Freshwater Fish

Red Parrot Cichlid or Parrotfish: Care Guide

water parameters

Typically, you would model the water parameters from the natural habitat of a fish. But because Red Parrot Cichlids are hybrid fish created by breeders, they don’t have a wild environment to model!

As a result, the best approach is to look at the parent breed. More specifically, fish breeders tend to model water parameters after the Midas Cichlid. This fish lives in warm rivers of Central America.

Red Parrot cichlids prefer similar water conditions. They like slightly acidic and warm waters throughout the year. Use the following parameters to keep your aquarium comfortable for these fish to live in:

  • Water temperature: 76°F to 80°F
  • pH levels: 6.5 to 7.4
  • Water hardness: 6 to 18 dGH

It is important to test the water regularly to make sure these conditions are stable. We recommend doing this a little more often when you first buy these fish (as they will still fit into your tank).

What to put in your tank

You can go for a natural decorating scheme or something a little more artificial. These fish do just fine either way!

With that said, there are still some basics you need to cover.

The most important thing to have in the tank is hiding places. Create multiple hiding areas with driftwood, flower pots, and rocks. You can also use caves and artificial plants. Good plant choices include Java Fern, Anubias, and Hornwort.

Author’s Note: When planning your aquarium, it’s important to strike a good balance between open swimming space and plenty of hiding places. As the fish become more comfortable, they will spend more time swimming outdoors.

A fine sand substrate is also recommended. Like other cichlid species, these fish are known to dig. Hard gravel can cause pretty and other physical injuries that can lead to more serious complications over time.

For lighting, keep things moderate. Many Blood Parrot cichlid owners use red spectrum light. Soft standard lighting also works well.

To maintain good water conditions, invest in a high-volume filtration system (the fluval FX4 is our favorite). These fish produce a large amount of waste, which can quickly sour the water and cause stress-related illnesses.

Common Potential Illnesses

Blood parrot cichlids are just as susceptible to disease as any other freshwater fish. The most common for this hybrid species are Ich and swim bladder disease.

Ich is a contagious disease that commonly affects fish that live in poor waters. It causes small white spots to form all over the body of the fish.

Treating Ich is not too difficult. After moving the fish to a quarantine tank, you can use over-the-counter medications or treat the disease naturally with higher temperatures and a light water salinity.

To avoid Ich, be sure to test the water conditions regularly. Remember, Red Parrot Cichlids produce a lot of waste. Change about 50 percent of the water every two weeks to keep levels stable and avoid stress.

Swim bladder disease is another common ailment. It tends to affect Red Parrot cichlids frequently. Some fish even have deformed swim bladders due to genetic defects.

The swim bladder controls buoyancy in the water, so sick fish will have trouble swimming around the tank. Like Ich, this disease has a few different treatment options. However, there are cases where the swim bladder is permanently changed, creating a lifelong challenge for the fish.

Food and Diet

Choosing the right blood parrot cichlid food is not a challenge. These fish are omnivores that will readily accept most commercial foods.

A dry food formulated for cichlids is your best option. Stick with the sinking pellets, as these fish often have a hard time eating from the surface of the water.

For a high-protein snack, you can offer some brine shrimp and bloodworms from time to time (2-3 times a week at most).

Author’s Note: Thanks to their unique mouths, Red Parrot Cichlids are messy eaters. Food will often fall out of their mouths when they try to swallow it!

Limit feedings to just a couple of minutes, twice a day. After each feeding, do your best to remove excess food to ensure water quality is not affected.

Blood Parrot Cichlid Behavior and Temperament

Many in the fish trade refer to blood parrot cichlids as a semi-aggressive species.

In fact, they can act and show aggressive behaviors. However, most of the time this only happens when the fish is around other aggressive fish.

If you keep these fish in a crowded tank, they will also tend to be a bit more territorial.

But as long as you avoid keeping them in the wrong environment, Red Parrot Cichlids can be quite peaceful!

We would consider his behavior to be quite calm and semi-active. They enjoy their privacy, so they will spend much of the day hidden. When they’re not doing that, you can find them swimming around the middle of the water column. On occasion, they may also venture onto the substrate to burrow for food.

tank mates

The best tankmates for a Cichlid Blood Parrot are more Red Parrot. They do very well in groups and will often exhibit scholastic behavior. When kept in these groups, the fish tend to feel more secure and less affected by stress.

However, Blood Parrot Cichlids also make wonderful community fish! Avoid any tank mates that are small enough to be mistaken for food.

Author’s Note: Many also recommend avoiding small invertebrates.

Keep the other species in peace and you shouldn’t have any major problems. Here are some good Cichlid Blood Parrot tankmates to consider:

  • Yoyo Loach
  • emperor tetra
  • gourami honey
  • silver dollar fish
  • firemouth cichlid
  • tiger barb
  • Many kinds of plecos
  • clown pleco
  • Bala Shark
  • dwarf gourami
  • kribensis cichlids


Interestingly, the breeding of two Blood Parrot cichlids in captivity is very rare. Although females can lay eggs, males generally do not fertilize them. This is because most male parrot cichlids are infertile.

Breeders are beginning to use hormones to make males more fertile, but it is still unusual to see two blood parrot cichlids breed in captivity.

If you are lucky enough to have a healthy mate, the female will usually lay her eggs on a smooth surface, such as a rock. The two fish will fiercely protect the eggs. That is, however, unless the eggs develop fungus. When this happens, the parents will eat the eggs.

Female blood parrot cichlids can sometimes breed with other cichlid species. However, many fish enthusiasts try to avoid this because it will result in another hybrid species.

What do you think?

Now that you have a better understanding of Blood Parrot cichlid care and some background on how this hybrid fish is created, are you interested?

For some, the idea of ​​having a hybrid fish is something they could never do. And a few years ago we would definitely agree with you!

But these days, many Blood Parrot cichlids come from well-respected breeders who do things the right way. That is what has begun to change the perception of this fish in recent years.

There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to your preferences. If you decide they’re not for you, that’s fine.

But if you choose to give them a try, we think you’ll be very happy.

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