Nerite snails are helpful little cleaning snails that take care of our fishes messes so that we don’t have to.
They are cute, peaceful, small, and are often the most neglected marine animals in an aquarium. In this article, we will cover everything you need to know about for them.
Nerite snails originate from the brackish waters of Africa and are fairly easy to take care of.
For them to survive and thrive, they need an enabling habitat, great tank mates, a comprehensive diet, and a conducive breeding ground.
A lot of people know nerite snails don’t need much care, so they ignore them altogether. Just because they are very easy to take care of, doesn’t mean they should be ignored.
In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about taking care of the cleaning team of your aquarium.
What is the Perfect Habitat for Your Nerite Snail?
There are about 200 species of nerite snails available for aquariums.
Over the years, nerite snails have learned to live and thrive in basically any environment. This means that there are both salt and freshwater species of nerite snails.
Nerite snails in very different environments.
The freshwater snails and the saltwater snails have different needs, preferences, and behavioral patterns. To ensure that both these breeds of snails live long and healthy lives, it’s important to make sure they are comfortable.
Saltwater nerite snails
Saltwater nerite snails prefer more coastal locales. Since most saltwater nerite snails can be found in brackish waters, or along coastlines, they are used to rocks, mangroves, and estuaries.
If you can manage to recreate this kind of environment in the tank, they will be more comfortable.
Nerites, in general, are a tad bit shy. They like to hide and you should try to provide great hiding spots in their habitat when you are structuring their tanks.
All snails have sensitive tentacles and will need a calcium substrate or another mineral-rich substrate.
The fine sandy substrate will be kinder on their tentacles. Any excellent habitat will not be complete without the accurate water pH. Saltwater nerites prefer a high pH of 8.1-8.4, with a temperature of about 72-78 degrees Fahrenheit.
Freshwater nerite snails
Most freshwater nerites are natives to forest and mountain rivers.
They are used to habitats with driftwood, rocks, and other great hiding spots. They too prefer fine substrates like calcium substrates. Freshwater underwater plants are also part of their habitat.
However, since they are not vital for their survival, you can skip out on them if you want.
Freshwater snails are used to spending quite some time on the surface.
Since the water levels of freshwater bodies like rivers and streams are ever-shifting, snails go above water every once in a while. While you are building their habitat, it would be nice if you could keep the water about an inch lower than the regular level your fishes are used to.
All snails are particularly great at climbing. They will eventually make it out of the tank if you leave it uncovered. If you don’t have a lid already, you should consider investing in one.
Much like their saltwater counterpart, they prefer the water at a warm 72-78 degree Fahrenheit with a pH of 8.1-8.4. High levels of nitrites, nitrates, and ammonia can be hazardous for nerite snails.
Investing in a great tank filter is a great and effective way to regulate the chemical balance of your tank.
Popular Types of Nitrite Snails, Their Lifespans and Sizes
Nerite snails look pretty much the same. They all have hard spiral shells with lovely patterns on them. The biggest difference between the most popular types of nerite snails is the patterns on their shells. All Nerite snails grow to be about an inch or a little bit more and stop growing altogether.
The lifespan of a nerite snail is often very conflicting. With the proper environment, food, and care, some species of nerite snails can live up to two years or more.
However, without all these conditions, they can live between a week and a year. Sometimes, it has nothing to do with the conditions of the tank. Some snails just live longer than others.
How Many Snails Should be in a Tank?
The answer to that question really depends on the state of your tank and the capacity of the tank. Most people consider adding nerites snails to their tank when they notice they have an algae outbreak.
Adding a number of nerites to a tank infested with algae is a simple yet effective way of getting rid of algae. They will clear it out in no time and will continually thrive as long they are fed with algae.
On the flip side, if your tank is too small. The snails will compete for algae when they have consumed a large part of the algae in your tank, and will eventually die off. It is generally recommended that you reduce the number of nerites in your tank when your tank is clearer.
For tanks that are not overflowing with algae, it is recommended that you keep a single nerite for every five gallons of water you have in the tank.
What Kind of Tank Mates Do Nerites Prefer?
Nerites are small, peaceful sea creatures without the stomach for any real kind of violence. As long as you keep them with smaller, and more peaceful fish, they will thrive. This means you want to avoid fishes like cichlids and puffer, and consider tetras, guppies, swords, and barbs.
What Do They Eat?
Nerite snails are very voracious and active eaters. They tend to spend most of their days doing just eating. They eat as they move, so it’s not so difficult to perpetually eat. Nerite snails climb up glass, decorations, filter intakes, and hard plant leaves while eating algae.
As we have mentioned a couple of times, they primarily eat algae. They eat soft green algae, brown diatoms, soft brown algae, and in some rare cases green spot algae.
When there aren’t enough algae, they will also eat vegetables. They will eat vegetables and fruits like cucumber, lettuce, blanched spinach, and courgette.
Caring for Nerite Snails
Nerites are very resilient sea creatures that can adapt to a variety of water conditions.
However, if you can, it would be better for them if you can keep an eye on the water temperature and pH levels. Nerites are also very susceptible to unhealthy levels of nitrates, and ammonia, so having an active filter is important.
The shells of nerites snails tend to weaken over time. It is important to remember this and try to supplement their diet with healthy doses of calcium.
