How do you take care of a baby Kribensis?

This is a blog where i’ll be posting the progress of raising my latest batch of 75-100 baby kribensis fry on commercially prepared foods, most of which you can purchase for yourself in a good quality pet shop. In a nutshell, I have two of the best Kribensis parents you could ask for (Pelvicachromis pulcher). A beautiful, highly colorful female at 3.5″ long, and a wonderful 4.5″ long male make up the soul cichlid residents of their own 40 gallon tank. Kribensis pairs can make excellent parents, and luckily I have a pair that’s eager to spawn every four to six weeks. That means I usually have more baby Kribensis fry than I usually know what to do with. I’ve given them away, sold them to local pet shops, traded them for dry goods and even auctioned them off in lots of five or six fish on Aquabid auctions.

Fish up for auction:


I’ve cultured all sorts of live foods for my fry (daphnia, hatched artemia, infusoria, vinegar eels) having felt that live foods both encourage a faster growth rate, but also bring out the natural feeding characteristics of the fish. While there is no doubt that live food cultures are extremely beneficial to feeding fry, they aren’t the only means of providing food for small egg layers. Personally, I found culturing my own live foods to be an extra chore (PITA) when I could use commercially prepared foods to provide excellent nutrition and growth rate to my young fish.

For this next batch, my Krib fry are going to get fed a commercially prepared diet of dry foods and frozen foods that anybody can purchase and store with no muss, no fuss. Food that’s high in nutrition that baby fish will relish and consume with absolute greed at each feeding. Please feel free to read along and post comments as this blog continues. In the next post, we’ll discuss the foods and overall diet plan we’re going to use for rapidly raising happy, healthy fry to sub-adults.

Title: Part Deux, 11/12/06
Post by: Aiptasia on November 12, 2006, 11:47:26 AM
Viola, ze food…


Ok, in the previous post I outlined that i’m going to be using commercial foods for feeding my latest clutch of Krib fry. The base of their diet is going to consist of the new “Golden Pearls” dry larval fish food which I purchased from Ken’s Fish

Here’s the description from the website of the product:

Golden Pearls is a revolutionary new larval diet that has successfully replaced live Artemia nauplii in marine fish hatcheries in Europe. A patented processing technique (agglomeration of micro-encapsulated particles) resulting in feed particles or “clusters” that resemble raspberries (under the microscope). Golden Pearls have tiny air pockets that keep the feed particles in the water column, not on the bottom of the tank, and mimics live brine shrimp nauplii.

Ingredients: Brine shrimp, squid, shrimp and fish protein, animal protein, purified fish oils, phospholipids, astaxanthin, vitamins and protected minerals, antioxidants, and immunostimulants. These are now available in 3 sizes!

Analysis: Protein – 60%, Lipids – 8%, Ash – 15%, Moisture – 8%, Vit C – 2000 ppm, Vit E – 400 ppm, Astaxanthin – 500 ppm.

I liked that the food came in three different particle sizes for larval fish. I decided to use the 50-100 micron particle size for feeding my Krib fry. The powder itself is very fine (like flour) and it comes to you in a vaccum sealed bag with a handmade label. Since it has no preservatives, I was worried that the non-resealable bag would allow too much moisture to come into contact with the powder, so I poured it all into a freezer style ziplock topped bag.

The golden pearls are a very high protein diet for fish, which should encourage a rapid amount of growth in the young cichlids. However, it is a little lacking in broad spectrum nutrition, so I decided to use it in combination with another commercially prepared fish food, Hikari First Bites. It comes in a similar powder/micron size which is fine enough for larger egg laying fish. Here’s the nutritional breakdown:

Hikari First Bites provide complete and balance nutrition for the all important development stage of your fry’s life. Hikari First Bites promote proper feeding habits, long-term health, and superior disease resistance, allowing your fry to grow rapidly without fear of dietary deficiencies. Semi-floating to allow fry to eat at all levels of the aquarium.

Fish Meal, Milt Meal, Wheat Flour, Antarctic Krill Meal, Clam Meal, Spirulina, Seaweed Meal, DL-Methionine, Monosodium Glutamate, Garlic, Enzye, Vitamin A Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin E Supplement, Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Niacin, Calcium Pantothenate, Biotin, Choline Chloride, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate, Inositol, Manganese Sulfate, Zinc Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Calcium Iodate, Cobalt Sulfate, Magnesium Sulfate, Aluminum Hydroxide.

