Fishkeeping » Snello (snail Jell-O)
Snello (snail Jell-O) is an easy-to-prepare food designed to supplement vital nutrients to most varieties of aquarium snails. While there are many a recipe for this already online, each one calls for possibly niche ingredients and techniques unavailable to the common fishkeeper. Hopefully, this guide will help you understand the core concept of snello and how to customise it to suit your snails’ needs.
Choosing your ingredients
Making snello is a study in trial-and-error in discovering what your snails like and dislike. Much of this process will be a repetitive mix-and-match till you come to just the right combination of ingredients.
The vegetables will be the core sources of nutrients for the snails. Make sure to choose veggies that are clearly nontoxic, no-added-sodium and packed in nutrients. Some common examples of vegetables that can be blanched and used in snello are, in no particular order:
- Sweet potato — extremely high in vitamin A.
- Butternut squash — a good source of carbohydrates.
- Kale — high in calcium, a necessary mineral for snail growth, as well as several other vitamins.
- Broccoli — also high in calcium as well as iron.
- Peas — contains lots of fiber, which can function as a laxative for constipated aquarium-dwellers.
Use 60 parts-by-weight vegetables.
Adding a protein source is rather simple, as you can use almost anything safe for your average tropical fish, provided you grind it up. Do not use fish food with added copper mineral. Shrimp are especially recommended for their iodine content. Use 4 parts-by-weight protein.
No matter how much Brassica you include in your snello, you’ll still need to add more calcium. Thankfully, there are a few good options readily available to help aid your snail’s shell growth.
- Crushed cuttlebone — Arguably the easiest, as most snail owners are likely to already own some. Simply grind some up in a mortar and pestle.
- Calcium carbonate supplement — Easy to come by at your local chemist in powder form. Make sure to get a pure powder with no additives such as Vitamin D3.
- Acid indigestion relief tablets — While TUMS are often found in “barebones” recipes, you’ll run the risk of clouding your tank and/or harming its inhabitants with the food colouring and other additives. If this is your only option, just crush it up with a mortar and pestle.
Use 5 parts-by-weight calcium, or half that if you already provide calcium with something such as a cuttlebone.
Iodine is necessary for utilising calcium to build and repair the snail’s shell. However, most any options available must be custom-ordered and are not readily available.
- Seachem Nourish — Overall vitamin and mineral supplement including sufficient amounts of iodide. Use ¼ parts-by-weight Seachem Nourish.
- Kelp — Dried and ground kelp includes a significant portion of iodine as well as countless other trace minerals. Use 2 parts-by-weight kelp powder.
- Spirulina — A common “superfood” often found in “health stores”, high in iodine and various other vitamins and minerals. Use 2 parts-by-weight spirulina powder.
Half the amounts above if you already introduce iodine into your tank via other means.
A couple different binders are available to the common consumer, and each have their own benefits and caveats.
- Gelatin — Gelatin is the most commercially available binder/thickener for Jell-O-like substances. However, make sure your gelatin is unflavoured lest you introduce potentially toxic or unsettling chemicals into your tank. Use 2 parts-by-weight gelatin.
- Agar agar — Agar powder is a bit more difficult to find, but is derived from seaweed and higher in nutrients (such as calcium) than gelatin, making it objectively better. Use 1 part-by-weight agar powder.
By all means do NOT use plain tap water. Run the water through a filter to remove any chlorine, heavy metals, &c. before using. Use 25 parts-by-weight water.
Blend cold water and binder together till very evenly dispersed. Add other ingredients one at a time, blending till smooth. Add more water or binder if necessary to maintain a tight, spreadable texture akin to cake batter. Heat the mixture till boiling and then spread onto a baking sheet. Let sit till cool to the touch, cut into cubes and place separate onto paper towels to absorb excess moisture. Place in an airtight container and freeze for up to six months.