Kribensis care guide

Kribensis (lat. Pelvicachromis 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.

Habitat in the wild

Pelvicachromis pulcher 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.

Scientific NamePelvicachromis pulcher
Common NamesKribensis; kribs
Range and habitatAfrica
Size12.5 cm (4.9 in)
Lifespan3-5 years
Ease of keepingEasy
Minimum tank size200 liters (44 gallons) and more
Temperature75–81 °F (24–27 °C)
Water hardness5-20 dGH


In the wild kribensis male is larger than the female – 12.5 cm (4.9 in) against 8.1 cm (3.2 in). However, in a tank female is usually larger than the male. As a rule lifespan is about 5 years.

The upper side of the 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 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. Female abdominal fins are wine-red and male has violet ones. There is also albino fishes which doesn’t differ from the ordinary species at all as for the keeping conditions.

Kribensis male
Albino kribensis male and ordinary female

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.

Care and 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, tank mates should be some depth or upper water layer inhabitants and the tank should be spacious enough.

Recommended tank capacity is from 200 liters (44 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 couple, soon you’ll see them settling into their new houses.

To lessen the kribensis aggressiveness it’s advisable to keep 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 females and males meet at their territory border and demonstrate their beautiful coloring and strength to their rivals.

It is characteristic that kribensis male 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 in a tank: pH 6.0-7.5, water temperature 24–26 °C or 75–79 °F, 5-20° dGH. 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.

Tank mates

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.

They 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 kribensis needs to have its own territory and nookeries, in this case it is almost harmless. As for keeping fishes 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 tank mate, especially if they inhabit in different water layers. They also can get on well with other fishes. They 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 kribensis since they are omnivorous and they eat all types of feed: live, frozen and artificial ones. But still it’s better to feed 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.

Gender differences: male vs female

It’s quite easy to see between adult kribensis male and female. The male has more wide and downward head, and the main difference is that he is much larger than the female. Except that 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 and the female one among juveniles and young fish. There is an indirect indicator – that the male is still larger than the female one.

Kribensis male and female


Once you’ve created proper conditions for breeding, it’s not a problem to provoke 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 initiates spawning by demonstrating its bright abdomen. To tempt the male the female one will curve and wave her fins and shake her body. It can be often seen that the kribensis 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 couple starts spawning and the female will lay from 40 to 100 eggs. The female won’t leave the cave from the moment she lays her eggs and till the time the juveniles start swimming.

The kribensis male will swim around their cave guarding its female and juveniles. Juveniles growth varies depending on tank water temperature. At temperature 29 °C (84,2 °F) the juveniles grow fast and start swimming out of their cave.

It’s rather difficult to see the kribensis juveniles against the tank bottom background. However, it’s easy to see when the juveniles have left the cave – just when the female 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 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 couple is ready to spawn again, if you put it into the tank with proper breeding conditions.