Care Guide for Nerite Snails – Favorite Nano Algae Eater
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 and how do they work?
Nerite snails are part of the Neritidae Family, which takes its name from the Greek sea god Nerites. They are common in the Indo-Pacific and coastal regions of Africa. 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. Popular varieties include zebra, black racer, red racer, tiger, and horned. The olive nerite snail is our favorite because it is the most difficult and easiest to keep.
Nerite snails come a wide range of colors and patterns.
Are nerite snails capable of flipping themselves over? Unless other animals pick on them,
Why does my nerite shell keep dying? If the nerite shrimps aren’t getting enough food and minerals, then people often have problems with them. Bad water quality can also make them sensitive. If your snail is hanging out of its shell or has an unpleasant smell, remove it from the tank so that the body won’t cause a toxic spike in ammonia or nitrite.
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. You can increase the amount of minerals in your snails’ water and food if you have soft tap water. This will prevent further damage. 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 one nerite slug be your only? They are not social animals, and will most likely group together to breed and feed in the best areas.
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 be kept with smaller invertebrates like dwarf shrimp or ramshorn. 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 can eat green spot alga (GSA), which can be difficult to remove from plants or hardscape.
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 recorded their experiences and recommend preparing a mature, algae-filled brackish or saltwater tank using marine salt and an air stone with very low flow. 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 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 seed” that the nerite snails lay on driftwood are actually egg capsules with dozens of eggs inside.
The water temperature will determine how quickly the larvae hatch. Feed them algae, infusoria, green water, golden pearls, powdered fry food, and spirulina powder. After the larvae develop into small snails with visible shells you can slowly adjust them to fresh water. This is done by gradually removing small amounts salt water and replacing it over a period of about 1-2 months with mineral-rich water.
While Aquarium Co-Op does not ship live animals, you can check out our preferred online retailers to browse their selection of nerite snails. All the best to these cute cleanup crew members and have a wonderful time in nature.