Do Kribensis Need a Heater?

Written By Lewis German  |  Tropical Fish  |  0 Comments

Kribensis are a great beginner African Cichlid, able to fit into a variety of community tanks, including peaceful planted tanks to semi aggressive setups.

But can they be incorporated into a coldwater setup? Can Kribensis live without a heater? And what happens when Kribensis are kept in water that is too cold?

Find out by reading the article below;

Can Kribensis live in cold water?

Kribensis are tropical fish, they can on occasion live in cool water, but they are not true coldwater fish, and will struggle to survive in an unheated tank that regularly dips below average room temperature.

Can Kribensis live in a tank without a heater?

If your aquarium is situated in a warm area that stays above 22C / 72F consistently, then you may be able to get away with keeping your Kribensis tank unheated.

However, for most people, a heater is very much necessary if you want to keep your Kribensis happy and healthy.

Even in a warm area, we still recommend having an aquarium heater on hand, as you never know when a sudden cold drop in temperature could occur and send your fish into shock.

How long can Kribensis survive without a heater?

Kribensis like to stay at tropical temperatures, so unless your tank is in an area that stays around 24C / 76F then your Kribensis may not live a very long time without the assistance of artificial heating equipment.

During summer, it is possible to leave your aquarium unheated for many weeks, so long as the weather remains warm enough.

In winter however, where the nights become very cold, your tank could drop to dangerously low levels in a matter of hours, and could subject your fish to temperature shock, reduced immunity and organ damage.

It is important that you do not allow your Kribs to become exposed to temperatures below 18C / 64F for any longer than 48 hours.

Why do Kribensis need a heater?

Having a heater in your tank allows you to produce an ideal environment for your Kribensis, one which mimics their natural tropical West African habitat.

Without a heater, you have less control over your tank, and are unable to effectively respond to change quickly.

Heaters dont just keep the tank warm, but they can also be adjusted to suit the needs of your fish.

Increasing the temperature can assist in fighting off disease and fungus, it can help with digestion problems, or can be used to induce spawning.

You may also reduce the average temperature by putting the heater on a lower setting, which can help with aggression issues in Cichlids.

Even if you live in a hot country, having a heater can sometimes be a lifesaver for your fish.

What temperature should a Kribensis tank be?

Kribensis actually have a fairly large temperature range, and can tolerate quite a wide spectrum of water parameters, which is what makes them a great beginner Cichlid.

What they dislike the most is heavy fluctuation between temperatures and water parameters, so keeping things stable is key to success.

We generally recommend keeping Kribensis anywhere from 22C / 72F to 28C / 82F.

From our personal experience keeping and breeding Kribs however, we suggest keeping them at around 24C / 76F, here they will stay in great condition, will show amazing colouration and will be most active, but will not be as territorial or aggressive.

Types of aquarium heaters for Kribensis tanks

The type of aquarium you have will determine what heater works best for you, but for most, a simple glass aquarium heater is best.


Not only are they easily available and simple to install, they come in a myriad of different sizes, enabling them to be incorporated into most aquariums.

Choosing the right size heater is simple, all you need to do is correlate the wattage with the literage of your tank.

If you have a 100 litre tank, then you need a 100 watt heater, and so on.

Placement is also very simple, as glass heaters may be positioned in any area of the tank or sump, so long as they are fully submerged, and ideally placed at a 45 degree angle.

Glass heaters can be easily suspended in the main display, placed along the bottom, or stuck to the side of the tank. 

Just make sure that they are completely submerged underwater before powering them on.


For larger tanks, you may need something more powerful, which is where titanium heaters come into play.


They work very much the same as glass heaters, but have a greater heating output.

These can go in the main display, but ideally should be placed within a sump tank if possible.


FAQs about heating X tanks

How do you test the water temperature in a Kribensis tank?

Testing the temperature of the water in your Kribensis tank is very easy.

All you need is a thermometer and an understanding of how to read the temperature.

There are all different kinds of tools you may use, including glass thermometers, stick on tape, metal probes, pens or digital thermometers.

Our favourite out of these and the one we recommend the most is the digital thermometer, specifically submersible LCD thermometers, which can be easily placed into the tank and switched on.

These thermometers are accurate, easy to install, and give a constant reading, allowing you to respond to any changes that might occur, as soon as they happen.

You don’t need to think about testing the temperature manually, the screen will simply show it to you at all times.


Do Kribensis fry need a heater?

Young Kribensis can be very vulnerable in their early stages, and sudden fluctuations in temperature can shock or even kill them.

Newly hatched Kribensis fry are very small, and lack the fat reserves that would allow them to cope with cold water.

While they can live in cool water at times, if you want the maximum survival chances for the fry, you need to keep the water temperature stable.

This is done easily by using a heater, even if it is placed on a low setting, as it will prevent the tank from being affected by a sudden cold spell.

What happens to Kribensis if the water is too cold?

Kribensis can be quite good at handling lower tropical temperatures.

However, as the water begins to cool down, they will begin to slow down in activity, as their metabolic rate reduces in speed.

Because they cannot generate their own body heat, Kribensis are limited by the water temperature, and once it becomes too low, they will be unable to function correctly.

Normal organ functionality will be lost, and eventually if exposed for too long, they will die from cold shock.

What happens to Kribensis if the water is too warm?

The first thing you may notice as your tank becomes warmer is that your Kribensis will become much more territorial and aggressive than normal.

Behaviours like ramming, fin nipping and threat displays will be much more frequent, as the warmer water causes the fish to become more irritable and defensive, especially if the fish want to breed.

As the tank continues to increase in temperature, they will burn energy much faster, and will need to be fed much more frequently to meet up with their increased metabolic rate.

Further increases in temperature will then become hazardous to health, and if the tank reaches above 32C / 90F, the fish will begin to suffer from heat stress.

If exposed to temperatures so high for a length of time, they will be subject to organ damage, and unless something is done to bring the temperature down to safe levels again, they will unfortunately die.