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The blood parrot cichlid (also known as parrot cichlid and bloody parrot; no binomial nomenclature) is a hybrid of the midas and the redhead cichlid. The fish was first created in Taiwan around 1986. Blood parrots should not be confused with other parrot cichlids or salt water Parrotfish (family Scaridae).
Because this hybrid cichlid has various anatomical deformities, controversy exists over the ethics of creating the blood parrot. One of the most obvious deformities is its mouth, which has only a narrow vertical opening. This makes blood parrots somewhat harder to feed and potentially vulnerable to malnutrition. Some cichlid enthusiasts have called for their removal from the market and organized boycotts against pet stores that sell them.
Blood parrots are often bright orange in coloration, but there are other colors that they can have naturally, such as red, yellow or gray. Other colors may be produced by dyeing the fish, which can shorten life expectancy. Some fish have been injected with a colored dye by the breeder. Another modification, generally considered inhumane by enthusiasts, involves cutting the tail while small which causes the fish to grow into a heart shape and are usually sold under the name of heart parrots. As the press has brought this practice to light, the majority of fish stockists will no longer sell these modified fish. Adult fish can grow to a length of 8 inches (20 centimeters) and reach an age of 10 years or older. Various breeds of blood parrots have been developed such as the king kong parrot which typically vary in color from red to yellow. They have fully functioning mouths with less of a nuchal deformity and grow larger. They are usually considered more valuable than blood parrots.
As a result of hybridization of the parent species, the fish have several anatomical deformities, including a beak-shaped mouth that cannot fully close, which they compensate for by crushing food with the throat muscles, a deformed nuchal, and compressed vertebrae. Some commercial foods have been developed specifically to be easy for blood parrots to ingest, and recently some blood parrots have been selectively bred to be able to completely close their mouths. Blood parrots sometimes can have deformed swim bladders, causing an awkward swimming pattern; and unusually large, and often deformed irises.
Male blood parrots generally are infertile, but successful breeding has occurred. Normally, a female blood parrot lays eggs on a hard surface, and both parents guard the eggs unless the brood develops fungus, at which time the eggs will be consumed by either the parents or other fish. However, fish farms have begun introducing male blood parrots injected with a hormone to increase fertility. Most female blood parrots are fertile.
Blood parrots are hardy and may be housed by enthusiasts singly, in schools, or with complementary species under a variety of conditions. Sufficient lighting can be provided by a variety of compact fluorescent lamps without the use of T5 or halide fixtures. The fish are voracious eaters and generate significant uneaten debris during feeding. High volume filtration and frequent substrate suctioning is recommended to minimize nitrates.