Nerite Snails – A Comprehensive Care Guide

nerite snails

If you are looking for a snail that will help you control algae in the tank, there is no better option than the Nerite Snail. Also known as the “Algae Vacuum”, it is a beautiful and easy to care for snail species.

Due to their popularity, Nerite Snails are widely sold and can be found at all leading pet and fish stores. 

Other than being excellent algae eaters, they are also popular because they cannot reproduce in freshwater tanks thus eliminating the risk of overpopulating a tank. They come in many varieties and you will come across many color, pattern and shell shape options to choose from. 

This article will go over everything you need to know before adding a nerite snail to your tank. From feeding, tank setup, appearance and general behavior – this article will cover all the basics and serve as a comprehensive nerite snail care guide. 


Nerite snails are known for their prominent black and golden yellowish stripes on their shells. It seems as if black and golden yellow stripes have replaced the zebra’s black and white stripes.

Depending on their variety and species, they may also have dark green, brown, or reddish shells. Their size can range from one to one point two inches. They have a lifespan of nearly two years when captive, but they can live for longer in the wild. Some popular Nerite Snail varieties include:

  • Olive Nerite Snail
  • Horned Nerite Snail
  • Red Racer Nerite Snail
  • Tiger Nerite Snail

The majority of the tank owners opt for Nerite snails as a means of algae control for their tank. According to the general rule of thumb, one nerite snail is more than enough for a ten-liter tank (1-3 gallons). If you have a larger tank, you will have to increase the number of nerite snails accordingly.

But make sure that you don’t end up adding too many nerite snails as feeding them may become problematic in the long run. 

Distinguishing between the male and female nerite snails can be tough. Although female nerite snails are a bit bigger as compared to the males, it is still hard for one to be able to tell the females from the males. 

Feeding Guide

Many tank owners complain about their nerite snails either eating too much or not eating at all for days. This type of behavior is normal for nerite snails as these are compulsive eaters.  These snails are herbivorous by nature and are known as one of the best algae eating snails.

Therefore, it goes without saying that algae are their favorite food to feast on. 

You will often find them moving around in the tank slowly sniffing the walls, corners, nooks and crevices and even the decorations and ornaments inside the tank. They will be looking for algae and making sure that the tank remains free from algae bloom.

If you find that there is no algae in the tank for the snails to feed on, you can use algae wafers or blanched carrots and zucchinis to feed your nerite snails. 

When feeding nerite snails, stick to a schedule and keep an eye on the amount of food that you are adding to the tank. Excessive amounts of food can promote overeating in the snails which can lead to health issues. 

Although nerite snails contribute to the overall cleanliness of the tank by eating away algae, at the same time they excrete a lot which can take a toll on the bio load of the aquarium tank. It is best that the nerite snails are paired with some type of shrimp.

The shrimp will eat away the nerite snail excretions as it is rich in bacteria that aids the shrimp’s digestive system. 

Behavior & Temperament

Nerite snails are extremely peaceful. They require some time to adjust to a new tank, but once they have settled and are comfortable, they will barely require any effort from the tank keeper. Nerite snails love to keep to themselves and mind their own business.

Therefore, you do not have to worry about them feeling lonely in a tank. 

Other than being great algae eaters, Nerite snails also have the reputation of being excellent tank escapers. Many people find them slowly climbing the wall of the aquarium and jumping right out.

The jump often leads them on their back which can prove fatal as they have difficulty turning themselves around. If left on their backs for too long, they can easily die. It is recommended for the tank to be covered to prevent any such incident.

You can keep Nerite snails with almost all freshwater fish and invertebrates. Avoid keeping them with aggressive tank mates as they may end up eating the snails.

Some popular tank mates include snails like Mystery Snails, Ivory Snails, Ramshorn Snails, Trumpet Snails, Bamboo Shrimps, Red Cherry Shrimps, Amano Shrimps, Cory Fish, Otocinclus Catfish and Gold Inca Snails.  

Tank Requirements:

Ammonia Concentration0.2 mg/l
Nitrite Concentration20 mg/l
pH Level8.1-8.4
Temperature Range72-78 degrees Fahrenheit

As indicated by the table, Nerite Snails are not very demanding and due to their flexible tank parameter requirements, tend to do well in most tanks.

The size of the tank is not an issue but avoid adding too many nerite snails into the same tank as the lack of algae will lead to starvation issues amongst the snails. 

Other than this, ensuring proper filtration in the tank is extremely important. The filtration gets rid of debris in the tank and also helps in the breakdown of ammonia and nitrites. Adding rocks to the tank is also a great idea.

You will find the snails hiding underneath rocks and sleeping there quite often. 

Driftwood and plants can also be added to the tank in an attempt to recreate their natural habitat conditions as much as possible. However, make sure that the tank’s aquascape is not too complex as it may cause the snails to get trapped or hurt. 

Tank owners have to be extremely vigilant and observe these snails on a regular basis. Make sure that the tank’s substrate is cleaned regularly and the water quality is also maintained. The substrate thickness should not exceed two inches.

Adding calcium to the tank is also important as it helps in the hardening of the snail’s shells. 

Moderate light exposure is enough for nerite snails. If the tank can be placed in direct sunlight, two to three hours of exposure per day should suffice. But if sunlight is not feasible, you can also utilize artificial lighting. 


Breeding nerite snails is a tedious task. Although these snails can thrive in both freshwater as well as saltwater aquariums, they can only be successfully bred in saltwater conditions.

One of the challenges that breeders face is the difficulty in being able to differentiate between male and female snails. 

Therefore, it is recommended that you get a group of nerite snails so your chances of getting both a male and female nerite snail can be increased. Some people have been able to successfully breed nerite snails even in the freshwater tanks.

The snails mate and the female ends up laying eggs inside the tank. But due to the lack of a brackish tank, the eggs don’t hatch and thus all the effort goes down the drain. 

This may be a bummer for some people but in reality, the difficulty in breeding may be a blessing in disguise. The tank owners don’t have to worry about the snails multiplying at a rapid rate and thus overpopulating the tank.

Common Health Problems

Although Nerite Snails are quite hardy, there are some common health issues that you should be aware of. Here are some problems that your nerite snails may encounter and the reasons behind them:

  • Nipped Antennas:

Aggressive fish can nip and break the snail’s antennas. Therefore, make sure that the snails are kept amongst peaceful freshwater fish. Also keep an eye on the tank to avoid any chaos or trouble inside the tank. 

  • Slower Shell Growth:

At times tank owners report that the snail’s shells are not growing properly. This problem is either caused if the water temperature inside the tank is too low or the snail is not being fed enough and is therefore starving. 

  • Deteriorated Snail Shell:

Some snail shells develop holes and cracks. Since the shell of the snail is made out of calcium, shell deterioration is a sign that the tank’s water may be too acidic. This can dissolve the calcium of the snail’s shell and cause harm. 

Keep an eye on the tank’s pH level to avoid this issue. Including calcium rich food in the snail’s diet can also be a supplement that might help overcome this problem. 

  • Old Age:

In older snails, shell deterioration is simply caused by their age rather than any fluctuation in the tank’s water condition and parameters. If you have had the snail for quite some time, the shell deterioration may be an indication that the snail has reached its lifespan.

John Kilmerstone

I love keeping pet fish and receive a lot of joy and peace from watching these colorful creatures. Please visit this website and explore the wonderful world of pet fish. Discover how to care for and look after pet fish and amplify your satisfaction.

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