Snails may not present a lovely sight for some people owing to their slimy nature. For aquarists however, they are a very important aquarium addition. Nerite snails gobble up algae that thrive in most aquariums. Yet, they do not interfere with other plants in the tank.
Build up of algae is a common phenomenon in most tanks. In case it becomes difficult to handle, having nerite snails in the tank can help terminate the problem. As a result, they are referred to as tank cleaners.
Placing an order for a nerite snail is a bit tricky too. A number of snails belonging in the same species share the name ‘nerite snails’. It is important to know the one to purchase before making an order. Some names to quote when buying are Tiger Nerite, Marble Nerite, Black Racer Nerite, Sun Thorn Nerite, Ruby Nerite and Zebra Nerite. Of course they are all different.
Nerite snails can be kept in both fresh and salt water. When they live in soft water, their shells soften. For a hard shell therefore, ensure they stay in salt or saline water. One fact not to forget is that they can live out of water for prolonged periods too. They may therefore escape from the tank if there is no secure lid over the tank. However, once they are retrieved, they can always be taken back to the tank. Living in and out of water periodically does not affect them.
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Appearance of Nerite Snails
Nerite snails have distinct black and golden yellow stripes across their bodies. These stripes resemble those of the zebra. Some nerite snails spot dark green, dark red and brown shells with black stripes.
In captivity, nerite snails can live between a year and two. In the wild they survive for longer periods. When properly taken care of, they can grow to lengths of about 1 to 1.1inches.
Nerite snails are native to Caribbean Sea and Pacific Ocean. Their most common settlement areas are near tidal waters. So far, they are classified as one of the best tank cleaners. At the moment, they are classified as near threatened.
Since the snails majorly feed on algae, it is not proper to stock many of them in one tank. They literally deplete algae buildup. If too many, they may starve. The following parameters should suffice for healthy nerite snails:
- at least 0.2mg/l of ammonia into the water
- nitrite concentration at 20mg/l
- pH at between 8.1 and 8.4
- temperature range of 72-78 degrees Fahrenheit
In addition to the above parameters, here are some other things you need to take note for your aquarium tank. The size of tank does not matter much as long as it is not overpopulated. For example, a 10 gallon tank should not be overcrowded by more than 3 snails. Ensure there is enough filtration. This is necessary for two reasons. One, it will remove any debris from the aquarium. Two, it will assist in the breakdown of ammonia and nitrate.
The filter should be equipped with filter cartridges. This helps in the formation of bacteria that helps breakdown ammonia and nitrates. Add plenty of rocks as they love to rest under rocks in their natural habitat. Remember, for these snails to be healthy, it is important to mimic their natural environment as much as possible. You should also consider adding driftwood and plants to decorate the aquarium. When arranging them, ensure the rocks give spaces that mimic caves. Snails love quiet and hidden environments. The arrangements should not also hide them from view. Seeing them frequently helps a keeper in monitoring their health.
Before adding the substrate, they ought to be cleaned. Unclean substrate may contaminate a tank. If the substrate is not clean, the water may also appear milky. Cloudy water makes it hard to observe the snail. The substrate should not be more than 2 inches in the tank. You should also add sufficient calcium to the water as this helps their shells to harden.
Nerite snails use natural sunlight in the wild. This can apply in captivity as well. At least 2-3 hours of constant sunlight is enough. However, if the tank cannot be placed where there is sunshine, artificial light can be used. They thrive in moderate lighting conditions.
They are referred to as compulsive eaters. They can feed for several hours non-stop then take a break for a couple of days without food or even movement. Offer them enough food so that they do not suffer any deficiencies. Avoid overfeeding as this may lead to a tummy infection. It may also lead to overproduction of waste, leading to more production of ammonia. This eventually leads to the risk of disease outbreak. Offer little portions of food at a time. Remnants can decompose and contaminate a tank. This means the tank will have to be cleaned regularly and this can be tiresome.
They are herbivores. Their best food is algae. However, they may feed on certain plants, though this happens very rarely. In case algae build-up is depleted, supply them with algae wafers. Vegetables to feed them include spinach, zucchini and blanched lettuce.
Snails are sexual animals that mate. To successfully breed them, a male and female should be placed in the same tank. As they stay together, they will eventually mate. Seeing this is difficult since snails hide most of the time.
After fertilization, the female lays eggs. This is done on plants, under rocks and on the driftwood. The eggs adopt a capsule-like shape. They are white in color. After two to three days, they turn to larvae. Small snails begin to appear after about a week. These can be transferred to another tank for safety.
They easily co-exist with other snails. If they are to be placed into the same tank with certain fish species, these must be peaceful. Avoid putting them in the same tank with large and aggressive fish like the cichlid.
Nerite snails may develop certain health issues if some of their needs are not met. These are:
- Stunted growth of shell takes place if water temperatures are unusually low
- Shell discoloration can be due to overeating
- Shell deterioration can be as a result of low calcium levels in the tank
Nerite snails do not require very special care and can therefore help with aquarium cleaning. They are therefore a lovely addition to a tank.