Pelvicachromis pulcher

name = "Pelvicachromis pulcher"
status =

image_width = 240px
image_caption = Top: Female "P. pulcher"
bottom: Male "P. pulcher".
regnum = Animalia
phylum = Chordata
classis = Actinopterygii
ordo = Perciformes
familia = Cichlidae
genus = "Pelvicachromis"
species = "P. pulcher"
former scientific name = "P. kribnesis"
binomial = "Pelvicachromis pulcher"
binomial_authority = (Boulenger, 1901)

"Pelvicachromis pulcher" is a freshwater fish of the cichlid family, endemic to Nigeria and Cameroon.cite web|url=|title="Pelvicachromis pulcher", rainbow krib|author=Froese, R. and D. Pauly. Editors.|publisher=FishBase|accessdate=2007-03-18] The species is popular amongst aquarium hobbyists,cite book |last=Staeck |first=Wolfgang |coauthors=Linke, Horst |title=African Cichlid I: Cichlids from West Africa : A Handbook for Their Identification, Care, and Breeding |year=1994 |publisher=Tetra Press |location=Germany |isbn=1-56465-166-5] cite book |last=Loiselle |first=Paul V. |coauthors= |title=The Cichlid Aquarium |year=1995 |publisher=Tetra Press |location=Germany |isbn=1-56465-146-0] and is most commonly sold under the name kribensis, although the species has other common names, including various derivatives of kribensis: krib, common krib and rainbow krib, along with rainbow cichlid and purple cichlid.cite web|url=|title="Pelvicachromis pulcher", rainbow krib|author=Froese, R. and D. Pauly. Editors.|publisher=FishBase|accessdate=2007-03-18] cite book |last=Riehl |first=Rüdiger. Editor. |coauthors=Baensch, HA |title=Aquarium Atlas |year=1996. 5th Edn. |publisher=Tetra Press |location=Germany |isbn=3-88244-050-3]

Appearance, size and colouration

In the wild, male "P. pulcher" grow to a maximum length of approximately 12.5 cm (4.9 in.) and a maximum weight of 9.5 g. Females are smaller and deeper bodied, growing to a maximum length of 8.1 cm (3.2 in.) and a maximum weight of 9.4 g.Nwadiaro, CS (1985) The distribution and food habits of the dwarf African cichlid, Pelvicachromis pulcher in the River Sombreiro, Nigeria. "Hydrobiologia" 121: 157-164.] Both sexes have a dark longitudinal stripe that runs from the caudal fin to the mouth and pink to red abdomens, the intensity of which changes during courtship and breeding. The dorsal and caudal fins also may bear gold-ringed eye spots or ocelli. Males show colour polymorphisms in some populations collected at single localities. [Heiligenberg W. (1965) Colour polymorphism in the males of an African cichlid fish. "Journal of Zoology" 146: 169-174] Juveniles are monomorphic until approximately 6 months of age.Martin E & Taborsky M (1997) Alternative male mating acttics in a cichlid, "Pelvicachromis pulcher": a comparison of reproductive effort and success. "Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology" 41: 311-319.]

Distribution, habitat and predators

"P. pulcher" is native to southern Nigeria and to coastal areas of Cameroon, where it occurs in warm (24–26 °C, 75-79 °F), acidic to neutral ("p"H 5.6 - 6.2), soft water (12-22 mg L-1 [CaCO3] ). The species inhabits both slow and fast-moving water, though it is only found where patches of dense vegetation are available. Other fish that share the habitat of "P. pulcher" include other "Pelvicachromis" species ("Pelvicachromis taeniatus"), other cichlid species ("Chromidotilapia guntheri", "Hemichromis cristatus" and "H. fasciatus", "Tilapia mariae" and "T. zilli") along with "Brycinus longipinnis" and "Aphyosemion" species. The species is prey for a number of rheophilic predators including "Hepsetus odoe", "Hydrocynus forskahlii" and "Lates niloticus" (Nile perch). In the natural habitat, "P. pulcher" have been observed excavating, defending and sheltering in caves dug underneath plants, and these holes are also used for breeding. Not all "P. pulcher", however, claim territories and many live in large, non-reproductive aggregates. [Sjölander S (1972) Feldbeobachtungen an einigen westafrikanischen Cichliden. "Aquarien-Terrar. Mschr. Ornith. Vivar." 19: 42-45]

Feral populations

Populations of "P. pulcher" also occur outside its natural range in Hawaii, USA as a by-product of the ornamental fish trade. [Yamamoto, MN (1992) Occurrence, distribution and abundance of accidentally introduced freshwater aquatic organisms in Hawaii. State of Hawaii, Federal Aid in Sportfish Restoration, Dingell-Johnson JOR. Freshwater Fisheries Research and Surveys, Project No. F-14-R-16.]


Originally "P. kribnesis", its Latin name was changed to "P. pulcher". Pulcher is Latin for beautiful.


