I've just got a new plastic tank (didn't like the glass one) and before i drill air holes ready to set it up i'm having a dilemma over heating.
I've read the petsnails care advice and every post i can find on the subject but I'm still confused. I've got two fulicas and now it's getting cold my flat's been dropping to about 16C. So I've been keeping the heating on but can't afford to keep that up and the snails are definitely less active in the cooler temps.
Can anyone recommend anything? I saw under care that a heat mat may not be very effective next to plastic without air holes next to it, but don't want to drill so many air holes that the humidity drops (which i'm still trying to get the hang of anyway). Has anyone had any good/ bad experience of this?
Or I considered a lamp, but that would have to somehow go in the tank so i wondered about burnt snails/ electrocution (there was a post discussing lights elsewhere but it didn't clear up the heat question). Are they even effective as heating and if so how?
I'm sorry if this has been answered before but i really couldn't find anything that satisfied my paranoia about hurting them.
Heat mats efficacy is greatly improved by insulation on the outside, to force the heat into the tank. Polystyrene, at least an inch thick is best for this. Heat mats need to be pressed onto the tank wall from the outside cleanly (by that I mean fit the tank well) and with a little force to press them right up to the sides.
Holes in the side of a tank are a way of improving situations in plastic tanks in my experience. Don't worry about humdity too much, the holes will be covered by heat mat so moisture won't escape there and you'll only have the same humidity problem anyone does who is heating a tank. You can sort this out with ventilation and I would suggest you start with a covered lid, and uncover the holes as needed until the tank isn't too humid. Mats heat up with pressure, but it isn't so localised to be smaller than the holes, therefore the heat does get through.
Keep the tank off the ground if possible, away from any walls, with something insulating underneath like polystyrene.
The other thing is that heat mats take a long time to heat up a tank from cold. 12 hours or more in my experience. I found the trick is to get the tank warm with the central heating, and then get the mats on, they'll stop them cooling down and will probably maintain the heat well when the heating is off much better than trying to heat them up from cold.
I believe heat meats can be used safely under tanks, ONLY if they're not covered by substrate. Substrate insulates amazingly well, and you'll end up with red hot substrate and a cold tank. Snails have been known to burrow to escape as they would in the wild and basically cook. If you leave one end of the tank free of substrate, you could put a heat mat half under one side.
Keeping your tank in a warm place, near equipment like computers, digi boxes etc. that are pushing heat out will also help. You'd be surprised at just how much they can belt out. Sort any drafts out, I find if I heat a room up during the day, I can turn it off at night, and the heat is retained well just by keeping the door shut. All this kind of stuff is useful. Get yourself a min/max thermometer, they cost about £1.50 and you'll see what effects your efforts are having. Snails do expect a slight drop in temperature at night anyway.
If you have more than one tank you can sandwich mats between them to use both sides efficiently. You could use lamps or ceramic heaters but I wouldn't suggest this just yet.
Lastly, this is a bit extreme but worth noting for emergencies, when your heating dies or whatever. A candle can raise a small/medium room by 1°C. So roughly, you could light a few candles to improve matters during situations like this.
At the end of the day though, you can't beat central heating as base temperature during winter. Not sure what kind of heating you have, but if you place the tank in a room where the thermostat is, or if you have thermostatic valve radiators, once the room has reached your chosen temperature, very little energy is used to keep it there so consider leaving it on.
ahhh, thank you. by the way (yes, another daft question)... does the size of the heat mat have to be in proportion to the tank? my new tank's approx 23x13x16ins (the six inches was the size of the largest inset panel) - i wanted them to have plenty of room if they fall out with each other.
edit: in case anyone else dithers like i do when i phoned the seller to pay they were really helpful, talking about the size and checking what it was for, it was good to have that extra bit of reassurance... now i just have to wait and see when it arrives
Hi was just looking at heat mats and noticed that on the exo terra range it says only suitable for glass terraniums , why is this? is it just because it doesnt work as effectivley? I have a plastic terranium at the mo, so wouuld it be pointless to get one?? :S
Well i have tried using heat mats on plastic tanks and it just isn't as effective. Some heat comes through yet the snails react differently within the tank, as in mine just burried themselves. I suspect that as well as somne heat ebing deflected by the plastic the heat is also distributed differently, perhaps it effects the heat waves. To be honest I don't know what's freally going on there, but I do know that I couldn't use them effectively on my plastic tanks and others have found this to be the case too.
I'm wondering about heating for my snail. I live in Oregon, and the Pacific Northwest winters seem to be getting increasingly colder (as our summers are getting hotter). My snail is in a round portable plastic carrier, not a big glass tank, so I'm wondering if it's safe to put a heating pad on it? I'm not sure what kind of snail he is since he was rescued form a produce box, but I think he's a helix aspersa...it's just started getting cold out so until I find a heating pad I'm thinking of leaving my ecosmart heater on while I'm away but not sure how safe that is...help please!
I find that some heating pads do not get very hot, so I wouldn't think they would be a risk with a plastic container. However, like mango said, your species is cold hardy and will do fine without heating. Outdoors they would just bury into the soil for the winter.