If you love cichlids and you’re looking for another variety to add to your collection, you might want to consider the blood parrot fish.
But are blood parrots aggressive? Can blood parrot fish live alone, or do they do best in a cichlid community tank? You’ve got all the questions, and we have all the answers. Read this guide to learn everything you need to know about keeping these beautiful fish.
What is a blood parrot fish?
Blood parrots are members of the Cichlidae family of fishes. They’re freshwater fish, not to be confused with the saltwater parrotfish, which is an unrelated species belonging to the Scaridae family.
In fact, these are a relatively new hybrid species of cichlid, so they don’t have a scientific name and are not found in nature. Blood parrots were created by crossbreeding two other species, thought to be the Redhead (Paraneetroplus synspilus) and Midas (Amphilophus citrinellus) cichlids.
Unfortunately, many cichlid purists argue that hybridization is unethical and consequently, some fish stores refuse to sell blood parrots. That said, these beautiful fish are still extremely popular with hobbyists, and you can usually find them for sale online.
What is the lifespan of a blood parrot fish?
These fish can lead long lives, surviving up to 15 years, if cared for properly.
Are blood parrots aggressive?
Blood parrot fish are generally not aggressive fishes and can live in same-species groups or a community of suitable tank mates.
That said, these fish can be stressed if kept with aggressive types, which may evoke a tit-for-tat response. If anything, blood parrots are quite shy fish that will often spend much of their time hiding among your decor and plants.
To enjoy your blood parrot fish, you need to give them plenty of hiding places, where the fish can retreat if they want to. In that environment, the fish are usually more active, so you will see more of them.
Blood parrot behavior
When they’re not hiding or swimming in their group, blood parrots swim in the middle regions of the water column. On occasion, you’ll see the fish heading for the bottom of the tank, where they dig around in the substrate, searching for scraps of food.
What do blood parrots look like?
Blood parrot fish have round bodies with large fins, prominent eyes, and a beak-like mouth. In an interesting genetic quirk caused by the hybridization process, these fish cannot fully close their mouth. The teeth are in the fish’s throat, which they must constrict to crush up their food.
But it’s the fish’s color that makes them so popular. These gorgeous fish are a solid bright orange color that is often highlighted by patches of other colors, often white. You’ll sometimes find red and yellow varieties, too.
Be wary of fish that have been dyed by a breeder, as that practice is not only cruel to the fish but also reduces their lifespan. Similarly, some young specimens have their tails cut to a heart shape, earning them the name heart cichlids. However, that’s another unethical practice we don’t condone.
How big will a blood parrot fish get?
Blood parrot fish grow to around 8 inches long in maturity.
How do you know if a parrot fish is male or female?
It’s quite difficult to differentiate between the two sexes, although male blood parrots are usually a little large than females.
Blood parrot care guide
Now that we’ve answered a few of your general questions about these beautiful fish, let’s dive into caring for them.
These are pretty sizeable fish, so one will need a tank of at least 30 gallons. If you want to keep a group of blood parrots, you’ll need to add at least 10 gallons of water per additional fish.
As the blood parrot is not a naturally occurring fish species, there’s no natural habitat to replicate. However, these fish seem to appreciate a similar environment to the Midas and redhead cichlids of Central America that were used to create this gorgeous hybrid.
Central American cichlids live in bodies of warm freshwater in areas where tree roots and rocky outcrops provide protection, shelter, and plenty of food. The substrate in these regions is generally sandy with plenty of lush aquatic vegetation.
These fish need plenty of open swimming spaces, so be careful not to clutter the tank.
Are blood parrots plant-safe?
It’s a good idea to use plenty of plants in your blood parrot’s tank. Plants are great for improving water quality and oxygenating the tank, and they also provide shelter for the fish. Try using anubias, java fern, or hornwort.
These fish do enjoy digging and foraging around in the substrate, so make sure you anchor the plants well with plant weights or put them in clay pots.
These large fish are quite messy, so you’ll need an efficient filtration system that generates a decent current. We recommend that you use an external canister filter, which will also save space inside the tank. If you need to boost the water flow, add a powerhead.
The temperature should be kept between 76 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit, and the pH range needs to be between 6.5 and 7.4.
Test the tank water once a week with an aquarium water test kit to make sure that the conditions are safe and correct for your fish.
You will need to keep the tank clean and safe for your fish by carrying out partial water changes of up to 30 percent weekly and vacuuming the substrate to remove uneaten food, plant debris, and fish waste.
