The “Nigerian Red” striped Kribensis is a tank bred variant of the species Pelvicachromis taeniatus, of which there are at least a dozen known varieties. They come from forest streams in Nigeria and the males exhibit a deep red coloration on the face and chest. The genus “Pelvicachromis” loosely translates to “pelvis/belly” and “perch-like fish.” This may be referring to the brightly colored bellies the female Pelvicachromis are known for. P. taeniatus is closely related to the common krib P. pulcher.
The males and females of the striped krib have dramatically different coloration. They look so different, in fact, that they almost look like two different species. The males of this variant will have more red coloration in the face and chest than the typical krib, hence “Nigerian Red.” The females, on the other hand, will retain a more yellowish coloration with a bright pink/purple belly when mature. Both sexes have the black lateral band going from the caudal peduncle to the eyes.
A pair of striped kribensis can be kept in an aquarium as small as a 10 gallon. If they are to be kept in a community aquarium, 20-40 gallons will give them more space should they pair off and breed. Coming from forest streams in the wild, they tend to appreciate cover in the form of plants and leaf litter/driftwood. They will show off their color better on a darker substrate.
Coming from tropical Africa, striped kribensis require temperatures between 72-80 degrees fahrenheit. Trying to aim for a temperature around 76-78 degrees is ideal. This will likely require a heater in your striped krib’s aquarium, which you will want to be adjustable and not preset.
Striped kribs prefer their water to be slightly acidic, although captive bred ones can be kept in a pH as high as 8.0. The ideal pH range is 6.0-7.5. Keeping the water more acidic by cutting with RO water or adding tannins is primarily important when breeding striped kribs.
To maintain a striped krib’s aquarium, it is recommended you do weekly water changes of 25-50% and monthly filter maintenance. Monthly maintenance includes rinsing the bio media/sponges in treated tap water (to avoid killing the beneficial bacteria). If you are using chemical media such as carbon, this should be changed out once a month as well. Water changes are best done with a gravel siphon to pull any hidden debris out of the substrate. Whenever water is changed, make sure the clean water going into the aquarium is a similar temperature. Treat it with a dechlorinator if you are using tap water. If you are using leaf litter, you’ll want to also replenish these as they degrade.
Nigerian Red striped kribs are fairly peaceful for cichlids and get along well with other peaceful or semi-aggressive fish. Fish such as barbs, rainbows, danios, congo tetras, livebearers, Corydoras, plecos, Synodontis and loaches are all fairly compatible. The only time when striped kribs may act aggressively is when they are in breeding mode and trying to protect eggs/fry. Care should also be taken when housing multiple males or pairs in an aquarium, erring on the side of giving them more space when possible.
Males of the striped kribensis get slightly bigger than the females, but still only reach about 3” total length. This is why they are known as a type of “dwarf cichlid.” Females max out at around 2” total length.
Striped kribs are naturally omnivorous and not picky about what foods are offered. A quality flake food and/or pellet is a good staple diet. The addition of frozen offerings such as bloodworms, brine shrimp, mysis shrimp, or daphnia are enthusiastically received. They also appreciate the occasional live treat of blackworms or white worms.
As previously mentioned, this species is incredibly sexually dimorphic. Not only are males slightly bigger, they are also different in terms of color. Males will get an intense red coloration whereas the females stay yellow with a bright pink belly. Mature males will also have slight fin extensions on the dorsal and anal fins.
Striped kribensis, like all Pelvicachromis species, are biparental cave spawners. The male and female will often form monogamous bonds and breed repeatedly over the course of years provided their bond stays intact. Both the male and female will guard their eggs/fry. Typical courtship includes the female displaying her bright purple/pink belly to the male while cleaning out a cave or crevice.
Although these fish will spawn readily in community aquariums, it is best to set up an aquarium specifically for the pair if you want the best success in raising them. Eggs hatch in 2-3 days and are in the “wiggler” stage for an additional 3-4 days. Fry are very easy to raise and will eat baby brine and microworms as soon as they are free swimming. The pair will continue exhibiting care for two weeks after the fry become free swimming, after which time they will chase off the fry and typically spawn again.
Kribs are an enjoyable, attractive fish that are also hardy. Additionally, they're one of the easier Affrican cichlids to breed in the home aquarium.