Male vs. Female Kribensis Cichlids

The kribensis cichlid's Latin name, Pelvicachromis pulcher, literally means "beautifully colored belly." Both males and females have dramatic red or purple bellies that contrast with the blues and greens of their bodies, but a few distinctions make the sexes easy to tell apart.

Belly Dancing

Unlike in most cichlid species, the kribensis female is the most brightly colored of the pair. When she is ready to mate, she'll select the male of her choice, shaking her body and showing off her vivid belly. She'll entice the male into a cave—a flowerpot turned on its side will do—and swim upside down to lay her eggs on the ceiling for him to fertilize. She'll stay inside to guard the eggs while the male remains outside to guard the territory.

Boys Are Beefy

Males are generally larger than females, growing up to 4 inches long. Females will grow to between 2.5 and 3 inches. Before coloration differences become apparent, you can discern males from females by the difference in their tails. A male's tail is pointed, while a female's is rounded. Male dorsal fins are longer and more pointed, while the female's again are rounded.


A former world-class swimmer, J.T. O'Connell shares her love of adventure travel, extreme sports and pets through thousands of published articles. O'Connell studied journalism at Grand Canyon University, and brings professional experience as a tour guide and travel consultant. She authors the blog, Traveling With Large Dogs.