Nerite Snails or Nerita is a genus of snails known for their beautiful appearance. Some of these snails are loved by the fish keepers from around the world who use them as natural tank cleaners. Nerite Snails belong to the Neritidae family and the members of this family are capable of living in both marine, and freshwater habitats. These snails are known for being good tank cleaners, as they eat algae. Nerite Snails are slow-moving creatures. They are peaceful and colorful, you would love to have them in your tank.

Evan Baldonado, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Nerite Snail is not a single species of snail, as mentioned above, it is an entire genus or group of snails. These snails come in different sizes, colors, shapes, and have different habits. There are a large number of Nerite Snail species that you can choose from for your aquarium. Basic care guidelines for all of these snails are similar. You can add them to any peaceful fish community tank. Nerite Snails do not require extreme care or help during breeding. They are capable of self-replicating or breeding by themselves without outside input. These are a few features that make the Nerite Snails a popular choice for aquarium owners. Below is a complete guide about taking care of the Nerite Snails in your tank.

Basic Facts Table

LifespanUp to 2 years with excellent care.
SizeUp to 1 inch.
ColorsMultiple colors, depending on the species.
DietHerbivore, mainly Algae.
Freshwater or SaltwaterBoth
Care LevelMinimum.
CompatibilityPeaceful Community Tanks.

Tank Companions

Here is a list of the possible tank mates or tank companions of the Nerite Snail.

How To Select Tank Companions?

The Nerite Snails are small, peaceful, and slow-moving creatures. They are also defenseless against large fish species. So, when you are putting them in a tank, make sure that you pair them with fish species that are peaceful, and that do not attack the smaller members of the tank. When it comes to selecting a possible tank mate or tank companion for the Nerite Snails, there are a few things that you should keep in mind. First, make sure that your potential tank mate is peaceful and does not attack the smaller members of the tank. This is very important to ensure the safety of your snails in the tank.

There are a lot of peaceful fish species that you can pair with the Nerite Snails. Apart from the peaceful nature, you should also look for the smaller fish species. Smaller fish species cannot eat the Nerite Snails. You can also add them in the tank of fish with a large size but you will have to make sure that your fish are peaceful, and they will not attack the population of snails in your tank. Third, you will have to make sure that the tank environment is suitable for the Nerite Snails. You cannot add them in a hostile environment because it would impact their health and your snails would die quickly.

Species Overview

James St. John, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Nerite Snails belong to a group of snails known as nerita, which is a member of the snail family known as the Neritidae. This genus contains a large group of species of snails. Each snail has a different color, size, body shape, appearance, and patterns. All of these live in similar conditions. The Nerite Snails are unique because they are capable of living in more than one type of water. For example, they can live in freshwater habitats, and also in saltwater or marine habitats.

This group has more than 200 species of snails, and each one of them is unique. Not all of these species are used for aquariums. There are only five to ten most popular Nerite Snail species that are commonly used in aquariums and fish tanks. Some species of this group can live in freshwater, meanwhile, most live in salty, brackish water or marine habitat. Below is a list of the top 5 most popular species of Nerite Snails that are used in different aquariums.

Types Of Nerite Snails:

Here is a list of the top 5 types or species of Nerite Snails that are popular in aquariums.

  1. Olive Nerite Snails:

Olive Nerite Snail – scientifically known as the Vitta usnea – is one of the most popular Nerite Snail species that are loved by aquarium owners. It can live in saltwater, or brackish and freshwater aquariums and fish habitats. It is known as the Olive Nerite Snail because it has an olive-colored shell. This species of snails is an excellent aquarium cleaner, as they eat algae and naturally clean your tank.

  1. Zebra Nerite Snails:

Zebra Nerite Snail – scientifically known as the Neritina natalensis – is a beautiful freshwater aquarium species of snails. They are called Zebra Nerite Snails because their shell contains zebra-like stripes. These make them look beautiful and interesting. Adding Zebra Nerite Snails in your aquarium can help you reduce the algae pollution from your tanks.

  1. Black Racer Nerite Snails:

Black Racer Nerite Snail – scientifically known as the Neritina pulligera – is also a popular aquatic snail species that is loved by fish keepers from around the world. It is known for its black-colored shell. This is one of the largest individual species of this group as it can reach up to 1 inch in size. It has a beautiful shell that encases the body of the snail.

  1. Horned Nerite Snails:

Horned Nerite Snail – scientifically known as the Clithon corona/diadema – is also one of the very famous aquatic snail species that you can buy for your tanks. It is not just known for its multi-colored shell, but also for horns that appear over the shell of this snail. This is one of the most beautiful snail species that can live in both brackish, and freshwater aquariums.

