Pelvicachromis pulcher(BOULENGER 1901)
Type Locality: Niger Delta, junction of Ethiop River and Jamieson River
Range: West Central Africa, southeastern Nigeria, and the southern coast of Cameroon
Taxonomic Troubles: Originally described as Pelmatochromis kribensis, from which species name it gets its common name. However, all Pelvicachromis species are referred to as “kribs” today, so the name now covers the genus. You may also find this fish under the synonyms Pelma
Size: Males 11 cm (4½ inches), females considerably smaller.
Preferred Water Chemistry: Tropical freshwater. Found naturally in a wide variety of hardness and pH, occasionally in brackish environments. The pH in the aquarium can affect the sex of fry hatched in that water, with neutral pH producing the most balanced sex ratio.
Difficulty: A hardy and peaceful cichlid. Good for beginners.
Tank Setup: This fish rarely disturbs plants or tankmates too large to swallow, and it does well in many community setups. It is somewhat shy, so supply driftwood, caves, and plants for hiding spots.
Feeding: A herbivore and micropredator. Will take most aquarium fare, but the diet of wild fish appears to be largely vegetal.
Breeding: A bit more of a challenge to breed than the easiest cichlids, but not too difficult. A breeding pair can often raise a brood in a large community tank, protecting their young without annihilating the other fish in the aquarium. They are cave spawners, and the classic spawning site is half a coconut shell with a notched doorway.
Description: As with many other dwarf cichlids, the female of this species is more colorful, with a bright red-violet belly when in breeding condition. Still, the male is no slouch, and several male color morphs exist in the wild. These morphs can be found together, and the various males behave differently in terms of breeding strategies as well. An albino domesticated strain has been long established in captivity.
Notes: This is a long-time hobby regular, one of a handful of African cichlids in the trade before the Rift Lake explosion during the latter half of the last century. Many other related species and suspected species have entered the trade in recent years, and they are very popular with specialists, but the regular krib is a fixture in the hobby. Although the male’s size places it outside many definitions of “dwarf cichlid,” its mild manners and community suitability make it a favorite even among aquarists who ban all but dwarf cichlids from their fishrooms.