Blood parrot fish or parrot cichlid – is a hybrid of various cichlasoma species and it’s not encountered in the wild. The fish has rather specific body shape and a very small mouth.
Probably, the name of the fish “parrot” is due to its mouth shape or, maybe, due to its likeness with a marine Parrotfish. You should keep in mind, that the latter is a completely different fish genus, that inhabits in sea water and we are talking here about freshwater parrot fish.
Habitat in the wild
Cichlids can choose a mate not only from their kind, but also from completely different cichlid genus. Such a feature made it possible to get a variety of totally incredible hybrids with other fishes genus.
Not all hybrids turn out to be a success. Some of them have poor coloring, others become sterile after such intercrossing. But there are exceptions as well…
One of renowned and popular tank fishes is blood parrot cichlid. It is a result of artificial crossing.
The fish is considered to be first bred in Taiwan and cichlids that inhabit in Central and South America are its predecessors. However, yet there is no common lens in this respect, since the fish breeding process is commercial classified information.
Three parental genus appear as possible ones:
- Midas cichlid (Amphilophus citrinellus) and Redhead cichlid (Cichlasoma synspilum)
- Red devil cichlid (Amphilophus labiatus) and Banded cichlid (Heros severus)
- Red devil cichlid (Amphilophus labiatus) and Banded cichlid (Heros severus) + Cichlasoma «theraps»
Though, still there are a lot if debates whether such hybrids are worth breeding (there is also flowerhorn), because they have some significant flaws if compared with other tank fishes.
First of all, Blood parrot has a very small and strange shaped mouth. This affects its feeding habits and makes it difficult for him to compete with fishes who have large mouth.
Another issue is, that it has spinal and air-bladder deformity, which influences its ability to swim. Therefore, surely such hybrids can’t survive in the wild and they can live only in a tank.
Difficulties in keeping
This hybrid is perfect both for beginners and experienced aquarists. This is a good-tempered fish, so don’t keep it together with aggressive tankmates.
However, if you are planning to put the fish in a tank with tankmates of the same size, you should remember that blood parrot may demonstrate territory dependence towards other fishes quite aggressively.
The fish prefers rocky bottom with cavities, cracks and caves, which it uses as shelters.
Parrot cichlid body is short and rounded. At that the fish itself is average sized, a for a cichlid species, it is about 8 inches long (20 centimeters). Provided with proper tank conditions its lifespan may be up to 10-15 years.
The fish has very small mouth and fins. Its unusual body shape is due to its spine deformity, that led to air-bladder deformation, therefore the fish doesn’t swim well.
Another thing is, that sometimes the fish tail fin is cut off. Because of this Blood parrot body shape resembles a heart, though it doesn’t make it more graceful.
As a rule, the fish has uniform coloring – red, orange, yellow. However, since the fish was artificially bred, its breeders do whatever they want.
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Not so long time ago a large number of imported fish were artificially dyed. Some of them even had hieroglyphs, hearts, letters on them. Covering the fish with such decorations is rather painful process and not all of them can survive it.
Old school aquarists bridle at treating the fish this way. However, yet if such fish appeared on the market, it means that they are demanded. They are also intensively fed with dyes.
You may as well encounter various hybrids of the fish with different color patterns or albino species and etc. on the market.
Keeping in a tank
|Scientific Name||Blood parrot|
|Common Name||Blood parrot, parrot cichlid|
|Tank size||53 US gallons (200 liters)|
|Temperament||Peaceful towards fish of similar size|
|Size||8 inches long (20 centimeters)|
Blood parrot tank should be roomy – from 53 US gallons (200 liters) capacity as well as it should have many shelters, since the fish is a timid one.
As a rule, you will not even see it in the tank at first. Just when somebody enters the room, the fish hides into any accessible shelter.
According to my experience, it took the fish almost 6 months to get used to us. After this the fish stopped hiding.
However, it’s definitely not the option not to create any shelters in the tank at all. The fish will be stressed all the time and this may cause some disease.
Therefore, you’ll need flower pots, small castles, caves, coconut shells and other shelters. Like all cichlids blood parrot likes digging tank bottom, so choose not very large grained bottom substrate.
Consequently, you will also need a powerful external filter as well weekly water renews – about 20% from total tank capacity.
The fish isn’t very demanding to tank water parameters – water temperature should be 75-82°F (24-28°С), acidity about рН 7, hardness 2 – 25 dGH.
These fishes (at the condition that the fish is healthy) have perfect appetite. They eat both life and dry feed. The fish eagerly eats special dry feed for red parrots and common frozen prawns or mussels.
It will gladly feed on blood worm or fresh sprats (or other small fish), pieces of calamary or low fat fish (like goldfish). Also blood parrot requires some plant additions to the diet or some feed based on spirulina.
I myself give some of this food to my pets and as for the rest I’ve heard and read lots of good reviews.
Yet, all of the food is of high quality and it is the best one for this fish kind as well as it keeps the tank water clean.
Compatibility with other fishes
You should bear in mind that though blood parrot fish is a peaceful one, still it is a cichlid and not very small.
Therefore, all small fishes in a tank it takes as food. So, you should forget about keeping such small fishes as guppy, platy or neon tetra.
Blood parrot becomes reproductive at the age of one year and a half. You can see between the fish male and female due to the shape of its anal cone.
The female fish has her anal cone of pear-shaped form and it becomes more pronounced during spawning period.
Though blood parrot regularly lays eggs in a tank, in most cases they are sterile. Sometimes it is reported about successful cases of blood parrot breeding in a tank, but typically the fish mates with some other species and if the spawning is successful, their offspring appears to be poorly colored and not very good-looking.
Like all other cichlids, blood parrot looks after its eggs very fervidly, but gradually the eggs get white and covered with fungus and the fish eats them. All blood parrots you see on sale are imported from Asia.
Paul Townsend is a founder and author of Meethepet.com. He’s been fond of aquarium husbandry since his early childhood.
His favorite aquariums are biotopes (Amazon River), Echinodorus and Angelfish. However, through the years he’s had experience of keeping almost all types of freshwater fish and shrimps.