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.

Category Rating
Care Level: Intermediate
Temperament: Semi-Aggressive
Color Form: Orange
Lifespan: 15 Years
Size: Up to 8″
Diet: Omnivorous
Family: Cichlidae
Minimum Tank Size: 30 Gallons
Tank Set-Up: Freshwater with open space and hiding spots
Compatible: Species only tank or peaceful community

Overview

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.

Diet

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

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…

Robert Woods Portrait
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.

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