Nerite Snails Care Guide: Tank Setup, Tank Mates, Breeding, Etc.

Nerite snails are peaceful members of the aquarium cleaning crew. They make your tank look clean and shining because they are the best algae-eating snails. They will clean algae from every corner of your aquarium.

These come in a variety of colors and patterns. They will add vividness and activity while moving around and cleaning the tank.

They can be easily kept with a beginner aquarium hobbyist who will make mistakes. These snails are easy to care for, feed and breed. They are hardy and can survive in both saltwater and freshwater aquarium.

Their non-aggressive nature and the ability to go along with any fish species make them famous among aquarists. You don’t have to worry about the size of the tank. They don’t occupy much space, so it is easy to keep them in a small-sized tank.

This care guide will cover Nerite snail care, feeding, breeding, and everything you need to know. So, keep reading till the end.

Category Rating
Family Neritidae
Temperament Peaceful
Diet Herbivore
Lifespan 1-2 Years
Care Level Easy
Size Up to an inch
Color Form Species Dependent
Compatibility Peaceful Community

Nerite Snails’ Overview

Nerite snails - tiger snail

Neritidae family has 200 different species, and Nerite snails are one of them. Some of the species originated from the brackish water of Eastern Africa, so they need a tank with brackish water to survive. They are different from mystery snails.

While the other species that need saltwater originated from the Caribbean or Pacific coast. Some species have adapted to live in freshwater, so you won’t face any problems while keeping them in a freshwater tank.

But make sure the fishes in the tanks are non-aggressive and small. Otherwise, they will become easy prey to the larger ones.

How long do nerite snails live?

Nerite snails may survive from 1 to 2 years.

How big do nerite snails get?

Nerite snails can grow up to an inch.

Where to buy nerite snails?

They are quite hardy and are one of the best algae eater snails that clean the tank effectively. These snails are quite popular and are easily available in different pet stores. They can be bought for $4 per snail, which also makes them affordable.

However, some of their species can be costly (such as horned snails) as they are not easy to breed in captivity. Overstocking can affect their activity of cleaning.

Nerite Snail Behavior

Snails are not as active as other excellent algae eaters, but it makes them a good companion to others as their activity won’t disturb any calmer fish.

A freshwater Nerite snail will show different behavior in the tank. One of them is falling over. They can flip themselves back with the help of their flexible muscle foot. But sometimes, they might need a little push from you.

How to tell if nerite snail is dead?

If a nerite snail is not moving. Many people think they are dead in the tank due to their odd sleeping behavior, but it is required to double-check.

It also needs to sleep after its hectic schedule of tank cleaning. They usually sleep once in 2-3 days instead of once in 24 hours. To work for 30 hours, they will sleep seven times in a cycle of 13-15 hours.

Nerite Snails’ Appearance

The snails have a hard, coiled shell above the muscular foot that moves side by side, pushing the snail forward. They also have two pairs of sensitive tentacles that help them identify food and danger.

All the snails share the same shape and structure, but the color and patterns vary from species to species. A healthy freshwater Nerite snail can reach up to 1 inch. You can identify different types of Nerite snails by appearance.

Some of them are given below –

  • Zebra Nerite Snails – These Nerite snails’ species have black and yellow stripes across the shell and all pointing towards its center. The shade of the coloration can vary.
  • Tiger Nerite Snails – These species have the same pattern as the Zebra snails, but the strips are bright orange and black. Also, the strips are more jagged, making them quite different from the zebra snails.
  • Olive Nerite Snails – These species of Nerite snails are quite common among aquarists and pet stores. The coloration can only be judged by the name, but a few have patterns on them. The black lining on the shell gives them a different but attractive look.
  • Horned Nerite Snails – These species have thick black and yellow stripes. One of the stripes has markings that look like a horn, hence the name. This pattern makes them stand out from the rest of the species.
  • Black Racer Nerite Snails – They are available in black and greyish colors. They add splendid beauty to your fish tank.

Nerite Snails’ Ideal Habitat and Tank Conditions

Nerite snails can thrive in both freshwater and saltwater habitats. But the aquarium water conditions of both habitats are the same for them. The saltwater Nerite snails are usually found in coastal habitats like mangroves or estuaries.

Tiger snail cleaning

These habitats have plenty of rocks and other surfaces that can trigger algae growth. Nerite snails are the habitat of forests and mountain streams.

Conditions Parameters
Min tank size 5 gallons
Temperature 72-78°F
pH 8.1-8.4
Hardness 12-25 dH
Nitrate level < 20mg/L
Brackish Tolerance 1.000-1.005

The saltwater habitat needs a salinity level of 1.020-1.028 sg. Also, they need a lot of hiding space, and you can create them using live rocks. These rocks will also help with algae growth.

In a freshwater setup, you can include aquarium plants and driftwoods for the growth of algae. The snails don’t feed on plants, so the slow-growing plants like Java Ferns will be best for your tank. We recommend you establish planted aquarium for these tiny snails.

For substrate, make sure to add fined grains or sandy substrate for a Nerite snail tank. It will keep the sensitive antennas of the snails safe from getting scratched. You can also add a calcium-rich substrate. It will keep their shells strong and healthy.

These snails are very sensitive to intense lighting arrangements in your aquarium. Moderate lighting arrangements are good for them. Never keep your nerite snail tank in direct sunlight. It can harm them.

You don’t need a lot of equipment for them. A filter and a heater are enough to keep the aquarium water conditions right for their habitat. They will also reduce the levels of ammonia and nitrate.

