The 15 Best Tank Mates to Pair with Kribensis

Male Pelvicachromis pulcher, kribensis, rainbow krib
© Tino Strauss, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Written by Lev Baker

Published: October 21, 2023

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The 15 Best Tank Mates to Pair with Kribensis

The kribensis (Pelvicachromis pulcher) is a vibrant and captivating cichlid fish native to the freshwater waterways of West Africa. Admired for their bright coloration and interesting breeding behavior, these fish have carved a niche for themselves in the hearts of aquarium enthusiasts worldwide. Choosing the right tank mates to pair with your kribensis will ensure your aquarium thrives.

In this article, we will dive into 15 of the best tank mates to pair with your kribensis.

1. Bristlenose Pleco (Ancistrus cirrhosis

Bristlenose Plecos, freshwater algae eater fish.

Male bristlenose plecos have larger bristles than females.


The bristlenose pleco is a unique and extremely recognizable fish. It has a wide head with iconic spiky bristles on it. The fish is mainly shades of brown, green, and gray, with white spots on its body. Bristlenose plecos are bottom feeders that spend most of their time at the bottom of the tank. Additionally, they are relatively small, only growing to about 4 to 5 inches. These fish are from the tropical regions of the Amazon River basin, so they thrive in warm water between 73 to 81°F. They will help to keep your tank clean, feeding on algae and old plant parts. But keep in mind that this shouldn’t be their only food. 

If you are looking for fish buddies for your kribensis, the bristlenose pleco is a solid pick. They’re calm, and the fish occupy different parts of the tank. 

2. The Rubber Lip Pleco (Chaetostoma miles)

Rubber Lip Pleco or Chaetostoma milesi

The bottom-feeding rubber lip pleco is native to the tropical regions of Colombia.

© Ictiologia Universidad Católica de Oriente/Wikimedia Commons – Original / License

The rubber lip pleco hails from Columbia’s freshwater bodies. This calm fish is typically about 3 to 5 inches long. They require a tank of at least 25 gallons and similar water temperatures as the kribensis, making the fish excellent pairs. Rubber lip plecos aren’t the most brightly colored fish, but they are recognizable with bold dark stripes and large lips. Like the bristlenose pleco, they are bottom feeders, eating algae and organic matter in the aquarium. This not only keeps the tank clean but also makes for a healthier environment.

Kribensis and plecos go together like peas in a pod. Rubber lip plecos are non-problematic fish that spend most of the day slowly moving around the bottom of their tank. This makes them the perfect tank mates for kribensis. Taking care of them isn’t a big chore, but you’ll need to keep an eye on the water’s pH level. Ideally, they should be kept in water with a minimum pH of 6.5 and a maximum of 8. 

3. Apistogramma (Apistogramma spp.)

Apistogramma borelli Umbrella cichlid fish

With a large, spiky dorsal fin, apistogramma are very unique fish.

©Andrzej Zabawski/

The apistogramma is a small, brightly-colored fish from Brazil, Columbia, and Peru. This flashy fish is about 3 inches long and sports vivid orange fins, edgy black lines, and a long, spiky dorsal fin. Interestingly, these fish and the kribensis are like distant cousins, belonging to the cichlidae family. That means they tend to get along well in the same tank.

Generally, apistogramma make great tank mates with kribensis, but sometimes they can get a bit territorial. Since both fish occupy the same part of the tank, they can occasionally get aggressive with each other. This especially happens when too many males are crammed into a small tank. So, we recommend investing in a spacious tank with at least 30 gallons. It is also a good idea to place plenty of plants and hideouts in the aquarium. These fish are easy to care for, making them perfect for fish-keeping newbies. 

4. Molly (Poecilia sphenops)

Molly (Poecilia sphenops) - black molly fish

The black molly is just one of the many types of molly fish.


Mollies are vibrant and sociable tank inhabitants known for their amicable nature, similar to kribensis. They come in more than ten extraordinary varieties, such as the balloon belly molly or the bright creamsicle sailfin lyretail molly. These fish surely brighten up a tank with their colors. Usually measuring around 3.5 to 4.5 inches, they prefer warm water, between 72–78°F, and a bit on the alkaline side, with a pH between 7.5 and 8.5. 

Mollies are calm fish that pair well with kribensis. If you’re thinking about setting up a home for them you’ll need a minimum of 10 gallons, but the bigger the better, especially if they’re living with kribensis. 

5. Tiger Barb (Puntigrus tetrazona)

These fish have vibrant stripes, resembling a



©Faucon, CC BY-SA 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons – Original / License

The tiger barb is a small, lively fish that originates from Malaysia. These freshwater fish are tiny, only ranging from 1 to 2 inches. That said, they are sure to catch your eye with their brightly colored and eye-catching orange and black stripes. These fishes are peaceful and can generally share their space with other fish species.

Occasionally, they will get slightly aggressive with other fish. But don’t worry too much; tiger barbs don’t usually fight over space. 

