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FAQs on Parrot, Jelly-Bean... Cichlids 1

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 2, & Parrot Cichlid Identification, Parrot Cichlid Behavior, Parrot Cichlid Compatibility, 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 DiseaseCichlid Reproduction,

Momma, I'm a deformed mutant!

One blood parrot in 53 gallon basement tank -Parrot Cichlid Info 11/6/08 I was wondering if blood parrots do okay by themselves and whether or not if a blood parrot could outgrow a 53 gallon tank.? < A single parrot cichlid would be fine in a tank of that size.> Would keeping two of them stunt their growth? < Two would be OK as long as you watch for excessive nitrates and keep up on your water changes.> Is it better to keep just 1 in a 53 as a single specimen?. <If you keep just one then it cannot get beat up or harassed by the other.> Do they need more then 1 to feel happy? < They will start to respond more to the activities outside the tank and become more personable to people in the room.> How big can these guys get? I heard anywhere from 8 to 12, inches. < Males will get larger that females but that size range is about right.> What would be an ideal tank setup for this fish? PH, water temp etc.? < They prefer clean warm water and are not to picky about pH as long as it is not too far from 7.> I have a sand substrate in place right now, and I want to research all about this/or any other type of fish I get. <Sand will be fine as long as it is not abrasive. Some sand like sand blasting sand is crushed and is very angular. As the fish moves the sand around it damages the tissues in and around the mouth. Look for a substrate that is well rounded .> How often and how much water should be changed per week? < Check the nitrates and keep them under 20 ppm with water changes.-Chuck> Thanks

Re: One blood parrot in 53 gallon basement tank. 11/09/08 Parrot Cichlid Set Up II Thank you. The tank dimensions are 3 feet long, 20 inches high and 15 inches wide. Is it possible the one fish could outgrow this setup? <Over time you parrot cichlid may out grow this set up especially if it is a male. A female may get up to 8 inches or so.> What foods do Blood Parrots need/like? <I would go with a high quality pellet food like Spectrum or Ultracolor.  Occasional earthworms and ZooMed canned shrimp make an excellent nutritious treat.> What would be a good filtration system and what temp do I keep the water at? < The best filtration system is one that you find the easiest to maintain.  I would recommend a outside power filter like a Marineland Emperor with a Bio-wheel attachment. I would recommend keeping the water temp up around the upper to mid 70's F. Also how long do they live? < The parrot cichlid is a recent "designer" fish with not much published data on longevity. Based on the true species that this fish was derived from I would assume that this fish could live up to 20 years with a little luck.-Chuck>

Red Parrot 'swim bladder' disease 4/9/08 Help <Okay> 2 years ago we inherited a small 50 litre tank <Some teen net gallons...> with a basic filter and 2 red parrots and 2 Plecs <... all need more room than this> which our friends have had for years with very few problems. After a year of huge growth they soon out-grew their tank so we purchased a much larger 240 litre tank with a 'proper' external filter and medium which they seemed to prefer and more recently added another 2 red parrots and a Gold Severum <Ahh!> 2 months later we noticed smaller of the original red parrots (around 6" in length) became unstable and having read up on the 'swim bladder' condition we gave her a course of treatment. <Details please. What sort of treatment?> This seemed to work but after another couple of weeks the same thing was happening again. Since then we have treated the water 3 times and done countless extra water changes and tested the water every few days but to no avail. The red parrot now spends most of her time floating upside-down, is always last to the food at feeding times and constantly struggles to maintain her balance but we seem to have tried every suggestion given to us Do you have any ideas on what else we can try as we sometimes feel that our only option would be to put her out of her misery but then can't bring ourselves to do it Mark & Sam Hewson <Mmm, well... Parrots, being neotropical crosses as they are, do have a tendency to have orientation issues... Particularly if raised on too-fatty foods, w/ insufficient exercise/room... Do please read here re: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/gldfshmalnut.htm Though for goldfish... this same "condition/syndrome" has the same etiology and general lack of cure for Parrots. Bob Fenner>

Re: Red Parrot 'swim bladder' disease -04/11/08 Hi Bob <Mark and Sam> Many thanks for getting back to us, we do appreciate it <Welcome> We are certainly going to try putting some 'real' plants in the tank - something we were told not to do since the fish will just destroy them but if it helps with their health then we don't mind <There are some simple, tough... and inexpensive "bunch plants" (listed on WWM) that are not very palatable, that will "do" all the things you're looking for... See here re: http://wetwebmedia.com/PlantedTksSubWebIndex/AquariumGardenSubWebIndex.html for Coontail/Hornwort, Elodea/Anacharis...> We will also try the peas, etc and I had read on your website that other people with similar problems had found that lowering the water temperature slightly can sometimes help - this is something I did the other evening after I e-mailed you and over the past 2 days she seems to be moving around a lot better, albeit upside down, but she has stopped spending so much time floating at the top of the tank <Ah, good> The treatment that we used for the suspected swim bladder problems was Interpet's own swim bladder treatment which we tried 3 times with no success as well as adding Aquilibrium Salt at the times of treatment and at every water change as a general tonic <... not a fan of these cathartics> I will keep you posted as to what happens with 'Perky' and let you know if she gets any 'Perkier' Mark & Sam Hewson <Thank you, BobF>

Re: Red Parrot 'swim bladder' disease  4/17/08 Hi Bob <Hewsons!> With reference to our last e-mail about 'Perky' our upside-down Red Parrot fish, despite seeming to be getting better she died the very next day after the e-mail but we have carried on feeding the fish a variety of different foods, flake, bloodworm and the veggies and they seem to be ok Will check out the website for the real plants Many thanks for all your help Mark & Sam Hewson <Thank you for this update. BobF>

