Care Guide for Nerite Snails – Favorite Nano Algae Eater

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. How to keep these sweet critters happy in your own backyard.


What are Nerite Snails and how do they work?

Nerite snails come from the Neritidae family, which derives its name from a Greek sea god called 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 are the different kinds of nerite snails? Depending on the species, their shells may have solid colors, stripes, dots, zigzags, and even little spikes. The most popular varieties are the zebra and red racers, as well as the tiger and horned. The olive nerite snail is our favorite because it is the most difficult and easiest to keep.

Nerite snails come in a variety of colors, patterns, and shapes.

Can nerite slugs flip themselves? No, unless they are being picked on by other animals.

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. Your snail should be removed from the tank immediately if it’s hanging out of the shell or emits an unpleasant smell.

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. They prefer freshwater environments with high pH levels above 7.0. 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. Then we add Wonder Shells or Seachem Equilibrium as mineral supplements that 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. You should use a tight-fitting cover and cover any holes of snail-size to stop them from escaping.

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 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 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 can eat green spot alga (GSA), which can be difficult to remove from plants or hardscape.

How to Breed Nerite Snails

This is a difficult task because the tiny larvae can be very hard to feed and need saltwater to hatch. A few hobbyists have shared their experiences. They recommend that you prepare a mature, alginate-filled saltwater tank with marine salt and an airstone with low flow. The nerite snails cannot be changed sexes like many other aquatic snails. It is difficult to see them sex so aim to have at least one male and one woman. 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. 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. Once the larvae have developed into tiny snails with visible shells, you can start slowly acclimating them to fresh water by removing small amounts of salt water and replacing it with mineral-rich, fresh water over the course of 1-2 months.

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.