Do African Cichlids Eat Snails?

So you want to keep snails together with African cichlids, but is this really possible? This mainly depends on the size of the snails you keep your African Cichlids with.

If your snails are small enough, then cichlids with an aggressive temperament are most likely going to eat or bully them. Read this guide to find out what types of snails you can keep with African cichlids.

It is best to keep them in the same tank with peaceful herbivores because those are most likely not going to go after your snails. Keeping bigger snails will only further reduce the chance of them getting hurt.

Now the reason why you should keep snails with cichlids is because they will clean up your whole tank from algae and debris. They will eat any leftover food they see, thus greatly reducing water contamination.

If overfeeding is one of your problems, then it is probably time to get some snails. In fact, snails are beneficial for many types of community aquariums.

However, you need to make sure they don’t get injured or eaten by your fish.

There are only a handful of snail species you can keep in the same tank with African Cichlids.

In this article, we are going to recommend you some of them and also talk about the issues of keeping them. Without further ado, let’s jump to the first question regarding this matter!

What Snails can You Keep with African Cichlids?

The most popular snails to keep with African Cichlids are definitely Nerite snails. They are basically algae eater machines that will make your tank as clean as never before.

You don’t even need to worry about them reproducing because it is impossible for them in a freshwater aquarium.

Sea water is essential for their breeding and spawning process. Our second recommendation is the Japanese Trapdoor snail.

This one is simply gorgeous, which makes it a great addition to any home aquarium. It has a unique, spiral-shaped shell with decorative markings that you can’t see that often out in nature.

The Japanese Trapdoor snail will thoroughly clean up both the glass and the substrate of your tank. Another decorative addition in many home aquariums is the Rabbit snail.

This one is bigger, which makes it ideal for an African Cichlid tank.

A full-grown Rabbit snail is up to 4 inches long and it has a rabbit-like face. What makes them compatible with cichlids besides their size is the fact that they prefer the same temperature.

Their diet mainly consists of plant matter and algae.

The last one we are going to talk about is the Lava snail.  Fish keepers like to call it the Black Devil snail as well. It has a rather unusual look with its black or dark brown pointed shell.

Just like Nerite snails, this species also can’t reproduce in freshwater.

The only downside of keeping them is that they tend to eat live plants when they run out of algae.

Should You Keep Snails with African Cichlids?

You should definitely do if you want your aquarium to be clean of algae and debris. Snails do a great job cleaning up all that stuff.

Algae can quickly spread in your aquarium if you don’t keep any algae eater fish in it. Unfortunately, most African Cichlids are not algae eaters.

Therefore, adding a few snails to the fish tank can be a solution to the problem. There are some species of snails that will eat your plants if there are no algae left.

Make sure that you feed them every day with the type of food that substitutes those plants so that your decoration doesn’t get damaged.

Will African Cichlids Eat Ramshorn Snails?

If you buy Ramshorn snails, then your African Cichlids are eventually going to eat them.

The good thing about it is that they will only eat them if your Ramshorns are small. If you buy bigger ones, then the chances of them being eaten are going to be slim.

There are many decorative and beneficial snails that fall in the Ramshorn family. No matter which one you choose, it will be a great addition to the so-called clean up crew of your fish tank.

While following the interesting interactions between your fish, these snails are also a delight to watch.

Can You Keep Mystery Snails with African Cichlids?

There are certain species of African Cichlids the Mystery snail is compatible with. If you decide to keep your snails together with aggressive ones, then they are not going to survive for long.

Their long tentacles are going to be nipped on eventually, causing great damage.

Not to mention that aggressive cichlids would bully your Mystery snails a lot in general. If you choose to keep them with herbivores or peaceful fish, however, then your snails won’t be in danger.

Is it Good for African Cichlids to Eat Snails?

There are lots of herbivore African Cichlid species, meaning that meat-based food is not good for them.

They are just not used to that amount of protein intake as they can’t even digest all of it. As a result, eating snails is only going to cause intestinal problems for them.

This is why snails shouldn’t be a part of their diet at all. However, the good news is that herbivores are probably not even going to bother bullying your snails.

They are not going to eat them either. This makes them really good tank mates for fish keepers who want to keep snails in their aquarium.


Snails are not only useful but they can also be a decorative addition to your home aquarium. There are many snails to choose from that will make your aquarium look awesome.

However, not many of them are compatible with African Cichlids.

In this article, we have discussed the main problems that come with keeping snails in the same tank with cichlids.

We have also recommended four of them that you can keep in your community tank at any time. Snails are easy to take care of and they will also take care of your tank.

You only need to choose the right ones and then enjoy the benefits.

avatar Noah
I’m Noah, chief editor at VIVO Pets and the proud owner of a playful, energetic husky (Max). I’ve been a volunteer at Rex Animal Rescue for over 2 years. I love learning and writing about different animals that can be kept as pets. read more...

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