  1. Tiger Nerite Snails:

Tiger Nerite Snail – scientifically known as the Vittina natalensis – is a species of snail that has a beautiful appearance. They have a hard shell that is covered with beautiful patterns. It has a dark amber-colored body. That is covered by black markings. These markings come in different types. For example, in some tiger snails, these markings are in lines, while in others these markings are irregular.


Most of these snails are native to two different parts of the world, one is Eastern Africa, and the other is the Pacific Ocean. They live in seawater, but some species are also native to the river basins and deltas of rivers in these areas. According to scientific research, these snails are originally native to the brackish, saltwater habitat. But they evolved and adapted to freshwater habitats.

Natural Habitat

As mentioned above, these snails are hardy, meaning that they can live in different natural habitats and conditions. Some of them have even adapted to live in different types of water. For example, some species of saltwater Nerite Snails can live in freshwater aquariums. The Nerite Snails are small invertebrates that live in the bottom layer of rivers, lakes, ponds, and water bodies.

Nerite Snails live in those places where the flow of water is slow. Nerite Snails are small species of snails, they cannot live in the fast-moving waters. They can stick to the stones in the bottom layer of the natural habitats. Nerite Snails stay in one place and filter the algae from the water. Nerite Snails are herbivores meaning that the algae and plants are their main and only source of food.

Nerite Snail Lifespan

As you know, it is not a single species of snail, but a group of snails. Each member of this group has a different life span. The lifespan of Nerite Snails in your tanks depends on the type of care that you are providing them. For example, if you are providing them excellent care, your Nerite Snails will live for more than a year. But with minimal care, your Nerite Snails would die within a few months. In their natural habitats, these snails are seasonal, meaning that they die within a year. But they produce a large number of offspring that replenish their population.

Habitat and Tank Conditions

Nerite Snail’s habitat and tank conditions depend on the species that you are selecting. Some Nerite Snails like to live in the brackish waters, and some live in freshwater aquariums. You should know about the species that you are selecting and learn about the specific habitat and tank conditions that it needs. The habitat and tank conditions that are given below are for general purpose Nerite Snail care.

Tank Size

Nerite Snails are known for rapidly breeding and producing multiple offspring. So, when you are selecting a tank, you will have to keep the population of snails in mind. You will need to make sure that you select a large tank that can accommodate the growing population of snails and fish. There are a lot of sizes available that you can use. The smallest tank size that you can use is 5 to 10 gallons. But it is not a recommended size, you should always select a tank that can accommodate further expansion.

Tank Setup

Tank setup for Nerite Snails is simple, it depends on the species that you are selecting. For example, if you have selected a marine or saltwater Nerite Snail, you will have to create a marine/saltwater or brackish tank setup. The major difference here will be the chemistry of water. You can use a similar layout for both of these types of Nerite Snails. When creating a tank setup for the Nerite Snails, you should use soft, sandy, and fine-grained substrate. Avoid using gravel as it has edges that can harm the Nerite Snails.

Apart from that, add some stones, and round pebbles inside the tank. You should also add driftwood, large limestones, and any other type of decorations that you want to put in your tank setup. You will also have to add some aquatic plants to your aquarium. It is important to select the appropriate type of plants based on the habitat type. A strong filtration system is also a must for the tank of Nerite Snails, it provides oxygen, and flow inside the tank and also cleans the tank.

You may also have to use some devices such as a temperature monitor to monitor the temperature of the water inside the tank. If you live in a cold region, you may also have to add a water heater to your tank. For those who live in hot regions, you will have to control the temperature of your aquarium using ice cubes on hot summer days. Additional accessories such as a lid to cover the tank, and aquarium lights to keep the environment inside the tank lit should also be used appropriately.

Water Conditions/Parameters

Water parameters or conditions are also dependent on the species of Nerite Snails that you choose. Below are details about both saltwater species and freshwater species. You should maintain these parameters inside your tank so that your Nerite Snails can be healthier and live longer. You should check these parameters before introducing your snails in the tank, and make sure that these parameters are maintained throughout the lifecycle of Nerite Snails.

Here are the marine habitat parameters of Nerite Snails.

  • Temperature between  70 to 80°F.
  • pH level from 8 to 8.5.
  • Salinity between 5 to 8 dGH.

Water Source

For the tank of Nerite Snails, you can use water from multiple sources. But before adding the water into the aquarium or tank, you will have to make sure that it is safe, and its chemistry is according to the required parameters. For a tank of freshwater snails, you can use water from the tap, local lake, pond, and rivers, but for the tank of saltwater snails, you will have to get water from a saltwater or marine source. Make sure that you test the water before adding it to the tank. Using clean and filtered water helps you prevent the spread of diseases in your tank and allows you to extend the lifespan of your snails.

