The Blood Parrot is a fascinating looking fish that has been developed in captivity and does not appear in the wild. They have a roundish 'balloon' shaped body and a very small mouth. They are also known as the Bloody Parrot, Blood Parrot Cichlid, and Blood Parrotfish. Perhaps they are called Parrotfish because their nose looks like a 'parrot's' beak.
It is not uncommon for cichlids in captivity to interbreed among themselves. When they are in spawning mode, they will often respond to a fish of the opposite sex whether it is the same species or another fish of a closely related species. While the Blood Parrot's exact geneology is unknown, it is likely the result of such interbreeding between a combination of types of Central American and South American cichlids.
These fish can be solid in color or have a "calico" patterning or blotching. They come in a variety of colors. ranging from basic pale or bright yellows, to oranges and reds. Dyed fish are often available in purples, pinks, blues, and other colors. These are generally sold as the 'Jellybean Parrot' and 'Bumble Gum Parrot'. There are also other names that describe them by their color such as 'Purple Parrot'. In addition, there are Blood Parrots described by their physical appearance such as the tailfin-less 'Love Heart Parrot' which resembles a heart.
The Blood Parrot will make a wonderful addition to the aquarium of both the beginner and more experienced aquarist. They are a shy and fish and should not be kept with aggressive tank mates. However, if you keep them in a community aquarium with similar sized fish, be aware that they can be territorial. They like an aquarium with lots of rock formations and caves for retreating and hiding. Plants are not essential though they do not harm them.
These fish should not be confused with the Parrot Cichlid Hoplarchus psittacus which is another freshwater cichlid from South America that is quite aggressive. They also have no relation to the saltwater Rivulated Parrotfish Scarus rivulatus (previously Callyodon fasciatus). There is also another popular cichlid hybrid called the Flowerhorn Cichlid. It too is very attractive but much difference in appearance than these Parrotfish.
The Blood Parrot is said to have been bred in Taiwan and the suggested parents are Central and South American cichlids. But it is up to speculation which parents actually produced the Blood Parrot. There are two different sets of parents suggested as the cross which created these hybrids:
- One commonly suggested cross is between two Central American cichlids:
Midus Cichlid Amphilophus citrinellus (previously Cichlasoma citrinellum) and the Redheaded CichlidParaneetroplus synspilus (previously Cichlasoma synspilum)
- The second commonly suggested cross is between a Central American cichlid and one of two South American Cichlids:
the Red Devil Cichlid Amphilophus labiatus (previously Cichlasoma labiatum) and one of either the SeverumHeros severus (also called the Banded Cichlid) or the Blue-eye cichlid Cryptoheros spilurus (previouslyCichlasoma spilurum).
The behavior of the Blood Parrot hybrids is peaceful and shy. This is a characteristic only found in the Severums from South America. The other three Central American cichlids are quite aggressive.
- A further developed variety is the "Convict Parrot Cichlid". They are a cross between a female hybrid Blood Parrot and a pink male Convict Cichlid Amatitlania nigrofasciata (previously Archocentrus nigrofasciatus and Cichlosoma nigrofasciatum). Some of these fish have been dyed as well, and they are also called the 'Jellybean' Parrot' or 'Bubble Gum' Parrot'.
- Blood Parrots have reportedly been crossed with other cichlid species such as the Severum Heros severus and the Texas Cichlid Herichthys cyanoguttatus (previously Cichlasoma cyanoguttatum).
There may be other new varieties showing up down the road. In their book "Encyclopedia Of Exotic Tropical Fishes For Freshwater Aquariums", authors Glen S. Axelrod, Brian M. Scott, and Neal Pronek share the views of different hobbyists. They share that "some breeders argue that cross-breeding contributes to scientific knowledge of fish and their reproductive strategies, others believe it is arrogant and unethcal for humans to think they can improve on nature" and "there are over 20,000 known fish species already... so there is no need to create new ones". They also point out that problems can be created by exaggerating physical traits.
The Blood Parrot has a roundish 'balloon' shaped body. They have a very small mouth and perhaps they are called Parrotfish because their nose looks like a parrot's beak. They also have some other distinctions such as their deformed spines which gives them their unique shape and their overly large iris. Because they have exaggerated physical traits sometimes their small mouths do not close normally, making it more difficult for them to eat. Also their egg-shaped bodies make it difficult for them to swim naturally, and so they are awkward and lacking in grace.
They can be solid or have a 'calico' patterning or blotching and are available in a variety of colors from basic pale or bright yellows to oranges and reds. There are also color varieties which are dyed albinos or dyed light colored Blood Parrots. These are generally referred to as the 'Jellybean Parrot' and 'Bumble Gum Parrot', though their names can describe them by color such as the 'Purple Parrot'. Then there are Blood Parrots described by their physical appearance such as the 'Love Heart Parrot', which has no tail fin.
A further developed variety is the Convict Parrot Cichlid, which is also called the 'Jellybean' Parrot or 'Bubble Gum' Parrot'. This is actually a 'double hybrid' fish between a female hybrid Blood Parrot and a pink male Convict Cichlid. Blood Parrots have reportedly been crossed with other cichlid species such as the Severum and the Texas Cichlid. So there may be other new varieties showing up in the future.
All cichlids, along with some saltwater fish such as wrasses and parrotfish, share a common trait of a well-developed pharyngeal set of teeth located in the throat, along with their regular teeth. Cichlids have spiny rays in the back parts of the anal, dorsal, pectoral, and pelvic fins to help discourage predators. The front part of these fins are soft and perfect for precise positions and effortless movements in the water as opposed to fast swimming.
Cichlids have one nostril on each side while other fish have 2 sets. To sense "smells" in the water, they suck water in and expel the water right back out after being "sampled" for a short or longer time, depending on how much the cichlid needs to "smell" the water. This feature is shared by saltwater damselfish and cichlids are thought to be closely related.
Since they are omnivorous the Blood Parrot will generally eat all kinds of live, fresh, and flake foods. To keep a good balance give them a high quality flake food or pellet everyday. Feed brine shrimp (either live or frozen) or blood worms as a treat. Live guppies and goldfish will suffice when they get bigger. Proteins high in B-carotene will promote good coloring.
A 30 gallon tank will be fine for juveniles for the first couple of years, but for adults 55 gallons is suggested. They prefer slow to moderate moving water along with good efficient filtration. Because thse fish are such messy eaters, a large canister filter will work best. The aquarium should have low to moderate lighting. Provide a substrate of fine dark sand along with rocks and roots for places to hide along with open areas for swimming. Make sure to use a fairly soft substrate as these fish enjoy digging. Plants can also be included as they will not bother them.
The Blood Parrot has been known to breed, but most often their eggs are infertile unless they are paired with a non-hybrid fish.