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FAQs on Parrot, Jelly-Bean... Cichlids, Compatibility

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 Selection, Parrot Cichlid Systems, Parrot Cichlid Feeding, 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 Disease,  Cichlid Reproduction,

HELP!!!         4/5/16
My African Parrot Cichlid tried to eat a Plecostomus and it is stuck in my fishs aka Creamsicle mouth, its been 2 days. He is trying to spit it out but since they have spiked fins it has to be stabbing him. I cant afford a vet. What can I do, if anything?
<Try to extricate the Catfish yourself.... GET a friend to help you: remove the fish to a wet hand towel and use a flat metal blade to pass over the head of the Cat in the Cichlids mouth, move the blade to one side and DEPRESS the lateral head spines of the catfish (backward) and pull the Cat out as far as you can. NOW move to the right side of the Cat and do the same with the spines there... continue till the catfish is removed>
If there is absolutely anything you can think of please let me know, either way please contact me.
<Bob Fenner>
re: HELP!!!         4/5/16

My fish has most of the Pleco down it's about A5 or 6 inch Pleco and there's an inch maybe hang out of its mouth
<... may have to use a hand tool to hold onto the Pleco tail to remove. BobF>

pink parrot fish, comp., stkg./sel.      4/22/13
I have a pair of pink parrot fish in a 40 gal. tank.
1 is half a inch bigger than the other. Sizes are about 4-4.5 inches. The smaller fish has turned a bright pink and has been hiding behind a castle for 2 days.
<Likely being bullied by the larger>
 Every so often he leaves his hiding place. Mostly stays hidden. This morning did not eat the pellets I usually give. This evening tried feeding again, and did eat 2 pellets. Went to go test water and everything was fine.
There are no spots or anything indicating that there is anything physically wrong. The bigger parrot has been poking the smaller parrot from behind.
Noticed earlier the pair was lying on the tank floor like nothing was wrong! A few hours later it went back to its hiding spot. I've had them both for about 3 months and were bought from the same place. Even got them from the same tank. Very worried . Please help! Thank you:
mermaid 33
<I'd look into a third fish, or perhaps a group of ditherfish... The dynamic you're establishing isn't going to work for these two alone. Bob Fenner>

Blood Parrots, Senegal Bichirs, and Pictus Catfish; Compatibility; Frozen foods 4/16/12
Good day!
First off, I’d like to say thank you to all the volunteers who take time out of their days to help people with their fish; it’s greatly appreciated.
<Ah good>
I have a few questions (well five) that I hope you could answer, or direct me to the link for the information? (I did search your site for a few hours, so I apologize if my questions or similar questions have been asked before. ) But first, a little back ground information.
I have an approximately 3” Senegal bichir
<Wow, small>
that after a month of QT currently resides in my driftwood, sand, Anubias planted 29 gallon with a single male Betta and 8 black Kuhli loaches. (I am aware that when he gets bigger, he’ll eat my loaches, but for the time being,
<And Betta>
they are much bigger than he is, and he’ll only be in there 1-2 months tops) The water is about 80F and the pH is approximately 7.4. I do about 30% water changes every 5 days or so.
Tomorrow I am picking up a 75 gallon aquarium. I am planning on having a 1” sand substrate, with MTS to help keep it aerated, lots of large rocks and probably some driftwood, along with Anubias sp. attached to the driftwood/rocks, maybe some crypts as well. After it is completely cycled (I plan to use filter media from my 29
gallon to help speed it along) I plan on moving Nim (my Senegal bichir) to it.
My first question, my friend currently has my peaceful 5” Blood Parrot (I had to sell my 55 awhile back, she kept my BP so I could eventually get her back, my Blood Parrot was with cherry barbs, blue tetras, gold and moonlight gouramis, and an angelfish before, with no problems), would a Blood Parrot be an okay tank mate for a Senegal Bichir in a 75 gallon?
<Should be>
Are there any temperature/major pH/compatibility issues?
<Mmm, no>
(I bought the Senegal when I was told by a few people they’d be good together, but now I am hearing different from other people, so I would like your expert advice)
My second question, (if one Blood Parrot is compatible with a Senegal), do Blood Parrots do best kept when kept singly, or should I get another Blood Parrot?
<Best in groups>
I just don’t want my Blood Parrot to be lonely, she is quite shy and when I move her to the 75 gallon, her marbled angelfish buddy will be staying behind.
My third, for my stock, I was planning on 1 Senegal Bichir,
1 or 2 Blood Parrot(s).
Then these are the fish species I am interested/plus the number I planned on getting (not ALL the species though of course), could you please give me your opinion as to the compatibility with senegals and blood parrots? (I am so sorry if this has been asked before, please just direct me to the link if that’s the case, I don’t want to waste your time)
<Again, most likely fine together>
~ FOR SURE 4-5 Peruvian/Columbian Pictus Catfish (the Pictus catfish I am interested in getting are sold at about 4” long, and MUCH bigger then my tiny Senegal, I know they are riverian, south American catfish, while bichirs are more from slow bog-like areas, and Blood Parrots, well I don't know what would be their "natural" habitat, but I figure in a 75 gallon, it could possibly work?)
<Possibly... though it will be very hard to get food to the Bichir... the Pictus will eat it all>
~ Pair of Opaline Gouramis (the one’s I want are sold at
about 3-3.5”)
~1 or 2 Leopard Ctenopoma (Ctenopoma acutirostre, the one’s
I like are sold at about 2”, are they better off alone or in a pair?)
~1 Striped Raphael Catfish (sold at about 2")
<And hard to feed, even find this in a 75 w/ decor>
~1 African Feather fin catfish (syno eur., sold a about 3-4")
<Most likely will blend in though hide during the day>
Any other fish that you recommend that would go well with Blood Parrot(s), a Senegal bichir, and a school of Pictus catfish? (if they are compatible of course)
<I suggest adding the new stock over months time...>
My fourth question, I have issues feeding other LIVING insects/ fish/creatures (i.e. meal worms, earth worms, crickets, shrimp, etc) to my fish, and I am a vegan, so I don’t buy/refuse to buy beef heart, tilapia, etc.
<I encourage you to seek out, use a good pellet based staple... Spectrum, Hikari are my favorite brands>
I feed my Kuhli loaches San Francisco Bay frozen brine shrimp, Mysis shrimp, and blood worms right now (along with shrimp pellets/algae wafers), would that be a good diet for bichirs and the above fish (I’d throw in some fresh veggies for the more herbivorous fish)? Would adding “freshwater frenzy-containing Brine Shrimp, Bloodworms, Cyclops, Daphnia, Watercress and more” be a good idea as well?
<All except the Bloodworms... see WWM re... and they may not take much to the Watercress>
Thank you very much for all your time! Danielle
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Blood Parrot Cichlid Tankmates/Compatibility    9/29/11
Hello crew!
I currently have a 90 gallon housing a blood parrot cichlid, brown knife fish and a Pleco. I would like to get another (or few more) fish because the cichlid is really the only one that is seen more often than not. The knife doesn't come out obviously until the main lights go off for the night.
The blood parrot is mature (and large)...has claimed one corner of the tank
by the overflow as his home and can be a bit aggressive (he will chase/ram my hand around the tank when I'm cleaning in there and rams the Magfloat assuming mostly because they aren't really in/around his territory much at all considering their tendencies.)
Is there another fish that would be compatible to add in this setting...not overly aggressive, but not timid enough to be bothered by the blood parrot? Thanks in advance for any suggestions you may have.
<Maybe. Please read here:
Bob Fenner>
Re: Blood Parrot Cichlid Tankmates/Compatibility  9/30/11

