Kribensis Cichlid: Fish Species Profile and Complete Care Guide

Dr. Mollie Newton
Published by Dr. Mollie Newton PHD| Senior Editor
Last updated: July 8, 2024
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Frequently distinguished by its vivid pink belly, yellow-speckled dorsal and tail fins, and its notably active behavior, the Rainbow Krib, also referred to as the Kribensis fish, makes an exceptional addition for anyone aiming to introduce a colorful and friendly inhabitant to their tropical aquarium.

Whether you’re just getting started with a kribensis cichlid or simply looking for more information about these beautiful animals, read on to see just what is to love about the Pelvicachromis species.

Article Summary

  • Kribensis Cichlids are peaceful and easy to care for compared to many other tropical fish.
  • When setting up a tank for Kribensis, consider a minimum size of 20 gallons and maintain water parameters like temperature, pH, and water hardness.
  • Breeding Kribensis involves pairing them in a tank with specific water parameters, providing spawning areas, and ensuring proper care for the fry.

Kribensis Cichlids, as the name would suggest, are members of the Cichlid family of fish. This family all share a pharyngeal set of teeth situated in the back of the throat, in addition to a normal set in the mouth.

Kribensis Fish in a Fish Tank
(1) Kribensis Cichlid in a Fish Tank

Additionally, they only have a single set of nostrils, unlike many other species which typically have two.


Kribensis Cichlids are a notably peaceful fish species. They may occasionally nip at the fins of larger, slow moving fish such as angelfish, but provided that there is enough space in which to swim for all of your fish they should get along just fine.

Are Kribensis Easy To Keep?

Compared to many other species of tropical fish, Kribensis are a low-maintenance, easily cared for species.

These colorful fish don’t have any overly complicated parameters to maintain, and as long as you can keep a consistently well-filtered and cleaned tank they shouldn’t be difficult at all to take care of or even breed.

The Kribensis Cichlid is a somewhat compressed, horizontally elongated fish with a fanning caudal fin and dorsal fin that runs along the back towards the tail. The dorsal and caudal fins of males are distinctively more pointed than that of females, who also have more rounded anal fins.

Sexual dimorphism occurs primarily after maturity, with fry not showing distinction until they begin to grow.

Kribensis Cichlid Coloration

Kribensis are African cichlids that are particularly notable for the uniqueness of their external experience.

Colorful Kribensis Cichlid
Colorful Kribensis Cichlid

They have a pink to purple belly, yellow facial and fin coloration, black spots on the fins, their pectoral and anal fins are bluish to purple, and a dark bar running from the eye to the end of the tail. Variations occur based on the place of origin, with colors varying from green to red and purple.

The female turns a particularly vivid shade of purple around the belly when pregnant, and albino varieties have been captive bred by hobbyists.

How Big Do Kribensis Get?

Male Kribensis Cichlids will reach around 4″ in maximum length, with females measuring 3″ long. After reaching their final stage of growth, these fish will stay this size for the remainder of their lives.

How To Sex Kribensis Cichlids

Males and females are sexually dimorphic, meaning they have distinctive features that set them apart from one another.

The male kribensis cichlid has more pointed fins around its body, in addition to typically reaching larger sizes at maturity (4″, as opposed to 3″ in females.)

Here’s a video about sexing Kribensis…

How to sex Kribensis

Unique Features

The Kribensis Cichlids are notable in comparison to other Cichlids, thanks to their remarkable appearance.

These fish are easily distinguishable thanks to their prominent belly coloring, pattern of spotting across the fins, and streamlined shape in the water.

Are Kribensis Cichlids Aggressive?

Kribensis are not aggressive fish. There are some specific instances when Kribensis cichlids may be more prone towards using their tiny teeth than others, but in general, Kribensis cichlids are a friendly, passive fish who is more than happy to burrow in the fine gravel and enjoy itself.


When you know that you’ll be trying to breed, consider using a separate tank for the new eggs and provide suitable caves. This will lower the chances of an encounter between other fish and the defensive new papa fish.

In moments of stress, such as when threatened by another aggressive or territorial fish or during breeding, kribensis cichlids are more likely to nip others.

Side View of a Kribensis Fish
(2) Side View of a Kribensis Cichlid

After the female lays her eggs, in particular, the males will guard that section of the tank with fierce loyalty, engaging any fish who would hope to come near for an easy snack.

Can Kribensis Be Kept Alone?

Kribensis Cichlids can absolutely be kept alone. That being said, they are a pairing fish and will likely be happier when placed in a pair with the same species.

