Marbled Limpet Nerite Snail – Detailed Guide: Care, Diet, and Breeding

Marbled Limpet Nerite Snail (Septaria porcellana) – Detailed Guide Care, Diet, and Breeding

The Marbled Limpet Nerite Snail (Septaria porcellana) is a relatively rare freshwater snail that many hobbyists would like to have because of its unique appearance.

Marbled Limpet Nerite snails can be a good choice for many small freshwater aquarium setups. These interesting snails are very easy to care for, therefore, they can be recommended even for beginners.

In addition, this species does not breed in freshwater. The larvae can develop in a brackish (marine) environment only. It also makes these snails an excellent choice with a controlled population.

This care guide provides necessary information about the Marbled Limpet Nerite snails, including how to keep and care for them in a home aquarium.

Quick Notes about Marbled Limpet Nerite Snail 

Name Marbled Limpet Nerite Snail
Other Names Porcelain Limpet Nerite Snail, Porcelain Limpet Snail, or Turtle snail
Scientific Name Septaria Porcellana
Tank size (optimal) 10 gallons (~40 liters)
Keeping Easy – medium
Breeding Very Difficult
Size up to 1.5 inches (3.5 cm)
Optimal Temperature 70 – 82 °F (21 – 28 °C)
Optimal PH 7.0 – 8.0 
Optimal GH > 12   
Nitrate Less than 40 ppm
Diet Algae eater/omnivore
Temperament Peaceful
Life span up to 3 years
Color Form Olive brown to yellowish or pinkish brown

Taxonomy of Septaria Porcellana

As the name suggests, Marbled Limpet Nerite snails are close relatives to the genus Neritina. And for many years the genus was known as Navicella.

Nonetheless, it was not until 1908, when the genus became generally known as Septaria. In 1975, scientists also came to the conclusion that the genus Septaria was different enough from the other genera of the family Neritidae, to merit a family of its own called Septariidae.

Note: perhaps because their internal organs are not coiled as they are in Neritina.

Habitat of Marbled Limpet Nerite Snail 

Marbled Limpet Nerite snail is a freshwater gastropod native to the Indo – Pacific region.

These snails are widely distributed in Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Seychelles, Philippines, Solomon Islands, Marquesas Islands, Molucca, New Guinea, New Hebrids, New Caledonia, Fiji, Samoa, Carolines, Marianas, Okinawa.

Marbled Limpet Nerite snails inhabit tropical, mainly fast-flowing streams and rivers. 

Description of Marbled Limpet Nerite Snail 

These snails are easily distinguished because of their limpet-like shell form (symmetrical, cap-shaped, and oval) with a narrow columellar area, known as a septum.

This is not a large snail. The average body size of an adult Marbled Limpet Nerite snail barely exceeds 1.5 inches (or 3.5 cm). Also, males are always significantly smaller than females.

Marbled Limpet Nerite snails have a reduced operculum (trap-door) which is embedded in the foot and is unable to shut the snail in the shell.

Shell color and markings are variable within species. It can vary from olive-brown to yellowish or pinkish brown, with dark markings of triangles, tongues or concentric, horizontal, zig-zag, or longitudinal lines.

Lifespan of Marbled Limpet Nerite Snail 

The ecology of this species is poorly researched and much is still unknown about them. Currently, there is no data available on the maximum lifespan for Septaria porcellana in the wild.

However, in aquariums, Marbled Limpet Nerite snails can live at least 2 – 3 years, if appropriately cared for.

Typical Behavior of Marbled Limpet Nerite Snail 

Although Marbled Limpet Nerite snails are considered nocturnal animals, they can often be active during day time.

Note: Nocturnal behavior is a form of adaptation to avoid visual predators whilst feeding. In addition, on a 24-h cycle, dusk is a period in which algae had maximum nutrients at the end of the photosynthetic period corresponding to profitable conditions for grazers to feed at the end of the light period.

Marbled Limpet Nerite snails are not social. They are solitary and prefer to live their lives in isolation. They do not care much about other snails unless they decide to mate.

Marbled Limpet Nerite snail is a peaceful snail and, basically, does not even have a proper defensive mechanism. As I already mentioned, their trap-door (operculum) does not seal the shell.

These snails are not natural diggers. Even when they can burrow in soft substrate, they do not move under it.