Thank you for your quick reply. I have read through that page, although it gives me more of an idea what wouldn't work rather than clear suggestions of what would. Instead, let me ask if you think an Oscar may be a compatible fit.
<Mmm, yes; likely so... given the volume you have for both... IF you can/do start w/ one that is not too small or large... about the same size should be okay>
The only thing that concerns me long term is the knife fish.....
<Yes; it should go elsewhere. Won't get along or be able to get food w/ the two Cichlids present>
correct me if I'm wrong please, but from what I've read it seems that as the Oscar grows, the knife might possibly become a snack. I do have a 46(?) gallon bow front cycled with no current residents.
<Ahh! I would move the Knife t/here>
If I were to move the brown knife to the 46, would a Tiger Oscar, Pleco and Blood Parrot be considered compatible?
<I give you good odds that all three will do so in the 90>
Thanks again.
<Welcome. BobF>

Query about Blood Parrot Fish   3/14/11
Hi, I am Attiya.
I have got an aquarium with 2 guppies, 2 platies, 2 Koi fish and today I bought 2 Blood Parrot Fish.
<Yikes Attiya! These fishes/species can't live together>
One of the parrot fish is very active but the other one is most of the time still in a top corner of the aquarium. I give them pellets but I didn't notice if the inactive Parrot fish has eaten or not. And it's been quite some days since I had the water changed. I initially thought that maybe it's behaviour is due to low quality water, but I can find that the other Parrot fish is very at ease and active.
Is this a normal behavior? Or is there something wrong?
Please advice as soon as possible. I really don't want to lose it.
Thank you.
<Do read on WWM re these fish species. The livebearers need to be separated from the Koi, and both need to be kept apart from the Cichlids. NOW! Bob Fenner>
Re: Query about Blood Parrot Fish, reading    3/15/11

Thank you very much, I remove the live bearers and put them in another aquarium.
<And the Koi?>
In fact, I am not too experienced about fishes. The salesman made a fool out of me when I asked for advice. He only wanted to sell those fishes.
But the parrot fish behavior is still same, I mean it is not active.
<Patience here>
It stays in a corner but do swim around at times. The second parrot fish often bullies it
<Not good... how big is this system? Read here:
and all the Parrot Cichlid linked files above>
and then it swims around. But, sometimes it remain in that corner. And I have noticed that since yesterday it is getting white. I am feeding them with color enhancing pellets and the other parrot fish is just fine and red.
Please, advice me about this matter.
<Read. BobF>
Re: Query about Blood Parrot Fish... incomp., sys...    3/15/11

Hi. About the Koi, I will remove them tomorrow as I have got to buy another aquarium for them.
<Mmm, better to return to a/the store...>
The aquarium is about 10 gallons.
<Much too small. Please read where you've been referred to. This is a/the trouble here. B>
I have just feed the fishes. The parrot fish did not eat the pellets.. But when I feed it with flakes then it started eating.
Thank you for your advice. You are being of great help
Re: Query about Blood Parrot Fish   3/16/11

