The Care and Keeping of Nerite Snail Babies

New snail owner? Experienced owner but just found the first snail eggs in your snail aquarium? 

You’re probably wondering what to do with nerite snail babies, and there sure is a lot to learn.

Nerite snail babies need 5 gallons of space per snail as they grow. They feed on dead plant matter, food waste, and algae in the tank. Supplement this with some snail food until the babies are older. Keep the water 72-79° degrees Fahrenheit (22-26° C) and not acidic.

nerite snail babies atf

Nerite Snail Reproduction

It’s nice to have a heads-up before your tank fills up with baby snails.

How Nerites Reproduce

Many aquatic snails reproduce asexually, which is where fish keepers get confused.

Nerite snails produce eggs like some freshwater species of fish do.

It takes both a male and a female snail for babies to appear. The female lays eggs, which are small and white.

These eggs are usually found stuck to aquarium glass, decor, or logs.

The male nerite must fertilize the eggs for larvae to develop.

Unlike breeding fish, it does not take much effort on your part for the snails to reproduce. If tank conditions are good, they don’t need anything else.

Remember, though: Nerite snails do not reproduce in freshwater, only in brackish water or saltwater.

In truth, snails are good at multiplying fast. Too fast sometimes.

No fishkeeper is a fan of algae. But some people still prefer to clean algae than raise algae-eating snails.

Identifying a Pregnant Snail

Nerite snails don’t give birth in the traditional sense. Therefore they don’t get pregnant per se.

There are some signs to look out for when your snail is going to lay eggs, though. 

For one thing, they may store eggs for multiple weeks. They can store sperm from a male for some time.

This means purchasing one female nerite snail could result in some babies. It isn’t a likely or common occurrence, but it sure does happen!

How Many Babies Do Nerites Have At Once?

nerite snail eggs

Every white spot you see in your aquarium holds 25-100 eggs. But very few of these develop into larvae and survive.

Count yourself lucky for this one! Nerite snails lay eggs as often as every other day or every day. If all the eggs were fertilized and developed into larvae…

Well, you would have a bit of a snail problem.

When Is a Nerite Ready to Reproduce?

Nerites are reasonably hardy creatures, but they do not live long. Often snails die within just one or two years.

There is no exact timeline for when they are ready to reproduce. Just look out for eggs in your tank.

Even in a freshwater environment, your nerite female will lay eggs.

But she will need a saltwater environment and a male partner if you want to take a stab at snail breeding.

Population Control

If your nerites are fertile and filling up the tank a little too fast, you need a way to remove some of those eggs.

You have a few different options for controlling the population:

  • Selling and re-homing
  • Moving snails to freshwater
  • Getting loaches
  • Remove unwanted eggs

Selling and Re-homing

Nerite snails are a relatively hardy species and are one of the favored aquarium snails. 

For this reason, you may sell them very quickly if you know the right people.

Talk to your local fish seller, whether this is a breeder or a pet store.

Even if they aren’t willing or able to take the snails off your hands, they will know the other aquarists in your area.

Sometimes selling locally isn’t feasible. In this case, there are ways to sell online.

Safely selling and shipping snails online is considerably more complicated, though!

Always contact fish-savvy people in your area first.

Freshwater Aquarium

nerite snails in freshwater

Because nerite snails do not reproduce in freshwater, putting them in freshwater is an excellent way to control the population.

Nerites are common snails for freshwater aquariums and will be safe in this setting.

If you have a betta fish, goldfish, or guppy, your nerite will make a good tank mate for them.

All the green spot algae in the tank will disappear before you know it!

Just make sure the nerite snail water parameters are being followed in your freshwater fish tank.

Loaches or Shrimp

Whether the problem is nerites or other small types of snails, a predator will happily take care of them.

Most commonly, aquarists get loaches to add to their tank. Consider the clown loach and the yoyo loach as two preferable species.

They clean the snails out thoroughly, so don’t give them access if you want to keep at least one nerite snail safe.

Furthermore, they have no qualms about eating snail larvae. But they will not eat eggs if there are clutches of them in the aquarium.

You have to remove egg clutches by yourself when you want them gone.

Larger shrimp species are also good at preying on all types of nerite snails.

Amano shrimp, for example, are more likely to be aggressive and eat your snails. A cherry shrimp or ghost shrimp probably will not be as eager.

There are other aggressive fish that may attack nerite snails.

But these are the best options if you want to decimate the snail population in your aquarium.

Removing Unwanted Eggs

It will lay eggs even if your nerite cannot fertilize its eggs or reproduce (i.e., if they are in a freshwater tank).

If allowed, the egg clutches build up and stick to many different surfaces in the tank.

In a 10-gallon aquarium or larger, this may not become an issue for a long period.

But when you have a lot of female nerites or a smaller tank, the eggs add up frustratingly fast.

They aren’t difficult to remove. All you need is a thin card or razor blade to scrape the eggs off the side of the tank.

Driftwood or tank decor might house some clutches too. In this case, remove the item from the tank to get the eggs off.

