Blood Parrot Cichlid: Care Guide & More!

The Blood Parrot Cichlids are hybrid species that are created by crossing other species of South American cichlids. Despite their artificial origins, they have become a popular choice of pet fish due to their vibrant colors and unique body shape. 

Due to their unique mouth shape,​​ they can coexist with other smaller freshwater species in an aquarium. This makes them a very interesting species to keep.

However, this species need a specific environment and care needs to thrive. So we made this guide to provide you with the correct ways of keeping them happy and healthy to reach their full expected lifespan.

Species Profile & Overview

The Blood Parrot Cichlid (also known as the Blood-red Parrot Cichlid) is a hybrid fish species created from other types of cichlid, namely Midas cichlid (Amphilophus citrinellus) and the Gold Severum cichlid (Heros severus). 

Both these fish are native to South and Central America, with their natural habitat being slow-moving streams or rivers. However, the Blood Parrot was first bred in Taiwan around 1986.

Blood Red Parrot is noted for their beautiful red colors and distinctively shaped body and mouth. These beautiful species are currently being bred to develop colors other than just red.

These fish are known as “Parrot” cichlids for their unique triangular mouth shape. Most aquarists simply call them “Parrot Fish” which can be confused with Saltwater ParrotFish by some people. 

Blood-red Parrot fish are hardy animals that can adapt easily to most conditions and require minimal care. This makes them ideal for beginner aquarists who are ready to upgrade to South American cichlids.

Identifying Blood Parrot Cichlid

Blood Parrot Cichlid
Blood-red Parrot Cichlid

The Blood Parrot cichlid is a beautiful and unique freshwater species that captivates aquarists with its vibrant colors and interesting body shape. They have oval-shaped bodies, which makes them stand out from other cichlids. 

The mouth is their unique identity identifier. These fish have a triangular mouth that is always open. This mouth shape is not natural and is created as a result of interbreeding different species. This makes them not able to bite other fish which makes them somewhat safe to keep with other fish.

They come in a variety of natural colors, ranging from bright orange to deep reds, yellows, and gray. In some countries, the breeders inject color pigments into the skin of the fish to make them look more colorful. This practice is unhealthy, and unethical, and should be banned!

However, there are natural ways to enhance their coloration. Natural color-enhancing foods, lighting effects, and black background tanks are the ideal way to make them look their best. Including plants and rocks in the aquarium can also bring out their natural beauty even more.

Their fins vary in size and shape depending on the species. But generally range from round lobes to pointed spines. This gives the fish an attractive overall appearance when swimming around in their aquariums. 

Overall the Blood Parrot Cichlid makes a great addition to any home aquarium for its unique appearance and vibrant colors. Its body shape can add a touch of elegance no matter the type of setup you have!

Adult Size

The Blood Parrot Cichlid is considered to be a medium-sized species. They can grow between 6 and 8 inches in length. 

There are no distinct differences in size between males and females of this species; both reach similar lengths as adults. Their larger size allows them to be more easily seen by viewers. 

Note: Because they are relatively large, aquarists must ensure they provide plenty of swimming space.


The lifespan of Blood Parrot Cichlids is typically between 8 – 10 years. However, with proper care and maintenance, they can live up to 15 years or longer. 

Factors such as water quality, nutrition, aquarium size, and stress levels can affect their lifespan. To ensure a long life for your Blood Parrot Cichlid Fish it’s important to maintain good water quality throughout their lifetime.

Behavior & Temperament

Compared to other South American cichlids, the Blood Parrots are slightly peaceful and sociable species. But they are still aggressive fish and can become territorial, especially during the breeding season. 

Generally speaking, they do well in cichlid community tanks as long as they are kept with similarly sized mates that won’t pose a threat. They also can’t harm other fish due to their mouth shape but they will chase the fish if threatened.

Because of their size, aquarists often forget that these species need plenty of hiding places to feel safe and secure. Having lots of hiding places will let them hide when they are under stress. This will eventually improve their health and lifespan. 

When under stress, they can also become quite aggressive and they may harass or even attack other fish in the aquarium. But they can not eat other fish as their mouths are so small. 

If the aquarium is overcrowded, this aggression could worsen as competition for resources increases. It is therefore important to ensure that the size of your tank is large enough and there are plenty of hiding places available.

Blood Parrots are social creatures that thrive in groups, so if you have the space, it’s best to keep them with at least one other of their kind. This is when you will notice your fish is much more playful and active. They are active swimmers, have interesting behaviors, and enjoy interacting with their environment.

Blood Parrot Care

Blood reds require minimal care, making them an ideal choice for many aquarists who don’t want to spend too much time on tank maintenance. They are highly adaptable and can survive in a wide range of water parameters. 

However, like other cichlid species, the Blood Parrots need high-quality water conditions and a large tank. They also need a carefully selected diet to provide them with the nutrients they need.

