While kribensis cichlids are some of the most popular freshwater aquarium fish, they aren’t the best choice for community tanks. Once you find this out you might wonder are kribensis aggressive, or if there is some other reason behind this.
Well, it is true that kribs aren’t the friendliest of fish out there. They aren’t aggressive like, for example, male bettas, and you can keep them together with some tank mates – but not many.
Is there a concrete reason behind this? Are kribensis aggressive or are they simply misunderstood?
Let’s explore the reason behind this behavior!
Kribensis Cichlid Temperament
Kribensis cichlid, as its name suggests, belongs to the cichlid family. All cichlids are known for being temperamental, so kribs are no different. However, they are not as aggressive as larger cichlids.
In general, most of the time they are rather peaceful fish that do well in community tanks. However, they are quite moody, and it doesn’t take much to make them aggressive and territorial.
Because of this, kribensis is considered a semi-aggressive fish.
These fish are defensive, love to burrow, and tend to be active throughout the day and sleep during the night. Understanding their behavior and temperament can help you maintain peace inside your tank.
Reasons for Aggression
As I’ve mentioned, most of the time kribensis aren’t aggressive fish. However, certain situations and tank mates can awaken their ugly side.
Since I’ve kept a few generations of kribensis, I have noticed a pattern in their behavior and found some common triggers that cause their aggressive behavior.
By understanding your fish’s needs, you can prevent them from becoming aggressive. This can help not just them but their tank mates, as well.
Without further ado, here are some common reasons for aggression in kribensis:
They Are Defending Their Territory
Kribensis are bottom-dwelling fish that love to hide in caves and holes. At the same time, they are very territorial and will protect their surroundings the best they can.
As such, they can become aggressive towards other bottom-dwelling fish and shrimp. In fact, shrimp are likely the worst tank mates you can get for your kribs.
Other tank mates that might make kribensis aggressive include rams, loaches, and plecos. All of these species might make kribensis feel threatened.
Sizing your tank up might make kribensis less aggressive, although this isn’t a guarantee. I would avoid pairing them with these fish altogether, just to stay on the safe side.
Kribensis are prone to same-sex aggression during the mating season. Yes, this means that kribensis might even be aggressive towards other kribs.
Two males might attack each other fighting for the female. Even two females might become aggressive towards each other when fighting for the male’s attention!
When keeping kribensis, it is a good idea to make sure you have a 2:1 female to male ratio, although, from my experience, 1:1 also works well.
If you’re breeding your own kribensis, be mindful about their breeding environment, as it can affect the male to female ratio of the newborn fish.
They Are Protecting Their Offspring
Kribs are very protective parents, something that isn’t that common among aquarium fish. They’ll defend their fry to death, and this includes attacking the fish that come nearby.
Baby kribs will stay inside a ‘cave’ their mother chose to lay eggs in. Their parents will protect the entrance to the cave by attempting to fight any unsuspected passers-by.
Even when the fry is out of the cave, they’ll keep on swimming next to their parents for a few more weeks. The parents will keep on defending them, and this includes attacking anything and everything that gets nearby.
Not just that, but parent kribs might turn on each other! When this happens, the babies will stay next to one parent, and the other one will be cast out. The primary parent will then attack the other one, just like it would attack any other intruder.
The best way to protect your fish from a defensive mother or father krib is to make sure your fish gives birth inside a 40-gallon breeder tank.
This will ensure the new family is separated from the rest of the tank.
An unusual behavior kribs have is that they are prone to fin nipping. They’ll nip at the fins of slow-moving fish inside their tank, especially if they have long fins.
Their most common victim is the angelfish, known for its gorgeous appearance. Unfortunately, they cannot keep on looking good when you combine them with kribs. The damage they’ll do to the unsuspecting angelfish looks a lot like fin rot!
It isn’t certain why kribs do this and what triggers this behavior. However, it seems that they are more prone to attacking slow-moving fish when the aquarium is crowded.
My guess is that, in a crowded tank, kribs become stressed out. They’ll feel like their personal space is endangered, and they’ll do all they can to defend it.
The main culprit, in their eyes, is probably a fish that cannot run away fast enough the moment they swim by.
Also, long fins might seem tempting to bite, as they might remind kribs of some of the foods they eat.
Of course, this is only my guess and I am yet to find proper research that fully explains this behavior.
Inadequate Tank Size
This one is connected to the previous reason. It seems that kribensis are more likely to attack and nip at the fish’s fins inside a small tank or a tank that is too crowded.
No fish loves to live in a small space without enough space to swim freely. In certain fish, this might increase aggressive behaviors. As you’ve guessed, one of these fish is the kribensis cichlid.
When a tank is too small, your krib’s territorial instincts will wake up. A krib that lives in a confined tank will attack all fish, but mostly those that swim slowly or that live near the bottom.
In general, as inadequate tank size might lead to stress, this can increase the chances of all other aggressive behaviors.
The Bottom Line
It isn’t easy to answer the ‘Are kribensis aggressive?’ question.
In many ways, they are friendly fish that do well in a community tank. In fact, while they can survive on their own, they’ll thrive in medium communities, and seem to love the company of adequate tank mates.
On the other hand, they can become aggressive in certain situations, and these situations can be challenging to prevent.
It isn’t easy to keep all tank mates safe from an angry krib. The worst part is that you can never be entirely certain when your kribensis will turn to aggressive, fin-nipping behavior!
As such, I tend to keep them with fish I know they have no issue with, in a large tank, free of all possible stress.
All in all, kribs can be amazing pets or a true menace. It is entirely up to you and the conditions you provide them with.
Hi fellow aquarists, I’m Ava and I’ve been an enthusiastic aquarium hobbyist for over four years now.
I’ve been amazed by these beautiful creatures since I was a kid and I’m thrilled to be sharing everything I’ve learned over the years with anyone who’s as passionate about the topic as I am.