Parrotfish Dying? Env., thermal dis.  -- 02/07/08 Please help me to figure out whether or not I need to put this incredible, tough little fish to "sleep" or not........ <Okay> I've had this parrotfish, Marvel Ann, for over ten years now. <This is a good long while for this neotropical cichlid cross...> She has grown over five times her original length and is now about eight inches from nose to tail. She's always been a feisty, funny fish and for anyone who hasn't ever had a fish who rushes to the nearest corner of the tank to greet you when you come in, I hope you one day experience that! This little girl has been one of the most personality-plus animals I've ever seen and I'm afraid I'm going to have to euthanize her out of compassion for her.............. I moved recently from a rental situation in which I was living in a friend's "mother-in-law" suite in the back of his house to my own, new house. My friend/landlord offered to feed Marvel Ann for me while I was in the process of getting the new house painted and ready to bring the tank over and situation and I was over at the old place about once or twice a week for the last month to visit and remind Marvel Ann that she wasn't being orphaned! I arrived last night at the old apartment and found that the heater in the tank was HOT...the tank thermometer was registering about 93 degrees!!! It looked like the heater had malfunctioned and just didn't turn off when it hit the 80 degree "set" I'd had it on; the holders that keep it attached to the inside of the tank had actually cracked and broken!!! My baby was and is now swimming almost exclusively upside-down. She is unable to maintain an upright position to swim, though God knows she seems to be staying energetic enough that she keeps trying.... she'll swim along (upside down) and then go nose-to-gravel and sort of "flip" over, only to float back to the upside-down position. I totally freaked. I don't know how bad this is and I don't know if I'm being cruel to not euthanize her!!! <I would not give up hope here> I know that my landlord has been feeding her (frozen bloodworm "gumdrops"...4 per day) as I'd always done, so malnutrition isn't the problem, and I brought a sample of the tank water to the local PetSmart and they said everything looked fine; Ph was a little low but that was all; no nitrate/nitrite/ammonia levels to worry about. I put plastic bags with ice cubes in the tank and cooled the water back down and got another heater ASAP (like an hour after I found the temperature so high!) but I'm terrified that she's been "cooking" over some indefinite amount of time and that she's either in "pain" (how do I find this out?) or that her internal organs are now non-functional...I can't imagine what to do or how to remedy this.....please! HELP! Two different aquarium stores have told me that they doubt she's going to "make it" and when I asked if I needed to euthanize her, they said yes, I probably would need to. <I disagree> One said that the most painless way was to put her in a bag of tank water and put the bag in the refrigerator and she'd "drop off" like she was falling asleep. The other said to put her in a bag of tank water that had a LOT of baking soda in it. They said this will instantly kill the fish. <Mmm, no... not instant> I am heartbroken. This fish has been with me for so long and responds to "contact" better than some peoples' cats! I don't want to lose her, but I don't want her to suffer, either. I can't imagine whether this swimming upside-down thing is as exhaustive as it looks or if it's just situation-normal-all-f'd-up (but upside down!)...I put some bloodworm mix in a turkey baster and she ate when I put that in the water up to her mouth, but I'm pretty frantic right now.....NO idea what direction to turn next!!!! <Calm yourself!> Thank you, for your help and for understanding that this isn't "just" a fish, at least not to me. It's a life, one that's touched mine, and I want the most comfortable and humane living and/or dying circumstances for her, just as I would want for myself. Thank you for helping me figure out what that needs to be!!! Monica in Dallas, Texas (United States) <I would try to be patient here... this fish, situation may well resolve itself. There are many instances of such spontaneous remission, following such heat exposure. I urge patience. IF you find that you (not the fish) cannot withstand such waiting, please read here re proper euthanization: http://wetwebmedia.com/euthanasiafaqs.htm Bob Fenner>

Re: Parrotfish Dying?   2/8/08 Bob! <Monica> Thank you so much for this email. I have been unsure what to do (as is obvious!) and Marvel Ann is still swimming upside down, but she "rests" most of the time in the corner of her tank until she senses movement close to the tank. <Good> Then she gets excited and wriggles her way up to where that activity is (usually it's me just approaching the tank!) and waits, fins frantically keeping her "up", while I put my face or my hand next to her on the other side of the glass. She responds when I "kiss" the tank by coming up and putting her funny little fish lips right on the other side! I don't know, maybe other people have fallen in love with their fish, too, but I've had many, many pet friends along the way (I'm 48, for God's sake, I know this isn't typical adult behavior and I really don't give a happy damn!) and this little fish has given me more joy than a lot of people's precious human kids seem to!!! <I am older... and feel the same> I talked to a vet here who said to feed her just frozen peas; that if there was an infection that had caused the swim bladder to not function properly then the peas would help that out, but she's spitting the peas out (OK, she may be more like a human kid than I'd realized!) and mashing them up yields a lumpy sort of paste that she doesn't seem to take in, either..... <Patience...> so I'm back to giving her bloodworms from a turkey baster. I just don't know how much is getting in or "through" her. I'm not seeing anything coming out, I guess I should say. Is that something to be worried about? <Not at present. This fish can likely "go w/o" food for weeks...> I can't say as I've spent any time before observing her elimination functions and now I don't know what's "normal" to see and what's not. I don't want her to be hungry and I don't want her to be getting force-fed until she pops, either! This is SO unnerving. People are saying to wait and one person said she's seen a restaurant with a tank full of parrotfish where one fish has swum upside-down for years. If Marvel Ann were swimming a lot, upside down or otherwise, I'd be more encouraged, but she's only swimming much when (as I say) she sees me approaching and even then when she stops, she just kind of sinks down to the bottom and bumps her nose and eyes, etc..... I have no idea how much this hurts her, if at all. More than anything I don't want her to be hurting or exhausted. <Not to worry> I know this is near to impossible to do anything about, but thank you for listening, Bob, and for understanding how much these little guys can come to mean to people. I do (really!) have friends on two legs that I love greatly, too, but........there's just something about having to make yourself learn to understand these non-verbal (though not always non-noisy!), communicative critters that softens the heart and makes (I think) us more human. I am calming myself, as you said. Thanks for caring about unknown people and critters and for helping us out. Take care and have a good day, Monica <And you. Bob Fenner>

