Complete Blood Parrot Cichlid Care Guide: The Unique Hybrid

Who does not love Cichlids?

They are beautiful fish with lots of character. Whilst there are many varieties, few are as unique as the Blood Parrot Cichlid.

This fish can be added to a few different tank types: singly, species only and community tanks.

It’s best to have some previous experience with Cichlids before trying this species.

In our article below, we discuss all the information you need to setup a Blood Parrot Cichlid tank. From designing the right setup to picking the right tank mates, everything you need is here.

Care Level:Intermediate
Color Form:Orange
Lifespan:15 Years
Size:Up to 8″
Minimum Tank Size:30 Gallons
Tank Set-Up:Freshwater with open space and hiding spots
Compatible:Species only tank or peaceful community


Blood Parrot Cichlid Diet

The Blood Parrot Cichlid is a member of the Cichlidae family.

As they are a relatively new hybrid, they do not have a Latin or scientific name, so they are sometimes referred to as just Parrot Cichlids.

This species has been bred as a hybrid of two other species. The parent species are unconfirmed, but speculation suggests Midas (Amphilophus citrinellus) and Redhead (Paraneetroplus synspilus) Cichlids.

The result is a freshwater fish that can live up to 15 years if kept healthy. Make sure you are not confusing them with saltwater Parrotfish, an unrelated species in the Scaridae family.

You should treat the Blood Parrot Cichlid as a Central American Cichlid species, since both parent species come from this area.

They are popular with Cichlid enthusiasts, but it can be difficult to find one because of the controversy surrounding the species. Many people argue that the hybridization is unethical, so some stores refuse to sell them.

Typical Behavior

You can keep them on their own, in groups, or in a community of suitable tank mates. They are generally a peaceful species, but they are easily stressed by aggressive fish, which may cause them to act out.

They can be quite shy and will often hide amongst the plants and decorations.

If they know that they have these hiding spots available, they will be much more active in your aquarium.

Most of their time is spent in the middle levels of the tank, however sometimes they will head lower down and start digging in search of food.

They will likely leave a mess behind them when eating, that will require extra cleaning.

Blood Parrot Cichlid Appearance

Blood Parrot Cichlid Care

You can expect adults to grow up to 8 inches long, with a round body, large fins, large eyes and a beak-like mouth.

They are beautiful fish with a bright orange coloration to compete with some of the most colorful fish around.

The color can be solid across the body, but it is more commonly broken up by patches of other colors (usually white). Other colors have been bred, such as red and yellow. Dyes are often used to produce more color varieties, but this reduces the lifespan of the fish.

Males and females are very similar, however males are slightly larger.

When young, some individuals have their tails cut to resemble a heart shape. They are known as Heart Cichlids, and most enthusiasts view this as an extremely unethical process.

The hybridization of the parent species has caused a genetic defect where their mouth cannot fully close. As a result their teeth are in their throat, which they constrict to crush up food.

Habitat and Tank Conditions

Blood Parrot Cichlid

The Blood Parrot Cichlid does not have its own natural habitat because it is the product of hybridization. To get an idea of a setup they would like, we need to look at where the parent species live in the wild (such as the Midas Cichlid).

These fish live in the warm flowing freshwaters of Central America.

The water would be well lit and slightly acidic. They usually inhabit areas around rocky outcroppings and tree roots which offer protection and lots of food. The riverbed would be sandy and well planted with vegetation.

To keep your Blood Parrot Cichlids healthy you need to recreate similar conditions in your aquarium.

Tank Setup

Your tank needs to strike a balance between open swimming spaces and isolated hiding spots.

They need both because although they usually swim around the tank, they are often shy and try to escape stressful circumstances.

You could spread rocks, wood, or clay pots around the lower levels of the tank to leave open water above.

Use plenty of plants too. These are another great form of shelter and also help to maintain high oxygen levels. There are lots of species to choose from, perhaps Java Fern, Anubias Nana, or Hornwort.

You can use a sandy substrate. These fish are prone to dig, so a rough substrate could scratch them and lead to cuts and infections.

