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Parrot Cichlid General Information

Parrot Cichlid General Information

There is much confusion surrounding the many types of Parrot Cichlids. This page will attempt to familiarize you with all of them. Be aware, there is another fish that goes by the common name "Parrot Cichild" (Hoplarchus Psittacus). Make sure, when referring to Parrot Cichlids, others are aware that you mean Blood Parrot Cichlid, or the Hybrid Parrot Cichlid and not Hoplarchus Psittacus.


Unique Traits

BeakBlood Parrots have many features that set them apart from other cichlids. The most obvious is the "beak" they possess for a mouth. A true Parrot Cichlid is unable to close its mouth, but instead, uses the muscles in the throat to chew or crush food. It's a misconception that these fish can't eat from the surface. Every Parrot Cichlid owner I have encountered, including myself, report that theirs eat easily from the surface.

swim bladderIt's also been commonly stated that Parrot Cichlid's have deformed swim bladders. These organs control buoyancy and allow the fish to maintain a certain depth in the water column. If they do have swim bladder problems, it's not evident in the ones I keep. Many people think that, due to this deformity, the fish must constantly swim to stay afloat and keep level. In most cases, I have also found this to be untrue.

I can however, agree with the fact that Parrot Cichlid's possess a deformed spine, this is one the reasons they have such a unique shape. I don't believe it to be much of a problem for them. I've had reports of Parrot Cichlids living perfectly good lives for up to 10 years.

large eyeA true Parrot Cichlid will also have larger than normal, bright yellowish-green eyes. Many have an oddly shaped or overly large iris. Some have a oval iris while others have a round iris. Some have a streak leading from the iris to the outer edge of the eye. One of ours have this feature and it gives the illusion of wearing mascara. Very cute! Their eyes are definitely one of the traits that gives Parrot Cichlid's such a great personality.



Parrot Cichlids seem to be somewhat shy upon first introducing them to the tank. Hiding when any activity is present outside the tank. After some time though, they will overcome this shyness. Some report this to take less than a week, while others say it may take up to a couple of months. So be patient with your new fish, they will eventually come out. And when they do, you will see their great personalities they are known for. They will come to the glass every time you pass the tank and beg for food . They do the "Feed-Me" dance, as I call it, and are really good at it too, I fall for it way too often.

There is also some behavior one must aware of before attempting to keep a parrot cichlid. They love to dig, and can be somewhat belligerent towards other fish at times, especially if two have paired up and are defending their nest. Many people say their parrot's are very docile, rarely showing aggression towards tank mates. I however must fall in to another category. Our parrots grew up together and are always charging and bumping one another. An occasional lip fight will periodically occur over territories. Basically parrot's behavior seems to vary from fish to fish, some are docile while others have quite a nasty disposition. When single specimens are kept in a community aquarium, it will show very little aggression, in a species tank (only parrot cichlids) you will find the exact opposite to be true. What bewilders me is, despite all their daytime scuffles, at night they all share the same cave and snuggle together to sleep, only to wake up the next morning to start terrorizing each other again.

Types of Parrot Cichlids

Red Blood Parrot.  Click to EnlargeMost commonly found in the trade is the Red Blood Parrot. Despite the name, these fish are generally a gold-orange color with a small amount of pink found on the throat and behind the head of the males. They can obtain sizes up to 10 inches. Females are usually smaller in size and lack the pink coloration.

Purple Blood Parrot.  Click to EnlargeThe second most popular type seems to be the Purple Blood Parrot, like the latter, it's name is also deceiving. This fish is a bright red color with some parts of the coloration so deep and brilliant it appears to be a purple, hence the name Purple Parrot. There is some controversy as to whether or not these fish are "dyed". To my knowledge these fish are NOT dyed but are just a different color morph.

Love hearts.  Click to Enlarge.There is also a variety of Parrot Cichlid that is quite odd. (As if they aren't odd enough!!) This type is tailless. It's called the "Love Heart" parrot due to its heart-like shape. It's available in both the red and the purple variety. We keep one of these, and despite his missing appendage, he can hold his own in a scuffle and swim as fast as the others in the tank. This is a really unique fish, and tailless trend must be catching on. We are starting to see Discus produced with the missing tail also.

There is many other color morphs of the Parrot Cichlid available to the hobbyist. Most of the types below are not usually found at LFS, (local fish stores) but if you can find a willing shop owner, they can be ordered. Among these are:

Red and White
Black and Red
Red and Black Streaked
Silver Spots
Black and Red No Tail
Red and Black Streaks no Tail

The following four types I have not been able to obtain any information on other than the pictures. If anyone keeps any of these, or has information pertaining to these types, please e-mail me. As far as I can tell, these fish are larger in size and have a little different body shape, but this is just speculation. I have e-mailed requesting more information, we will see what they say.

King-Kong Red
King-Kong Purple

Jelly Bean Parrots and BubbleGum Parrots

JellyBean Parrot belongs to KarenThis type of Parrot is not a true Parrot Cichlid at all. What I have gathered is, Jelly Bean and Bubblegum Parrots are a cross between a male convict and a female blood parrot. They are then usually died bright colors like, green, blue, pink, red, purple, etc.

I found the following information on a message board somewhere and do not have the authors name. If you are the source of this information please e-mail me so that I can give you the proper credits.

The young fish is usually an albino variety which is chemically treated to strip the protective slime coat. They are then "painted" with dyes, and given another bath in a solution to stimulate the slime coat to grow back. Due to this torturous dying process, the fish have stunted growth, and rarely reach more than 3-4 inches. They also have a decreased life span due to the dyeing process. This also goes for other painted fish such as painted tetras.

There's been many cases of Jelly Beans and Bubblegums being able to mate and produce fry. This breeding is often mistaken for true Blood Parrot breeding, so don't be mislead by these reports.

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