Zebra Nerite Snail

Zebra Nerite Snail

The striking black stripes make zebra nerite snails one of the most beautiful freshwater snails commonly available to aquarists.

The zebra nerite snail is a peaceful creature, and due to its extreme fondness for algae, it can be thought of as your personal tank cleaner. They can clean algae from your aquarium glass, decorations, aquarium plants, etc.

In addition to being highly decorative, the zebra nerite snail feeds almost exclusively on algae to the point where algae wafers may need to be fed to supplement a declining food supply, even the tough green algae that are so difficult to kill. delete are in the menu.

In this article, I will guide you through the characteristics of the zebra nerite snail and how to care for yours. Let’s dive right into it!

General characteristics Details
Difficulty of care Easy
Life expectancy 2 years
Color Black and Gold Stripes
Family Neritidae
Ambient salt water/fresh water
tank capacity 5 gallons per snail

Zebra Nerite Snail Overview

The nerite zebra snail is one of the most popular species of the neritidae family of sea snails. They are native to the coastal plain of East Africa, in particular, Mozambique, Kenya, Somalia, South Africa, and Tanzania.

Zebra nerites are very popular for their attractive shape as well as their practicality. They are not a hassle to care for, they are extremely adaptable and robust. In addition, they keep your aquarium clear and clean the annoying algae.

These algae-loving snails are herbivores, feeding on vegetables in general. However these snails will not eat plants, making them an ideal addition to the planted aquarium.

Many aquarists appreciate this thing that makes zebra nerites special, which is that they feed exclusively on green algae and not plants, this means you can still put plants in your aquarium. They will remain intact.

Although N. Natalensis is an aquatic snail, it is known to climb up and above the water level, so a tight lid is recommended to prevent escape.

Most aquarium keepers consider snails to be a pest that can multiply out of control, you will be happy to know that although they can lay eggs, zebra nerds are very difficult to breed in the aquarium due to a larval stage that requires brackish conditions.

In addition, they are not hermaphrodites (animals that have reproductive organs of both sexes), unlike their terrestrial counterparts.

They are peaceful, they have nothing to do with hunting. However, they are easily preyed upon by large fish that consider these snails a good snack. Beware of your snail’s neighbors!

To avoid possible problems with the growth of the shells, it is recommended to keep them in alkaline water (pH 7+).

Lifestyle of a Zebra Nerita

They are solitary creatures in that they do not bother anyone. Even if you have purchased a group of Zebra Nerites, you would always find each individual snail sitting alone.

They are not interested in company, so you can buy a single snail and, rest assured, they will not feel lonely and miserable.

They can stay awake for more than 30 hours and sleep intermittently. In a period of 13 to 15 hours, they can have 7 brief episodes of sleep.

They just go about their algae cleaning chores, which they do slowly but perfectly. They will not leave even a speck of algae.

On your journey to cleanliness, your snail may look like it has turned around. They can usually be flipped again, but if you’ve noticed that it’s been a while, hurry up and flip it! Your snail can die if it remains upside down for an extended period of time.

What Do Zebra Nerite Snails Eat?

The green algae that give your aquarium a hideous appearance is like gourmet food for a zebra nerite. Not just green algae, but technically most types of algae, such as soft algae, hair algae, brown algae, and blackbeard algae, are also on the menu.

Even if a Zebra Nerite is hungry, it won’t go near the plants in your tank, which is a bonus.

If your tank does not contain as much algae, you may need to provide your snail(s) with supplemental food.

How can I tell if my tank has enough algae? Well, if your tank doesn’t need to be scraped due to algae formation every month or so, then you probably don’t have enough algae. You would have to complement with one of these alternatives:

  • Blanched vegetables like zucchini, carrots, kale, spinach, and lettuce
  • seaweed wafers

It should be noted that Zebra Nerites may take a while to adjust to supplemental feeding, but they will survive it.

Do Nerite Snails Eat Lettuce?

Yes, lettuce is a great supplement if your zebra nerite snail is not getting enough algae. You just have to scald it slightly before giving it to him.

What are the tank conditions for a Nerite zebra snail?

Keep in mind that if you stock too many snails, you will need to provide supplemental food, as the natural buildup of algae in the tank will not be enough for all of them. The general rule of thumb would be 1 snail per 5 gallons.


You absolutely must make sure that your tank is covered. Zebra Nerites are amazing evasion artists, they will keep climbing up the side of your tank. If your tank isn’t covered, they will fall out of it.

Zebra nerites are tidal snails, which means they can stay out of the water for a good amount of time without dying or anything. If they fell out of your tank they would live, but you can’t risk them falling on their backs and not being able to turn around again. This can kill them.


Zebra Nerites are perfectly fine with fresh or salt water. But keep in mind that they can only breed in salt water.


Your aquarium water should have a pH level between 6.5 and 8.5.


They are fine with a temperature ranging from 72 ~ 78 Fahrenheit.


If your tank water is salty, the salinity should be kept between 1,020 ~ 1,028 sec.


The water is hard. Yes. Water hardness is simply a measure of the calcium and magnesium levels in the water. The more Ca and Mg, the harder the water.

Zebra Nerites prefer the hardest water, as their shells are primarily made up of calcium compounds. Therefore, they absorb calcium, which helps their shells grow.

If your aquarium water is not that hard, you can add a limestone chip to your filter to harden the water.

Levels of ammonia, nitrate, nitrite and copper compounds

All of these compounds are extremely toxic to Zebra Nerites. They should all be close to zero ppm.

If you fill your aquarium with tap water, pay special attention to the copper levels in the water, as tap water can contain elevated levels.

You won’t need fancy equipment to maintain levels of these compounds. Just a proper heater and filter will do the job.


In case you don’t know, the substrate is what you fill the bottom of the aquarium with.

Now, the best substrate for zebra nerites would be a fine-grained sand substrate. Why? Well, your snail has very delicate tentacles that can be damaged by a rocky substrate.

There is one type of sand substrate, calcium substrate, which is primarily made up of calcium, which would be ideal for your snails to ensure their adequate calcium intake.

How big do zebra nerite snails get?

Initially, zebra nerites are sold in ⅓~½” diameter. However, with care, love, and lots of algae, zebra nerite snails can grow in diameter to as large as 1”.


Zebra snails are male or female. However, differentiating between the two sexes is quite difficult.

Therefore, if you want to buy snails for breeding purposes, you will need to buy a group of snails so chances are that there is a male or female included.

Zebra nerite females, like fish, lay eggs for the males to fertilize. Once fertilized, these eggs develop into larvae. A zebra nerite larva can only survive in a saltwater environment.

However, captive breeding is not a good idea as captive bred snails have been shown to have drastically shorter lifespans.

How long do Zebra Nerite Snails live?

The average lifespan of a zebra nerite snail is approximately 1 year, however the most resistant and healthy ones can live more than 2 years in the right environment.


Zebra nerite snails are friendly little creatures that offer free aquarium cleaning sessions. They are not troublesome in the least and are easy to care for given the right conditions. They are also affordable, mostly selling for $4. I can’t figure out a reason why you wouldn’t have one in your tank, to be honest.

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