This pair will bond and eventually mate, leading to plenty more baby fish if you so choose. They also make great tank mates with a variety of species, and by no means need to be kept alone.

What fish can go with Kribensis?

When it comes to tank mates, a good general rule is to look for fish with a similar size and demeanor. Smaller tropical fish such as gouramis, other dwarf cichlids, characins, and corydoras catfish can all make for good members of a Kribensis Cichlid tank. Gouramis with similar temperament like the blue gourami, opaline, and pearl, make for colorful companions to your Kribensis. The Blood Parrot cichlid is also an excellent option for a tank mate.


Avoid fish with more aggressive behaviors, such as bettas, green terrors and Jewel cichlids, unless you have experience with pairing these kinds of fish together. Bottom dwelling fish and larger fish may also prove to be threatening to this small, passive animal, and as such small schooling fish like danios and tetras should be preferred as tank mates.

Tank Size

Start with a minimum tank size of 20 gallons for a single or pair of Kribensis Cichlids. If you’d like to have more fish in the tank than these two and a few small fish, you’ll want to consider a larger freshwater aquarium.

Woman Placing Empty Aquarium On The Table
Woman Placing Empty Aquarium On The Table

A larger tank also allows for more room for this cave dwelling species to find a safe place to hide, and is generally never a bad idea.

A classic rule of thumb to follow in the instance is 1 inch of fish per gallon of tank water from here. To have any more than the initial 1-2 Kribensis Cichlids, you’d need another 8-10 gallons (4″ per fish x 2 fish = 8 gallons) of tank space.


Having a larger freshwater aquarium typically won’t hurt anything for your Kribensis Cichlids. Provided that you can maintain a consistent, safe set of water parameters within your tank, the sky’s the limit as far as tank size is concerned.

Water Temperature

A tropical fish who prefers things on the warmer side, Kribensis Cichlids do best in a range of between 75-81 degrees Fahrenheit. They tend to be tolerant of changes in their environment, but will be supported best within that warm temperature zone.


If you know that the ambient temperature in your home isn’t quite warm enough for your kribensis cichlids, consider adding a tank heater to your aquarium. These handy devices typically possess built in safety features such as automated shutoffs and digital displays.

As with many smaller tropical fish, the Kribensis Cichlid is hardy and tolerant of slight changes. However, large swings or too far away from their normal temperature will see them becoming more susceptible to illness as their immune systems weaken.


Lake fish like the kribensis enjoy a dark, calm environment. Providing dim lighting, darker substrate, and floating plants above will allow your fish to feel safe and secure, along with providing foreground plants for them to hide in and break light of sight.

Fish Tank with Lighting
Fish Tank with Lighting

Creating a consistent day and night cycle for your fish can help them reduce stress and create a sense of stability in your tank. Allow for a period of 8-12 hours each day with a completely dark tank to give your fish ample time to.


Alternatively, providing constant, overly bright lights can rapidly stress your fish. A fish suffering from the effects of stress is much more susceptible to the effects of common freshwater fish diseases such as dropsy and fin rot, meaning some simple planning can do much for their long term health.

Consider adding a timer to your tank accessory arsenal to make keeping a consistent cycle easier on you, the aquarist. These allow you to set exactly when,and how much, you’d like your lights dimmed each day based on the requirements of the fish in your tank.

If you know that your fish (such as Kribensis) prefer a dimmer day time with a completely dark night, you can allow for this with a proper timer.


Unless you somehow have the most self-contained and tidy fish possible in the tank with your Kribensis Cichlids, you’ll need some filtration to maintain a healthy fish.

There are a variety of options available online or in fish stores, from canister filters that mount on the side to aquarium undergravel filters which sit under the substrate and pull tiny particles from below.


When it comes to choosing your exact filter setup, again consider the overall goal of your tank. If you’d like a more quiet space, free of excess water movement and bubbles, avoid air stones in favor of more passive options like a UG filter for fine gravel.

A key to proper filtration function is to regularly change your tank’s water. A good guideline to follow is to be changing 20-25% of the water in your tank every other week, or 10-15% per week if you can work this into your schedule.

This will prevent your filters from becoming overworked and ultimately failing to keep the water parameters in check.

pH Level

Digital pH Meter

Kribensis Cichlids prefer a relatively acidic pH of between 5.0 and 7.5. A neutral community tank setup will suit them just fine, and even slightly brackish waters in the tank can work.

