Blood Parrot Cichlid Care 101 (2024 Complete Care Guide)

Featured Image - blood parrot cichlid
Featured Image – blood parrot cichlid
Dr. Mollie Newton
Published by Dr. Mollie Newton PHD| Senior Editor
Last updated: June 9, 2024
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Blood parrot cichlids are highly regarded in the aquarist community for their striking colors and distinctive looks, despite the persistent debate surrounding their breeding methods. This comprehensive care guide for blood parrot cichlids provides all the details you’ll need about these fish. Let’s determine if the blood parrot cichlid is the right species for you.

Article Summary

  • Blood parrot cichlids are a hybrid species created by mating different cichlid parents, known for their bright orange color and distinctive appearance.
  • Blood parrots thrive in groups, and the tank size should be at least 30 gallons per fish.
  • To ensure the proper diet for blood parrots, it is recommended to feed them sinking pellets or broken-down cichlid pellets 2-3 times a day for about two minutes, as they are omnivores and need both vegetables and meat, while carotenoid-rich foods can enhance their color.

Blood Parrot Cichlid Species Overview

Scientific name:Amphilophus citrinellus x Heros severus, Amphilophus citrinellus x Paraneetroplus synspilus
Common names:Parrot Cichlid, Blood parrot cichlid, Blood-red parrot cichlid
Size:7–8 inches
Color:Bright orange, yellow, red (gray is rare)
Minimum tank size:30 Gallons or More
Place in the tank:Middle
Care level:Intermediate
Life expectancy10 to 15 years


Blood parrot cichlids are a hybrid species that are thought to be created by mating a pair of midas cichlids (Amphilophus citrinellus) and redhead cichlids (Paraneetroplus synspilus) or a pair of midas cichlids and banded cichlids. These cichlid parents are freshwater fish that can be found on freshwater basins and rivers.

There is controversy regarding the creation of these hybrid fish. Because of the physical deformities that are caused by breeding them. These defects cause blood red parrot cichlids to have small mouths and or the inability to fully close their mouths, causing them to have difficulties with feeding which affects their ability to thrive.


Blood parrots can be hard to find at local pet stores but you can try and find them at online stores. Blood cichlids can cost 10$ up to 60$ depending on the size and quality.

What do blood parrot cichlids look like?

Blood Parrot Cichlid Appearance
Blood Parrot Cichlid Appearance

Blood parrot cichlids have a beautiful orange colored body with wide translucent fins. They also have big eyes and small mouths. They are easily recognizable due to their bright orange color and distinct beak shaped mouth which is where their names come from.

Why do blood cichlids have open mouths?

A blood cichlid’s open mouth can be considered as a deformity caused by the breeding process. This deformity can make it hard for them to eat which can pose a danger to their health.

If you get a blood cichlid with this condition, you should check if it could eat properly during feeding. It might require food that is smaller in size due to its inability to keep its food in its mouth.

How big do blood parrot cichlids get?

Blood parrot cichlids can reach lengths of 6 to 7 inches for females and 7 to 8 inches for male blood parrot cichlids. But there are instances where it can grow up to 10 inches.

Color Variety

The most common color of blood parrot cichlids is orange but there are other colors such as red, yellow, or even gray which are rare. There are some instances where breeders dye blood parrots to give them other colors such as purple, green, or blue.

Artificial Colors

These are called “Jellybean parrots”. I recommend avoiding these artificially dyed cichlids as the color modification process has a negative effect on their health and lifespan. Another thing is these “jellybean parrots” might not be blood parrots but another type of cichlid.

Why is my blood parrot cichlid turning black?

Blood parrots can turn black due to several reasons such as aging, disease, parasite, stress, or injury. If you notice this happening, try to monitor your fish for signs of distress or disease. You might need to administer treatment if it turns out that they are sick.

Are blood parrot cichlids aggressive fish?

Blood red parrot cichlids are typically calm and peaceful fish, unlike the flowerhorn cichlid. They can be great community fish if provided with enough space and the right tank mates.

On the other hand, improper tank conditions and aggressive tank mates can cause them to get stressed. The stress can cause them to become sick or heighten their aggression, so make sure to provide them with the proper tank conditions.

How many blood parrot cichlids should you keep together?

Blood parrots do very well in groups, depending on your tank size. Keeping them in pairs might make them susceptible to fighting if they are not mates. I suggest getting three or more blood parrots if you can provide for their needs.

