Cerith Snail – Detailed Guide: Care, Diet, and Breeding

Cerith snails (Cerithium sp)

Cerith Snails (Cerithium sp.), also called Creeper snails, are very popular marine snails in pet stores. These small and striking snails can be a great addition to any marine tank. Aquarists love them because they also serve some very useful purposes. Although there are many different types of snails in Cerithium genus, all of them share the same qualities and care.

Cerith snails care is easy regardless of the type. They are all excellent scavengers. Cerith snails clean algae off of glass, plants, and decorations, they eat detritus, fish waste and keep your substrate clean. These snails are totally safe with any fish or shrimp. They are completely peaceful and will not bother anybody in the tank.

Because Cerith snails care is basically effortless, they are especially popular with beginner hobbyists. The Cerith Snail is a fascinating creature to include in an aquarium hobby. The description, behavior, feeding, keeping, breeding, and tank mates of the Cerith Snail will now be described in this article.

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Quick Notes about Cerith Snails

Name Cerith Snails
Other Names
Creeper snails
Scientific Name Cerithium sp.
Tank size (minimal) 5 gallons (~20 liters)
Keeping Easy
Breeding Moderate to difficult  
Size 2 – 3 cm (~1 inch)
Optimal Temperature 22 – 27°C  (~72°F – 80°F)
Water type SG = 1.023 – 1.025
Optimal PH 8.0 – 8.5
Optimal KH 7 – 16
Nitrate Less than 20 ppm
Diet Omnivorous 
Temperament Peaceful
Life span up to 3 years
Color Form Light grey to brown

Natural Habitat of the Cerith Snail

It is believed that ceritium sp. is distributed everywhere from the Atlantic coast of Europe, the Mediterranean, the Caribbean, Marmara and Black Seas to the Pacific Ocean.

Ceritium species are marine inhabitants of shallow waters of the intertidal region and the majority of species are found in clean coral or weedy sand while some species live under rocks on a hard substrate covered with sand.

Note: Most aquarium Cerith Snails are from the Caribbean. In nature, the Caribbean Cerith Snails are found on the muddy coasts where these mollusks blend in with the brighter rocks where they eat algae.

Description of the Cerith Snail

Cerith snails (Cerithium sp) sizeCerith Snails are interesting for their shell, which is very unlike the shells of strombus, trochus, and turbo shells. Their shells have a sharp and narrow shape. Its form resembles an eastern spiral ziggurat tower with thick walls, convex turns, spikes, and swellings. With a spiral shape of the shell starting at the top and traversing along the shell the shape of the shell is magnificent.

Interesting fact: The Ceritium genus is very, very ancient. According to the archaeologist findings, some shells are at least 2.6 million years old (the Cenozoic era)!

There are a variety of appearances for the Cerith Snail. The Cerith Snails found off of the coast of Mexico are shorter with many light grey to brown dots speckled on their shell. These dots are over a dark brown or black colored shell. With this appearance, they are able to blend into the ocean floors of the coast of Mexico. This also helps the Cerith Snail to feed with minimal disturbance from predators.

Cerith snails do not grow big as adults, their maximum size is usually about 1 inch (or 2.5 cm) in diameter!

The Behavior of the Cerith Snail

Cerith Snails are peaceful by nature preferring a calm environment with non-aggressive tank mates. They have no means to attack other aquarium inhabitants and can only use its shell and operculum to defend itself. When Cerith Snail senses something unusual it quickly pulls back into the shell and closes the trapdoor.

These snails like to scale rocks and burrow themselves deep into the sands of their environment. There they can rest and relax for their next adventure of eating wastes. Occasionally they will crawl up on the glass so you can get a good look at them.

Cerith Snails are not the most active snails. It is important to understand that in the day time they may appear inactive. The inactivity of the Cerith Snail is nothing to be surprised or startled about as they conduct most of their activities in the night time.

Cerith Snails are nocturnal creatures, which adds to their ability to blend in against darker colored rocks and environments. They are often busy feeding at night in complete darkness, crawling throughout the aquarium on the hunt for food, interesting places to explore, or a quiet place to take a break.

Are the Cerith Snail Reef Safe?

Yes, these snails are absolutely reef safe. Cerith snails will not harm your corals.

Feeding Cerith Snail

Cerith snails (Cerithium sp) at the glassCerith Snails are a fantastic addition to an aquarium clean up crew. They like to eat and scavenge for debris when active. These snails are voracious when in feeding mode. They are able to eat a considerable amount of diatoms, cyanobacteria, film algae, detritus, and hair algae throughout the tanks found in Aquariums.

They are great tank cleaners and enjoy eating algae growing on aquarium glass, decorations, rocks, power filter intakes, and other hard surfaces.

Note: Cerith Snails are some of the few species of snails that can eat even red algae found in saltwater aquariums. However, this is not their first choice of food if there is anything else in the tank. 