Hi, I removed the Koi to another aquarium and I can find that the parrot fish is much better.
<Ah good>
It is moving around and is becoming red little by little. But even though, the Koi were together with the parrot fish, they seemed to be playing together.
But as per your advice, I preferred to transfer them to another tank.
Thank you once again for your great help.
<Welcome. B>

Parrotfish hybrid
Parrot Cichlid Tankmates  2/19/11

Hello crew! I had a quick question about my parrot fish cichlid. I have one large 6 inch parrot fish in a 55 gallon fish tank. He use to have tank mates which were 1 other parrot fish , 2 silver dollars, and 1 convict cichlid but the have managed to die (do to a bad water change). I was wondering what tank mates I could
buy to put with him. He is aggressive and he is over 4 years old. Thank you so much,
< Your parrot cichlid will continue to grow and is a very territorial cichlid. I recommend fast moving fish at about the same size. If you have trouble with the water quality then you might want to consider just leaving
him alone in the tank. He should be double the size by now.-Chuck>

Re: Please help my Fu Manchu lion fish... and FW mix/comp., BPs?   7/13/10
Bob and the WetWebMedia crew...Thank you so much for your info. We read the page you linked us to. We ended up leaving Fu Manchu alone, shutting the light off more often and in about a week he started to lift back up to his normal self. He didn't eat for that week, which we kind of expected, but his appetite is back up and running. Thank God and thanks to you!! I was very scared and felt I didn't have anywhere to turn. My mind was set at ease a little bit by hearing back from you.
Thank you also for the info on feeding. We are changing his diet a little - definitely getting the crabs and snails out of his tank. Along with that though...what kind of clean up crew can we put in with him that is a little less appetizing or harmful if swallowed?
<Not much of such a crew at all... better for you to take charge... For you to do the periodic maintenance yourself>
Now we have new questions for FW. A friend of ours just gave us an 8" red-tail tinfoil barb, 2 pictus cats (3.5") and 3 Raphaels (3.5"). We currently have a 220 gal with several cichlids...(2) 2-3" peacocks, (5) 1.5 - 3" electric blues, (2) (3.5 - 4") yellows, (1) 4-5" blue dolphin hap., (1) 3" kribensis, (4) 3" ruby-greens, (6) 3" perlmutts and a 12" Pleco. Yes, lots of hiding places :) rocks, live plants, driftwood with holes, and course sandy bottom. And, we have a 72 gal with (2) BP's with pots, plants, rocks and a soft sandy bottom. Here's our dilemmas...
#1 there is a also a 9" catfish, not sure what he is...yet. He's long and skinny, not even sure what species to start looking in. I can send a pic if you'd like or maybe you can just give us an idea where to start.
<Do send the image>
#2. Who do we house with who? Hubby wants to put the tinfoil barb in with the BPs.
I'm afraid to do that. I want to put 2 of the Raphaels in with the BPs and put all the others in the 220. Can you help us on who to put with who?
<If you'll tell me the above, yes>
We also have a 100 gal and a 55 gal (empty right now) if all else fails and we have to put them in different tanks.
Hope you can help us out on this one...Thanks Again!!
<Welcome. BobF> 
Re: Please help my Fu Manchu lion fish  7/13/10
BPs = Blood Parrot Cichlids.
The catfish is a shovelnose (just talked with the previous owner). We think it's a Lima Shovelnose.
<That is what this fish in this photo is, Sorubim lima.>
Here's a copy of a pic from planetcatfish.com (we can't take one right now as I cannot find our camera - but this is pretty much identical, same size and everything.)
<Sorubim lima is probably the ONLY shovelnose catfish that makes a good pet. It's peaceful, social -- happiest kept in groups, lonely when single -- and essentially hardy. The usual warnings apply. Don't keep too warm,
22-25 C is fine, and provide excellent water quality at all times. Don't feed live feeder fish, certainly never goldfish, minnows or any other cyprinid. Instead base the diet primarily around thiaminase-free foods: earthworms, tilapia fillet, cockles. Use thiaminase-rich foods like prawns and mussels very sparingly, maybe once a week. Sorubim lima will eventually carnivore pellets if properly settled in. Needs a big tank, not less than 75 gallons, and realistically 100 gallons upwards. Obviously predatory, but harmless towards fish too big to swallow whole; gets along fine with Silver Dollars, Tinfoil Barbs, Severums, etc. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Sorubim lima, FW livestk. sel.   -- 7/14/10

TY very much for the info on the catfish! Greatly appreciated. What about the other fish I had asked about? The cichlids, the Blood Parrot cichlids, Raphaels, etc. If you need that email again, I can send it back to you. That was the one on who to house with who in what tank. Let me know if you need that email again. Thanks!!!
<Hello Melanie. As ever, put together fish with compatible requirements in terms of water chemistry, temperature, temperament and size. Sorubim lima does best in soft, acidic water of middling temperature. Obviously Blood
Parrots need hard, alkaline water so they are not compatible, and trying to keep them together would mean one or other species would be subjected to the wrong water chemistry. But South American cichlids like Severums and
Festivums work well, as do Blue Acara. Blood Parrots should not really be kept with anything since they're deformed and have trouble swimming away from trouble; at best keep them with active, midwater fish such as Platies or Australian Rainbowfish, but even then there's no guarantees it'll work out. If you haven't already bought the Blood Parrots, please can I implore you not to buy them; creating them in the first place was cruel, and buying
them simply gives money to some not very nice people who don't consider the health and well-being of an animal important. There are many much nicer cichlids out there, and Rotkeil Severums for example would be both
colourful and beautiful additions to a tank with large catfish, assuming your tank is big enough for everyone to get along. Sorubim lima also gets along fine with South American catfish too large to be viewed as prey, including Platydoras and other medium-sized Doradid catfish. Cheers, Neale.>

