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Pelvicachromis pulcher (Kribensis) 

by Takis Tsamis

It is found in a large part of western Africa (Nigeria and Cameroon). It lives in still water or water with minimal flow and – sometimes – even in brackish water.

Its color shows some variety depending on the age and the location. The males will reach an adult size of 10 cm while the females will be somewhat smaller. In the confinements of the aquarium much depends on the size of the tank and the quality of the food. The Kribensis is a very peaceful cichlid and can be housed in a large community tank. Only during reproduction it can become a bit aggressive against fish of the same size or potential enemies of its future fry. Even then, there is no real risk for the other tankmates. Although a very potent swimmer it sometimes needs a place to hide. The tank should not be too small; a pair will need a 60 liter planted tank. Care should be taken to provide it with hiding places made from stones or bogwood. Kribs need a temperature between 24 and 28oC. Literature states that it needs soft water with a GH=6 but I as well as many other hobbyists have bred them in water with a GH=16 and a pH of 7 or higher. Regular water changes of 50% on a weekly basis are essential for the well being of the fish. As far as feeding is concerned, it is recommended to feed live or frozen food once – twice per week. The Kribensis will not refuse the flakes or pellets commercially available but live / frozen food is essential to condition them for breeding. It is also recommended to offer it some vegetable foods like lettuce leaves or algae.

Reproduction is usually easy and trouble-free. The most important issue is to have a matching pair. They usually breed in places that resemble small caves. We can always add a clay pot with a very narrow entrance which will just allow the fish to enter. Both parents take care of raising the fry. The female will take care of the fry at the beginning and for the time they stay in the cave while the male will protect the territory from the intruders. Eggs will hatch after 2-3 days and the fry will get out of the cave (accompanied by both parents) after an additional 4-6 days. At the beginning it is better to feed the fry live food (Artemia nauplii) but we can also use crushed flakes or the baby food preparations of some companies. After some time feeding the fry poses no problem.

Some time ago, Pelvicachromis pulcher used to be the “stars” of fish keeping. However they have been recently replaced in the tanks of the hobbyists by cichlids from the African Rift Lakes. Of course this doesn’t mean they are no longer kept and it should be noted that they are a first class choice for new hobbyists since they are colorful with an interesting behavior, easy to be bred and will also introduce him / her to keeping cichlids. This experience will allow them to take better care of more demanding fish in the future. 

Text and photos by Takis Tsamis (used under permission).

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