What Other Fish Can Live With Kribensis? (12 suggestions with pictures)

Kribensis Cichlids are generally peaceful and will fit well into most community aquarium setups. When selecting tank mates, avoid aggressive fish which will bully the Kribensis and small, slow tankmates that the Kribensis could eat.

Eating Daphnia
Eating Daphnia

Pelvicachromis pulcher, more commonly known as the Kribensis Cichlid, is one of the most colorful fish in the freshwater hobby. It is no surprise that they are sometimes called the rainbow cichlid. It is easy to see why Kribensis are so popular in the hobby.

If you are thinking of getting some Kribensis, the list below will help select some suitable tank mates.

  • Cardinal Tetras
  • Rummy Nose Tetras
  • Bristlenose Pleco
  • Harlequin Rasbora
  • Congo Tetra
  • Rosy Barbs
  • Corydoras Catfish
  • Kuhli Loaches
  • Tiger Barbs
  • Pearl Gourami
  • White Cloud Mountain Minnows
  • Zebra Danios

First, let’s look at what makes a suitable tank mate for Kribensis. To be suitable, the new fish species must match all of the criteria below.

  • Peaceful Tankmates: Kribensis are essentially peaceful cichlids. They fit well in a community setting, but should never be housed with more aggressive fish such as African Cichlids or large South American Cichlids.

  • Not too small: Kribensis tank mates shouldn’t be too small as the Kribensis may see them as a potential meal. Cherry shrimp for instance would be too small and could be eaten. White Cloud Mountain Minnows on the other hand, although small, are fast and could avoid the Kribensis.

  • Short Fins: Slow-moving fish with long flowing fins may become the target of fin nipping by the Kribensis.


1. Cardinal Tetras

Cardinal Tetras make excellent tank mates for Kribensis. Their blue and red coloration complements the Kribensis colors perfectly. Cardinal tetras are schooling fish that will swim throughout the aquarium.

They prefer the mid-water, so won’t bother the Kribensis, who prefer the lower regions of the tank. Cardinal Tetras like similar water to Kribensis and they will eat pretty much the same food. Just be aware, if the school of Cardinal Tetras is large, they may consume any food put into the tank before it gets down to the Kribensis.

2. Rummy Nose Tetra

Rummy Nose Tetras are another species of peaceful schooling tetra that will complement the colors on your Kribensis perfectly. As with the Cardinal Tetras, Rummy Nose Tetras spend their day schooling in the mid-water, swimming back and forth.

Rummy Nose Tetras share the same dietary requirements as Kribensis and both species will appreciate an aquarium with some natural plants growing in it.

3. Bristlenose Plecostomus

I firmly believe EVERY aquarium should have a Bristlenose Pleco in it. These unsung heroes not only remove algae from around your aquarium, but they also eat any food which makes it to the bottom of the tank, but they are also super peaceful and they are one of the easiest fish in the hobby to breed.

I keep a male Bristlenose in with my Kribensis and he never gives them any bother. If you add Bristlenose to your aquarium, just be sure it gets enough food. They aren’t just ‘cleaner’ fish.

4. Rosy Barbs

Many people will tell you barbs can be aggressive towards other fish. Generally, that is true. Barbs are known as fin nippers. However, I have found that Rosy Barbs aren’t anywhere near as aggressive as some other members of the Barb family.

To keep any fin nipping to a minimum, keep a good-sized school of Rosy Barbs. The more Rosy Barbs you have, the less aggressive individual fish tend to be. They are so busy spending time with their own species, they don’t take any notice of other fish. A group of 10-15 or more is probably where you should aim.

I have found Rosy Barbs to work really well with Kribensis, especially because they like to occupy different areas of the aquarium.

5. White Cloud Mountain Minnows

White Cloud Mountain Minnows are seriously underrated in our hobby. If you are not familiar with White Clouds, they are silvery grey or golden in color and they reach 1 to 1 and ½ inches long. White Clouds are tolerant of colder temperature water and they will happily live in an unheated aquarium.

White cloud minnows are a schooling fish, so purchase 6 or more from your local store. If they are very small, consider growing them on for a few months before adding them to the tank with your Kribensis.

6. Zebra Or Leopard Danios

Leopard Danios

Zebra or Leopard danios are often seen as ‘beginner’ fish, but they actually make great companions to Kribensis. These danios are fast swimmers, constantly active, and surprisingly colorful once they mature.

These are schooling fish so consider getting an absolute minimum of 6, but 10 or more is better. Both Zebra and Leopard Danios are cheap, so buying a larger school won’t break the bank.

These little fish are super hardy and swim around the tank really quickly. One thing to bear in mind, because they are such fast swimmers, they can easily eat the majority of the food before the Kribensis get a chance, so monitor the aquarium carefully at feeding time.

7. Rubbernose Pleco

Rubbernose Plecos, also sometimes called Bulldog Plecos, are a great alternative to Bristlenose Plecos. Much of their care requirements are the same, although the Rubbernose will like the water to be slightly warmer.

Aim for the low 70’s as a minimum. Rubbernose plecos grow to around 6 inches long and will appreciate at least one cave or hiding place per fish. I’ve used a terracotta flower pot on its side before.

8. Rice Fish

I can not understand why more people don’t keep Rice Fish. These nippy little fish are very similar in their care requirements to White Clouds. They are happy in cooler water (they can even live outside in all but the coldest regions). The most common colors for these fish are orange, blue, and platinum.

Rice fish are unfortunately a little more expensive than White Clouds, but they are fairly easy to breed in the home aquarium. You could either buy a small group, breed them in a separate tank, then add a school to your Kribensis tank, or pack your aquarium densely with plants and see if the Rice Fish will breed in your community aquarium.

Once you have kept your first tank of Rice Fish I am certain you won’t ever want to be without them in the future.

Apple Snails

Ok, so snails aren’t fish, but they are still worth mentioning in the same article though. Apple snails are a great addition to any aquarium as they will happily just wander around eating algae off the glass or rocks, or consuming uneaten food. Apple Snails will also eat fish poop, breaking it down further and increasing the chances of it being sucked out of your tank into your filter.


About the Author

I’ve been keeping, breeding, and showing tropical fish for nearly 30 years. Over that time I’ve done it all! I’ve had great success and I’ve made some really foolish mistakes (like the time I bought an Asain Walking Catfish). Read more…
Richard James
Editor