Crude Protein min. 48.0%, Crude Fat min. 3.0%, Crude Fiber max. 1.0%, Moisture max. 10.0%, Ash max. 15.0% , Phosphorus min. 1.3%

I’m also feeding the fish frozen Arctic cyclops (cyclop-eeze bars) and frozen hikari baby brine shrimp as their last feeding of the day.

Feeding the fish:


The fish are being fed 4x a day. Their initial feeding is golden pearls, second the hikari, third golden pearls (again) and last is half a cube of hikari BBS and a similar size shaving of arctic cyclops shaved off the frozen bar with a knife. I use a small pinch of the dry foods and dissolve them in a cup of tank water, then use a small turkeybaster to squirt the liquid into the mass of fish (same procedure with the cyclops/BBS). This “target feeding” approach reduces the amount of excess food, which only gets sucked into the filters and increases nitrates. They get two “puffs” of the food per feeding squirted into the main group of fish.

Fry Growth Rate:

So far, the fry growth rate appears to be rapid. Currently the fish are approximately 1/8th of an inch long and much thicker around the middle than when first hatched. When newly hatched, Krib fry are about the size and circumference of an eyelash. On this diet, they’ve about doubled in size so far. The tank does contain several sources of naturally growing tuft algae as well as a large clump of java moss in the tank, so in-between feedings the fry have access to microflora to nibble on, and oftentimes the algaes and java moss will trap food particles suspended in the water column. My poor camera has difficulty shooting clear pictures of the tiny fish, but in this shot you can see a small group of the krib fry on the right, and you can see their golden colored bellies just after a feeding of golden pearls.


Hopefully I can get some clearer images with patience and a tripod. These fry are about ten days old after hatching and have already metamorphosed into body shapes that are exact mini replicas of their parents. They’re also displaying their juvenile vertical bars, which they use at this age/size to hide amongst plants and blend in with their backgrounds so other predators won’t see them and eat them. This vertical barring fades as the fish mature, leaving them with only horizontal lines.

And now… the cutest picture i’ve taken all day…. A sorta fuzzy closeup of a baby Krib face


S/he’s doing his best chubby pufferfish immitation, I guess… ::)

Title: Re: The Krib Crib: Raising baby Kribensis with commercial foods
Post by: Lori on November 12, 2006, 09:16:15 PM
This is so great, Aip….I’m really looking forward to reading their progress. I’m also ordering the golden pearls tomorrow. Did you say you put the bag of food in the freezer, or just in a freezer bag to keep it fresh?

Title: Re: The Krib Crib: Raising baby Kribensis with commercial foods
Post by: Aiptasia on November 13, 2006, 09:08:01 AM
Just into a freezer bag with a ziplock top. The Golden Pearls food contains no preservatives, so it’s better to keep it air dry and tightly sealed when your not using it. If I can remember to, i’ll probably toss a dessicant packet into the bag with the golden pearls. Probably after I open my next bag of beef jerkey. Any excuse for me to eat beef jerkey is a good thing. ;D

I wouldn’t store it in the freezer unless you wanted to divide it into smaller bags and seal it completely. I just wouldn’t want moisture to get into the bag, so I keep it in a drawer. Room temperature, dry, dark.

My next update will come this Friday, then i’m going out of town for a long thanksgiving break. Friends have already volunteered to fish sit. I just hope the fry will be of sufficient size by then to knock them down to two feedings a day for a week. They should be.

Title: Part tres
Post by: Aiptasia on November 14, 2006, 02:30:43 PM
O.k., I couldn’t wait that long to do another update. It’s Tuesday, and it’s amazing how fast the fish are growing. They’re at the stage where they’re starting to show a little independence from their parents and each other, occasionally swimming away from the pack and investigating all on their own. Normally, this would be a dangerous time for the little kribs, but since the only other tank inhabitants besides their parents are two small plecos (a bristlenose and a rubbernose), i’m not worried that they’re going to get eaten. I’m still pushing their diet 4x a day in order to make sure they put on as much size by Saturday as possible. Since i’ll be going out of town for an extended thanksgiving holiday, the fish will be cut back to twice a day feedings by their babysitter. I’m going to be sure to add additional Java Moss to the tank for them to pick at before I go.

