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Kribensis Cichlid Fish Species Profile & Care Guide

Imagine the sparkling rainbow-colored fish in your tank and pamper your eyes every single day.

It’s no longer an imagination as you can have Kribensis in your aquarium. They not only have stunning rainbow coloration but they also have unique behavior.

Kribensis is a West African cichlid with the scientific name of Pevlicachromis pulcher. It can grow up to 12 cm(males) and fit a 20-gallon aquarium tank.

Kribensis is undoubtedly a remarkably hardy species that can thrive in a wider range of water conditions.

Species Overview

Level of CareEasy
AppearanceIt comes with a rainbow coloration
Life Expectancy4-5 years
SizeUp to 4-inches
Tank Size20-gallon
Tank EnvironmentIt can survive in a wide range of water parameters with dense plants and caves.
Tank MatesBetter kept in pairs
Less aggressive tetras, small barbs, and cichlids

Kribensis was formerly named Pevlicachromi Kribensis but it’s officially named Pelvicachromis pulcher by the popular name and has its root from the old name.

It refers to beautiful belly fish that truly represent the actual appearance of the female fish that has a cherry red flush abdomen that gets bolder in the spawning period.

As they can spawn more often, Pelvicachromis pulcher offers enjoyable coloration attraction throughout the year.

Despite its appearance, Pevlicachromis pulcher becomes a popular aquarium fish due to its resilience toward diseases, easy care, unique behavior, and easy breeding.


They can live up to five years and have entertaining personalities, especially when rearing or herding their fry around the aquarium.


Kribensis are considerably small species where the female can only grow up to 8 and males up to 12 cm. They have a dark longitudinal body stripe with black and yellow stripes.


The combination of coloration may be different for each specimen including blue, orange-red, yellow, and even green sheen.

That is also another attraction of Pelvicachromis pulcher since each specimen may be unique and you can have distinctive populations in your community tank.

The reddish-pink abdomen of female fish would intensify when they’re entering the mating period.

Pevlicachromis pulcher or Kribensis have become popular in the aquarium industry for their unique coloration and behavior.

It would add active and sparkling rainbow colors to a community tank or even when they’re kept without tank mates.

Moreover, the Kribensis doesn’t require specialized maintenance or keeping approaches that make it perfect for beginners even though the charm is resistible for most people.

Tank Setup

Pevlicachromis pulcher is a small fish species that can only grow maximum at 10-12cm. A 10-gallon aquarium would be enough if you want to keep some pairs of Kribensis even though a 20-gallon or larger tank is always better. Pevlicachromis pulcher is a hardy species native to slightly brackish water environments.

The natural habitat of Kribensis can also be soft and acidic with low streams even though they can live both in slow-moving and fast-moving waters.

Pevlicachromis pulcher is a highly adaptable species that even develop more tolerance once bred in captivity. If you want to mimic the natural environment then you need to keep the soft water with a pH value of 5.6 to 6.9 and a temperature range of 24° to 26 °C.

However, Kribensis have an impressive adapting ability as the captivity-raised specimens can even tolerate more alkaline water with a pH value of up to 8.5. That’s also an indication that the species is pretty easy to maintain. They’re also peaceful fish that would only become aggressive and territorial when spawning.

The use of a breeding tank isn’t necessary but you can consider one to increase the odds. You need to set up the community tank with natural borders and caves so Kribensis can hide and shelter behind them.

Since they’re native to the environment with dense underwater vegetation, you can set up more plants in the community aquarium.

You can use live plants safely when keeping this species in your aquarium. Kribensis would appreciate the plantation you set in the tank if they wouldn’t consume them. However, this fish has a quite active digging habit so you would need to choose the heavy or hard underwater plants to avoid being rooted.

For safety reasons, you must carefully choose the substrate in the community tank. Only use fine gravel and sand in the bottom of the tank and avoid coarse-sharp gravels to prevent them from scratching themselves. Keep the sand layer low but add more plants, caves, or synthetic hiding places instead.