Behavior and Temperament

Nerite Snails are known for being slow, peaceful, and playful creatures. They just need someplace to stick and filter water. You would notice that your Nerite Snail has been sitting on the same spot for a very long time. They do this to maximize the capture of algae from the water. Your Nerite Snails would not bother any other member of your tank. They get along very well with most of the peaceful fish species. You may have to protect them from large fish species that are aggressive and that can attack your Nerite Snail population.

Also, you might notice that your Nerite Snail is not moving. This is because they tend to take long naps. Sometimes, Nerite Snails can sleep for more than three days. Nerite Snails do this to preserve the nutrients in their bodies to build their shell. You should know that they do not attack any small species of invertebrates such as shrimps. That is why they make a great tank mate for most of the shrimp species. If you want to add fun to your tank, you should pair them with smaller shrimp species.

Breeding Nerite Snail

Nerite Snails can breed by themselves, without outside intervention. But most of the time, this breeding is not as successful as it should be. To increase the breeding success rate, you can use a few breeding strategies that are used by expert breeders.

  • Always use a separate tank for breeding your snails. You can breed them in the same tank, but the chances of newborns being eaten alive will be higher in that case. So, it is always better to breed them in a separate tank.
  • Larvae of most Nerite Snails need brackish water. So, make sure that your breeding tank contains a brackish environment and not just the freshwater environment. Nerite Snails would lay eggs and these eggs will only hatch if the conditions are brackish.
  • Nerite Snails are similar to many other snail species when it comes to breeding habits. They are known for being asexual, meaning that they do not need males and females to breed.
  • Newborn Nerite Snails need brackish water in the early days, but after a few weeks, you should start to acclimate them for freshwater habitats. You do not need to feed the Nerite Snails anything special during the breeding session. They only need vegetation, and algae as a diet.

Diet of Nerite Snail

It is a group of herbivore snails, they only eat plants, and algae inside the water. They also eat phytoplankton in their natural habitat. You should feed them algae flakes, and crushed vegetables. There are special snail foods that are available in the market, you can select those to feed your Nerite Snail population. Mostly, you won’t even have to feed them as they can live on the algae that are available to them inside the aquariums. Providing them with additional food can help you keep them healthy.

Diseases of Nerite Snail

There are a few diseases that attack the Nerite Snail population. Here are the details about these diseases and how to treat them.

  • Oedema Disease: It is one of the most common Nerite Snail diseases. This disease usually attacks the older members of the population and can be lethal. The main reason behind this disease is pollution in the water. You can prevent this from spreading by keeping the tank clean. There are no treatments available for this disease.
  • White Spots Disease: White spots on the shells of your Nerite Snails can be a sign of white spots disease. It is a common aquarium fish and snail disease that can be lethal. It can attack the entire snail population and can also spread to fish populations. You can prevent this from happening by keeping your tank clean.
  • Parasitic Diseases: Some parasitic diseases can attack the population of your Nerite Snails in aquariums. The main cause behind these parasitic diseases is hygiene. So, if you keep your tanks clean, you can prevent these diseases.

What is the Ideal Size For The Tank?

The smallest tank for Nerite Snails that you can use is a 5 gallons capacity tank. But it will be too small if you are planning on adding more fish to your tank. According to experts, you should select a tank with 10 gallons or more capacity to support a healthy population of Nerite Snails.

Is Nerite Snail Saltwater or Freshwater Species?

Nerite Snails can live in both freshwater and saltwater habitats. Nerite Snail is not a single species, but a group of species of snails that live in all sorts of water conditions.

Conclusion – Is Nerite Snail Suitable For Your Aquarium?

Nerite Snails are known for being beautiful, and useful as they are natural cleaners of aquariums and tanks. They can be a suitable choice for anyone’s aquarium as these snails are easy to care for. They do not require much effort when it comes to taking care of them, breeding them, or feeding them. Also, Nerite Snails are peaceful and can get along with a large number of fish. They can add interest and beauty to your tanks. Also, if you are a new fish keeper, you can learn about snail care by adding Nerite Snails to your fish tanks. Based on these arguments, we can say that the Nerite Snails are suitable for your aquarium.


Question: What is the average lifespan of Nerite Snails?

Answer: The actual lifespan of Nerite Snails depends on the species of Nerite Snails that you are planning on keeping in your tank. The average lifespan, however, ranges from 9 months to 14 months for most of the Nerite Snail species.

Question: Can Nerite Snails live in saltwater aquariums?

Answer: Yes, Nerite Snails are capable of living in both, freshwater and saltwater habitats. Most species of Nerite Snails are native to saltwater and brackish habitats. But they have adapted themselves to live in freshwater habitats.

Question: Can you keep Nerite Snails alone?

Answer: No, keeping the Nerite Snails alone is a bad idea. A single Nerite Snail would not last long inside the captivity as stress would kill it. According to expert fish keepers, you should introduce a complete group of snails in your tanks.

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