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. Find out how to keep these peaceful critters happy and thriving in your own home.
What are Nerite Snails?
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 types of nerite slugs do you have? The shells of different species can be solid, stripes, dots or zigzags. Popular varieties include zebra, black racer, red racer, 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 are available in many colors, patterns, shapes.
Can nerite snails flip themselves over? Yes, they are perfectly capable of righting themselves unless other animals are constantly picking 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. They also can be sensitive to bad water quality. 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
Given its small size, a nerite snail can live in a nano tank as small as 2-3 gallons within a wide range of tropical temperatures. Many of their species are bred from brackish water, so they prefer freshwater with a higher pH than 7.0 and plenty 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. Cover any holes that are snail-sized to prevent escape by using a tight-fitting lid.
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 be kept with small invertebrates of similar size, such as dwarf shrimp and ramshorn snails. 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. For them to eat, you can offer them algae wafers and blanched zucchini slices. Zoo Med Nano Banquet Food Blocks is our favourite snail food. These blocks not only provide calcium, plankton and spirulina, but also slowly dissolve to add calcium to the water.
Nerite snails will eat green spots algae (GSA) which is hard to remove from plants.
How to Breed Nerite Snails
It is difficult to breed these snails because they are almost microscopic and can only be fed with brackish water or salt water. 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. Unlike many aquatic snails, nerite snails are not hermaphroditic and cannot change sexes. 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. Some people let adult snails lay eggs on driftwood, then move the driftwood into a saltwater breeding tank. Interestingly, the hard, white “sesame seeds” laid by the nerite snails are actually egg capsules that each contain dozens of eggs inside.
The water temperature will determine how quickly the larvae hatch. You can feed them infusoria and green water. 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. We wish you all the best with your adorable cleanup crew and may you enjoy daily nature.