Blood Parrot Behavior    01/13/2008 I am so glad to finally have found somewhere I can actually ask a question. I have had a blood parrot before and he always used to hide a lot , he was in a 30 gallon tank, and I gave him to a friend who kept him in a 20 gallon and he became much more open and showy over time. Now I have just gotten another tank, a 20 gallon this time, and bought 1 blood parrot, 2 black convicts, and a pictus catfish. At first the parrot and 2 convicts would just hide all the time or run if anyone came in sight, so I got one more parrot and for a few days everyone seemed to be happy except for a little territorial disputes between parrots. <Mmm, will become worse with time... these fishes need more room than this... at least twice> The original had picked his/her spot and didn't let the new one near it. Well, now for at least 2 days or so, the "new guy" has been either hiding in a plant kinda 'hanging' there, or lying on the bottom sometimes flat on it's side. I have no idea why and I am a little worried. I don't know the gender of either of these. Also one of the convicts hides a whole lot , while the other seems to be fine. The hider will only dart out and grab food quickly while the other goes right out for it. The blood parrot was eating fine and pretty active but now didn't even see it eat today. Also , this may be totally unrelated but the first parrot and the outgoing convict seem to hang out a bit and will allow each other in their "spaces" and of course the catfish goes everywhere he wants and ignores the others protests if they put up any. Could it be that the convict and parrot are both just the dominant and the other 2 are hiding until they are more secure? <No room/space to do this> Also I do not know what to do the ph or temp at or what to add to the water to get it right. <? Then read... on WWM, books re> My home water system has a Culligan water softener on it, will this be good for them?? <Mmm, maybe not... might be introducing a good deal of salt, or sodium... perhaps better to use some outside (the house) as in the garden tap... and warm this up with some of the inside/treated water... to dilute the salt artifact> I really appreciate any help you can give me as I have been searching since I got these fish to find out what to keep the water at , etc. Thank you SO much , Jolene <See Fishbase.org... and back to WWM for how to modify, test your water. Do write back if you have difficulty accessing this info. Bob Fenner>

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.>

Missing scales and hurting front fin -12/14/07 Hi to all, Your website is the most informative website on fish that I have come across so far. I went through your fresh water disease chart and tried to diagnose what it happening with our fish but I cant find anything that fully matches what's happening. I have attached the best picture I could get of the fish. <A very nice pic> I know that you are not fond of parrotfish, but the ones that we have we rescued from my cousin without really knowing about the fish itself. Anyways, our largest parrot that we have had for a year has in the last three days been losing it's scales around it's gills and its not using it's left front fin and the fin has a whitish look to the base of it (lymph?) <Mmm, no> His gills seem to be curling backwards towards it mouth a little and the fin that he is not using is becoming frayed. Also its going lighter colored in some areas, kind of randomly on the fish. The spots in the picture are air bubbles that seem to be attaching themselves to him. At the beginning we thought that it was ick because we thought that we saw a few little white spots on the other parrots but those spots are gone and everyone else in the tank seems fine. Its a 72gal sumped to a extra 20 gal. below. The water is meticulously tested and it has been up and running for a year. It has 2 404 Fluvals w/o carbon, but with filter media and bioballs in them. There are 3 parrots 2x2.5' 1x4', 5 albino Cory cats, 2 Plecos, 1 striped cat, 5 upside down cats, and 6 little tetras. <Surprised these haven't been consumed> The LFS that we went to suggested to treat the tank with Coppersafe thinking it was ick, <No, I would NOT do this> but it's getting worse and doesn't seem to sound like true ick. The temperature is 79, the PH is 7.2 and the nitrates, nitrites and ammonia all come back low to none. The parrots get fed, Spirulina algae flake and blood parrot pellets and blood worms, we mix up what they get fed so they get a few variations. They get fed every second day. Please let us know what to do with our parrot, he's so friendly he's like a dog in the tank and I would be very upset if we cant get him to be better. Thanks for all your help! Carly <Is strange... but this one fish does appear to be suffering from a "bacterial" complaint... as if it were badly damaged... like caught, dropped on the floor... Was this fish recently handled, netted? And with the other fishes not suffering similar complaint... I would just do my/your best to maintain good water quality here... and hope for the best. Remedies will likely do more harm to the system, livestock en toto, than good. IF you have/had another system, I might attempt a therapy with sulfa drugs and elevated temperature, but would NOT do this in your main display. Bob Fenner>

Re: missing scales and hurting front fin -12/14/07 Thanks for your time, he hasn't been handled at all since he moved into the tank a year ago. We did remove the plant that the Plecos and catfish use to hide in last weekend it wasn't doing so well and they have taken over the parrot's cave now. Is there a possibility that they have been attaching to him and eating his slime coat, causing a infection? <Not likely the "Pleco"... but what is the other catfish, specifically?> I have heard of this happening but I haven't seen this behaviour in our tank, at least with the lights on and out in the open. It is on both sides of him in the same place though, but his left side is definitely worse and involves his front fin. His tummy seems to be sloughing off what looks like peeling dry skin. (I only observed this after we trapped him and separated him in the tank.) <I am going to semi-reverse myself, and urge you to treat this Parrot... in another established setting... at higher temperature (the low to mid 80's F) and with a Furan compound. Perhaps Nitrofurazone... Please see WWM re cautionary remarks, instructions for use. BobF>

Re: missing scales and hurting front fin, Parrot   12/18/07 Hi Bob F, Sorry about the repetitive email but every time I come home the poor guy looks worse. The cat fish are the upside down catfish (I don't know if that's their technical name) and albino Cory cats. <This Synodontis and the Corydoras catfishes are not provocateurs here> Please see the new attached picture, the shedding skin seems to be heading down his back. My husband treated the main tank (AHH) with erythromycin while I was at work, which I didn't know he was doing, will that be as effective as your suggestion of Nitrofurazone or should we change to that? <I would change> and is it okay to after we already added the EM? <I would do water changes, allow some time to cycle out, use activated carbon in your filter flow path...> Thank you for all your helpful advice, sorry it didn't get to me before I got home. Thanks Carly <Please see/read on WWM re antibiotic/antimicrobial use. BobF>

Re: missing scales and hurting front fin  12/19/07 Bob, Unfortunately we had to put him down on Saturday, it got really aggressively worse and he wasn't able to stay under water without lying on his side and gasping :( Thanks for all your help anyways! Carly <Thank you for this follow up Carly. Bob Fenner>

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 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>

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>

I have a parrot approx 5-6 inches in length - about 18 mths old Need More Info  5/11/07 <Hi, Jeni/Pufferpunk here> I have a parrot approx 5-6 inches in length - about 18 mths old <Freshwater, marine or avian?>    He started with bubble fuzz on the body and has swollen red gills and sitting on the bottom not eating and his mouth is not open much having trouble breathing.  The local pet store gave me tetracycline and it seems to be getting worse - any ideas? <Please post water parameters: ammonia, nitrites, nitrate, pH.  What is your water change schedule (how often, how much)?  How large is the tank/fish?  Any tank mates?  There is no way we can help you without this info.  Most problems are due to poor water conditions.  Healthy tank=healthy fish.  ~PP>

