Blood Parrot

Common Name : Blood Parrot
Latin Name : none
Origin : Man made
Temperature : 72-84ºF
Ease Of Keeping : Moderately easy
Aggressivness : Semi-aggressive
Lighting : Dim to bright.
Adult Size : Up to about 8″
Minimum Tank Size : 55 Gallon
Feeding : Will eat most things. A good quality cichlid pellet is a good choice for the staple of their diet, but variety will give the best results.
Spawning Method : They should be fed a rich diet of mostly live and frozen foods. The parents will both watch over the nesting site.


Live for about ten years.

Blood Parrots will do best with a softer substrate, as they like to dig. This trait is the most noticeable when they are preparing to spawn. They also like to have a lot of hiding places. They are shy at first, but after as little as a week and as much as a few months they will begin to come out more during the day and show a more cichlid like behavior. They can be kept alone or in a group and seem to do fine either way. They live for about ten years.


Blood Parrots are a slower swimming fish because of their bent spine. They also have small, mostly useless mouths. This lets them be kept with smaller fish with little problem. However, they do get large and can be aggressive. Like most cichlids they are most aggressive when spawning.

They will be kept with the most success with somewhat larger fish that can stand a little abuse. For this reason the classic dither fish are good choices as tank mates. They can also be kept with some of the less aggressive cichlids. The best cichlid tank mates are either New World or African river cichlids such as firemouths and kribs.


This can be a difficult fish to sex. All males have pointed dorsal and anal fins, but fin shape is still not an absolutly distiguishing feature. This is because some females also have pointed dorsal and anal fins. However, not all females have pointed dorsal fins, some have the classic rounded fins. So, it is easy to find a female, as they are the only fish that will have rounded fins, but it is not so easy to find a male. The only time when it is really very easy to pick out a male is when they are in their spawning colors. At this time they will have a more pink coloration on their throats and behind their gills.


First of all, a little bit of technical differentiation of terms. For the sake of this article at least, there is a difference between the breeding and spawning of fish. Breeding is the mating of two fish, involving an exchange of gametes and resulting in viable young. Spawning on the other hand is exactly like breeding, except that spawning does not depend on viable young being produced. So, breeding includes spawning, but spawning does not nessasarily mean that they are breeding.

That being established, true Blood parrots, by this definition, do not breed in normal circumstances. They do, however, spawn. Blood parrots are substrate spawners. The male will dig the nest with the female guarding the perimeter. These roles then reverse when eggs are laid, with the female guarding the nest and the male patroling the territory.

Notice that I said in normal circumstances. There were rumors a few years ago that true Blood Parrots were being bred in some fish farms with the assistance of hormone injections. I do not know how accurate this information is, but it has been reported that although they are substrate spawners, they take their young into their mouths after the fry hatch. From that point on they act like mouth brooders.

Also, they can reportedly be bred with convict cichlids in order to get what are called Jellybean or Bubblegum cichlids. These are usually only commertially available in a white or albino variety that has been dyed. The color lasts for a month, more or less, and the dying process can cause significant injury to the fish, leading to increased disease and a shorter lifespan. These Jellybean cichlids are supposed to be breedable however.


There are a few different varities of the blood parrot that are avalible. The most common is the Red Blood Parrot, which, despite its name, is really much more of an orange. There is also the Purple Blood Parrot, who also has a deceptive name, as it is actually much closer to red than purple. Something to be careful of though is that sometimes instead of breeding for the different varieties the fish farms will simply dye the fish.

A third variety that has really only become available in the last few years is called the Love Heart or the Heart Parrot Cichlid. This variety is available in either color, but does not have a tail fin. It still manages to get around fairly well, despite missing what most people would think of as its main means of locomotion, but is obviously even slower that your standard Blood Parrot.

The blood Parrots body is not compressed along any axis, or, in other words, this is a chubby fish. It has large eyes, with much larger than normal pupils. The pupils are often misshapen as well, often being oblong or having a crease in them. They have a beak-like mouth, which is where the parrot part of their mouth come from. They can not close their mouth all the way, but they can chew their food with muscles in their throat.

These fish like to dig, and nothing will stop them if there is something to dig in. They especially like to dig when they are getting ready to spawn. For this reason a fine gravel or heavy sand is recomended. They can have a significant variety of behavior when it comes to aggression. They exhibit the standard cichlid aggresion when spawning, but at other times the fish may be anywhere from very passive to fairly aggresive. Blood Parrots will often fight each other all day long, doing little damage because of their useless mouths and weak swimming, and then when it is time for them to sleep they will all congregate to the same cave and spend the night without incident, only to pick right back up where they left off the next day.