Use an algae magnet to keep the viewing panes clean, but take care not to remove all the biofilm from the surfaces, as that’s an important part of your tank’s biofilter media that’s responsible for maintaining safe, toxin-free water for your fish.
As blood parrots aren’t found in nature, it’s a bit tricky to know what tank mates would be suitable. However, you can consider the parent species and go from there.
You need peaceful fish that are also fast swimmers that can get out of the blood parrot’s way if necessary. As a rule, you should steer clear of small fish that might be viewed as a meal, like guppies or very small tetras.
It’s not a good idea, however, to include small invertebrates like shrimp in the setup, as they may be eaten. If you do want an algae eater, you might want to keep apple snails, as their hard shells can offer some protection.
Can blood parrot fish live alone?
Provided that you have a larger than 60-gallon tank, you can keep blood parrots in groups. However, you will need to provide plenty of hiding places around the tank.
These fish are happier when kept in groups, as they tend to be shy and lack confidence when kept in isolation.
Diet and nutrition
Blood parrot fish are omnivores, and they will eat lots of different foods, including meaty proteins and plant matter.
These fish can struggle to take food from the surface during feeding time, so we recommend using sinking pellets formulated for cichlids rather than flakes, which tend to float.
Freeze-dried and frozen foods also work well, providing the fish with the range of nutrients they need and helping boost coloration. Bloodworms, daphnia, and brine shrimp are all good choices.
Do blood parrot fish need live food?
Although blood parrots will enjoy live food as part of their diet, you must pay close attention to where you get the food from. Use a reputable supplier, remove it from the water it comes in before feeding it to your fish, and never take live food from nature.
One of the main ways in which parasites and bacteria enter the aquarium is with live food, so be careful if you decide to go this route.
How much and how often should I feed my blood parrot fish?
Be careful not to overfeed your fish, as that can lead to health problems. Feed the fish two or three times a day, offering only what they can consume in a few minutes.
Health and disease
Blood parrot cichlids are pretty robust and healthy fish, provided that they receive a nutritious, varied diet, and the conditions within the tank are clean with the correct water parameters.
That said, some common fish diseases that might affect your blood parrots include:
Ich is just about the most common disease that affects freshwater fish. Ich is also commonly called white spot disease and is caused by a protozoan parasite.
Fish with ich can be seen flicking themselves against solid objects in the tank. The fish may clamp their fins, too. After a few days, a sprinkling of tiny white spots appears on the fish’s body, fins, and gills.
You can treat white spot disease by raising the water temperature to 80 degrees Fahrenheit for a few days while simultaneously treating the water with an over-the-counter Ich medication that you can get from your local fish or pet store.
Swim Bladder Disease
Blood parrot fish can suffer from swim bladder disease. The swim bladder is a gas-filled structure that enables the fish to control its buoyancy and swim on an even keel.
Fish with this condition tend to float to the top of the tank, sink to the bottom, or swim leaning over to one side.
The usual cause of swim bladder problems is constipation. You can usually cure that easily by starving the fish for a couple of days, then feeding it live or frozen food. Feeding the fish a cooked, de-skinned pea can also be an effective treatment.
Bacterial infections can also cause problems with the fish’s swim bladder. You can usually treat that with a swim bladder or antibacterial medication you can buy from your fish store.
Flukes are aquatic parasites that attach themselves to the fish’s body or gills. There are many species of this kind of parasite, and you can often see them with the naked eye. As they try to dislodge the irritating parasite, you’ll see the fish rubbing against objects in the tank.
Fungus appears on the fish’s head, body, and mouth as a fluffy, white growth.
If your fish develops red patches or open sores on its body or has bloody or torn fins, that’s likely caused by a bacterial infection.
Flukes, fungus, and bacterial infections can all be treated with medication that you can buy from your local fish store.
Breeding blood parrot fish
Breeding blood parrot fish is extremely challenging, largely because the males are usually infertile, so they can’t produce fry.
Sometimes, female blood parrots will spawn successfully, although that only happens with other species of cichlids, producing more hybrids.
Are blood parrots suitable for my fish tank?
If you’re thinking of adding blood parrots to your aquarium setup, we recommend that you’re experienced in keeping cichlids.
Although they’re generally peaceful fish, they tend to be very shy, and you’ll need to choose tank mates carefully so the blood parrots don’t get stressed. These fish need quite a large tank to keep them happy, and they can be messy, so you’ll need to keep the setup well-maintained and clean, which can be time-consuming.
However, the blood parrot cichlid makes a beautiful, unusual addition to community tanks that can give you up to 15 years of enjoyment in return for your effort.