Your filter should move the water around the tank to create a current. The only other essential piece of equipment is a heater – set this somewhere in the range of 76-80°F. The pH needs to be 6.5-7.4.

What Size Aquarium Do They Need?

A Blood Parrot Cichlid needs at least a 30 gallon tank – this will be enough for one fish.

Every additional fish needs at least 10 gallons to ensure that they all have plenty of space. The more space you can provide the better.

Blood Parrot Cichlid Tank Mates

Blood Parrot Tank Mates

It can be difficult to find suitable tank mates because Blood Parrot Cichlids can be a little unpredictable (especially when stressed). You can’t even look at their natural companions because they are not found in the wild.

By considering the parent species and past experiences, you can get a good idea of which fish to choose.

Tank mates must be peaceful – they also need to be quick to make a fast getaway if needed.

Some good options for the mid-levels include: Dwarf Gourami, Angelfish, Kribensis, Tiger Barbs, Emperor Tetras and Firemouth Cichlids.

Don’t pick fish that are small enough to be eaten like Neon Tetras or Guppies.

To fill the lower levels, you could keep Yoyo Loaches, Corydoras Catfish, Clown Loaches, or Clown Plecos.

Invertebrates should be avoided as they can be eaten. However if you want to try you could keep Apple Snails because they have a particularly hard shell.

Keeping Blood Parrot Cichlids Together

As long as you have enough space (60+ gallons) you can keep these fish in groups.

The more Blood Cichlids you have, the more hiding spots you will need to spread around the aquarium.


Your Blood Parrot Cichlids will eat many different types of food. They are omnivorous, so can eat both meaty foods and vegetation.

You can feed them dried, freeze-dried, frozen and live foods.

They can have difficulty feeding from the surface so ideally the food should sink – so use pellets over flakes.

You can purchase dried foods that have been specifically formulated for Cichlids.

Frozen and live foods are the most nutritious. You should supplement a dried food diet with these to supply a range of nutrients. This helps your fish fight off disease and keeps their colors bright.

Bloodworms, daphnia and brine shrimp are a few favorite treats.

Remember these fish will eat even when they are not hungry, so limit their feeding to twice a day. Give them an amount they can finish in a couple of minutes. They can get through a lot of food and may make a mess in the process, so remove any excess food before it decays and perform regular water changes.

Blood Parrot Cichlid Care Guide

Blood Parrot Cichlid Appearance

The good news is Blood Parrot Cichlids are a hardy species that mostly look after themselves.

Check your water parameters each week for any sudden changes as this can quickly lead to illness.

For example, a temperature drop can lower a fish’s immune system.

Effective filtration is the key. Watch out for high nutrient levels as these can contribute to blue-green algae blooms which can kill your fish. To help your filter, you should perform regular water changes, no less than once every two weeks.

A poor diet can have a similar effect, so you need to supply a high-quality diet.

There are a few diseases that a Blood Parrot Cichlid could catch.

The most common is probably Ich (white spot disease), an issue that affects most aquarium fish.

If your fish have Ich, you will see white spots (up to 1mm in diameter) across their body and fins. To treat this, raise the temperature to 80°F and add 1 teaspoon of salt for every 2 gallons of water. If there is no improvement, you can buy medication from pet stores too.

Another potential issue is swim bladder disorder. The swim bladder is a gas filled organ that controls buoyancy. If there is a problem, the fish might start floating on the surface or sitting on the substrate.

To treat, stop feeding them for three days, and then feed them a cooked and skinned pea once a day. After a few days of this, start feeding them some nutritious frozen foods.


Breeding this species is highly unreliable.

This is because the males are generally infertile, which means they are physically unable to produce fry.

Occasionally females will spawn successfully, but only with males of other Cichlid species, creating another cross-breed.

Getting a female to mate will take a lot of luck, but there are a few things you can try to increase the odds. Gradually raise the temperature to 80°F, keep their environment as clean as possible and provide a highly nutritional diet.