Florida flag fish in with chicklids  7/10/10
Hi there,
We have two florida flag fish
<A subtropical fish.>
in a 50- gallon tank with chicklids
<Cichlid, as in "sick lid"...>
we added a couple of parrot chicklids tonight and one of the flag fish keeps pushing the one parrot fish around
<Yes, it's what they do.>
...doesn't seem to be nipping at them just rubbing up against and almost like herding it into other areas or against the tank...Why is this?
<The sarcastic answer is "because you shouldn't be keeping them together"!
What I mean by that is they have no overlap at all in terms of requirements and behaviour. Florida Flagfish need subtropical conditions, 18 C/64 F is about the ideal, and are territorial and potentially fin-nippers. They work
best on their own or with fast-moving cool water fish, Swordtails or Rosy Barbs for example. Parrot Cichlids are of course hybrids, and deformed, handicapped ones at that. The people who bred them didn't give any thought at all to the well-being of these cichlids, and consequently while their brains tell them they're territorial, semi-aggressive fish, their bodies just can't handle that kind of life. As we say in England, "all mouth and no trousers" if that makes any sense to you. Parrot Cichlids are an easy target for nippy fish, and mustn't be kept with them. Bottom line, these two fish need to be separated. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Florida flag fish in with chicklids   7/11/10
Thank you so much for your help :-)
we will separate them asap :-)
<Cool. Glad to help. Cheers, Neale.>

Grumpy Parrot  -- 04/03/10
Hello I have a orange parrot fish and he is typical of the breed and very grumpy with other tank mates. So I have him alone with just one Pleco . He normally does nag on the Pleco some, but the last few days he has been very
weird . He nips at the Pleco relentlessly until the Pleco turns his lips to the parrot fish's face then they look kind of like they are kissing .
<More likely this is agonistic behavior...>
It really looks as if the parrot wants the Pleco to suck on his face. I'm very worried and the Pleco really wasn't enjoying this behavior much at all.
<Separate these fishes>
So after about 4 days I did remove the Pleco to a less aggressive tank . My parrot now has a white spot on his face where the Pleco was sucking on him.
I added a little salt in both tanks to reduce stress on them both but other than that I have done nothing else medicinally because until tonight neither had any marks . They both eat fine are not scratching like Ick and they
have been with me for over three years same tank and same as tank mates so I am really at a loss .
<I would have done what you did... and would not treat either of these fishes at this point. I do think you are correct in your assessment of the new world cichlid cross... Grumpy. Bob Fenner>

-Blood Parrot and Clawed Frag Compatibility- 12/22/09
Hi....I was wondering if African clawed frogs and blood parrot cichlids could cohabitate?
<Well, if they are roughly the same size and in a reasonably sized aquarium--probably.>
I figured that due to its mouth shape, the blood parrot would be unable to harm the frog, and that the size of the blood parrot would keep the frog from eating it...or am I completely wrong?
<I wouldn't bank on that, but again, as long as one is not enormous and the other tiny, they'll probably be ok. Be sure to try to acquire a captive bred frog.>
Sara M.>

I would love to get a parrot cichlid (the hybrid), comp.  11/25/09
would suitable tankmates be a shoal of tiger barbs, a tiger loach and a red tailed black shark/red tailed albino shark?
<These could all co-habitate. They "like" similar water conditions, are all medium aggressive, wise to each other... just need space, adequate feeding... Bob Fenner>

Fighting Parrot Fish  9/6/09
I've had 2 parrotfish for the past 3 months in a tank together. One is a little bit bigger than the other, but this had never caused a problem until now.
<Sexual maturity. Absolutely normal. Two males will fight over territory, especially if the tank isn't big enough. Given mature specimens are up to 20 cm/8 inches in length, we're talking some 50 gallons per mature male.>
They had gotten along perfectly fine until a few days ago.
<They're cichlids, even if, genetically, they're messed up ones. They're gregarious when young, territorial when mature.>
Now, the big one chases the smaller one around the tank nipping at it with his mouth. If the small one comes out from hiding, it does this over and over until it forces it to go back into hiding. Also, now the bigger one
has started doing the same thing to my algae eater and tetras.
I'm not sure if this is normal behavior or if I need to take the fish out.
<Although hybrids, these are still standard issue Central American cichlids. Anyone who told you they were community fish was taking advantage of your ignorance. These fish are territorial and aggressive, but because of their deformities, can't be kept with other (normal shaped) cichlids.
Regular cichlids will simply hammer them. So, sooner or later, most Parrot Cichlids end up being kept in tanks of their own kind, either singly or in large groups where a single male cannot hold a territory. This latter approach opens up a whole new slew of problems.>
<Do, please, read about the needs of your fish *prior* to purchase. Things will get worse. If you remove the currently dominant fish, there's a 50/50 chance the other one will be a male, in which case *he* will become the aggressor and chase the other fish around. I repeat, these are NOT community fish. Cheers, Neale.>