It’s important to follow the next few sections to fully understand the proper steps to keep this species happy. 

Tank Size

A Blood Parrot Cichlid fish needs a minimum aquarium size of 50 gallons to live comfortably. This large aquarium allows for plenty of space for swimming and adequate filtration. 

It is best to keep only one or two of these cichlids in a tank of this size. When two are kept, they should be introduced at the same time to prevent territorial disputes from occurring.

If you want to have more Blood-red Parrots, you will need a bigger aquarium. It is important to make sure your aquarium has 20 gallons for each extra fish. 

This is because they require plenty of space for swimming and hiding places. They also produce quite a bit of waste, so having more water volume will help keep their environment clean and healthy.

What To Put In A Blood Parrot Cichlid Tank

Blood Parrot Cichlids are descendants of South American species so they need a similar environment to thrive. These fish like to have plenty of open places to swim while they also need places to hide. 

Style-wise, a nature aquascape with lots of rock formations works best for Blood Parrot Cichlids. Driftwood and rocks are the ideal items to create hiding places in the tank. These items can also buffer the pH as they need neutral or acidic water parameters. 

Decorations also help reduce stress levels by providing the fish with something familiar that they can interact with. Which is especially important if you have multiple blood parrots living together. At the same time, decorations create visual interest and make your aquarium look more attractive!

It’s best to create different levels in your aquascape using rocks of varying heights so that each level can be used as its own swimming area. This way you can house more fish in your aquarium without them fighting over territory.

Another important item to think about is the aquarium substrate. While the blood parrots can live with any type of substrate, it’s best to make them feel at home by adding sand. Sand will resemble a river bed that they can sift and move around the sand.

These fish also need live plants to have a more balanced and clean environment. Live plants will help the tank by producing oxygen, filtering toxins, reducing stress levels, and improving aesthetics.

Hard-leaf plants like anubias, Buce Plants, and Java Ferns are ideal plants but you can also try and experiment with other types of freshwater plants. Just make sure to pick the varieties that are hardy and preferably not root-feeding plants. 

Blood Parrot Cichlid
Blood-red Parrot Cichlid

Light Requirements

Blood Parrot Cichlid fish need to be kept in an aquarium with medium to high lighting. This type of fish prefers natural lighting but they look their best under full spectrum LEDs that have some red in them. 

Full spectrum LED also benefits the plants that may be living in the tank, as it helps encourage photosynthesis and proper nutrient absorption. A good light can also enhance the appearance of Blood-red Parrots and make them look their best. 

Water Conditions & Parameters

Blood Parrot Cichlids are also very hardy and can cope with a wide range of water parameters. However, they do best when the water parameters closely match those found in their ancestors’ natural habitat.

They also need slow to moderately-moving waters. This means the water flow in their tank has to be moderate so they can swim freely. The fast flow will make them uncomfortable and over time they might start losing weight. 

Here are the ideal range of parameters for Blood Parrot Cichlid:

  • Temperature: 78 – 82 Degrees Fahrenheit
  • pH: 6.5 – 7.0
  • TDS: 50 – 200 PPM

Ideally, you would want to keep the temperature at around 80 degrees Fahrenheit and pH neutral. This is because they need consistent water parameters more than chasing a perfect number. 

As long as the parameters stay stable and no fluctuations happen in the tank they will thrive. A big contributing factor to keeping water parameters consistent is regular water changes.  

Weekly water changes will ensure water remains stable and no spikes happen in the tank. When changing the water, it’s best to replace no more than 25 – 30% at a time. 

With proper feeding, the aquarium parameters will only elevate a bit over a week before the next water change schedule arrives. This will prevent intense fluctuations that a biweekly or worse monthly schedule brings. 

Filtration System

Blood Parrot Cichlids can create a lot of waste and that means the filtration system needs to be very strong. A high-quality filter can keep their environment clean and free from pollutants.

Pollutants such as ammonia, nitrite, and other toxins can build up in an aquarium over time if left unchecked. These contaminants can lead to poor water quality and unhealthy levels of bacteria that can harm the health of the fish.

When choosing a filter, consider the size of your aquarium and the number of parrot cichlids you want to keep. A good rule is that it should have enough power to turn over all the water in your tank at least 6 – 10 times per hour (flow rate). 

This helps ensure the maximum breakdown of toxic substances like ammonia or nitrites. Combined with weekly water changes, this type of filter will ensure a healthy environment for your parrot fish.

Common Diseases and Prevention

Blood Parrot Cichlid fish, like other aquarium fish, can be susceptible to various diseases. Commonly encountered aquarium diseases include bacterial infections, fungal infections, parasites, and body deformities. 

Each of these diseases has the potential to cause serious health problems for Blood Parrot Cichlids. Poor water quality and small aquariums are the main contributing factors to these diseases.

