How Many Kribensis Can I Put in a 10 Gallon Tank?

Written By Lewis German  |  Tropical Fish  |  0 Comments


You may be interested in keeping Cichlids, but don’t have a tank large enough to accommodate them, you may be limited to smaller tanks and have found an intrigue in Dwarf Cichlids.

Kribensis are an amazing fish, they are a great small Cichlid for beginners or experts, and they are very fun to breed, but can you keep them in a tank as small as 10 gallons? How many Kribensis should you keep in your tank? And what is some advice we can give on keeping these very charming little fish?

This and more we will answer in this article:

How many Kribensis should be kept together?

Kribensis typically spend the majority of their lives in bonded monogamous pairs, although there are instances where they will live in communities and colonies, or where a male has multiple females he regularly visits and spawns with, in a harem.

Traditionally however, Kribensis like to live in pairs, with an adult male and female, who occupy a territory where they breed and raise their offspring, before they grow up and fend for themselves.

For this reason, the number of Kribensis you should keep together varies depending on your scenario, you may wish to keep your Kribensis as a colony in a large 4ft tank, or you may want to just keep a single pair in your small community tank.

Either way, space is the key, and it is best just to keep them in pairs for smaller tanks.

What happens if you add too many Kribensis to a 10 gallon tank?

Adding too many Kribs to a 10 gallon tank will result in territorial disputes, fights can become quite aggressive amongst neighbouring Kribs, especially when a pair of cichlids want to breed in an area or have young they wish to protect.

The Cichlids could potentially kill each other in such a small space, so we don’t recommend keeping more than a single male and female pair in a 10 gallon.

Not to mention, cramping too many fish into a 10 gallon will foul the water quickly, and unless water changes are frequent, the ammonia level will rise, and the fish could be killed through toxic exposure.

How many Kribensis can I put in a 10 gallon tank?

We would normally suggest a larger tank for Kribs, due to their sometimes territorial nature, although it is entirely possible to house a pair of them in a 10 gallon.

Adults become territorial when they find an area they want to breed in, and once a male and female have bonded, they will fiercely guard their spawning site from intruders.

Young Kribensis may be housed in larger numbers within smaller tanks, as they are more tolerable to one another. You may be able to get away with keeping a dozen or so in a 10 gallon tank for a time.

However, once they age and become mature, they will start to pair off and look for their own territory, at which time, it is advised to separate them, or move them to a much larger aquarium, where they can occupy their own spaces comfortably.

How many male Kribensis can I put in a 10 gallon tank?

Ideally, it is best to just keep one mature male Kribensis in a 10 gallon tank.

Kribs are territorial fish, and the males will establish a location where they will feed and breed, this territory is very important to the male and he will valiantly defend it from other fish who impose a threat to him, his partner or their offspring.

Male Kribs do not always treat each other kindly, and although there are instances where Kribensis can be colony bred, and kept in large groups, in a 10 gallon, the lack of space often results in fighting.

It would be asking for trouble to add multiple mature males into a small space.

How many female Kribensis can I put in a 10 gallon tank?

It is best to just keep one or two mature female Kribensis in a 10 gallon, as they also like their own space.

We would suggest adding plenty of plant life and rockwork so that they can avoid each other, and disputes are kept to a minimum.

Although not quite as territorial as the males, female Kribensis can and will fight with one another if they feel as though their space is being encroached upon.

Can I breed Kribensis in a 10 gallon tank?

Yes, it is possible to breed a pair of Kribensis in a 10 gallon tank, although you need to have somewhere you can relocate the resulting offspring to once they mature.

Kribensis are egg layers, who will raise their young.

Contrary to many other fish species, Cichlids in fact are some of the best parents in the animal kingdom, and the most important thing in their lives is making sure their young are safe.

Kribensis will continue to care for their fry until they reach 5 weeks of age, at which point they are essentially smaller versions of their parents and are able to fully fend for themselves.

Although the young will stay close to their parents for as long as they can.

After the young reach a certain size, and start to mature into their adolescent state, they are usually seen off by their parents, who will no longer allow them in the closest proximity to their nest and new young.

As they age, the parents tolerate their presence less and less, until they are perceived as a threat to their new broods and will be seen off, just like any other fish.

When this happens, it is best to remove the offspring and place them into their own tank, or sell them to a local fish store or friend.