Another smart way of making sure they are getting lots of calcium is by using a calcium substrate. Calcium substrate is a fine sandy substrate loaded with calcium for healthy shell development.
Nerites are lousy at turning themselves. It is physically impossible for a nerite snail who is turned upside down to flip over. They can even die upside down if they are not moved or corrected.
Every once in a while, check on your nerites, and make sure they are the right side up. Also, when you are dropping nerites into their tanks, try to drop them the right side up, their lives might actually depend on it.
Nerites tend to have a problem with overeating and sporadic shell growth and very little shell growth.
When a snail does not get enough food or the temperature of the tank is not right, the shell ends up not growing as fast or as strong as it supposed to be. On the other hand, overeating is also another problem with this kind of snail.
When there are too many algae is available, and there are not enough nerites to go around, the nerite might end up overeating and getting a discolored shell.
The extra energy they get from all the food they eat ends up going in their shell.
Things to Consider When Caring for Nerite Snails
Parasites are also a major danger to the life of the nerite snail. Parasites can either be internal or external.
Internal parasites are the most dangerous. Depending on the species of the parasite, the animal’s life could either be in real danger or not. Either way, internal parasites are very dangerous and should not be taken likely.
External parasites are dangerous, but they are not quite life-threatening.
They appear as white spots on the infected snail. In most cases, those types of parasites are not particularly dangerous. When they are isolated and have to chance to spread, they complete their lifespan in such a short time.
Unfortunately, there are no existing cures for internal parasites.
In most cases, the internal parasite becomes part of the snail, and the most effective way of stopping the spread of the parasite is to terminate the life of the snail.
On the other hand, external parasites like white spots need a little bit of isolation. The parasites need to live naturally and eventually die off.
The most important thing to remember is to keep copper far away from your tank as possible.
Nerite snails are invertebrates. This means that copper is fatal to them. Even trace amounts of copper can cause permanent and irreparable damage. That is why you must take care to always ensure that there is no copper in any medication or supplement you feed your fishes.
How Do Nerite Snails Reproduce?
A comprehensive care guide on nerites snails will not be complete without a brief look at their sexual habits and reproductive patterns.
When it comes to sexuality and reproduction there are a bunch of misconceptions about the nerite snails. The first and the most concerning is the sexual fluidity or lack of sexual fluidity present in most nerite snails.
Rather than produce asexually like most snails, the male and female nerite snails come together to reproduce. When both parties are ready, the female nerite lays all the eggs, and the male nerite fertilizes the eggs.
The second and most concerning misconception about the nerite snail is that they cannot reproduce in freshwater setups. While there is some truth to this theory, it is not as simple as that.
How to Take Care of Baby Nerite Snails?
Baby nerite snails need a lot of attention earlier on in their lives.
They need the kind of care that most freshwater tanks won’t be able to provide. Baby nerite snails are so young, they will be almost instantly sucked into the water filters in the freshwater tank.
Using a sponge filter could make the filter problem less probable, but it does not confront other problems associated with bringing up baby nerites snails in a freshwater tank. If you really want to see the baby nerites thrive, it would be best to move them from freshwater tanks a little bit after they have hatched.
You could also move the parents away from the freshwater tank to saltwater or even brackish water.
Slowly introduce the snails to saltwater by mixing the old freshwater of their former tanks with a little bit of saltwater, and then slowly increasing it over time. Move the baby snails back but you should give them about six weeks to fully mature.
Can Nerite Snails Live Alone in a Tank?
Nerite snails are part of an important ecosystem. This system is maintained and propagated by fishes, shrimps, plants, and other species in a tank. While it is definitely possible for your nerite snail to completely live by itself.
It would be better if they had tank mates. Don’t get me wrong nerites don’t get lonely, they are very self-sufficient animals with very binary concerns. They are only concerned with feeding and exploring. They just fare better with a little bit of company.
Can Nerite Snail Eat Fish Poop?
No, they cannot. It might be true that nerites are janitors of most aquariums, they are not omnivores.
They live off a strictly herbivorous diet that contains certain algae species, vegetables like cucumber and lettuce, and algae pellet balls. Anything that does not fall within this purview does not belong in a nerite snail’s diet.
Are Nerite Snails Hardy?
They’re very hardy. And they can survive in a wide range of tank and water conditions. Nerite snails won’t die off if the water conditions are less than ideal, they will just have very uneven development.
They also have a heavy bioload because they are voracious eaters. Before you consider adding a bunch of them to a tank, you should consider investing in a great filter, and a reliable ammonia removal system.
What Breeds of Nerites are Perfect for Freshwater and Saltwater Tanks?
As we have mentioned earlier, there are freshwater and saltwater nerite snails. While there are hundreds of nerite snails species, only a few of them are actually suited for aquariums.
For your freshwater tank or saltwater tank, you should consider Zebra nerite snails, Tiger nerite snails, olive nerite snails, Black racer nerite snails, and horned nerite snails.
Buying a Nerite Snail
Nerite snails are very mobile and active sea creatures.
They usually move or attach themselves to a hard surface. When buying your nerite snail, make sure you purchase movable nerite snails, or nerite snails stuck to the glass, or some hard surface.
Also, you want to inspect the shells of the nerites before you buy them.
Look out for any blemishes- nicks, cracks, cuts- or any indication of poor health. You should also know how old the snail you are buying is. That will give you an idea of how long the snail you are buying is going to last.