Blood parrots can live in species-only tanks, as well as with some New World cichlids, Old World cichlids and various other tropical fish species. Blood parrots are easygoing, shy cichlids, but they stick up for themselves against other fish. However, their oddly shaped mouths don't allow them to inflict any real damage to fish of equal or greater size. In general, tropical fish won't pair well with blood parrots if they're too big, too small or too aggressive.
Tropical Fish Who Pair Well With Blood Parrots
Although the blood parrot's exact lineage is uncertain, many aquarists believe it results from a cross between the red-headed cichlid (Paraneetroplus synspilus), and the Midas cichlid (Amphilophus citrinellum), both of which are from Central America. Because the blood parrot's parent fish are from a similar clime, the blood parrot can be housed with swordtails (Xiphophorus hellerii) native to North and Central America, as well as tetras (family Characidae), plecos (Hypostomus plecostomus), cory catfish (Corydoradinae) knifefish such as Chitala ornata and Apteronotus albifrons, and silver dollars (family Characidae), all of which are from South America. However, fish don't need to be from the New World to live alongside the blood parrot. In fact, this hybrid species originates from Taiwan and can share a tank with other Asian fish, like kuhli loaches (Pangio kuhlii), danios (genus Danio), gouramis (family Osphronemidae) and glass catfish (Kryptopterus bicirrhis).
North and Central American Cichlids
Because blood parrots resulted from the crossbreeding of New World cichlids, North and Central American cichlids are the closest to blood parrots as far as native habitat. Examples of North and Central American cichlids that tend to get along well with blood parrots include Herichthys cyanaoguttatus from the waters of southern Texas, Herichthys corpintis -- a Mexican species commonly called the firemouth (Thorichthys meeki), and the Jack Dempsey (Rocio octofasciata) from Central America. The flowerhorn is another cichlid hybrid, bred from various New World cichlids, which can be kept in the same tank with blood parrots. A blood-parrot-only tank tends to work well because the fish are not overly aggressive and unable to injure one another.
South American Cichlids
In general, all New World cichlids enjoy the same water parameters. The blood parrot is one cichlid easily be housed in a community tank with other cichlids. As long as the tank mates are not too much larger than the blood parrots and are themselves docile enough to live in a community tank, the fish should go well together. Examples of South American cichlids that have success with bloods include angelfish (genus Pterophyllum), green terrors (Aequidens rivulatus), pike cichlids (genus Crenicichla), rotkeils (genus Heros), and heroes (Heros severus), which in particular are large but gentle cichlids.
Blood parrots can tolerate the slightly different water parameters African cichlids require. Specifically African river cichlids do well with blood parrots. As long as the African cichlids are roughly the same size and aggression level as the blood parrots the fish should be compatible. Kribensis (Pelvicachromis pulcher), among the most popular west African cichlids, exemplify African cichlids that have proved to be good tank mates for blood parrots.
Fish to Avoid
Very small fish aren't recommended to be housed with a blood parrot because chances are the cichlid will eat it. Conversely, large, highly aggressive cichlids will try to eat your blood parrot and should also not be housed with it. As far as non-cichlid tropical fish, barbs are not recommended because they're especially nippy. Don't keep a blood parrot with a convict cichlid (Archocentrus nigrofasciatus) because there's a high likelihood of crossbreeding between the two.
- The Parrot Cichlid Place: Blood Parrot Care Sheet
- Tim's Tropicals: Blood Parrot Cichlid Information
- Cichlid Care Secrets: For Keeping Healthy Happy Fish; David Oc
- The Pocket Guide to the Care and Maintenance of Aquarium Fish; Alice Burkhart et al.
- Cichlids: Everything About Purchase, Care, Reproduction and Behavior; George Zurlo, David M. Shleser
- Tropical Fish Magazine: Flower Power: Are Flowerhorns Good for the Hobby?
- Aquatic Community: Severum, Heros severus
- Alexandra Beier/Getty Images News/Getty Images