Freshwater Fish

Kribensis or Purple Cichlid – Pelvicachromis pulcher: Care Guide

The Kribensis Or Purple Cichlid is a freshwater fish that doesn’t get enough attention. With so many other beautiful species out there, many aquarists tend to overlook this one!

So let us sell you on them:

Kribensis Cichlids are beautiful, peaceful, and very easy to care for. Their unique color pattern and relatively high activity level make them one of the most viewer-friendly species out there.

This guide will teach you the basics of Kribensis cichlid care and why you should seriously consider purchasing some for your home tank.

Species Summary

While many fish in the cichlid family are known to be bullies, that is not the case with the Kribensis Cichlid. The Kribensis cichlid (scientific name: Pelvicachromis pulcher) is a peaceful dwarf species that does well in community settings.

With the right level of care, Kribensis fish have the potential to become one of the most impressive cichlid species out there. They have a unique appearance filled with a variety of bold colors.

Most Kribensis cichlids in the fish trade are captive bred. But these freshwater fish originally came from Africa. They are found in the coastal areas of southern Nigeria and Cameroon.

Thanks to their unique natural habitat, Kribensis cichlids are hardy enough to fit well in most aquariums.

Average Size of Kribensis Cichlids

The average size of Kribensis cichlids is around 4 inches long for males and 3 inches long for females.

That makes these dwarf cichlids not very big, especially when you compare them to some of their larger relatives.

Life expectancy

The lifespan of a Kribensis cichlid is typically no more than 5 years when kept in captivity. This age can usually only be reached when they are kept in tip-top condition and given great care.

Like any other fish in the aquarium trade, Kribensis cichlids can respond poorly to dramatic water changes and suboptimal habitat. While they can be tough, it’s important to give them the best possible care. Doing so will keep these fish healthy and help maximize their lifespan.


Kribensis cichlids have that familiar cichlid profile. This includes the tall height, slim shape, and rounded head.

When it comes to coloration, the Kribensis Cichlid has a lot going for it! These fish have a base coloration that varies from gray to white. Accentuating that base color is a prominent black stripe running from the eyes to the tail. You may also see a black coloration on the top of the head.

The most identifying feature of females is the reddish-pink belly. This red belly becomes more vibrant during the breeding season. While the males don’t have the pink hue, they do have some interesting fins.

Males have long, pointed fins. The dorsal fin, in particular, is curved at a dramatic point towards the rear of the body. For males and females, the dorsal and caudal fins have a yellow and red border.

Many Kribensis cichlids also have black spots. It is a form of mimicry that looks like eyes. You may see these spots on the tips of the dorsal fin and on the top of the fan-shaped tail fin.

Long pelvic fins are also quite common in this species. Many fish have brightly colored pelvic fins covered in metallic blue stripes.

In general, there is a lot of variety with Kribensis cichlids ! In most cases, these fish appear duller when sold in pet stores.

But once you bring them home and place them in a well-cared environment, all sorts of colors can begin to appear.

Author’s Note: Their bright coloration is actually a good indicator of overall health. Therefore, a vibrant and colorful fish is always a good sign.

Kribensis Cichlid Care

Whether you are an experienced aquarist or a newcomer to the hobby, Kribensis cichlid care is quite manageable. These fish are relatively undemanding and adapt well to a variety of environments.

Of course, there are still important needs to be met by keeping them in captivity. Follow the care guidelines below and you should have no problem keeping your Kribensis Cichlid in great shape!

tank size

Kribensis cichlids don’t need a huge tank to stay healthy. But, the size of your tank could affect your stress and happiness levels.

We recommend an aquarium that can hold 20 to 30 gallons. Some owners have had success housing individual Kribensis cichlids in tanks smaller than 10 gallons, but bigger is always better.

With a larger tank, you can keep a pair together or create a small community. That extra space can also prevent territorial behavior.

water parameters

The interesting thing about Kribensis cichlids is that they come from a natural environment with many different water conditions. These fish originate from the mouth of the Ethiope River. This area has everything from brackish water to soft, acidic water.

Kribensis cichlids will often move to these different water conditions throughout their lives. This is beneficial to you because it means that this species is quite tolerant of a variety of conditions.

As long as it is kept within a certain range of temperature, pH, and hardness, your Kribensis Cichlid should not respond negatively. Hold the conditions and try to keep things as stable as possible. While they won’t mind slight fluctuations here and there, they won’t do well during major changes.

Here are some basic water parameters to follow:

  • Water temperatures: Around 75°F to 79°F
  • pH levels: 5.0 to 8.0 (a neutral pH balance is preferred)
  • Water hardness: 5 to 20 dGH

It is a good idea to test the water fairly often when first obtaining this species. This will help you keep the water parameters consistent and make it easier for these fish to settle in.

Set up the rest of your tank

There are a couple of things you can add to keep your Kribensis Cichlids comfortable. First, add lots of dense vegetation to the tank. You can use artificial or real plants. Kribensis cichlids are not known to feed on plants, but they can uproot some.

