I got my parrot fish a few months ago now and it was about the size of a fifty cent piece. Now he is about 15 cm and he seems to be still growing. How big they get I don't know, guess I will just have to wait and see. My husband thinks it is ugly but I think he is so ugly he's cute. I don't know if it is a male or female. My fish tries to bully the other cichlids and catfish, but because his mouth cannot move he can do no harm, only bump them a bit. Even though he can't open and close his mouth he has no trouble eating, in fact he seems to get the bulk of the food as he is thick in the body. I like my parrot fish so much that I am waiting for the pet store to get more in and hope they get some other colors, as mine is bright orange as they all were when I it. So I was pleased to read on your site that they come in other colors. I learned more info on this site than even my pet store knew.
I too have a couple of blood parrots. I purchased the first because of a unique thing about the pupil. The eyes were all black, it looked like something off of a cartoon. But later I found out that it was the beginning of a black spot disease that they are susceptible to. It started to spread to its fins and some spotting on its body. I had also purchased a second before this started to spread. I contacted others that purchased them for similar reasons, because of signature spots or marks that they thought were cute. I treated the tank with Maracide, it was a five day treatment and all of it has disappeared. They are both a bright orange. They love to hide. I found the best thing for them - since they seem to buddy up so much and to keep their gravel moving to a absolute minimum - was to take a clay pot and carefully chip out a piece to make a doorway, remove any roughness and place it upside down in my aquarium. The two blood parrots just about live in there, they come out to eat and explore, and return to the safety of their home. I will soon have to get a larger pot, since they are growing well and chubby. They live among many other fish and bump them once in a while, mainly if the others hang out in front of their home. My blood parrots seem to be happy as long as they have a place to hide. I have seen some of the dyed ones and I thought about getting a third one. A friend of mine has several and some of dyed ones are slowly changing to orange. I feed my fish 2 to 3 times a day but only enough that they will eat right away, it seems to give all the fish a chance to eat this way.
I work in a pet shop, and have for the past few years. Blood Parrots are a great pet for people who want "color and personallity" in a fish but are bored with the goldfish, or desire more elaborate tropical set-ups. The buyer should be warned of the aggressive nature of the Blood Parrot (no fish is ever truely "docile." I've seen little Leopard Danios shred the fins off of tankmates before). They will fight for and defend a territory, typically a hole in a rock or cavern of some kind, they like caves. They will chase and peck at smaller and slower tankmates. I like to house them with the relatively "docile" members of the SA Cichlid group such as Severums, along with Giant Danios, larger Barb species, and Bala Sharks. And they ought to be kept with tankmates of the same size to even the competition for food. Appropriate tank sizes depend upon the size of your Blood Parrot. A small pair of Blood Parrots would do well in an 80 liter tank by themselves for a while, but will need to be moved into larger accomodations as they grow. Anybody who desires a community with one or more Blood Parrots need invest in a 180 liter or larger (the larger the better!). Most Blood Parrot customers are repeat customers, and they love it when you ask how "the kids" are doing, and remember their fish's names. You can't say that for most of your typical community fish customers, or even most of your typical Cichlid customers either. There is something in the market now that I'm noticing, called "Cotton Candy Parrot." These are the same size and shape as the hybrid Blood Parrot, but they are in technocolor much like the "Berry Tetra" aka the Painted White Skirt Tetra. I am searching for more information on the dying processes, and having a difficult time of it. I would recommend to anybody in the market for a fish *not to purchase* this "Cotton Candy" or any other "painted" variety of fish until it can be confirmed that the dying process is humane and done with ethical considerations. These colors are even less natural than a hybrid fish.
I've had a pair of parrot ciclids for about 3 years, they are now about 25 cm long and have become very aggressive. They have actually broken the skin on my hand with their tiny teeth when I was cleaning their 300 liter tank! Until recently they had no tankmates other than a small corydoras catfish, which they leave alone. Two days ago I purchased 4 immature Jurupari Geophagus cichlids, all about 5-7 cm long. By the first night, one of the parrots had eaten one of the juruparis, the others are now all cowering in hiding while the parrot cichlids madly try to get at them. The small catfish continues to swim about freely. I believe that, while endearing and interesting to observe, these fish will eat anything they can fit in their mouths, and they seem to be able to use their mouths more as they get older.
