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FAQs on Parrot, Jelly-Bean... Cichlids, Foods/Feeding/Nutrition

Related Articles: Blood Parrots & Flowerhorn Cichlids: maintenance and healthcare of two popular hybrid cichlids by Neale Monks, Neotropical Cichlids, African Cichlids, Dwarf South American Cichlids, Cichlid Fishes in General

Related FAQs: Parrot Cichlids 1, Parrot Cichlids 2, & Parrot Cichlid Identification, Parrot Cichlid Behavior, Parrot Cichlid Compatibility, Parrot Cichlid Selection, Parrot Cichlid Systems, Parrot Cichlid Health, Parrot Cichlid Reproduction, & Neotropical Cichlids 1, Cichlids of the World, Cichlid Systems, Cichlid Identification, Cichlid Behavior, Cichlid Compatibility, Cichlid Selection, Cichlid Feeding, Cichlid DiseaseCichlid Reproduction,

Blood parrot getting enough food?      4/3/14
I've had a blood parrot and a large Oscar for 6 years. I also had a large Dempsey with them, but he died last year. They each ate in separate areas of 75 gallon tank. a friend gave me two small Oscars after Dempsey died, one of which swims FAST and tries to eat everywhere. they've been together over a year,
<What Astronotus does...>
but I worry the parrot isn't getting as much food as he used to. How can I tell ...before it might become an issue.
<You may be lucky and be able to train the Oscars to be distracted at one end of the tank, while then just-feeding the parrot at the other... I would try high quality pellets; like some of Hikari's Cichlid foods... Otherwise these fishes will have to be separated.>
Thanks in advance,
<Welcome in time. Bob Fenner>

Cichlid Question     8/13/13
Hey guys!
I have a question after reading your FAQ page. I have one Jellybean Cichlid I've had for over 10 years. He is in a 75 gallon tank. Water quality is great, feeding pellet food, has been healthy. Last week stopped eating.
Swimming slower and hiding a bit more. Did a 25% water change (last water change was 2 weeks ago).  Filters working well.  Did another water change last night.  He started to look bloated and still wasn't eating so I removed the carbon and added Metron to the tank per the directions - that was last night.
Now he is upside down at the bottom of the tank, gasping for air, and he color is very deep orange.  What am I doing wrong?
<Hello Brenda. The short answer is that without seeing the fish and reviewing its aquarium, it's hard to be sure. But some factors are worth considering:
(1) Constipation can and does cause problems for fish, especially "deformed" varieties like fancy Goldfish and Blood Parrot (= Jellybean) cichlids. The problem for these fish is that their spines are deformed and their swim bladders displaced, and these factors make is difficult for them to balance properly. Constipation is, of course, a solid lump in the digestive tract, and if that causes the centre of mass to shift, it's possible for the fish to find it difficult to maintain its correct orientation. Some writers here at WWM refer to this as "floaty, bloaty goldfish" syndrome. Diet is often the key factor, a lack of fibre being what causes constipation, and both Goldfish and Blood Parrots (indeed, most cichlids) would be partly or primarily herbivorous in the wild, so given a processed diet based around flakes and meaty foods like bloodworms, they often end up constipated. It's easily fixed though; read here:
(2) Water quality is another issue. Your fish is fairly old, cichlids of this size and origins tending to live for around 10-12 years, sometimes more. A water quality "dip" that might have been shrugged off by a younger fish could be hard work, even fatal, to an older fish. Keeping up with water changes, and certainly ensuring 0 ammonia and 0 nitrite, will go a long way to putting this right. Provided no other symptoms (like Finrot) appear, there's no treatment necessary, just time and good water quality.
Do also ensure the water has moderate hardness to buffer against pH drops between water changes. Blood Parrots are hybrids of uncertain origins but likely from Central American cichlids, so you're aiming for 10-20 degrees dH, pH 7-8. Exact values don't matter, but water chemistry should be staple, and rapid pH drop in particular can make hard water cichlids go "loopy", spinning about as if they can't control themselves.
In short, monitor water quality, add some Epsom salt, and switch to a greens-based diet until the fish recovers. Nothing difficult or expensive!
Good luck, Neale.>
Re: Cichlid Question     8/13/13

