separated from the pirate skull. All wars have casualties, I suppose.

Then I removed the filter system and the bag. There were at least a half dozen snails IN THE FILTER. The little plastic frame that holds the filter bags was chucked into the boiling water, too, along with the non-electrical portions of the filter system. The electrical piece was scrubbed to death.

I dumped all the gravel and threw it the hell away. It was the nice natural-looking stuff. Natural-looking meant natural-looking snails could be all stealthy and avoid my and Jay’s mollusk-removal process. It had to go. I watched another dozen or more snails spill out with the rocks.

Out of shear curiosity, I collected every snail I could during this whole process. There were a lot that I couldn’t- the ones in the filter bag, mixed in with the gravel, some that poured out with some of the water, and others that I found at the bottom of the pot after the boiling. The following image is my collection of X’s “baby ‘nails”:

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Every. Single. Dot in there is a snail.

We don’t feed the snails. The ‘adult’ snails were removed weeks ago. We had been removing snails on the daily. Yet still, there were all these snails in the tank. Forget cockroaches. Snails are going to inherit the Earth when we are gone.

Back to the cleansing. The tank itself was scrubbed with the scouring pad and rinsed with the most scalding hot water I could handle.

In with some brand spanking new, baboon-ass red gravel. Little black snails should show up like a beacon on those for quick identification and removal. The surviving pieces of decor and the filter system, complete with a fresh filter bag and charcoal, went in. Fresh water, water conditioner, and probiotics completed the Operation.

The fish are still displaced and the tank is sitting for 24 hours to cycle the water. Hopefully, this will also serve as another time period to see if any more little baby snails are going to hatch from their apparently indestructible eggs.

If this slash-and-burn technique of snail removal doesn’t work, I’m just going to give up. I’ll get the fish their own separate tank and just start a new experiment of just how many snails will live in 5 gallons of water. And then start doing some serious scientific testing of whatever it is that makes these gastropods so damned tough. I’m pretty sure I could market it for something.

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