Kribensis (Pelmatochromis pulcher)

Kribensis (Pelmatochromis pulcher) is a bright dwarf cichlid which is not very demanding as for its tank conditions.

From Latin «Pelva» means «abdomen», «chromis» – is a color and «pulcher» means beautiful, so all these words describe the fish completely. Especially when spawning the fish abdomen glitters and it becomes cherry colored.




Krib is plain as for its tank water parameters and this is what made the fish so popular. The fish is native to Ethiopian rivers outflows in the Niger River delta. Water from deep residuary waters is rather acid and very soft, but in the river delta the water is brackish, more alkali with much higher hardness parameter, than the waters that feed it.


In the wild kribensis male is larger than the female fish – 12.5 cm (4.9 in) against 8.1 cm (3.2 in).

However, in a tank kribensis female is usually larger than the male fish. As a rule kribensis life span is about 5 years.

The upper side of the fish body is brownish with blue or violet glitter, its body sides and abdomen color varies from blue to violet with some greenish shine.

There’s a long dark lateral stripe on the fish back and another stripe goes along the body, though it is more pronounced on juveniles’ body.

Males have about 1-5 dark round spots with bright yellow border on the upper side of their tail. Kribensis female abdominal fins are wine-red and male fish has violet ones.

There is also albino kribensis which doesn’t differ from the ordinary species at all as for the keeping conditions

albino kribensis
albino kribensis

Difficulties in keeping

It’s a plain and small fish, which can be kept in a community tank together with the fishes of equal size. It’s not demanding as for the feed and care, so it can be recommended for the beginners, however, please, keep in mind that the fish is aggressive towards its tank mates during its spawning period.

Keeping in a tank

It’s highly recommended to keep kribensis without any other tank mates, since, as we’ve already mentioned above, the fish becomes rather aggressive during its spawning period and while taking care of its juveniles.

In case, if you did decide to keep kribensis not alone in a tank, kribensis tank mates should be some depth or upper water layer inhabitants and the tank should be spacious enough. Recommended tank capacity is from 150 liters (40 gallons).

It’s important that the tank has lots of different nookeries – flower pots, nut shells, tubes, caves, especially if you plan to get juveniles someday.

It’s better to place such nookeries in a tank corners, and if you have more than one kribensis couple, soon you’ll see them settling into their new houses.

To lessen the fish aggressiveness it’s advisable to keep two fish couples, since in this case the tank territory will be divided and the fish won’t fight, they’ll just demonstrate their bright coloring to each other on the edge of their territory instead.

It’s especially interesting to observe how each fish couple divides the tank space into its own home territory and the rival’s one.

And then kribensis females and males meet at their territory border and demonstrate their beautiful coloring and strength to their rivals.

It is characteristic that male fish stand against males, and female against females.

Proper tank bottom substrate is as important, as nookeries. Krib likes sandy or small gravel bottom, which they dig all the time.

The fish may dig out some small tank plant, but in general they don’t do any harm to tank plants.

What is more, you should cover the tank, since the fish is rather active and it may jump out of the tank.

The following water parameters are comfortable for Krib in a tank:: pH 5.6–6.2, water temperature 24–26 °C or 75–79 °F, 8-12° dH.

In fact, kribensis has lived in tanks for quite a while, so the fish has adapted rather well to different water parameters and tank conditions.

Scientific NamePelmatochromis pulcher
Common NameKribensis Cichlid, krib, rainbow cichlid, purple cichlid
Tank size150 liters (40 gallons) and more
TemperamentPeaceful, territorial during spawning
Temperature75–81 °F (24–27 °C)
Size12.5 cm (4.9 in)


Although kribensis is kept in community tanks, yet you should take seriously the process of choosing its tank mates, since it is still a cichlid, no matter that it is a small one.

They become very aggressive while spawning – in my tank they used to force a school of angelfish into the tank corner and made them stay there.

At that Kribs didn’t do any harm to them, but still their tank mates were continuously stressed. Kribensis may bite the fins of slow tank mates, such as angelfish, though they tend to do this in some crowded tanks because of stress and lack of space.

The fish needs to have its own territory and nookeries, in this case it is almost harmless. As for keeping Kribs and shrimps together, they’ll definitely feed on small ones, just like Angelfish does.

In general, any fish of equal size will do as a Krib tank mate, especially if they inhabit in different water layers.

They also can get on well with other fishes. Kribs don’t harm any tank plants, so you can keep them in a planted tank, but keep in mind that they like digging the tank bottom, especially if it is a sandy one.


It’s easy to feed Kribs since they are omnivorous and they eat all types of feed: live, frozen and artificial ones. But still it’s better to feed kribensis with various foods, since it’s good for the fish health and coloring.

Remember, that this fish takes its food from a tank bottom, so it’s important that the food gets there, without being eaten by other fishes in the middle water layers.