One blood parrot cichlid needs at least 30 gallons. If you’re planning to have two blood parrot cichlids or more, you should add at least 10 gallons for each extra blood parrot.

Can blood parrots cichlids live alone?

Blood Parrot Cichlid Group
Blood Parrot Cichlid Group

Blood red parrot cichlids can thrive alone, but if you have the resources for a bigger fish tank, you should consider getting them tankmates.

What fish can live with blood parrot cichlids?

The ideal tankmates for blood red parrot cichlids are other blood parrot cichlids or peaceful cichlids that are the same size as them. But other species like angelfish, rainbow fish, clown loaches, and corydoras fish can work as well. Make sure to pick proper tankmates for you to have a peaceful community tank.

Why is my blood parrot fish digging?

Blood parrots are known to dig around substrate. A reason why they do this is because they are building or preparing a nest. Another reason they do this is just because they enjoy it. So if you see this behavior, you don’t have to worry. It is a normal thing for blood red parrot cichlids to dig.

Compatible tank mates

The main qualities you should consider when choosing potential blood red parrot tank mates are aggressiveness, size, and compatibility with water conditions.

Blood red parrot cichlids should not be placed with other aggressive fish. Also avoid fish that are too small as they have the tendency to eat them.

Here’s a list of compatible tankmates...

1. Firemouth Cichlid

Firemouths are known for the orange coloring at the bottom of their mouths. Aside from cool appearance, they are peaceful cichlids that can get along well with blood parrots. They also possess small mouths which prevent them from too much fighting or lip locking.

2. Angelfish


Similar to other cichlids, they are a relatively peaceful species. As long as they are given enough space, they won’t be overly aggressive. But being a tropical cichlid, you must provide them with the appropriate water temperature ranging from 75°F to 86°F which is in range of what the blood parrots can tolerate.

3. Corydoras

Corydoras Catfish
Corydoras Catfish

These bottom dwellers are good companions to blood parrots. They typically avoid interactions with other fish and spend their time at the bottom of the tank. Before introducing them to the tank, you need to ensure that the corydora is already big enough for it not to be considered as prey by the blood cichlid.

Even though they don’t grow too big in size, they are protected from possible attacks due to their spikes. But you should still provide them with hiding spaces like rocks, tunnels, or caves that will help them avoid being attacked.

4. Ram Cichlids

Ram Cichlid
Ram Cichlid

Ram cichlids are generally more peaceful when compared to other cichlids. They like being housed with the other ram cichlids but they can also tolerate other species well. Like the corydora catfish they tend to stay at the bottom of the tank, providing them with hiding spaces will help avoid uncomfortable interactions.

5. Kribensis

Kribensis Fish

Kribensis are peaceful cichlids that thrive in large groups. They prefer to avoid conflict and they are very adaptable to water conditions. But they can become aggressive when breeding or when raising their young. You must have a large community tank if you want to keep them with blood red parrot cichlids.


Tank Size30 gallons minimum
Water TypeFreshwater
Water Temperature76°F to 80°F
Water pH6.5 pH to 7.4 pH
Water hardness:3.3 to 6.6 dGH
Tank setup:Spacious tank, Soft substrate, Hiding Spaces
SubstrateFine sand or Fine Gravel that is safe to dig in.
Filter:Yes, because these fish produce a lot of waste
Water heater:Yes
Lighting:Soft standard lighting

What do blood parrot fish like in their tank?

The blood red parrot cichlids don’t have a natural habitat since they are a cross breed between two species. But we can base their preferred environment from their parent breed.

The natural habitat of their parent breed are freshwater basins and rivers. So having a planted tank with the right water conditions and plenty of space would be ideal for them. Rocks or caves is also a great addition to their tank, it helps them feel safe and provides them with a diverse environment.

Tank Size

Blood red parrot cichlids should be provided with plenty of space, at least 30 gallons for each blood parrot is necessary.

Do blood parrot cichlids need a filter?

Canister Filter
Canister Filter

Blood parrots fish definitely require a filter in their tank to maintain the water quality. They are considerable in terms of size and are voracious eaters which means that they produce a lot of waste. They are also usually kept in medium to large tanks which is why a canister filter that is powerful enough for your tank size is recommended.

Do blood parrot cichlids need a heater?