Be sure it is clean before putting it back in the tank.

Baby Nerite Snail Care

nerite snail baby water conditions

 Nerite snails tolerate a wide range of temperatures and salinity levels in their environment.

This is one reason they are such a popular addition to community tanks.

Not only are they efficient algae eaters, but they are not as picky as others about their living conditions.

This being said, they do have a range of optimal conditions. And for baby nerites, these conditions are all the more important.

Tank Set-Up

Here is a list of general requirements for your nerite snail nursery tank:

DODON’T
Use a 5-gallon tankUse a tank above 10-gallons
Keep babies togetherExpose babies to other fish or shrimp
Add plants and decorUse anything with sharp edges
Clean as neededClean weekly or more often
Feed 2-3 times dailyFeed fish flakes or pellets

Cleaning up after baby nerites is tricky because they simply don’t create much of a bio load.

They eat much like their adult counterparts throughout the day but do not consume as much food. Nor do they produce as much waste.

This is why we use small tanks of 3-5 gallons for nerite babies.

Some ask if keeping the babies with their parents is safe. This is okay, but there are some things to keep in mind.

For one thing, the water conditions must be met, which means keeping your adults in saltwater.

Also, adult nerites produce a lot of waste and consume a lot more food.

The tank would need to be 5-10 gallons in size to keep an adult with the larvae.

This brings up another concern with filtration and cleaning. Water changes are rarely necessary for a group of nerite larvae with no tank mates.

However, you must make consistent water changes if you add adult nerites.

While they are suitable tank mates, they require some extra effort.

Water Conditions

For the most part, baby nerites tolerate the same water conditions as adults. However, there are some exceptions.

This type of snail does not belong in freshwater until they start to really mature.

Here is a complete list of aquarium water parameters for these aquatic babies:

Salinity5-10 ppt
pH7.5-8.4
Water Temperature72-79°F (22-26°C)
Ammonia0ppm
Nitrate0ppm
Nitrite0ppm

What to Feed Nerite Snail Babies

Being a tank cleaner is in a nerite snail’s nature. Even as babies, they eat algae and dead plant leaves primarily. 

Because they are not old enough to join your peaceful tank community, you have to take extra care to feed them.

Mealtimes come 2-3 times per day for these aquatic organisms.

There are lots of foods out there for baby snails. Choose something geared toward these excellent algae eaters.

We like these sinking algae discs, because they’re so natural.

Some snail owners say their pets only wanted the outer ring, though. Just be ready to clean up whatever is left.

In moderation, your baby snails can eat blanched vegetables as well.

Remember, they’re tiny! So, don’t feed them too much.

The Filtration Problem

nerite snail baby filter

One common mistake with raising baby snails is equipping the tank with a filter.

We usually recommend always investing in a good filtration system. But with nerite larvae, it is highly dangerous to put a filter in the tank.

Many people lose the babies because the filter sucks them in.

This is another reason to consider moving the adults to a separate tank. Without a filter, waste builds up faster.

Are Your Nerite Snail Babies Healthy?

These peaceful snails grow pretty quickly. But they are not considered mature adults until they reach six months of age.

Once the eggs are fertilized, it takes about 2-3 days for them to develop into larvae.

The larvae become baby snails within another week or two.

After this, they grow steadily until they reach full size, about 1″ inch.

Unhealthy snails stay tiny, don’t develop strong shells, or don’t move from one spot.

Conversely, a happy baby moves slowly around the tank. They eat consistently but have small portions and don’t produce much waste. 

Most importantly, they grow at the appropriate rate and, of course, develop good strong shells.

Even a very healthy nerite will likely only live for a maximum of 2 years. 

Tank Mates

As they grow and develop stronger shells, your nerites can move in with a tank mate.

There are lots of fish and shrimp out there who will eat even adult nerite snails. Choose small or peaceful organisms to keep with your nerites.

Most betta fish leave this popular type of snail alone, as do tetras.

Another viable option is to get some dwarf shrimp species to add to the tank.

They do not get tank mates when they’re very small, especially when they’re still larvae.

Baby snails are vulnerable to not only predators but changes in water quality as well.

Most other organisms would upset the environment too much for a sensitive new snail.

Keeping the tank clean enough with both baby snails and a fish or two is hard. There is no reason to juggle care requirements instead of setting up a small nursery tank.

Male or Female

Male nerite snails have a flap directly above their right eye.

This is the only distinguishing feature, which is nearly impossible to catch.

If you aren’t sure of your snail’s sex and need to know, ask an expert for help!

What to Do with Baby Nerite Snails

Baby nerite snails are sensitive little organisms.

They’re algae eaters when they arrive but may need supplemental food for a while.

They need some time to develop before getting any tank mates. But they mature by six months and can join your community tank then!

If you want to know more about nerite snail care, read our article!

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Written by

Contributing Writer

Jacinta was raised on a dairy farm in Vermont where they worked extensively with cows, chickens, pigs, goats, and other animals. They have a background in writing both creatively and professionally.

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