Features:

  • Social: No
  • Active: At night
  • Peaceful: Yes
  • Burrowers: No

Feeding Marbled Limpet Nerite Snail 

Marbled Limpet Nerite snails are scavengers and omnivores. Therefore, feeding them is very easy and straightforward. They can feed on dead animals and plant matter as well as commercial (fish, shrimp, crab, etc.) food.

In aquariums, Marbled Limpet Nerite snails will be your clean up crew against algae, biofilm, debris, and waste.

Nonetheless, in order to keep them healthy and happy, I would definitely recommend supplementing their diets with commercial foods and vegetables such as:

  • Blanched vegetables (like broccoli, cabbages, carrots, cucumbers, lettuce, corn, spinach, peas, squash, leafy greens, etc.).
  • Fruits (apple (only sweet), banana, pearl, melon, mango, etc.).
  • Leaves.
Important: Do not forget that calcium plays a huge role in snails. Calcium is needed for several vital life processes in snails, the most obvious being the formation of shells. That is why I highly recommend reading my article “How to Supplement Shrimp and Snails with Calcium”.

Features:

  • Diet Type: Mostly herbivore / omnivore
  • Food Preference: Algae
  • Feeding Frequency: 2 – 3 times a week

You can read some of my related articles (the principle is the same with snails):

Are Marbled Limpet Nerite Snails Plants Safe?

Yes, they are absolutely safe to keep in planted tanks. Marbled Limpet Nerite snails do not have any interest in eating live plants, they only graze on their leaves.

Keeping and Caring for Marbled Limpet Nerite Snails 

Although Marbled Limpet Nerite snails can withstand varied ranges of water parameters, we still need to address their core needs!

Important: Make sure that you cycle your tank before bringing these snails home. Once the tank is cycled you need to check the quality of the water using a test kit.

Tank Size:

The minimum recommended tank size for Marbled Limpet Nerite snails is a 10-gallon (40-liter) tank. Although these snails do not grow large, there are other reasons why they require bigger tanks.

The problems with smaller tanks:

  • It can be difficult to keep your water parameters stable.
  • It can be hard for the snails to find enough food and you can have feeding problems.
  • You may have problems with aeration and water flow which is very important for these snails.

Water Parameters:

Temperature: Marbled Limpet Nerite snails will thrive in a range of 70 – 79 F (21 – 26 C). When the temperature drops too low for their metabolism slows down and they become lethargic.
pH: Optimal water pH should be provided for this species in the range of 7.0 – 8.0.
Hardness: Marbled Limpet Nerite snails will appreciate hard water KH > 6 and GH > 12.

Basically, the water should not be too soft and/or acidic, as this could lead to deterioration of the shell. This is a general rule for all snails.

Salinity: Although adult snails can tolerate low-level salinities, they do not like it and prefer to live in freshwater environments.

Lighting:

Marbled Limpet Nerite snails are nocturnal animals. In other words, they do not depend on the light. Therefore, lighting should be adapted to the needs of plants and algae in the tank.

Related article:

Substrate:

Marbled Limpet Nerite Snail (Septaria porcellana) – Detailed Guide Care, Diet, and Breeding (on gravel)They can be kept in any tank with any type of substrate (soil, sand, gravel, or even bare bottom).

Nonetheless, personally, I would still recommend smooth gravel over any other type of substrate. There are 2 main causes for that:

  • Their natural environment is composed of rocks, cobbles, and boulders. So, limpets adapt to life along exposed rocky shores.
  • The main reason – it is easier to grow algae on them. By crawling on the surface of the gravel, they are able to feed on fine algal growths.

Aeration and Flow:

Marbled Limpet Nerite snails are morphologically suited to a life in rivers and streams with a swift current. A structural adaptive strategy (such as a limpet-shaped shell) permits them to hold on to surfaces very tightly and permits them to live in faster-flowing waters.

They also need high levels of oxygen to thrive.

Can they live in tanks without water flow?
Yes, they can. However, keep in mind that living in suboptimal conditions will reduce their lifespan.

Filters:

There are no special requirements. As long as you have got the filter that works great with the size of the tank you have got you will be fine.

Acclimation:

Do not forget to acclimate them before putting them in the tank. Sudden changes in temperature, PH, and hardness can harm them.

Do not rush the process. Do it very slowly to prevent any unnecessary stress.

Breeding Marbled Limpet Nerite Snails

Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to breed Septaria porcellana in captivity. All available snails are wild-caught.

