Parrot fashion: the controversial cichlid

Parrot cichlids are a controversial but somewhat popular hybrid with a strange beak-like mouth and a parrot shaped body.

Parrot cichlids (no scientific name) are a hybrid that were bred in Taiwan in the 1980s. It is possible they were bred from a Midas cichlid and the red head cichlid.

Some cichlid enthusiasts have called for their removal from the market and boycotted pet shops that sell them, citing the cruelty of encouraging deformaties.

It is possible but unlikely that you can create parrot cichlids yourself as the mutations are difficult to guarantee. The fry will probably be fairly nondescript hybrids with some of the features of each parent and not necessarily with the parrot like body.

Parrot cichlids can’t close their mouths. The mouth is deformed to produce the beak-like appearance but this doesn’t hinder feeding. They are around 15cm (6″) long when kept in the correct environment.

Many fishkeepers are against producing hybrid fish, feeling that positively selecting deformities is cruel, some shops also dye the fish. In this case not only is it cruel but they also won’t keep their colour. Especially avoid green, blue and bright purple ones – not only is it unethical to support the trade in dyed fish, but you wouldn’t get your money’s worth anyway because the colours would fade.

Many feel that there are enough natural beautiful and unusual fish around without genetic engineering new ones.

Of course they don’t have a natural habitat, since they aren’t natural but their closest relatives live among rocks on the margins of Central American lakes and rivers which is alkaline water.

Parrot cichilds are not ideal for a community tank and they will sometimes eat smaller tankmates. Therefore you would be best with other smaller Central American cichlids, such as the Cryptoheros or Thorichthys species or more robust fish like barbs, catfishes and loaches.

Parrots are easy to keep and are not fussy feeders, and will take flakes, pellets and frozen foods, such as bloodworms and brineshrimp.

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Georgina is a member of the Swell UK marketing team and has been keeping tropical fish for a number of years now. Her favourite fish being the stunning, male Siamese Fighting Fish. She is also looking to expand her existing collection to include keeping saltwater fish as well. Her other pets include Bengal cat, Walter, and Labrador and Rottweiler cross, Presley.


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