Nerite Snails Care Guide: Breeding, Feeding & Health Issues

Snails may not present a lovely sight for some people owing to their slimy nature. For aquarists, however, they are a very important aquarium addition. Nerite snails gobble up algae that thrive in most aquariums. Yet, they do not interfere with other plants in the tank.

Build up of algae is a common phenomenon in most tanks. In case it becomes difficult to handle, having nerite snails in the tank can help terminate the problem. As a result, they are referred to as tank cleaners.

Placing an order for a nerite snail is a bit tricky too. Several snails belonging to the same species share the name ‘nerite snails’. It is important to know which one to purchase before making an order. Some names to quote when buying are Tiger Nerite, Marble Nerite, Black Racer Nerite, Sun Thorn Nerite, Ruby Nerite, and Zebra Nerite. Of course, they are all different.

Nerite snails can be kept in both fresh and saltwater. When they live in soft water, their shells soften. For a hard shell, therefore, ensure they stay in salt or saline water. One fact not to forget is that they can live out of water for prolonged periods too. They may therefore escape from the tank if there is no secure lid over the tank. However, once they are retrieved, they can always be taken back to the tank. Living in and out of the water periodically does not affect them.


Nerite Snail

Nerite snails have distinct black and golden yellow stripes across their bodies. These stripes resemble those of the zebra. Some nerite snails spot dark green, dark red, and brown shells with black stripes.

In captivity, nerite snails can live between a year and two. In the wild, they survive for longer periods. When properly taken care of, they can grow to lengths of about 1 to 1.1inches.


Nerite snails are native to the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean. Their most common settlement areas are near tidal waters. So far, they are classified as one of the best tank cleaners. At the moment, they are classified as near threatened.

Tank Requirements

Since the snails majorly feed on algae, it is not proper to stock many of them in one tank. They deplete algae buildup. If too many, they may starve. The following parameters should suffice for healthy nerite snails:

  • At least 0.2mg/l of ammonia into the water
  • Nitrite concentration at 20mg/l
  • pH at between 8.1 and 8.4
  • Temperature range of 72-78 degrees Fahrenheit

In addition to the above parameters, here are some other things you need to take note of for your aquarium tank. The size of the tank does not matter much as long as it is not overpopulated. For example, a 10 gallon tank should not be overcrowded by more than 3 snails. Ensure there is enough filtration. This is necessary for two reasons. One, it will remove any debris from the aquarium. Two, it will assist in the breakdown of ammonia and nitrate.

The filter should be equipped with filter cartridges. This helps in the formation of bacteria that help break down ammonia and nitrates. Add plenty of rocks as they love to rest under rocks in their natural habitat. Remember, for these snails to be healthy, it is important to mimic their natural environment as much as possible. You should also consider adding driftwood and plants to decorate the aquarium. When arranging them, ensure the rocks give spaces that mimic caves. Snails love quiet and hidden environments. The arrangements should not also hide them from view. Seeing them frequently helps a keeper in monitoring their health.

Before adding the substrate, they ought to be cleaned. The unclean substrate may contaminate a tank. If the substrate is not clean, the water may also appear milky. Cloudy water makes it hard to observe the snail. The substrate should not be more than 2 inches in the tank. You should also add sufficient calcium to the water as this helps their shells to harden.

Nerite snails use natural sunlight in the wild. This can apply in captivity as well. At least 2-3 hours of constant sunlight is enough. However, if the tank cannot be placed where there is sunshine, artificial light can be used. They thrive in moderate lighting conditions.

Nerite Snails


They are referred to as compulsive eaters. They can feed for several hours non-stop then take a break for a couple of days without food or even movement. Offer them enough food so that they do not suffer any deficiencies. Avoid overfeeding as this may lead to a tummy infection. It may also lead to overproduction of waste, leading to more production of ammonia. This eventually leads to the risk of disease outbreaks. Offer little portions of food at a time. Remnants can decompose and contaminate a tank. This means the tank will have to be cleaned regularly and this can be tiresome.

They are herbivores. Their best food is algae. However, they may feed on certain plants, though this happens very rarely. In case the algae build-up is depleted, supply them with algae wafers. Vegetables to feed them include spinach, zucchini, and blanched lettuce.


Snails are sexual animals that mate. To successfully breed them, a male and female should be placed in the same tank. As they stay together, they will eventually mate. Seeing this is difficult since snails hide most of the time.

After fertilization, the female lays eggs. This is done on plants, under rocks, and on the driftwood. The eggs adopt a capsule-like shape. They are white in color. After two to three days, they turn to larvae. Small snails begin to appear after about a week. These can be transferred to another tank for safety.


They easily co-exist with other snails. If they are to be placed into the same tank with certain fish species, these must be peaceful. Avoid putting them in the same tank with large and aggressive fish like the cichlid.

Health Issues

Nerite snails may develop certain health issues if some of their needs are not met. These are:

  • Stunted growth of shell takes place if water temperatures are unusually low
  • Shell discoloration can be due to overeating
  • Shell deterioration can be a result of low calcium levels in the tank

Nerite snails do not require very special care and can therefore help with aquarium cleaning. They are therefore a lovely addition to a tank.

Nerite Snails Behavior And Temperament

Nerite Snails are quiet, inert, but peaceful species. They are choices for people who want to clean their tanks. These snails scurry around the tank, chewing on any algae that cross their path, and they don’t affect their tank mates. They can readily flip themselves back over because they have a flexible muscle foot. 