There are a few health issues you will need to keep in mind when getting tiger barbs. They are prone to a mouth fungus and a disease called dropsy. But with the right care, they can be fantastic, lively additions to your aquarium!

6. Corydoras Catfish (Corydoras spp.)

Pepper Cory resting on a rock

Cories are a tiny


species that can be as small as an inch long!


Corydoras catfish, often simply called ‘cories’, are peaceful little critters with fabulous whiskers. They usually stay at the tank’s bottom, so they won’t bother your other fish like kribensis. While their colors might seem plain, mostly brown and white, they do have lovely patterns that add a touch of elegance. They’re comfortable in warm water (70-78°F), which makes them perfect tank mates with kribensis. They are one of the smallest catfish species, only growing to around 2.7 inches on average.

Cories are pretty easy-going and easy to care for. However, they’re super sensitive to nitrates and ammonia in the water. So, always ensure your tank is well prepared before letting them in. We recommend investing in a bigger 30-gallon tank, especially if you plan to keep a few fish. Corydoras catfish and kribensis can coexist beautifully because they rarely ever intrude on each other’s territories.

7. Platies (Xiphophorus maculatus)

The variable platyfish (Xiphophorus variatus), also known as variatus platy or variegated platy, is a species of freshwater fish in family Poecilidae of order Cyprinodontiformes.

The platyfish is a brightly-colored tropical aquarium fish.

©Roberto Dani/

Platies are lively, colorful little fish that get along well with kribensis. They come in vibrant varieties, including comet, rainbow, and red coral. These fish typically swim around the middle or upper parts of a tank. This is great because it means they don’t bother the kribensis at the lower parts. These fishes aren’t exactly school fish, but they are sociable. So it’s best to have three to five of them together.

Platies and kribensis make great tank pairs. If you are keeping just a few fish, a 10-gallon tank will do, but ensure the water is warm, between 70-77°F. Also, they prefer a neutral to slightly alkaline pH between 7.0 and 8.0. What’s neat about platies is their fan-shaped tails, which flow in a fascinating way as they swim around. 

8. Swordtails (Xiphophorus hellerii)


With their elongated tail fins, swordtails make perfect tank mates for kribensis.


Swordtails are small, beautiful fish with long “sword-like” tails. They come in cool colors and patterns, including neon, marigold, tuxedo, and solar flare. These patterns make them stand out as a favorite species for many aquarium lovers. They’re a calm and friendly fish, so they get along great with kribensis.

Swordtails swim in the middle and top parts of a tank, while kribensis prefer the lower levels. So, they usually don’t bother each other. That said, male swordtails can be aggressive and territorial at times, so make sure you invest in a large enough tank. Swordtails are active fish that need space to swim around, so 35 gallons should be your minimum aquarium capacity.

They thrive in similar conditions as kribensis, loving warm water between 64 to 82°F.

9. Siamese Algae Eater (Crossocheilus oblongus)

Siamese Algae Eaters

Growing up to 6 inches long, Siamese algae eaters are vacuum cleaners for your tank.

©Garthhh/CC BY-SA 3.0 – Original

Siamese algae eater are a natural vacuum cleaner for your aquarium. As their name suggests, they feed on algae, keeping aquarium floors clean. Hailing from Southeast Asia, this is a small tropical fish in the carp family. They sport a shiny, golden hue and are easily identified by a standout black stripe. These fish can grow to large sizes of up to 6 inches in the right conditions.

Known for their gentle yet sprightly behavior, these fish seamlessly fit in with kribensis. But here’s the catch: they’re active swimmers, so they need ample space. We recommend a tank with an absolute minimum of 25 gallons. Additionally, they may sometimes attempt to jump out of the aquarium! So, it’s crucial to have a tight-fitting lid on your tank. 

10. Harlequin Rasboras (Trigonostigma heteromorpha)

Group of harlequin rasboras or Trigonostigma heteromorpha, in tropical aquarium

Kribensis and harlequin rasboras make excellent companion fish.


Harlequin rasboras are amazing tropical fish that make excellent tank mates with kribensis. Hailing from the island of Sumatra in Indonesia, these little guys are eye-catching with their color-clad 2-inch bodies. These sociable fish love swimming in groups of about eight to ten. Because they’re so chill and friendly, they don’t pick fights with other fish. Harlequin as well as other rasbora varieties such as scissortail, chili, galaxy, and clown rasboras, also interact amicably with kribensis. 

This species needs well-oxygenated water. So, leave some space open at the top of their tank. They are hardy, adjusting well to changes in water chemistry. 

11. Cherry Barbs (Puntius titteya)

With their bright red color, cherry barbs are an interesting addition to a colorful aquarium.

