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Nerite Snails Overview, Types, Care, Breeding & More

Nerite snails can be a great addition to your saltwater and freshwater aquarium. The snails are algae eaters, due to which many aquarists like them to be a part of their aquarium ecosystem.

The snails do a great job of keeping your aquarium clean.

In this guide, you will learn expert tips for breeding Nerite snails. You will also learn about how to care for them, including aquarium setup, feeding, and treating common diseases.

Species Overview

Level of CareEasy
AppearanceVarious colors
Life Expectancy2 years
SizeUp to 1 inch
Aquarium (Tank) Size5 gallons
Water Conditions72 °F to 78 °F (22 °C to 25 °C); ph 8.1 to 8.4
Aquarium (Tank) EnvironmentRocks and driftwood
Aquarium (Tank) MatesPeaceful fish

Nerite snails are a small species of snail belonging to the Neritidae family. The snail can live in both freshwater and saltwater aquariums. But they can breed only in saltwater conditions.

The snails breed in the aquarium as live feed for different fish species.

Aquarists feed Nerite snails to betta fish, green spotted puffer, bala fish, clown loach, cory catfish, and goldfish.

They also keep Nerite snails in the tank since they are great at keeping the algae population under control.

Natural Habitat

Nerite snails live in freshwater and brackish waters on the Caribbean coast and East Africa. In the wild, they have different colors, including black, brown, and white.

The snails mostly live in marine habitats, including estuaries and mangroves, where there are plenty of rocks with algae growth. Some Nerite snails live in freshwater in mountain streams.


Nerite snails have different colors and patterns compared to their snail relatives. But all of them have similar sizes and feeding habits.


Nerite snails don’t grow to a large size. The snails reach a maximum length of about two inches.

They increase significantly faster after hatching. Young snails can turn into adult snails in a couple of weeks.


Nerite snails are slow and peaceful creatures. They mind their own business inside the tank, eating algae. The snails move slowly inside the tank and won’t bother other fish. They have flexible muscle feet and can flip themselves over if fallen on the back.

Snails have two to three days of sleep cycles. They are thought to have about seven bursts of sleep in 15 hours after being active for 30 hours. A Nerite snail’s breeding cycle is similar to regular snails, including egg, larvae, and adult stage.

Common Types of Nerite Snails for Your Aquarium

Here are the common types of Nerite snails that you can find available for sale online.

Nerite Turrita Snail (Vittina Turrita)

Turrita nerite snail

Turrita snails are known by various names, such as the tiger snail, striped Nerite snail, or turreted Nerite snails. These snails are native to south-east Asia. The size of the snail is about an inch long.

The snail has a dark amber color covered with black stripes that resemble the bars of a tiger. The black marks encircle the strip. Some of them have rounded covering with red, brown, or black bars on top of the shell.

Most of the species have thick stripes with zig-zag or dotted patterns and orange or black covering. The shell of the snails could be of various forms and densities. They are compatible with most fish. But they are not compatible with aggressive fish.

The hard aquarium water should be between 8 and 12 dH. It is essential. Otherwise, the coverings will disintegrate. A higher pH value is also crucial for the snails to thrive. Lower PH levels could damage the snails’ covers, which is why there should be phosphates concentration in the tank.

Olive Nerite Snail (Vitta Usnea)

Olive Nerite snails have a smooth and rounded shell of brownish-green or olive color. They are also known as black marble snails due to the unique black-like that runs in the middle of the snail’s shell.

They are less than an inch across and are one of the smallest species of Nerite snails.

Horned Nerite Snail (Clithon Corona)

Horned nerite snail

Horned Nerite Snails are also known as the bumblebee snail and sunny snail. These snails have protruding spikes that give them their name. The spikes usually crack, but it does not affect the snail.

The snail can grow between half and two-thirds of an inch.

They have a short antenna good for the snails as other fish won’t nip at them.

Zebra Nerite Snail (Vitta Zebra)

Zebra nerite snail

The zebra snail is also known as the Zebra Nerite snail or Zebra algae-eating snail.

The snail is commonly found in Kenya, Somalia, Mozambique, Tanzania, and South Africa. It is located in lagoons and mangrove swamps. The adult snail is about half an inch.

