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Zebra Nerite Snail: Feeding, Care & Breeding Information

Lindsey Stanton Profile Picture

By Lindsey Stanton

Zebra Nerite Snails

Snails are a very valuable addition for any fish tank—zebra nerite snails specifically—because they feed on algae, which helps keep your aquarium water clean. This reduces the need for you to clean your aquarium of algae as often as you would otherwise have to do. (You can buy Zebra Nerite Snails here). That being said, zebra nerite snails do require some pretty specific water conditions just like any other animal in your aquarium.

We are here to help give you all of the information that you need to successfully keep these beneficial critters in your aquarium. There are some other cool aquarium snails that are also worth considering, we have covered another 10 in this post here.

Housing Zebra Nerite Snails

While zebra nerite snails are fairly resilient creatures, they do still require some pretty specific water parameters in order to stay alive and healthy. Follow these tips to keep your zebra nerite snails as happy and healthy as can be.

Zebra Nerite Snail (Neritina natalensis sp. zebra)
Image Credit: Evan Baldonado, Wikimedia Commons CC 4.0 International

Zebra Nerite Snail Lifespan

In optimal water conditions the average nerite snails can live for up to 2 years or even longer.

In many cases zebra snails can die within a week or so of being added to a new tank, this is mainly due to the stress caused from the transportation or more commonly the water conditions/parameters of the actual tank it’s being added to.

Testing the water the snail came in against the tank water before adding the snail is always a good idea so you can see the pH, Nirtrate and Ammonia level differences and determine based on the results if the snail will survive or not (assuming the results/water conditions are similar).

If the snail does not survive then be sure to remove the dead snail as quickly as you can as it can cause the Ammonia levels to suddenly rise which is not good for the tank and other inhabitants.

Is My Snail Dead?

Generally, if the snail is not fixed to the tank glass or something else like a decoration then this is a sign there is something wrong and good chance it could be dead, if the snail has died then it will generally be laying at the bottom of the tank and in many cases upside down.

You should of course still double check if it’s still alive or not and that will become obvious as soon as you take it out of the tank.

Zebra Nerite Snail
Image Credit: Joan Carles, Shutterstock

Nerite Snail Care: Requirements


Zebra snails are fairly small in size and rarely grow above 1 inch in length, with the average size being around ½ inch in length. These snails are quite resilient in the sense that they love to be in the water, but they also like to go out of the water. That being said, the aquarium you have them in should ideally have a lid because they have been known to wander away into homes.

Generally speaking, these snails can live in both salt and freshwater, however the optimal water type is brackish water, which is water that is fresh and borders slightly on salt water. These snails are fairly friendly and do well in community tanks, especially with other animals such as non-aggressive snails, non-violent fish, and shrimp too.

They don’t require very much space, but space is always a bonus. Also, these things like to be in aquariums that are planted and have lots of greenery in them.

On a side note, zebra nerite snails have a very hard time turning over when they are upside down. Never drop them into the tank and let them float to the bottom. A turned over nerite snail will probably not be able to right itself and will most likely die due to an inability to move.

pH Level

The pH level of the water is another important factor when it comes to housing these snails. These things do best in water that has a pH level anywhere between 7 and 8. Any lower than a pH level of 7 will cause damage to the snails and may even kill them.

In other words they do best in waters that are slightly basic in nature. This post covers some helpful info on pH levels specifically on how to lower them should you need to.

Zebra Nerite Snail
Image Credit: Joan Juarez, Shutterstock

Nerite Snail Temperature

As we said, these snails are fairly hardy creatures and that means that they can survive in various water temperatures. Ideally, these snails do the best in water temperature that is anywhere between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit or 21–27 degrees Celsius.

The optimal temperature for these creatures is around 75 degrees Fahrenheit or 24 degrees Celsius. These snails can also survive in unheated tanks that are quite cold as well.

Water Hardness

Zebra nerite snails prefer water that is hard as opposed to soft, meaning that they like a fair amount of dissolved minerals in the water. This is because certain minerals present in the water help these snails to develop a strong shell. Ideally, the water hardness should be between 6 and 12 dH, with the optimal level being around 9 dH.

Other Substances

When it comes to the level of other substances in your aquarium, nerite snails do not like them, period. Nitrite levels in your aquarium should be as close to 0 parts per million as possible, and the same goes for nitrate levels, as well as ammonia levels too.

The only exception is that as long as you keep nitrate levels under 40 parts per million, your snails should be just fine. Zebra nerite snails are very sensitive to nitrites and ammonia, so those levels should definitely be kept to an absolute minimum.

Zebra Nerite Snail
Image Credit: Joan Carles Juarez, Shutterstock

Feeding Zebra Nerite Snails

One of the best parts of having zebra nerite snails, especially when you have a few of them, is that they love to eat algae. In other words, these things make excellent tank cleaners that keep the water in your aquarium free of algae. This makes feeding them very easy because they love to eat algae and organic matter, thus greatly reducing the need to feed them yourself.

If you don’t have enough algae in the water, or if you have a fairly large number of snails in your aquarium, you can always feed them some flakes or pellets, plus they will even eat small pieces of boiled vegetables too.

One thing to note is that the pump and filter in the aquarium should be turned off during feeding time to allow the food to float to the bottom where the substrate is. (More on Substrates here). After all, these are slow-moving snails that cannot chase their food around, even if it is dead organic matter.

Breeding Zebra Nerite Snails

These snails do better in salt water and brackish water. That being said, these snails will absolutely not reproduce in fresh water. These snails will only ever reproduce in brackish salty waters. On a side note, you can’t raise you zebra nerite snails in fresh water, and even raising them in brackish aquarium water can also be a challenge.

In essence, these things are hard to make reproduce, and even harder to raise from young, so much so that snails raised in captivity usually have a much shorter life span than those caught in the wild.

Zebra Nerite Snail
Image Credit: Ilja Lahmanov, Shutterstock

How To Breed Nerite Snails

If you do want to try breeding the zebra nerite snails by yourself, the water salinity level needs to be around 1.007 and the temperature needs to be around 79 degrees Fahrenheit or 27 degrees Celsius. Furthermore, the best chances of nerite snail breeding are if you keep them in a tank with only other nerite snails and keep them separate from any other animals.

All of that being said, since these snails will not reproduce in fresh water they are a prime choice for many because they won’t overpopulate and take over a tank. (If you want some other options, here is a good guide on the other types of aquarium snails).


As long as you keep all of the above factors in mind you should have no problem keeping your zebra nerite snails alive. They are fairly easy to take care of, they get along well with others, and best of all, they help reduce algae levels in the water. Breeding nerite snails is very tricky but if you are really able to replicate the perfect conditions then it is possible but may take a few attempts.

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