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Should You Keep Snails With Cichlids?

The number of people looking to add cichlids to their aquarium is constantly increasing due to the beautiful colors and patterns of some of the cichlid types really catching the eye.

Cichlids in general have seen a huge spike in their popularity in recent years but the various types of cichlid from Lake Malawi in Africa have definitely seen the largest spike in their popularity.

As the number of people keeping cichlids in their tanks increases, the number of people within the fish keeping community reaching out for advice also continues to climb.

One question that we have seen more and more people asking about recently is keeping snails with cichlids due to the reputation of cichlids for being aggressive and their large size making it easy for them to eat snails.

Can Snails Be With Cichlids?

The simple answer to this question is yes, snails can live with cichlids without any problems but there are a few things that you need to take into consideration before adding snails to your cichlid tank.

Cichlids are known for being aggressive fish and they have been known to attack and eat smaller fish and inverts such as snails.

The main problem that you will face when keeping snails with cichlids is that some types of cichlids will see the snails as potential food items and this can result in the cichlids attacking and eating the snails.

Trying to stick to the small species of cichlid will often be enough to stop your cichlids from eating or harassing the snails in their tank though.

How Can I Stop My Cichlids Eating My Snails?

The good news is that there are a few things that you can do to greatly reduce the risk of your cichlids attacking and eating your snails.

The first thing that you can do is to make sure that you add the snails to the tank before you add the cichlids.

This will give the snails time to get settled into their new home and establish themselves before the cichlids are added to the tank.

You should also try to give the snails plenty of places to hide such as rockwork, plants, and driftwood.

Providing hiding places for the snails will make it much harder for the cichlids to find and attack them.

Another thing that you can do is to make sure that you are feeding your cichlids a good diet.

A well-fed cichlid is much less likely to see the snails in their tank as potential food items.

What Are The Risks Of A Cichlid Eating A Snail?

The main risk of a cichlid eating a snail comes from the snail’s shell causing a blockage in the cichlid’s digestive system.

This is definitely more of a risk for the larger species of cichlids that tend to eat the snails whole rather than try to crush their snail’s shells up first.

Blockages can be problematic to solve in most species of fish so it is definitely better that you do your best to avoid them instead if possible.

You may be able to do this by adding a larger species of snail to your tank that is too large to fit into your cichlid’s jaws.

The problem with this strategy is that if you add male and female snails, they will breed and then the baby snails will be eaten by your cichlids in your tank presenting a blockage risk for your cichlids.

Thankfully, some of the larger species of snail make it easy to tell if they are male or female so this can be easy to prevent in most situations.

If you are not able to prevent the larger species of snail from breeding by keeping only male or female snails in your tank then we would actually recommend against keeping snails in a tank with larger species of cichlids due to the risk.

What Cichlids Will Eat Snails?

The majority of the larger species of cichlids will be able to eat most snails in their aquariums, especially if you are planning to keep a smaller species of snails in your tank.

Here is a list of the cichlids that may eat the snails in their tank no matter the size of the snails that you choose to keep:-

  • African Cichlids
  • Malawi Cichlids
  • Chocolate Cichlid
  • Red Devil Cichlid
  • Peacock bass
  • Jaguar cichlid

If you are planning on keeping any of the species in the list above in your tank then we would usually just recommend that you don’t have snails in your tank.