The female will lay her eggs and devote her time to caring for them. Any infertile eggs will turn white and develop a fungus. The parents will eat these eggs to stop the fungus from spreading to the fertile eggs.

Once the fry hatch, you need to perform daily 25% water changes to keep them healthy. Feed them baby brine shrimp until they are large enough to accept other foods.

Are Blood Parrot Cichlids Suitable For Your Aquarium? (Summary)

You need to plan carefully before adding a Blood Parrot Cichlid to your tank.

They don’t cause many issues, but you need to choose the right tank mates to prevent fighting.

Once the aquarium is setup you just need to keep the environment clean and make sure they are all feeding properly.

Attempts to breed this species will likely be unsuccessful.

Otherwise, this is a great species that adds a distinctive look which can’t be found elsewhere.

Are Blood Parrot Cichlids your favorite Cichlid? Let us know in the comments section below…

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About Robert 329 Articles
Robert Woods is the creator of FishKeeping World, a third generation fish keeper and a graduate in animal welfare and behavior. He is also a proud member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the Marine Aquarium Societies of North America and the Nature Conservancy.


  1. Good read, thank you! I have two Blood Parrots in my 75 gallon community tank. They are doing great! I enjoy watching them swim about, as they seem a bit mischievous. Other times, they can be seen hiding in their terra cotta pots or alongside the planted driftwood. My tank is heavily planted, and they share this space with a female Dwarf Gourami, Bolivian Rams, Cory Cats, Oto Cats, and Harlequin Rasboras. Very relaxing to watch all of them. 🙂

  2. Thank you for the nice article! My parrots live in a well planted 150 gallon aquarium with 2 Opaline Gouramis , 2large silver dollar tetras, a small school of emperor tetras, a Bala shark, a Pictus cat and two Kribensis cichlids. I rescued mine from a department store where they were trying to escape death by Malawi cichlids. They were only the size of a quarter at that time with fins nipped up. I started them in a 36 gallon, then a 55 g and because they are smart and tame and funny, I ended up giving them the 150! Yes they are my favorites. Very peaceful. Loves peas and frozen worms

  3. I don’t know that I’m blowing the mind of the fish community here but since these are a “test tube” fish I can provide a little more info about the blood parrot. Keep in mind I am not a biologist but have kept a healthy aquarium my entire life. The majority of info you can find about this fish is pretty accurate in my experience (including this article). There are however exceptions, at least in my case. They are relatively peaceful if you give them their own place to hang out in the tank and they are oddly personable. My tank is in a high traffic area of the house and she always fallows me when I walk by, she eats out of my hand, etc. she’s like a dog, and she is exactly 8inchs. 2 things that might need updating are the lifespan and the temperament. I was not even aware my fish was female until she was 13 and I added a group of blue/Bolivian rams to my tank. At that point she started laying eggs once a month for over two years and when she did there was nothing peaceful about her. She divided my tank in half and attacked everything in my tank that crossed that line…including me if I put my hand in to clean it or fixed what she bulldozed over. Lol, the other thing is the lifespan, my parrot is at minimum 17 years old but probably closer to 18 and I know that for a fact. I had a collage roommate I lived with for 1 year in 2003 who loved my fish tank and while in class one day he went to of all places Wal-Mart and bought this fish. She was maybe 1.5 inch long and was died that baby blue color (which lasted a few months) and surprisingly here she still is in my tank a month before my nephew was born all the way to a month after he graduated high school! She’s oddly family now and I’ve never been upset when a fish has died but this girl has been around so long I might feel different. Crazy

    • I can attest to every single thing you just said! Bang on. Personalities like dogs, lasting 15+ years when happy, laying eggs when a male is present 1x a month and becoming THAT GIRL in the tank (hahaha), and that they can be super docile and lovely when in the right environment. I had two large ones that acted as King & Queen to an unruly tank of cichlids. As soon as they were removed, the cichlids almost tore each other apart. Coincidence? I think not. These are amazing fish and really helpful when used in different fish communities/tanks.

  4. I just bought a baby pink parot fish I put her in my 10 gallon tank with 4 other baby African cichlids , I worried shes not happy

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