Nerite snails are part of the Neritidae family that comprises over 200 snail species. While most of the species inhabit seashore brackish waters, some of them live in streams and rivers.
This means that nerite snails can be added to both salt and freshwater aquariums. Those included in freshwater aquariums come from the brackish Eastern Africa waters where they thrive in a mix of fresh river waters and salty seas. The ones that live in fish tanks with salty water are often from the Caribbean or Pacific coast.
The primary reason why most aquarists keep nerite snails is that they are algae eaters. They will thus keep your tank clean provided you do not overstock them.
Being among the popular snail species, nerite snails are fortunately easy to find in pet stores. They are also quite affordable.
As one of the occupants of your aquarium, here are tidbits on the care of nerite snails.
Nerite Snail Appearance
Nerite snails, if healthy, will grow to lengths of one inch. Though different types of these snails will have varying markings and colors, they all share the same basic structure and shape.
The following are tidbits on the nerite snail types for aquariums:
- Zebra nerite snails; these have stripes that run across their shells and point towards their coils’ centers. These stripes are primarily yellow and black though their shades vary.
- Olive nerite snails; these are the common ones in aquariums. They have olive-colored shells often with no patterns. They, however, have a black line on their coil that forms a perfect contrast with their shell’s olive color for a simple yet attractive look.
- Tiger nerite snails; these resemble zebra nerite snails. They nonetheless are larger than the latter and have an intense orange. The stripes of tiger nerite snails are also more jagged compared to those of the zebra nerite snails giving each snail a somewhat distinct look.
Nerite Snail Tank Requirements
Saltwater nerite snails inhabit estuaries and mangroves that have lots of rocks and surfaces on which algae grow.
You thus should include rocks in an aquarium for these snails to mimic their natural habitat. A sandy substrate is the ideal one for your tank’s bottom as it reduces the risk of scratching the snails’ sensitive tentacles.
Most freshwater nerite snails live in mountain and forest streams. Include driftwood and rocks in their tanks for their hiding spots to make them feel comfortable.
You should also include a fine-grained substrate in the fresh water tank so that it does not harm the snails’ tentacles.
A 10-gallon tank will be enough for two snails. An additional snail will need five extra gallons for your tank so that there is enough algae.
When keeping nerite snails, ensure your aquarium includes a lid because these pets are very good at climbing.
Nerite Snail Water Conditions
The water conditions in which your nerite snail will thrive depend on the type of snail you choose. For saltwater nerite snails, here are the water parameters you should aim for in your tank:
- Temperature: 72-78 degrees Fahrenheit or 22-26 degrees Celsius
- Nitrite and ammonia: 0 ppm
- Magnesium: 1250-1350 ppm
- Water hardness: 8-12 dKH
- Nitrate: below 20 ppm
- Calcium: 350-450 ppm
- PH: 8.1-8.4
With freshwater nerite snails, on the other hand, the following are the ideal parameters for your aquarium’s water:
- Water hardness: 5-15 dKH
- Temperature 72-28 degrees Fahrenheit
- Nitrate: below 30 ppm
- PH: 7.0-8.2
- Nitrites and ammonia: 0 ppm
The water hardness rating is very important for a snail’s shell since the animal will draw in calcium from water for its growth. Water that is too acidic will also disintegrate a snail’s shell so you should pay attention to the PH.
Keeping up with the water changes in your tank will go a long way in keeping nerites healthy and happy since they are quite sensitive to water fluctuations.
Nerite Snail Diet and Feeding
Nerite snails are slow food scavengers but have radula and tentacles that they use to scrape food. They will primarily feed on algae and can live off it in well-stocked aquariums.
If the algae in your tank does not grow fast enough or is inadequate, you can substitute it with algae wafers and blanched kitchen vegetables.
Be careful with how much food you will give your nerites. Over-eating can cause the discoloration of their shells since the extra food will cause rapid growth.
If there is visible algae in your tank, you need not provide any extra food.
Nerite Snail Tank Mates
The ideal tankmates for nerite snails are the small and peaceful ones. As such, most fish will do for your aquarium. This does not however mean that you should exclusively keep the snail with fish.
You can also opt for other snail species as your nerite snails’ tank mates. The popular options, in this case, are trumpet, ivory, gold Inca, and mystery snails. Avoid goldfish, crayfish, and cichlids since these can eat your snails.
Nerite Snail Breeding
Though nerite snails can breed and lay eggs in freshwater aquariums, their larvae will not survive in them.
You can thus move the eggs for hatching in saltwater or conduct the entire breeding process in saltwater aquariums. Although most snails have an asexual reproduction, the nerite snail does not.
A female nerite snail produces eggs that will be fertilized by the male. When hatched, the young ones are so tiny that they can be sucked in by aquarium filter inlets.
A sponge filter is the only safe one for aquariums hosting the larvae. These larvae develop shells as they mature.
With the information above you now appreciate that caring for nerite snails is easy and something that you should try.
You however will have the best experience with the snails if only you pick the right ones during your purchase. Settle for those that are freely roaming around the store’s aquarium and feeding. These are often healthy ones.
You should also consider the shells of the nerite snails on display. Holes in the shell often indicate that the snail has low calcium levels. They can also indicate old age.