Parrot Cichlids With Rough Scales   5/10/07 Hi, Please help if you can. I have a 7 blood parrot fishes, and have included photographs. Please do not mind the dirty glass.. :-) But I am currently having a slight issue that I hope you can help me answer. I'm looking at the scales of my fish, and am trying to remember if they had smoother scales before.  I have had a run in with dropsy in my other tanks here about a year ago, and unfortunately, lost  a few dozen guppies and Betta fish. And noticeably, they all ended up "pine coning" , and hope that this is not the case for my much more larger and treasured fish. But nevertheless, here is my dilemma, and was wondering if you guys can see if theses scales look a bit off, for blood parrot fishes, and if you have any advice I can use to help save them if they are indeed, not right.. Any help, so much appreciated. Thanks Kee. < I looked at your photos carefully and could not tell if the scales were any rougher than on a standard parrot cichlid. Usually with bloat or dropsy the fish stop eating and the stomach extends. If your fish are eating normally then I think they probably fine.-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>

Parrots fighting  4/14/07 Hey I just noticed that my two blood parrots are fighting.  They are locking lips and pulling apart, there's not really any wound inflicted but I was wondering if this is normal for parrots, or if I should be concerned.  thanks guys your a big help! <Is normal cichlid behavior... testing each other out... Not a problem unless it leads to damage... If there's room for all here, adequate feeding, good water quality... Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/neotropcichbehfaqs.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Parrot Cichlid Availability    1/21/07 I was in Singapore over the holidays and I had a look at a few aquarium shops. I was amazed by these hybrid fish called red parrots.  I saw a 12" specimen in the canal at the Chinese gardens which seemed to be surviving in semi-natural conditions, I thought they wouldn't be able to cope outside of an aquarium. They are kind of cute in am ugly and deformed kind of way but I have never seen them for sale in Australia, are they only available in S-E Asia? They were fairly cheap there, S$3 for a 10cm fish. I think I'll stick to marines but I'm definitely intrigued by parrots even though I know they're wrong. < Parrot cichlids are usually available all over the world. I know they are found all over the U.S. and in Europe. Australia has some very strict laws concerning importation of animals. They are afraid that exotics will get turned loose and outcompete the native fauna. The parrot cichlid is actually a cross between three different species of cichlid. the parrot cichlid itself would have a very difficult time surviving in the wild. But if it ever reverted back to one of its original forms then there could be real trouble. Check with a local aquarium shop for availability.-Chuck> Fresh Water filtration, HLLE questions   1/2/07 Hi Folks. <<Hello, Jim, and Happy New Year. Tom here.>> I have two large Blood Red Parrot Fish in a 55 gallon tank and am wondering what I can do to remove dissolved waste from the water like my Berlin airlift skimmer does for my 55 saltwater tank. The other day I noticed algae growth in the fresh water tank and cleaned out the tank.  Currently I am using two large filters on this tank.  One is a Bio wheel filter (pinquin <<Penguin>> I think)  and the other is an Aqua Clear 500. My question is what can I do to lower the algae growth and improve the over all water conditions and prevent  hole in the head worms from ever showing up? <<As with any 'problem', Jim, eliminating the root cause is key to success. In your case, as you most likely realize, excess nitrates and phosphates 'feed' the algae but lighting is, of course, another major consideration. In a great many cases, simply reducing light levels or the duration of lighting exposure can greatly reduce algae build-up in the tank. Ensuring that the aquarium isn't exposed to natural sunlight should go without saying. As for overall water conditions, vacuuming the substrate deeply in conjunction with regular water changes is an absolute must. (When I suggest 'deeply' vacuuming the substrate, I mean to the bottom of the tank.) Now, by way of explanation, Hole-in-the-Head disease (HITH) is the degeneration of the sensory organs in the head and/or lateral lines of the fish (you'll also see reference to HLLE which is Head-and-Lateral-Line-Erosion). Even though the disease has been arguably tied to high nitrates (>40 ppm)/poor water conditions, there aren't any 'worms' involved. In reality, improper diet and lack of appropriate vitamins/minerals are the commonly-held culprits of this illness. In a nutshell, regular water changes and substrate cleaning to keep your fish stress-free along with a varied, high-quality diet will all but guarantee that your Cichlids will never suffer from HITH/HLLE.>> Would a UV light help?    <<Not worth the money, in my opinion, Jim. You have little to no-cost options available to you -- might even save some money if you reduce lighting -- that make a UV sterilizer unnecessary. If, on the other hand, you have money burning a hole in your wallet and you find a unit suited exactly to your tank, water conditions, etc., it can help in reducing the 'suspended' algae and microorganisms in the water. Worthless for anything that  doesn't make it to the contact chamber, however.>> What about a canister filter with a built in UV?      <<A better option but you've plenty of filtration now and, again, there are more cost-effective options to exercise here.>> Would adding sand and live plants help? <<Now we're on  to something. The sand, in itself, isn't really necessary but the plants would be an excellent consideration if your Parrotfish will leave them be. Certainly a natural and inexpensive way to go if you're looking for something to out-compete the algae for nutrients. I wouldn't go crazy with this without a little experimentation to see if your fish will keep from tearing them up, though.>> Jim <<Well, now you've got my two-cents-worth, Jim. Hopefully, I've given you something to work with. Good luck with your tank. Tom>>

