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The Most Peaceful Cichlid You Can Raise – The Kribensis

A colorful and popular freshwater fish, the Kribensis Cichlid is truly a breed worth considering for your own freshwater aquarium.

Considered both a community tank fish and a dwarf cichlid, the Kribensis Cichlid is attractive and interactive, getting along well with most other community species. It is one of the few types of cichlids that is able to get along well with other tank mates and is not overly aggressive.

Despite this, there are some considerations to make when you are preparing to care for one of these colorful fish.

Do you have what it takes? Consider reading to learn more about what you need to do to raise a Kribensis Cichlid – as well as whether this fish is right for you.


Background Of The Kribensis Cichlid

Kribensis 1
Photo by Josh Geddes

Known scientifically as Pelvicachromis taeniatus, pulcher, the Kribensis Cichlid is native to West Africa. A moderately aggressive fish, it is much calmer and more docile than other types of cichlids. It has an average lifespan of about five years, only growing to three or four inches in length.

You might see this fish sold by a variety of other names, including Kribs, Purple Cichlid, River Rainbow Cichlid, Niger Cichlid, and the Palette Cichlid.

These fish are native to the rivers and river deltas of West Africa, each of which has various pH, hardness, and salinity levels. Kribensis Cichlids can be found in a variety of water types, including hard water, black water, and even brackish waters, too.

Kribensis Cichlids are usually found in densely vegetated, slow-moving waters – but again, the exact habitat can vary. Luckily. Since Kribensis Cichlids have been domesticated for many years and bred for the aquarium setting for an equally long amount of time, the native environment of this fish doesn’t play a major role in raising one – they are easily adaptable.

Types Of Kribensis Cichlids

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Photo by Frederik Lundgaard Hansen

When you are shopping for a Kribensis Cichlid, you might find several different types for sale. Here are two of the most popular options. Other types can be found and ordered, but these are the two you are most likely to see in your community pet store.

1 Kribensis

Kribensis 3
Photo by Pumpkin45

Known simply as Kribensis, or Pelvicachromis pulcher, the standard Kribensis Is the most popular kind sold and is why it is so ubiquitously named. This fish has a gorgeous black stripe that extends from the center of its body down along the top. It has white, yellow, and cream colors on its body, along with a bright red stomach.

The Kribensis Cichlid is known for its gorgeous colors and patterns, and can even be found with shades of orange, purple, blue, and black. During the breeding season, the colors only intensify – the stronger the red coloration that a female has, the more attracted to her a male will be. These fish grow to around three or four inches in length and prefer tanks with temperatures ranging from 75 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

2 Striped Kribensis

Striped Kribensis
Photo by Ron DeCloux

The striped Kribensis Is not as common in the aquarium hobbyist trade. However, it’s quite lovely to behold, possessing beautiful dark brown coloration, iridescent scales, and a spotted black-and-orange tail fin like the standard Kribensis. Each fish is different from the next, with unique colors and patterns found in each and every Kribensis. Growing to about the same size as the standard Kribensis, this fish likes slightly cooler waters.

Kribensis Cichlid Behavior

Kribensis 4
Photo by Evan Krosney

Kribensis cichlids are some of the most peaceful cichlids you can find. Since they are dwarf cichlids, you don’t usually have to worry about them trying to eat the other fish in your tank.

Occasionally, you may find that your Kribensis Cichlid nips at the fins of long-finned species like angelfish or plecostomus catfish. This can easily be combated by selecting the proper tankmates and giving your Kribensis Cichlid plenty of entertainment and swimming room in the tank.

You may also need to watch your Kribensis Cichlid during breeding times. These fish are known to become territorial during these periods, and while they are excellent parents, that aptitude comes with an unfortunate amount of aggression, as they will scare other fish away from their young. To avoid this, consider keeping only one single Kribensis Cichlid or keep the ones you do have in same-sex pairs.

Setting Up A Kribensis Cichlid Tank

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Photo by Lewis Hill

As with all fish in an aquarium., it’s important that you pay close attention to the care requirements for this special kind of fish. While Kribensis Cichlids need moderately large tanks, you can easily keep them with other types of fish to create a gorgeous display of color in your tank. That’s great news, since these fish have relatively easy to meet requirements for water parameters that will suit many other types of fish, too.

Kribensis Cichlids can be kept in waters that fall within a wide pH range – from 5.0 to 8.0. They prefer temperatures of around 75 to 79 degrees Fahrenheit and like alkalinity that lies between 5 and 20 dGH. That being said, keeping your water parameters stable is more important than keeping them perfect. For example, fi your pH is slightly off, let the fish adjust to the water and don’t constantly play with the parameters.