Author’s Note: Feel free to get creative and add as many unique cultivars as you like. Just make sure the plants are safe.

As for the substrate, it is advisable to use fine gravel. These fish tend to stick to the bottom of the tank and often dig around. This is especially true during the breeding season. Fine gravel is easy to move and safe enough for fish to handle.

Next, implement hide and seek!

Caves are one of the most important things you need in a tank with Kribensis Cichlids. These fish love caves and will use them to breed.

Add a few different caves throughout the environment. You can use artificial caves or make them with natural decoration. Driftwood, flat rocks, coconut shells, and even clay pots are all good options. Just make sure the opening has smooth edges to prevent injury.

As always, a strong filtration system is appreciated. Kribensis cichlids are quite sensitive to ammonia and nitrates. Your filter should be able to get rid of those contaminants effectively.

These fish are not too crazy about flowing water or strong lighting. Keep the current relatively light and adjust the lights to a moderate level. With plenty of hiding places, these fish should be able to control their light exposure on their own.

Potential diseases to be aware of

For the most part, Kribensis cichlids are quite resistant to disease. However, they can still suffer from many of the common freshwater diseases.

Most of the diseases that affect freshwater fish are directly caused by poor maintenance. When the water conditions start to drop, the fish will become stressed. This leads to common diseases like Ich, Dropsy, and fin rot.

Author’s Note: The good news is that all of these conditions are easily preventable. Stay on top of water conditions and perform weekly water changes.

If you notice your Kribensis cichlids getting sick, quarantine them immediately. Many diseases are contagious and can easily spread throughout the community. Once in quarantine, provide some over-the-counter medications and stay vigilant while they recover.

Food and Diet

Natural omnivores, Kribensis cichlids appreciate a diet with plenty of variety.

The easiest food you can provide is sinking pellets. These fish stay at the bottom of the water column, so choose pellets that are dense enough to get there.

To provide protein, offer some live, freeze-dried, or frozen foods. You can try things like brine shrimp, bloodworms, daphnia, mosquito larvae, and more.

Kribensis cichlids are known to accept vegetables as well. They enjoy mashed peas and small pieces of zucchini.

No matter what you’re feeding, make sure you don’t overdo it! Give them only enough food so that they can eat in a couple of minutes. Remove any excess to preserve water quality.

behavior and temperament

Kribensis cichlids are peaceful and non-aggressive. They get along with most like-minded species and can easily coexist in a tank with others.

The only thing you may have to worry about is cutting off the fins. This fish is known to go after freshwater species with long, flowing tails.

You can also find territorial disputes around the caves.

Kribensis cichlids should not be kept with other cave dwelling species. They are very protective of the area. This behavior is even more noticeable at spawning times.

tank mates

There are many different species that you can introduce in the tank! Kribensis cichlids do very well in close-knit pairs, but you may encounter some problems when there is more than one male in the area.

To stay safe, we recommend keeping more females than males.

You should also avoid any slow-moving fish with long fins. As we mentioned earlier, these fish love to chase and nip fins if the opportunity presents itself.

The best tank mates for the Kribensis Cichlid will be other peaceful fish species that are similar in size. You can choose fish that occupy other parts of the water column to ensure that problems do not occur.

Here are some tankmates to try:

  • Apistogramma
  • congo tetra
  • cory catfish
  • Most types of plecos
  • Siamese algae eater
  • tiger barb
  • harlequin rasbora


Breeding Kribensis cichlids is quite simple. These fish breed voluntarily in community tanks. Additionally, they exhibit very strong parental instincts.

To improve the babies’ chances of survival, we recommend setting up a separate breeding tank.

In this tank, turn the temperature up to about 80°F to get a bigger clutch. Also, tweak the pH levels and aim for 7.0.

Use fine gravel as a substrate and place a spacious cave in the tank. Then enter the bonded pair.

Condition the partner with live foods. Eventually the female will develop that red belly and swell with eggs. You might witness some interesting behaviors from the two fish.

The pair will choose a cave and start emptying it for the eggs!

When she is ready, the female will lay between 200 and 300 eggs inside the cave. She will stay there with the eggs until they hatch. Meanwhile, the male stays nearby to watch over the cave.

The eggs will hatch in a few days. At this point, the fry will survive from their egg sac. Parents will guard them all the time.

When they begin to swim freely, you will notice that the small fish follow the parents. You can provide them with infusoria, powdered fish food, or liquid fish food to help them grow.

The parents will continue to watch the baby fish as they develop. Watch for any aggression and remove the parents if problems start to occur.

What do you think?

Now that you know more about Kribensis cichlid care (and the species in general), what do you think? Thinking of buying some for your home aquarium?

These fish are simply beautiful and so much fun to watch. You will find yourself spending a surprising amount of time looking at them every day!

If there is anything about this species that you think we should add, please do not hesitate to contact us. We do our best to respond to messages on Facebook and email as quickly as possible.

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