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Do Cichlids Eat Snails? (Quick Answers)

Cichlids are a kind of fish that you might have seen in aquariums. Some people also keep them as pets.

If you wish to have cichlids at home and want to pet them, you may take note of the fact that these fish are aggressive.

The big question to answer is whether cichlids eat snails or can they coexist with one.

Do cichlids eat snails?

Some species of cichlids eat snails but other species don’t. Whether or not cichlids will eat snails would depend on the type and size of cichlids as well as snails.  The type and design of the aquarium also determine whether a cichlid will eat a snail. Generally, African cichlids always eat snails.

Cichlids do not eat snails as a part of their diet, nor do they eat snails because they enjoy the taste.

Cichlids are primarily omnivores, meaning they can feed on both greens and proteins. They would mostly eat flakes, small worms, or even algae in the tank.

One of the reasons why cichlids like to go for snails is because of the small size snails. Some of the more territorial cichlids like convict or ram cichlids will eat snails during the breeding season, to keep snails away from their young.

Sometimes when the space in the tank is limited and there is not enough hiding spot, the snails get eaten by the cichlids.

Convict cichlids:

Convict Cichlids, also known as Cichlasoma nigrofasciatum are known to eat snails.

Convict cichlids are one of the most territorial species among cichlids and will strike  or eat any ‘intruder’ in their territory, including a snail, no matter how small they are.

Convict cichlids are not the best choice for tank living with snails.

Peacock cichlids:

Peacock cichlids are mild and docile when compared to most other of the kind.

They are ideal for ones looking to pet a cichlid in a communal tank that has other aquatic vertebrates like snails.

Dwarf cichlids:

Dwarf cichlids are small, colorful and one of the friendliest cichlids that can live in limited spaced aquariums.

However, most species like the Cockatoo dwarf cichlids will eat snails when they are hungry. Some dwarf cichlids are even known as snail eaters for the same reason.

Ram cichlids:

Ram cichlids are omnivores and are said to be voracious eaters. They would happily eat anything they see around them.

This also means that ram cichlids eat snails and hence they cannot be kept together with no matter what size aquarium you have.

With that mentioned, you may also want to remember that there are 4 types of ram cichlids which include Bolivian ram cichlid, golden ram cichlid, German blue, and electric blue cichlids.

Blue ram cichlid:

blue ram cichlid or German blue ram cichlid is quite a popular choice for aquariums, thanks to the incredible display of colors in their body and head.

Although they are not aggressive cichlids, they can be when it is time for the breeding season. Despite that, blue ram cichlids do eat snails, particularly smaller ones when put together in the tank.

Keyhole cichlids:

Keyhole Cichlids are tropical fish that get their name from a distinctive black spot on their bodies.

Keyhole cichlids are known to have the smaller snails’ insight. Since the dimensions of the keyhole cichlids are a mere 4 inches, they only go after cichlids that are pest size. But they are the most peaceful cichlids

Parrot cichlids:

Parrot cichlids or popularly known as blood parrot cichlids are one of the hybrid freshwater cichlids, despite all the controversies.

The cross cichlid is unpredictable and can be labeled as a semi-aggressive cichlid type. Parrot cichlid will eat snails when they are hungry as well.

Freshwater cichlids:

Freshwater cichlid is not known to eat snail as a part of their regular diet.

However, if they are hungry, feel threatened, and do not find enough food resources, freshwater cichlids may eat snails

Mbuna cichlids:

Mbuna cichlids are a type of African cichlid that are aggressive and can strike snails the very instant they see one.

Will cichlids eat these snails?

As mentioned before, cichlids would not eat all the snails they see. The type and size of snails matter for them when they think of eating one.

Here are different types of snails and whether cichlids will eat each of these:

Baby snails:

Cichlids will most readily eat baby snails because of their size. No matter what size, type, or the number of baby snails there are, the size makes them an easy target for both small and bigger cichlids.

Mystery snails:

Mystery snails are also bigger and are often eaten by cichlids. since they are bigger, they are easily noticeable and hence fall prey to cichlids more often.

Bladder snails:

More aggressive or territorial cichlids will eat bladder snails due to their size. Some may avoid it due to the shell.

Nerite snails:

Nerite snails are also known as Horned Nerites or Clithon corona. These snails have a hard shell that is difficult to crush.

Moreover, the shell is protected with spikes that drive away cichlids attempting to eat them. Hence, they are hardly eaten.

Apple snails:

Apple snails are larger and are one of the most peaceful snails.

However, ecologically, apple snails are harmful to mammals and humans when eaten raw. Larger cichlids often eat apple snails.

Malaysian trumpet snails:

Malaysian trumpet snails have a shell on them that is often difficult to crush for the cichlids.

This shell works as a protection for the snails and hence saves them from being eaten too often.

Cichlids don’t eat Malaysian trumpet snails for the same reason. However, some cichlids have learned to snatch the snail out of its body.

Assassin snails:

Assassin snails are also known as bumblebee snails. These snails are one of the most common prey on cichlids.

They become prey due to their smaller size, making it easier for cichlids to eat the snails up.

Can snails go with cichlids?

Here are a few variables that determine whether a cichlid will eat a snail or not.

Species of the Cichlid:

Although most cichlids will eat snails, certain ones would certainly feed on snails, mainly because of their territorial nature.

Cichlids such as convict cichlids, buffalo cichlids, keyhole, chocolate, African, Haitian cichlids, or yellow labs are just some of the cichlids that are more likely to eat a snail.

When it comes to being the prey to cichlids, the most common ones would be ramshorn snails and pond snails. Mystery snails are also easily eaten by cichlids.

Number and size of snails:

The smaller the size of the snail, the higher probability for a cichlid to eat the snail.

Moreover, when there is a large number of snails, there is also a high chance that cichlids will eat more snails

Number and size of cichlids:

When the cichlid is larger, they would eat anything smaller than them, including snails.

The higher the number of cichlids, the higher the possibility of cichlids eating any snail present in the tank.

Size and design of tank:

The bigger the size of the tank and the more items included inside the tank, the higher chances for cichlids to be more docile.

Cichlids eat snails in tanks that are small and have lack hiding places.

Cichlid personality:

Each cichlid has a different personality. So some might be attracted to eating snails while others may completely ignore snails.

What cichlids can be kept with snails?

The following cichlids can be kept with snails:

Keyhole Cichlids:

One of the least aggressive cichlids that are popularly kept in aquariums for the same reasons.

Although all cichlids may eat snails, the chances of peaceful ones are less. These only eat the pest size snails

Peacock cichlids:

Sulfur head or blue orchid peacock cichlids are both peaceful cichlids, ideal for community living with smaller aquatic beings like snails.

What cichlids cannot be kept with snails?

You should not keep the following cichlids with snails:

  • Convict Cichlids
  • Wolf Cichlid
  • Red devil Cichlid
  • African Cichlids
  • Haitian Cichlid
  • Slender Bumphead Cichlid
  • Buffalo Cichlid
  • Jewel Cichlids
  • Eclectic yellow cichlids

Final thoughts

Cichlids are predatory when it comes to small snails and will mostly eat them. Whether or not a cichlid will eat a snail would depend on several factors. These include the species, number, and size of snail and cichlid. This would also indicate whether you can keep the in the same aquarium.