The Blood Parrot
With a name like the "Blood Parrot", you automatically think of some type of tropical vampire bird! But the blood parrot isn't a bloodsucking bird. The blood parrot is a terrifying fish! It's not terrifying by its actions, but by its appearance! This fish is so ugly, some people think it's cute! How could Mother Nature create a fish this ugly? She didn't! Believe it or not, this fish is a manmade creation! It's alive! It's ugly! It's the Frankenstein monster of the fish world! It's the Blood Parrot!
I have to admit that the first thing that attracted me to the blood parrot was its name. I am a huge horror movie buff, and the name "blood parrot" just sounds like some B-horror movie about a tropical vampire bird. I also have to admit that after I finally saw a blood parrot, I was almost convinced not to get one! The blood parrot was without a doubt the ugliest freshwater fish I had ever seen! It just didn't look natural. Little did I know at the time that it wasn't!
After seeing the blood parrot, I had to know more about this unusual fish, so I immediately began to research it. The first thing that I found in my research was the same thing that many other hobbyists have found: information was nearly impossible to come by! I quickly discovered why that information was so hard to come by. The blood parrot is a manmade fish.
Many people don't truly understand what the term "manmade fish" actually means. What this means is the blood parrot is not found in the wild. Unlike other fish, the blood parrot does not have a natural habitat! According to published reports, the blood parrot was first created in Taiwan sometime around 1986. At that time, the parentage of the manmade blood parrot was a well kept secret. However, it was later learned that those particular blood parrots' parents were probably a male Midas cichlid and a female redhead cichlid. Since that time, the blood parrots' true parentage is anyone's guess!
One of the greater debates centered around the blood parrot is the source of the fish's parentage. Most hobbyists agree that the blood parrot is a result of breeding between two Central American cichlids. The question is which two. Some experts speculate that the blood parrot is a cross breed between the red devil and gold or green severum. Other experts believe the blood parrot is a cross breed between the red devil and the quetzel. There are even some experts who believe the blood parrot is a result of breeding between the red devil and fancy goldfish! With all of these possibilities, it might be more appropriate to call the blood parrot the mutt of the fish world!
Because the blood parrot is a manmade fish, it lacks a scientific name, and it won't be given one in the future. This means that you won't find the blood parrot in many fish information books. Even when you do find information on the blood parrot, it may not be very much or very reliable. This is mainly because the breeders of this manmade fish choose to keep their "trade secrets" just that - a secret!
Due to the blood parrot's manmade origins, there is a lot of controversy surrounding this fish. There are many people who frankly consider this fish an abomination that should never have been created, much less sold in pet stores. Some pet stores that have sold the blood parrot have even been picketed! And after you hear how the manmade process has affected this fish, you might be apt to believe that argument.
The blood parrot truly appears to be slightly deformed. In fact, the blood parrot gets its name from its mouth that more closely resembles a beak! Not only is this mouth strange looking, the blood parrot is often unable to close its mouth! So how does this fish chew its food? The blood parrot apparently uses muscles in its throat to chew or crush its food.
Although many hobbyists don't consider it a deformity, the blood parrot is known for having larger than normal eyes. The blood parrot has bright yellow-green eyes that may have oddly shaped or overly large irises. Some blood parrots have an oval iris, while others will have a round iris. Some of the blood parrots' eyes may even have a streak leading from the iris to the outer edge of the eye. Some blood parrots look like they are wearing mascara!
Another "deformity" that the blood parrot has is a abnormal swim bladder. These organs control the blood parrot's buoyancy, and allows the fish to maintain a certain depth. Many people think that, because of this bladder abnormality, the blood parrot must constantly swim just to stay afloat and keep level!
A more noticeable deformity is the blood parrot's abnormal spine. This accounts for the blood parrot's unusual shape. While many would think this would pose a problem for the fish, it apparently doesn't harm nor hamper the blood parrot at all. Many of these fish have been known to live for 10 years or more.
Another drawback to the blood parrot's manmade origins is its ability to breed. The blood parrot is an egg layer, however the eggs rarely, if ever, hatch. Usually the male blood parrot is sterile and the eggs are never fertilized. The female blood parrot will lay her eggs on the ground, smooth rock or other hard surface. The parents will guard these eggs until they turn white with fungus. At that point, the eggs are eaten either by the parents or other fish. However, just recently there have been reports of successful breeding between blood parrots. Reportedly, the fish farms that manufacture the blood parrots have begun to introduce males that are able to fertilize the eggs. This is done by injecting the male blood parrots with a hormone that makes them fertile.
Distinguishing between the male and female blood parrots is quite difficult. The male blood parrot is usually the larger of the two sexes. Also, the male tends to have a pink coloration under its jaw. However, keep in mind that just because there are a male and female blood parrot in a tank, that doesn't guarantee that they will spawn. There have been reports of the blood parrot actually breeding with other fish, like Texas cichlids!
