Nerite Snails: Care, Diet, Calcium, Breeding & More

Nerite Snails are one of the most popular snails in the aquarium hobby. They are one of the best algae-eating aquarium species that are also extremely beautiful. Unlike most aquarium snails, the Nerite Snails will not reproduce in freshwater which makes them an ideal snail that can not overpopulate your aquarium. Their beautiful shell patterns and the fact that they do not breed in freshwater make them the most sought-after snail in the hobby. They are very hardy snails that can survive in a variety of tank conditions. However, to help them live longer, and to thrive you will need to provide them with what they need in your aquarium.

This article will guide you through all the essential information you need about Nerite Snails care. By the end of this guide, you will be able to confidently care for your Nerite Snails.

Species Profile & Overview

The Nerite Snails are a genus of snails that can be found in most tropical regions of the world. There are more than 100 different types of Nerite snails that share the same care requirements. They are mostly different in shell patterns and the features they have on their shells. Some Nerites develop bright colorations while others develop spikes or large spots on their shells. 

Nerites are brackish and saltwater species that are slowly conditioned to adapt to freshwater. Despite being able to live in freshwater, they will still need to have access to salt water in order to breed. Nerite snails might lay eggs in freshwater but eggs will not hatch. This makes them a perfect snail for those who don’t like to have a lot of snails in their aquarium. 

They are often available in pet stores at a higher price compared to more regular types of snails. Their rarity and beautiful colorations are the main reasons that make Nerite snails more expensive. 

In the wild, these snails are living on rocky shores and beaches that have a lot of algae and sponges available for them to eat. Some of them can be found in the brackish lakes naturally created by the tides. 

Appearance

Nerite Snails
Zebra Nerite Snails

Nerite snails have the same snail mold as most freshwater snails but their beautiful colors and patterns set them apart. Some of the nerite snails developed extremely beautiful patterns that will even attract the attention of those who hate snails.

They are categorized as medium size aquarium snails that can live in most small aquariums. Nerites can be the showpiece of a nano aquarium or a cleaning crew in a larger community tank. 

Their shell’s opening is very wide in comparison to their body but has a shell door (trap door) that they can close and lock themself from the predators. The shell door (operculum) is made of the same material as the shell and is usually without any patterns. 

They have two tentacles located on their head near the eyes. These tentacles are their highly sensitive scanners that can smell and feel their environment and search for food. The tentacles share the same gray or creamy white color as the rest of their body. 

A healthy Nerite snail that is lived in an optimal environment should not have any cracks on its shell. If you see cracks on the shell it means it lived in poor water conditions. 

Nerite Snails Size

The typical Nerite Snails size measures around 1 inch in diameter. They are therefore one of the small to medium types of aquarium snails. Some types of Nerites can grow slightly bigger or smaller but they all average around 1 inch.

Diet and food availability have a direct impact on the growth rate of Nerite snails. With a proper diet and pristine water conditions, these guys will grow rapidly and develop a beautiful shells. 

Lifespan

Nerite Snail’s lifespan is about 1 year. In a well-maintained tank and a perfect diet, they might even live longer but they usually live to about a year. 

However, this doesn’t mean they will live in your tank for a year. These snails are already a few months old when they get to the pet stores so by the time you buy them they might have already lived a big portion of their life. So to have them in your tank for the longest time possible you should purchase smaller ones as there is a good chance that they might be the younger ones in the bunch.

Behavior & Temperament

Nerite Snails are very peaceful species and will not show any aggressive behaviors towards other fish or snails. They are also very gentle with plants and will only eat dead leaves and decaying plant matter. This makes them a great addition to any tank with peaceful community fish.

They are very active algae-eating machines that will constantly move around and clean your tank off algae and dead plants. No matter if it’s day or night if you go to your tank you will see your nerite snail being busy eating. Nerite Snails, however, are slow-moving creatures so it will take some time before you see any difference in the algae growth in the tank. It also depends on the size of the tank and the number of snails you are keeping.

