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Nerite Snails Vs Mystery Snails: A Comparative Guide

Nerite Snails Vs Mystery Snails

Snails can be an excellent addition to your aquarium. Not only do they clean your tank, but they can add a splash of color to your tank community. 

Nerite snails and mystery snails are both popular snails in the aquatic community. While both snails are similar in size and function, there are some differences you should consider before adding either to your aquarium. They share a tank well, so if you can’t decide which one you like more, you can feel good about choosing both for your aquatic community. 

The rest of this article will compare and contrast both nerite and mystery snails and answer common questions about each. 

All About Nerite Snails

Nerite snails are hardy, algae-eating freshwater gastropods that come in a wide range of colors and patterns. There are several varieties available for aquatic communities and can be found at most stores, including but not limited to: 

  • Black Racer Nerite Snail
  • Tiger Nerite Snail
  • Zebra Nerite Snail
  • Brown Zebra Snail
  • Ruby Snail
  • Tracked Nerite Snail
  • Marble Nerite Snail

Nerite snails require brackish water to reproduce, meaning that they won’t overrun freshwater aquariums like other aquatic snail species. This fact makes them particularly popular as an aquarium addition. 

Tropical water temperatures are best for these snails, between 72 – 78 degrees Fahrenheit, though there is some debate over whether they can thrive well in a wider range of temperatures. They prefer a pH around 7.5 and relatively harder water, making them somewhat easy to care for. 

Nerite snails thrive in aquariums with lots of live plants, just make sure to place them in an upright position when placing them in your tank. Righting themselves is almost impossible for nerite snails to do, and most will die if they land on their back if dropped into the water. 

These snails have a short life span, only living for about one year, though some have been reported to live up to two years if properly cared for. 

Nerite snails, like other snails, require calcium for healthy shell growth. Calcium supplements can be added to the water, or you can add calcium-rich greens to your tank. 

All About Mystery Snails

These popular freshwater snails are native to South America and are also known as the common apple snail or the spike-topped apple snail. They can grow a little larger than nerite snails – up to 2 inches in diameter. Like most species of aquarium snails, they have a lifespan of about one year. 

Mystery snails feed on algae in tanks, and they are happiest in an aquarium full of live plants with plenty of organic matter on which to feed. 

Their shells come in many different colors, such as yellow, white, brown, tan, gray, dark gray, and black. Their shells often have stripes that vary in width and number. Some mystery snails may have a single stripe while others have several, and still others may have a solid color shell. 

While mystery snails come in a range of colors, the six main ones are: 

  • Golden
  • Blue 
  • Black
  • Purple
  • Ivory 
  • Albino (distinguished by a white body and striped brown shell)

Mystery snails breed rather easily, so having more than one in your tank is a bad idea unless you don’t mind the idea of having a growing mystery snail population. Since telling the sex of snails is difficult, the surest way to know – especially if you plan on breeding them – is whether two snails mate when added to a tank. 

These interesting snails thrive in a wide range of water temperatures, between 68 – 84 degrees Fahrenheit, and a pH of between 7.6 – 8.4. 

Can Nerite Snails Live with Mystery Snails?


Nerite snails and mystery snails are great tank mates. They both thrive in similar water parameters and are great tank cleaners that will eat organic matter in your aquarium. They are also both beautiful species that are fun to watch and add color to your aquatic community. 

Like most species of aquarium snails, nerite and mystery snails are passive, keep to themselves, and do best in an aquarium with lots of live plants. They can both coexist peacefully with aquarium fish that are non-aggressive or that don’t prey on snails as part of their natural diet.

Best Companions for Nerite Snails

Most invertebrates and non-aggressive species of freshwater fish are suitable tank mates for nerite snails. Good tank mates for nerite snails include: 

  • Other nerite snails
  • Trumpet snails
  • Ramshorn snails
  • Mystery snails
  • Ivory snails
  • Gold Inca snails
  • Bamboo snails
  • Vampire shrimp
  • Red cherry shrimp
  • Ghost shrimp
  • Amano shrimp
  • Cory catfish
  • Otocinclus catfish

Those to avoid: 

  • Loaches
  • Crayfish
  • Goldfish 
  • Cichlids

Best Companions for Mystery Snails

Because of snails’ passive natures, any non-aggressive species of freshwater fish and other invertebrates won’t mind sharing a tank with them – as long as these species don’t include ones where snails are a natural part of their diet.

Some great tank mates for mystery snails include: 

  • Tetras
  • Killifish
  • Cory catfish
  • Otocinclus catfish
  • Nerite snails
  • Ghost shrimp
  • Amano shrimp
  • Cherry shrimp

Species to avoid:

  • Loaches
  • Crayfish
  • Goldfish 
  • Cichlids

Are Mystery Snails Good Cleaners?

Mystery snails are a smart addition to your aquatic community if you are looking for a great cleaner snail. In fact, mystery snails are considered one of the best species of cleaner snail and are particularly popular among aquarium hobbyists for this reason. 

While nerite snails also feed off organic plant matter, mystery snails are more vigorous. During feeding mode, they will move steadily along the tank, making them fun to observe. 

While they are safe to keep in aquariums with live plants, make sure to keep them well fed so they stay away from your plants. Otherwise, you might find them munching on the stems and leaves of your aquarium foliage.

Do Nerite Snails eat Other Snails?

No. Nerite snails are herbivores and will only eat organic plant matter like algae and herbivorous fish food. 

Do Nerite Snails Bite?

No. Nerite snails don’t bite – they are peaceful, easygoing, and non-aggressive. 

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