I have 9 parrot fish in a 570 liter tank ranging from 10 to 18 cm and I think they are amazing. The only way I have found to tell male from female is that the males have a slightly pink colour on the throat area. They get on well with most other cichlids, but I keep them with a pair of 20 cm Severums, a 25 cm Mozambique Mouth Brooder and some oddballs and catfish. There are occasional fights between separating pairs of parrots, and one parrot has tried to breed with the mouth brooder, which was suprising to me, but in all they're amazing fish. They are not picky about water quality, but make sure it is well filtered.
About 4 years ago, I "inherited" a 75 liter tank from a friend of a friend of a friend. He didn't know what type of fish were in the tank - and it took me quite some time to learn about the Blood Parrot. I had no idea how old or even what sex the fish was, but it was huge (nearly 20 cm)! By trial and error - I learned much about my peach colored fish - which I dubbed 'Blue' and called a "he" by default. Unlike other parrots I've seen, Blue didn't have quite the spinal deformation that is so apparent. He appeared to have no problem swimming or eating. And though he could not close his mouth - he had quite a strong suction action to eat frozen bloodworms or floating flakes. (Or suck at my hand if it stayed too long). Actually he was quite adept at 'popping' at the surface in order to knock food from the top. Oddly enough, he would jump out of the tank and smack the hood loudly to let me know it was time to feed him, and though I hesitate to admit it - he learned to let me 'pet' him with a floating glass temperature gauge...I'd wiggle it at the surface and he'd come up for a little soft scratching. Blue was housed with two zebra danios and a black skirted tetra, which soon became 3 tetras who loved to school. Everyone seemed to get along fine - as long as the danios and tetras stayed out of the lower level of water. Blue would attack me at times, (running into my arm, and 'sucking' biting), if I tried to clean the tank - but his 'moods' seemed to hinge on the pH of the water, or the alignment of the stars. I tried to keep it at neutral - but when it got higher - it did seem to affect his temperament. I discoverd that avoiding 'caves' and such areas for him to become territorial over kept him from chasing the other fish, although may have been a greater stressor for him in the long run. Often I'd come home and find the tank "redecorated" with my live plants ripped up and all the gravel moved from one side of the tank to the other. This stopped after I moved everyone to a 110 liter tank. He would still dig, but not to that extent. Like others have commented, the Blood Parrot actually does follow a person around the room - and may be somewhat disconcerting as you might be doing something in the room and get the feeling "someone is watching me", only to discover your fish quite intent on you...it's odd, but hilarious. Sadly, not but 6 months ago - my buddy Blue got sick - and I couldn't figure out what was wrong with the tank - it killed off everyone but the danios (who are still going strong, btw). I missed having such an interactive fish that really brought the tank to life - and while I had learned all the history of the fish, and really protest the idea of creating a mutant fish. I must say, Blood Parrots make lovely pets.
So - a month ago I purchased a new yellow parrot - about 5 cm long...named him Calvin - after an obnoxious yellow haired boy from one of my all time favorite cartoons. He was shy for the first 2 weeks, but is now the bully of the tank. He gives the chinese algae eater a run for his money - but other than that - the new tetras and danios stay out of his way. The chinese algae eater really stands his own, though - much like a pleco. As I type, he has dug a large crater into his gravel and is defending it like old Blue used to.
For people considering the purchase of this fish - I encourage folks to avoid the jelly bean parrot, cotton candy parrot or similarly named "dyed" fish. It is a harsh treatment that stunts growth and life span. Overall, the blood parrot has a long life span, and is a more exciting addition to a tank than a goldfish. Just be sure to give them plenty of room to roam - and give them a wide variety of food. I've heard rumors that feeding fresh blood worms can maintain the color of reddish blood parrots - but I've not seen that to be the case personally. As far as breeding goes - I've yet to read/hear of any confirmed breeding of blood parrots.