If there are any "pluses" to the blood parrot's manmade origins, one may be all of the colors you can choose from. Through genetic manipulation, the blood parrot can be found in many attractive colors. Perhaps the most popular colored blood parrot is the red blood parrot. Other blood parrots can be found in colors like gold, yellow, gray, orange, purple, black, calico and white.
Another big plus that's found as a result of the blood parrot's manmade origins is its hardiness. It's clear that the blood parrot is the product of the cross breeding of two types of cichlids. The blood parrot easily adjusts to most types of water conditions, and is resistant to many diseases. The only diseases that seem to plague the blood parrot are white spot and black spot. White spot can be caused by a drop in the blood parrot's water temperature, while black spot can be a result of too much ammonia or nitrites in the blood parrot's tank.
If the blood parrot's appearance and manmade origins haven't turned you against this fish, you may decide that you would like one of these Frankenstein fish for yourself. The blood parrot won't take up a lot of room at first. Most blood parrots found in the pet stores are anywhere from 2 inches to 4 inches long. The blood parrot will need a minimum 30 gallon aquarium. Keep in mind that you may have to get a larger tank before long, because the blood parrot has been known to reach an adult length of 8 to 10 inches.
The interior of the blood parrot's tank will need to include driftwood, rocks or other decorations that can provide some hiding places. Live plants aren't really recommended since the blood parrot will show its cichlid characteristics by digging and uprooting the plants. Even without any plants, expect the blood parrot to constantly dig holes in the tank's substrate. That's just what most cichlids do.
Since the blood parrot doesn't have a true natural environment, you must set up the aquarium to reflect the habitats of the possible parents of this fish. The blood parrot will need water with a temperature range of 72 to 82 degrees, with a pH between 6.5 and 7.5. The blood parrot doesn't tolerate toxic water very well, so it is recommended that you make sure the water remains in good condition. Good tank filtration is also a must since the blood parrot loves to dig and stir up the bottom of its tank.
Another area of concern about the blood parrot is its ability to feed. Many experts claim that due to this fish's beak shaped mouth, the blood parrot is unable to eat from the surface. This is not always the case. It really depends on how "deformed" the blood parrot's "beak" is. It seems that the younger blood parrots are less deformed than the older specimens. It seems that the blood parrot grows more deformed as it ages. Whatever the case, care should still be taken when feeding this fish. The blood parrot will readily accept most foods like flake foods, shrimp pellets, brine shrimp, blood worms, tubifex worms and chopped beef heart. The problem lies with the blood parrot's ability to compete with other fish for food. Often the blood parrot has to swim into its food just to eat.
The blood parrot shouldn't be kept with fish that will prevent it from getting its share of food. Also, the blood parrot should not be kept with fin nippers or overly aggressive fish. Some ideal tank mates can include angels, silver dollars, severums, iridescent sharks, red finned cigar sharks, bala sharks, plecos, loaches, eels, knifes, tetras, danios, kribensis and corys. The blood parrot is not an overly aggressive fish unless it is trying to spawn. Usually, the blood parrot is more aggressive toward its own species. Some hobbyists report keeping species only tanks with blood parrots that fight all day, but when the lights go out, those fighting blood parrots will bed down together!
Depending on where you are, the blood parrot may be difficult to find. Many pet stores simply won't carry this fish, not because of the ethical questions posed by a manmade fish, but because the blood parrot is so expensive! Many of the smaller pet stores simply can't afford to sell the blood parrot. The cheapest price I have ever seen at a pet store for a blood parrot was $19.00. And this price applied to any size in the tank, from the tiny juveniles to the older, larger blood parrots!
Blood parrots may be found under a variety of names. Some of the more popular names include the red blood parrot, the blood parrot cichlid, the scarlet parrot and the bloody parrot. Some of the colored varieties may be listed as jellybean parrots or bubblegum parrots. This fish is also referred to as the parrot cichlid, which is truly misleading. There is a cichlid called the parrot cichlid that is not a manmade fish, and it looks nothing like the blood parrot.
As if the blood parrot doesn't have enough manmade manipulation in its background, there is now another variety available: the tailless blood parrot! This odder looking blood parrot is often called the Love Heart parrot because of its heart shaped body!
Despite all of the blood parrots manmade manipulations, its somewhat deformed appearance and the steep price, it is really a popular home aquarium fish. Some hobbyists claim they buy this fish simply because they feel sorry for it! Others admit they buy this fish because they like their playful personalities. And some claim to buy the blood parrot because it's so ugly that it's cute!
I'm really surprised some enterprising fish farm hasn't developed some bright orange blood parrots with black eyes and called them Jack O'Lantern Parrots! It would be a huge seller this time of the year! And who knows? Maybe someday soon, these Frankenstein fish scientists will create a blood parrot that's not quite so ugly!