Blood Parrot Cichlid Care Sheet: Tank Mates, Behavior, and More

The Blood Parrot Cichlid is surrounded by controversy.

Along with their blood red appearance, they do come with certain genetic defects.

This Cichlid will thrive in a same-species tank if they have enough space to swim and plenty of hiding spots. They are a peaceful hybrid fish that will liven up your tank with their vivid coloration and active personality.

If you have a peaceful Cichlid community tank and are looking for a mid-water dweller to brighten up your tank, then the Blood Parrot Cichlid is the perfect option for you.

Keep reading if you want to learn about this hybrid, how to care for them and what to expect when keeping this controversial fish…

Blood Parrot Cichlid

Blood Parrot Cichlid 101

The Blood Parrot Cichlid is a hybrid fish from the Cichlidae family.

They were first bred in the 1980s in Taiwan and cannot be found in the wild.

Although some people refer to them as Amphilophus citrinellus x Paraneetroplus synspilus, they actually have no scientific name and are best known by their commercial name. The parrot name comes from their resemblance to the marine Parrotfish, which you should bear in mind is a completely different genus of fish.

It is speculated that the Midas Cichlid (Amphilophus citrinellus) and a Redhead Cichlid (Paraneetroplus synspilus) were bred to create the Blood Parrot Cichlid. However some people claim that the Banded Cichlid (Heros severus) was used.

Regardless of which two fish were used, we do know that both parents are from freshwater river basins.

These fish are difficult to find in the aquarist hobby as they are quite controversial.

Hybrid breeding in general is dubious, with others controversial hybrids such as the Flowerhorn Cichlid coming to mind. The concern is mostly due to the genetic deformities that arise as a result of hybrid breeding.

These Cichlids gained popularity because of their unique appearance. Their radiant colors illuminate larger tanks and produce dazzling effects when kept in groups.

If you do manage to find one for sale then expect to pay anywhere between $20-$80 for a Blood Red Parrot.

How Long Do Blood Parrot Cichlids Live?

Despite their deformities the Blood Parrot Cichlid can live between 10 and 15 years.

Key Facts:

  • Experience Required: Intermediate
  • Nickname: Blood-Red Parrot Cichlid, Blood Parrot Cichlid, Bloody Parrots
  • Color Forms: Orange and Red
  • Size: 7-8 inches
  • Tank Size: 30+ Gallon
  • Tank Temperature: 76-80°F

Appearance

Full Grown Blood Parrot Cichlid

These Cichlids are so popular because of their unique appearance.

They have a round-shaped body with a smaller round head which has a nuchal hump.

Their cascading translucent fins flow behind them which gives them a graceful appearance.

Blood Parrot Cichlids have large, round eyes that are often said to resemble parrots’ eyes. They also have a mouth which opens vertically just like a parrot’s beak.

You will often see their mouth hung open in the tank as well; this is due to a genetic deformity as a result of hybridization. There are a number of other genetic deformities you can find in this fish including an overarched spine and a deformed nuchal hump, as well as compressed vertebrae.

The genetic deformities do not take away from the incredible color that gives this fish their name.

You can find them in colors ranging from reds to oranges to yellows, with the rarest being a gray.

Because their color is so vibrant it is easy to notice when the Blood Parrot Cichlid is stressed or ill, because you will notice their color fading, as well as a swollen body and cloudy eyes.

Just be careful when buying this fish as some commercial breeders use dye to brighten the color of their fish. This is a common practice and will shorten your fish’s lifespan. You should not purchase Blood Parrot Cichlids from these breeders. It is difficult to tell whether a dealer has used dye on these fish, although if you spot an abnormally bright-red color you are best avoiding them.

A full grown Blood Parrot Cichlid is around 8 inches long including the fins.

They have an arched, translucent dorsal fin, a streaming anal fin to match and a longer caudal fin.

As juveniles these fish are a dark color and have several stripes for around 4 months before transforming to their final vibrant orange or red color.

It is quite difficult to tell the difference between the males and females. The males are generally longer and sleeker in size and shape, while the females are rounded and smaller.

Tank Mates for Blood Parrot Cichlids

Because Blood Parrot Cichlids cannot be found in the wild you might be wondering which tank mates this hybrid gets along with.

They are a fantastic community fish for larger, peaceful fish.

The best tank mates are other Blood Parrot Cichlids.

