How long do Nerite Snails Live? Size + Lifespan

Nerite snails can live for up to 5 years in their natural habitat. However, in captivity, they tend to live a concise life (1 to 3 years). In my research, I came across an experienced nerite snail breeder who claims that his red racer nerite snail had lived for 11 years. I cannot confirm or refute. 

Most nerite snail breeders and the documented reports on nerite snails say they can live on average for three years. The length of their life will be determined by their breed, diet, water parameters, and the habitat they live in. 

How Long Do Nerite Snails Live?

On average, nerite snails will live for about three years. However, with proper care, they can live for longer. However, if you do not take care of them, they can die even before their first birthday. Here are some factors that determine how long they live.

1. Diet

Nerite snails are herbivorous, and they are mostly kept to clean algae in the tank but do not eat aquarium plants. If you keep them in a tank with little algae and expect them to feed on it only, they will starve.

It is essential to feed them sufficiently, although it might be challenging to know if you are feeding them enough. Like mystery snails, nerite snails loves eating algae. If they have eaten all the algae in the tank, you should feed them with alternative food.

Calcium is an essential part of the snail diet. The snail shell is made of 95% calcium carbonate and relies on calcium for shell growth and strength. Without calcium, the snail’s shell will start to erode, its health will deteriorate, and it will eventually die.

To help the nerite snails live longer, you should give them a calcium-rich diet. Vegetables such as zucchini, lettuce, cucumber, spinach, kales, broccoli, and carrots are rich in calcium. Also, you can do water mineralization by adding chicken eggshell powder, cuttlefish bone, crushed coral, or wonder shell to the tank.

2. Water Parameters

Snails are very sensitive to changes in water parameters, and every species has its preferred range of water parameters. Nerite snails like to live in warm water, but it is very hardy and will still survive in a range of temperatures. The snails are natives of coastal temperatures, so it is important to mimic the same in the aquarium. 

Nerite snails prefer a temperature range of between 72 and 78 degrees Fahrenheit and will greatly suffer when the temperature drops below 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Also, ensure the pH of  7 – 8.5. Nerite snails prefer hard water, and when the pH drops below 6.5, the shells will start to erode.

Nerite snails should not be kept in water with ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, or copper. These chemicals will deteriorate their health and eventually kill them. To keep the snails happy and help them live longer, ensure there is no ammonia, nitrite, and copper in the tank. Nitrate should be maintained at <20ppm. 

3. Tank Mates

Nerite snail tank mates will also determine how long they live. Nerite snails are small peaceful creatures that mostly stay by themselves. Unfortunately, these characters make them vulnerable to attacks by aggressive fish and snails. 

Keeping the snails in a tank with aggressive tank mates will cause them stress because they will spend most of their life hiding away from predators. They will not have enough time to eat or rest. The stress will cause them to have a weak immune system, and they will be vulnerable to diseases.

4. Breed 

Nerite snails have over 200 breeds each unique in color, pattern, and size. Some breeds are very common, while others are rare. Experts believe that the biggest species tend to live longer. For example, the horned nerite snail can live for almost two years, while the gold racer can live for four years or more.

5. Population

Too many nerite snails in a small tank will grow unhealthy and stressed as they will be competing for the limited algae, space and food in the tank. 5 is the recommended number of nerite snails per gallon.

How Big Do Nerite Snails Get?

Nerite snails are beautiful but do not get very big compared to other snail breeds such as apple snails. There are many breeds of nerite snails, and making an assumption based on one or two species is misleading. Nerite snails can live for 3 to 5 years but will achieve maturity by six months. 

The size of nerite snails will be determined by their breed, health, diet, and habitat suitability. A healthy snail that is fed sufficiently will grow to the maximum size its breed can grow. On average, nerite snails will grow to a size of 0.5- 1 inch (1.5 – 2.5 cm). The female will be a little bigger than the male of the same breed.

Some breeds are also known to grow bigger than others. The zebra nerite snail and tiger nerite snail are the largest, while the horned nerite snail is the smallest.

Why are My Nerite Snails Dying?

There are many reasons why nerite snails will die. Most of these reasons are external and can be remedied. Nerite snails are hardy, but the following will cause their untimely death.

1. Hunger

Some aquarists will leave their pets for weeks without food or supervision to go on holiday claiming snails can go for weeks without feeding. Humans, too, can survive for some time without food, but do you starve yourself to prove the point?

Failing to feed your snail is not only inappropriate but inhumane. Starving your snail or feeding them insufficient food will lower their immune system and eventually kill them.

2. Copper poisoning 

Copper is very toxic to invertebrates, yet it sometimes finds its way into the aquarium. You can introduce copper to the tank through tap water, plant fertilizer, or fish medication. You should have a test kit to check for copper regularly.

3. Poor water quality 

Keeping nerite snails in a tank with bad water quality is disastrous. The snails eat a lot and release a lot of bioloads. When the bioload plus the food leftovers decay, they will cause an ammonia spike. Ammonia, nitrate, and nitrite will suppress the snails’ immunity and kill them in the long run.

Ensure to clean the tank regularly and perform regular water changes. You should also equip the tank with a filter. A small tank is more likely to have ammonia poisoning than a bigger tank.

4. Poor water parameters

Nerite snails are used to certain water conditions in the wild. A change in those ideal conditions will cause them stress and death. Nerite snails require a temperature of 72 – 78 degrees Fahrenheit and a pH of 7 – 8.5. The snail will not survive in very cold water or very warm water. Also, a pH below 6.5 will cause its shell to erode and suppress its general health. Eventually, the snail will die. 

5. Disease/ Injury

Nerite snails are hardy but can sometimes be affected by diseases. The snail can also sustain an injury from an attack by aggressive tank mates. If the illness or injury is severe, the snail can die. 

It is vital to observe the snails’ behavior regularly so that you can identify when there is a problem, such as a disease, and intervene.

6. Age

Nerite snails will live between 3 and 5 years, but some breeds can live even a shorter life. If you have kept the snails for long and they start to die yet you do not find any other reason for their death, it could be they have exhausted their time. You should breed your nerite snails to keep their generation on.

Conclusion 

Nerite snails live for about 3 and 5 years, and they will grow to a size of between 0.5 – 1 inch. The nerite snail breed, diet, and environment will determine the length of their life and the size they attain. To help your nerite snails live longer and get to their maximum size, give them healthy and sufficient food, clean their tank regularly and ensure the water parameters are ideal.

References:

  1. Aquadiction: Zebra Nerite Snail (Neritina natalensis)
  2. Aquatic community: Nerite snails

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