Nerite Snail: Care Guide

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Snails aren't exactly the best pet for the squeamish, due largely to their slippery, somewhat gooey nature. But if you own an aquarium, they are an essential part of the underwater life there. One of the best snails you can have in your aquarium world is a Nerite Snail. These creatures literally devour algae that flourish in all aquariums, however, they don't bother the other plants in the tank. This makes them the ideal tank cleaners. Plus, Nerite Snail Care is pretty much no frills so they aren't difficult to keep either.

Nerite Snails: A Staple Algae Eater in the Freshwater Hobby

Nerite Snails come from the Neritidae family, which boasts over 200 species, and are native to the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. They are found worldwide and live in rivers, creeks, streams, lagoons, lakes, ponds, even mangrove swamps. Because they are accustomed to changing levels of water, it makes it easy for them to live in freshwater and saltwater aquariums.

The primary reason these snails are added to aquarium tanks is because they're such voracious algae eaters. This goes a long way toward keeping the tanks clean, but you need to be careful about overstocking. If you're looking for entertainment, snails aren't the liveliest of water creatures, but they've very peaceful and won't disturb the rest of your fish.

Buying a Nerite Snail is a little dicey. The name 'Nerite Snails' refers to a large number of snails belonging to the same species. You need to know exactly the one you want to buy before purchasing. Some of the types are Black Racer Nerite, Tiger Nerite, Ruby Nerite, Marble Nerite, Zebra Nerite, and Sun Thorn Nerite.

Don't rush into anything. Before you spend your money, look for Nerite Snails that have shells that appear to be healthy. Minus any gashes, cracks, and even nicks. Moreover, look for Nerite Snails that are lively. You can find an active snail attached to the glass or any other available hard surface of the tank. If you see any Nerite Snails that lying upside down on the bottom of the tank and appear to not be moving, stay away from them. A snail that is lying on its back could be dead or in the process of dying. One more thing, When you spy a snail shell, look inside to be certain that it isn't a plain empty shell. It can happen.

A word of caution here. Nerite Snails can become easy prey, so you shouldn't keep them in a tank where there are large or aggressive fish that might be tempted to gulp them down.

Now it's time to discuss what you can do to provide proper Nerite Snail care:


Nerite snails are a bit of a sporty dresser, as they have distinguishing black and gold yellow stripes across their bodies. Certain Nerite Snails have dark green, brown and dark red shells with black stripes.

The average lifespan for a Nerite Snail is around one year, but some have been known to live as long as two years.

Water and Habitat

Since Nerite Snails are normally from coastal habitats which have many rocks and other types of surfaces for algae to grow on, if you can create the same environment in your tank they will be happy.

In a saltwater aquarium, you will need to have hiding spots, and it's easy enough to make these from live rock. The other good thing about live rock is that it will allow you snails to eat the algae that will cover its surfaces.

When in a tropical tank with fish and other occupants Nerite Snails like the water temperature to be 72 -- 78 degrees Fahrenheit.

Aquarium pH: 7.5 near the alkaline side.

Hard-Soft: Water on the hard side.

Proper Nerite Snail care needs to include ensuring that the Nitrate levels are not too high and checking for spikes in Ammonia. A correctly functioning filter and heater should be sufficient to do the job and make tank conditions ideal for these creatures. Also, with these snails, it's not absolutely necessary to have extremely pure water, as they like having a few particles floating around to feed on besides a strict diet of algae.

Nerite snails can survive in both saltwater and freshwater. If they live in soft water, however, then you can expect their shells to soften. So if you want to ensure a nice, hard shell they should be kept in saltwater.

One more fact that you should be aware of is that Nerite Snails can survive out of water for lengthy periods of time. So, if you don't keep the cover on your tank securely in place, they may escape. That's generally okay though because when they are recaptured, they can be taken right back to the tank. Just replace them inside and no harm done.


Once you learn about Nitrate Snail care, you will realize that these little rascals can be quite the eaters. They can continually feed for as long as several hours, literally gorging themselves, then lay back and relax for a couple days without eating or moving. Provide them with enough food so that they aren't lacking, but don't overfeed as this may cause a stomach infection.

Nerite Snails are herbivores. Their favorite food is algae. If there isn't enough algae available, then give them algae wafers as a supplement. You can also feed them vegetables, such as zucchini, spinach, and blanched lettuce.


The fact of the matter is that Nerite Snails simply will not reproduce if they are kept in freshwater. They require saltwater if they are to produce eggs. If you hope to initiate the process, the best thing to do is to gradually transfer your Nerite Snails to a tank that has brackish water in it. This will help to nudge the mating process along, as well as create the necessary environment for the larvae to thrive too.

Some people claim that they have Nerite Snails that are reproducing like crazy in freshwater. Although they may sincerely believe they are telling the truth, perhaps they have been fooled by the pet store where they purchased the snails, because this is flat outright impossible. Nerite Snails will not reproduce in freshwater. Period.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Nerite Snails invasive?

Since an invasive species is defined as a species that is not native to a certain location, but which once settled there spreads to a degree that it endangers the environment or the ecosystem, Nitrate Snails are definitely not considered invasive. They cannot reproduce in freshwater and thus will not be able to take over an aquarium. Only if you overstock your tank will they become a problem, because then you will have too many snails competing for too little food.

How Many Nerite Snails Can I Keep In a 10 Gallon Tank?

Well, the general rule is that you can add 1 snail for every 5 gallons of water so the answer would be 2. Now while this isn't an unbendable rule, you do want to avoid overstocking or they will not be able to find enough algae to eat. A snail or two more isn't going to make all that much difference, but you do have to know when to stop. No matter how much you like these snails and enjoy having them around, you can't just pile them into a tank and hope for the best. It just doesn't work that way with these guys.

How Often Do Nerite Snails Lay Eggs?

These snails cannot reproduce in freshwater as brackish water is required for the survival of the larvae. However, they are known to be quite prolific.

Why Isn't My Nerite Snail Moving?

If you see that your Nerite Snail hasn't moved in a day or two, don't start to worry just yet if you've been administering adequate Nerite Snail care or perhaps are an inadvertent snail killer. Nerite Snails enjoy hibernating sometimes for days at a time. This is a common action among these snails and nothing to worry about. After several days of no movement, your snail should awaken and be on its way about the tank again searching for food.

What it all comes down to is that providing proper Nerite Snail care is basically very simple. These snails are huge assets to any aquarium and can be quite beautiful. Plus, they are a tranquil species and don't fight with other snails or pursue the other fish in the aquarium. They just do their job of consuming as much algae as possible and then find their own little place to just sit back and watch their surroundings, or to hibernate for a time. Of course, if your snail remains immobile for a considerable length of time, then you should take measures to check and see if it is still alive. But you needn't be concerned if this behavior repeatedly occurs. It's just part of the way of life for Nerite Snails.

As aquarium creatures go, you won't find one much easier to care for or more cooperative than a Nerite Snail. All you have to do is to ensure that you don't overfeed these guys and give them the proper environment to live healthy and well-adjusted lives, and you should have absolutely no trouble from your Nerite Snails, and reap a huge benefit too with all the algae they will remove from your tank.