A small amount of salt (1 tablespoon/10 gallons of water) can even prove beneficial to their health, aiding in wound recovery and the prevention of illness or infection.

Water Hardness

A water hardness level of between 8 and 15 dGH should suffice for Kribensis. This metric refers to the concentration of certain ions of metals such as calcium and magnesium in the water per gallon.


As a cave dwelling fish species in their natural habitat, Kribensis Cichlids love to have places to hide and defend in the tank.

Providing small objects such as rocks, clay pots and coconut shells for them to claim, along with plenty of spaces for females to take cover during the breeding season, is a great way to set up your fry hatch for success.


Plants are not necessarily a requirement for Kribensis Cichlids, but since the natural habitats of these wild fish have dense vegetation, having more cover and shade will certainly help these freshwater fish feel safe and at home.

Consider adding a range of floating plants to provide shade from above and rooted plants to create cover from below.

What Do Kribensis Cichlids Eat?

Kribensis Cichlids are naturally capable of eating both plants and animal materials. In the natural environment, they subsist on mosquito larvae, brine shrimp, and other invertebrates that they catch, along with small amounts of plant matter.

Fish flake food
Fish Flake Food

In a tank setting, providing flakes or sinking pellets specifically formulated for cichlids, paired with supplements can create a balanced, varied diet.

Live and frozen foods can make a great supplement for your Kribensis Cichlid…

Live and frozen foods can make a great supplement for your Kribensis Cichlid, and will give them the opportunity to both expand their palate and engage their natural hunting instincts chasing free swimming prey. Frozen brine shrimp are often cheap and quite easy to come by.

How Often To Feed Your Kribensis Cichlid

Feeding between 2 and 5 times a day, with a smaller amount works best for Kribensis Cichlids. Trying to get by with a single large feeding per day can lead to both a hungry freshwater fish and a messy tank.


To prevent both overfeeding and a rapid drop in water quality, remove uneaten food within a half hour of feeding. This will ensure that whatever your Kribensis Cichlids don’t eat doesn’t have the chance to break down in your tank, leading to ammonia spikes and potential poisoning.

While flakes formulated for other fish can work in a pinch, try to stick with ones that are meant for this species in particular.

How To Breed Kribensis Cichlids

Kribensis Cichlids can be surprisingly easy to breed with a bit of careful planning. These freshwater fish pair up monogamously, so when attempting to breed it can be a good idea to place around 6 in the same tank and allow them to form breeding pairs naturally.

Water Parameters

Having a slightly warmer, more acidic tank is a good way to induce breeding in your Kribensis.

Having a temperature between 75 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit, with a pH of around 6.5 is a good place to start, and this may be most easily done in a separate breeding tank where it will not affect freshwater fish in your primary community tank.

Spawning Areas

Kribensis pair
(3) Kribensis Pair

The female Kribensis cichlids will prefer to have a secluded place in which to lay their eggs. The female will begin to show a darkening belly color, indicating to the males that it is time to spawn.


The breeding pair will find a safe, hidden area in which to mate, and the female will lay her eggs on the substrate.

From Eggs to Fry

Female Kribensis cichlids will lay several hundred eggs at one time around the walls of whichever cave or area they have chosen.

These eggs will hatch in around 3 days, and will be able to swim freely after around a week. After this point, they are able to feed upon things such as baby brine shrimp and larvae, although they will also snack on algae in the tank. To ensure they get proper nutrition, you can feed baby Kribs with special powdered fry food or liquid fish food.

Why is my Kribensis shaking?

If you’ve noticed that one of your female Kribensis has begun to shake or seem to twitch, it can be quite a disconcerting sight! Fear not, this simply means that she’s ready to breed and is trying to make herself seem larger in order to attract a mate.

The behavior should stop after she’s successfully found a breeding partner.


Throughout today’s article, we’ve looked at the many components of proper Kribensis Cichlid care.

We’ve provided an overview of areas such as diet, habitat setup and maintenance, and breeding to give you a good head start on what to look out for when planning a tank around these remarkable little fish.

Feel Free To Share

As always I hope that you’ve enjoyed today’s post and that it has answered all of your Kribensis care questions.

Feel free to share this information with any other fish fanatics you may know, and I wish you the best of luck on your continued aquarium adventures!

(1) “Kribensis Fish (0026)” by MrJoshGeddes is marked with CC BY-NC 2.0
(2) “kribensis new born” by makuna2008 is marked with CC BY-NC 2.0
(3) Kribpair, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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