While they are generally very gentle towards plants if they do not receive enough food they might eat sensitive plants. But this is very rare in comparison to other types of aquarium snails. 

King Koopa Nerite Snail
King Koopa Nerite Snail

Nerite Snails Care

Nerite Snails care is so simple that aquarists categorize these snails as beginner-level species. We believe with a few tweaks and considerations anyone can safely care for these beautiful snails. 

However, when water parameters are in their favor they will live longer life and healthier. Stable, clean water parameters and a proper diet are the keys to keeping these snails long-term. Water stability and cleanness come with regular water changes and not overfeeding. Below are the necessary aquarium conditions to provide your Nerite Snails with the best possible habitat:

Tank Size

The minimum tank size for a single Nerite Snail is 10 gallons. While they can survive in smaller aquariums, we do not recommend keeping them in a tank smaller than 10 gallons. This is because it is easier for things to go wrong in a smaller tank. Water changes will impact your snail harder in smaller aquariums and you can easily pollute your tank by overfeeding. Ideally, you will want to keep your Nerite snail in the largest tank you can have in your home.

However, if you are planning to keep more than one Nerite Snails or you have other fish, you will definitely have to invest in an aquarium bigger than 10 gallons. Fish and snail waste production is the number one reason to have a larger tank. Smaller tanks easily get polluted by fish waste and leftover food. This means more work for you as you will have to change the water more frequently.

Tank Setup

Setting up the right tank for Nerite Snails is very important for their overall health and to extend their lifespan. These snails are not fussy when it comes to the kind of decorations and substrate you want to place in their tank. An ideal tank for Nerite Snails is a tank that provides them with all the elements they have in their natural habitat. In the wild, they have access to a lot of vegetation and algae to feed on. They have plenty of hiding pots naturally created by the rock’s cracks and crevices. 

You can decorate your aquarium by placing a number of rocks, slates, driftwoods, and live plants. With these decors, you can decorate your aquarium in a way that is pleasant for humans as well as for your pet Nerite Snail. We highly recommend using natural decorations as they will help your tank to maintain stable water parameters.

The more decorations you have the better living space your tank will become for your snails. This is because they do not swim like fish and only move around on the available surfaces. More decorations mean more surface area and thus more living space for your nerite snails. However, Make sure not to overcrowd the tank with too many decorations if you keep fish with your snails. Your fish also need free space to swim. You can play with the placement of the decorations to find the perfect balance for you and the aquarium inhabitants. 

They move much easier on hard surfaces so it is better to use pea gravel as the substrate for your Nerite Snails tank. Placing a few slates at the bottom of the tank make it even more pleasant for the snails to move around. Sand is the least desired substrate for Nerite snails but if you want you can use it as the substrate. They just might not stay at the bottom as much as if you give them pea gravel. 

Having live plants in your aquarium is another important aspect of a healthy ecosystem for your nerite snails. Plants will help you maintain balanced and cleaner water parameters for your aquarium. Most plants will do fine with Nerite Snails as long as you feed your snails. 

Water Parameters

Keeping your tank’s parameters stable is the key for Nerite Snails especially if you want them to have beautiful shells. When water parameters fluctuate, these snails tend to develop cracks on their shells. So it is important to keep your aquarium as stable as possible to keep your nerite snails as beautiful as possible. Same as with all aquarium species, stable water parameters are also crucially important to the health of this snail. 

In the wild, they have well-oxygenated warm waters that have very low TDS. In order to achieve a similar environment here are the necessary parameters you need to maintain in your aquarium:

  • Temperature: 72 – 78 Degrees Fahrenheit 
  • pH: 7.5 – 8.5
  • TDS: 60 – 200 PPM

Nerite snails need higher pH levels to thrive. So you will need to place them in a tank that has higher pH levels. Since most aquarium fish need lower pH levels it might be challenging to find them the right tank mates. However most aquarium fish can tolerate 7.5 pH levels so if your tank has a pH level of around 7.5 or slightly lower your snails should do fine.