Breeding Zebra Nerite snails are common among aquarists due to their unique appearance. This fish’s exterior is S-shape, while the fish covering can be of varied colors, including yellowing brown and greenish-brown.

The snails also have large black, and red stripes that slope down over the shell and too forward in a zig-zag pattern. The body of the snail is reddish and yellowish. It has an eye shelf that is a bit curved.

Red Racer Nerite Snail (Vittina Waigiensis)

Red racer nerite snail

Breeding red racer Nerite snails are also popular as they have a striking appearance. The shell of the snail has a unique ebony color. There are unique grooves on the covers that run parallel to the aperture.

The snails grow up to an inch.

An interesting fact about the red racer snails is that they are the fastest crawlers compared to other Nerite snails.

Breeding Guidelines

Nerite snails are not hermaphroditic like most other snails. They have both male and female snails. But finding out their gender is complicated since they all move, look, and behave alive.

It will help if you put multiple snails in the tank to increase the chances of at least one of them being the opposite gender.

Some people incorrectly believe that Nerite snails can only breed in saltwater. But the fact is you can let Nerite snails mate and lay eggs in freshwater as well. However, you have to move the eggs to saltwater since the larvae won’t survive in freshwater conditions.

Pregnant female Nerite snails lay their eggs and are fertilized by males in plants and substrates.

The eggs will turn into larvae within a few weeks. The larvae look like small white spots.

The young Nerite snails are so tiny that they can suck them into the filter pipe. Consider installing a sponge filter to prevent the larvae from getting sucked into the tube.

The saltwater tank should have a good source of algae that will serve as food for the tiny snails. When they turn into adults in about one or two months, you can again shift them back to freshwater tanks. Just remember to acclimatize them to the new environment before moving them.

Interestingly, this snail species won’t mate if they sense that there is already a large snail population in the tank.

The freshwater Nerite snail breeding tank should not contain more than ten snails in a thirty-gallon tank. The snails will stop breeding if they recognize that the numbers are stable and extensive.

You should have four or six snails in the breeding tanks and aim for an even ratio of males and females in the breeding tank. In case a snail dies, you should immediately remove it from the tank. A decomposing snail will result in a spike in ammonia, which can harm other fish.

Breeding in Freshwater and Saltwater Tanks

The water temperature for breeding Nerite snails should be between 74 °F-79 °F (24 °C-27 °C). Hard water is required for Nerite snail breeding. Can use calcium substrate such as crushed coral, suppose the water is not hard.

Snails can be kept in marine and freshwater habitats. If you keep the fish in a saltwater aquarium, the water’s salinity should be between 1.020 to 1.028 sg.

Moreover, the water should be slightly alkaline with pH values between 8.1 and 8.4. Should keep the temperature of the water between 72 °F – 78 °F (22 °C and 26 °C). The water hardness level should be between 8 and 12 dKH. Water should not contain any nitrites or ammonia. Moreover, the nitrate level in the tank should be less than 20 ppm.

For the freshwater aquarium, the water hardness level should be between 5 and 15 dKH, and the nitrate level should be below 30 ppm.

The pH level of the water should be between 7 and 8.2. The recommended temperature and nitrites and ammonia level are the same for the saltwater aquarium for the snails.

To maintain the conditions, you should add a filter and heater. Moreover, you should also measure the temperature using a thermometer.

Water hardness level is the most important to ensure proper shell growth. Moreover, maintaining the pH level is also essential as acidic water will damage the snail’s shell.

Aquarium Setup

Nerite snails require lots of hiding space. It will help if you keep lots of live rocks inside the tank. Algae will also grow on the stones, which will serve as food for your snails. A fine-grained substrate is necessary for your snails.

It is essential since the snails’ tentacles are delicate and can damage a rough substrate. Driftwood and caves are also recommended as these will serve as a hiding place for the snails.

Plants aren’t crucial for the Nerite snails, but they will be a great addition as colorful decorative pieces inside the aquarium. Your snails won’t harm the plants inside the aquarium. Consider installing slow-moving plant species such as Java fern.

You should install a tight-fitting lid for the aquarium since the snails can climb out. Also, in the wild, the snails don’t remain submerged most of the time. So, the water level should be an inch or two below the cover as it will allow them to briefly get out of the water.

