Banded snail cichlid

The striped snail cichlid lives in Lake Tanganyika in East Africa and inhabits there preferably empty snail shells, which it buries almost completely in the sand. It can live for about 4 years. The snail cichlids are also suitable for beginners.

What are the characteristics of striped snail cichlids?

Gestreifter Schneckenbuntbarsch
Richard A. Ingebrigtsen, Neolamprologus multifasciatus male, CC BY-SA 3.0

The males are territorial and can become very aggressive within their territories. It is not recommended to socialize with conspecifics or bottom-oriented fish in tanks of less than 100 L. However, if there are sufficient escape and shelter possibilities, a socialization with several conspecifics and also other fishes that are in the middle and upper water zone is quite possible. The snail cichlids should preferably be kept in small groups (5-6 animals) with the females in the majority. The males are forming harems.

The appearance of striped snail cichlids

Characteristic for the fish species is the light brown body colouring with a pattern of narrow alternating silvery light brown and dark brown horizontal stripes. 12 to 17 in number. These extend from the gill caps to the caudal fin. The eyes are light blue and the fins shimmer a faint bluish colour when viewed against the light.


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Gender differences

The female representatives of the striped snail cichlids do not grow as large as the males. Males reach a size of up to 4 cm, females only about 3 cm. Furthermore the fin ends of the males are more pointed than those of the females. There are no other external distinctive features.

Water values for striped snail cichlids

The species lives in hard water:

  • pH value: 7.8-9.0
  • Total hardness: 9°-20° dH (optimum 9° – 11° dH)
  • Carbonate hardness: 15°-20° KH (optimum 15° – 18° KH)

The following other water values are also relevant:

  • Nitrate: below 10 mg/L
  • Nitrite: 0.0 mg/L
  • NH3, NH4: 0.0 mg/L

Food and nutrition for striped snail cichlids

The fish are carnivorous – carnivores. The diet should consist of frozen and live food, such as Artemia, Cyclops or small daphnia, but can also include dry food after acclimatisation. In the ratio of live food and dry food, however, the emphasis should clearly be on live food.

The ideal aquarium for striped snail cichlids

A community aquarium for snail cichlids should hold at least 100 L (better more). Smaller aquariums are only suitable for keeping one species. The aquarium should be equipped with robust plants (e.g. Anubias or Javamoos) and stones. As the striped snail cichlid tends to dig in the wild, the aquarium should also be equipped with a thick layer of fine or medium-grained sand (grain size less than 1 mm). In addition, the aquarium should contain enough empty snail shells (agate or vine snail shells), which the striped snail cichlid can use as housing. Each animal should have its own snail shell, but two to four shells per animal are optimal.

Housing conditions

For the striped snail cichlid to feel comfortable, its aquarium water must be well maintained. In order to increase the oxygen intake in the aquarium, an additional aeration system should be installed. In the following the most important keeping conditions in short form:

  • at least keeping in pairs
  • Socialization of inhabitants of the upper water zones
  • Sufficient retreat possibilities, e.g. empty snail shells
  • Frost-and-Live Food
  • hard, oxygen-rich water

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