This is because any changes in pH, water hardness, or temperature can seriously stress your fish, especially if the changes are extreme. This kind of stress can make your fish very ill and it can even shorten its life.

When you add your Kribensis Cichlid to you tank, it’s important that you give your fish plenty of time to acclimate. To do this, float the bag your fish is in within your tank. Add water slowly, putting about ¼ to ½ of the amount in the bag every few minutes. Once the bag is totally full, after about three or four additions, removing half the water in the bag.

Repeat this process three times. Once this is complete, you can use a net to release the fish into his new home.

Before you can introduce your Kribensis Cichlid, it’s important that you take the time to cycle your tank. Proper cycling your aquarium removes all nitrites and ammonia from the tank, making it safe for your fish to live in. Nitrates are also commonly found in community aquariums, but these can be kept at levels below 40pp. Make sure you test your water regularly with an aquarium test kit.

You will need a tank that is at least 30 or 40 gallons in volume. This is ideal for a breeding pair of Kribensis, but a larger tank will be even better, particularly if you plan on keeping your fish there permanently.

You should invest in a 30 gallon hang-on-back filter, but you may also be able to use a canister filter. A canister filter is the best option for large tanks, as it will keep your tank cycled and clean. Make sure that no matter what kind of filter you select, you choose one that can turn over the water in your tank at least even times an hour. You will need a filter that processes water at least ten times an hour if you have a planted tank.

You will also need a good heater. Heaters will help your Kribensis Cichlid stay warm, as these fish require warm waters. Temperature fluctuations do still sometimes occur in Kribensis Cichlids tank, so make sure you have a heater that will moderate the water so your fish does not become stressed.

As far as lighting goes, you can be flexible. Kribensis cichlids don’t have specific requirements, and while it’s important to provide them with good day/night cycles, you don’t need to be picky when it comes to setting up your Kribensis Cichlid tank lighting.

Substrate is an important consideration to make. These fish like dark-colored substrate and will also be the most colorful to behold in these areas. Choose sand or small gravel to allow them to dig around and make large pits. Keep in mind that large gravel will not be ideal for your Kribensis Cichlid, as it will make it harder for them to dig in.

Some cichlids are known to destroy plants, making them impossible to keep in the tank, but Kribensisare rare in that they are considered safe around plants. There are many different low-light plants that can help keep your Kribensis comfortable and looking good.

Some plants to consider include Java Fern, Java Moss, Anubias, Vallisneria, Amazon Sword, Pennyworth,and Anacharis. In addition to keeping plants, you also need to make sure your Kribensis Cichlid has hardscape in which to hide. You might choose cichlid caves or you can purchase other commercially available fish caves or PVC. Some people even use terra cotta flower pots!

No matter what you choose, make sure there are multiple caves available for all of your kribensis. These caves help them to feel more secure and reduce the need for them to establish their own territories.

Before you add your Kribensis Cichlid to the tank, make sure you take the time to cycle it. Kribensis Cichlids are extremely vulnerable to nitrite and ammonia, so you will need to cycle your tank before you can add any fish. This usually takes about a month to do, and you can get your tank set up and designed to your liking while you are waiting.

It can help to add some plants during the cycling process, too. Plants will absorb nitrogen elements like nitrite, ammonia, and nitrate. In addition, they harbor small colonies of bacteria that can convert harmful compounds to more benign ones.

What To Feed A Kribensis Cichlid

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Photo by Tropical Fish Aquatic

Kribensis cichlids are omnivores, making them excellent candidates for a community tank because they will eat just about anything! You Can feed them multiple types of food each week, but a pellet and flake food will form the core of your Kribensis Cichlid diet. A sinking pellet is a good option, since Kribensis Cichlids tend to hang out at the bottom of the water column.

These fish will eat practically anything you decide to drop into your tank, including frozen brine shrimp, bloodworms, algae wafers, or even frozen daphnia. Just make sure you don’t overfeed your Kribensis Cichlid, giving it only what it can eat in thirty seconds two or three times each day.

Best Tank Mates For A Kribensis Cichlid

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Photo by Igor Kanshyn

Kribensis Cichlids are some of the only cichlids you can keep in a community tank with other fish. They are known for their peaceful demeanor and do quite well with schooling species like barbs and tetras. Some other potential tank mates to consider include harlequin rasboras, corydoras catfish, plecostomus catfish, Siamese algae eaters, and other dwarf cichlids. The best tetras to consider are congo tetras, but really any time of schooling tetra will do.