Tank Mates

Nerite snails are compatible with most fish and snails. You can keep them with easygoing and calm fish such as guppies, tetras, and barbs. Avoid keeping the snails with aggressive fish like goldfish, crayfish, and cichlids.

You can also keep Nerite snails with ghost shrimp and other species of snails. Some other snail species that are good tank mates include mystery snails, ivory snails, and gold snails.

However, you should avoid placing too many snails in the tank to create difficulties in controlling the tank environment.

Common Diseases and Treatment

Snails are hardy creations, but sometimes they can suffer from diseases due to low water conditions.

They are susceptible to diseases that are not a concern for fish and other inhabitants of the aquarium. The shells of a Nerite will become stunted due to low temperatures or underfeeding.

Overfeeding can also result in a lot of various health problems for the snail. It can result in discoloration since the energy from the food is diverted to shell growth.

The shell of the snail will grow at a fast rate due to overfeeding and turning light color. In the wild, Nerite snails have dark-colored shells since they don’t have the luxury of overfeeding.

You may need to provide calcium supplements if the shells are weak or cracked, which can be harmful to the snail’s health. Consider adding a calcium substrate or calcium sulfate to ensure the healthy growth of the shells. You should also consider saltwater baths and change the diet to treat shell disorders.

Parasitic infections are common in Nerite snails. But it can be challenging to know if the snail has a parasitic infection, particularly in internal parasites.

The infection can be fatal to the snails if not addressed quickly. You should monitor the snails and remove ones that have a different appearance, appetite, or behavior. Using antibiotics that are safe for snails can help in the treatment of the disease.

Edema is also a common snail disease. The body of the infected snail swells when it fills up with the fluid. It will make the snail have difficulty moving around the aquarium. There is no cure for the disease.

Keeping the water temperature in the right conditions can help prevent diseases. You should also ensure that other water parameters, such as the pH level, are kept as per the suggested settings.

Food & Diet

Nerite snails scavenge for algae inside the tank. They use radula for scraping and digesting food. The snails mostly eat algae. They prefer soft green algae, soft film algae, brown algae, and diatoms.

The tiny snails will eat almost any type of algae except green spot algae.

But you may also need to add other feeds for your snails, such as supplements. Recommended feeding option for snails includes spinach, lettuce, and other fresh or frozen vegetables.

An important thing to remember is that Nerite snails won’t always keep control of the algae population. It would help if you prevented algae from taking over the tank through proper lighting and water conditions. It will minimize algae formation and allow the snails from dining on freshwater snails.

It would be best to feed the snails only when there is insufficient algae growth inside the aquarium. The snails are not picky, so underfeeding will not be a problem. But you have to take care not to overfeed your snails since it can result in diseases.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do nerite snails cross-breed?

Crossbreeding Nerite snails has not been successful. Nerite snails only mate with their kind. They will ignore snails of other species.

How many nerite snails should you breed in a tank?

You should keep a few snails in a breeding tank. Saving a lot of snails will pollute the water. With a tank full of fish, you should consider putting one snail for every five gallons tank.

So, you can keep six snails in a 30-gallon tank. In a 60-gallon tank, you can keep twelve snails along with the other fish. But it is recommended that you breed the snails in a separate tank.

How to take proper care of nerite snails?

Nerite snails care is essential so that they thrive in the tank. It would help if you kept proper water conditions for the snails. Consider buying a testing kit to monitor water conditions.

The main things to look for include the temperature, pH level, and water hardness level. Also, it would help if you always kept the tank clean. It is essential. Otherwise, the snail will become susceptible to parasitic or bacterial infection.

Nerite snails are sensitive to hard water and nitrates. It would help if you placed crushed coral or limestone inside the tank for the snails’ proper growth.

Wondershells are also vital as they can increase the calcium level of the aquarium water. Cuttlebone is recommended as it will erode slowly over time, keeping the conditions in the tank stable.

Wrapping Up

Nerite snails are an excellent option for both freshwater and saltwater aquariums. They are great for beginners since feeding them is not difficult. You can keep them in the aquarium as fish food or natural algae cleaning crew.

Breeding Nerite snails can be an entertaining endeavor. You don’t have to do much in feeding the young snails. Just make sure that the aquarium has sufficient algal growth. The snails will eat the algae and keep your aquarium clean.