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FAQs on Parrot, Jelly-Bean... Cichlids, Social Disease   

FAQs on Parrot Disease: Parrot Cichlid Health 1, Parrot Cichlid Disease 2, Parrot Cichlid Disease 3, Parrot Cichlid Disease 4,
FAQs on Parrot Cichlid Disease by Category: Diagnosis, Environmental, Nutritional (e.g. HLLE), Infectious (Virus, Bacterial, Fungal), Parasitic (Ich, Velvet...), Genetic, Treatments,

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, & ef="parrotcicidf.htm">Parrot Cichlid Identification, Parrot Cichlid Behavior, Parrot Cichlid Compatibility, Parrot Cichlid Selection, Parrot Cichlid Systems, Parrot Cichlid Feeding, Parrot Cichlid Reproduction,

please help - parrot fish sick after laying eggs; env., soc.         4/7/16
Hi there,
we have a fresh water aquarium with African cichlids, some gourami's and some loaches.
<An odd mix; there's really no such thing as "African cichlids" any more than saying "American birds" or "European mammals". It's much too general to mean anything helpful. However, the standard "mixed African cichlids" of
the US aquarium trade are the Mbuna, typically Pseudotropheus hybrids.
While these herbivorous fish appreciate similar water chemistry to your Parrots, they are MUCH too aggressive, and fighting/stress can cause all sorts of problems in mixed species set-ups.>
Our favourite two fish are a male and female parrot fish.
<These hopelessly inbred and deformed fish are not good companions for more boisterous cichlids. If you love 'em, move 'em. A 55-gallon tank is adequate for a pair. Alternatively, remove the Mbuna.>
They just bred a few days ago and the female named Sophie was in her hiding place guarding over her eggs. A few days later now and the male is protecting the eggs while Sophie is lying at the bottom of the tank on the opposite corner looking very weak and like she may die if we don't help her quickly.
<You MUST isolate/remove the female. See below...>
This also happened straight after we did a 40% water change.
<This could have been the trigger, or aggression from the other fish.
Here's the deal. Cichlid pairs depend on the situation. In the wild they carefully choose partners, and before spawning, do all sorts of "tests" on each other to see if they're both equally competent. This is all part of the courtship ritual. Those cichlids that aren't able to pair off, spawn and look after their juveniles properly will leave fewer, if any, offspring when compared to competent ones. So over time, natural selection favours the skilful cichlids. Now, on fish farms cichlids don't get to choose partners, and it doesn't matter if they're good parents or not because the human removes the eggs and rears the fry manually. All good stuff for producing cheap livestock, but does mean natural selection can't operate.
Over the generations tank-bred, and especially those non-natural, invented cichlids like Parrots end up losing the good parenting genes. This is a massive issue with Angelfish, which are almost all totally incompetent parents! But in any case, it doesn't take much for pairs of Parrots to become dysfunctional (like yours) turning on each other. Sometimes a triggering factor, basically a stress or scare, caused the breakdown in marital bliss. But it might have happened anyway.>
We also can see a snail floating at the top which we have never seen before.
<Probably not relevant.>
I have attached two pictures of Sophie sitting at the bottom and one of the Male parrot guarding eggs inside the hiding place.
I don't know hat your response rate is but if you can please give us some advice how to help her we would very much appreciate that as she is our favourite little fish.
Thank you
<I would remove the female to her own aquarium where she can recover; it's extremely unlikely the male will accept her now he's parenting on his own, and chances are he'll become even more aggressive once the fry start hatching and roving around the tank. If she's bloated, which I can't tell from the photo, medicating with Epsom salt will be useful. Do read:
Hope this helps, Neale.>


Re: please help - parrot fish sick after laying eggs       4/7/16
Hi Neale,
Thank you for your swift response. She has gone back to her eggs and they are both together in there, he is busy keeping fish away from the eggs and she is inside helping him do so. We have no idea if the eggs will hatch, we
will give it a day or two further as the eggs have been there for about four days so far. If they hatch we will move them and her to another tank.
If not, we will get rid of the eggs and hope everything goes back to normal.
<They aren't especially fertile fish, and breeding at home tends to be unproductive. But then again, I just said they're unlikely to "mend their marriage" and yet they've don exactly that, so what do I know? I would, however, keep a very close eye on them. I would not assume they'll be happily married indefinitely.>
In terms of using Epsom salts, we have a 132 gallon tank, with what we know to be called Malawi cichlids who are all babies and not aggressive to the parrot fish who are much bigger.
<Juvenile Mbuna can be quite fun, for sure. And there are one or two species that might conceivably work with Parrots; I'm thinking of Iodotropheus and Labidochromis in particular. But most are psychotic when mature, in the sense of being intensely territorial and ravenously hungry (they feed on algae all day long in the wild, and defend their feeding spots against all comers). I've seen even Labidochromis, the "friendly Mbuna", strip the fins from much larger Senegal Bichirs unlucky enough to be in the same tank. So do NOT assume yours will stay friendly! I'm trying
to think who said it, but "trust everyone, but carry a big stick" is a good approach with cichlids generally, and doubly so with Mbuna. On the other hand, if these aren't Mbuna, but instead things like Aulonocara or Cyrtocara, then Parrots might work, given space.>
(Malawi cichlids very popular here as we are in South Africa and border with Malawi) ...
<I'm distinctly jealous! Some great native South African fish too...>
Can we put Epsom salts into the tank with these two cichlids, Gouramis and clown loaches?
If so, how much do we put?
<See the article for details; 1-3 teaspoons per 5 gallons/20 litres.>
We were thinking of doing so just for the general health of the tank, is that a good idea?
<Nope. Use Epsom salt to medicate (it's good for reducing swelling) but not forever. Only until the swelling goes down. Remember, add the appropriate amount per bucket of water; don't dose the whole tank each water change or
you'll overdose! So if you change 20 litres, 1-3 teaspoons is what you'll use. Not the number of teaspoons for the whole tank. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: please help - parrot fish sick after laying eggs       4/7/16