Partial water changes are very important to keep the water quality good for Kribensis. Even though they can tolerate alkaline water, you don’t want low-quality water to affect their growth and well-being. You can change up to 25% tank water per week and use a good filtration system.

Male kribensis eating tubifex worm outside its burrow

Kribensis Tank Mates

Even though Kribensis seem to be friendly, not all species can be suitable tank mates for them. Fundamental rule: never house Kribensis with slow-moving species or poor swimmers like plecos. Living with such a slow companion would turn Rainbow Kribs into fin nippers towards their tank mates.

If you want to set up a community aquarium with Kribensis, then you better choose less aggressive species with good swimming characteristics.

Such good tank mates include but are not limited to tetras, small barbs, and of course, cichlids like goldeneye. However, you must ensure to avoid aggressive species or poor swimmers so you need to do your research before deciding on one.

Food & Diet

Kribensis are omnivores and you can easily feed them with a variety of foods. This beautiful fish can accept most types of foods so you won’t need to specialize their diet in the community tank.

However, you’re strongly urged to maintain them on a varied diet so they can live longer and healthier in the aquarium environment.

There are also strong findings of the fact that Kribensis could be herbivores omnivores instead of a straight omnivores.

This species has a great appetite for various algae when kept in captivity. On the other hand, some research also reveals that crustacean foods have become their natural diet in their native habitat.

If you want to provide them with algae as staples, you can promote the growth of algae in the substrate or decoration. You may consider algae-packed substrate to set on the bottom of the tank so the fish can dig and eat them. Otherwise, you can give algae wafers for practical reasons.

It seems that Kribensis realize the nutrient facts about algae as you would find them spend a considerable amount of time digging the algae.

Experts also argue that digesting the nutritious biofilm and ingesting the rest in the substrate. They would root around for detritus and algae they find in most parts of the aquarium environment.

Despite their high interest in plant foods, you’d need to ensure using only quality products. If you use packed algae flakes or plant foods for Kribensis, ensure that they have more greens than fish or meaty ingredients. For straightforward options, you can use veg-heavy flake foods to optimize their growth and improve their well-being in captivity.

You can use flaked peas, blanched spinach, other fresh greens, or seaweed products to supplement their diet.

They would appreciate nori seaweed even though they are a freshwater fish species. See? You can find foods for Kribensis almost anywhere and they’re not expensive.

However, you must keep balanced nutrients and avoid overfeeding your Kribensis in the tank.

Even though they’d love to dig the substrate for foods, too many uneaten foods trapped in the gravel may contaminate the water. This would create a hazardous environment for this beautiful fish.

Breeding Guidelines

Kribensis pair guarding fry

Breeding Kribensis is not difficult but you can follow the proper procedure for successful attempts including sexing, spawning, egg guarding, feeding the fry, etc.

Female Kribs are generally smaller than males and have cherry red abdomen with more plump shapes. Males are generally longer and more streamlined(up to 12cm).

You can also differentiate males for having the dorsal fins that end in a point. The spawning process would need warmer water of 27 °C and you need to prepare those caves as well as feed them with more meaty or live foods. When spawning, softer and more acidic water than usual is preferable but not mandatory.

Female Kribensis can lay up to 300 eggs or typically 50 eggs at minimum. Since they’re monogamous pairs you can expect gentle yet protective behavior from the parents. After the males have fertilized the laid eggs, both parent fish would protect them and only eat foods with shifts.

The gentle father fish would protect the spawning area from intruders but keep the females inside the perimeter. Once they hatch from eggs, they’re very small so they can fit in their parents’ mouths.

They may eat micro-organic foods scattered around their nest but you can feed them with brine shrimp or powdered flakes pretty soon.

Once they’ve reached a size of 0.5 inches, you can move them to a separate tank. Keep the nutrient intake adequate for the fry population and they’d be ready to be moved to a community aquarium soon as they grow larger.