Kribensis -- Out of West Africa

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Kribensis Factoids

Origin

Western African rivers

Maximum Size

Up to 6 inches.  Usually 3 to 4.  Females smaller.

Longevity

Not sure.  Let’s say 5 to 10.

Housing

10 gallons and up.  They like more.

Security

Likes caves

Temperature

Normal community tank temp (75 to 80)

Attitude

Easy-going  fishes

Foods

Loves live foods.  Eats flakes and pellets.

Breeding

Provide a sturdy cave or three

Water

Needs clean water

Biggest Threat

Rift Lake cichlids

LA
Male kribensis in spawning mode.

LA
Female in spawning mode.

LA
Larger male krib not in spawning mode.

LA
Another three-inch male.

LA Pic
1.5-inch male kribensis on left.  Female on right.  Her belly turns crimson prior to spawning.

Origins:  Kribensis originally came from the Niger River basin in Nigeria, a subsidiary of Shell Oil (just a little political humor to spice up the text).   “How you day?”  Wild-caught specimens pop up occasionally, but most are tank-reared these days.


LA Pic
Young yellow kribensis, twice the size and cost of regular kribs and probably from the wild.

LA Pic
Another batch of yellow kribensis mixed with Tanganyikan cichlids.




LA Pic
Scarlet kribensis.  Twice the size and three times the cost of regular kribs.  Probably wild.

LA Pic
Pair of unconditioned scarlet kribensis.  Second day in tank.  Nowhere ready to breed.

 

Our Main Kribensis Source:  We get most of our kribensis from a local Russian breeder.  “Yoo by dees, da?  I haf lots”  Why not?  We communicate by pointing at pictures in fish books.  His are all in Russian.  Beautiful photos.

LA Pic
This herd of a dozen or so kribensis inhabits the lower level of a 29 community tank.

Water Conditions:  Like most cichlids, kribbies (or Kirbys, as the Luptons say) adapt to a wide range of pH and hardness levels.  Just add a teaspoon of salt per gallon of your local water.  Hold the pepper.

pH Level:  When kept at pH levels below 7 you get all one sex in the fry.  pH levels above 7 yield the other sex.  Avoid the temptation to Frankenstein your pH levels.  Adding sulfuric acid or Drano to your aquarium can present more problems than the original problem.

LA Pic
1.5" female albino kribensis starting to color up.  Males have "eye spots" on their tails.

Appeal:  Kribs look great when they grow into their adult colors.  Even the albinos look good.  Add their interesting breeding behavior and you have an attractive package.

LA Pic
Two-inch albino kribensis males showing the "eye spots" on their tails.

Albinos:  Albino Pelvivachromis pulchers are not rare.  The females’ bellies look a nice bright crimson as they mature.  They show no black.  Krib males grow the “eye spots” on their tails as yellow-rimmed circles.

Serious Threat:  Since kribs are cichlids and they come from Africa, we can add them to our African cichlid tank, right.  Yes and no.  You can add them.  They won’t survive – not large enough, not mean enough.  Cichlids from the Rift Lakes trounce riverine cichlids -- including those mean little jewel cichlids..

LA Pic
Kribensis like the lower levels of this 29 aquarium.  Lots of other fish fill the rest.

Tank Mates:  You can mix your kribs with most community fishes.  When protecting their eggs and fry, kribensis parents will probably drive your other fish to the opposite end of a small aquarium.  Angelfish do the same thing.  With this much room (29), the kribensis have plenty of space to argue amongst themselves.

Size:   Males grow larger than females – usually four inches.  Females stay smaller but often get rowdier, especially at breeding time. 


LA Pix
Small female kribensis coming into breeding condition on top.  Males on bottom.

Sexing:  You can’t really tell sexes till they hit about 1.5 inches.  Then the females start developing a reddish tint to their belly.  Their bellies also start growing rounder -- if you feed them well.  Males start growing larger bodies and fins.  Their top and bottom fins grow longer points.  Fins are more rounded on the females.  Females develop more color than the males -- a true exception in fishes.
 

Rich Foster, Hull, England, June 28, 2008
Thanks 4 the info. By the way I'm a big kribensis enthusiast (I've been keeping them years) and just wanted to let you know that when trying to pair them off I always have more success with a larger, older male and a younger, smaller female. Just wondering if you might want to add this to the krib page on the website. No worries if not. Cheers

A:  Will do.  LA

LA Pic
Even a half-buried flower pot will serve as a kribensis spawning site.  Two males in this 55.

LA Pic
Here's a bare bones 20H set up as a kribensis crib.

LA Pic
Young stud kribensis checking out the local pick up market.  Card 'em.

Add Caves:  Kribensis breed in caves.  Add at least two to their tank.  If your female stays in her cave longer than a couple days, look in there with a flashlight.  Check the roof of the cave first.

LA Pic
With some 40+ fish in the tank, we had to to squirt these worms onto the bottom.

 

Foods:   Not at all picky.  If you want to color them up or breed them, add frozen or live foods to their dessert menu.  Another secret:  Give them several small feedings per day.  Your chances of having babies go way up when you give them plentiful food.  Warning:  Do not overfeed.  Stick with small feedings. 

LA Pix
When your female kribensis color up like this, get ready to pass out cigars.

Breeding:  Unpaired females will compete for the males.  They use their crimson bellies to attract males.  They hold their ventral fins down to make their bellies look bigger.  You won’t see the fevered lip locking that you see with larger American cichlids or on late night TV.  Kribs breed more sedately.  You may not even know they bred until you see the fry swimming.

Fry Food:  Note their small (for a cichlid) mouths.  Start your free-swimming babies on infusoria and/or microworms.


LA Pic
Plenty pf plants give your kribensis a feeling of security.

Plants:  Kribensis love planted aquaria.  They are not gravel plowers like most cichlids or plant eaters either.  You can decorate their tank the way YOU prefer.  Artificial plants also work well.

Disease:  Not much of a problem if you keep their water clean.  Do not overfeed.

LA Pic
Your spawning chances go way up when you have several pairs of kribensis.

LA
Hard to see but the little guys are there.

LA
Same two-inch flower pot.  Month-older baby krib.  He actually looks like a krib.

Last Word:  You can’t beat a pair of breeding kribs for color and interesting activity.  Best of all, you can easily breed them in a community tank -- even a 10-gallon tank.  (Add extra caves.)  LA.

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