How Long Do Nerite Snails Live? Size + Lifespan

Nerite snails can live for up to 5 years in their natural habitat and 1 to 3 years in captivity. 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 this. 

Nerite snails live for 1 to 5 years. They live for a year to 3 in the wild and a year to 5 in captivity. This depends on their breed, diet, water parameters, tank mates, population, and habitat. When properly taken care of, they can live longer than 5 years.

Zebra nerite snails

How long do nerite snails live?

On average, nerite snails will live for about 3 years. With proper care, they can live for longer. However, if you do not care for them, they can die before their first birthday.

Here are some factors that determine how long they live:

1. Diet

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

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

Calcium is an essential part of the snail diet. The snail shell is made of 95% calcium carbonate and they rely 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, kale, broccoli, and carrots are rich in calcium. You can also do water mineralization by adding chicken eggshell powder, cuttlefish bone, crushed coral, or wonder shells 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 mimicking the same in the aquarium is important. 

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. They prefer hard water, and the shells will start to erode when the pH drops below 6.5.

Nerite snails should not be kept in water with ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, or copper. These chemicals will deteriorate their health and eventually kill them. Nitrate should be maintained at < 20 ppm. 

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 traits 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.

Stress makes their weak immune systems weak and they’ll thus 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?

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. The size of nerite snails will be determined by their breed, health, diet, and habitat suitability. A healthy snail fed sufficiently will grow to the maximum size its breed can grow.

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

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. 

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 or feeding your snail insufficient food will lower its immune system and eventually kill it.

2. Copper poisoning 

Copper is 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.

Clean the tank and change the water regularly. You should also equip the tank with a filter. A small tank is more likely to have ammonia poisoning than a bigger one.

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. They require a 72 – 78°F temperature and a pH of 7 – 8.5.

The snails will not survive in very cold water or very warm water. Also, a pH below 6.5 will cause their shells to erode and suppress their general health. Eventually, they will die. 

5. Disease/Injury

Nerite snails are hardy but can sometimes be affected by diseases. They can also sustain injuries from attacks 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 don’t live that long. 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 going.


Nerite snails live for about 3 and 5 years, and will grow to a size of 0.5 – 1 inch. The nerite snail breed, diet, and environment will determine the length of its 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.

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