Thank you for the advice.
Unfortunately he died last night.
<Sorry to hear this.>
He was the last parrot fish in my tank.. I used to have two of the same age. The last one passed away about 3 months ago under similar
<I see.>
 I do partial water changes every 2 to 3 weeks and change the filters at that time.  A day or two later I check the water quality... this time the nitrates and nitrites were both at 0.  the ammonia level was also 0, pH 8.5, but the alkalinity was high (>300) even after 3 partial water changes.
 These tests were done using test strips... should I lower the alkalinity and pH?  I was under the impression that parrot fish like a higher pH...
<They do; if water chemistry is stable and alkaline, I wouldn't worry too much about the precise values. In other words, if you've had success with Central American cichlids in this kind of water, and you have, stick with it. Of course, yes, this water is not ideal for, say, South American cichlids.>
Now I'm trying to decide if I should add new fish to the tank... I cleaned it today and will let it sit a day or two before checking the water again.
I'm worried that I'm missing something and I don't want to subject new fish to whatever's wrong.
Any further advice?  I already miss my fish:(
<If the tank is empty, keep adding pinches of fish flake every couple days to give the biological filter something to feed on, otherwise the bacteria will die back.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Blood Red Cichlid needs help   7/11/13
As you can see by the attached pic, my blood red has had this  hanging out of it for over a month..The fish has lost or is losing its color. Appetite etc seems normal and the three other blood reds in the tank are doing fine. How can I help this situation?  Lene
<This would appear to be a prolapseā€¦ invariably a function of poor environment and inappropriate diet. Medicate with Metronidazole and Nitrofuranace. Do read here for more:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/OscarDisF8.htm , searching for "prolapse" on that page for examples of this situation. Cheers, Neale

Re: Blood Red Cichlid needs help  7/11/13
Thank you very much. I've already found a place here that carries what you've recommended so ill be taking care of the situation ASAP.
Mahalo, Lene
<Good luck with the treatment.>
Sent from my paddle board..I wish!!
<Ha! Cheers, Neale.>

Blood Red Cichlid needs help   7/13/13
> Bloated Red Parrot Cichlid

> As you can see by the attached pic, my blood red has had this  hanging out of it for over a month..The fish has lost or is losing its color.
Appetite etc seems normal and the three other blood reds in the tank are doing fine. How can I help this situation?  lene
< Your Parrot cichlid has an internal blockage that has developed into a prolapsed anus. The internal pressure is usually caused from bacteria in the gut breaking down the food in the intestines or a fatty liver from a poor diet. Since he is still eating I would recommend placing him in a hospital tank and putting him on a diet of fish food with a vegetable base like a Spirulina flake. Watch that the prolapsed tissues don't become infected or damaged. so add a little salt to the water to keep a protective slim over the tissues. Chuck.
Re: Blood Red Cichlid needs help   7/13/13

Thank you Chuck, i will do so and I already have the medication that another of your crew members suggested. I'll let you know how this turns out.
Re: Blood Red Cichlid needs help     8/1/13
Bloated Parrot Cichlid Doing Better and foods/fdg./nutr.

Just wanted to thank you'll for your advise. My cichlid of interest  is doing well! I have them all on Spirulina flakes, bloodworms and cichlids pellets.  Alternating the variety. Also the prolapsed anus is "gone"  not sure how that happened..would it have gone back into the body?
<Yes, it was reabsorbed into the body cavity.>
 It's color still fades occasionally, then returns...any suggestions for that?
< I would feed the bloodworms sparingly. Watch the fish carefully after each different food is fed and see if there is a correlation between the type of food and the loss of color.>
 The other3 blood reds are doing fine.
 < Glad to hear we were able to help.-Chuck>
Re: Blood Red Cichlid needs help    /RMF Oops      8/2/13

Why sparingly with the bloodworms?
<Linked/links to disease... as you were directed, search WWM re>
 Just  curious..and  are there other foods you would suggest, frozen or otherwise?
<... this too; along w/ Foods FAQs for Parrot Cichlids. B>
Re: Blood Red Cichlid needs help, fdg.       8/2/13

So, I though<t> about my feeding routine. In the morning its either the Spirulina flakes or pellets and in the evening its the frozen blood worms..as for the fish in question, it's color is darkest  in the mornings  (after the evening bloodworms) any suggestions for a routine?
<Twice a day is fine... I'd offer meaty foods in the AM; giving fishes time to find, consume all. B>
Link Re: Blood Red Cichlid foods/feeding/nutr.      8/2/13
Re: Link Re: Blood Red Cichlid foods/feeding/nutr.     8/2/13

Okay I'll switch them around! Thanks!
<Ah good. Welcome. BobF>

Blood Parrot Cichlid Not Eating - 10/29/10
I bought a beautiful blood parrot fish 3 weeks ago and he was doing well although I have not seen him eat. I have tried to feed him frozen fish food etc but he will not take it. The pet shop told me that he eats live Neons but he is not touching them. In the last two days he is not swimming around and staying in the bottom of his tank if you go near him he will swim. I am very worried and do not know what to do to keep him alive. Please may you help me Best regards Cindy
< Parrot cichlids are a cross bred fish that I think would have a very difficult time catching and eating Neons. check the water quality. The water temp should be in the upper 70's to low 80's. Offer a high quality flake food once a day for 5 minutes. At the end of the time you need to siphon out all the uneaten food. If the fish does not eat after 3 days or begins to show signs of bloat then treat with a combination of Metronidazole and Nitrofurazone in a hospital tank.-Chuck>

All Fishes
Peas as Fish Food - 2/7/10

Hello Crew, As you know that my parrots had started eating peas but since two three days they seem to be less interested in eating them. Also summers are approaching and here in India the temperatures reach up-to 48' C . So, peas will not be available during this season and also aquarium will become hot . Please advise me about these two problems. Thanks
< Feeding peas alone is not a great food for parrot cichlids. In the book "Enjoying Cichlids", by Ad Konings, there is a recipe for making your own fish food using peas and shrimp. Both of these ingredients are mixed with a gelatin base and then frozen. This way you could feed the peas all year long and they will like the protein from the shrimp. When the tank gets too hot you will need to increase the filtration/aeration. If you have a heater then unplug it and allow the nighttime lows to bring the water temp down as well. When it gets really hot, you could always change water with cooler water-Chuck>

Parrot unable to eat
Feeding Issues With Parrot Cichlids   1/11/10

Hi CREW, My parrot fish, the weaker one, as you know was eating peas but when I give him peas he swallows and tries to crush with the throat muscles but is unable to eat and throws out the pea. He comes again and again but the same thing happens. Also the bigger parrot , I call him fatty parrot or F. Parrot does not allow the parrot and the other fishes to eat peas. The F. parrot even pushes the butterfly Koi and so no one is able to eat peas except the F. parrot. Please tell me how I can stop all this chaos.
< Cichlids have a second set of jaws in their throat for crushing prey items. Since parrot cichlids are a hybrid these jaws may not develop properly and may get damaged easily. It is common for cichlids to have a territory and to defend that territory when food is around. Try scattering the food at different places in the tank at the same time. Another method is to hand feed each fish. You see this in public aquariums all the time.
This way you can make sure that all he fish are getting the food they need.-Chuck>

Please Help!!!!! Jelly Bean Parrot Cichlids Not Eating and Passing Away   2/25/09 I had 4 Jelly Bean Parrots for 4 years up until 3 weeks ago and one died. It was paired with another one and now it has not eaten since. Now there is another one that is showing same problem. They show no interest in food, stay pretty much to theirself. There is no visible signs of any problem, water condition all test fine, they are no sores no discoloration. My other fish 1 kissing Gourami, 2 tetras and a Pleco all are fine. I have a 75 gal. Tank. Do you have any idea on what the problem is and a solution. Thank You Sheree < You cichlids sound like they have come down with an internal infection. Usually this is caused by some stress to the fish. Water that is too hot or too cold, poor waste management or even a poor diet. I would recommend doing a 50^ water change, vacuum the gravel and clean the filters. Treat with a combination of Metronidazole and Nitrofurazone as per the directions on the package. Quick treatment is the key to a full recovery.-Chuck.>

Blood Parrot
Old Parrot Cichlid Not Eating -- 09/08/08

I have a blood parrot that is 11 years old. Yesterday when I went to feed him he wasn't interested. Very unusual for him. I looked closely at him and he looked like his color was fading out. Today his whole body is very pale like he's been bleached and he is just staying up at the top of the tank. He doesn't seem to have any problems swimming. The only thing different about the tank is that I added a small blood parrot to it about two weeks ago. Could he have caught something from the new fish? The new one doesn't seem to have any problems, he's swimming and eating fine.
< Older fish tend to lose their immunity to diseases as they get older. The younger fish could have brought in a parasite without showing any symptoms at this time. This is why we recommend quarantining fish before they are placed into an established aquarium.-Chuck.>

Blood Parrot Not Eating II 9/9/08
Today his color is back vibrant as ever. Still not eating. He is still staying mostly at the top. Every little bit he will go down to the bottom of the tank, flip and rub his head against the gravel. I don't see anything on him. What would be the best thing to treat him with?
< Not eating and staying at the top makes me think that there is an internal infection. I would recommend a 50% water change, vacuum the gravel and clean the filters. Make sure the water temperature is up around 80 F. If he has not improved after 24 hrs I would think about treating with Metronidazole and Nitrofuranace.-Chuck>

my parrot fish turns upside down and does not eat food.  1/02/10
Hi, I am Nalin
<Hi, Nalin, Melinda with you here tonight.>
I have parrot fish which does not eat anything and is always lying in a corner upside down. It has been with me since the last year but since last month it is behaving awkwardly. The average temperature of my tank is 28
degree Celsius. All the fishes are keen to eat the pellets but it does not eat.
<Are the pellets all you are feeding?>
I had put it into the hospital tank for about 16 hours but nothing seems to happen.
<What did you do while the fish was there (treatments/medication?).
the other parrot fish is plump and easily eats food. I have provided it with antibiotics but the matter is still not improving. it is not able to swim properly and sometimes pant at the surface. I also increased the oxygen supply. Please tell me a solution.
<I think we need more information before a solution can be revealed. Are you feeding wet-frozen foods, or only dry? What are your Ammonia, Nitrite, and Nitrate levels? If you'd provide information as to what you are
feeding, as well as water quality, I think we can get this guy "fixed up."
Does your fish look bloated at all? Please read here on Blood Parrots (I'm assuming this is what you mean, as opposed to a True Parrot Fish -- please correct me if I am wrong!:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/FHParrotCichArtNeale.htm and those linked pages below the title of this article.

Re: my parrot fish turns upside down and does not eat food. -- 01/03/10
I am feeding them pellets, blood worms <Are these wet-frozen or freeze dried?> and coz <not a word...> I have turtles I am giving them turtle food. The other fishes also like to eat turtle food.
<It's best to mix wet-frozen foods/vegetables in with those dry foods to avoid constipation/digestive problems.>
When the fish was there in the hospital tank I dissolved general aid medicine anti itch
<Do you mean ich? Why are you treating for that?>
and an antibiotic which the local fish dealer told me about
<What antibiotic? Didn't you say the fish was only in the tank for sixteen hours? Even if your fish has a bacterial infection, what you did wasn't long enough to help it. Most antibiotics prescribe a treatment period of at least a few days, not a few hours.>
Did you get the photos
<Yes, I did, but these aren't especially revealing.... looks like an upside-down fish. You're not giving me some of the information I need in order to help you. I really need to know what your water parameters are (Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate). Did you read where I referred you? Please read where I referred you and use the search bar available on WWM to help yourself. You're treating this fish for illness he does not have, then throwing him in a tank full of antibiotics for less than a day, etc., and what you need to be doing is reading so that you can make educated decisions. What you're doing now isn't going to help your fish. Please feel free to write back after you've read where I've referred you and you can provide me with numbers for those levels I mentioned earlier. In the meantime, you can feed your fish the inside of peas -- take cooked peas and squish the insides out of the shell, and feed to your fish. This may help if the problem is constipation. I'm hesitant to tell you to do anything because I don't have the whole picture right now -- you're not providing data re: water quality, and most problems fish encounter are directly related to water quality.

Re: my parrot fish turns upside down and does not eat food. -- 01/03/10
Thanks Melinda
<You're welcome.>
I read in the web page how to care for the blood parrot. Actually I cannot check the water level quality because the testing equipments are not available at the local aquarium shop. But I do regularly change water after15 days or so. I have two internal filters and one under gravel biological filtration unit. The tank capacity is 85 litres and the fishes are pair of Koi carps, pair of silver dollar, pair of Gourami an iridescent shark and a sucker mouth catfish and 4 turtles. The foods which are mentioned in the previous mail are freeze dried. Also the other parrot keeps pushing this parrot. the picture showed an upside down fish, it is the real problem .Thanks for your advice.
<This tank is 85 liters? I hope that is a typo. All of those fish are in there? This tank is seriously overstocked. I would find a shop with test kits as soon as you can. How long have you had this setup with these fish?
I'm really very surprised that this is the first problem you've seen! As for the food, you really should be feeding the wet-frozen foods as well; switching over to wet-frozen bloodworms rather than your freeze dried would help, and feeding the peas like I mentioned earlier would help. I think your problem here is water quality. Turtles are very, very messy, and it's usually advised not to mix them with fish due to that fact. Other than that, you don't mention how large these fish are, but some of the fish you have can grow to one or two feet long. Are you planning an upgrade? I would begin to plan this as soon as you can, and try and come up with a plan to separate the turtles from the fish. Please read re: each of the species you're keeping here on WWM using the Google search tool if you have any questions about the ultimate needs of the animals you're keeping.

Re: my parrot fish turns upside down and does not eat food.  1/4/10
Thanks Melinda once again.
<You're welcome!>
My parrot fish has eaten boiled peas as you have said.
<That's good!>
It has also started swimming properly but when it eats the other parrot attacks him and he sways to the other end.
<These can be aggressive fish, and you've got two of them, rather than a larger group. The weaker of the two has become a target for the stronger one.>
I have made plans to separate the fishes and the turtles and I am also planning to make a bigger aquarium for my fishes of 172.5 litres.
<This is not large enough -- you have the Koi who will need much, much more than this all by themselves.> I cannot afford a bigger aquarium due to lack of space but its twice bigger than the older one and the turtles will also not cause any problem.
<The turtles may be perfectly nice and friendly to the fishes, but their waste is what's going to cause the problems, and probably already is. You can't see this because you're not testing, but I strongly advise you to purchase tests and see what effect overcrowding and mis-stocking is having on your water quality, and understand that water quality directly affects your fish.>
Please advise me how I can stop the war between the two fish because and I think it is the secondary problem. The first has been solved.
<I suspect the first problem has not been solved. You will begin to see more problems in more fish because this tanks is an accident waiting to happen! As for the secondary problem, I would remove the sick fish to a cycled hospital tank and allow him to get better in good water quality, and return him once he's strong enough to handle the aggression of the second fish. However, these are Cichlids. As they grow and mature, problems with territoriality and aggression are going to worsen. Again, I ask that you look into the needs of these fish on WWM -- you'll find that many fish you keep do not mix -- in terms of required temperature, water chemistry, "attitude" -- territoriality/aggression, needs as far as behavior (single-specimen vs. schooling), etc. I would read, and then pare down my stock accordingly until you have fish which can actually live in this tank.

Parrot fighting  1/4/10
Hello crew
I have two parrot fishes and the bigger one always keeps attacking the smaller parrot. When the smaller one eats it attacks him and pushes him into the corner. To get saved the other parrot pretends as if it is dead and keep lying in a corner. And now it has been his habit to lie in a corner. The other parrot also attacks other fishes. It disturbs the whole silent atmosphere of the aquarium.
<Please refer to my other response to you today -- I think these problems stem from over- and mis-stocking and the aggression and water quality issues which accompany those problems.

Re Parrot Eating 1/6/2010
<You're welcome!>
This was the first time my weaker parrot was eager to eat food since the last two months I was giving all the fishes boiled peas and they seemed so tasty to him that he snatched all the pieces for himself even after he was suffering attacks from the bigger parrot. I am so happy!! I want to ask weather it is safe for the carps to eat peas? How much peas are sufficient for a parrot fish of size 3 1/2 inch? He ate at least 6 pieces.
<I'd feed him three or four over the course of a day. The peas are supposed to help his digestive system -- to assist him in passing any blockages he may have. They're just fine for the Koi, as well. If your fish will eat them, it's a good way to introduce some moist foods into their diet. Also, getting them onto the wet-frozen bloodworms, rather than freeze-dried, will help too.

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