Conscientious Aquarist Magazine, & Cichlid input   8/21/06 Hi Mr. Fenner, <Denise> I  am a member of SWAM, Salt Water Addicts of Maine.  I have  a member asking if this magazine is available in print. <Mmm, nope> If so, how can our club apply for a subscription? <Just link to us/it> Also is there  a program where our club will receive a portion of the subscription funds? <Heeee! Not as yet> I have another question you may be able to help me with, or if not perhaps direct me to someone else.... I am hoping to get the Asian Parrot Cichlid, aka the Jelly Bean Cichlid added to the list of legal fish to import into our state..... <Didn't realize parts of the country had fallen to this depth... there are still only "dirty lists" excluding aquatic species in most of the U.S.> unfortunately it does not have a scientific name so the state will not consider it.... How does a Latin or scientific name get  labeled to a fish? <Mmm, please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/taxlfecma.htm>   I never really thought about it, just thought someone discovered a SPS and then created a name...I am thinking there may be more to it than that...Can you make some suggestions? <Yes... please write the American Cichlid Association re...> Also would you know of anyone who has completed any type of research on this fish?  Habitat, diseases, breeding or any other factors that may be pertinent for the states review process? <Time to go/see at the library: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/litsrchart.htm> Regards and Thanks! Denise <Bob Fenner> Breeding Parrot Cichlids  6/30/06 Hello, First, I would like to thank you so much for such an amazing plethora of information.  The information on your website has helped many of my fish. < Glad to hear you have found it useful.> I scan through your site usually a few times a week, but, unfortunately, I couldn't find the answers/guidance to my situation.  Sorry to be a bother, but could someone help me directly? < That is what we are here for.> In a 55 gallon aquarium (temp 79.1 F; ammonia 0, nitrates 0, nitrites 5-6ppm, pH 7.1) there are two Pink Kissing Gouramis and two Opaline Gouramis, all of which I bought about eight months ago.  This tank was set up for Gouramis; I never planned on adding more fish to it.  But, about two month ago, I felt sorry for and adopted two Parrot Cichlids.   I know they should not be living together, but the Parrots were in desperate need of help and time was an issue.  A future 75 gallon Parrot only home has been cycling for about two weeks. Luckily, everyone has gotten along fine until today. I got home from work about an hour ago, and began my usual routine of feeding everyone (3 cats and 4 tanks of fish, in case you're curious ^_^ ). When I got to the Gourami/Cichlid tank, I noticed a scattering of white-clear balls, each about the size of a ballpoint pen tip.  I assume these are eggs?  (Sorry, I would attach a picture but I don't know how to make it into a smaller file.) Assuming these are eggs, a few questions. 1.  Should I still feed as usual?  (Thursdays are frozen bloodworms with blanched spinach days.  They also eat Aquarian Tropical Flakes, Brine Shrimp Flakes, Hikari Cichlid pellets, Daphnia, and a variety of frozen prepared foods.  Also Algae Flakes and blanched veggies for the Kissers.) < If you don't feed the fish then they will get hungry and eat the eggs. If you wish to save them then feed the fish.> 2.  At first I wondered whose eggs they were.  Sorry if this is a stupid question, but they are Parrot eggs, right? < The kissing Gourami's eggs float on the surface. The Opaline Gourami lays their eggs in a bubble nest. The parrot cichlids lays adhesive eggs on a hard surface.> The Parrots are hovering over the eggs, and for the first time ever being mean (one Opaline is missing most of one antenna, and both Cichlids are darting at any fish who get too near their driftwood - the nest is in front of it).  Also for the first time, they did not frantically zoom into hiding when I approached their tank, or even when I knelt to the gravel level.  Also, a few days ago the more dominant Parrot was digging around in the gravel; s/he made a little 4" diameter wide and maybe 1/2" deep dip which now holds the eggs.  Also, both were, for about 30 minutes, staying over the nest with their foreheads together (didn't seem to be biting, just maybe pushing?). 3.  Thursdays are also the day that I change 50% of the water and vacuum the gravel.  This should wait? < Go ahead and change the water. Just keep the gravel vacuum away from the eggs of the parents will push it away.> 4. I want to raise the fry if possible, which makes me think of many more questions.  The parrots are about the same size, 3 or 4 inches.  The dominant has a peach coloured (same as flesh) protrusion about 1/3 inch near the anus that I have never noticed before.  Is this a sex organ? < Yes.> Is it possible that both are female, or would a female lay eggs only when mated with a male? < Sometimes females will lay eggs without a male being present.> If only when with a male, then are the eggs already, or will they be, fertilized? < You need to get a male to have fertilized eggs.> I read on your site that they will hatch after about three days at 80 degrees.  Should I raise the temperature? < 79 is close enough.> Are Parrots good parents, or should they or the eggs/fry be removed? < First time parents are usually inexperienced and are prone to make mistakes. Sometimes that will eat the eggs. I would let the parents try and raise this batch of eggs and see how they do. If things don't work out then they will usually breed again in a couple of weeks and you can take the eggs away then.> 5.  I have a cycled and fake-planted 20 gallon with six female Bettas; Should the Gouramis be moved there temporarily, for either their own safety or that of the babies? < They will eat the eggs and the babies.> I also have a 5 gallon Eclipse cycled and fishless as a QT/hospital tank that could temporarily house someone if necessary.... < Good place to start, but a thousand babies will need to be moved quickly after they become free swimming.> Again, I am very sorry for so many questions, but the only fry with which I have experience are Betta, Swordtail, and Guppy.  (Random thought - Is there a way to get livebearers to stop having babies?) \ < Separate the sexes. After awhile they will stop.> Anyway, believe it or not, I have researched, apparently just not efficiently.  Thank you so very much for taking the time and effort to help; I greatly appreciate it. Lisa < Welcome to the world of cichlids.-Chuck>

Re: Breeding Parrot Cichlids. Cichlid Parents Abandoned Nest Hi Chuck, Thanks so much for your kind and prompt advice. Unfortunately, the cichlids abandoned their nest early this morning, and the piggy pink kissers quickly moved in to eat, or rather inhale, the eggs.  Many had a white mold/fungus on them anyway, so they probably weren't fertilized, right? < If the eggs did not hatch after three days then they probably were infertile.> For whatever reason, during my previous six years of fishkeeping cichlids never interested me.  But now I'm learning how amazing the world of cichlids really is.  Adopting these two adorable Parrots (or Jellybeans?) is probably just the beginning. Again, thank you so very much. Best regards, Alisa PS - As usual, I mixed up the nitrites and nitrates in the previous email.  Opps. < Watch out. You will get hooked on cichlids like I did almost 40 years ago and not look back.-Chuck>

Damaged Parrot Cichlid  - 04/19/2006 I have 3 medium sized parrots and 5 silver dollars in a 26 gallon tank.  My smallest parrot managed to wedge himself into a hole in a rock, and it took some effort to work him back out - his face and side are fairly scraped up, and he had to be handled a bit more than I'm comfortable with.  Now he can't seem to get upright, and is stuck upside down.  The other two parrots keep pushing him toward the top of the tank, but he ends up back at the bottom, upside down.  He is working his gills, fins and tail, but that doesn't seem to be doing much.  I'm in the middle of treating the tank for slime - using Furazone-light - but I don't think that would affect much.  I did a 30% water change 2 days ago.  The tank is a bit acidic at 6.0, nitrites are 0, nitrates are less than 20 ppm, and ammonia is less than 0.25 ppm, and I keep the temp at 82 degrees.  I'm afraid I may have damaged his swim bladder while rescuing him.  I'm not sure what   I should do at this point - any ideas? Deb Jones <Your fish could have been damaged during the initial trauma or has suffered a secondary bacterial infection. Not much we can do with the initial trauma. Surface wounds can be treated quickly with MelaFix. If any secondary bacterial infections or fungus appear then you have already treated with Nitrofurazone. Internal bacterial infection can be treated with Metronidazole. Do a 50% water change, clean the filter and vacuum the gravel. Treat as directed on the package.-Chuck>