King Koopa Nerite Snail
King Koopa Nerite Snail

Filtration System

Nerite Snails require strong filtration, thus we recommend investing in a good filter that can filter your aquarium 5 – 10 times per hour. A filter is the heart of an aquarium so it is important to have a strong filter that can pump back fresh and clean water constantly. Larger filters will keep your water sparkling clear and will prevent ammonia spikes much better than smaller filters.  

Make sure your filter doesn’t have strong flow as these snails prefer to be in a medium-level flow. Sponge filters, hang-on back, and canister filters are great options to filter your aquarium biologically and mechanically. 

Common Diseases & Prevention

Nerite Snails are hardy species and do not have any known diseases that target them specifically. However, they are susceptible to all the common aquarium bacterial and fungal diseases. They can get infections if you have a fish that constantly nip on them and injures them. 

They are also at risk of getting their shells cracked. This usually happens when you do not maintain your water parameters stable. Quick changes in the water parameters will cause cracks on the snail’s shell. Low levels of calcium can also cause cracking on their shells. 

They can also develop the soft-shell disease if you fail to provide them with enough calcium. Calcium is the main element you need in your tank to keep your shell healthy. 

Make sure to never use any product or medicine that has copper in it. Copper kills nerite snails super quickly so you should never add anything that has copper into your tank. 

Most of these diseases and problems can be easily prevented if you keep your water parameters stable and leave a source of calcium in your tank so they can eat it.

Diet & Feeding Requirements

Nerite Snails are by far the best algae-eating snail in the hobby. They will constantly look for any algae grown in the tank to eat. But the algae in your tank is not enough for them, so you need to provide them with a plant-based diet. You can feed them almost all the plant-based sinking fish foods available in pet stores. This makes it very easy to keep and feed them. Algae wafers are a perfect choice of dry food to feed them on a regular basis. You can also mix in a few different types of foods so they get all the other elements algae wafers lack. 

Fresh vegetables are also a great way of feeding your Nerites. They will eat zucchini, cucumber, dried seaweed, green peas, and other fresh vegetables commonly used to feed fish.

Breeding Nerite Snails

Breeding Nerite Snails is very hard and can’t be done in freshwater. Nerite snails will lay an egg in freshwater but the eggs can not hatch as the water salinity is not right. The eggs will only hatch in seawater where enough salt is available for the embryo to develop and maintain a hard eggshell around its body.

This video explains the stages of breeding and raising Nerite Snails in a lab environment.

Tank Mates

When you search for tank mates, you’re looking for animals that don’t pick on your snails or try to eat them. Nerite snails are the most peaceful of the lot and wouldn’t even be able to physically attack anything.

Some of the best tank mates for nerite snails are other nerite snails, shrimp (ghost, cherry shrimp, and Amano being three common choices), and mellow fish.

The top fish to keep with nerite snails include:

Nerite Snails are super calm and nonaggressive species so you need to place them with similar nonaggressive aquarium species. However, when the tank setup is done right, you might be able to house them with semi-aggressive fish as well.

Ideally, you will want to place them with other snails or invertebrates that are not aggressive. Smaller fish like guppies and mollies are also great tank mates. 

Here are some of the snails we believe can make a great tank mate for your Nerite Snails:

Nerite Snails

Conclusion

If you’re searching for a low-maintenance freshwater snail that can keep your tank free of algae, then Nerite Snails is your go-to option. Because of its beautiful colors and patterns as well as its calm behavior, this species has become one of the most sought-after snails in the hobby. Even those who don’t like snails will appreciate its beauty in their tank. 

By now you’ve learned all the care requirements for nerite snails and can confidently care for your pet snails. You can navigate to our Care Guide section for more species profiles and care requirements.