Cichlid Room Companion

Breeding tanks

Pelvicachromis pulcher (Boulenger, 1901)

By , 1996. printer

Classification: Captive maintenance, Africa.

In this corner of the room, you see a brightly lit tank. It appears to be a standard North American 90 gal (327 L) tank with an estimated measurement of L48"(120cm)x D18"(40cm)x H24"(60cm). The tank is densely planted, and you quickly recognize that in the center of the luxurious green growth, there is a large lace plant (Aponogeton madagascariensis) whose beautiful large leaves are about to reach the top of the water. As you walk closer, you suddenly notice some movement around the base of the lace plant. Wow, a mass of wriggling speckled fry! You estimate there must be at least 50-60 of them.

Just when you begin to wonder what kind of fry these are, a brilliantly colored kribensis (Pelvicachromis pulcher) dashes out of the dense bush, and vigorously chases away a small otocinclus that had been gently grazing on the lace plant. You immediately realize that these are kribs fry and recognize that this nervous parent with long pointy dorsal and anal fins must be the father. A brief search of the surroundings quickly revealed a second krib. This must be the proud mother. She appears to be slightly smaller than her partner, perhaps just under 2". She has a bright pink dummy and a rich gold stripe along the top of her dorso. You are certain that she is a female because the metallic color stops short of the end of her rounded dorsal fin.

You are now curious about the setup and conditions that led to the spawning of these two kribs. You step back, and begin to examine the rest of the aquarium. There are two pieces of driftwood hidden behind some dense plants, are rather difficult to spot. There is also an upside-down clay pot under a large Echinodorus bleheri sword plant near one back corner of the tank. You guess that the pot must have been the actual nest site. Behind some tall , you see a 200 W Ebo-Jager heater.

You also recognize that the horizontally placed spray bar near the middle of the tank belongs to a Fluval 403 canister filter. You find another gadget that looks like a clear PVC tube with one end connected to the outflow of the spray bar and the other end to a large compressed air cylinder labeled CO2. You remember that you have seen something similar in the plant room. This must be a CO2 injection system.

A tag on the side of the tank has been used by the aquarium keeper to record the daily water chemistry. You read and acknowledge that the water is normally at 79 degrees F (26 C) and has a pH range of 6.8- 7.0 with CO2 injection. The water is relatively hard with a GH of 10 German degrees and a KH of 6 German degrees. You remember that kribs prefer to spawn in moderately hard and slightly acidic conditions.

From the carefully recorded logs, you also discover that spawning occurred about a week ago, only 2 weeks after the pair were bought from a local store. The fry have been free swimming for about 4-5 days and both parents care for the brood and take turns leading when schooling. The log also indicates that the fry were about 3-4 mm when first emerged with their mother. You estimate that the fry now have size ranging from 5 to 7 cm. By the reddish and bulging stomachs of the fry, you realize they must have been fed plenty of baby artemia nauplii. Before spawning, the parents were fed mostly flakes with occasional supplements of freeze- dried brine shrimps and chopped up live earthworms. The current maintenance schedule calls for a weekly water change of 30%.

By now you notice that the tank is actually a bustling community. In addition to the breeding pair of kribs, there are a least 4 medium to large sized angel fish in there plus a number of assorted liverbearers and barbs. Three large bronze corys also make their appearance at the bottom of the tank from time to time. A large school of otocinclus sp. cats are actively hopping from leaf to leaf. All these activities do not seem to distract the krib parents as they take turns defending their territory and leading the little ones in search of food. You recall that kribensis parents are expected to care for their brood for 4-6 weeks in the aquarium.

You walk away, feeling slightly concerned about the safety of the fry in such a community setting. You are confident, however, that the dense plants will at least provide some shelter and hiding places for the adventurous little ones...


Ching, John Y. (May 27, 1996). "Pelvicachromis pulcher (Boulenger, 1901)". Cichlid Room Companion. Retrieved on January 22, 2019, from: