Care Guide for Nerite Snails-Favorite Nano Algae Eatinger
Nerite snails are beloved for their ability to eat algae in fish tanks without breeding out of control. We currently care for approximately 1000 of them in our retail store, warehouse, and personal aquariums. How to keep these sweet critters happy in your own backyard.
What are Nerite Snails?
Nerite snails are members of the Neritidae family. Their name derives from a Greek sea god named Nerites. Many are found along the coasts of Africa and the Indo-Pacific. The species sold in the aquarium industry range from 0.5-1.5 inches (1.3-3.8 cm) and live about 1-2 years.
What are the different kinds of nerite snails? Depending on the species, their shells may have solid colors, stripes, dots, zigzags, and even little spikes. The most popular varieties are the zebra and red racers, as well as the tiger and horned. Our favorite is the olive nerite snail because in our experience, it is one of the hardiest and easiest types to keep.
Nerite snails come in a variety of colors, patterns, and shapes.
Are nerite snails capable of flipping themselves over? Unless other animals pick on them,
Why do my nerite snails keep dying? People usually have problems with them if the nerite snails aren’t getting enough food or minerals. Bad water quality can also make them sensitive. Remove your snail from the tank if it is hanging out of its shell, or emits an unpleasant odor. This will prevent a toxic spike or nitrite reaction.
Nerite snails require enough food, minerals, and clean water to live a healthy life.
How to Set Up an Aquarium for Nerite Snails
A nerite snail is small enough to live in a nano tank that holds 2-3 gallons of water. It can also be kept at a wide temperature range. Because many of them come from brackish water environments, they prefer freshwater setups with higher pH above 7.0 and lots of minerals. To prevent your snails from getting damaged, make sure you have hard tap water. We like to use crushed coral in our substrate and filter media to buffer up the pH. Seachem Equilibrium or Wonder Shells are added to the substrate as mineral supplements. These minerals provide calcium, magnesium and other trace elements.
These snails like to move up to the waterline to eat the white bands of mineral deposits left by evaporation and therefore may crawl out of the aquarium if you’re not careful. To prevent escape, make sure you have a tight-fitting lid and cover any snail-sized holes.
Can you have just one nerite snail? Yes, they are not particularly social animals and most likely gather together for breeding and feeding in the best locations.
Larger nerite snail next to some red cherry shrimp
What fish can live with nerite snails? Keep them with peaceful tank mates that won’t eat them, like small tetras, rasboras, and corydoras. They can also live with similar-sized invertebrates such as ramshorn snails and dwarf shrimp. We do not recommend keeping them with pufferfish, snail-eating loaches, or fish that are likely to nibble on their antennae or head tentacles.
What do Nerite Snails eat?
As scavengers, they dine on anything they can find, including algae, leftover fish food, and decaying leaves. (They are completely safe for aquarium plants and only eat unhealthy or dead vegetation.) However, nerite snails can starve to death if there is not enough algae in the tank or other fish are outcompeting them for food. You can feed them alga wafers, zucchini slices blanched, and canned green beans. Zoo Med Nano Banquet Food Blocks are our favorite snail food. They not only provide calcium and plankton but also slow dissolve to add calcium to their water.
Nerite snails will eat green spots algae (GSA) which is hard to remove from plants.
How to Breed Nerite Snails
Breeding these snails is very challenging since the nearly microscopic larvae are notoriously hard to feed and require brackish or salt water to reliably hatch. A few hobbyists have shared their experiences. They recommend that you prepare a mature, alginate-filled saltwater tank with marine salt and an airstone with low flow. The nerite snails cannot be changed sexes like many other aquatic snails. It is difficult to see them sex so aim to have at least one male and one woman. Some people gradually acclimate adult snails to brackish waters and then have them lay eggs inside a brackish tank. Others allow the adult snails to lay eggs on driftwood in either a freshwater or brackish setup, and then transfer the driftwood to an entirely saltwater breeding system. The “sesame seeds”, which are hard-shelled, white, and laid by nerite snails, actually contain egg capsules containing dozens of eggs.
The water temperature will determine how quickly the larvae hatch. Feed them algae, infusoria, green water, golden pearls, powdered fry food, and spirulina powder. Once the larvae have developed into tiny snails with visible shells, you can start slowly acclimating them to fresh water by removing small amounts of salt water and replacing it with mineral-rich, fresh water over the course of 1-2 months.
While Aquarium Co-Op does not ship live animals, you can check out our preferred online retailers to browse their selection of nerite snails. Best of luck with these adorable cleanup crew members, and enjoy nature daily.