Parrot Cichlids With Hole-In-The-Head - 2/28/2006 HELP. About two months ago My 2 parrots who are around 2.5 years old - we had them from babies, started to develop fungus type 'sores' on their head (no where else, and none of my other Cichlids have this problem) then it disappeared only to return again and now I need help. I treated them for Velvet, Fungus, Hole in the head etc., to no avail. Although my water qualities etc., were fine, water temp was tried at between 24-28 (this was double checked by Maidenhead Aquatics) I changed to the fish shops own water in the hope it would make a difference - it didn't. I have not added any new fish, gravel, plants etc., Food is still the same dried in morning and frozen in evening (Krill, bloodworms, Mysis, Green food, Artemia etc). I do a water change every week, (sucking up all pop from gravel in process) I have tried to do it daily, every other day, weekly and even longer - no difference. The last month 'his' sore has got bigger and does not seem to be responding to anything. He is eating well and his stools are normal. For the last month, 'he' has started to hang round the top of the tank as if trying to get more oxygen, rapid gill movement (compared to the other parrot) and generally looking off colour doesn't really want to move, and when he dose it looks like he hasn't got full balance, although he eats well, and moves fast and straight into the caves when startled. The other parrot I am sure knows something isn't right as she is hanging below him instead of her usual haunt the caves. I have a 5' tank and an external Fluval 404 pump. I am an experienced Cichlid keeper but was given these fish from my son, they are magnificent and very clever and cunning. I have no trouble between my fish what's so ever, if anything the parrots rule the tank, or at least did. I have photos of his head if it will help anyone to help me. My local fish shop said that as they are a hybrid fish, they are not as healthy and tolerant to changes as the normal cichlid and that they don't know much about them as they don't and never will stock these fish. < Do a 50% water change, vacuum the gravel and clean the filter. The drug of choice is Metronidazole, but you need to get it inside the fish. Take some live Calif black worms or Tubifex and wash them very well. Place them in a disposable plastic cup or bowl. Drain off most of the water. Add Metronidazole to the worms. It should kill the worms. Immediately feed them to your affected fish. You know it is working when the pits turn black. This disease is thought to be caused by stress. Things like dirty water or a lack of minerals/ vitamins have also been thought of as a cause. If the fish are not eating then treat the water . It may help but will not be as effective as getting the medication inside the fish.-Chuck>
Hole-In-The-Head Cichlid Photos  - 3/1/2006 Thanks for this advise, did you see the second email I sent to you from home last night with photos on this fishes head - showing this complaint?  It may help, also do you think it is Hole in the Head or Fungus etc????  Many thanks  Sheena Jolliffe < We got the photos and the reply is still the same. They are posted on the site.-Chuck>

Parrot Cichlid With Throat/Mouth Problem  - 01/12/2006 I am Desperate to save my 9" Parrot Fish. Few chat forums have had any idea of diagnoses. I'm left unanswered by others because of my "hybrid." Please help me save my best friend. I'll describe then detail. The visible problem is his mouth. The first week it just appeared 'swollen.' No sign of fungus or columnaris. Just what looked like a tumor growing inside his lower lip, swelling the outer lip, and making it hard to eat. He (even now) is Always hungry. A forum suggested a med so I treated the first 4 days with Maracyn (along with water changes) and it only got worse. By worse I mean, at the end of the first week he only had a pinhole left in his mouth that food could get through. Smaller lumps formed on top of the larger one. I couldn't see any fuzziness. As you can see in the pics, there is also a small red dot on the outside of his lip. They were a little pink/reddish in color. (he is dark orange) His fins are lightly frayed by his gills. The dorsal and tail are healthy. I had posted his pictures on numerous forums and no one had a clue. My local LFS gave me Furan-2 meds and SUCCESS! Along with half dosage of Mela-fix and decreased temp to 75F he got better. For a full 5 days the lump went down, and he was able to eat efficiently but the lump had not completely gone away. So last night (now two weeks with mouth problem) I increased the temp back up to 78F but still issued Furan-2 and Melafix as usual. I figured he was getting better and didn't want to subject his tankmates to anymore cool waters. He was fine this morning. I come home from work, and its Worse Than Ever. Not only is his lumpy lump almost full size again, but he has a red pimple in the middle of his lower lip that looks like it could pop any second. He also has stringy hairs on the outside and inside of his mouth. Coloration and rest of body look fine. My water conditions as of today are; Nitrites 0, Nitrates 20ppm, ammonia 0, pH 6.8, water - a little hard, temp 78F (was 75F), The tank is 55 gal. - other tankmates 1:pictus cat, 1:pleco, 1:butterfly ram, 1:gourami, 1:babyparrotfish All the fish get fed a variety of pellets, dried krill, vegetable flakes, and tropical crisps. The photos are from before he grew the pimple and fuzzy hairs. I have yet to photograph his new 'state'. Please let me know if I'm leaving any info out and PLEASE... if you have any idea... help me save my fish =(-Jessica < Sometimes fish try to eat things that they are not good for them. I suspect that your parrot cichlid has an obstruction in his throat. As he tries to expel it , the movement of the obstruction has damaged the tissue in the area and it got infected and swollen. You treated the infection and the swelling went down. Now the fish tried to expel it again and has started things all over again and is swollen, maybe reinfected. remove the fish from the water with a wet towel and try and look down the throat to see if there is an obstruction. Usually it is a piece of plastic plant, a filter part or an odd shaped piece of gravel. If you do not see anything then it could be a broken pharyngeal bone. This is a second set of jaws that cichlids use to chew their food. Sometimes this gets broken from pellets that are too hard to chew. I would recommend that you presoak the fish food to soften it up.-Chuck>


