Blood Parrot Cichlid Care: Size, Behavior, Tank Mates…

Blood Parrot Cichlids are a gorgeous freshwater fish that have generated quite a lot of conflicting opinions over the years. This has nothing to do with the fish itself, but instead how they’re bred.

So this guide will be a little bit different.

Instead of only covering Blue Parrot Cichlid care, we’re also going to dive into the breeding practices that have led to this fish. This will allow you to decide if they’re a fish you want to own in addition to being prepared to care for them!

Let’s get started.

Species Summary

Blood Parrot Cichlids are beautiful, albeit controversial, freshwater fish. These fish are not found in the wild. Instead, they are a hybrid fish species that was first created in Taiwan around 1986.

The exact species used to create the Blood Parrot Cichlid are not known. However, many think that the Redhead Cichlid (Paraneetroplus synspilus) and Midas Cichlid (Amphilophus citrinellus) are the parent species.

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Whatever the case may be, these fish are rather rare in the fish trade. Due to the controversy surrounding this fish’s creation, many stores refuse to sell them at all!

However, the attitude toward this fish has changed a lot in the last couple of decades.

While some unscrupulous sellers and breeders still exist, you can definitely find healthy Blood Parrot Cichlids to raise. Healthy specimen make beautiful and eye-catching additions to any community tank!


A typical lifespan of a healthy Blood Parrot Cichlid is between 10 and 15 years.

Author Note: It can be a bit tricky to determine the life expectancy of this fish. Their overall health largely depends on how they are raised.

However, the practices of the breeder can affect their lifespan significantly as well.

Some fish are modified prior to sale. Any color or modifications tend to shorten their lifespan dramatically. If you want a Blood Parrot Cichlid that’s going to live as long as possible, stick to reputable breeders and sellers.


Blood Parrot Cichlids are a unique-looking fish, which is one of main reasons they’re so popular in the aquarium scene.

As a hybrid species, it shouldn’t surprise you to know that these fish do have several genetic deformities. That said, these deformities don’t take away from their beauty.

An adult male Blood Parrot Cichlid

The shape of the Blood Parrot Cichlid is large and round. They have prominent nuchal humps and smaller rounded heads. The eyes are large and vividly colored as well.

The mouth of this fish is quite interesting, too. They have small mouths that open vertically. Many aquarists compare the shape and motions of the mouth to that of a bird’s beak.

This distinct mouth shape does come with some downsides. Many fish cannot close their mouths! Luckily, they have teeth deep in their throats to take care of the food they eat.

When it comes to color, Blood Parrot Cichlids are some of the most vibrant fish around!

Most fish are solid orange. Red, yellow, or gray fish are colors you’ll see as well. You may come across some multi-colored fish, too. These specimens typically have patches of white or yellow accompanying an orange base color.

Author Note: More exotic colors do exist. But we recommend avoiding those fish. Breeders sometimes inject dyes into the fish, which shortens their lifespan quite a bit.

Average Size

The average Blood Parrot Cichlid size is around 8 inches in length for adult males and 6 to 7 inches in length for females. In addition to being shorter, females also have a more round/plump body.

In rare instances, Blood Parrot Cichlids can reach lengths of 10 inches. But these fish are few and far between.

Blood Parrot Cichlid Care

Generally, Blood Parrot Cichlid care is something that we recommend for aquarists with an intermediate level of experience. This is because they have some unique requirements you’ll need to follow if you want to keep them healthy and thriving.

Luckily, this hybrid fish species isn’t too demanding when it comes to the environment and water conditions (it’s easy to assume the opposite). With the right know-how, you can help your Blood Parrot Cichlids reach their full potential.

Tank Size

The minimum tank size for one Blood Parrot Cichlid is 30 gallons. These fish are rather active and need ample room to swim.

Author Note: For every additional Blood Parrot Cichlid you add, increase the volume of the tank by about 10 gallons.

Of course, larger tanks are always welcome. Many aquarists like to keep a small group of these fish together. In that case, go for a tank that’s 60 gallons or bigger.

