Nerite snails are small snails that can live in brackish, marine, or fresh water. We also keep them in aquariums because of their ability to clean algae off aquarium plants and surfaces.
If you’re planning to introduce nerite snails, you’re probably wondering how they breed and reproduce and whether or not they’ll overpopulate.
Do nerite snails reproduce asexually?
Nerite snails do not reproduce asexually. Instead, they breed sexually, where the female lays eggs that are fertilized internally by the male nerite. The eggs develop into larvae that cleavage into the embryo stage. The eggs hatch after an incubation period of 20 to 25 days.
Key point: Unlike other snails, nerite snails are not hermaphrodites and require a male and female to reproduce.
To keep and breed nerite snails in your aquarium, you may need to understand their reproductive processes, requirements, and behaviors.
How do nerite snails reproduce?
For nerite snails to breed, you need a male and female snail in the tank. For mating, the male nerite snail goes beside the female (on her right side) and inserts his reproductive organ below her mantle’s edge.
After fertilization, the female lays an egg capsule containing roughly 30-100 eggs. The eggs will hatch into larvae that will develop into baby nerite snails.
It takes 20 to 25 days for the eggs to hatch into baby nerite snails. However, you can increase the tank’s temperature to about 79°F to make the process faster.
Some types of nerite snails, such as the river nerite (Theodoxus fluviatilis), prefer to breed during the warmer months of April and October, producing between 50 and 200 offspring at once and dying afterward. (Source – Abdallah, M. 2015. “Theodoxus fluviatilis” (Online), Animal Diversity Web).
It is quite difficult to breed nerite snails in a home aquarium because of two main problems:
- The first challenge is the difficulty of identifying male and female nerite snails. No clear features distinguish male and female nerite snails, making it difficult to do it at home. To spot the difference, you must have several nerite snails to compare. You may also have to remove them from the tank as the snails burrow and hide most of the time and use a magnifying glass.
- The second problem is that newly hatched nerite snails may not survive in your normal aquarium water. They prefer brackish water, and while the eggs can hatch in freshwater aquariums, their chances of survival are minimal.
For snail breeders, you’ll want to be careful to follow stocking recommendations for nerite snail tanks to avoid overpopulating your aquarium.
On the other hand, if you’re a normal hobbyist adding nerite snails to your freshwater tank, you do not need to worry about overpopulation. These snails will hardly reproduce and overpopulate freshwater aquariums during their lifespan.
How to set up a breeding tank for nerite snails
As I stated, you can get your nerites to lay eggs in a freshwater aquarium, but the hatchlings or larvae will not develop successfully unless you move them into an aquarium with brackish water.
My best advice is to create a breeding tank with brackish water for the snails to breed successfully.
Here are the simplified steps for preparing a breeding tank for your nerite snails:
Prepare brackish tank
- Add a calcium-rich substrate to the bottom of the tank. I prefer and recommend crushed corals. The calcium will go a long way in helping the young snails develop healthy shells.
- Create brackish water by adding small amounts of marine salt to the aquarium. Use a hygrometer to attain a density of 1.005 to 1.010, which is important for the comfort of the snails.
- Maintain a temperature of 79 degrees as it is ideal for the nerites.
- Add at least 5 nerite snails into the tank to increase the chances of having both female and male snails in the tank.
Here’s Arnoldo’s video you can follow along to create brackish water for your nerite snails:
Move the eggs
If the eggs have been laid on driftwood or rocks, you can move the object with the eggs to the brackish water tank. However, if they have been laid on plants, you can scrape the eggs carefully with a razor blade and collect them with a stainless steel spoon. Make sure the razor and spoon have been sterilized.
Always use a breeding tank
The most successful method to have the eggs hatch is putting the nerite snails in the breeding tank and allowing them to lay the eggs there. That way, you will avoid the headache of transferring the eggs and increase their chances of hatching.
Care for the eggs
Unlike other snails like mystery snails which will lay their eggs in one place, the nerite snail will lay her eggs everywhere in the tank. The eggs are sticky and do not need any special care besides being in brackish water.
The eggs open and release snail larvae 24-48 hours after being laid. This period, however, can be affected by the salinity of the water.
The larvae will take 20 – 25 days to turn into baby nerite snails.
So, how do you care for the larvae?
Feed the snail larvae and keep the tank’s light on for 24 hours. You can also increase the temperature to 80-85°F to speed up the larvae’s metabolism and growth.
Do not use mechanical filtration in the breeding tank because it will suck up the larvae.
Nerite snails can live and lay eggs in freshwater, but the eggs will only hatch successfully in brackish water. I advise beginner snail breeders to have a separate tank with brackish water to breed the snails.