If you’re sick of constantly having to clean your fish tank, purchasing an algae eating species might be a good choice for you. These creatures spend most of their time moving around the tank, consuming algae for sustenance as they tidy up the space.
Nerite snails are one of the most popular species for freshwater aquariums. Easy to breed and quick to reproduce, these creatures won’t get in your other fish species’ way, and they are peaceful, low-maintenance creatures.
They’re also easy to care for and inexpensive, usually costing just a few dollars per snail. With just a little bit of experience and practice, you can raise nerite snails in just about any freshwater aquarium.
Nerite Snail Background
Nerite Snail Appearance and Behavior
These unique creatures look just like other snails you may have encountered. They have hard, coiled shells atop muscular bodies or “foots”. The foot of a snail moves side to side, propelling the snail forward as it moves about in your tank. Nerite snails also have sensitive tentacles, which they use to help detect food and obstacles.
There are differences in appearance between varieties of nerite snails, but most have relatively similar shapes and structures. You won’t notice too many pronounced differences between the different types of nerite snails, except in their colors, patterns, and other markings.
Nerite snails are very calm, non-aggressive species. They are not terribly active, but will help keep your tank quite clean as long as it is not overstocked with fish. You should avoid keeping nerite snails in close proximity to fish that re predatory in nature, as they might decide to snack on your snails.
Nerite snails are not themselves predatory, and will not bother your other fish or aquarium inhabitants. Occasionally, these lethargic creatures will tip over. They can usually flip themselves back over, but if they don’t you can always give them a helping hand.
Nerite snails are unique in that you may happen to notice them sleeping. While all creatures need sleep, nerite snails are one-of-a-kind in their sleeping habits. These snails sleep for two to three day cycles rather than the twenty-four hour cycle to which we are accustomed. They will have seven bursts of sleep over a thirteen or fourteen hour window, and then be up and moving around for about thirty hours following that rest period.
Types of Nerite Snails
Within the nerite snail family, there are multiple different species. The zebra nerite snail is one of the most prolific, housing black and yellow stripes that move across their shells. These usually point towards the center of the snails’ coils.
Tiger nerite snails, despite being in possession of stripes like those of the zebra nerite snail, will have coloration that is a vibrant orange. Their stripes are more jagged and harsh than those of the zebra nerite snail.
Olive nerite snails are one of the most common aquarium nerite snail species. These usually do not have patterns, but instead have olive-colored coils with black lines. Horned nerite snails have thick, black and yellow stripes. These stripes are unique and can be differentiated from those of other nerite snails species in that one stripe on each snail will have markings that look like sets of horns.
There are so many different types of nerite snails, and all have unique appearances. They come in colors including, gold, reddish brown, black, dark green, olive, and gray. Some have stripes, while others may have oddly shaped track marks, and still more have no spots, stripes, or markings at all.
Nerite Snail Tank and Water Requirements
In the wild, nerite snails are typically found in coastal habitats. They are native to places like estuaries and mangroves, as well as other waters that have plenty of rocks and surfaces that harbor algae and other growths. In the freshwater realm, nerites nails can be found in smaller populations in places like mountain and forests streams. Although they are more common in brackish environments, nerite snails have been found in all kinds of waters.
f you are able to reproduce these conditions in your own fish tank, your nerite snails will be happy as can be. Hiding spots are essential for nerite snails. You can use live rocks to make these, which allow snails to take advantage of the algae that will no doubt begin to grow on them.
Because nerite snails have such sensitive, delicate tentacles, you need to be careful about the type of substrate you decide to use. A fine-grained substrate is the best option, particularly one that is sandy. This will reduce the likelihood of your snails scratching or injuring themselves. Many aquarium hobbyists use calcium substrate, as this provides the snails with an adequate source of calcium that they need to support their shells.
You can keep the water parameters for both saltwater and freshwater snails. Ideally, there should be as alinity of about 1.020 to 1.028 sg, with temperatures between 72 and 78 degrees Fahrenheit. The ideal pH for nerite snails is between 8.1 and 8.4. If your waters fall slightly outside of these parameters, don’t worry – they will likely adapt just fine as long as conditions are kept relatively stable.
You may want to keep a lid on your tank if you decide to keep nerite snails. These curious creatures like to climb, and they are also very good at it. At night, it is not uncommon for nerites to creep above the surface of the water. This is because, in the wild, nerite snails do not stay submerged in the water at all times. While it’s a good idea to lower your water level by about an inch so that they can escape every now and then, a lid is essential so they don’t leave the aquarium entirely.
Nerite snails, like most aquarium inhabitants, are extremely sensitive to water quality. Make sure the water is free from ammonia and nitrates – nitrates should be less than 20 milligrams per liter. You don’t need to do much to ensure your water parameters are perfect – simply invest in a high-quality filter and heater. You should als conduct regular water changes to make sure everything stays fresh and healthy.
Because nerite snails are relatively small, you can keep them in tanks as small as five gallons. However, if you plan on keeping more than one snail, make sure you compensate with a larger aquarium. If you are raising more snails (or raising a s nail with multiple fish) you might want to invest in a larger aquarium.