Ultimate Nerite Snails Care Guide: Lifespan, Algae-Eating, Eggs

Nerite snails can be both freshwater or saltwater snails. In this article, we discuss the freshwater aquarium snails. Nerite snails have a reputation for being proficient algae-eating snails while also being peaceful snails that get along with other peaceful tankmates. Here’s everything you need to know about caring for freshwater nerite snails.

Care Level:Easy
Color Form:Varies
Lifespan:1-2 Years
Size:Up to 1 inch
Minimum Tank Size:5 Gallons
Tank Set-Up:Freshwater: Rocks and Driftwood
Compatibility:Peaceful Community
Species Overview

Nerite Snail Images


Nerite Snails have hard coiled shells on top of a muscular body. The body, referred to as the ‘foot’, moves side to side to move the snail forward. They have four tentacles around their face.

Healthy nerite snails grow up to 1 inch in length. And, there are different species with different colors and marks. However, they all share the same shape and structure.

Types Of Nerite Snails

These are the different types of nerite snails:

Zebra Nerite Snail

Zebra Nerite Snail

Zebra nerite snails have stripes on their shells that point toward the center of the coil. These stripes are usually varying shades of black and yellow.

Tiger Nerite Snail

Tiger Nerite Snail

Tiger nerite snails resemble zebra nerites but their shells are more a shade of orange. The markings are mostly jagged compared to a zebra nerite.

Olive Nerite Snail

Olive Nerite Snail

Olive nerite snails are common aquarium pets. They have an olive-colored shell that usually lacks markings or patterns. The coil is usually a black line which is the only distinctive color on their olive shell.

Black Racer Nerite Snail

Black Racer Nerite Snail

Black Racer Nerite Snails‘ shells are a gleaming ebony. The shell has slight grooves that run parallel to the aperture all the way back.

Horned Nerite Snail

Horned Nerite Snails

Horned nerite snails usually have thick black and yellow stripes (they can also be stripeless). They are called horned nerites because along one stripe is a pair of dark “horns”.


Nerite snails are peaceful and timid. They spend most of their time exploring and in search of food. They prefer to stay to themselves and won’t disturb other aquarium pets.

Snails also need sleep. Their sleep happens in 2-3 day cycles rather than a 24-hour cycle. So, you might see your snail motionless for extended periods of time. There’s no need for concern unless something would make you think that the snail is actually dead or sick.


The average size of nerite snails ranges from 1/2 to 1 inch in size. Nerite snails usually grow to 1 inch in size during their lifespan but there are instances where some snails grow to 1 1/2 inches.


The average lifespan of a nerite snail is about one year. With proper water conditions and a healthy diet, a nerite snail can live to 2 years or more.


Nerite snails are always eating as they move. Nerite Snails are one of the best algae eating snails. Their diet can include soft film algae, soft green algae, soft brown algae, and brown diatoms. You will need to supplement their diet with small bits of cucumber, blanched spinach and lettuce.

Tank Mates

Freshwater aquarium fish like:

Other Snails:

Some species of aquarium shrimp:

Avoid Goldfish and cichlids like the Jack Dempsey as these fish can attack or nip at the snail. They can also devour the snail. Other snail eaters like crayfish are also not recommended.

Tank Size

A single nerite snail can inhabit a 5-gallon aquarium. For every 5-gallons of water, you can add another nerite snail. For example, if you have a 10-gallon aquarium, you can add two nerite snails.

Water Parameters

Nerite snails need ideal water parameters to survive. These snails are hardy and easy to care for but they still need optimal water conditions to live. Try to aim for:

  • Aquarium pH: 7.2 – 7.5.
  • Water Temperature: 72 – 78 Degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Hardness: Hard.
  • Lighting: Normal aquarium lighting.

Things To Consider

How To Buy Healthy Nerite Snails

When you buy nerite snails, their shells should be free from cracks and signs of wear and tear. The snail should be active, stick to a hard surface, or moving about the tank. Do not buy nerite snails that are upside down or motionless. If you do buy a snail, make sure that the shell is not empty.

Live Plants

Planted aquariums provide extra food for the nerite snail to eat. Live aquarium plants shed plant matter that the snail may eat. They won’t, however, eat the live plant so slower-growing aquarium plants such as java fern are ok to use.

Reproduction & Nerite Snail Eggs

Nerite snails do reproduce in freshwater aquariums. However, the eggs/baby nerite snails need brackish water for reproduction to be successful. You may see Nerite snail eggs on hard surfaces like decorations, filters, or the heater. The eggs won’t hatch/baby snails won’t survive in freshwater as they need saltwater to grow. All you have to do is scrape the eggs off the surface and remove them from the tank.

Nerite Snail Eggs on Driftwood
Nerite Snail Eggs on Driftwood


Frequently Asked Questions

What are Nerite snails good for?

Nerite snails are popular for their various patterns and colors, as well as their algae-eating benefits. These snails clean algae off of glass, plants, and decorations. They eat hair algae, and they keep your substrate clean and the correct color.

What do you feed a Nerite snail?

Food: Nerite Snails eat phytoplankton, especially algae, Cyanobacteria, Diatoms, Film Algae, and vegetable bits. Supplements: Supplement the food of Nerite Snail with the small bits or the flakes of cucumber, blanched spinach, and lettuce, and courgette.

Do Nerite snails reproduce asexually?

Most snails reproduce asexually, but nerite snails do not. The female produces eggs for the male to fertilize, much like fish. She spreads the eggs throughout the tank. But, nerite snail eggs only develop into larvae if provided brackish water conditions.

How many nerite snails per gallon?

Aim for 1 snail per 5 gallons of water. So, 4 nerite snails for a 20-gallon tank. Be sure not to add too many snails per gallon as there won’t be enough algae for the snails to survive on.

How do you take care of a Nerite snail?

Nerites prefer water pH on the alkaline side around 7.5 and aquarium water on the hard side with a moving current. Nerite Snail care also includes checking for Ammonia spikes and high levels of Nitrate. Care also involves avoiding any sort of exposure to copper and other medications. These things can be fatal to snails.

How do I know if my Nerite snail is eating enough?

If you don’t see any visible algae in your tank, your nerite snails may not be getting enough to eat. Luckily, you can supplement their diet with algae wafers. If you’re only feeding one or two snails, you can separate the wafer into quarters and put a smaller amount in the tank.