How to Breed Nerite Snails?

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Nerite snails are awesome additions to any freshwater or saltwater tank, so long as you keep them with small and peaceful fish.

Or you can create a snail-only environment, which also works, given that these snails don’t mind the presence of other snails in their habitat.

Just make sure that each snail has at least 5 gallons of water available as a minimum requirement.

Other than that, these 1-inch snails are hardy and easy to maintain, given that they require little food and don’t have any draconian water requirements.

As you may know, snails are typically easy to breed, but the situation is slightly different when it comes to this species.

Nerite snails are also easy to breed, in theory, but they require specific conditions for that. So, let’s discuss those!

How to Tell if Nerite Snail is Male or Female?

Nerite snails don’t reproduce asexually as most snail species tend to do. This species is dimorphic, so you need both males and females to complete the reproductive process.

Unfortunately, it’s quite tricky to differentiate between males and females, despite what you may read on the internet. I know you’re also reading this article on the internet. Just ignore the irony.

The idea is that nerite females are slightly larger than males, but this doesn’t help you too much. You can simply get a juvenile female that you can mistake for a male.

This isn’t a costly mistake, but it can be frustrating if you get a bunch of snails and all turn out to be the same sex.

You can also look for differences in coloring, but this won’t take you far, either. To avoid all the doubt, rely on professionals instead.

Get your snails from trustworthy sources and ask for specific specimens based on the sex you need. Problem solved.

How do Nerite Snails Breed?

First, we should begin by saying that you have no means to force the snails to breed. All you can do is house them together, males and females, and wait for Natura to take its course.

The snails will begin the mating process eventually, provided the environmental conditions are adequate.

The main water parameter to consider is salinity. While nerite snails can survive and thrive in both freshwater and saltwater environments, they can only breed in brackish water conditions. We’re talking about a salinity level of 1.005-1.010.

Other critical environmental components include:

  • Substrate – Go for a mix of calcium sand for a saltwater environment. The snails will use the calcium to harden their shells, making this mineral also necessary for the upcoming snail babies.
  • Lighting – Keep the light levels low since nerite snails don’t appreciate bright lights. They require a darker environment, preferably with an equally-dark substrate, to breed properly.
  • Sufficient space – It’s easy to overstock nerite snails, given that they move slowly and don’t appear to exhibit any violent behavior. But you need to provide each specimen with at least 5 gallons of water. This is necessary for the snail’s comfort, especially during the mating phase.

As a plus, you should avoid hard substrates and stay away from crushed shells meant to increase the dissolved calcium in the water.

These rugged pieces can hurt the snails and restrict their movement through the tank.

Can Nerite Snails Reproduce in Freshwater?

No, they can’t, but they do lay their eggs and fertilize them anyway. This leads to a lot of understandable confusion among inexperienced snail breeders who think that nerite snails simply cannot breed in captivity.

You will see this misconception being thrown around all over the internet, as many snail keepers rank nerite snails as difficult-to-impossible to breed.

This is partly the keepers’ fault and partly the…nature’s fault, I guess. It all stems from the snail’s ability to survive in both freshwater and saltwater environments, but only breed in saltwater.

This doesn’t prevent the snails from mating and fertilizing their eggs in freshwater too, but the eggs will die soon after. The eggs require saltwater, or the larvae won’t be able to grow.

The larvae themselves also require saltwater to survive past their first several months of life.

So, if you’re housing your nerite snails in a freshwater tank, consider relocating them to a brackish-water environment for breeding purposes.

You can move the parent snails back into the main tank after fertilizing the eggs.

The resulting larvae should remain in brackish water until their shells harden and they are prepared to survive in freshwater as well.

Can Different Nerite Snail Species Breed?

No, they cannot. That being said, female snails tend to lay eggs whether there are any males in the area or not.

Also, keeping different species or nerite snails in the same tank can eventually result in mating. But that’s where the process stops. The male won’t be able to fertilize the eggs, so you cannot obtain hybrids.

Nor should you try because this is largely viewed as unethical. Any resulting hybrids, if possible, are prone to genetic problems and health conditions and showcase shorter lifespans and reduced quality of life.

This is also a problem among fish, with people often trying to produce hybrids from species that wouldn’t normally breed with one another.

Why do Nerite Snails Lay Eggs in Freshwater Tank?

The simplest answer is: because nature has designed them this way. This is, indeed, a confusing fact about these creatures because they are so different from fish, for instance.

There are very few species of fish than can survive in both saltwater and freshwater. Most aquarium fish prefer either one or the other and require specific environmental conditions to breed.

Many fish species are so pretentious that they won’t even engage in mating behavior if water parameters are not ideal.

Snails don’t have this problem, which is one of the reasons for their species’ survival and prowess. They can breed in a variety of environmental conditions and even attempt to do so when they shouldn’t.

So, most nerite females will produce eggs in freshwater and even engage in mating. Males will also attempt to fertilize the eggs, except nothing will come out of it. You need brackish-water conditions to breed nerite snails successfully.

As we’ve discussed, that’s not the only requirement to consider when looking to ensure the success of the breeding process.

You should also ensure optimal temperature, a good diet, sufficient space, etc.


In conclusion, breeding nerite snails in captivity isn’t impossible, as you may have read all over the place, but it’s not quite easy either.

Salinity is the most important component to consider when looking to breed your nerite snails. Have a nursing tank with brackish water available for breeding purposes, or simply keep your nerite snails in brackish or saltwater, to begin with.

Most importantly, make sure you isolate the resulting snail larvae if you want them to survive.

Otherwise, they will become easy prey for fish or other larvae-eating animals populating your tank.

Author Image Fabian
I’m Fabian, aquarium fish breeder and founder of this website. I’ve been keeping fish, since I was a kid. On this blog, I share a lot of information about the aquarium hobby and various fish species that I like. Please leave a comment if you have any question.
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