The other main cause of disease epidemics in an aquarium is adding new fish without properly quarantining them. New fish are often kept in unhealthy environments until they go to their final home. So it’s not uncommon to see newly purchased fish have the disease.

These fish often come with internal parasites or diseases like ich, fin rot, cloudy eyes, or fungal diseases. These illnesses are often not visible at the time of purchase but they can spread quickly in a new tank. 

To prevent diseases, it is important to maintain good water quality by regularly testing ammonia levels and pH levels. It is also important to do regular partial water changes every week or so with dechlorinated tap water. This helps keep toxins from building up in the aquarium which can be harmful to fish health. 

Additionally, when introducing new fish, it is best practice to quarantine them for at least 14 days before adding them to your main aquarium. This will help reduce the risk of spreading any potential pathogens between existing fish populations. 

Furthermore, providing adequate filtration/aeration systems along with healthy foods are key components for keeping fish healthy over time. 

Diet and Feeding Requirements

Blood Parrot Cichlid fish are omnivores, meaning they eat both high-protein and plant-based food. Blood Parrots should mainly feed on foods that contain insects, invertebrates, worms, and low amounts of plant matter. 

This cichlid will only feed on algae and other plant matter if the protein is not available for them. But the good thing is that most commercial foods already have a balanced amount of protein and plant matter in them.

So it is best to feed them high-quality cichlid flake or pellet food as their staple diet. Also supplement their diet with frozen or freeze-dried bloodworms, brine shrimp, Mysis shrimp, and other meaty foods. 

It is recommended that Blood Parrot Cichlids are fed two to three times daily in small amounts that can be eaten within a few minutes. Avoid overfeeding as this can cause water quality issues due to the uneaten food decaying. 

This is especially important for blood cichlids as their mouths can not fully close so it’s hard for them to eat. You will often see them spitting the food out before trying to eat again. This can cause a mess and can pollute the tank if fed more than what they can eat. 

Speaking of their small mouths, the food you want to feed them should be small so they can feed on it. Most South American cichlids come with a large mouth which makes it easy to feed them, but this is not the case for blood parrots.

Breeding Blood Parrot Cichlid

Breeding Blood Parrot Cichlid fish in an aquarium is relatively easy. But the hard part is finding fertile pairs!

So if you are one of the lucky people who got a fertile pair the breeding process will be easy. 

The first step is to ensure the tank water parameters are suitable for breeding, with a pH level of between 6.0 and 7.0, temperature between 78 – 82 degrees Fahrenheit (25 – 28 degrees Celsius), hardness at 10 – 20KH and a nitrate level near 0ppm. 

Once these conditions have been met, it’s time to select compatible mates who are healthy and show signs of readiness to breed. These signs include courting behavior or nipping one another’s fins and defending a section of the tank together. 

Place the two fish together in the breeding tank and feed them high-quality protein food including live worms or brine shrimp. This will stimulate their appetite for breeding. 

After spawning has taken place, remove the parents from the tank so they don’t eat any of their eggs. Usually, young cichlids eat their eggs until they learn how to be better parents. At that point, you can keep the eggs with the eggs as this is the best way to hatch eggs.

Depending on the water temperature, the eggs will hatch approximately 4 days after laying. Once hatched, keep feeding them baby brine shrimp until they grow large enough to eat larger foods such as flakes or pellets.

They can lay anywhere from 100 to 500 eggs in each breeding cycle. Female blood parrot fish will usually lay their eggs on smooth surfaces like rocks or plants to protect them until they hatch. 

Tank Mates

The Blood Parrot fish are considered to be very peaceful and can get along with most other tank mates. However, keep in mind that they are still a type of South American cichlid and can become aggressive toward other fish.

They should not be kept with smaller peaceful fish as they may nip at their fins. Smaller peaceful fish like guppies are easy targets for them and should be avoided. 

When given enough space, this fish tends to spread out more within the aquarium rather than congregate around one area as some other cichlid species do. This can cause territorial battles among the fish if you have super territorial species. 

Ideally, you would want to keep similar-sized fish with similar personalities in an aquarium. However, as long as the aquarium is large enough and the fish you are adding are not small, you can keep any fish with your Blood Parrot. 

Considering these points here are our top picks of tankmates for Blood Parrot species:

Blood Parrot Cichlid
Blood-red Parrot Cichlid


The Blood Parrot Cichlid is a unique and beautiful fish that makes an excellent addition to any aquarium. They are hardy and easy to care for, making them suitable for beginner aquarists.

Their vibrant colors, friendly personalities, and peaceful nature make them great tankmates in most community aquariums. With proper care, they can live long and healthy lives. 

With their bright colors and interesting behavior, this species will certainly bring lots of joy into your aquarium.