New Parrot Cichlid  Hi, I have a question for you. I recently bought a Jelly Bean Parrot Fish. I don't have much experience with Cichlids and I want to know what to expect. I have put him in my 50 gallon tank with my other tropical semi-aggressive fish. Right now he is very small - only about 2 inches but I understand he will grow very large and at that point I may have to separate him from the others. I was wondering how long it will take until he will have to be separated? <Probably within a year he will be six to eight inches long.> Additionally for right now he doesn't seem overly aggressive at all...should I get additional plants for my other fish (an larger angel fish, a Bala shark, a small silver dollar, a tiger barb, a female beta, a Plecostomus, a Cory cat, also a very old leftover from my community fish days blind cave tetra, and a very large also leftover 1" neon tetra....those guys are originals so the other fish don't seem to bother them) Linda  <In time the silver dollar will eat the plants if they are the live kind. The neon will be eaten by the angelfish and the female Bettas fins will be nipped by the tiger barb. The parrot cichlid is a genetic mutation that doesn't exist in nature. It is derived from a Central American cichlid that gets big and mean. Eventually you parrot will set up a territory and chase all the other fish away and tear up the plants while he is at it.-Chuck>

Too much flow? Parrot Cichlid, Angel incomp.   4/21/07 Hi, Crew. <Boris/Mark> I have 29 g FW tank with 2 red parrots and 2 angels. <Too small a volume... and incompatible mix...> I'm using 2 filters AquaClear 200. I noticed that all my fish prefer to stay in other side of the aquarium with no filter. Half of my aquarium is almost always empty. Could it be the reason for this is to much flow? Should I remove one filter? Appreciate your help. Excuse me for poor English. Mark <Worth trying... but these two species won't likely live together for long... the Parrots will kill the Angels in time. Bob Fenner>

75 gal... stocking... FW... cichlids and Gouramis?  10/14/07 Okay i have emailed the crew before about tank set-ups and compatibility and i have finally made a decision. I Plan to have a 75 gallon tank with 3 parrots, since they are not very aggressive cichlids and more docile... <Says who? Blood parrots, despite being malformed hybrids the hobby doesn't need, are completely unpredictable in terms of social behaviour but *often* become too aggressive for generic community tanks.> ...about 5 Gouramis (maybe dwarfs) of different colors <Terrible, terrible idea. Don't mix Gouramis and cichlids. Gouramis tend to view cichlids as rivals, become aggressive, and then get hammered because cichlids are much more strong fighters. Unless you know what you're doing, avoid combining them. In addition, the quality of commercially produced Dwarf Gouramis (Colisa lalia) is so unbelievably low that I personally recommend against them. If you have a local breeder, then fine; but if you're buying them from some generic pet store, then avoid. Feel free to read over the Dwarf Gourami healthcare FAQs here just to see how often we get messages from people with sick fish. A recent veterinarian study put the 'Dwarf Gourami Disease' virus at infecting 22% of all the fish sold. Given it is highly infections, that's about as sensible as adopting a rabid dog as a family pet.> and 2-3 Plecos and Cory cats. <Both good choices, except Plecos are solitary under aquarium conditions. If you want a group, aim for something smaller, like Ancistrus. In aquaria, mature Pterygoplichthys can be rather nasty towards one another, in some cases caused fatal damage.> But my question is would it be possible to place puffers in a community such as this one. <Depends on the puffer, but broadly, no, puffers aren't reliable community fish.> I have a particular interest in puffers that will get larger than others such as the topaz. <Topaz puffers are typically (but not always) Tetraodon fluviatilis. Under aquarium conditions, this is a brackish water fish. I've not personally kept this species, but the broad consensus seems to be that while some specimens work well in LARGE community tanks alongside things like Scats and Monos, there are enough aggressive (perhaps male?) specimens to make it an unreliable community fish. Best kept alone or with other puffers of similar size, provided the tank is big enough.> Could you please send me info in regard to this tank compatibility and if the puffers do not work could you please send me some other type of somewhat large but not too large freshwater fish to inhabit my tank ( I am considering Pacus to replace the puffers if possible at the most 2). Thank you! <Pacus are simply out of the question. They reach around 70-100 cm depending on the species, and unless you have an indoor pond, they're not viable pets. Lovely animals for public aquaria, and apparently delicious to eat. But not pets. For a 75 gallon tank, you want to be thinking about medium-sized characins or barbs: Silver Dollars, Nurse Tetras, Clown Barbs, Spanner Barbs etc. These are around the 10-15 cm mark, and work nicely in big groups with robust tankmates. Alternatively, if you wanted a puffer species, I've personally found Colomesus asellus works well in carefully constructed community tanks. It is sold as the South American pufferfish. Gets to about 8 cm long, lives in groups, and while it nips slow-moving things (like Corydoras, livebearers, Angels and Gouramis) it is fine with fast-moving tetras, moderately aggressive dwarf cichlids such as Kribs, Synodontis, Plecs, etc. On the whole though, if you want to go with pufferfish, it's often easier to build a tank exclusively for them. This is especially true with the larger, more aggressive species. Cheers, Neale>