They usually climb up the tank to reach the upper layer of water. So, make sure to lower the water level by 1 or 2 inches to let them swim on the upper levels. They can also try to escape the tank, so keep the tank’s lids shut tightly.

How many nerite snails per gallon?

You can keep a few snails in the beginning to learn more about their behaviors and requirements. We will advise you to keep only 1 nerite snail per 5 gallons. It will reduce the risk of overcrowding in small-size aquariums.

How many nerite snails in a 10-gallon tank?

You can keep 2 nerite snails in a 10-gallon aquarium.

Nerite Snails’ Tank Mates

Nerite snails, as we all know, are peaceful and small. They will thrive best with other small and non-aggressive community fishes who don’t try to eat them. The larger and more aggressive fishes can scare them, and they won’t easily come out of their shells.

Any cichlid species or the one that shares the same behavior, you should avoid them. In comparison, peaceful tank mates like Tetras, Barbs, and Guppies are more compatible with them.

You can add peaceful species like Ghost shrimp. They are also compatible with other species. Normally, the mix of these friendly creatures will be best. It will add more engagement and liveliness to the tank.

Just make sure the size of the tank and water conditions are suitable. Also, avoid adding more snails to a small tank. It will overcrowd the tank, and no one will get enough to eat.

What to Feed Nerite Snails?

Are you worried about feeding nerite snails? Nerite snails are herbivores. They usually eat algae which helps them keep the tank clean. With their sensory tentacles and radula, they detect and scrape them off different surfaces.

You don’t have to add anything to the aquarium if there are enough algae in the tank for them to feed on. But if you are cleaning the tank regularly or there isn’t enough surface for algae formation, you can add algae wafers or green vegetables.

What do nerite snails eat?

They can eat tank algae like green spot algae, soft green algae, and soft brown algae. You can also feed them algae wafers that sink to the bottom of the tank, and snails can get them easily. You can feed spinach and lettuce or homemade food.

Add food only if there isn’t sufficient algae formation, or you will overfeed them. Overfeeding or underfeeding is never good for any creature.

Nerite Snail Care

Horned nerite snail

Healthy nerite snails are strong but can suffer from different health problems. Most of them are easy to control, whereas others can have fatal effects if you do not properly care.

The root cause of disease in a snail is its shell. It can affect their health adversely if not taken care of. The change in their coloration can be an indication of poor health as well.

Sometimes the growth of the shell is halted. This can be a sign of the snails not getting fed properly. Another reason for the stopped growth is low water temperature. It can be restored or avoided by maintaining the right water conditions.

Overfeeding can cause different problems in them as well. The most common one is the discoloration of the snail’s shell.

Another problem is the lack of calcium. It keeps the shell strong, so its deficiency can lead to its thinning, and sometimes you might notice a crack. In these conditions, try adding a calcium substrate is another solution to this problem.

You might see white spots on as well. These can be a sign of parasite infection. Getting either internal or external infection can be fatal for them. Adult nerite snails often get a disease called oedema or dropsy. In this disease, these snails’ body fills up with fluid making them more difficult to move.

The most critical thing that you should remember is copper. It is toxic to most invertebrates, and so is to snails. So, check the ingredients before adding anything to the water. Many medicines contain copper.

Breeding Nerite Snails

How to breed nerite snails?

Breading these snails is a little tricky. You may need to know complete details about the nerite snail breeding process before many attempts.

Do nerite snails reproduce asexually?

Most snails breed asexually, but the Nerite snails require both genders for the process. They are popular because breeding nerite snails is difficult in freshwater. Hence tank has no risk of overcrowding.

How to hatch nerite snail eggs?

These snails require brackish water for successful breeding, so that you will need a separate breeding tank. These can lay eggs in freshwater, but the larvae need brackish water to survive. You can either move the eggs from a freshwater aquarium to a breeding tank or move snails to the new aquatic environment.

But don’t move a freshwater snail to the saltwater abruptly. First, move them with their previous tank’s water, then gradually increase the saline water to the tank in a couple of hours. Do this till the water level has tripled.

The breeding tank should contain as many snails as possible, and the male and female ratio should be even. The number of snails should depend on the size of the tank. Don’t overcrowd it.

Once the snail acclimates to their new aquatic environment, they start to breed. The female nerite snails lay eggs, and the male fertilizes them. The nerite snail eggs spread everywhere in the tank, and the eggs look like white spots on the dark surface. These develop into larvae in a couple of weeks.

You should use only the sponge filter for the breeding tank, as the larvae (baby snails) will be small enough to get sucked by the filter. This way, nerite snail reproduction is possible.

Are Nerite Snails for you (Summary)?

Nerite snails are wonderful little invertebrates. They are available in different colors and patterns, giving a unique look to snails. After reading this care guide, you can easily pet them. So, they need the least aquarium maintenance.

They can be kept by both a beginner and experienced. They graze on algae the whole day, which helps keep the aquarium clean. You don’t have to add anything to the tank if there are sufficient algae.

These small and peaceful snails will thrive if their companions share the same temperament and won’t try to eat them. They won’t come out of their shell easily if they are scared or uncomfortable.

These snails are also easy to breed, but the larvae need brackish water. Set up a separate breeding tank. They will grow up to 1 inch. The nerite snail’s lifespan is up to 2 years if kept in a healthy environment.

They will add variation to the tank with their colorful appearance and movement.

Do you have Nerite snails in the tank? How do you care for them? What qualities do you like the most about them? Let us know in the comment below…