Great, thanks Neale, really appreciate your swift response. All the best
<Most welcome. Neale.>

Jelly bean parrot, painted, beh.     1/30/13
I obtained my jellybean parrot a week or so after Christmas..as time went by its color changed. I read how you are against painted fish, and I understand why now though I didn't at the time I got it. This fish used to be purple (my favorite color) so I was too excited to think about the hurt the fish went through for it. I was informed that the fish would change color over time so when the purple faded and the fish started to look darker I didn't think anything of it. Though today I noticed how progressively dark it got.. Almost its whole head turned black in large blotches. I know this could be its natural color but I was wondering if maybe it was a bad thing.
<Might be... I'd be keeping an eye on the other fish it's with. The minnow shark in your pic may be bullying it. Bob Fenner>

Re: Jelly bean parrot   1/30/13
So you think it could be caused by stress if not natural coloring?
 I just thought it was odd how dark it became. I found a picture of what it used to look like, and I got a better picture of it now.
By the way, the sharks don't bother it.
<They can/do in time. BobF>

help for parrot cichlids   4/26/12
hello! its me Suraj Aryal from Nepal. i have an aquarium of 60 ltr capacity, where i have kept a male Flowerhorn and female parrot chic lid and a red eared toto together,
<Why are you keeping a turtle with fish? Very bad.>

one day i saw them(Flowerhorn and parrot) spawning so i removed toto and let them breed, but now my parrot has gone abnormal, she lies in upper side touching surface with her mouth and she has got some black spots too......... i regularly change my water(25% per week) use some medicine to remove harmful chemicals....... while talking about Flowerhorn he loves her and try to take care of her.
<Doesn't sound very likely. They are just fish after all…>
please help me to make my parrot healthy,
<The aquarium is too small. You have also provided no useful information about their environment or diet. So, start reading here, Suraj:
Then read here:
Most fish diseases are caused by their environment. Cheers, Neale.>

fish sickness inquiry 8/18/11
Please check the pics, I don't know what to do to heal the fish?
Red Blood parrot fish
<Looks like physical injury. What's this fish kept with? Other cichlids and some large catfish (such as "Plecs") can cause this sort of damage. Also, bumping into rocks or the sides of the aquarium. No treatment necessary just yet. If the wound is not obviously healing in 3-4 days, then treat against Finrot (e.g., with eSHa 2000 or Seachem Paraguard). In the meantime, read here:
Cheers, Neale.>

