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Pelvicachromis subocellatus - Eye spot kribensis


  • Pelvicachromis subocellatus - Eye spot kribensis

    Photo thanks to fish_r

    Scientific name: Pelvicachromis subocellatus
    Common name: Eye spot kribensis
    AKA: Eye-spot cichlid

    Country of origin: Africa – Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon. Possibly Nigeria.

    pH: 5.5 – 7.5
    Temperature: 22 - 26c
    Hardness: 5 - 20 dGH
    Water flow: low - standard
    Oxygenation: standard

    Maximum size: 8.0 cm

    Diet: Live foods, frozen, flake and pellets, with an emphasis on live and frozen foods. They also appreciate some vegetable matter. They are micropredators.

    They are bottom feeders.

    Males: larger, pointed dorsal & anal fin, slimmer
    Females: smaller, rounded dorsal & anal fin, rounder, pink on belly when spawning

    They are cave spawners. They are able to spawn in a community tank with dither fish – but corys and other bottom dwellers may eat the eggs. The male defends territory, while the female cares for the eggs & fry. Some females will attack the males once the fry are free-swimming. Fry should be left with the parents until they show signs of spawning again – the female’s belly becomes a deep pink.

    Given the chance, they are monogamous for life. 2 fish which are not a pair can fight, resulting in the death of at least 1 fish.

    They are amongst the easiest African Dwarfs to breed.


    Tank companions:
    They are NOT good tank companions with shrimp.

    They should be kept in pairs, or more than 1 pair can be kept in a tank if it is sufficiently large for them each to have 2ft of breeding territory, with enough room for other tankmates.

    They are shy for their species, and should not be kept with larger fish.

    They should not be kept with other Pelvicachromis species, due to the risk of interbreeding and/or fighting, which can easily lead to fish being killed.

    They are able to be kept as a single fish or pair in a community tank, with pencilfish, hatchetfish or even killifish and other fish that are large enough not to be eaten, but small enough not to eat the kribensis, and require the same conditions. Some of these fish are relatively peaceful and will fit easily into community tanks, others become extremely aggressive and will attack any other fish, including their partner, and are easily capable of killing them. They should be kept in a species only tank, with another tank as backup to separate them when necessary, particularly during spawning. They are far more likely to attack fish which swim in the same area (the bottom of the tank), such as bristlenose catfish.

    As with any fish they will eat any fish small enough to fit in their mouths, and equally can be eaten by any fish large enough to eat them. This should be taken into account when choosing tankmates.

    Stocking plans can be checked with

    Minimum tank size is 2 ft for a pair.

    They could be kept in a heavily planted tank with floating plants and open areas for swimming. Alternately they could be kept in a biotype. They appreciate multiple caves – either driftwood or ceramic pots are frequently used.

    They need a sand or fine gravel substrate, as they dig holes to spawn in. This makes 2Tone’s DIY substrate ideal for a planted tank for them.

    Confused with:
    There are 8 recognised species in the genus:
    Pelvicachromis humilis
    Pelvicachromis pulcher - Rainbow Kribensis
    Pelvicachromis roloffi
    Pelvicachromis rubrolabiatus
    Pelvicachromis signatus
    Pelvicachromis silviae
    Pelvicachromis subocellatus - Eye-spot Kribensis, Eye-spot Cichlid
    Pelvicachromis taeniatus - Striped Kribensis, Nigerian Cichlid

    Of these, P. pulcher, P. subocellatus & P. taeniatus are allowable imports to Australia under the current allowable import list (09/11/2013). Mistakes might be made regarding other species in the genus, or they may have been on previous allowable import lists. P. pulcher is the most commonly seen in the trade.

    P. subocellatus has a shorter, higher body and the spotting in the caudal fin is duller than others in the genus.

    There are different types of this species, according to the collection site. Their colour varies according to these types, which should not be kept together or interbred e.g.:

    P. subocellatus live in brackish water in a small part of their natural range, although most live in fresh water.

    Pelvicachromis subocellatus are legal imports to Australia as of 9/11/2013 (list last updated 16/10/13):

    The IUCN Red List reports Pelvicachromis subocellatus as a species which is data deficient, with an unknown population trend, at 09/11/2013:

    It is very important not to release any aquarium specimens into our waterways. Any that are not sold or re-homed/ given away, can often be re-sold to aquarium stores. If they are homed in ponds, care should be taken that they cannot escape in run-off into our waterways. Even if fish are native & local they should not be moved from one waterway to another, as this can transfer disease. If they are not local fish, they can both spread disease and either out-compete or eat local fish, shrimp & plants, causing their demise.

    They are good fish for experienced hobbyists.

    Relevant threads:
    Advice & pics of various strains & species:

    Tank build & pics – Graeme:

    Spawning – pics – fish-r
    Spawning – Graeme:

    Aggression between a potential pair:

    Setting up a tank for a pair:


    Type locations list - Fishchicks:


    Cichlid forum:


    Seriously fish:


    Pics & threads with pics:

    Photo thanks to Graeme - male

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