Cerith Snail – The Cleaner That Never Rests

Hand holding Cerith Snail Underwater

The hardy cerith snail is also known by a host of other names, including creeper snail, cerithiid/cerithiid snail, cerithium, or Cerithiidae.

The term ‘cerith snail’ refers to a family or genus of snails, known scientifically as Cerithiidae. Within that genus, there are several genera, in three subfamilies. Despite their differences, all the different genera and subfamilies share common traits, such as shell style and eating habits, and the species is highly sought-after amongst aquarium hobbyists.

Cerith Snail Infographic

What Does Cerithium Look Like?

Cerithium (or cerith snail) looks quite unlike other snails, which is what makes them so popular. They have long and thin shells, almost looking like a spiral staircase. The shell can be adorned in a wide range of colours and styles, from brown to white and everything in between.

In terms of size, this species could almost be described as tiny when compared to others. The shells generally only grow to a maximum length of 1 inch.  

Are Cerith Snails Good?

Yes, cerith snails are good. They are especially good as part of the clean up crew for indoor aquariums (and sea beds), clearing away huge quantities of all sorts of dead and waste matter and uneaten food from the sand substrate.

These invertebrates are aesthetically pleasing, too. The small, 1-inch cerith snail shell is quite beautiful and unique compared to some others.

This gastropod is also an active but very peaceful one, that gets on well with other marine life. (The ones that aren’t predators, of course.)

Cerith snails are hardy reef safe snails, and they’d make a great addition to your clean up crew.

Hand holding Cerith Snail Underwater

What Level of Care Do Cerith Snails Need?

As far as marine life goes, the cerith snail requires very little in the way of care – providing the habitat is optimal, there is enough food (or waste) to consume, and there aren’t any predators potentially threatening the wellbeing of your gastropod(s).

You should provide your cerithium snail(s) with plenty of crevices and spots in the live rock to hide in. Although small in size, ceriths like to burrow, so you should also offer a sand bed substrate in a thick enough layer that they can do just that. Be generous with the substrate – nothing too shallow.

Provide these Pacific invertebrates with a decent habitat (with no hermit crabs!) and they’ll become a loyal part of your tank clean up crew.

Cerith Snail Diet

The Cerith snail species is well known for being a scavenger, cleaning up after fish, crabs and other marine life. As well as grazing for several different types of algae, this species also consumes waste material – faecal matter (also known as detritus), dead fish and other marine life, and decomposing remnants. They make great cleaners!

What Do Cerith Snails Eat in an Aquarium?

If your reef aquarium needs a good clean, this snail would be a great one to add! It will feed on all sorts of algae, fish and other marine poop, and food remnants that would otherwise decompose and make the water unsafe.  

If there isn’t enough algae, detritus, or other material to feed your cerith snail(s), they will starve. You may need to supplement their diet with things like dried algae tablets, crab or shrimp food, fish food flakes, or even raw, fresh pieces of shrimp.

Do Cerith Snails Get Rid of Cyanobacteria in Glass Tanks?

Yes, cerith snails have been noted eating cyanobacteria.

Do Cerith Snails Eat Hair Algae in a Reef?

Yes, they do – and they also tend to eat red algae, which several other gastropods won’t eat.

Do Cerith Snails Get Rid of Diatoms in Tanks?

Yes, ceriths even love eating diatoms.

How Many Clean Up Crew Cerith Snails Per Gallon?

If you want to make your cerith snail(s) happy, ensure they have plenty of food, deep sand, the right temperature, no hermit crabs, and plenty of rocks. (Think Pacific habitats!)

You should aim to have one cerithium snail per 5 gallons of water.

If you want two of these nano invertebrates in one tank to clean, you must ensure that the tank has more than 10 gallons of water.

You should allow 5 gallons of water for every snail. If you have a 5-gallon tank, you should add one cerithium.

Adding too many cerith snails to a small size tank will result in there not being enough food to go around (or clean), not enough calcium in the water to ensure strong and healthy shells, and more problems. They are sensitive little snails!

Cerith Snail Acclimation

Most gastropods are extremely sensitive to changes in the water, and the cerith snail is no exception. Despite being hardy, they will notice (and react badly to) any changes in the water around them, including temperature, pH level, calcium level, new sand or substrate, etc.

Because of this, you will want to slowly acclimate your tropical cerith snail into your home aquarium, using a method called drip acclimation.

Where Do Cerith Snails Live in the Ocean?

Although different subspecies of cerith snail are native to different parts of the world, this species is generally considered to be native to part of the Eastern Pacific, around coastal parts of Mexico, and in and around the Caribbean. You’ll find them in seagrass meadows and Pacific reefs.

Can You Breed the Cerith Snail?

Yes, it is possible to breed the reef safe cerith snail. Some aquarium hobbyists have even had long, successful strings of eggs in amongst the live rock and sand. Once those eggs hatch open and release their tiny snail youngsters, however, it is actually very difficult to keep them alive.

Cerithium young require a different diet to their adult counterparts. At this young stage, the only thing they can consume is a minute single-celled plankton.

Not only is feeding a problem, but the youngsters are also food for other marine life in the tank.

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