Parrot Care

An aquarium intended for blood parrot cichlids should be decorated with a soft bottom substrate. Use bogwood and rocks to create hiding places for the fish since they otherwise can be quite shy. They need a large aquarium due to their size, a parrot cichlid can grow to be 25cm/ 10 inches. They should not be kept in aquariums smaller than 200L / 50 gallon. Blood parrot cichlid requires good filtration since they can put a large strain on the water quality. Large weekly w are also required. A pH of 6.5-7.5 is to be preferred.

They are suitable company for a large number of species such as Danios, Barbs, Cory cats, silver dollars and other South American cichlids. Do not keep them with convict cichlids since there is large risk for cross breeding.

Blood Parrot cichlids are the only fish that can get Black spot disease. This disease is very common among parrot cichlids and displays itself as black spots on the fish. This is not normal or healthy and you should never buy Blood parrot cichlids that display signs of black spot disease. This disease can be a result of and effected fish will get better if you improve the water quality. If the wat


er quality isn’t poor the fish can get better after a few days. Black spots can however also be a sign of that your fish is in spawning mood.


Aquarium size

Blood Parrot cichlids are fairly large fish and need to be kept in a reasonably spacious aquarium. A pair might be maintained in a system 180-litres (47.5-gallons) in size. A group of five specimens would need a bigger tank, around 285 litres (75 gallons) being recommended.

Flowerhorn cichlids are very large fish, and need a very big tank; 285 litres (75 gallons) is the absolute minimum for a single mature specimen.

Water chemistry

Like all Central American cichlids, Blood Parrots and Flowerhorn cichlids want hard, alkaline water. Aim for pH 7 to 8, 10-20 degrees dH, and a carbonate hardness of at least 5 degrees KH.

One way to ensure good water chemistry is to add a Rift Valley cichlid mineral salt mix, though a 50% dose should be adequate unless your water is very soft. Per 5 US gallons (20 litres) add the following amounts of each ingredient: one-half level teaspoon baking soda; one-half level tablespoon Epsom salt; and one-half level teaspoon marine salt mix (Reef Crystals, Instant Ocean, etc.). Stir these into each bucket of water before adding to the aquarium. Provided you do regular water changes, the minerals added this way should raise the pH and provide sufficient buffering to prevent the pH dropping between water changes.


Blood Parrots and Flowerhorn cichlids are tropical fish and cannot be kept in coldwater (unheated) tanks. The minimum temperature for successful maintenance is 25 degrees C (77 degrees F). The temperature can be raised a bit to encourage spawning, but keeping the tank warmer than 30 degrees C (86 degrees F) for long periods will cause stress.

Blood Parrots generally do not damage glass aquarium heaters, though it is a good idea to place a plastic heater guard around the heater just in case. Flowerhorn cichlids are very likely to dislodge or break a heater when they are digging, so the heater should be placed outside the tank. Options include putting a glass heater inside a sump; using an inline heater connected to the canister filter hoses (e.g., Hydor ETH); or using a filter with a built-in heater to warm the water (e.g., Eheim Thermofilter).


Both Blood Parrots and Flowerhorn cichlids need excellent water quality. Ammonia must be 0 mg/l and nitrite must be 0 mg/l at all times. Nitrate should be as low as possible, ideally below 20 mg/l. What these numbers mean is that filtration should be generous and water changes frequent.

Blood Parrot cichlids cannot swim well, so turbulent water flow must be avoided. An external canister filter with a spray bar to break up the current is ideal. Aim for a water turnover rate of 4-6 times the volume of the tank in turnover per hour. In other words, for a 55-gallon tank, look for a filter rated at 220-330 gallons/hour. Most canister filters have taps that allow turnover to be adjusted up or down as required: experiment with these to get the optimal water flow. Other options include large hang-on-the-back filters, big internal canister filters, and undergravel filters with two uplifts, one at each end of the tank.

Flowerhorn cichlids are very big and very messy, and large external canister filters or hang-on-the-back filters will provide the easiest way to ensure good water quality. Aim for turnover rates of not less than 6 times the volume of the tank per hour.


Both Blood Parrots and Flowerhorn cichlids were bred from omnivorous species that fed on a wide variety of foods. Their wild ancestors would be eating algae, decaying plant material, insect larvae, worms, snails, crayfish and occasionally small fish. In captivity they will eat most foods, but the ideal diet would be a good quality cichlid pellet (e.g., Hikari Cichlid Gold), softened vegetable matter (e.g., cooked peas), and wet-frozen invertebrates (e.g., bloodworms, mosquito larvae, tubifex worms). Vegetable foods are particularly important for avoiding constipation and bloating.

Live food isn't necessary and in particular goldfish and minnows must not be used. These are not only unhealthy (containing high levels of fat and thiaminase) but are also very likely to introduce parasites. If you want to offer live foods as a treat, choose things like river shrimps, brine shrimps and earthworms.

Contrary to what some retailers suggest, there are no foods, repeat NO FOODS, that make the hump on a Flowerhorn grow bigger or faster. A healthy male Flowerhorn will grow its hump at a rate determined by its genes.


Blood Parrot cichlids are reasonably healthy fish, but their deformed spine and swim bladder makes them particular prone to swimming problems.

Constipation is the most common reason that swimming problems begin. Early signs of constipation include lethargy, disinterest in food, abdominal swelling, and unnaturally long faecal strings hanging from the anus. To avoid constipation, Blood Parrots should be regularly fed green foods, particularly cooked or tinned peas. Live and wet-frozen foods with a lot of indigestible material (typically chitin) are also helpful; of these, brine shrimps and daphnia are the most easily obtained.

By contrast, freeze-dried foods are very likely to cause constipation if used as the only foods. Flake, pellets, and freeze-dried shrimps and worms should be used in moderation or not at all.

Like other big cichlids, Flowerhorn cichlids are prone to Hexamita infections. This protozoan lives in the gut of cichlids and ordinarily does no harm, but when the fish is stressed, Hexamita infections can cause major problems. Without treatment, infected fish will die.

At least two stress factors have been identified: poor water quality and poor diet. Besides zero levels of ammonia and nitrite, nitrate levels must be kept as low as possible. When cichlids are continually exposed to nitrate levels above 20 mg/l they seem to develop Hexamita infections with alarming regularity. Whether it's the nitrate that causes the problem or something else to do with old, dirty water isn't clear, but regular water changes are the key to avoiding Hexamita infections.

In terms of diet, Hexamita appears to be most common when fish are given a vitamin-poor diet. Fresh green foods are particularly important, and Flowerhorn cichlids should be offered cooked or tinned peas, cooked spinach, or some other soft green food at least once a week.

Like Blood Parrots, Flowerhorn cichlids may also become constipated if given just freeze-dried foods.