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Can You Keep Kribensis with Guppies? Tankmates 101

Can You Keep Kribensis with Guppies? Tankmates 101

Most fish are social creatures that need to be kept in community tanks. This makes many inexperienced fish keepers wonder if you can keep kribensis with guppies. 

Both guppies and kribensis cichlids are among the most popular fish species that are suitable for beginners. They are beautiful and easy to care for – what more could you ask for?

The truth is, unlike guppies, kribs might be a bit picky when it comes to choosing their tank mates. You need to think twice before adding any fish to the aquarium with these dwarf cichlids.

So, can you keep kribensis with guppies? Here’s what you need to know!

Can Kribensis and Guppies Be Tankmates?

Unfortunately, keeping kribensis with guppies comes with lots of challenges. As such, I would never advise having both of them in the same tank.

Kribensis cichlids are semi-aggressive fish that can cause problems to their peaceful tank mates, especially those that cannot defend themselves. Sadly, adorable little guppies are among them.  

Choosing suitable tank mates for kribs is really important, not just for your cichlids but for other fish, as well. One mistake might result in kribensis ruining the lives of all other tank inhabitants! Adding guppies is just a mistake you don’t want to make.

Possible Issues


Unlike bettas, kribs aren’t fish that will outright attack any tank mate you give to them. They can live successfully in community tanks, provided that the conditions and the tank mates are right. 

However, guppies come with plenty of features your kribs will hate.

Kribensis cichlids are active and territorial fish that easily feel threatened. They are diurnal bottom dwellers that can be friendly, but under their conditions. 

Sadly, they seem to hate fish species with certain traits more than others.

Here’s what some concerns are:

Fin Nipping

One of the most annoying behavioral traits kribs have is fin nipping. 

Kribensis will nip at the fins of slow-swimming fish, especially those with long, gorgeous tails.

As you are probably aware of, guppies fit this description. They are small fish with long, colorful fins and tails – especially males. 

While they aren’t particularly slow swimmers, they are still slow enough for kribensis to catch them and bite their fins. 

The injured tail might look like it suffers from fin rot. However, if you have kribs in the tank, the chances are it’s only cichlids nipping at guppies.

If you get a larger tank, this might help with the issue. It seems that kribs will usually leave other fish alone if they have enough space. However, even this isn’t a guarantee. 

For example, if your guppy swims close to the cave that krib has claimed, kribensis might still attack it. 


Guppies are fairly small fish. This isn’t to say that kribs are large because they aren’t. They’re considered a dwarf cichlid species for a reason.

However, kribensis are still much larger than guppies, as they easily reach the size of 3-4 inches, while the latter rarely grows larger than 2 inches. 

Kribs are omnivores that don’t hesitate from eating smaller fish. They’ll also eat tiny shrimp, which is why the two are never good tankmates

Luckily, an adult guppy is too large for kribs to eat. However, any smaller guppies might fall victim to a hungry cichlid, not to mention guppy fry!

There is a general rule of thumb that kribs will eat anything they can fit into their mouth. This might make you think that guppies are large enough not to have this happen to them. 

However, don’t believe your eyes when it comes to this! All cichlids have flexible skin around their mouth and they can accommodate foods that are about 25% to 50% of their size!

This means that regular-sized kribs can eat regular-sized guppies with ease.

Some fish keepers claim they have fixed this issue by only keeping adult fish together and by making sure all fish are fed properly. However, even with regular feeding some of my kribs have attempted to munch on unsuspecting guppies

As such, I am not certain that making sure your kribs aren’t hungry is a good method to keep your guppies safe. 

Kribensis’ Temperament 

Finally, kribensis have a fairly difficult temperament and they are known for being rather moody. 

A krib that is known for being rather friendly can suddenly become aggressive. This is especially the case during spawning and mating season when these fishies become rather protective. 

Sure, we know that guppies wouldn’t likely harm young kribs, but cichlid parents don’t take any chances. They’ll defend their offspring to the death – and this will usually mean the guppies’ death. 

Even if kribs don’t directly kill their guppy tank mates, their behavior is known to stress guppies out. As stress leads to many reasons why guppies die, it’s easy to see how this might end badly for guppies. 

Again, one of the ways many fish keepers ‘fight’ this is to make sure their guppies and kribensis are kept in large tanks, so the two won’t bother each other too much. 

However, if you have a kribensis pair, all hell will break loose the moment the eggs are hatched, and there’s no way to be entirely certain that other tank mates are safe.

Are There Situations in which the Two Can Coexist?

kribensis fish

No matter what others say, some people will always think that they can make this duo work. They’ll do all they can, including providing a larger aquarium, keeping parents and fry separated in a 40-gallon breeder tank, and ensuring they only keep adults.

Unfortunately, I don’t think that it’s ever safe to keep the two together. Kribs are simply too temperamental, and guppies are too sensitive, for everyone to stay safe and unprovoked all the time.  

Why Some People Think This Is a Good Pair

The main argument for keeping the two together I noticed many people have is that guppies are friendly fish that aren’t bothersome to most other tank mates. 

They aren’t looking for trouble, aren’t bottom-dwellers, and don’t mind staying away from the caves. This might make it seem as if kribs have no reason to attack them, especially if the tank is on the larger side. 

However, as I’ve said, there is no guarantee that a krib won’t suddenly turn on guppies and other defenseless fish. 

The Bottom Line

As you can see, kribs aren’t the nicest fish out there. While they are not so bad that you cannot keep them in a community tank, you need to be very careful about choosing suitable tank mates.

While guppies seem like an ideal match for all aquatic animals, this isn’t the case. The main reason is the wellbeing of your beloved livebearing fish.

So, if you still think that you can keep kribensis with guppies – don’t. Your guppies deserve better than to spend a life being beaten by a bully such as kribensis.

Sure, the two might make your tank look amazingly, but your priority should always be the wellbeing of your pets.