Nerite snails crawling out of water?

A fish tank is incomplete (to me) without snails. I added a couple of nerite snails, and they looked adorable in my tank. They’d crawl slowly throughout the tank, eating all the algae in their way. All was great until I noticed one of my nerite snails crawling out of the water. Wondering why it would do that, I checked my tank’s water condition and all other factors. I wasn’t sure about why it would crawl out even after I put it back inside the tank. A friend of mine (a snail specialist, I’d say), guided me about why nerite snails tend to move out of the tank.

Here’s what I found out:

It’s very common for nerite snails to crawl out of the water. Poor water conditions, overcrowding, not enough food, and other factors can force the nerite snails to crawl out. But most of the time there is nothing to worry about as they are very curious about their surroundings and their natural habitat also makes them do that.

Let’s discuss in detail why nerite snails crawl out of the tank and how to keep them in there.

Why nerite snails crawl out of the fish tank?

Nerite snails are very easy to take care of. They eat all the algae in your tank so they keep the tank clean. Nerite is very peaceful so they can be kept with fishes and other aquatic creatures (shrimps etc).

Know which snails and fishes keep your tank naturally clean, here!

Nerites also don’t need any special care. Optimum water conditions and food is all they need to live happily.

So, what are the reasons that your nerite snails are crawling out of the tank? Read below to know about this behavior of Nerites.

Innate behavior

Nerite snails flourish in coastal regions. The tides in the sea are not uniform all the time. They fluctuate and as a result nerite snails aren’t always submerged in water. That explains that they usually crawl out as it’s their habit and they are totally comfortable with that.

You can adjust the water level and lower it a bit so that they can crawl out easily. Then you can out them back.


Nerite snails like to discover what’s around them. For that, they tend to move where ever they can.

So even if you are worried about what is bothering you, it might be possible that they crawl out to see what your room looks like.

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Toxic water

Sometimes there is no certain reason for this crawl out behavior. But at other times, your nerite snail might be in real trouble.

Nerite can’t tolerate nitrates, nitrites, and ammonia in the water. These toxic substances suffocate them just like your fish. In hope of survival, they tend to crawl out of the water.

You should check the levels of toxic substances in the water. Nitrites and ammonia should be zero in water for optimum conditions.

Acidic water

Nerite snails prefer slightly high pH levels, mostly between 8 to 9. So, if the water is acidic then it’s might possible that your little buddies decide to move out as a protest.

Basic (high pH than 7) water conditions are necessary for the survival of your fish as well. Make a habit to check the pH level of tank water on a regular basis.

If you find that the water is acidic then immediately change it to provide optimum living conditions to nerite snails, fish, and other animals.

Aggressive fish

Nerite snails are peace-loving animals. They don’t harm other animals and they expect the same from their aquatic fellows.

If there are large fish in the tank then they can harm your nerite snails. The snails can crawl out to save themselves. So, avoid large or aggressive fish when you have nerite snails in there.


Nerite snails like to roam around freely. Too many fishes or/and plants make them anxious. This can be one of the reasons that your snail may decide to leave.

Not only other animals but too many snails in one tank is also not good for them. Ideally, there should be just two to three snails in one tank but it’s not a rule. The tank should be spacious and airy so that snails can live there happily.

How to keep nerite snails happy?

How to keep nerite snails from crawling out of the fish tank?

It is not that hard. Nerite snails are easy to be taken care of. You don’t have to do much for their wellness. But there are certain things that should be considered to make them live healthily.

  • Be sure the water is clean and non-toxic. The pH of the water should be between 8 to 9. Also, the temperature should be 70 to 75 Fahrenheit.
  • Provide enough food (algae) for your snails. Remember that snails don’t eat plants. They only munch on algae and vegetables.
  • The substrate should be sandy. Nerite snails like sand and they can easily dig it. This is close to their natural habitat.
  • This is also recommended to add cave-like aquarium rocks to provide nerite snails some space to hide in.
  • If your nerite snails like to crawl out whatsoever then don’t panic and lower the water level a bit. Once they crawl out, let them walk for a while and then put them back.
  • Always cover your aquarium with a lid so that nerite snails can’t crawl out more often. The lid also ensures that the water remains clean. Always use a lid that isn’t airtight so that gas exchange can take place smoothly.
  • Don’t add aggressive fish species and large fishes. Nerite snails are peaceful and they like to crawl in their own territory. Aggressive fish can eat nerite snails so it’s dangerous to keep them together.
  • Make sure to add calcium-enriched sand as a substrate in the tank. Nerite snails need an uninterrupted supply of calcium for the proper growth of their shells. Lack of calcium can make them sick and they can escape out of the tank in hope of suitable habitat.
  • Keep an eye on your snail’s eating habits. Overeating is also not good for them as it results in the decoloration of their shells. So, provide them food that is just enough for them.
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The Takeaway

Nerite snails are great for your tank as they eat way all the algae and make your tank clean. Besides, they are very easy to take care of.

But nerite snails can crawl out of the tank and it’s quite common. Sometimes, they do it because of poor water quality and not enough food. But most of the time they just crawl out to see the world out of the tank. When you see your nerite snail escaping the tank, do clean your water and consider other factors (mentioned above) that might have forced it to move out. If after the precautions, nerite snail still decides to crawl out then don’t worry and let them do it for a while. After that, you can put them back and enjoy these little water buddies.

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Nadine Oraby

My name is Nadine; I am a passionate writer and a pet lover. People usually call me by the nickname “Joy” because they think that I am a positive and joyful person who is a child at heart. My love for animals triggered me to create this blog. Articles are written by vets, pet experts, and me. Thanks for visiting. Your friend, Nadine!

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