Care Guide for Nerite Snails: Favorite Nano Algae Eatinger

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. Learn how to keep these gentle creatures happy and healthy in your home.


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. Many are found along the coasts of Africa and the Indo-Pacific. 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 kinds of nerite snails are there? Shells can have solid colors, dots, zigzags and even spikes depending on their species. There are many varieties that are popular, including zebra, red racers, tiger and black racers. We love the olive nerite snail, which we have found to be one of the hardest and easiest types 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 do my nerite snails keep dying? People usually have problems with them if the nerite snails aren’t getting enough food or minerals. 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. 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. To buffer the pH, we use crushed coral as our substrate and filter media. 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. 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 live with similar-sized invertebrates such as ramshorn snails and dwarf shrimp. 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. 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

This is a difficult task because the tiny larvae can be very hard to feed and need saltwater to 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 slowly acclimate the adult snails to brackish water and have them lay eggs in a brackish breeding tank. Others let the adult snails lay eggs on driftwood in a freshwater or brackish water setup and then move the driftwood to a fully saltwater breeding tank. The “sesame seed” that the nerite snails lay on driftwood are actually egg capsules with dozens of eggs inside.

The time it takes for the larvae to hatch depends on how warm the water is. Feed them algae, infusoria, green water, golden pearls, powdered fry food, and spirulina powder. Once the larvae are small enough to be able to see their shells, you can gradually adjust the water they drink by slowly replacing salt water with mineral-rich fresh water for 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. Best of luck with these adorable cleanup crew members, and enjoy nature daily.