They thrive in a same-species tank and tend to be more confident with other Blood Parrots around. They will also be less stressed and will school together. Just remember that each fish will require multiple hiding spots so that they can rest. You must also provide lots of swimming space for these fish as they are all active swimmers and will take advantage of all the space you give them.

Other good tank mates you should consider include:

Small snails and shrimp will get eaten so it is best to stay away from them.

Because of this cichlid’s large size, you should avoid small fish that will be mistaken for food. Therefore Neon Tetras, Guppies and Platys are out.

You should also avoid aggressive fish too such as Oscars and Rainbow Sharks.

Care Guide

Blood Parrot Cichlids

This fish is recommended to intermediate aquarists due to their specific care needs.

To maintain your tank you should be doing weekly 25-30% water changes as well as vacuuming the substrate for uneaten food.

This second step is very important because Blood Parrots are very messy eaters and waste can build up very quickly in your tank.

If you are keeping on top of tank maintenance you should encounter very few diseases.

That being said, the most common illnesses among Blood Parrot Cichlids are the infamous Ich and swim bladder disease.

Ich causes tiny white spots that cover the body and fins of your fish and often arises due to poor water quality. Using a high-powered filter with regular water changes will minimize the risk of Ich. Still, sometimes it does happen and if this is the case, you can use medication to treat it, in addition to slightly raising the temperature of the water to 80°F.

Swim bladder disease is less common but tends to be seen a lot in Blood Parrots as it arises due to a genetic deformity that causes them to lose buoyancy in the water. There are treatments such as antibiotics that may help your fish, but sadly for many, this will be a lifelong challenge that you can only help by keeping your fish happy and healthy in other ways.

Diet

These fish are omnivores.

You should give Blood Parrot Cichlids a varied diet including protein and vegetables.

Start with a dry formulate cichlid pellet. This should be a sinking pellet as they will not feed near the tank’s surface. A nutritious diet will not only keep your Blood Parrots vibrantly colored, but it will increase their longevity, so try to stick to a feeding schedule that incorporates a wide variety of foods, such as:

  • Brine Shrimp
  • Blood Worms
  • Daphnia
  • Peas
  • Spinach
  • Cucumber
  • Strawberry
  • Crabsticks

You can give them high-protein foods 2-3 times per week.

If you want to give them feeder fish, avoid goldfish. Limit the number of times you do this as it increases the risk of disease in your tank.

Feed these fish twice a day and give them as much as they can eat in a few minutes.

When feeding multiple Blood Parrots at once you will need to make sure that all of the individuals get some food. They have a genetic deformity that complicates their ability to catch food; some have a bigger struggle and may require further assistance.

Also, due to their mouth deformity they are messy eaters. You should remove uneaten food as waste can very quickly build up and negatively impact the water quality.

Behavior and Temperament

The Blood Parrot Cichlid’s behavior is best described as peaceful.

They tend to hide and rest periodically throughout the day.

When they are not resting they can be found in the middle of the water column, schooling with other Blood Parrot Cichlids. You will also see them occasionally sifting through the substrate for food.

They can be aggressive at times, but this is normally because they are under some sort of stress- for example when the tank is overcrowded, when they do not have enough hiding spaces, or when there are other aggressive fish in your tank. For the most part though they tend to keep to themselves and are not confrontational.

Interestingly they are capable of recognizing their owners and will come to the front of the tank to greet you.

Females are more timid than the males; watch out for this if you do get a mated pair.

Pros

  • Their beautiful colors will brighten up your tank
  • Peaceful and compatible with other larger peaceful fish
  • Capable of recognizing their owners
Cons

  • They have several genetic deformities
  • Produce a lot of waste
  • Need a lot of space to swim

Tank Set Up and Parameters

Because they are a hybrid, these fish are not found in the wild and therefore do not have a natural habitat for you to replicate.

However, their parent Cichlids thrive in freshwater basins with a lot of swimming space, so you should ideally try to replicate the environment of either the Midas or Redhead Cichlids.

The following conditions are suitable for Blood Parrot Cichlids:

Tank Parameter Requirement
Minimum Tank Size 30 Gallons
Tank Type Freshwater Planted
Temperature 76-80°F
pH 6.5-7.4
Hardness 6-18 dGH
Flow Heavy
Substrate Fine Sand

Start with at least a 30 gallon tank for a single Blood Parrot Cichlid.