Very little is actually known about the life cycle requirements and husbandry rituals of these snails.

Here is all the information regarding the breeding process I could find in scientific literature.

  1. Marbled Limpet Nerite snails are not hermaphrodites.
  2. Males are significantly smaller than females. According to the study, 95% of all males found in this species were less than 0. 6 inches (1.6 cm long) while only 33-44 % of females were as small as that. Individuals over 18 mm long were all females.
  3. Females are fertilized internally.
  4. All females have a receptaculum seminis to store the semen before they fertilize.
  5. They lay their eggs enclosed in protective capsules (up to 100 egg capsules).
  6. Egg-laying may cover a period of days. Each capsule can have between 50 and 300 eggs.
  7. Marbled Limpet Nerite snails use hard surfaces (such as rocks, stones, or the shells of other snails) to lay eggs.
  8. According to the study, the largest egg capsules (0.08 inches or 2 mm) in the aquarium were produced by Septaria porcellana,
  9. Marbled Limpet Nerite snails are confined to freshwater as adults but their veliger larvae migrate downstream into the marine environment where metamorphosis into small snails occurs.
  10. Living veligers have been observed to emerge from the egg after an interval of 3 weeks to 6 months!
  11. Veligers swim in the sea feeding on phytoplankton.

Marbled Limpet Nerite Snails and Suitable Tankmates

These snails are completely harmless creatures. and can be easily recommended for any peaceful community tank. 

Fish

Concerning the fish species and some natural enemies, these snails should not be kept with big or aggressive fish like Botia lohacata, Cichlids, Loaches, and Goldfish. 

Their tankmates should include other calm and peaceful community tank fish (for example, Panda Garra, Pygmy Cory Catfish, Otocinclus Catfish, etc.).

Dwarf Shrimp

Shrimp species that prefer slightly alkaline water will be the best choice to keep with Marbled Limpet Nerite snails. For example, Vampire shrimpBamboo ShrimpAmano ShrimpGhost shrimpCherry shrimpBlue tiger shrimpSnowball shrimpCaridina cf. babaultiBlue Velvet Shrimp, Malawa Shrimp, Ninja shrimp, etc.

Snails

Marbled Limpet Nerite snails are compatible with any other snail species with one exception.

Do not keep them with Assassin snails. Marbled Limpet Nerite snails do not even have a properly working trap-door to protect themselves.

Crayfish

Personally, I would not recommend keeping them with large crayfish and most types of freshwater crabs or crayfish species (even dwarf species such as Cambarellus Diminutus, Cambarellus pure, etc.). 

In Conclusion

These snails are not high-maintenance pets and adapt well to life in captivity and can stay pretty healthy in most situations.

Nonetheless, for the ideal tank setups, Marbled Limpet Nerite snails require good flow and high levels of oxygen.

They are really unique snails and can decorate any home aquarium.

Marbled Limpet Nerite Snail (Septaria porcellana)
Pros Cons
Unique shape Require brackish water to breed (if you want to breed them)
Great algae eaters Can get out of tanks
Do not reproduce in freshwater Prefer good water flow
Great cleaners  
Peaceful  
Do not eat plants  

Related articles:

References:

  1. A revision of the genus Septaria FÉRUSSAC, 1803 (Gastropoda: Neritimorpha). Haynes. Ann. Naturhist. Mus. Wien, 103 B, 177-229, 2001.
  2. Taxonomy and Distribution of Freshwater Mollusks of French VENUS (Jup.Jour.Malac.). Vol. 49, No, 3 (1990):215-231.
  3. Abundance and microdistribution of freshwater gastropods in three streams of Moorea, French Polynesia. Annls Limnol. 33 (4) 1997 : 235-244
  4. Predation on hardest molluscan eggs by confamilial snails (Neritidae) and its potential significance in egg-laying site selection. Journal of Molluscan Studies, Volume 76, Issue 4, November 2010, Pages 360–366.
  5. The reproductive patterns of the five Fijian species of Septaria. (Gastropoda: Prosobranchia). Journal of Molluscan. Haynes A. 1991. Studies 58: 13-20.
  6. The history of Theodoxus and Neritina connected with description and systematic evaluation of related Neritimorpha (Gastropoda). Mitt . Geo1.-Palaont. Inst . Univ . Hamburg. Hefl85. S . 65-164, 2001

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