parrot cichlids have
nomenclature (scientific designation) to identify them by. Nor do they
natural habitat. Why, you may ask?
parrots are a man-made hybrid. They are, in fact, one of the only two
species found within the Exotic-Aquariums Fish Care and Breeding Guide
of man-made origins. Although their
parental lineage was never
documented and remains
shrouded in mystery, the blood parrot was first created in Taiwan around
1986. Prevalent speculation points to the following cichlid species as
potential candidates of parental origins; the redhead cichlid (Cichlasoma synspilum) and
the Midas cichlid (Amphilophus
citrinellus) or a coupling between
the red devil cichlid (Amphilophus
labiatus) and the severum (Heros severus). Despite the fact that
all of the aforementioned species are native to either Central or South
America, the blood parrot
considered an Asian
cichlid because of the geographical location of its hybridization.
of point of
origin or parental ancestry, blood
parrot cichlids have stirred up almost as much controversy as their
counterparts, the glofish.
Unlike the glofish, blood parrots are a
selective breeding rather than genetic manipulation. As such they have
banned for sale in most countries as a genetically engineered species.
subject of controversy revolves around the anatomical deformities
the hybridization of this previously nonexistent subspecies.
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physically detrimental deformity relates to
the hybrid’s narrow, beak-like mouth. Its vertical mouth
opening makes it hard
for the fish to feed and leaves it vulnerable to possible starvation.
parrots compensate for this deformity by using their throat muscles to
their food. Additional deformities include malformed swim bladders
in erratic swimming patterns, unnaturally large often misshapen irises
deformed spinal columns that contribute to the fish’s unique
shape. To add
further fuel to the controversy, many breeders inject the fish with
dyes to increase the intensity and diversity of its color palette and
its overall marketability marketing them under the trade name Bubblegum
This same practice was also used to transform Indian glassfish into the
very popular Disco fish. The dying of fish for commercial resale is
to the fish’s health and frequently shortens their life
Fishkeeping has been instrumental in exposing these practices to the
public. As a result many fish stores and online retailers no longer
modified variations of these fish.
Although blood parrots
were a product of the 80s they were
not widely available in pet shops until 2000. Many avid fish
opposed to the sale of these creatures on ethical grounds due to the
deformities resulting form their creation.
Fish stores who stocked these hybrids were even boycotted. Said
only met with limited success. Some store owners simply cannot afford
carry this inventory because of the high price tag they fetch. Ethical
principles and genetic deformities aside, blood parrots frequently live
years and have been reported to live as long as 15 years of age.
you are not ethically
opposed to owning a blood parrot
then you should be aware that this is one of the larger cichlids. Blood
commonly grow 8-10 inches in length. A single fish will require a
aquarium size of 50 gallons. When kept
as a community fish, you will need a substantially larger tank. Care
exercised when choosing their tank mates. Blood parrots should not be
with large aggressive fish. They should not be forced to compete for
turf in a community setting. Angelfish, catfish, danios and larger
tetras make suitable tank mates.
Blood parrots should be
provided with ample room and adequate
hiding places so that they can establish their own territorial
Drift wood, rock work and larger aquarium décor are
excellent options. Like
many cichlids, these fish are prone to dig up gravel. Choosing a
course substrate is recommended. These fish tend to function best under
lighting. This is attributed
in their breeding.
South American cichlids
prefer soft water environments with
a ph balance around 6.8. Water temperature should be maintained between
78-86 °F. Lower
result in a loss of coloration.
is an omnivorous
cichlid. They will readily accept a
wide variety of foods. They are more adept at consuming sinking rather
floating food offerings. Standard food fare can be supplemented with
and brine shrimp. Commercial products high in b-carotene and
help enhance and maintain their coloration. These fish are voracious
They are known for generating a large amount of uneaten food debris in
period of time. A good filtration system combined with frequent water
and substrate maintenance is a must to keep nitrate levels in check.
Breeding Blood Parrot
Although Parrots have been
known to mate and even lay eggs, generally
they are infertile. Male blood parrots
are typically infertile. There have been sporatic cases of successful
spawnings, generally when they have been crossed with a non-hybrid
fish. . The use of a non-hybridized males will
increase your rate of success. In
commercial breeding, males are injected with hormones to increase
rates. Like other cichlids, Blood Parrots will tend the eggs and
resulting fry fastidiously. As with any eggs, those that are infertile
turn white and rapidly fungus. The parents will eat infertile eggs to
them from spreading fungus to the fertile eggs.
Once the eggs
water changes of 25% are critical to ensure the
health of the fry. Fresh baby brine shrimp are the optimum food during
first couple of weeks. Often pet shops will carry frozen baby brine
which can also be used. As they fry grow, they can be weaned to finely