How many Nerite snails can I put in a 5 gallon tank?

Nerite snails are a popular freshwater aquarium snail due to their bright colors, small size, and reputation as being peaceful tank inhabitants. However, figuring out how many nerites can live happily and healthily in a given aquarium size is an important consideration for any aquarist looking to add these snails to their tank.

Quick Answer

For a 5 gallon aquarium, most experts recommend keeping between 5-10 nerite snails as an appropriate stocking level. This number provides enough algae grazing power to help keep the tank clean without overcrowding the snails.

Nerite Snail Stocking Considerations

When deciding how many nerite snails to add to a 5 gallon tank, there are a few key factors to consider:

  • Tank size – Nerite snails have a small bioload, but still require adequate space.
  • Other tank inhabitants – Nerites should not overcrowd tankmates like fish or shrimp.
  • Aquascaping and decor – Snails need enough hard surfaces and plants to graze on.
  • Food availability – Nerites need access to algae and supplement foods.
  • Water parameters – Snails require stable, clean water to thrive.
  • Behavior – Nerites can get aggressive if overcrowded.

Striking the right balance between these factors will ensure both the health of the snails and aquarium ecosystem.

Tank Size

At 5 gallons, a standard rectangular aquarium provides around 20 inches x 10 inches of floor space. This gives nerite snails adequate room to move around and access different grazing spots as long as they are not overpopulated.

While nerites have a small bioload compared to other snails, adding too many to a 5 gallon tank risks creating more waste than the tank’s nitrogen cycle can handle. This could result in dangerous ammonia and nitrite spikes.

As a general rule, a 5 gallon aquarium has the capacity to safely house between 5-10 nerite snails along with other small tankmates like betta fish or shrimp.


Nerite snails are usually compatible with small, peaceful community fish like:

  • Betta fish
  • Guppies
  • Tetras
  • Rasboras
  • Endler’s livebearers
  • White cloud mountain minnows

They can also live alongside shrimp, including:

  • Ghost shrimp
  • Amano shrimp
  • Red cherry shrimp
  • Bamboo shrimp

When keeping nerite snails with tankmates, make sure not to overcrowd any species. Leave plenty of open swimming space for fish and molting room for shrimp.


Nerites spend most of their time crawling over and grazing on hard surfaces in the tank. Having plenty of rocks, driftwood, aquarium decor, and planted aquarium plants will give them room to roam and access food.

Aim to decorate at least 1/3 to 1/2 of a 5 gallon tank’s footprint with hardscape and plants to support a group of nerite snails.

Smooth gravel or sand substrate is also a good addition since it allows debris and algae to accumulate for the snails to eat.


Nerite snails are voracious algae eaters that help clean green algae, diatoms, and aufwuchs from tank surfaces. However, naturally occurring algae in a 5 gallon aquarium is rarely enough to sustain a population of nerites.

Supplementing their diet with algae wafers, blanched vegetables, andQualitybrand quality brand shrimp pellets will help provide a balanced diet. Scatter food across decor and plants to give all snails access.

Monitor snail activity and appearance to ensure they are getting enough nutrition. Underfed nerites may stop growing, lose body mass, or try escaping the tank.

Water Parameters

Maintaining the following water parameters will keep nerite snails healthy in a 5 gallon aquarium:

  • Temperature – 68°F to 84°F
  • pH – 6.5 to 8.5
  • KH – 3 to 12 dKH
  • GH – 8 to 20 dGH
  • Nitrates – Under 20 ppm

Perform regular partial water changes and filter maintenance to remove waste and replenish minerals dissolved in the water.

Nerites are sensitive to nitrates, copper medications, and salt treatments. Avoid using these in an aquarium housing nerites.


While usually peaceful, nerite snails can exhibit some aggressive behaviors when overcrowded such as:

  • Crawling over top of each other
  • Pushing or headbutting others
  • Climbing tank walls and lid trying to escape
  • Nipping fins of slow fish

Keeping their population level reasonable in a 5 gallon tank helps avoid these stress induced behaviors.

Recommended Stocking Levels

Based on the above factors, here are some general recommendations for how many nerite snails can be comfortably housed in a 5 gallon aquarium:


If keeping nerite snails by themselves with no tankmates, a group of 5-6 is appropriate for a 5 gallon tank. This lightly stocks the aquarium while providing some variety in shell patterns.

With a Betta

A standard 5 gallon betta tank can hold around 5 nerite snails in addition to a single betta fish. The snails will have adequate space to move around while helping eat any excess food or algae.

With a Group of Small Fish

In a 5 gallon community aquarium with 6-8 tiny fish like guppies or white clouds, a group of 4-5 nerite snails can be accommodated. They will help clean up after the increased bioload.

With Shrimp

For a 5 gallon shrimp-only tank, 6-8 nerite snails and 10-15 shrimp like cherry shrimp or ghost shrimp make an excellent pairing. The snails will not bother adult shrimp.

Other Important Nerite Snail Care Tips

Here are a few other things to keep in mind when keeping nerite snails:

  • Perform regular tank maintenance to remove waste and uneaten food.
  • Test water parameters weekly and do water changes as needed.
  • Provide calcium supplements to help snails build strong shells.
  • Watch for signs of stress and disease like tissue necrosis.
  • Quarantine new snails for a few weeks before adding to tank.
  • Control snail population by removing egg clutches, if desired.


When stocking nerite snails in a 5 gallon aquarium, the recommended level is around 5-10 snails. This moderately stocks the tank while ensuring the snails have adequate space, food, and water quality.

Consider the tank size, decor, tankmates, water parameters, and snail behavior to strike the right balance. Providing a well-maintained tank will lead to healthy, active nerite snails that make a useful and interesting addition.

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