Kribensis: Amazing Hardy Fish

Among the vast family of cichlids, the so-called dwarf cichlids stand apart, that is, species whose adult size does not exceed 10 cm. They are found both on the American and African continents. In their color, as well as in the level of intelligence, they are in no way inferior to their larger counterparts. But they do not require huge aquariums and are often able to get along even with peaceful medium-sized fish. A guest from tropical Africa – bright and active Kribensis – will be discussed in our article.

General Information

Kribensis (Pelvicachromis pulcher) is a freshwater ray-finned fish from the Cichlov family. Kribensis are hardy fish, it is interesting to watch them, it is not without reason that this species has been kept and bred by aquarists for several centuries.


Kribensis belongs to dwarf cichlids, the size of an adult male does not exceed 10 cm, females are several centimeters smaller. The body is elongated, slightly thickened from the side of the abdomen. The front of the head is slightly curved, the forehead is sloping, the mouth is terminal with thick lips. The eyes are bluish with a black pupil.
The dorsal fin is long, stretches across the entire dorsum, and ends in elongated rays. The anal one is also displaced towards the tail, large in size. The shape of the caudal fin is rather unusual and resembles a rhombus. The pectoral fins are practically transparent, the ventral fins are reddish with a black border. There are black oval spots in the upper part of the caudal fin and at the end of the dorsal fin.

Kribensis has a bright and variegated color. The back of the fish is brown, the belly has a cherry-colored spot, the lower part of the head is golden. A wide dark strip stretches across the entire body. The scales on the sides of the fish shimmer with purple and azure colors from different angles of view. Body-color may vary depending on the condition of the fish. When planted in a new aquarium or in another stressful situation, Kribensis turn pale, but during the spawning period, they show themselves in all their glory.

Females are smaller than males, are much more modestly colored, have a convex abdomen. There are several color variations of these fish found in different geographic regions. New interesting colors were bred – for example, albino.

Life expectancy in comfortable conditions is about 5 years.


Kribensis occurs naturally in Southeastern Nigeria, West Cameroon, and East Benin. Mostly prefers slow-flowing reservoirs with dark tropical water and dense thickets of living plants, alternating with open ground.

Kribensis are able to live in a wide range of water parameters, this is primarily due to the conditions of natural reservoirs. The farther from the ocean, the more alkaline the water; closer to the mouths of the rivers, the water is partially mixed with saline.

Care and Keeping

The aquarium for keeping a pair of Kribensis must be at least 40 liters. Larger containers – 150 liters or more – can contain several pairs. At a young age, Kribensis lead a gregarious lifestyle, but as they grow, they split into pairs and occupy a certain territory. It is usually limited to large driftwood or rock, so it is important to place as many hiding places in the tank as possible, especially if you are keeping more than one pair. Make sure you have a lid, as fish can accidentally jump out of the aquarium.

It is better to use sandy or pebble soil, from time to time the fish like to dig it up at their own discretion. It is advisable to plant more live plants, the fish are indifferent to them, but it is recommended to use species that are not demanding on light: if the light is too bright, the Kribensis get scared and turn pale.

The aquarium must be equipped with a filter and a compressor. You should not create a strong current, fish do not like this. A thermostat is also needed to maintain a comfortable temperature. It is useful to use a conditioner with natural peat extract. It will help to make the water as close to natural as possible. Once a week it is necessary to replace up to 20% of the water in the aquarium with fresh water.

Optimum water parameters for the content: T = 24-27 °, pH = 5.0-8.0, GH = 5-19.


The natural diet of Kribensis consists of small organisms: crustaceans, worms, larvae, insects. Feeding Kribensis in an aquarium is no problem. This omnivorous fish perfectly takes any kind of food. It is best to stay on high-quality dry food because live and frozen ones carry the risk of contaminating the aquarium with dangerous infections and parasites, and in addition, are not balanced. Dry food is free of these disadvantages, it is convenient to store and give to your pets.

The food must be selected according to the size of the fish. You can choose the most convenient form because Kribensis perfectly eat flakes, chips, and granules.

It is necessary to feed Kribensis several times a day in small portions. When keeping in a shared aquarium with active fish, be sure to ensure that the Kribensis is supplied with food.

Reproduction and Breeding

Fortunately for many cichlid lovers, Kribensis reproduces quite easily. Maturity occurs at the age of 9-12 months. Gender dimorphism in adult fish is well pronounced, so mating is not difficult. Interesting fact: Kribensis has very strong couples, and if one of the “spouses” does not die, they can last a lifetime. Therefore, it is better not to separate the formed pair.

Spawning is possible both in general and in a separate spawning aquarium. The stimulus for mating games and spawning is an increase in temperature to 28 ° C. It is advisable to prepare a suitable shelter in the aquarium in advance. Ceramic pots work especially well.

The fecundity of a female can be 100-300 eggs. They are small in size (about 2 mm) and are colored red-brown. For Kribensis, care for the clutch is peculiar, it is alternately guarded by the male and female. Occasionally, parents start to eat their caviar. In such cases, it is better to transfer the pot of eggs to a separate container with similar water parameters.

The incubation of eggs takes about 4 days, the fry begins independent swimming a week after emergence. The coloration of young Kribensis is significantly different from that of adults. Until the age of one month, babies have a dot pattern that allows them to hide more effectively at the bottom. Horizontal stripes appear after the second month of life, and the final color is formed by 4 months.

Alice White

Written by Alice White

Alice White, a devoted pet lover and writer, has turned her boundless affection for animals into a fulfilling career. Originally dreaming of wildlife, her limited scientific background led her to specialize in animal literature. Now she happily spends her days researching and writing about various creatures, living her dream.

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