Mom and the kids:


This picture was clicked just after a water change using the flash on the camera. Notice all the lovely water stains on the outside of the glass. ::) I hadn’t had time to wipe down the outside of the glass with a little vinegar when they all started displaying nicely for the camera, so I had to just grab and shoot. I hope the kribs tell the plecos that they missed a spot or two. Sterile levels of cleanliness isn’t required to raise baby kribs, in fact.. the fish do better if they have algaes to nibble on.

Golden Pearls, Golden Bellies:


I’m sorry for the fuzzy focus, but the powershot camera has difficulty focusing on small items within four feet of the lense. You can make out the fish and that they’re gorging themselves on the golden pearls food. They’re adding size every single day and are producing a lot more coloration in their skin at this stage. The vertical bars are clearly present and the inquisitive little fish are everywhere in the tank, all regions from top to bottom and front to back. :inlove:

Java Moss is nummy:


Here, some of the kribs are nibbling on a clump of Java Moss. Not only is Java Moss a good spawning medium for some egg laying fish, but it can trap a lot of particle sized bits of food, usually contains a lot of microfauna for fish to nibble on, and helps reduce nitrates by competing with algaes for nutrients in your tank. The fish love to hover around it and pick at it for extra nutrition in-between feedings.

At this size, the fish are ready for a growout tank all on their own. Normally, this would be the time to move them, but i’m going to leave them in this tank (40 gallon) until I return from my thanksgiving vacation, as it is more than adequate in size to grow out the fish to 1″. The parents and the plecos will not harm them.

Title: Re: Raising baby Kribensis with commercial foods (updated 11/14/06)
Post by: Lori on November 14, 2006, 03:51:35 PM
They grow up so fast, don’t they, Aip? 😉

I’m sort of mad at you, bud. I was so excited to get some of the golden pearls but, as usual, I way over-shopped at Ken’s, so I’m blaming you in part for my wide eyes and now empty wallet. *sigh* While many women want new shoes or jewelry, when asked by my husband what I want for Christmas, my answer is “Oh, that Rena XP4 canister filter, please!! ” ;D

Title: Re: Raising baby Kribensis with commercial foods (updated 11/14/06)
Post by: Aiptasia on November 15, 2006, 10:06:20 AM
Quote from: Lori on November 14, 2006, 03:51:35 PM
They grow up so fast, don’t they, Aip? 😉

I’m sort of mad at you, bud. I was so excited to get some of the golden pearls but, as usual, I way over-shopped at Ken’s, so I’m blaming you in part for my wide eyes and now empty wallet. *sigh* While many women want new shoes or jewelry, when asked by my husband what I want for Christmas, my answer is “Oh, that Rena XP4 canister filter, please!! ” ;D

It’s all my fault, dude. That’s the problem with Ken’s stock, i’ve found that most of it is pretty good.

I hope he puts some freebie samples of stuff in your box like he usually does. Funny, I just took a Rena XP4 back to Petsmart last weekend. New in the box. I bought it about two months ago thinking I was going to use it for a tank setup, then never did. Which reminds me, I also have some coralife aqualight retrofits new in the box. I need to aquabid those off and get rid of them.

Maybe I can swap Ken for them for a lifetime supply of golden pearls… yeah!!! ::)

Title: Re: Raising baby Kribensis with commercial foods (updated 11/17/06)
Post by: Aiptasia on November 17, 2006, 10:05:10 AM
Well, I just got news from a few local attorneys that two of my closings are in jeopardy. That means I won’t be going out of town for Thanksgiving like i’d planned. :-\

The babies are fine. I need to do water changes when I get home from the office this afternoon.

Title: Re: Raising baby Kribensis with commercial foods (updated 11/20/06)
Post by: Aiptasia on November 20, 2006, 09:24:08 AM

O.k., the juvenile fry are definitely large enough to be moved into a tank all on their own. My adult female krib turned on the male at some point last night. I woke up this morning to find the male huddled against one of the heaters near the top left of the tank, with the female pecking and harrassing him. For a few days now, i’ve noticed that both the male and the female don’t pay much attention to the fry any more, and the male had been barreling through the fry to get at some flakes. He must have done something that she didn’t like, so i’ve moved him to a different tank (a 55 where I have some marbled angels). I’m debating just letting the male get settled into the 55 and moving the female in there with him, and letting the fry stay in the 42 gallon tank to grow out. They’re large enough now that I don’t think the two plecos in the tank will bother them at all.

