How Do I Tell the Difference in a Male & Female Blood Red Parrot Fish?

Small, triangular mouths cap off a head shaped like a parrot's beak, giving the blood red parrot fish its name. This man-made hybrid doesn't occur naturally, and most males are infertile. While you probably won't be able to breed your male and female parrot cichlid, limiting males to one per aquarium greatly reduces aggression in the tank. Males and females are not easily differentiated, but a few details can give you a clue to their gender.

Round vs. Pointy Fins

In most cichlid species, male fish have pointed dorsal and anal fins, with female's fins being rounder. While only female blood red parrot cichlids have rounded fins, a few females will have pointed fins like a male.

Breeding Behavior

Even though most males are infertile, blood red parrot cichlids exhibit normal breeding behavior. The male digs a flat spot and leads the female to it where she lays hundreds of eggs. The male swims over them, releasing milt as he tries to fertilize them. Unfertilized eggs are white and are usually eaten by the parents or other fish. Females are able to successfully breed with fertile males from other related species.


A former world-class swimmer, J.T. O'Connell shares her love of adventure travel, extreme sports and pets through thousands of published articles. O'Connell studied journalism at Grand Canyon University, and brings professional experience as a tour guide and travel consultant. She authors the blog, Traveling With Large Dogs.