Parrot Cichlid Problem II   1/13/06 That you so much for the quick response. I just wanted to add a quick update. The night I wrote that entry, I stopped administering meds and decreased the temp back down to 75F without my usual 2-day 15% water change. I figured, the only thing I did different before he got worse was increase the temp. And I'm tired of medicated my other healthy fish. The very next day... Swelling went down and the red pimple is gone! He still has a swollen lump and outer lip, but only about 40% of the previous days size. I was shocked! Not that he's totally better, but it gave me much more hope. Do you think the temp decrease had anything to do with the infection (fuzziness/red pimple) he had? < I think the temperature reduction has lowered the fishes activity level and it hasn't worsened the condition by trying to eat.> I also want to check his throat out but this is the largest fish I've ever owned and I don't want to damage his slime coat, fins or scales by mis-handling. I hear of many people handling cichlids when things get stuck in their mouths. I just want to know the proper and safest way to do it. You mentioned a wet towel. Any more tips to make sure I handle him with care? < Take a shallow pan and fill it about half full with aquarium water. Place a towel inside the pan to absorb the aquarium water. Take the fish out of the aquarium and place him on the wet towel. Wrap the fish in the wet towel with just his head exposed. Now that the fish is in control you can gently pry the mouth open to see if there is any problems.> One more thing. If it is something like a broken pharyngeal bone, does this ever heal? Or will I have to deal (which I would cuz I love him) with his lump and random infections forever? Thanks a million. You guys/gals must save a lot of fish. YOU'RE HEROS! < The bone may heal over time with a long term feeding program of soft mush foods.-Chuck> 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>

Blood heart parrots, no useful info.  11/22/05 I have two of these beautiful blood "heart" parrot fish, a green Severum, and an iridescent shark in a 55 gallon tank. All of my water parameters look great, <Like the "war" in Iraq? Non-informational.> but just today I noticed that at the end of each top fin, on both the heart parrots, there are grayish/black patches. I wondered if you could tell me what this is and if I need to treat them, and if so, how? <No way to tell from here, with this lack of info.> The green Severum picks on them sometimes, but not much, could it be some sort of bruising? Thanks for your time.......Melody. <Umm, please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwsubwebindex.htm re Set-up, Cichlid Systems... Bob Fenner> 

Re: blood heart parrots  11/24/05 Hi Bob,   Sorry about the previous lack of information. My 55 gallon tank has been up and running for about 3 months now. When I started it up, I used Bio Spira and added about 100 feeder Danios for 2 and a half months. I use a Penguin Bio-wheel, an air-stone and an underwater  heater. There are several plastic plants and gravel.  Ammonia is 0, Nitrates 0, nitrites 0, ph about 7.8.  I just added the green Severum and the heart parrots about 2 weeks ago, and the iridescent shark a few days ago. I feed them a combination of tetra flakes, frozen brine shrimp, and Hikari cichlid pellets (extra small). The grayish/black areas that I mentioned previously are on the top fin towards the back on both of my heart parrots. One is about the size of a pencil eraser, and on the other parrot the patch is a little larger. Neither area has any raised spots, and the heart parrots are eating just fine and acting normal.  My question was whether it could be some sort of bruising, or is it stress, injury, or a natural occurrence? Thanks in advance for your help......... Melody. <Thank you for the further information. I suspect the black markings are "just natural" here... not uncommon in this very hybridized cichlid cross. Not likely pathogenic (caused by a biological disease agent), and I would do nothing outright to try and "treat" them. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Re: blood heart parrots (III) - 11/24/2005 Thank you so much! I was really worried, as I have formed an attachment to these gorgeous creatures. I appreciate your rapid response!  -Melody. <Bob's out, so from me (Sabrina) and the rest of the WWM Crew, thank you for your kind words.>

Black patches on parrotfish... FW! Cichlids, poor svc. work 11/4/05 Hello Crew! Firstly, I wanted to let you know how wonderful your website is--it is a gem!  I work for a company that has a fish tank that is serviced by a local company on a monthly basis. They do a horrible job--I can't even tell you how many fish have died since I started working here a year ago. I would guess 50, at least. Unfortunately, no one who works here is a fish expert and we are sort of at the mercy of the company who does the monthly cleaning. <Fire them. Either take over the job in-house or hire a capable company> We just went through a horrible ich problem and lost most of the fish in the tank, including a lovely parrot fish that everyone adored.  <This family (Scaridae) are not easily kept in captivity> His mate survived the ich, but she now has many black patches on her body, including a line that runs right down her back. They look like dirty smudges and they are not raised like blisters. <Likely "stress markings"> When we called the cleaning company, the owner said that this is normal and happens to all fish on occasion. <... no... Fire them> Of course, since we are mere employees and not fish keepers ourselves, we cannot really argue with this supposed expert. Do you have any idea what this is? A fungus? <Evidence of poor care... toxic, incompatible environment, poor nutrition> It is definitely getting worse each day and she is hardly moving around. There isn't a thermometer on the tank and we don't own any water-testing equipment so I can't tell you much about the tank except that it is a 55-gallon freshwater tank.  <Oooh... pardon me... a FW Parrot, as in the tweaked cichlid cross... even worse... these are very hard to kill...> Some of us are very unhappy with this service but it is not our decision to hire a new company--this company was the cheapest in the area and that is who our higher-ups decided to go with. I am suggested many, many times that we have plastic fish instead of real ones, but management doesn't seem to care about our tank of death and insists on restocking when something goes wrong.  Any suggestions/ideas would be appreciated! We would hate to kill this parrotfish, too. Laura <Learn a bit (not hard to do) and do the maintenance yourself... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwsubwebindex.htm.  Follow the blue/linked files through set-up, maintenance and all there is there on cichlids, the family including the Parrot. Bob Fenner> 

Parrot Cichlids Stressed By High Nitrates  9/19.5/05 I had 2 parrots and a Pleco in a 30 gal. tall tank.  They were all about 5 inches long.  Unfortunately, I let the nitrates get too high!  The parrots started hovering around the bio-wheel filter like they couldn't breath and then sunk to the bottom of the tank. I started with an aggressive water change of about 40% to reduce the nitrates and the gravel was cleaned and filter changed.  Nitrites were non-existent, PH was good. The only problem seemed to be the nitrates.  The next day 1 of the parrots was dead and the nitrates were sky high again!  I did another water change and headed to my neighborhood aquarium and fish store.  They specialize in fish and their tanks and fish always look clean and healthy. Their answer was the nitrates removed the oxygen from the water.  They recommend not adding any meds for ich or internal bacterial infection although parrots are prone to infection with bad water quality, because this too will remove oxygen from the water.  They recommend adding an aerator powerhead to add oxygen and also aquarium salt to help with the stress. Since then I have continued testing nitrates and making water changes and the tank seems to be stabilizing to 10 to 20 ppm in nitrates, but the parrot is still not eating, spends most of it's time on the bottom of the tank seeming to gasp for air, or perhaps just too weak to swim. It also seems to be showing slight signs of ich.  The Pleco doesn't seem to have been effected by any of this. The tank is about 82 degrees (normal for this tank).  It's been about seven days since this all started and about 6 water changes later.  Will the parrot recover?  Could there be anything else wrong?  Have I done the right things, or can anything else be done?  When should I treat with meds for ich or bacterial infections, if at all? Thank you, Angela < The 82 F will take care of the ich. You parrots have been stressed by the high nitrates and probably have an internal bacterial infection. Keep the nitrates down and treat with Metronidazole for internal bacterial problems.-Chuck>  