They’re large enough now to eat the bigger sized golden pearls food. I should have anticipated this before hand, as I don’t have any at hand to feed them in the 150-200 micron range. I’ll order some in from Ken’s fish this week and feed the juvenile kribs on frozen cyclops, BBS and daphnia until the food arrives. Yes, I could feed them crushed flakes, but I want to stay true to the golden pearls because the growth rate has been so rapid.

Title: Re: Raising baby Kribensis with commercial foods (updated 11/24/06)
Post by: Aiptasia on November 24, 2006, 05:50:43 PM
Final update (11/24/06):

This will be my final update and synopsis for raising kribensis with off the shelf commercial foods. I started their feeding regimen on the golden pearls, hikari first bites, frozen hikari BBS and frozen Cyclop-eeze on 11/10/06. They have recieved a few feedings of frozen daphnia along the way, but daphnia don’t have a lot of nutritional value and was fed on the order of twice a week as a treat food. The other foods were given daily. It is now two weeks later (fourteen days) and the fish are now sub-adult juveniles approximately 1/2″ long, and displaying their final color patterns. The fish are approximately three weeks old from the date they became free swimming and are large enough now to accept flakes, minced bloodworms and chopped freeze dried earthworms which I prepare in a coffee grinder on the “percolate” setting (espresso is too fine). This is my first batch being fed primarily a base diet of golden pearls, with the first bites and the water bugs strictly as suppliments.

Juvenile kribs:


With other methods i’ve tried, getting them to this size takes approximately four and a half weeks, so their growth rate is about a week and a half faster than i’m used to seeing. I’ve been very impressed with using the 50-100 nanometer sized golden pearls for newly free swimming cichlid fry. When I first started, these little guys were barely the size of an eyelash.


They did have some extra veggies in their diet in the form of algae which is growing in the tank, as well as plenty of picking at a healthy clump of Java Moss along the way. The fish really do appreciate the extra nutrition that algaes can provide. The tank does have two plecos but the plecos have preferred scavenging for uneaten baby fish food and have ignored their regular algae eating duties. Even with 30-40% water changes every other day AND target feeding the fish, the tank still has plenty for the plecos to scavenge.


The fish are about a week away from sellable/auctionable size on Aquabid, a process that normally takes about eight weeks from hatch out to selling them. I’ve managed to cut the time on this batch down to five and a half to six weeks, meaning that this batch should be ready for new homes just a couple of weeks before christmas. The adult female still remains in the tank and keeps a wary eye on the plecos, even though they’re essentially harmless. She did get into a scrap with one of the plecos a few nights ago when it decided to take up residence in her flowerpot, and somehow the pleco got the better of her in the confrontation. I think that she must have charged in after it and somehow the pleco blocked her exit. She has obvious fin damage to her left pectoral fin and her caudle fin, but nothing she can’t recover from. It’s unusual for a pleco hickey to be so damaging but I guess the pleco wasn’t leaving the flowerpot for her so easily.

Now that the fish are accepting adult foods, there’s no need to continue the golden pearls/hikari portions of their diet. I will continue to suppliment their diet with daphnia and cyclops, as both frozen foods are a little larger than BBS and are healthy for their digestive tracts. Baby brine shrimp are now too small and are ignored by the young kribs.

As you can see, they’re losing their youthful vertical striped camoflauge in favor of horizontal patterns and their skin color is changing from transparent to white. You can clearly see color pigments beginning to emerge in their skin, although subdued.

Anyone want some kribs for xmas? ;D

Edit: FYI, here are the particulars about the tank they were raised in..

Tank: 42 gallon freshwater tank
Filters: 1 Magnum H.O.T. filter and one Aquaclear 50 HOB filter w/open pore sponges over their intakes
pH: 7.2-7.4
TDS: 180-200 ppm
Temperature: 78-82 degrees
Water change regimen: 30-40% every two days, tap water, prime as conditioner