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?
Nerite snails are members of the Neritidae family. Their name derives from a Greek sea god named 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 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 come in a variety of colors, patterns, and 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. Poor water quality can make them more 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
Because of its small size, the nerite slug can be kept in nano tanks as small as 2 to 3 gallons. They are able to tolerate a wide range tropical temperatures. Because many of them come from brackish water environments, they prefer freshwater setups with higher pH above 7.0 and lots of minerals. If you have soft tap water and notice your snails are getting cracked or eroded shells, increase the minerals in their water and food to keep the damage from progressing. We like to use crushed coral in our substrate and filter media to buffer up the pH. We then add Wonder Shells and Seachem Equilibrium mineral supplements to provide calcium, magnesium, as well as 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.
Is it possible to have one nerite snail? No, they are not social animals. They tend to gather in groups for breeding and feeding at the best places.
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. You can feed them alga wafers, zucchini slices blanched, and canned green beans. 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 are one of the few animals that will eat green spot algae (GSA), which is difficult to remove from plants and hardscape.
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 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. Neriites snails can’t change their sexes and aren’t hermaphrodites, unlike many aquatic snails. It is difficult to see them sex so aim to have at least one male and one woman. 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. Interestingly, the hard, white “sesame seeds” laid by the nerite snails are actually egg capsules that each contain dozens of eggs inside.
The time it takes for the larvae to hatch depends on how warm the water is. Infusoria (algae), green water, golden pearls and powdered fry foods are good options. 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.