Humans have a 24-hour sleep cycle, whereas Nerite Snails have a two to three-day period. So throughout a 15-hour cycle, they take about seven rests and then stay active for about 30 hours!

Nerite snails have a peculiar habit of crouching down without warning, leading you to believe that something is wrong with them. So keep a close check on them, and if you notice anything unusual, check it out immediately.

Nerite Snails Tank Mates

Nerite snails must share their space with little, tranquil companions if they want a long and happy existence. Keeping that in mind, avoid goldfish, loaches & aquarium crayfish. Instead, choose between barbs, gouramis, guppies, tetras, other nerite snail types, or a mix of fish or shrimps. 

A tank full of these critters not only makes your tank a stunning spectacle but also witnesses different interactions and behaviors between them. 

Gold Inca Snails, Trumpet Snails, Mystery Snails, Ramshorn Snails, Ivory Snails, Rabbit snails, Vampire Shrimp, Bamboo Shrimp, Ghost Shrimp, Red Cherry Shrimp, and Amano Shrimp, Otocinclus Catfish as well as Cory Catfish proved to be suitable and better tank mates for merits snails.

Breeding Nerite Snails

Snails can survive in saltwater, freshwater, and land, but their mating process is only possible in saltwater. Therefore, it is better to breed nerite snails in saltwater aquariums or release them in brackish water to reproduce successfully. 

A group of 5-6 snails can be kept in a saltwater aquarium or tank. Because it’s impossible to tell if a snail is female or male, having more than one group increases the snails’ chances of reproducing successfully.

The laid eggs are yellow on successful mating and turn dark as they mature into baby snails. In an oval shape, an egg snail can grow to approximately 1.5mm in length and 1mm in breadth. Each egg contains about 68 eggs, with the largest number being 106 and the lowest number being 32, thanks to a thin layer protecting the egg.

After three days or so, the eggs become larvae, which grow into baby snails in 7 days. Because the baby snails are little and can be readily sucked by the filters, it’s a good idea to keep a check on your tank filters. Maintain the newborn snails in an algae-filled aquatic aquarium for a month before transferring them to a conventional freshwater tank.

Facts About Nerite Snails

  • Nerite Snail babies attach to elder snails in natural habitats to cross greater topographic distances. 
  • Nerite Snails have remained unmodified for longer than any other species in evolution. As a result, they resist dehydration and other deterrents while moving between freshwater and saltwater environments.
  • Nerite snails are herbivorous, also known as Tiger Nerite, Zebra Nerite, and Spotted Nerite Snails.
  • There are so many different types of Nerite Snails that can’t be classified in a single tone. Nerites are nearly black, dark green, dark brown, tan, olive green, reddish-brown, and golden hues. In addition, stripes, small dark round spots, small dark parallelogram-shaped track markings, and dark green or black ridges can all be found on different varieties of Nerite Snails. 
  • Nerite Snails come in many different colors and marking combinations that make them unique and fascinating. Small spikes sprout from the shells of Sun Thorn Nerite snails, for example, but they grow to be 2 to 3 times larger. In addition, the Sun Thorn Nerite snails come in various hues, including brown and olive green, and some have a black and yellow spiral design.
  • Nerite snails have hard and heavy shells. 

Are Nerite Snails Right For You?

Nerite snails are considered an extension of freshwater aquariums and easy to care for. Nerite snails are prominent among both skilled aquarists and amateurs. They can grow in various tank conditions and are also available easily at every commercial store in the market. Therefore, a nerite snail would be a nice choice for you.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Do Nerite Snails Reproduce?

In freshwater, nerite snails do not reproduce. Nerite Snails are an exception to the rule of asexual reproduction in snails. The female snail will deposit eggs for the male to fertilize, similar to fish; Then, the eggs will be dispersed around the tank. The eggs have small white specks against dark surfaces like aquarium heaters or HOB filter inlets.

How Big Do The Nerite Snails Get?

Snails come in different colors and markings, but they all have identical basic structures and shapes. A snail’s anatomy consists of a spirally coiled shell atop a burly foot that pushes the snail ahead by moving from one end to the other. It also has four delicate tentacles. Nerite snails can grow an inch long if kept in good health.

How Long Do The Nerite Snails Last?

The lifespan of a Nerite Snail is around one year. Nerites can perish after a week of being put in a tank, whereas others from the same batch can live for two years or longer. It could be due to the stress of being transferred, a substantial alteration in water parameters, or unhealthy water in the tank if a Nerite dies quickly after being placed in a tank.

How Many Nerite Snails Should You Keep?

Nerites are unconcerned about the number of other snails in the aquarium regarding social interactions. You can keep a group together or let them live on their own. Overcrowding, on the other hand, can mean that there are not enough algae to go around. There is, however, one issue that is overstocking. Make sure there are two snails in every ten gallons of water. If you put too many of them in a short location, they won’t eat due to overpopulation and over-crowdedness. Also, food won’t be sufficient for numerous snails. 


Snails are becoming extremely popular among aquarium cleaning staff. Meanwhile, because of their effectiveness and efficiency, nerite snails have gained popularity among snails. The above guide discussed complete details about the Nerite snail, from its appearance to its breeding process. We have not missed even a single topic, and we hope after reading this guide, all your doubts regarding Nerite snails are cleared. 

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