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Nerite snails are a fantastic addition to your aquarium. They help keep your tank clean by consuming algae blooms and thrive in both fresh and saltwater. These snails are relatively easy to care for, so they’re great for beginners. Since they’re under an inch long, you don’t have to worry about them taking up too much space.
When it comes to vision, whether or not a snail can see depends on the species. Some snails have large eyes and see well; some have a very limited visual field, while others are completely blind. Do Nerite snails have eyes? Can they see? Let’s find out.
The answer to the question of whether Nerite snails have eyes is yes. Nerite snails have very tiny eyes located at the base of their tentacles. Because these snails are so small, even their tentacles can sometimes be hard to see. They resemble insect antennae, but they’re very tiny. Their eyes are even smaller. It’s not uncommon for the eyes to appear invisible to the human eye. While Nerite snails have eyes, they’re not very well developed, so snails don’t rely on their eyes to get around.
Aquatic snails primarily depend on touch and smell to navigate their environment. These tiny creatures are also equipped with chemosensory organs that help them to navigate. So just how do Nerite snails get around?
How Nerite Snails “See”
Snails belong to a low level of the animal kingdom, which means that they don’t have many of the organs that higher-order animals do. The ones they do have are not very advanced, so they don’t function in the same way. Invertebrates like snails have very primitive organ systems. This principle also applies to their eyes.
Nerite snails have tentacles on the top of their head that are retractable, and their eyes are contained on these tentacles. For this reason, snail tentacles are also referred to as eyestalks. The location of a snail’s eyes differentiates whether they are a land or aquatic species. Land snails have eyes on the top of their tentacles, while aquatic snails have eyes at the base. What this means is that aquatic snails cannot move their eyes around, so they have a much smaller vision range.
The eyes of Nerite snails are light-sensitive, but they don’t provide a clear field of vision. They allow the snail to differentiate between light and dark, but this is the limit of their vision. Therefore, they don’t rely on vision to navigate their world.
Snails use their chemosensory organs to get around. Chemo refers to their sense of smell, while sensory refers to touch. They use these senses to find food, mates or to sense danger. Nerite snails also have light-sensitive cells throughout their whole body to help them recognize when they are in a shadow. The presence of a large shadow indicates the presence of a predator, so you will notice that changes in light cause your snail to withdraw into his shell.
Nerite Snails Navigation
Nerite snails have very limited eyesight. They are also almost completely deaf, so it’s safe to say they don’t use sight or hearing to stay safe.
Despite this, Nerite snails reach everywhere and have no difficulty meeting their needs. Even in an aquarium, these snails are very adept at sensing danger and quickly withdrawing into their shell.
Nerite snails have a very well-developed sense of smell and touch to compensate for their lack of hearing or eyesight. They have “smell nerves” on top of their tentacles that help them find their way to food.
Their sense of touch allows them to feel vibrations and changes in the water. Nerite snails use their tentacles like “feelers” to tell them where to move.