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3 Reasons Why Kribensis And Apistogramma Are Unsuitable

3 Reasons Why Kribensis And Apistogramma Are Unsuitable

Providing suitable tank mates for your fish can be just as important as picking proper water parameters. So, can you keep kribensis and apistogramma together?

Many novice fishkeepers look for fish that might look gorgeous together. Unfortunately, just because two fish are beautiful doesn’t mean they’ll do well in the same tank. This is the case with kribs and apisto.

So, can these two live in the same tank? Why or why not? I am here to give you all the answers!

Let’s get started!

Are Kribensis And Apistogrammas Good Tank Mates?

Kribensis cichlids are small, colorful freshwater fish originating from West Africa. They are known for their good looks, but also their semi-aggressive temperament that can get the best of them.

Apistogrammas also belong to the cichlid family. This isn’t a single species, but rather a fish family that varies in temperament and looks similar to other dwarf cichlids, with a small, colorful body and long, flowy anal, dorsal, and caudal fin. 

So, since kribs and apistos are cousins, you might think they go together well, right? 

Well, this isn’t exactly the truth.

While some peaceful apisto species might live together peacefully with kribs, this isn’t exactly the case with most of them. 

In fact, combining kribensis and apistogrammas will usually result in chaos. 

Possible Issues

Keeping kribensis and apistogrammas together is not as terrible as, for example, keeping kribs with angelfish. However, there are still many reasons why these two are not a suitable match.

Here are some of the things you need to take into consideration:


Both kribensis and apistogrammas can display territorial and aggressive behaviors, especially during breeding. There may be instances where they compete for territory or resources, leading to conflicts. 

While apistos’ aggression might vary from species to species, kribs are considered a semi-aggressive dwarf cichlid. No matter the temperament of other fish, kribs might always pose a problem and turn into bullies.

Fin Nipping 

Fin nipping can also potentially be a problem when keeping kribensis cichlids and apistogrammas together. 

Both species may exhibit fin-nipping behavior, especially if they feel crowded or if there is competition for territory. This can lead to stress, injury, and damaged fins for either species.

Also, apistos usually have longer tails than kribs, so they are at a higher chance of being harmed.

Territorial Behaviors

Another reason why Kribensis cichlids and Apistogrammas may not be suitable tank mates is their potential territorial behavior. 

Both species can display territorial tendencies, especially during breeding or when establishing their own territories within the tank. This territorial aggression can lead to conflicts, stress, and even death. 

Things only get worse as both of these fish inhabit the bottom of the tank, so they’ll often have contact with one another. 

Some peaceful bottom dwellers, such as corydoras, can be suitable tank mates for kribs. With apistos, however, I wouldn’t risk it. 

Are There Good Sides To Keeping Them Together?

kribensis cichlid in aquarium

Of course, this doesn’t mean that there aren’t some reasons why these two might be compatible. 

While the good doesn’t neutralize the bad, it’s still important to note some good sides that might make them decent tank mates with some effort. 

These include:

Similar Living Environment

Both kribensis cichlids and apistogrammas are tropical freshwater fish originating from South America and Africa. 

They have comparable water parameter preferences, such as slightly acidic to neutral pH levels, and similar temperature ranges, making it easier to provide optimal conditions for both species in the same tank.

In other words, you won’t have to spend lots of time trying to provide the balance. What is good for one will be great for both.

Just make sure you know how to lower the pH of the water! If it gets too high with these two fishies, you might be in trouble.

Size Compatibility

Kribensis cichlids and many apistogramma species are similar in size, which reduces the risk of one species overpowering or intimidating the other. Having fish of comparable sizes promotes a more balanced tank environment.

This is especially true with semi-aggressive fish that might bully smaller fish while feeling intimidated by larger ones. 

They Look Good Together

Let’s be honest. All of us want our tanks to look good.

Kribensis cichlids and Apistogrammas are known for their vibrant colors and striking patterns. Keeping these species together can create a visually captivating aquarium, improving the appearance of the tank.

With these two fish in it, your tank will be the talk of the neighborhood!

Can You Increase Their Chances Of Getting Along?

apistogramma fish in aquarium

As you can see, these two don’t make the best tank mates. However, this doesn’t mean there aren’t a few things you can do to make them get along better.

While none of these steps are a guarantee that these fish will get along, the chances of disaster are greatly lowered. 

Here’s what they are:

Select Compatible Species

As I’ve said, apistogramma is not a single fish species but rather a fish family. Each individual species of apistos might have different temperaments and parameter needs, so you will have to find the ones that are suitable with kribs.

This includes Apistogramma Cacatuoides, as well as Apistogramma agassizii.

Still, it’s important to note that, regardless of their temperament, all apisto species are bottom dwellers. This means that not a single one can be considered entirely suitable for kribs.

Adequate Tank Size

Ensuring your tank is adequately sized can help you provide a large enough territory for each fish species. 

Ensure you have a spacious tank of at least 30 gallons to provide ample room for both species. 

As these fish don’t like to swim to the top of the tank, the aquarium’s height isn’t that important. This is why they are suitable for a 40-gallon breeder tank, which is one of my favorite setups. 

Provide Enough Hiding Spots

Providing lots of hiding spots is crucial when keeping kribensis cichlids and apistogrammas together in a tank. In fact, this might be the most important part of making sure these two live peacefully.

Both kribensis cichlids and apistogrammas are territorial species. By offering numerous hiding spots, such as caves, rocks, and vegetation, you create distinct territories within the tank. 

This helps reduce aggression and potential conflicts between them by providing designated areas for each fish to claim as their own.

Not just that, but hiding spots offer a sense of security for both species. If they become stressed, they know there’s a good place to hide. 

Incorporating plants that grow on rocks is also helpful, as this can create a visual barrier that will help these fish live more peacefully.

Make Sure The Water Parameters Are Suitable

Suitable water parameters will reduce the stress among fish. 

As I’ve mentioned, most apisto species and kribs prefer similar water temperatures and pH levels, so it shouldn’t be challenging to find something that will work for both fish. 

This will also increase their health and keep them from getting sick, as there are many connections between improper water quality and fish illnesses.

Monitor Their Behavior

Finally, it’s essential to monitor your fish’s behavior, especially during the first few weeks after introducing them to each other.

Watch for signs of aggression, stress, or fin-nipping. If any issues arise, consider rearranging tank decorations to create more defined territories or adding additional hiding spots. 

Unfortunately, sometimes nothing will work. Be prepared to separate the fish if necessary to ensure their well-being. 


While kribensis and apistogrammas are cousins, they are not the best tank mates. Their temperaments are too similar and the two have many features that will lead to aggression in both species, especially in kribs.

Still, if you are entirely set on keeping the two together, there are a few things you can try to increase the chances of them getting along. Despite this, my advice would be to try to find some fish that are a better match, such as mollies or corydoras.