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Last updated: 19-Jul-2002

Avg. Price: $6 (BD$)

Availability: Very hard to find in Barbadian pet shops

Species/genus: Pelvicachromis pulcher.
Formerly Pelmatochromis pulcher & Pelmatochromis kribensis

Common Name(s): Kribensis, Niger Cichlid, Purple Cichlid

Origin: Nigeria

Water Conditions: Ph: 6.5 to 7.5; Temp: 75 - 81F (24 - 27C) Hardness: Soft to Hard Water

Temperament: Territorial. Active & quite aggressive at breeding time. Can be peaceful when not breeding.

Adult Size: 3-4 inches.

Water Region: Prefers the Bottom & Middle regions of the aquarium.

Feeding: Omnivorous. Kribensis will readily accept all types of live & prepared foods. Can be fed flakes, spirulina, spinach, brine shrimp, freeze-dried foods, mosquito larvae etc. Kribensis should be given a varied assortment of foods. They relish live foods.

Sexual Differences: Difficult to distinguished in juveniles. Males have a pointed tail fin (caudal fin), while a female's is more rounded. Males also have a pointed dorsal fin (the fin on its back) with colour extending to the tip. It is not unusual to see black spots of the males tail fin. Females usually have a rounded dorsal fin without colour extending to the tip. Females are smaller, with more rounded bodies. Females are also more colourful with brighter red/purple bellies than the males.


These two below have formed a pair
The female is above the male

Breeding: Type: Egglayer. Difficulty: Very Easy.

Kribensis (Kribs) are pair forming cichlids. Once a pair has been established, they will breed readily. All they need is a cave-like structure to breed in. Kribs are hidden brooders and will not breed out in the open like some larger cichlids. Overturn plant pots, driftwood, rock structures, coconut shells and even PVC pipe make good hiding places for breeding. When using dry coconut shells (or half shells), clean it thoroughly and make a small entry hole, about 1 to 2 inches, for the fish to enter. When creating a stacked rock structure, make certain that it is sturdy and will not collapse on your fish. You can use aquarium silicon to glue them together. The water's pH does seem to play a critical role when breeding. An alkaline pH seems to produce predominately male offspring, while an acid pH produces predominately females. Neutral water produces a more balanced sex ratio.

The female is usually first to initiate courtship. She will pair off with the strongest available male in the group. The female will show off her bright red belly to the male and often curl and vibrate her body in front of him. By swimming upside-down, the female will deposit from between 50 to 300 eggs on the inner roof of the nest (though this is not always the case). Kribensis are good parents. The female guards the eggs and young while the male defends the territory. They become extremely aggressive at this time and will even attack fish larger than themselves. If you notice that your other fish are restricted to a corner in the tank, that's a good sign that your Kribensis are spawning. It is important to have other fish in the tank for the parents to chase (know as dither fish or target fish), otherwise the Kribs may take out their aggression on each other. Good dither fish are fast swimmers such barbs and tetras. Rosy Barbs make good dither fish since they are usually too fast for the Kribs to catch.

The eggs hatch between 3 to 8 days. The parent may move the fry to different locations by caring them in their mouths. The fry are free swimming in about 5 to 10 days. Once fry are free swimming, they can be fed finely crush flakes, and newly hatch brine shrimp. If the tank is mature, there should be enough organic matter for the fry to eat. The parents also assist in feeding the young by spitting food to the fry. The parents will gather the fry into a school and lead them on excursions around the tank. Sometimes one parent may want to take sole care of the fry and will attack the other parent to keep it away. If this happens you should separate one of them before they kill or injure each other. If possible, do not remove the fry from the tank until the parents are ready to breed again. Removing the fry too early may result in domestic violence if the male is ready for some loving and the female is not.

Minimum Tank Size: 20 gallons (24 inches long) for a single breeding pair

Tankmates: Mix with other dwarf cichlids or similarly sized fish. Barbs and tetras are good tankmates. Avoid slow moving fish such as Angelfish and Gouramis. Guppies are a delicacy. Kribensis may also nip at fish with long fins. If the tank is small, avoid tank mates that are bottom dwellers that may compete for space and territory.

Special Requirements: Should be kept in a well-planted tank with lots of hiding places. Like many other cichlids, Kribensis may remain in hiding if there aren't other braver fish swimming out in the open. Therefore keep them with some other active fish that always swim in the open. Kribensis are river fish, so the water must be kept clean.

Provide lots of hiding places

Comments: The Kribensis is a very hardy fish and is not very demanding on water parameters. They can survive in soft or hard water, and fresh and even slightly brackish (salty) water. They are sometimes recommended for first time cichlid owners. They will occasional nip at plants and can be offered vegetable matter such as spinach (soften the spinach in warm water). Kribensis are a joy to watch. They can change colour in an instant, especially when you feed them something they like. The way they swim is also quite fascinating. They are fast swimmers and can stop in a snap, swim backwards and even sideways. When they fight (or face off) they will sometimes angle they bodies downwards, flare there fins to look bigger, and drift towards there opponent. Although they are small, remember that they can be quite aggressive, so choose their tank mates with care. Kribensis have an approximate lifespan of 5 years.

The male on the left flares his fins
when another male approaches


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