Despite the suggestion in some aquarium literature that the species feeds on worms, crustaceans and insects, [Mills, D; Vevers, G (1989) "The Tetra encyclopedia of freshwater tropical aquarium fishes." Tetra Press, New Jersey. p. 208] analysis of the stomach contents of wild "P. pulcher" suggests this is incorrect. A study by Nwadiaro (1985) of 161 individuals showed that the main food items were diatoms, green algae, pieces of higher plants along with blue-green algae. Invertebrates, though consumed, were found to be relatively uncommon food items for wild fish.

exual dimorphism and reproduction

Like other "Pelvicachromis" species, "P. pulcher" is sexually dimorphic. Males have a pointed pelvic fin, while the females' pelvic fin is more rounded in appearance. In addition, males are larger, lack the gold sheen to the dorsal fin and have a more elongated, spade-shaped caudal fin.cite book |last=Loiselle |first=Paul V. |coauthors= |title=The Cichlid Aquarium |year=1995 |publisher=Tetra Press |location=Germany |isbn=1-56465-146-0] Despite the suggestion in the aquarium literature that the species forms monogamous pairs, the formation of polygynous harems is not uncommon in the natural habitat. The species are secretive cave spawners (speleophils) although detailed information on their reproductive biology in the wild is limited. In the wild, the species is known to breed in holes excavated beneath aquatic and semi-aquatic plants. In captivity, artificial caves are readily accepted as breeding sites, however, these too are excavated prior to egg-laying. The eggs are adhesive and are frequently laid in rows of "ca." 10 on the upper surface of the cave and produce a clutch that ranges in size from 40-100. Both the male and female provide active brood care, typically lasting 21-28 days, which includes guarding, herding and feeding. It is noteworthy, however, that the female is predominantly responsible for fry care, while the male is primarily involved in territorial defence. As in all "Pelvicachromis" species, the gender ratio of female to male fry increases with "p"H. [Heiligenberg, W. (1965) Color polymorphism in the males of an African cichlid fish. "Journal of Zoology" 146: 95-97.] [Rubin, DA. (1985) Effect of pH on sex ratio in cichlids and a poeciliid (Teleostei). "Copeia" 1: 233-235.] This ratio is also is known to vary at different locales in the wild. Breeding pairs of "P. pulcher" have been known to adopt similarly aged fry from conspecifics in aquarium trials, and it has been suggested this may be an adaption to reduce predation on their own fry. [Nelson CTJ, Elwood RW (1997) Parental state and offspring recognition in the biparental cichlid fish "Pelvicachromis pulcher". "Animal Behaviour" 54: 803-809.] Male colour polymorphism may be indicative of behavioural differences. For example, red males obtained from a single site were found to be more aggressive and more polygamous than yellow males obtained from the same site. In addition, the species has been demonstrated to engage in cooperative territorial defence where multiple males defend a single territory.


"Pelvicachromis pulcher" was originally described by George Boulenger in 1901, though subsequently a number of junior synonyms ("Pelmatochromis aureocephalus", "Pelmatochromis camerunensis") and misidentifications ("Pelmatochromis kribensis", "Pelmatochromis subocellatus" var. "kribensis" and "Pelmatochromis pulcher" var. "kribensis") were brought into use. Some of these synonyms are still in use by aquarium hobbyists which complicates identification of this species. Many of the common and trade names used for this species, such as kribensis, krib, rainbow krib are derived from the erroneous binomial, "Pelmatochromis kribensis".

In the aquarium

"P. pulcher" is a popular cichlid for the aquarium. The species should be housed in minimum volumes of 80-90 litres (21-25 gallons). Fine gravel should be used as a substrate, as the species likes to burrow and to excavate caves. Quartzitic substrates should be avoided as they interfere with larval development and may cause fry mortality. [Maradonna F, Bavestrello G, Cardinali M, Olivotto I, Cerrano C, Giovine M, Carnevali O. (2003) Role of substrate on larval development of the freshwater teleost "Pelvicachromis pulcher". "Molecular Reproduction and Development" 66: 256-263.] The aquarium should mimic the natural environment, and should be decorated with numerous caves, plants and hiding places. Dither fish are useful in reducing the innate shyness of the species. The species is an unfussy feeder and will accept a range of prepared foods. They spawn readily in captivity and will accept artificial caves as substitutes for the holes used for spawning in the wild.cite book |last=Loiselle |first=Paul V. |coauthors= |title=The Cichlid Aquarium |year=1995 |publisher=Tetra Press |location=Germany |isbn=1-56465-146-0] Although tolerant of a range of water chemistries, the species has a preference for, and is more likely to breed when, maintained in soft, acidic water.

Selective breeding

An albino form of the species has been developed for the aquarium trade. Unlike normal albinism, the trait is not recessively inherited in "P. pulcher".Langhammer JK (1982) Albinism in "Pelvicachromis pulcher". "Buntbarsche Bulletin 93.] The trait is incompletely dominant. Like many albino animals red and yellow pigments are retained, however, albino "P. pulcher" also show patches of melanin in the dorsal and caudal fin around the ocelli. Langhammer (1982) reports that matings from these albino forms with red and yellow pigments produce 25% wild coloured offspring and 75% albino fry. The albino fry were themselves divided into completely amelanistic forms, and forms which retained colouration of their parents.

ee also

* Cichlid
* List of freshwater aquarium fish species
* "Pelvicachromis taeniatus"

External links

* []
* []
* [ Fishbase]


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