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Pet Product News Editorial Blog:

May 9, 2011

Good Freshwater Snails

By David Lass

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Mention the word “snail” to a local fish store owner, or to most hobbyists, and you will be greeted with all sorts of invective. With the exception of the Malaysian live bearing snail (which does a great job of churning up the gravel), small snails are a nuisance to an aquarium. They multiply like mad (the Malaysian live bearers do, too), and in general they do more damage than good in an aquarium. They are not as good at removing either excess food or algae as certain fish are, and they reproduce so quickly that they can shortly put a drain on the bioload of a tank.

Enter the nerite snails. This is a very family group of snails that populate warm regions of both fresh- and saltwater. In the past year or so, nerite snails became available from the Far East. There are many varieties that will thrive in straight freshwater, and the nicest thing about nerite snails is they are excellent algae eaters, but will not do any damage to plants. They also do not reproduce so quickly that they can take over an aquarium. The zebra nerite, in fact, lays eggs all over the place, but the larvae (veligers) require a period of time in a marine environment, so they never mature. Horned or green urchin nerite snails do have live offspring, but not in any quantities that cannot be easily controlled. The other variety I find does well is called “abalones,” since they resemble that other mollusk--they have a half shell, rounded in one curve over the snail’s body.
 
Just as ornamental shrimp became a profitable niche in the freshwater aquarium hobby/industry, nerite snails may do the same. They wholesale for around a buck, and most stores sell them for $2.99. I’ve been offering them in my little wholesale business here in New England for less than a year, and already I have some stores who buy 100 at a time. I suggest you give them a try.

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