For each additional fish you want to add 10 gallons.

However, because they love to swim the more space you can give them the better.

Their parent fish live in warm and slightly acidic waters all year round so maintaining these water parameters is very important.

You will need a heater and more importantly, a very high quality filtration system. A high-powered filter that creates a heavy flow is ideal.

Lighting should be kept dim as they prefer a darker environment and you may wish to get a bulb with a high red spectrum, as this will make your Blood Parrots look fantastic. Make sure the wattage is under 1 watt per gallon.

As for the substrate you will want to use a sandy substrate.

Blood Parrots utilize the majority of the space within the tank, swimming in the middle, at the top and also digging at the bottom. It is because of this digging that you want to avoid rougher substrates as this will increase their risk of cuts and infections.

Also remember that these fish love hiding spots.

Driftwood, rocks and plants all help to create hiding spaces.

You can pick either live or artificial plants.

Breeding Blood Parrot Cichlids

Because Blood Parrot Cichlids are hybrids it is extremely difficult to breed them.

Some breeders have tried to increase the male’s fertility through the use of hormones but this has not been entirely successful.

However, females can still lay eggs fertilizable by other Cichlids. Females can mate with other non-hybrids such as Convicts, Severus and Midas but this should be avoided as it will produce an unknown hybrid that will possess potentially more genetic deformities.

You should avoid Blood Parrot descendants such as the Bubblegum and Jellybean Parrots as they will have extreme genetic deformities.

When they are ready to mate they will dance around each other.

If you do want to try your luck with breeding these fish the best temperature to keep their mating tank at is their normal tank temperature of 76-80°F.

Additionally, the pH should be maintained at 6.5-7.4.

If the mating dance is successful your female will become rounder and lay her eggs on a hard, flat surface such as a rock or a plant. The females sometimes dig a hole in a soft substrate to lay her eggs into. Once the male has fertilized the eggs the pair will guard and care for their eggs instinctively.

Most of the time the eggs will become white with fungus due to a lack of offspring development.

In the rare case that you do get some offspring, maintain the health of your fry with daily 25% water changes. You can feed them baby brine shrimp during the first few weeks before upgrading them to a fine fry food when they start to grow.

History and First Sighting

The Blood Parrot Cichlid is a man-made hybrid and was first bred in the 1980s in Taiwan.

You cannot find this fish in the wild.

Their parents are not known; however it is suspected that they are either:

  • Midas Cichlid (Amphilophus citrinellus) x Redhead Cichlid (Cichlasoma synspilum).
  • Red Devil Cichlid (Amphilophus labiatus) x Banded Cichlid (Heros severus).

Although they were first bred in the 1980s they were not introduced into the fish keeping hobby until the 2000s.

Their introduction was met with controversy because of the ethical concerns surrounding crossbreeding.

Since their introduction some have taken quite a liking to the peculiar appearance of this fish. Sadly, there are still some breeders who practice unethical breeding of these fish by using dyes to augment their color. When buying this fish you need to be vigilant in finding the right breeder.

Summary

Blood Parrot Cichlid
Other Common Names: Bloody Parrot Cichlid and Blood-Red Parrot Cichlid
Scientific Name: N.A.
Family Name: Cichlidae
Distribution: N.A.
Size: 7-8 inches
Color: Red and Orange
Care Level: Intermediate
Temperament: Semi-aggressive
Lifespan: 10-15 years
Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons
Tank Mate Compatibility: Compatible with larger peaceful species (such as other cichlids).

Has this hybrid caught your attention?

In the face of their genetic impairments, they are still a joy to care for and look at.

They get along with lots of other peaceful fish (such as the Firemouth Cichlid) and often outshine others in the tank.

If you are prepared to invest in a high-powered filter and do lots of cleaning then this unique Cichlid could be for you.

What are your thoughts about the controversial yet dazzling Blood Parrot Cichlid?

Let us know in the comments section below…

David Thomas Author Bio Picture
David Thomas leads the team at Everything Fishkeeping as the Editor-in-Chief. David has been keeping fish since he was a child. In his first tank he kept goldfish and since then he has kept over 30 different species. Now he has 4 separate tanks and his favorite is a 100 gallon freshwater tank with a school of Rasboras, Tetras and Loaches.