Water Parameters

Normally, you would model water parameters after a fish’s natural habitat. But because Blood Parrot Cichlids are hybrid fish created by breeders, they have no wild environment to model after!

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

Blood Parrot Cichlids prefer similar water conditions. They like slightly acidic waters that are warm all year round. 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’s important to test the water on a regular basis to be sure these conditions are stable. We recommend doing this a bit more often when you first purchase these fish (since they’ll still be adjusting to your tank).

What To Put In Their Tank

You can choose to go for a natural decor scheme or something a bit more artificial. These fish do fine either way!

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

The most important thing to have in the tank is hiding spots. Create multiple hiding areas out of driftwood, plant pots, and rocks. You can also utilize artificial caves and plants. Good plant options include Java Fern, Anubias, and Hornwort.

Author 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 gets more comfortable, they’ll spend more time swimming out in the open.

A fine sand substrate is recommended as well. Like other Cichlid species, these fish are known to dig. Hard gravel could cause cute and other physical injuries which can lead to more serious complications over time.

For lighting, keep things subdued. Many Blood Parrot Cichlid owners utilize red spectrum light. Soft standard lighting works well, too.

To keep the water conditions in good shape, invest in a high-volume filtration system (the Fluval FX4 is our favorite). These fish produce a lot of waste, which could quickly sour the water and cause stress-related diseases.

Common Potential Diseases

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.

A Blood Parrot Cichlid swimming by itself in a freshwater aquarium

Ich is a contagious disease that commonly affects fish living in poor water conditions. It causes tiny white spots to form all over the fish’s body.

Treating Ich isn’t 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 light water salinity.

To avoid Ich, make sure that you’re testing water conditions regularly. Remember, Blood 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 Blood Parrot Cichlids frequently. Some fish even have deformed swim bladders due to genetic defects.

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

Food & Diet

Picking the right Blood Parrot Cichlid food isn’t challenging. These fish are omnivores that will readily accept most commercial foods.

A dry food formulated for Cichlids is your best bet. Stick with sinking pellets, as these fish often have difficulties eating from the surface of the water.

For a high-protein snack, you can offer up some brine shrimp and bloodworms every once in a while (2-3 times a week max).

Author Note: Thanks to their unique mouths, Blood Parrot Cichlids are messy eaters. Oftentimes, food will escape their mouths as they try to swallow it!

Limit feedings to only a couple of minutes, twice a day. After each feeding do your best to remove any excess food to ensure that the water quality doesn’t suffer.

Blood Parrot Cichlid Behavior & Temperament

Many in the fish trade refer to Blood Parrot Cichlids as a semi-aggressive species.

They can indeed act out and display aggressive behaviors. However, most of the time this only occurs when the fish is around other aggressive fish.

If you keep these fish in an overcrowded tank they’ll tend to be a bit more territorial too.

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

We would consider their behavior to be fairly calm and semi-active. They enjoy their privacy, so they’ll spend a lot of the day hiding out. When they’re not doing that, you can find them swimming around the middle of the water column. On occasion, they may venture down to the substrate to dig for food as well.

Tank Mates

The best tank mates for a Blood Parrot Cichlid is more Blood Parrot Cichlids. They do very well in groups and will often exhibit schooling behavior. When kept in these groups, the fish tend to be more confident and less affected by stress.

A group of Blood Parrot Cichlids

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

Author Note: Many also recommend avoiding small invertebrates.

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


Interestingly enough, breeding two Blood Parrot Cichlids in captivity is very rare. While females can lay eggs, they’re usually not fertilized by males. That’s because most male Blood Parrot Cichlids are infertile.

Breeders are starting to use hormones to make males more fertile, but it’s still unusual to see two Blood Parrot Cichlids breed in captivity.

If you’re lucky enough to have a healthy pair, the female will typically lay the eggs on a smooth surface, such as a rock. The two fish will then protect the eggs fiercely. 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. Though, 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 about how this hybrid fish is created, are you interested?

For some, the thought of owning a hybrid fish is something they could never do. And a handful of 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’s what has started to change the perception of this fish in recent years.

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

But if you choose to give them a chance we think you’ll be quite happy.

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