Depending on your tank set up, once they eat all (most) algae, they may need to be fed supplementally for long-term maintenance. It is not a good idea to think that snails can survive solely on naturally growing matter as the snail may starve. For example, you can feed them any type of fish, shrimp or crab foods. However, Cerith Snails will still prefer algae tablets/ wafers. Yes, do not forget about algae. If there are no algae in your aquarium, give them algae tablets.

If your aquarium cannot provide sufficient food, then you can supplement their diet. For example, you can feed them chopped brine and mysis shrimp.

Calcium is vital for good shell growth. I highly recommend reading my article “How to Supplement Shrimp and Snails with Calcium”.

Keeping Cerith Snail

Cerith Snails are generally pretty easy to care for. They do not require large tank and are pretty forgiving when it comes to water conditions. In other words, Cerith Snails are extremely hardy! These snails also get along great with other species. As a result, this combination makes them great for beginner reef tank-keepers.

Tank Size: Cerith Snails are small snails and can live … anywhere! Basically, you can easily keep it even in a 5-gallon tank (20 liters) without any problems. Of course, for more snails, a minimum tank size of 10 gallons is recommended.

Water Conditions: For optimum growth, they need a temperature between 22 – 27°C (72 – 80 °F), with a pH value between 8.0 – 8.5. The tank should also have a specific gravity of 1.023 to 1.025, and the hardness of the water should also be between 8 – 16 °d. They can tolerate most types of water movement but prefer slow-moving water.

Substrate: A deep sand bad is the best option. Cerith Snails burrow into the substrate, keeping the substrate aerated.

Acclimation: Before putting them in your tank, take the time to do a drip acclimation (read more about it). Although Cerith Snails are very tough and can get used to most water parameters, they still do not like rapid changes in water chemistry very well.

Basic Tank Equipment (links to check the price on Amazon)

Breeding Cerith Snail

It is relatively difficult to breed Cerith Snails in home aquariums. The problem is that newly hatched larvae do not have enough (proper) food for that. However, it is possible.

For example, according to the reports, owners of shrimp farms complain that Cerith Snails invade their shrimp rearing ponds and multiply very quickly. They compete with the shrimp for food, so the shrimp grow slowly or die off when they are young. In some cases when the outbreak of Cerith snails is severe, it can reduce shrimp production by over 90%.

Cerith snails (Cerithium sp) laying eggsCerith Snails are hermaphrodites, there are males and females. Females began to lay eggs 4 – 7 days after they mated. The eggs came out in strings, appearing like gelatinous white threads attached to various surfaces. Females could lay one string of eggs per day, and another string 10 days later, for a continuous period after mating. The number of individual eggs per string can significantly range from a few hundred to several thousand. Each egg was a slender oval, about 170 microns long and 150 microns wide.

Cerith Snails tend to lay their eggs where it is dark, such as at nighttime or in very murky water. The string of eggs can be 3 – 10 cm (1 – 4 inches) long and 0.2 cm (0.08 inches) wide, depending on the health of the female and the fertility of the environment. Usually, the first string of eggs is short, but they became longer in subsequent days, and then shorter again.

The Cerith Snail starts its life as a one-cell zygote. Depending on the species and temperature, it develops into the veliger stage within 3 – 7 days. In another 3 – 7 days the free-living veliger developed into the larvae stage. After that, it starts to descend to the bottom of the tank.

After hatching, the larvae undergo metamorphosis and developed a shell. They grow really fast and grew a shell with five spirals in only 1 month.

Diet: At this stage, the larvae crept can only be fed on single-celled plankton.

Cerith Snail and Suitable Tankmates

In nature, Cerith Snails are often found in large numbers. They are very peaceful and friendly with anybody.

While stocking them with other tankmates, remember that Cerith Snails can hardly stand up for themselves. It has no way to defend itself other than retreating and sealing itself into its own shell. Therefore avoid placing them in the tank with aggressive tank mates like Triggerfish, Hawkfish.

I would not advise keeping them with Coral banded shrimp, crabs and hermit crabs as well. Especially hermit crabs like Halloween Hermit Crab, Blue Leg Hermit Crab, etc. The problem is that Hermit crabs can try to kill them just for their shells. Cerith snails are particularly favored by Blue leg hermit crabs. If one does decide to keep Cerith Snails with hermit crabs, it is important to make sure that the Hermit crabs have numerous empty shells spread out through the tank.

On the whole, Cerith Snails tankmates should include only calm and peaceful community tank fish, shrimp or snails. For example, they are compatible with:

Be careful with Nassarius Snail, there are some conflicting reports about Nassarius Snails compatibility with snails.

Buying A Cerith Snails

When buying Cerith snails, look for snails that appear healthy and moving. Make sure the snail does not have any shell problems (broken or damaged).

In Conclusion

Cerith Snails are great for beginners and are great to have as part of an aquarium hobby clean up crew. They are extremely easy to care for. Most likely, they will not reproduce in your tank, so it is easier to keep their numbers under control. These exciting little snails are beautiful to look at and pretty hardy. All these qualities make Cerith Snails a wonderful addition to any tank.

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