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Kribensis Cichlid (Pelvicachromis pulcher): Complete Care Guides, Tank Mates, FAQs

kribensis cichlid
<a href="https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Pelvicachromis_pulcher_(female)_02.jpg">Tino Strauss</a>, <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/">CC BY-SA 3.0</a>, via Wikimedia Commons

If you’re looking to add a splash of color and personality to your aquarium, the Kribensis Cichlid, scientifically known as Pelvicachromis pulcher, is a fantastic choice. This vibrant fish is a member of the Cichlidae family and is closely related to other African cichlids like the Angelfish. With its eye-catching colors ranging from pinkish-yellow to a blue or purple sheen, it’s a real showstopper.

The Kribensis Cichlid is not a rare find, making it an accessible and affordable option for fish enthusiasts. Native to the rivers and streams of West and Central Africa, this adaptable fish is primarily a bottom-dweller but will occasionally explore the mid-levels of your tank. It’s generally peaceful, making it a good fit for community tanks, although it can get a bit territorial, especially during breeding seasons.

Speaking of breeding, both parents take part in caring for the fry, which is a charming aspect of their behavior. The Kribensis Cichlid is an omnivore, enjoying a balanced diet of flake food, live food, and some plant matter. Its optimal water parameters are a pH range of 6-8 and a temperature between 75-80°F. Typically, it grows to a length of 3-4 inches and can live up to 5 years in captivity.

Now, let’s sprinkle in some fun facts. During the breeding season, the female’s belly turns a vivid hue, almost as if she’s “blushing.” They’ve also been known to engage in a “dance” as a form of mating display. How adorable is that?

As for its history, the Kribensis Cichlid was first described in 1901 and gained significant popularity in the aquarium trade in the latter half of the 20th century. Its vibrant colors and relatively peaceful nature have made it a staple in freshwater tanks globally.

Kribensis Cichlid
Tino Strauss, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Key Information

The Kribensis Cichlid is a captivating fish that comes in a variety of stunning forms. While the standard Kribensis is a sight to behold with its vibrant colors, the Albino Kribensis offers a unique, ethereal look. Another variant often mistaken for the Kribensis is the Taeniatus (Pelvicachromis taeniatus), which also makes for a beautiful aquarium resident. Each variant brings its own unique flair, making the Kribensis Cichlid a versatile choice for fish enthusiasts.

PriceGenerally affordable, around $5-$15 per fish
Common NamesKrib, Purple Cichlid
VariantsStandard, Albino Kribensis, Taeniatus
Ideal Tank SizeMinimum 20 gallons
Water ParameterspH 6-8, temperature 75-80°F
LifespanUp to 5 years in captivity
Full Size3-4 inches in length
Natural EnvironmentRivers and streams of West and Central Africa
BehaviorGenerally peaceful but can be territorial
Habitat PreferenceBottom to mid-levels of the tank
Aquarium DecorationPlants, rocks, and caves for hiding
Ideal Tank MatesTetras, Guppies, other non-aggressive species
Fish to AvoidAggressive or much larger species
Best Foods/DietFlake food, live food, plant matter
DiseaseSusceptible to Ich and other common fish diseases
Sex-SwitchNo known sex-switching behavior
Gender DifferencesFemales are generally more colorful
Care LevelEasy to moderate
Breeding LevelEasy; both parents care for the fry

Ideal Tank Mates

To choose the perfect companions for your Kribensis Cichlid, it is crucial to take into account its overall peaceful nature, which is occasionally accompanied by a territorial instinct. The Kribensis Cichlid is a bottom to mid-level dweller, so choosing tank mates that occupy different areas of the tank can help maintain a harmonious environment. Additionally, it’s advisable to opt for fish that are not overly aggressive to ensure that all species can coexist peacefully. Here are 15 ideal tank mates that would make excellent companions for your Kribensis Cichlid:

Neon Tetra

Neon Tetras are small, colorful, and peaceful, making them an excellent choice. They usually swim in the middle to upper parts of the tank, so they won’t invade the Kribensis Cichlid’s territory.


Guppies are another peaceful species that tend to occupy the upper levels of the tank. Their vibrant colors and easy-going nature make them a great match.

Zebra Danio

Zebra Danios are active swimmers and generally stick to the upper part of the tank. They are hardy and can adapt to various water conditions.

Cherry Barb

Cherry Barbs are peaceful and colorful fish that usually swim in the middle levels of the tank. They are also relatively easy to care for.

Corydoras Catfish

Corydoras are bottom-dwellers like the Kribensis but are known for their peaceful temperament. They can coexist without any issues.


Platies are easy-going and add a splash of color to any tank. They are versatile and can adapt to various water conditions.


Swordtails are peaceful and usually occupy the middle to upper levels of the tank. Their unique appearance adds diversity to your aquarium.


Mollies are adaptable and peaceful fish that can live harmoniously with Kribensis Cichlids. They usually swim in the middle levels of the tank.

Harlequin Rasbora

These fish are peaceful and tend to swim in the middle to upper parts of the tank. Their unique color patterns make them an attractive addition.

Black Skirt Tetra

Black Skirt Tetras are hardy and peaceful, usually occupying the middle levels of the tank. They are easy to care for and get along well with Kribensis Cichlids.

