A hybrid of different, unknown South American cichlids, the blood parrot was first introduced in the mid-1980s. Like many other South American cichlids, these fish are fairly shy and docile with the right tank mates. Their care requirements are also similar to that of other South American cichlids.
The aquarium setup is one of the most important factors when discussing the care of blood parrots -- just like other aquarium fish species. Due to their large size, you'll want nothing smaller than a 50-gallon aquarium, bigger for more than one blood parrot. Use a soft substrate, such as sand, at the bottom of the tank. You'll also want to provide these sometimes shy cichlids with a variety of hiding places such as large rocks and bogwood. They also prefer live plants in the tank -- but use them in pots as the blood parrots may damage the root systems of your aquarium plants.
Blood parrots' large size and other factors can be detrimental to the water quality in your aquarium. Because of this, use a powerful filtration system to help you stay on top of the water quality in the tank. You'll also need to do large water changes in the tank every week, at least 50-percent. Like many other South American cichlids, blood parrots require a water pH of 6.5 to 7.5; purchase pH test kits and conditioners at your favorite pet- or aquarium-supply store.
Blood parrots require a diet similar to their South American cichlid cousins and parent species. These cichlids are omnivorous leading toward primarily carnivorous and as such require meaty meals with supplements. Blood parrots can do well on a well-balanced pellet diet, although you should ideally feed them freeze-dried or frozen brine shrimp, frozen mosquito, chopped prawn and similar foods. There are pellets designed primarily for South American cichlids available at your favorite aquarium-supply retailer.
Many people enjoy keeping various types of fish in their aquarium for a more spectacular display of shapes and colors. If you prefer to have other fish in your tank besides blood parrots, they do well with most other South American cichlids, barbs, corydoras catfish, silver dollars and danios. Larger cichlids may bully them, however.
With a professional background in gardening, landscapes, pests and natural ecosystems, Jasey Kelly has been sharing her knowledge through writing since 2009 and has served as an expert writer in these fields. Kelly's background also includes childcare, and animal rescue and care.