Old Parrot Cichlid With Internal Bacterial Infection 8/11/05 Hello, I have a  beautiful blood parrot who is 5 years old and pretty large. She has been hiding  for the past week but would still come out for food. She is usually very playful  and follows me around the tank constantly but yesterday she stopped eating and  started laying on her side. Today she is flipped over and trying to swim upside  down. Please tell me if there is anything that I can do for Sweetie as she is  trying to get back upright but cannot so she is hiding under a cave in the  aquarium. She is what I call the Heart shaped version of the Blood Parrots.  Thank you for any help or advice, Jada < Do a 30% water change and vacuum the gravel while you are at it. Clean the filter and treat with Metronidazole as per the directions on the package.-Chuck>

Parrot Cichlid Didn't Make It 8/13/05 Thank you so much for your prompt reply. I followed your directions but could not get the Metronidazole last night as it was late and the pet stores  were closed. Sadly enough, my heart was broken to find her dead this morning. In my hurry to get some answers I failed to mention that I also have three  small Parrot Cichlids in this 75 gallon tank that was home to Sweetie for five years. They seem wonderful and full of energy and are eating fine. These are only a year old. Do you recommend that I treat the tank as you directed or leave well enough alone with these darlings? < Internal bacterial infections are usually brought on by stress. Younger fish adapt easier and aren't as prone to disease. I would make sure that the tank was clean and keep up on the water changes. Treat at this point is not needed.> I am new to this website but have been  reading it for hours on end. I find you all to be very helpful, wonderful people  and am most grateful to you and very happy to have found you and this terrific website! Thanks again for your prompt help and thank you in advance for  any input on what I need to do for the little buddies I have left. Special   thanks to Chuck! Jada < Thank you for your kind words and welcome to the site.-Chuck>

Upside Down Parrot Cichlid 7/7/05 I have 4 parrot fish in a 75 gallon tank. I have had the same fish for over 4 years with virtually no problems. Recently, one of the fish has started hanging upside down in the plants.  He still can right himself, swims around without difficulty, and eats well.  Other than the hanging upside down, there is nothing unusual.  At first I thought it was a swim bladder problem, or a problem from feeding at the surface, but it has not corrected itself.  The fish store told me that if he was eating, not to worry. Any suggestions? Thanks Brenda < If it is an internal bacterial problem then it needs to be treated with Metronidazole. Other than that it could just be intimidation from the other fish that has got him hiding.-Chuck> Discoloration of Jellybean  07/02/05 Hi, I have recently purchased a pink Jellybean, from the Blood Red Parrot Cichlid family, <Mmm, not a family but a tweaked cross-breed of the cichlid family itself> these are the man made fish  as you probably know, and very expensive. I have had her for about 3 weeks now.  She is in a 5 gallon tank by herself. <Too small...> I have a whisper filter, colored gravel, a  fake plant, and one decoration. Lately she has been turning colors. First her lip had a black spot on it and now it is jumping around her body from place to  place with large and small areas that are gray and black in color. She acts  healthy and eats fine. I have asked the LFS where I bought her about this and  have searched the internet trying to find out what's wrong with her, but cannot  find anything. I did have my water tested and it is fine. <Need actual values... "fine" is of no use> Please let me know  what's wrong so I can get her treated as soon as possible.  Thanks. -  Stacy <Is this system cycled? This is a social dihybrid species... needs to be in a larger system... Bob Fenner> Parrot Cichlid Swimming Strangely 6/31/05 I have a 4 year old red blooded parrot. I have purchased about 6 fish only because I have a 125 gallon aquarium and it was starting to look empty. I only have about 12 fish in there but for some reason the female parrot, the one that is 4 has started swimming upside down, she gets up anytime I get close to the aquarium and is eating normally, but hangs out at the bottom in a corner upside down. What is wrong with her, if anything? < Your parrot cichlid may have an internal bacterial infection. I would isolate her into a smaller tank and treat her with Metronidazole as per the directions on the package.-Chuck>

Parrot Cichlid With Gourami I have had a Gourami and Parrotfish for over three years now living in a 20 gallon tank. The parrotfish has always bullied the Gourami, but most of the time they get along fine. My parrotfish has been acting very strangely over the past week - moving the rocks around in the bottom of the tank (HUGE pile on one side), and today he was swimming up and down the side of the tank in an agitated manner - I actually think he tried to "jump out" tonight. My husband also noted the parrotfish was "attacking" the Gourami the other night. The parrotfish is showing signs of stress with black marks showing up on his fins and body. My Gourami hasn't been eating regularly and I just saw tonight has a single swollen blood-red eye. I purchased Maracyn 2 for the tank under the guidance of a pet store worker. I have not tested the ph or the ammonia and the temperature has spiked in the tank to over 84 degrees - we put the a/c on in the room to help cool the water down. Should I  try to test the ph and treat the water while I am using the Maracyn 2? Not sure if I needed that after reading all the articles on your site, so I don't know if I should stop treatment and balance the water or do both. Help! Victoria < Your parrot cichlid has now established the entire 20 gallon tank as his territory and will defend it from all other fish and probably from external sources like humans walking by. The injury is probably from the parrot attacking the Gourami. At 84 degrees the fishes metabolism is elevated and this could make them more aggressive. Don't worry about the ph but watch for ammonia spikes because the antibiotics will probably affect the good bacteria used to break down the fish waste.-Chuck> Sick Gourami What can I do to help out the poor Gourami? His eye seems to now have "popped" - it's no longer blood read and clear - there is a tear in the bubble and stringy black items are coming out. Is this a normal healing process? Should I move him to his own tank to heal and treat with Epson salt? I am still using Maracyn - Two and the ph was fine, but as you said, the ammonia was up... the water temp is 80. Thanks so much for your help! Victoria Barba < Move the Gourami to his own tank. If you see exterior signs of bacteria then I would recommend treating with Nitrofurazone. Internal bacterial infections with not visible signs of bacteria except the popped eye need to be treated with Metronidazole.-Chuck>

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