What To Do With Baby Nerite Snails?

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Many fishkeepers often find tiny snails in their tank and assume they have baby nerite snails.

However, if you’re running a freshwater tank with Nerite snails, I have bad news for you.

Nerites can live in freshwater just fine and they’ll even lay eggs, but those eggs will only hatch into baby Nerites in brackish water.

If you see baby snails sliding around your freshwater tank, chances are you’ve brought home a hitch-hiker on some plants or tank decorations. This could be a bladder snail, ramshorn, or another type of snail.

A hitch-hiking bladder snail courtesy of R_SimoniR0902 on Reddit

However, if your tank does have brackish water conditions, there’s every chance you’re the proud owner of baby nerite snails!

Baby Nerite snails – good or bad?

Baby Nerite snails are fantastic pets. They’re amazing cleaners who will strip your tank of any algae growth, and eat any waste that’s lying around the tank. This includes uneaten food and decaying plant matter that can pollute the water with ammonia.

Your Nerites won’t eat healthy plants, only those that are already decomposing. This is really helpful for your tank’s water quality, as dead plants release ammonia.

A Nerite snail at work in my Betta tank

All responsible aquarium keepers know that ammonia is toxic to fish and can be deadly in high enough concentrations. So having Nerite snails around to munch down those dead leaves is super helpful!

This leads a lot of owners to consider breeding baby Nerite snails. Unlike many snail species, Nerites aren’t asexual and need a male and female parent pair to produce eggs.

They’ll lay eggs in freshwater but you’ll need to transfer those eggs to a brackish water tank for the eggs to hatch – read more on this process below!

What do Nerite snail eggs look like?

Nerite snail eggs look like little white dots which will be stuck to your plants, driftwood, decorations, or even the snails themselves! They’ll be more noticeable on dark surfaces and are hard to remove without some kind of scraping tool.

If you have a freshwater aquarium the eggs won’t hatch. Nerites will lay eggs in freshwater but need brackish water to hatch into baby Nerite snails.

This means your tank will have eggs that hang around for a long time and can look unsightly. They’re hard to remove, so my advice is to leave them be and let nature take its course. They’ll eventually disappear on their own, so save yourself the effort!

How to hatch baby Nerite snails

Nerite eggs will only hatch into baby Nerite snails in brackish water, which is in between freshwater and saltwater. If your eggs have been laid in freshwater, you’ll need to carefully move them into a tank with brackish conditions or they won’t hatch.

This can be done by moving the decorations, plants, or driftwood where the eggs have been laid into an established brackish water tank.

Once the eggs are ready to hatch, it should take around a week for the snail larvae (or ‘veligers’) to grow into baby Nerite snails.

Baby Nerite snail care

What do baby Nerite snails eat?

Baby Nerite snails will eat the same food as the adults, mainly surviving on algae growing in your tank. If you don’t have much algae growth, you can supplement their diet with sinking algae wafers and even blanched vegetables like spinach and carrots.

Leave the vegetables in the tank overnight and remove them in the morning – don’t let them decompose in your tank for too long or this will affect the water quality.

Baby Nerite snails temperature range and ideal water conditions

Baby Nerite snails will thrive in water between 71 and 79°F (21.5 to 26°C), the same as adult Nerites.

When it comes to water conditions, Nerites prefer slightly more alkaline water, from the neutral 7 up to around 8.5 pH. Acidic water will actually start to dissolve your snail’s shell, so this is crucial.

Note: these are the parameters for freshwater Nerite snails. Nerites can live in saltwater tanks but I’ve only ever kept them in freshwater, so always research suitability before putting them into saltwater tanks.

They need hard water so they can use the calcium to maintain their shell. Otherwise, they crack and even develop holes, which is a disaster for the health of a snail and can even lead to death.

If you struggle with low calcium in your aquarium water, you can use cuttlebones safely to help your snails. These are sold as an accessory for birds like Parakeets, but your baby Nerites will love them:

Do Nerites need a filter?

Nerite snails need to be kept in a tank with a reliable filter. This is because they are sensitive to toxic chemicals like ammonia and nitrite, which can kill Nerites. A functioning filter system will make sure these chemicals are neutralized and the water is safe for your snails.

Despite this, Nerite snails are quite hardy and less sensitive to changes in water parameters than many fish. 

Is my Nerite snail male or female?

Nerite snails are not hermaphrodites like many other species of snails, but it can be difficult to tell their gender.

When the babies grow into adult snails you’ll have more chance of being able to tell whether they are male or female. When they’re crawling on the glass, look for a small fold of skin around the base of the antenna:

Only males have this skin fold, but it can be hard to see, especially if they’re resting and the antennae aren’t visible.

FAQs

Do Nerite snails need an air pump?

Nerites need oxygen in the water to survive, so it’s a good idea to use a bubbler or air stone. This will allow gas exchange at the surface and the water will be oxygenated.

How big are baby Nerite snails?

Baby Nerite snails are tiny, measuring in the millimeters. The adults grow to around an inch in diameter, so you can imagine how small the babies are, especially when first hatched and still at the larva stage.

How long does it take for baby Nerite snails to grow?

Nerite snail eggs hatch into larvae in just a few days, and after around four weeks they should have become baby snails. After this, it takes several months for them to very gradually grow into adult-sized Nerites.

Can Nerite snails have babies in freshwater?

Nerite snails can lay eggs in freshwater but to hatch, they need to be in brackish water. The eggs can be carefully moved to a cycled brackish water tank if you want to breed them.

Do Nerite snails reproduce fast?

Nerite snails don’t reproduce anywhere as quickly as hitchhikers like Bladder Snails or Ramshorns. Also, because their eggs will only hatch in brackish water, they can’t possibly overrun a freshwater tank like some of the smaller species can.

One of my Nerite snails on cleaning duty

Do Nerite snails burrow in gravel?

Nerites don’t burrow in gravel like Assassin Snails do, for example. They can disturb gravel and other types of substrate if they’re looking for food, but they don’t bury themselves.

Summary

Baby Nerite snails are a blessing for any aquarium keeper lucky enough to be able to hatch them. They grow into fascinating pets which are almost hypnotic to watch as they slither along the side of the glass.

The biggest advantage to keeping them is their cleaning ability, as they basically devour any algae growing in a tank.

If you’re lucky enough to have baby Nerites but you don’t want any more in your tank, you’ll have no problem finding a fellow hobbyist who will take them off your hands.