Cardinal Tetra

Similar to Neon Tetras but slightly larger, Cardinal Tetras are peaceful and colorful, making them an excellent choice for a community tank.

Rummy-Nose Tetra

These are peaceful fish that add a unique look to your tank. They usually swim in schools and occupy the middle levels of the aquarium.

Otocinclus Catfish

Otocinclus are small, algae-eating catfish that are peaceful and easy to care for. They usually stick to the bottom or sides of the tank.

Dwarf Gourami

Dwarf Gouramis are peaceful and colorful, usually sticking to the middle or top levels of the tank. They are relatively easy to care for.

Clown Loach

Clown Loaches are bottom-dwellers but are generally peaceful and can coexist with Kribensis Cichlids. However, they do grow quite large and require a bigger tank.

Choosing the right tank mates for your Kribensis Cichlid can make all the difference in creating a peaceful and visually appealing aquarium. The above options are all excellent choices that can coexist harmoniously with your Kribensis Cichlid.


While there’s a wealth of information about the Kribensis Cichlid in our FAQs, it’s essential to mention that fish enthusiasts may still have their own unique, specific inquiries. These FAQs aim to address those unique queries that haven’t been discussed yet. Whether you’re a seasoned fishkeeper or a beginner looking to add a Kribensis Cichlid to your tank, these FAQs will provide you with additional insights.

What is the best substrate for a Kribensis Cichlid tank?

Sand or fine gravel works well as it allows the fish to sift through it, which is a natural behavior for them.

Can Kribensis Cichlids live in a brackish water environment?

No, Kribensis Cichlids are freshwater fish and are not suited for brackish water conditions.

Are Kribensis Cichlids jumpers?

While not known for being avid jumpers, it’s always a good idea to have a well-fitted lid on your tank to prevent any accidental escapes.

How do Kribensis Cichlids react to lighting?

Kribensis Cichlids are generally not sensitive to lighting, but they do appreciate some shaded areas in the tank, which can be provided through plants or decorations.

Can Kribensis Cichlids be kept in a planted tank?

Yes, they actually thrive in planted tanks. Plants provide them with hiding spots and also contribute to a more stable water environment.

Do Kribensis Cichlids have any specific filtration needs?

A standard aquarium filter should suffice, but make sure it’s not too powerful as to create strong currents, which they generally don’t appreciate.

Is it necessary to use an air stone or additional aeration for Kribensis Cichlids?

While not strictly necessary, additional aeration can be beneficial, especially in a densely stocked tank.

Can Kribensis Cichlids coexist with invertebrates like snails or shrimp?

Generally, they can coexist with snails, but they might see smaller shrimp as food, especially if the shrimp are very small or the fish are particularly hungry.

What are the signs of a healthy Kribensis Cichlid?

A healthy Kribensis Cichlid will have clear eyes, vibrant colors, and an active demeanor. They should also have a good appetite.

How can I reduce stress for my Kribensis Cichlid?

Providing plenty of hiding spots, maintaining stable water conditions, and keeping them with suitable tank mates can all contribute to a stress-free environment for your Kribensis Cichlid.

What should I do if my Kribensis Cichlid is not eating?

If your Kribensis Cichlid is refusing food, it could be a sign of stress or illness. Check water parameters and observe for any other signs of disease. If the issue persists, consult a veterinarian.

Is it okay to keep a single Kribensis Cichlid?

While Kribensis Cichlids are generally okay being kept alone, they do show more natural behaviors when kept in pairs or small groups, especially during breeding.

How do Kribensis Cichlids interact with live plants?

Kribensis Cichlids are generally not known to damage live plants. In fact, they enjoy the natural cover and hiding spots that plants provide.

Can Kribensis Cichlids change color?

Yes, Kribensis Cichlids can change color based on their mood, health, and during breeding seasons. For example, females often display a more vivid belly color when they are ready to breed.

How often should I perform water changes in a Kribensis Cichlid tank?

A regular schedule of 25-30% water changes every two weeks is generally recommended to maintain optimal water quality.

Are Kribensis Cichlids sensitive to medications?

They are not particularly sensitive, but always follow the medication guidelines and perhaps start with a half-dose to observe how your fish react.

Can Kribensis Cichlids be kept in a tank with a strong current?

Kribensis Cichlids generally prefer slower-moving waters, so a strong current is not recommended. Make sure your filter output is not creating excessive flow in the tank.

What is the growth rate of Kribensis Cichlids?

The growth rate can vary, but generally, they can reach their full size of 3-4 inches within a year under optimal conditions.

Do Kribensis Cichlids have teeth?

Yes, like many cichlids, Kribensis Cichlids have small pharyngeal teeth in their throat, in addition to their regular jaw teeth, which they use for processing food.

Can Kribensis Cichlids hear?

Fish don’t “hear” in the way that humans do, but they do have a lateral line system that allows them to detect vibrations and changes in the water, which serves a similar purpose.

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Total posts created: 116
A long-time freshwater fish enthusiast with a passion for sharing knowledge about this fascinating hobby. Over the years, Michelle has dedicated countless hours to studying, learning, and experiencing firsthand the joys and challenges of fish-keeping.

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