Yes, blood red parrot cichlids need a heater. They require water temperatures of 76°F to 80°F.

Plants for blood parrot cichlids

Hornwort Plant
Hornwort Plant

When choosing plants for your blood red parrot cichlid tank, you should keep in mind that they like to dig around. You should make sure that you can anchor or root your plant to something stable.

For options, you can try java ferns, hornworts, duckweed, anubias, or duckweeds.


Blood parrots have a habit of digging. A suitable substrate for them is a soft substrate that won’t injure them when they dig.


Blood red parrot cichlids don’t really have specific lighting requirements. You can choose lighting that best accentuates their color and the tank.

What to feed a blood parrot cichlid?

Food for Aquarium fish
Food for Aquarium fish

What should you feed blood parrots? Being an omnivore, it’s okay to provide them with both vegetables and meat. When feeding them with pellets, try to use sinking pellets as they can’t eat from the water surface.

Blood Parrot Cichlid Mouth

Another thing to consider when feeding is their mouth size. Aside from not being able to eat food from the water surface, blood parrots cichlids also have very small mouths that makes it difficult for them to eat regular size pellets or fish food. To address these issues, you should use mini sinking pellets or food that are specific to blood parrots. Or you can break down cichlid pellets into smaller pieces so that they can eat them.

How much to feed a blood parrot cichlid?

A blood red parrot cichlid should be fed two to three times a day. Feed them what they can eat for two minutes.

If you want to maintain their color or make them more vibrant, feeding them food that is rich in carotenoids can help.

Common diseases of blood parrot cichlid?


Freshwater ich or ick is a common disease that affects freshwater fish. It is caused by a protozoan parasite called Ichthyophthirius multifiliis. The most common symptom is the appearance of white spots that are spread out through your fish’s body.

Another symptom is them trying to scratch their body by rubbing themselves to the tank or other objects in the tank. 

Freshwater ich can be treated by using ich medication and utilizing the tank temperature.

Swim Bladder Disease

Swim Bladder Disease

The Blood red parrot fish can develop swim bladder disease. The swim bladder is an organ which allows you to control buoyancy and swim. Common signs of swim bladder disease are being unable to swim properly, floating to the top of the tank, sinking to the bottom, or just staying at one side of the tank.

This disease is commonly caused by constipation. You can try feeding them green peas to cure their constipation. Make sure to remove the shell of the peas before feeding them to the fish.

Bacterial Infections

Bacterial infections can be caused by injuries or wounds getting infected. These injuries typically come from course substrates, sharp rocks, decorations, or fighting with other fish. This can be prevented by keeping not aggressive fish in the community tank and by keeping water quality optimal.

If it occurs you might notice physical symptoms such as change of color, wounds, and swelling. They can also exhibit a change of behavior like being lethargic and having no appetite. This condition can be treated by using anti-bacterial medication for fish. Make sure to follow the instructions provided with the medicine properly.

How long do blood parrot cichlids live?

Blood red parrot fish can live up to 10 to 15 years. They are popular due to their longevity and resilience.


Make sure to pick blood parrot fish that are orange, don’t pick blood parrot cichlids with odd colors like purple, pink, and green. Artificially dyed blood red parrot cichlids tend to have shorter lifespans.

Can you breed a blood parrot cichlid?

Blood parrot cichlids cannot breed or reproduce because they are sterile. This is the result of being a cross breed of two different cichlid species. Most hybrid animals are infertile due to not having viable sex cells.

Although blood parrots are mostly sterile, these hybrid fish species still occasionally mate and spawn. Females occasionally lay eggs but the males can’t fertilize them. There are cases of female blood parrot cichlids successfully breeding with another cichlid species.

How to breed a blood parrot cichlid?

Blood Parrot Cichlids
Blood Parrot Cichlids

Breeding blood parrot cichlids can be difficult. But if you want to breed these hybrid fish. You can try getting a pair of their parent breed or breeding a female blood parrot cichlid with another cichlid species.

Is the blood red parrot cichlid for you?

Blood red parrot cichlids are unique, beautiful, and peaceful fish that can be great alone or in a community setting. They are also known for their resilience and long lifespans.

If you can meet the tank requirements and take care of their feeding needs, this can be a good fish for you.


Thanks for reading! I hope that this blood red parrot cichlid care was helpful. Feel free to share it with your friends and fellow aquarists.

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