Yo-yo loach + parrot Cichlid... both comp.   9/23/07 In my current 20 gallon setup I have 2 yo-yo loaches that tend to pick on common things such as platys and mollies. And I also have A Gold Gourami. Recently I have added a fairly small (1 inch) parrot cichlid. The sign at my LFS said that they are semi-aggressive so I figured that it should be ok with the yo-yo loaches. I just got finished re-establishing the territory and was wondering what you thought of this. <Greetings. Botia almorhae is one of the more aggressive loaches when kept with standard community fish, as you've discovered. Partly this is an issue with how they are kept: they must be kept in groups of at least four specimens because they fight over pecking order, but given they grow to 15 cm in length, they require a fairly big aquarium. A 20 gallon tank isn't an option in the long term. Simply because fish are "semi aggressive" doesn't mean they are sure to get along. While you might get a stand-off where each fish learns to leave its companions alone, you can also end up with endless warfare. In this case, I wouldn't guarantee your parrot cichlid (by which I assume you mean the blood parrot hybrids, not the true parrot cichlid Hoplarchus psittacus) will be left alone. Loaches are waspish and seem to be more dangerous to dumpy, slow moving things that high-performance tankmates like barbs and characins. Blood parrot hybrid cichlids are best kept alone or with Plecs. They are, of course, far too large for a 20 gallon tank. A 40 gallon tank is the absolute minimum for an adult. As with any other cichlid, they are intolerant of dissolved metabolites, and when kept in a tank that is too small run a high risk of diseases such as hole-in-the-head. Hope this helps, Neale>

Parrot cichlids community -- 10/30/2007 I've emailed you guys before about comp advice and I have finally made a decision that might be a lot more logical than my others. I have a particular interest in parrot cichlids (not blood parrots) and I was considering getting a tank ranging anywhere from 55 gallons to 75. <When you say "not Blood Parrots" I'm confused. The true Parrot Cichlid is Hoplarchus psittacus. But the bright orange hybrid thing that looks like a deformed goldfish is the Blood Parrot. I'm assuming you mean the hybrid thing, since Hoplarchus psittacus is a fish mostly kept by advanced hobbyists and not common in the trade.> I wanted my parrots to be the focus of the tank (about 3 to 5 of them) but I have noticed that African cichlids are very colorful and some or a lot that I have seen don't get as large as the parrots and stay pretty small anywhere from 3 to 5 inches. <With Mbuna, size has virtually nothing to do with aggression. There are plenty of small species that will terrorise fish twice their size. These are the freshwater equivalent of Damselfish: they punch WELL above their weight.> My question is would some or most African cichlids (like the ones that inhabit lake Malawi) be compatible with the parrots I would like to get. <No.> I am interested in this because I have been looking for tankmates for the parrots other than Plecos I plan to get but the ones that I have found get somewhat large ( convicts and silver dollars) or even larger than the parrots. <Plecos and silver dollars are popular companions for Blood Parrots because they work. You can mix this up a little if you want, replacing the Silver Dollars with Australian Rainbowfish or large, docile barbs like Spanner Barbs. The Pleco might be replaced with some other large, non-aggressive, docile catfish or loach. If you aren't an experienced hobbyist, it's a good idea to go with "tried and true" before experimenting. Once you have kept your cichlids for a year or two, you'll understand their behaviour and be better able to choose tankmates. Blood Parrot behaviour varies; some specimens are relatively mild, others psychopathic. Behaviour varies with age too; they might seem nice as pie when babies, but turn into brutal thugs as soon as they become sexually mature.> I am interested in color and the particular ones I like the "yellow lab", (Labidochromis caeruleus) electric blue haps, zebras and basically any smaller African cichlids that are very eye catching and colorful that would suite this community well in terms of having a happy community of fish with territory not becoming a huge issue and not overloading the tank even though I have purchased a canister filter. <Forget it. None of these fish really makes much sense. Labidochromis caeruleus might work, but that's about it. Sciaenochromis ahli is very territorial, though admittedly mostly towards blue fish. Still, it's a gamble. An aggressive male Pseudotropheus zebra will simply destroy Blood Parrots. Males will destroy one another given half a chance, and easily dominate any cichlid community they are place in. Your problem is that Blood Parrots are deformed and have bad swimming abilities and poor balance. Other cichlids can swim away from danger; Blood Parrots cannot. So stuck in a tank with aggressive cichlids, Blood Parrots get creamed. They are like fancy goldfish: best kept alone. If you don't like this, then don't keep Blood Parrots. It's really as simple as that.> Could you please send me something in return about this topic containing some info on the number of fish I should have, ideal tank size because I wouldn't mind exceeding 55 to 75 gallons but would prefer not to and any other helpful information. Thank you! <There's no "number of fish" per tank because it depends on the size of their fish, their behaviour and their activity level. A territorial male Pseudotropheus zebra will own a 55 gallon tank all by itself. While it will tolerate females of its own kind, any male Pseudotropheus zebra place in there will be systematically exterminated. Cichlids just aren't "mix and match" fish; building cichlid communities requires care and lots of research. There are PLENTY of cichlid books out there; buy or borrow one, and read it cover to cover. Then plan your tank. You'll have much more success that way. Cheers, Neale>