Re : fish sickness inquiry 8/18/11
They are with Angel fish, Bala shark, eel. no one hurts them.
<Well, something damaged this fish.>
it started with one of them like 4 months ago, and now another is affected.
<Do also be aware of Hexamita and Hole-in-the-Head infections. These are VERY common with large cichlids. Nitrate concentration above 20 mg/l is usually the triggering factor. But poor diet is also important (lack of vitamins, fresh green foods). Also lack of oxygen / excessively warm water can trigger these two diseases as well. Do read:
Hexamita is a gut infection, typically revealed by long, colourless faeces and a general weakening of the fish. Hole-in-the-Head begins with the appearance of "pits" on the skin, usually where sensory pores are located.
It is not 100% clear that the two diseases are always connected. Sometimes fish infected with Hexamita go on to develop Hole-in-the-Head, so it is widely, though not universally, assumed the two diseases are closely related.>
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re : fish sickness inquiry 8/18/11
What kind of green food can I feed them?
<Cooked or canned peas are good. Also cooked spinach. Some fish need to be hungry to eat them, so don't feed for a few days beforehand. You can also buy wet-frozen Spirulina-enhanced Brine Shrimp. These are very rich in vitamins and fibre, and an EXCELLENT supplemental food for all freshwater
I feed them actually Red Parrot Granules,
<Adequate, but lacking in fibre.>
and dried blood worms.
<Again, useful, but too much dried foods tend to cause constipation in fish.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Perrot fish Sick? 8/6/11
I had my tank for over 2 years I got: a angel fish had 2 but my Cray fish killed him by cutting is belly open, poor thing)
<As we have said many times here at WWM you should NEVER keep crayfish and fish together.>
Perrot fish (originally blue, turned white then now orange???) 2 pictus cat fish Cray fish and my dear snake fish (which I love with my hearth)o and 2 clown ruby Cichlid and a blue Gourami
<How big is this aquarium? Blood Parrot Cichlids are quite aggressive and large, Pimelodus pictus are SCHOOLING fish and get quite large as well, Snakeheads can get extremely larger and are notoriously aggressive in some cases, and "Clown Ruby Cichlid" is probably Mikrogeophagus altispinosus, a dwarf species easily bullied by larger tankmates. On top of this Blood Parrot Cichlids require hard water, whereas Mikrogeophagus want soft water, so it's unlikely you have the right water chemistry for all your fish.>
My Perrot fish as develop brown spot on is upper back and now on is fin he eat normally but is not socializing and keeping to himself I tried Melafix but seems to do nothing ( helped my last angel since he has a ulcer on is lower fin) don't want to lose my parrot fish since I like him a lot what to do?
<Need information on your aquarium. My prediction is that this aquarium is too small. Water quality and water chemistry could both be causing problems.>
Ph is 7.4 temp is 76 and the rest checks out
<I need the numbers, not your opinions. What is the hardness? What is the nitrite and/or ammonia concentration? How big is the tank? What sort of filter do you have? How often do you do water changes?>
any help would be appreciated.
<Read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/FHParrotCichArtNeale.htm
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Perrot fish Sick? 8/7/11

Well Nitrate oar 0.21 ppm
<Nitrate or nitrite? Note the spelling! NitrAte is fairly harmless, and 0.2 ppm would be unimportant. But nitrIte at 0.2 ppm is not safe, and suggests the tank is overstocked, overfed, or under-filtered.>
and ammonia is at 0 I have a Fluval 105 filter system
<A small filter; ideal for 25 gallons, but only when stocked with small community fish -- Neon Tetras, Guppies, etc.>
and my tank size is 25 gallon
<Far too small for all these fish.>
with and good air pump, as for water hardness how do u figure that out?
water change is once a month and filter cleaning is once twice a month in summer time due to some algae in winter time is once a month since in winter time algae disappears all together my Snakeheads (did not know that what they where called) never been aggressive but quite passive(actually I hand feed him and love to come in my hand)as for crayfish im trying to sell him he is way to big for my aquarium ( got him from pet store long ago he looked sick and water was dirty and unfed) but in most part he just hang out in a corner and teams up with one of my catfish and protects him (weird?)also just found out I have a Pleco in there which I thought was dead for more than year haha he hides very well and is well camouflage hope this helps all try and take a picture to help also my Mikrogeophagus altispinosus seems pretty happy in the water there in and seems to be a male and female that im hopping to breed
hope I did not forget anything
<Your tank is likely not adequately filtered. Also the tank is too small for this number of fish. Need a bigger tank, at least 55 gallons, and better 75 gallons. Also a much bigger filter, something like the Fluval 405 -- ALONGSIDE your Fluval 105. Cheers, Neale.>

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

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

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

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

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

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

Parrot Fish, hlth.    9/28/08 Hello, <Hello,> I have had a parrot fish for about a year now, in a 55 gallon tank with a Tiger Oscar, Jack Dempsey, another parrot, a Firemouth and Green Terror. We have a Dracula Pleco as well. <Not enough space for all these fish; they will fight, likely also have problems maintaining low nitrate concentration for long term success. If you have more than 20 mg/l nitrate in this tank, you're running a real risk of a Hexamita outbreak.> About 7 days ago, his face on one side started to swell and look puss-filled, then white bumps formed like pimples. (See pics). <Bacterial infection, like Finrot and/or Columnaris. Will need to be treated appropriately. Do understand that these infections are almost always related to environmental issues, so do review water chemistry and quality. Treatment without correcting the environmental issues that caused the disease in the first place won't deliver long-term results for obvious reasons.> We went to the aquarium shop and they said he might have bumped into something and it got infected, so they gave us KanaPlex antibiotics. We have dosed the tank for 4 days and have not seen much improvement. He is acting normal, but didn't eat for a few days. He's eating again now. <Would recommend Maracyn first, and if no improvement after one full course, switch to Maracyn 2.> Thanks for any help. We check our water regularly, vacuum every 2 weeks, change our filters every 4-6 weeks and feed pellets twice a day. <Too many fish with too different requirements in terms of water chemistry... this aquarium has the potential to go wrong in lots of ways. Do research the needs of each species, and then concentrate on providing those conditions for a subset of the fish you have, and get rid of the others. Cheers, Neale.>

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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