There aren’t too many species you need to avoid when you are considering the best tankmates for your Kribensis Cichlid. You should try to keep large cichlids (those that will grow larger than six inches) with your kribensis, as they are likely to view the smaller fish as food. They will also be more aggressive in most cases.

Interestingly, you can’t always keep Kribensis Cichlids with other kribensis. This is truly a case-by-case consideration to make, as some Kribensis Cichlids get along swimmingly with others of their own species, but some males do not and become aggressive toward others, especially during the breeding season.

You should also avoid keeping your Kribensis Cichlid with invertebrates, like crayfish and small shrimp. These are likely to be eaten by your Kribensis Cichlid. You may be able to get away with keeping your Kribensis Cichlid with larger invertebrates, like Dwarf Mexican Crayfish or amano shrimp, however.

Finally, it may behoove you to keep other bottom dwellers out of the Kribensis Aquarium. Again, this is something to be addressed on a case-by-case basis. These fish sometimes do okay with other bottom dwellers – particularly if there is enough food – but they should not be kept together during spawning times, when they can become particularly aggressive.

How To Breed Kribensis Cichlids

If you are hoping to breed your own cichlids, the Kribensis is a good species to consider. It’s relatively easy to breed and since each Kribensis has its own individual personality, it can be quite fun to see what colors and personalities you can create through the breeding process.

Breeding Kribensis Cichlids is easy, especially when you compare the process to breeding other fish, like bettas or discus. To start with, you will need to set up a tank that is separate from your main aquarium. Consider investing in a new dedicated breeding tank with its own heater and sponge filter. Since the young need to be separated before your fish are able to spawn again, investing in a separate tank – rather than removing the young – is considered to be a more popular option anyway.

To set up your spawning tank, make sure you have a sponge filter that will prevent your little fry from being sucked up into the intake. You can use a dark pea gravel or and as substrate, and you should also provide multiple cave options. Cichlids spawn in caves, and will also dig large holes in the substrate to move their fry around.

Your tank should be roughly 30 to 40 gallons in volume, but if you’re using it only temporarily, you may be able to get away with a tank that is only 10 to 20 gallons in volume. Keep the pH at about 7.0. If your pH is higher, you will likely end up with all males, and if it’s lower, you will end up with all females. You’re temperature in this breeding tank should be maintained between 77 and 79 degrees Fahrenheit on the warm end of the Kribensis Cichlid’s tolerance.

When you are isolating fish that will be used for breeding, you will need to determine the gender of your fish. Kribensis Cichlid males tend to grow much larger than the females, often growing to four inches in length, while the females only average around two and a half inches. Males have pointed dorsal fins and tails, while those of the females are more rounded. Cichlid pairs must be bonded in order to spawn, so make sure your Kribensis Cichlids have actually done this.

Before spawning, you will also need to take the time to condition your fish. For most Kribensis Cichlids, this will take around one to two weeks and can be done through the feeding olive foods like bloodworms, daphnia, fairy shrimp, and white worms. You can keep the pair separate or together during this time.

Once your peer has been conditioned, it’s time to put them in their new tank. They will usually spawn as long as you have the proper pH and temperatures, so give them enough time to do so and just be patient.

As we mentioned earlier, Kribensis Cichlids are excellent parents. Both will guard the eggs and fry for a full month, and all you will need to do is provide plenty of food for both the parents and the young. Usually, it takes between three and eight days for the eggs to hatch, and it will take another couple of days for the young to absorb their egg sac after that. You won’t need to feed them until this has occurred.

Once the fry are ready to eat, you can feed them baby brine shrimp. This can occur for one to two weeks. After they are weaned off the baby brine shrimp, they should start eating solid foods, like ground up flake food, with their parents.

You should keep a close eye on the behavior of the parents during this time. If they want to spawn again, they may attempt to kill the young fry so that they have the space to do so. After a month, you should be safe to move the parents anyway, so this is recommended in addition to eating fry, parent Kribensis Cichlids are also known to fan their eggs and eat unfertilized eggs to protect the fertilized eggs from developing fungus.

Fry can usually be sold once they are about an inch in a half in length. Since they start showing their gorgeous colors after they are around one inch long, they should be excellent candidates by that point. They can usually fetch anywhere between $3 and $20 per fish.

Is The Kribensis Cichlid Right For You?

If you’re interested in raising cichlids but don’t want to deal with any of the aggressive behaviors displayed by other cichlid types, the Kribensis Cichlid might be a good choice for you. This fish is friendly and interactive, an excellent choice for a community tank. You can raise the Kribensis Cichlid with just about any other type of fish with moderate success, and since it’s so easy to breed, feed, and care for, it’s the one you’ve got to consider raising for sure.

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