Blue ram trouble.  Parrots... mis-placed, env., comp. 11/30/07 Well I went to my LFS yesterday and got 3 female blue ram cichlids. I put them in a tank with a top, dominating parrot cichlid (I thought they would get along) and two bottom dominating yo-yo loaches. I woke up this morning and found one dead. I don't think it was diseased it seemed ok and I noticed that they are hiding a lot. I will probably take the yo-yo loaches back to the shop. I also am considering breeding them, what is a good ratio? <Greetings. Let's be absolutely clear about this: Rams (Mikrogeophagus ramirezi) are completely incompatible with Parrot cichlids (by which I assume you mean those deformed hybrid Central American cichlids rather than Hoplarchus psittacus). You cannot keep them together. For a start, Blood Parrot cichlids need neutral to slightly basic water with a moderate to high level of hardness, say pH 7.5 and around 10-20 degrees dH. Rams need very soft and very acidic water to live any length of time, around pH 5.5-6.5, hardness 5-10 degrees dH. They also have completely incompatible thermal requirements: Blood Parrots want the normal 25 degrees C, whereas 28-30 degrees C is mandatory for Rams. Keep Blood Parrots too warm and they die from heat exhaustion, keep the Rams too cold and they die from secondary infections. Finally they have utterly different levels of aggression. Rams are shy, need dither fish, and are too small to pose any threat to a Parrot Cichlid; Parrot Cichlids are potentially very large, very boisterous and outgoing, and sometimes hyper-aggressive and easily able to kill fish as small as Rams should they want to. No-one who knows anything about these two fish would even dream of putting them in the same aquarium, so I am curious why you thought this would work. It simply won't. If you wish to breed Rams, then get their own aquarium around 60-90 litres in size. Fill with very soft, very acidic water. Install a suitable filter, bearing in mind that below pH 6 biological filtration won't work so you will need to use Zeolite instead. Depending on the level of carbonate hardness in the water you may also need to plan around using some sort of chemical buffer in the water to prevent pH crashes (soft water is prone to rapid acidification). Rams may spawn in hard water but the eggs won't hatch, so you do have to get this aspect right. Rams will form pairs quite rapidly under aquarium conditions. They do not form harems (as Apistogramma do) so you only need one male to one female. Of course, not every male and female will form a pair, so you may want to keep half a dozen in a larger tank and let them sort themselves out. Once a pair forms, remove that pair to the breeding tank. Spawning takes place on flat surfaces, often pebbles. The male often guards the eggs himself and may drive away the female, in which case you should remove her to another aquarium before she gets hurt. Eggs hatch after about 5 days, and will take suitable tiny foods almost at once. Brine shrimp nauplii are recommended as the first food though liquid fry food seems to work quite well. Cheers, Neale.>

Cichlid Fight 11/28/07 Hello Crew, I currently have 55g tank with 2 red parrots, 2 Severums and Pleco. My larger parrot is becoming extremely aggressive and I feel like my Severums under big stress all the time. I tried to add few danios(4) as a dither fish, but all cichlids just ignoring them (probably because of their small size). Could it be helpful to add few rainbows fish or giant Danios? Do I have space for them? Should I decrease temperature( I have 80F. Little high, but my Severums get ich easily)? Thank you, Mark <Hello Mark. Cichlids are territorial, and there's nothing much you can do about it. While people like to sell Blood Red Parrots as "easy fish" that are "fun to keep" the sheer fact of the matter is that they are hybrid Central American cichlids, and Central American cichlids are renowned for their territoriality and aggression. Even a male Convict cichlid can monopolise a 55 gallon tank if he wants to. Severums are on the mild end of the aggression range outside of spawning, and in all honesty don't make good companions for Central American cichlids. In any case, adding dither fish (like Danios) won't make a blind bit of difference. Dither fish make cichlids feel more secure from predators. They do nothing to alter their territorial behaviour. Lowering the temperature will simply make the fish more prone to disease: cichlids like warm water. You're just in the classic situation: territorial male cichlids do not tolerate tankmates they consider threats. There's no obvious solution beyond re-homing some of the fish if you find the aggressive male is stressing or damaging its tankmates. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Cichlid Fight 11/28/07
Neale, Thanks for your quick respond. I do understand that nothing much I can do. But I think my larger parrot behavior little weird. He never bothers smaller parrot. I'd say it is backwards. My small parrot hiding all day in the cave and bites big one when he comes to close to him. Big parrot very loyal to small parrot and never answer back But he hates my Severums, especially smaller one. I love my Severums, but I don't want to get rid of my parrots because they are my first cichlids. I think I 'd leave everything the way how it is now. Thank you again, Mark <Hello Mark. Male territorial cichlids are most aggressive towards other cichlids they view as potential threats. If the smaller Parrot is a female, it is entirely likely the larger Parrot will tolerate her. But the Severums are not potential mates, so will be viewed different. The major problem with Parrots is they are hybrids. Hybrid fish are EXTREMELY unpredictable in terms of behaviour. So it's impossible to say exactly how things will turn out. The average Blood Parrot is too scrawny to win in a fight against a full-grown territory-holding Severum, but Severums aren't all that aggressive outside of breeding, and are easily bullied by smaller, more snappy fish. As you say, one option is to wait and see what happens. But if you find split fins and scratch-marks on the jaws, that means there's fighting, and you *will* have to separate them. Anything else will be unfair. Cheers, Neale.>

