Blood Parrot Cichlids are a striking and vibrant freshwater fish that have generated a considerable amount of debate due to their hybrid origins. Although they are not found in the wild, these fish have gained popularity among aquarists for their unique appearance and fascinating behavior. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the history, care requirements, and controversies surrounding the Blood Parrot Cichlid, providing you with all the information you need to decide if this fish is right for your aquarium.
1. Species Summary
Blood Parrot Cichlids are hybrid freshwater fish, first created in Taiwan around 1986. Their exact parent species remain unknown, but many experts believe that the Redhead Cichlid (Paraneetroplus synspilus) and Midas Cichlid (Amphilophus citrinellus) are the most likely candidates.
Although initially controversial due to their breeding practices, the attitude towards Blood Parrot Cichlids has significantly improved in recent years. Reputable breeders have contributed to the availability of healthy specimens, making them a fascinating addition to community tanks.
A healthy Blood Parrot Cichlid typically has a lifespan of 10 to 15 years. However, their overall health and longevity depend on their upbringing and the breeder’s practices. Fish that have undergone modifications or dye injections usually have a shorter lifespan. To ensure a long-lived Blood Parrot Cichlid, stick to reputable sellers and breeders.
Blood Parrot Cichlids have a unique appearance, making them a popular choice among aquarium enthusiasts. As a hybrid species, they possess several genetic deformities, but these do not detract from their beauty.
These fish have a large, round body with a smaller rounded head and prominent nuchal humps. Their eyes are large and vividly colored. One of their most distinctive features is their small, vertically opening mouth, which resembles a bird’s beak. Although many Blood Parrot Cichlids cannot close their mouths, they have throat teeth to help process food.
Blood Parrot Cichlids come in a range of vibrant colors, with the most common being solid orange. Other colors include red, yellow, and gray, while some fish exhibit multi-colored patches of white or yellow on an orange base. Note that exotic colors may indicate dye injections, which can shorten the fish’s lifespan.
Adult male Blood Parrot Cichlids typically reach an average size of 8 inches in length, while females grow to 6-7 inches. Females also have a rounder, plumper body. In rare cases, these fish can grow up to 10 inches, but such specimens are scarce.
5. Blood Parrot Cichlid Care
Blood Parrot Cichlid care is best suited for aquarists with intermediate experience, as they have specific requirements to ensure their health and well-being. Fortunately, these hybrid fish are not overly demanding in terms of environment and water conditions, making them relatively manageable with the right knowledge.
5.1 Tank Size
A minimum tank size of 30 gallons is necessary for a single Blood Parrot Cichlid, as they are active swimmers and require ample space. For each additional fish, increase the tank size by approximately 10 gallons. Aquarists who prefer keeping a small group of Blood Parrot Cichlids should opt for a 60-gallon tank or larger.
5.2 Water Parameters
As a hybrid species, Blood Parrot Cichlids have no natural habitat to model water parameters after. Fishkeepers often use the Midas Cichlid’s living conditions as a reference since they inhabit warm rivers in Central America. Blood Parrot Cichlids prefer slightly acidic, warm waters with the following parameters:
- Water temperature: 76°F to 80°F
- pH levels: 6.5 to 7.4
- Water hardness: 6 to 18 dGH
Regular water testing is crucial to maintain stable conditions, especially when first introducing the fish to your tank.
5.3 Aquarium Setup
Blood Parrot Cichlids can thrive in both natural and artificial decor schemes. However, some essential elements must be included in their tank.
Provide multiple hiding spots using driftwood, plant pots, and rocks, or utilize artificial caves and plants. Suitable plant species include Java Fern, Anubias, and Hornwort. Striking a balance between open swimming areas and hiding places is key for the fish’s comfort and confidence.
A fine sand substrate is recommended, as Blood Parrot Cichlids, like other Cichlids, are known to dig. Hard gravel can cause cuts and injuries, leading to potential complications. For lighting, opt for subdued red spectrum light or soft standard lighting.
Invest in a high-volume filtration system, such as the Fluval FX4, to maintain water quality due to the fish’s waste production.
Like any other freshwater fish, Blood Parrot Cichlids are susceptible to various diseases. The most common ailments affecting this hybrid species are Ich and swim bladder disease.
6.1 Potential Diseases
Ich is a contagious disease that usually affects fish living in poor water conditions. White spots form all over the fish’s body. Treatment involves moving the fish to a quarantine tank and using over-the-counter medications, or employing natural methods such as increasing water temperature and light water salinity. Regular water testing and changing 50% of the water every two weeks can help prevent Ich.
Swim bladder disease frequently affects Blood Parrot Cichlids, with some fish even possessing deformed swim bladders due to genetic defects. Diseased fish will struggle to swim and maintain buoyancy. While there are various treatment options, some cases result in permanent swim bladder changes, causing lifelong challenges for the fish.
Blood Parrot Cichlids are omnivorous and will readily accept most commercial foods. Dry food formulated for Cichlids is the ideal choice, with sinking pellets being preferable, as these fish often have difficulty eating from the water surface.
Offer high-protein snacks such as brine shrimp and bloodworms 2-3 times a week. Be aware that Blood Parrot Cichlids are messy eaters due to their unique mouth structure. Limit feedings to twice a day for a couple of minutes and remove excess food after each feeding to maintain water quality.
Related: Black Orchid Betta Fish
8. Behavior and Temperament
Blood Parrot Cichlids are considered semi-aggressive fish, but they usually display aggressive behavior only when in the presence of other aggressive fish or in overcrowded tanks. In suitable environments, they can be quite peaceful.
These fish are relatively calm and semi-active, often spending time hiding or swimming in the middle of the water column. They may also dig for food near the substrate occasionally.
9. Tank Mates
The best tank mates for Blood Parrot Cichlids are other Blood Parrot Cichlids, as they often exhibit schooling behavior and thrive in groups. This also makes them more confident and less prone to stress.
However, Blood Parrot Cichlids can also coexist with other peaceful community fish, provided they are not small enough to be mistaken for food. Avoid keeping them with small invertebrates. Some suitable tank mates include:
Breeding Blood Parrot Cichlids in captivity is rare, as most males are infertile. Females can lay eggs, but these are usually not fertilized. Some breeders use hormones to increase male fertility, but successful breeding between two Blood Parrot Cichlids remains uncommon.
If a healthy pair does breed, the female will lay eggs on a smooth surface, such as a rock, and both parents will protect the eggs fiercely. If the eggs develop fungus, the parents will consume them.
Female Blood Parrot Cichlids can sometimes breed with other Cichlid species. However, many aquarists discourage this practice to avoid creating another hybrid species.
Blood Parrot Cichlids are fascinating, beautiful fish that can make a great addition to your aquarium, provided you understand their unique care requirements and history. While some may still have reservations about owning a hybrid fish, the availability of healthy specimens from reputable breeders has helped to change perceptions about this species.
Whether you decide to keep Blood Parrot Cichlids or not, it is essential to remain informed and considerate of their needs to ensure a thriving, happy aquarium community.