How Many Nerite Snails Per Gallon? (Ideal Tank Requirements)

Nerite snails are tiny and will grow to a 0.5 – 1 inch length. They are kept for their beautiful colors and their ability to clean the tank by feeding on algae. They are hardy and easy to keep.  All they need are ideal tank conditions and food. But how many of them do you keep per gallon?

Nerite snails are small but hardy and can survive in a range of tank conditions. They originate from East Africa, where they live in a mix of saltwater in the sea and freshwater in rivers. There are also other varieties that originate from the Pacific and Caribbean coasts. 

Nerite snails have huge appetites and love feeding on algae. If you keep several snails in a small tank, they will eat all the algae and starve. They don’t like overcrowded tanks because they will get stressed and die in the long run. Therefore as a thumb rule, you should keep one nerite snail in a 5-gallon tank. 

Ideal Tank Requirements for Nerite Snails

The lifespan of a nerite snail typically depends on prevailing conditions in the tank. In the wild they can live up to three years. With proper tank conditions, they can live much longer. However, some breeds of nerite snails are said to live for less than two years. 

Nerite snails have over 200 breeds, and only a handful of research has been done on most of them. Much available information is on the breeds that are available in the aquarium trade. Some experienced aquarists claim to have nerite snails that have lived for more than five years, yet some claim they can only live for one year.

The fact remains that the length of a nerite snail’s life will depend on its breed and the tank conditions it has been exposed to.

Nerite snails are found along the coastline of the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. They will migrate to salt, brackish, and freshwater as they feed, grow and reproduce. It is therefore vital to mimic their natural habitat as much as possible.

Below are the ideal conditions for nerite snails.

1. Temperature 

Nerite snails love to live in a tropical tank environment, but they can also live in a cold water tank as long as the temperature does not fall below 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Therefore you will need a heater for your tank for them to live a long, happy life. Ensure it does not get hot by checking with a thermometer. A temperature of between 72 – 78 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal. 

2. Water hardness

All snails prefer hard water for the proper growth of their shell. Hard water contains minerals like calcium and magnesium that are essential for snails. Keeping a nerite snail in soft water will cause its shell to erode and its general health to deteriorate. 

The appropriate water hardness for nerite is 7 – 8.5. If you keep the snail in a community tank with soft water, you can add limestone, crushed coral, or marble chips to increase water hardness. 

3. Water type

Nerite snails can live in fresh and saltwater but need brackish water to breed successfully. They can lay eggs in freshwater, but the larvae will succumb as soon as it is hatched. So if you intend to breed your nerite snails, you must have a brackish water tank where you move them to breed. However, if you do not need them to breed, keeping nerite snails in freshwater will prevent reproduction.

4. Diet requirements

Nerite snails are herbivorous and majorly feed on algae. Keeping them in a small tank with little algae or other algae-eating invertebrates or fish will result in them starving. If the algae is insufficient, you can feed them alternative food such as algae wafer.

5. Light requirements

Nerite snails like light but are sensitive to very bright light. When exposed to direct sunlight for a more extended period, the snail will dry out, so you should use moderate lighting. Some aquarists prefer to keep the tank in direct sunlight to encourage algae bloom, but instead, you can add rocks to encourage algae growth.

6. Chemical presence

Nerite snails are susceptible to chemicals such as copper. Copper is very toxic to invertebrates. Although they might not die immediately, consistent exposure to copper will cause their health to deteriorate. They will become inactive and die shortly after. 

Copper can be introduced into the tank by tap water, plant fertilizer, decorations, stones, and bacteria treatment. You can use a cuprisorb or a poly filter to remove copper from the water.

Ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate are also harmful to nerite snails. They are produced by decaying plant matter, fish waste, and leftover food. You must have a test kit to check them. Ammonia and nitrite level should be zero, while nitrate should be below 20 ppm.

Favorite Nerite Snails Tank Mates

Adding nerite snails to a community tank will make it even more appealing. They have very beautiful colors and patterns. They are also very docile and will coexist peacefully with most aquarium pets. 

Unfortunately, their docile nature and small size make them vulnerable to aggressive tank mates and predators.

Keeping them with many algae eaters will create competition for food, and they might not get enough, especially if the tank is small or has little algae. If you must keep them with other algae-eating fish and snails, you can provide them with alternative food.

Nerite snails should not be kept in a community tank with predator fish or snails. Their small size and lack of defense strategy make them an easy target. Assassin snails, goldfish, and cichlid are not ideal for a tank with nerite snails. If you must keep them, have a big tank with plenty of hiding places. 

Instead, you can keep friendly and peaceful tank mates such as guppies, barbs, neon tetras, gouramis, bettas, cory catfish, otocinclus, and kuhli loaches. 


Nerite snails are small but should not be kept in an overcrowded tank. One snail should be kept in a 5-gallon tank to get sufficient food. They also require a temperature of 72 – 78 degrees Fahrenheit and a pH of 7 – 8.5. Do not keep nerite snails with aggressive tank mates or predators. Clean the tank regularly and perform a regular water change to remove any toxic chemicals.


  1. Aquadiction: Zebra Nerite Snail (Neritina natalensis)
  2. Wikihow: How to Take Care of an Aquatic Snail


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