Amazon Best Sellers for African cichlids
TetraCichlid Cichlid FlakesNutritionally Balanced Diet for All Cichlids
These hearty flakes stay firm and won’t disintegrate when fish strike them
Enhanced with vitamin C and the patented
New Life Spectrum Cichlid FormulaNewLife Spectrum is made from quality natural ingredients
Extreme Color enhancement and vitality in your fish
Made in the USA
Hikari 8.8-Ounce Cichlid Excel Floating PelletsFloating pellets allow easy monitoring of amount eaten
High wheat-germ content
High in pure-cultured spirulina
High vitamin E content promotes long-term health and vigor
Linolenic acid promotes healthy organs and active reproduction
Northfin Food Cichlid FormulaOnly the highest marine grade proteins and additives are used
Artificial pigment free and has no added hormones
Manufactured in a CFIA /USDA/FDA
Hikari Freeze Dried Tubifex WormsConvenient, Small Cubes Of Tubifex Worms
Will not cloud the water
Multi-vitamin rich to reduce stress and stress related diseases
Free of parasites and harmful bacteria
Nitrogen charging reduces oxidation prior to opening
Gravel Cleaners
Python No Spill Clean and Fill Aquarium Maintenance SystemWill not disturb fish or decor during routine aquarium maintenance
Adapts easily to most faucets
Complete ready-to-use system
KEDSUM Aquarium Gravel Vacuum SiphonFish Tank Sand Cleaner Water Filter with 2.11Gal /min
Aquarium Water Treatments
Cichlid Lake SaltReplicates the natural environment of all Rift Valley Lake African Cichlids
Designed to replicate the natural environment of cichlids
Contains magnesium, potassium, calcium, and sodium
Also contains trace elements such as iron, aluminum, and iodide
Does not contain harmful or unnecessary elements
250 grams treats up to 675 gallons
Seachem Cichlid Trace ElementsCichlid specific
Restores necessary trace elements
Safe and easy to use
Seachem PrimeDechlorinates
Detoxifies heavy metals
Promotes natural slime coat
Will not overactivate protein skimmers
Aquarium Filters
Fluval Canister FilterMulti-stage filter pumps out 700 US Gal (2650 L) of water per hour
Self-starting – just add water, plug in and Smart Pump will take over
Trapped air auto-evacuated every 12 hours to ensure maximum efficiency
Easy water changes eliminate
Simply attach hosing
Media baskets eliminate water bypass and hold a total of 1 US Gal (3.9 L) of media
Marineland Penguin Power FilterCertified flow rate of 350GPH
Perfect for all aquariums up to 70-gallon
Uses two Rite-Size C” filter cartridges
Delivers easy, three stage mechanical, chemical, and biological filtration
Convenient Penguin Rite Size Cartridges come ready to use with each filter
Aquarium Test Kits
API FRESHWATER MASTER TEST KIT 800-TestIncludes Freshwater pH, High Range pH, Ammonia, Nitrite, and Nitrate.
Kit features computer-analyzed laminated color cards, instruction booklet, 4 test tubes, a holding tray and test tube rac
Made in USA
Accurately monitors 5 most vital water parameters levels in freshwater aquariums: pH, nitrite, nitrate, carbonate and general water hardness
Designed for use in freshwater aquariums only
Use for weekly monitoring and when water or fish problems appear
Tetra EasyStrips 6-in-1 Test StripsWith Tetra EasyStrips Now More Convenient to Test Your Water
More accurate hardness test
Reaction stops in 60 seconds to prevent false higher readings
Aquarium Décor
Stone Replica Aquarium Decoration Realistic Granite LookThis 8 piece set of granite stone replicas has a realistic shape in shades of grey and black
Set includes 3 small stones, 3 medium stones, and 2 large stones
Holes provide a hideaway for your fish to rest or hide reducing stress and aggression
Made of safe durable resin, this aquarium decoration is safe for use in both freshwater and saltwater aquariums
Additional stones can be purchased separately to create even larger displays.
Cichlid StonesThis product is easy to use
This product adds a great Value
This product is Manufactured in ChinaUnderwater Galleries
Cichlid StoneGravel was added to barely coat the bottom
The African Cichlids actually behave better with new arrangements

Sex differences

It’s quite easy to see between adult Krib male and female. The male fish has more wide and downward head, and the main difference is that he is much larger than the female fish. Except that Krib female is smaller, it has much rounder abdomen with bright raspberry-red spot on it.

However, it’s very difficult to see the difference between the male fish and the female one among kribensis juveniles and young fish. There is an indirect indicator – that the male fish is still larger than the female one.

Krib male and female with fry
Krib male and female


Once you’ve created proper conditions for kribensis breeding, it’s not a problem to provoke kribensis spawning.

When feeding the breeders with diversified live and plant food, the fish become brightly colored quite soon and start breeding. More often the female fish initiates spawning by demonstrating its bright abdomen. To tempt the male fish the female one will curve and wave her fins and shake her body.

It can be often seen that the fish couple throws out gravel from its cave just before spawning. They are busy with getting their nookery ready for the future juveniles.

After that the fish couple starts spawning and the female fish will lay from 40 to 100 eggs. The female fish won’t leave the cave from the moment she lays her eggs and till the time the juveniles start swimming.

The male fish will swim around their cave guarding its female fish and juveniles.

Kribensis juveniles growth varies depending on tank water temperature. At temperature 29 С (84,2 F) the juveniles grow fast and start swimming out of their cave.

It’s rather difficult to see the juveniles against the tank bottom background. However, it’s easy to see when the juveniles have left the cave – just when the female fish has gone out of it.

Since the time when juveniles start swimming around the tank, they can be fed with brine shrimp and artificial feed for the juveniles. When the juveniles become more active their parents usually take care of them, they mill the live feed in their mouths and thoroughly guard them.

However, in some cases only one parent takes care of juveniles completely, it even comes to the time when one parent attacks another.

If this happens, you should immediately take another parent away from the tank. In 2-4 weeks krib juveniles will become about 1,25 cm long (0.5 in), after that they have to be set apart from their parents. By this time the fish couple is ready to spawn again, if you put it into the tank with proper breeding conditions.