So while you can breed them in a 10 gallon, you need plans for the offspring, as they wont be able to live with their parents forever.

What is the best filter for a 10 gallon Kribensis tank?

If you plan on just keeping Kribensis as ornamental display fish, then any filter will work, however, if you plan to breed them, you should use a sponge filter or box filter, that doesn’t have an impeller or produce a current.

Young fry can be easily swept up by a strong current, and could be sucked into the filter, so it is advised to either add a blocker over the inlet to prevent fry from being pulled in, or to use a filter that does not output a current.

An old yet very effective technique when it comes to baby proofing filtration is to add stocking over the inlet. 

This way, water can still pass through, but fry cannot, allowing you to still keep your pump running without the risk of the fry being caught in the impeller.

The stocking will however, collect fine debris and will need to be cleaned regularly if effective flow is to be maintained.

10 gallon Kribensis tank maintenance

Being Cichlids, Kribensis do require a little extra maintenance, as they become irritable when the conditions are not right.

When keeping Kribensis the environment needs to be set up correctly, we advise an aquascape filled with live plants, plenty of rockwork, driftwood and lots of caves / hides for them to occupy.

Territory is very important to Cichlids, and if it is not provided for them, they can become stressed, which can lead to illness.

Regular water changes are of course a necessity, as well as filter cleans, and feeding.

Keeping Cichlids occupied and enriched is important as well, they are very inquisitive fish, and need to be mentally stimulated, lest they just fight with nothing better to do.

Having a fine sand they can burrow in is a good way to start, in addition, try feeding a variety of foods like algae wafers, muscles and prawn and having plenty of cover to explore.

Kribensis are relatively peaceful as far as Cichlids go, but any fish that is kept in the wrong environment will become irritated and aggressive. 

Just like you or I, fish need to be comfortable, and need to have their mind occupied in order to live a healthy, stress free life.

Can I keep other fish with Kribensis in a 10 gallon tank?

While it is possible to keep other fish with Kribensis in a 10 gallon tank, it is ill advised, as there simply isn’t enough space to allow another species to coexist within the Cichlid’s territory.

If you want to keep Kribensis in a community tank with other fish, you are better off using a 20 gallon tank, as the extra space is necessary for them to be comfortable with other fish species.

Cichlids like their own space, and squeezing them into a 10 gallon with other fish is asking for trouble. 

It is better to keep them on their own, or upgrade to a larger tank if you want to house them in a community.

Can I keep invertebrates with Kribensis in a 10 gallon tank?

We usually suggest against housing invertebrates with Cichlids, and Kribensis are no exception to this, as they adopt a predatory nature when it comes to hunting down and killing Shrimp or other arthropods they come across.

Kribensis will even predate on small snails and eggs if they are hungry enough.


Cherry Shrimps

We wouldn’t recommend keeping Kribensis with Shrimp, as they will kill both the young Shrimplets and the adults easily with their large mouths and powerful bodies.

Being a micro predator, Kribs are easily excited by seeing small moving invertebrates which look like food, and will give Shrimp little chance to establish a population in a tank as small as 10 gallons.

While it could be done in a larger tank with very high levels of dense foliage and cover, in a 10 gallon, your chances of keeping shrimp and Kribensis together are not very high, and you will lose Cherry Shrimp.

Amano Shrimp may fare a little better due to their larger size, although a curious Kribensis may bother it too much or could pull on its legs.



Snails will work with Kribensis in some instances, although not all of them. The best snails we could recommend for a Kribensis tank are Ramshorn snails and Malaysian Trumpets, as they have tough shells, and lack extremities which could be pulled on, like the long sensory stalks that apple snails possess.

Most of them will work, but Kribensis will occasionally eat soft shelled young and the eggs of various snail species given the chance.

Crabs and Crayfish

Much like with Amano Shrimp, Kribensis are likely to bother a Crab or Crayfish consistently and may stress them out.

We would not suggest keeping these animals together in a 10 gallon tank, as the space is too small.

However, in a large space with enough cover, they can cohabit with Crayfish and Crabs quite well, as the fish are usually too nimble to be grabben and eaten, although it does occasionally still happen.

For safety, we would say exercise caution if you decide to keep Kribs and Crayfish together, and be aware that the chances of you losing a fish are still there.