Blood Parrot Cichlid Care Guide & Species Profile

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.

Blood Parrot Cichlid Facts & Overview

Blood Parrot Cichlid Diet

Care Level:Intermediate
Lifespan:15 years
Size:Up to 8 inches
Minimum Tank Size:30 gallons
Tank Setup:Freshwater with open space and hiding spots
Compatibility:Species only tank or peaceful community

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 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 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.

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.

Blood Parrot Cichlid Care

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.


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.


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?

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…

About Robert 394 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. Lisa L says:

    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. 🙂

    • tucan says:

      I’m tucan I had blood parrot cichlids before they are fun they like to play peekaboo and watch cartoons we must protect theblood parrot cichlids from purists sites like (WETWEBMEDIA) and others.????????????????

  2. Reva Gray says:

    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

    • tucan says:

      Hi Reva gray I’m happy for your bloodparrot cichlids I hope they like watching cartoons ????????

    • Xmegatron10 says:

      Also as a hybrid cichlid keeper group we should make a hybrid cichlid Congress only NO republicans

  3. Cole Stewart says:

    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

    • Jessica Savoie-Martin says:

      I have to agree with Cole. Our female is also very personable and she is part of the family. She follows our movements (she lives in the family room) and comes to the glass to have daily chats. She is 17.5 years old. She lives alone In a 45 gallon tank because she has bullied every tank mate to DEATH. She loves to dig as well. She will also lay eggs even without another fish around. She is sassy and yet shy and likes to work on her digging. So much personality and life in her. I came on here to research life span because I can remember reading many years ago that they only lived to be about 10 !! I’m happy to know that number is much higher now, because our old girl is still going strong !

    • Jessica Savoie-Martin says:

      I will for real cry and mourn the loss of our girl when that day comes. Its wild. She is A major part of our family ! A fish !

    • Arnab Ganguly says:

      Wow very luck, I can Visualize her.
      Apart very nice article and educative as I am planning to bring home a new aquarium and most likely Blood parrot may be be my new partner in crime 😀

    • Pennie says:

      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. Kimberly Williams says:

    I have a blood parrot fish that I’ve had for 12 year. She is going blind very quickly. I don’t know what to do. She hasn’t eaten in two days. What can I do for her?

  5. Joe Nocella says:

    Thanks for the article. I have two young red blood parrot cichlids in a 40 gallon breeder tank with a lot plants and some hiding spaces. I also have a few angelfish and some corys at the bottom. The only problem I have is one of the parrot cichlids seems to bother the other one. He doesn’t hurt him, he just swims up to him fast and annoys him. He’ll swim across the tank and butt his head into the other’s belly. This goes on frequently. Otherwise, all of the fish are fine. Should I give him a time-out? I’ve been thinking of putting the aggressor in a small netted breeder box for a while. Maybe he’ll get the message.

  6. Julia says:

    Hi I have a blood parrot who seems as through he’s about his grown size.i got him about two months ago and he’s swimming about sitting under or overtop the cannon in his tank. He swims around with a smile on his face constantly, he does a “happy dance” when I am in the room where he swims sideways and wiggles around. My concern: he hasn’t really been eating for about a month. I tried to feed him frozen brine shrimp, pellets, and I’ve seen him eat only a little bit of the brine shrimp( a couple pieces thatve broken off) and that’s it. I checked the levels, they’re fine, his temperatures fine and he’s behaving normally since me and my boyfriend have gotten him and we have him in a 20 gallon tank, which is larger than they had him at the store. Only thing is he doesn’t eat or poop. Please let me know for I am worried and do not want him to die. If he’s sick Id like to know now to take him to the vet and get the proper medication.

  7. Brett says:

    Hello. Ive had a parretfish now for 8 month i rescued it. Will it stop attacking my big pleco if i get it a male. I no they wont breed. Just want to see if it calms it down any

  8. Tonya says:

    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

    • Dee says:

      Your tank is way too full. I’d be surprised if it’s even alive as I type this

  9. Diana Han says:

    Why is my blood parrot fish stomach so big?

  10. Melissa says:

    These and clown loaches are, by far, my favorite fish. I buy and raise babies in a 5 gallon and then move them to my 25 gallon when big enough. last weekend i was in a local pet supply store and found two baby parrots being terrorized by aggressive convicts and other nasty fish in a small tank. I “rescued” them and brought them home to my “grow tank”. I’m wondering if they will ALWAYS be extremely fearful and shy or if they will someday act like happy parrots? I feel so sorry for them. All the parrots I’ve had over the years have been friendly, happy campers. Very personable, beg like dogs!!

  11. Brenda says:

    I have a question…I have 2 blood parrot fish. I really do enjoy them but I have a question. They were both completely orange but One of them, I noticed a black spot on him then about 2 weeks later, overnight he is almost completely covered in black patches. What is this from? The heat is proper & the tank levels are good. I’m so concerned! I dont want anything to happen to him. Any suggestions?
    Thank you!

    • Leah Frymire says:

      I have owned parrot fish for about 10 years. Recently, during the power outages in TX, we lost power and the temp in their tank dropped drastically. I bought a small 10 gal tank and moved them to my Mom’s where she had electricity. I gradually heated them back up and they stayed there till our electricity came back on. They were located in a dark, quiet area but, the mistake I made (or not doing it at least contributed to the outcome) was in not setting up the tank more. I only put in some gravel, a pump, and a heater. As a result, I’m sure I left them feeling exposed. And, with the other events that they experienced (too cold water, being chased with the net in order to move them to the new tank, which was too small, and being relocated to an unfamiliar environment), one of the fish did not survive until I could get him back into his own home. The two fish had grown up together and lived together in the tank all their lives (about 10 years). So, once the remaining fish recovered, he was seemingly well from the effects of the too cold water and other stressors but, emotionally, he seemed very different. He seemed to miss his tank and, where he used to come up to the surface to take his food as soon as I dropped it in, he now would swim down to the bottom of the tank and swim around erratically. I had to walk away from the tank in order for him to stop and begin to feed. And, he just seemed not happy. The next time I had to go in and vacuum the bottom of his tank, he swam up and bopped my hand as if he was afraid of me and trying to fight me off. I guess as a result of me chasing him with the net, he didn’t trust me. I went ahead and gave him space and just put his food in and stepped away so he could feel safe feeding. (There was one small problem with that – I couldn’t actually watch him eat and see that he was actually consuming the food I put in. As a result, he was not eating all that I put in and the ammonia and nitrite/nitrate levels got too high. As I was cleaning the tank again, he was much more calm and let me do it without coming after my hand. As I was replacing some of the plants, he did come and bop me again but, not as aggressively as before. And, he has begun to come up to the water surface when I walk up to feed him. He’ll eat as I stand there to watch and make sure that he consumes all that I put in. So, long story short (but for context purposes) he seems to be coming around. He definitely has been stressed and depressed but, I do think that, with a little time and patience, they should be fine. I would just say to keep stress to a minimum and try to maintain familiarity (in tank mates & environment when it’s necessary to relocate them). They really are sweet fish and I was super sad that I wasn’t able to save both of mine. Good luck with yours.

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