They can also get Black Spot Disease. Black Spot Disease is thought to be a Blood Parrot specific parasite, though I could not find any hard info on it. The first thing to do if Black Spot Disease starts to take over large areas of your fishes body is to check for excess ammonia and nitrate. Blood Parrots can be quite sensitive to these chemicals, and they will often be the first fish to react if conditions are poor. The rapid spread of Black Spot Disease is a common way in which their stress can be exhibited. If all parameters are good, you can treat with anti-parasite medications like Maracide, malachite green, or Jungle’s Parasite Guard. Black Spot Disease is not significantly harmful unless it begins to cover large areas of the fish’s body.


The Blood Parrot Cichlid is a hybrid, and so has no natural enviroment other than a fish farm and no scientific name. It is sometimes sold under the name Hoplarchus psittacus, which is really a large green new world cichlid commonly known as the Parrot Cichlid. Blood Parrots and Parrots are two distinct fish with no similarity besides the name and a mouth that looks somewhat beak-like.

There has been a lot of speculation over what fish are bred in order to get Blood Parrot Cichlids. The most common suggestion is that they were made by breeding the Midas Cichlid (Cichlasoma citrinellum) and the Redhead Cichlid (Cichlasoma synspilum). However, below is a list of every pair that I have seen suggested.

Severum (Heros severus) and the Midas Cichlid (Amphilophus citrinellus) or the Red Devil (Amphilophus labiatus)

Gold Severum (Cichlasoma severum) and Red Devil (Cichlasoma erythraeum)

Midas Cichlid (Cichlasoma citrinellum) and the Redhead Cichlid (Cichlasoma synspilum)

Severum (Heros severus) with the Red Devil (Cichlasoma erythraeum)

Red Devil (Cichlasoma erythraeum) +Gold Severum (Cichlasoma severum)

Red Devil (Cichlasoma erythraeum)+Green Severum (Cichlasoma severum)

Red Devil (Cichlasoma erythraeum)+Quetzel (Cichlasoma synspilum)


By 55gSW
“Ah, lets see what can I tell you about blood parrots? I guess the best place to start is to debunk some myths. There are exceptions to any rule as you know but generally speaking BP’s have no trouble swimming, or with their swim bladder, they have no trouble eating anything, nor are they shy about eating, they are more docile than their red devil parents but can be very aggressive especially when breeding. Mine has drawn blood defending her eggs! They are thought to be hybrids of red devils and perhaps midas, cichlids but no one knows for sure. As with any hybrid most of them are mules but some are fertile and will breed with many other south american cichlids. BP’s and convicts are the parents of jellybeans, and BP’s and flowerhorns will give off the variety known as King Kong. These fish will get huge, up to 12″ or so. BTW, most BP’s will get to be about 6”. Unfortunately these fish are targeted by many breeders for dyeing, and also for other in-bred mutations like! having no caudal fins or deformed fins (heart BP or bloody heart!), or deformed dorsal fins (unicorns).
“Lots of people hate them because they are a hybrid but that is rather sad as they really are a fascinating fish. Very shy like most cichlids yet with some dither fish present they become very bold. They have outstanding colors without being dyed especially when they are laying eggs! I have to say that mine has colors that rival any saltwater fish!”

By Dale
“I have three parrots in a 92 gal community tank. I was warned when I got them that they were aggressive and could get nasty. I haven’t seen this. They are the largest and gentlest fish in the tank. I thoughtlessly added a small corie to the tank and when the parrot went to check it out a larger corie gently nudged him away and that was the end of it. I never feed live foods so they don’t see the smaller fish as a meal.However I would never tempt fate and put a neon in the tank,the smallest fish are swordtails and mollies. I feed flake food in the morning and frozen brine shrimp and blood worms at night.They also get along with the Black ghost knife, the elephant noses, and the sharks(2 rainbow and 1 red tail).”

By Morgan
“I had one gorgeous Blood Parrot in my 65 gallon. He would take food right out of my hand and he was never aggressive. Always a joy to have in my tank one of my favs . I was going to set up a tank just for him when I had to move and tear it down, but ended up not doing so. I miss him so much and he was such a great addition and pleasure to have. I really like them and I have had positive reactions from other fish keepers that have kept these fantastic rotund funny full of personality gentle cichlids. I had smaller dwarf cichlids in there (Golden Eyes etc…), cory cats, ottos, Jurupari, and he never bothered anyone. Hope this helps. I Love them… They can be pretty shy at times though…”