©Akino yuugure, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons – Original / License

Cherry barbs are bright orange and red fish that are originally from Columbia. They’re about 2 inches long, making them a perfect fit for 20-gallon tanks. Ideally, with a recommended group size of at least five, favoring a higher female-to-male ratio is a good idea. They’re a calm species that can peacefully hang out with other water buddies, including snails and crustaceans. But, occasionally, they might accidentally swim too close to places cichlid domains, which can stress them out. 

Cherry barbs and kribensis make excellent aquarium pairs. Additionally, cherry barbs are easy to take care of and pretty tough against sicknesses. However, they are susceptible to fin-rot, so keep an eye out for this. They’re flexible with different water conditions, but always remember to be gentle when you’re cleaning up their space.

12. Kuhli Loaches (Pangio kuhlii)

Kuhli loach

This is not an eel but a tropical fish called the kuhli loach.


Kuhli loaches, with their eel-like appearance, hail from Indonesia and are often mistaken for patterned eels. These nocturnal freshwater creatures are peaceful, preferring to cozy up in sandy substrates and among tank plants. They are typically 2 to 3 inches long and are nighttime creatures. During the day, they shy away and hide in the sandy bottom or among plants. It’s a good idea to keep a few of them together, maybe three or four, so they can socialize. Even though they’re peaceful, taking care of them can be a bit tricky because they need specific water conditions. They prefer a slightly acidic pH, between 5.5 and 6.5, and a water temperature of 75 to 85°F.

They feed on sinking food, such as pellets or worms. Also, kuhli loaches can aid in algae control as they will graze on algae at the bottom of the tank. Just be careful; they do have a susceptibility to parasitic infections.

13. Killifish (Fundulus heteroclitus)

A very colorful male Nothobranchius rachovii killifish.

There are more than 1,200 species of killifish, each with different sizes, shapes, and colors.


Killifish are bright tropical fish from Argentina that can make any aquarium colorful with their mix of sunset colors like orange, red, and blue. They grow only about 2 to 3 inches long.  Though considered semi-aggressive, especially males, they generally don’t bother other species and get along well with kribensis cichlids. 

It’s best to have one male killifish with a female rather than putting two males together; this way, you avoid any territorial confrontations. Their peaceable nature with kribensis stems from a lack of territorial disputes or resource competition. If you’re a beginner looking to pair Killifish with Kribensis, it’s an easy combination of species to care for. 

14. Congo Tetra (Phenacogrammus interruptus)


One of the larger varieties of tetra fish at around 3 inches long is the Congo tetra.


Congo tetras are fantastic fish from the Congo River in Africa. They stand out for their bright colors and calm demeanor. They’re a bit larger than other tetra fish, reaching about 3.5 inches. They are naturally suitable companions with kribensis cichlids in a tank. This is because these species have similar habitat requirements. Both species thrive in water with a pH between 6.8 and 7.8. Additionally, a tank of at least 30 gallons is perfect for them.  Congo tetras are sociable creatures, so keeping six or more together is best. When it comes to hanging out with other fish of about their size, like the kribensis, they get along pretty smoothly, making them ideal tank mates.

15. Dwarf Gourami (Trichogaster lalius)

A green beautiful planted tropical freshwater aquarium with fishes. Dwarf gourami (Colisa lalia) fish in a home aquarium, lalius close-up

Coming in an amazing range of colors, the dwarf gourami is a spectacular fish.

©Bukhta Yurii/

Dwarf gourami are vibrant tank fish known for their beautiful and colorful patterns. With their friendly attitude, they make perfect aquarium companions for kribensis cichlids. Both species complement each other. While dwarf gourami prefer to float around at the top, kribensis spend most of their time at the bottom of the tank. Dwarf gourami have a unique habit of blowing bubbles when laying eggs. They create nests of bubbles that help to incubate their eggs. Dwarf gourami are small fish that only require a tank of around 10 gallons, but if you plan to pair them with several other tropical fish, it is a good idea to invest in a larger tank.

Summary of Ideal Tank Mates to Pair with Kribensis

NumberTank MateScientific Name
1.Bristlenose PlecosAncistrus cirrhosis
2.Rubber Lip PlecoChaetostoma milesi
3.ApistogrammaApistogramma spp.
4.MollyPoecilia sphenops
5.Tiger BarbPuntigrus tetrazona
6.Corydoras CatfishCorydoras spp.
7.PlatiesXiphophorus maculatus
8.SwordtailsXiphophorus hellerii
9.Siamese Algae EaterCrossocheilus oblongus
10.Harlequin RasborasTrigonostigma heteromorpha
11.Cherry BarbsPuntius titteya
12.Kuhli LoachesPangio kuhlii
13.KillifishFundulus heteroclitus
14.Congo TetrasPhenacogrammus interruptus
15.Dwarf GouramiTrichogaster lalius

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About the Author

Lev is a writer at AZ Animals who primarily covers topics on animals, geography, and plants. He has been writing for more than 4 years and loves researching topics and learning new things. His three biggest loves in the world are music, travel, and animals. He has his diving license and loves sea creatures. His favorite animal in the world is the manta ray.

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