How to Breed Zebra Nerite Snails

By Ann LaPan

Zebra nerite snails are just one type of the common nerite aquarium snail. Zebra nerite snails grow to about an inch in length. They are known to be beneficial in the aquarium, as they eat algae almost exclusively. This means they will help to clean an aquarium but very rarely damage aquatic plants. Zebra nerite snails are also an attractive addition to an aquarium. They are gold or brown with wavy black lines running along their shells, giving them their name. These snails can be tricky to breed because they require specific conditions, but once the conditions are met they should flourish.

Provide a separate breeding aquarium for the snails. A separate aquarium, where the snails will be kept by themselves, allows you to create a brackish environment without disturbing other aquarium inhabitants. It also ensures that the young snails will not be eaten by any fish.

Fill the bottom of the aquarium with a calcium-rich substrate, such as crushed coral. The calcium in the substrate will aid the young snails in growing their shells.

Fill the breeding aquarium with brackish water. Brackish water is water that is slightly salty. Create brackish water by adding small amounts of aquarium salt to the aquarium water. Use a hydrometer to test the specific gravity, which directly relates to the salinity level, and keep it stable. In order for the snails to feel comfortable enough to breed, the specific density of the water should be between 1.005 and 1.010. Add only small amounts of salt, testing the water between each addition, until you reach this level.

Use a thermometer to monitor the water temperature in the breeding aquarium. Temperature is not crucial when breeding zebra nerite snails, but a water temperature that hovers near 79 degrees Fahrenheit encourages the snails to breed.

Place a group of snails in the breeding aquarium. The size of the group depends on how many you want and how large the breeding aquarium is. A group of five or more snails should work well. It is difficult to determine the gender of a specific zebra nerite snail; by keeping them in a group, you are more likely to have at least one male and female.

Feed the snails frequently. If you are using an aquarium that has been cycling for some time, algae may be growing in it already. However, if your breeding aquarium is new, or if you don't feel that there is enough algae for the snails, you can drop algae wafers into the aquarium. Keeping the zebra nerite snails well-fed encourages them to breed.

Wait for the snails to breed. They will breed when they feel comfortable in their environment. They will lay eggs, which will then hatch into nerite snail larvae.