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. Learn how to keep these gentle creatures happy and healthy in your home.
What are Nerite Snails, you ask?
Nerite snails are members of the Neritidae family. Their name derives from a Greek sea god named Nerites. Many of them are found in coastal areas around Africa and the Indo-Pacific region. 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 kinds of nerite snails are there? Shells can have solid colors, dots, zigzags and even spikes depending on their species. 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 a wide range of colors and patterns.
Can nerite snails flip themselves over? Yes, they are perfectly capable of righting themselves unless other animals are constantly picking on them.
Why are my nerite squid dying? It is common for people to have issues with them when the nerite squids don’t get enough nutrients or food. 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. For pH buffering, we like to use crushed coral for our substrate. 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. You should use a tight-fitting cover and cover any holes of snail-size to stop them from escaping.
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 are Nerite Snails’ Favorite Foods?
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. For them to eat, you can offer them algae wafers and blanched zucchini slices. Our favorite snail food is Zoo Med Nano Banquet Food Blocks because they not only provide calcium, plankton, and spirulina in their diet, but they also slowly dissolve to add more calcium to the 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 recorded their experiences. They recommended that you make a saltwater or brackish tank with algae and a low flow air stone and using marine salt. The nerite snails cannot be changed sexes like many other aquatic snails. Since it is a bit difficult to visually sex them, aim for a group of six or more to ensure you have at least one male and one female. Some people slowly acclimate the adult snails to brackish water and have them lay eggs in a brackish breeding tank. Some people let adult snails lay eggs on driftwood, then move the driftwood into a saltwater breeding tank. The “sesame seed” that the nerite snails lay on driftwood are actually egg capsules with dozens of eggs inside.
The time it takes for the larvae to hatch depends on how warm the water is. Feed them algae, infusoria, green water, golden pearls, powdered fry food, and spirulina powder. Once the larvae are small enough to be able to see their shells, you can gradually adjust the water they drink by slowly replacing salt water with mineral-rich fresh water for 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.