Cichlids fight, neotropicals   11/1/07 Hi crew, I have 55 g tank with 5 fish in it: 2 parrots (about 4 in and 2 in), 2 Severums (about 3 in and 2.5 in) and Pleco (about 4 in). My smaller parrot and smaller Severum are fighting all the time. So far no damage. <Yet. Your specimens are mere babies.> Should I worry what's going to happen in future? <Yes. Parrot Cichlids are "crippled" thanks to the way they have been bred, and come off worse in fights with stronger, more belligerent cichlid species. Severums tend to be fairly mild, and these fish might settle down. But a Severum is a big, strong fish and when aroused can be quite formidable. So definitely keep an eye on things.> Is my tank overstocked? <Technically, no, it's fine. But the problem with cichlids is that a territorial male cichlid of really anything other than a dwarf variety will view a 55 gallon tank as its home. In the wild, something like a Severum will be holding a patch of space about 1 metre in diameter. Only the largest home aquaria provide that sort of space, so in most cases we are imposing on the tolerance of the territory-holding cichlid. Sometimes that works, and sometimes it doesn't. A lot of it comes down to the personality of the fish involved, but things like line-of-sight and decoration matter too. A tank with a lot of hiding places and plastic plants to obscure the vision of each fish will be quieter than an open tank where all the fish can see each other all the time.> Any suggestion? <For now, keep an eye on things. Use plastic plants, flower pots, rocky caves, bogwood, etc to create a complex environment that allows each fish to define its territory without being on top of another fish. Look out for early signs of serious aggression: missing scales, torn fins, scratches on the mouth from wrestling. One other thing is food: go easy on the live food, and don't use feeder fish (if you use them at all). There's some anecdotal evidence that live foods (especially feeder fish) seem to bring out latent aggression more than things like pellets and vegetable foods. Possibly an abundance of live food in the wild is the trigger for the start of the breeding season, so by providing too-rich a diet in the aquarium we are telling the male fish to become more territorial.> Thank you for your help. Mark <Good luck, Neale>

Parrot fish with Mormyrus tapirus (freshwater African dolphin) 01/08/2008 hi- I needed some advice on compatibility between the fish in my tank. <Ah, these questions always bring up a question of my own: Did you research the fish BEFORE buying them? Investing in a good aquarium book is one of the best things you can do.> I started up a 55 gallon tank about 6 weeks ago. once the tank was set up, I added three parrot fish. A week later, I added two dwarf Gouramis. <Already bad. Parrot Cichlids are nasty-tempered Central American hybrid cichlids; Dwarf Gouramis are small, shy labyrinth fish that are easily bullied and extremely likely to die anyway because of Dwarf Gourami Disease.> Then, a week later, I added a black ghost fish and a Mormyrid (freshwater African dolphin). <African Dolphins can be a variety of things, but typically Mormyrus spp. Do bear in mind these fish are territorial (in aquaria at least), very difficult to feed, and a major challenge for even the most experienced aquarist. Some get extremely large. Do read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/mormyrids.htm and linked articles. Black Ghost Knifefish, Apteronotus spp., are only marginally easier to keep but still get large and remain a major challenge for anyone. Do see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/bgkfaqs.htm for more.> The pet store, (The owner of which gave me advice on all the fish,) whom I had bought all these fish from, did not at any time that I would need to buy different food for some of the fish. <Uh-oh.> This seemed odd to me, so I went online about a week after buying the dolphin fish and black ghost and read that the dolphin needs meaty, preferably live food. <And neither can really be kept together. They are both territorial, electrogenic fish that will view each other as, at the very least, an annoyance. So unless your tank is in the 1000s of gallons, these are fish best kept apart.> He also looked thin to me. In a panic, I went out and bought some frozen bloodworms. I have been feeding them to him for the last four nights. My concern is that he may not be eating enough. <With Mormyridae for certain, and Knifefish ideally you MUST quarantine new stock separately. Once feeding and tame, then move them to the show tank.> The parrot fish, from what I can see, seem to bully him and he is very shy. <Cichlids are incompatible with Mormyrids really; at least, big cichlids are. Once settled in and feeding, you can keep Dwarf Cichlids with Mormyrids easily enough.> I think they may be eating the food, despite the fact that I feed him in the pitch dark. <Both these fish prefer the darkness. They forage at night, partly by smell, and partly using electrical fields a bit like RADAR.> I should add that I have two hiding spots in the tank: one ghost tube, that is not in use as the black ghost fish has taken up residence in the sunken ship. I plan on buying a cave for the dolphin fish but are my attempts in vain? <Define "vain". If cared for properly these fish can do well, but you really do have to work hard at this. If you can't be bothered, and treat it like a Plec or Guppy, it'll die, sooner rather than later.> Are the parrot fish too much for him? <Yes.> Can this be remedied with more hiding spots? <Possibly, but don't bank on it. Depends on the size of the tank. In a 200 gallon tank with tonnes of caves (i.e., rocks everywhere, so the bottom of the tank is a maze of hiding places) the Cichlids might simply not be able to see or attack the Knifefish or the Mormyrid. But anything less that this is probably a waste of time.> I also keep the curtains drawn during the day as I know the BGK and DF prefer this. <They actually don't care all that much, having pretty poor eyesight. What they want is a tank with lots of 3-D hiding places and lots of plants as well (plastic are fine). Mormyrids live along rocky reefs and among the vegetation in rivers and lakes; Black Ghosts live in deep water at the bottom of major river systems among the rocks and dead wood. Neither spends much time in the open, at least, not by day.> Thanks Micaela <Hope this helps! Neale.>

Re: parrot fish with Mormyrus tapirus (freshwater African dolphin) 1/9/08 thank you for your response. I know now better than to simply ask a fish store owner about compatibility, but to do the research myself. I will be returning the dolphin fish to the store. <Sounds the best plan of action. Good luck, Neale.>

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