I have 4 aquariums and 8 parrot fish. I have a breeding pair which have laid eggs twice and I now have 86 babies from the first lay and over a hundred from the second. The first were hatched on 3-07-02 and I took them away and put them in a separate tank at 1 week. On 3-19-02 they laid the second batch. It took 5 days for the eggs to hatch. They laid the first ones inside a shell, and the second ones inside a flower pot. I kept both male and female with the eggs and they are both caring for the babies. They chew up the flake food and spit it out to the babies. They take turns moving and gathering them around the tank. The breeding pair - Ozzie and Harriet - can both close they're mouths and eat normally. As a treat I give them frozen brine shrimp and feeder guppies. None of my parrots have ever been aggressive, except when they laid they're eggs. They were trying to protect them from the others and that is when I put them in they're own tank. In my 280 liter tank I have angels (2 big ones) about 10 cm, 2 pictus cats, 2 sharks, 12 blood fins, 6 headlight/tail lights, a incandescent shark, 2 clown loaches, a plecostomus, and 2 glass fish. They all get along fine with the parrots. Elvis (a blue one) tends to be the boss and always the first to the food. He will push the others away, but when he's full he will go to the back of the tank and allow the others to eat. O.J. (my orange one) can't close his mouth but loves to rub against the others and against the shale. None of them dig, however Ozzie was moving gravel all over the tank while waiting for the eggs to hatch. I keep the temp in my tanks at 26-28°C, and when I tried to lower it they became very slow and were not as active. I do 30 to 40% water changes twice a month and have not lost any of them so far. All very healthy and eating. I feed flake fish food, and pellets daily. One set of my parrots laid eggs, but they never hatched. I have also heard many of the males are sterile and the breeding pair that I have with the babies are rare and unique.
I have some info that may be of interest to Blood Parrot Cichlid keepers out there regarding what passes for breeding behavior with these fish. I have two that are a little less than 10 cm long, both tiger-striped with greenish-grey coloration, and when first introduced they were very timid. After about a month of acclimitization though, they rule my tank, but usually aren't aggressive at all unless there is food involved. Mine have even tried laying eggs, which of course did not hatch. They chose the back of a vertically standing rock, the front of which forms a shallow cave of sorts, for their nesting spot, dug a small area out behind it, uprooted the stem plants standing on either side of the rock, and laid the eggs on the lower part of the backside of the rock. I'd say there were a little over 100 eggs. While the eggs are present, they become very aggressive, chasing off any fish, or even human hand, that comes near their nesting spot. During this time, both fish's striped patterns became *very* pronounced. The male appearently does most of the territory defense, while the female stays near the nest, mostly just doing threat displays if bothered, and will not even leave it to feed. Even offering krill and brine shrimp didn't tempt her, she stayed glued to her nest the whole time. The two ate their egg clutch after guarding it for about 9 days - the eggs turned from their original greyish color to white (I assume because of fungus growth) after about a week - then they immediately returned to their normal, more peaceable, behavior. I think what precipitated the breeding was that, in response to a minor Ich outbreak, I had raised the tank temperature to a little over 28°C. Immediately after, I noticed the eggs. I keep the tank at about pH 7.4 with moderately hard water.
I'd like to present my personal observations on the myths about the Parrot fish. I have heard all kinds of rumors concerning the true origin of this fish, including one stating that they are in fact a cross between a Red Devil and a Severum. It just so happens that the potential exists in many creatures in nature to mutate into other forms when two individuals of similar genetic makeup are mated. There is no other real scientific explanation for this phenomenon. Just as one in a thousand purebred Pit Bulldogs will have a "pushed-in" face, or a Pug, one in about a thousand Severums is born as what is now called a Parrotfish. It is a genetic anomally, and rare to the point of absurdity. Another myth is that since these fish are hybrids, they cannot be bred. I have successfully bred my Parrots, and about half of the brood were Parrots and the other half were the original Severum. A true strain has yet to be developed by any breeder. On a lighter note, I have met breeders who were able to actually cross a Red Devil with a Severum. The result, though not a Parrotfish, is rather interesting.
I'm from Australia and it's great to see so many of you have an interest in the Red Parrot, as over here it's hard to find anyone who is not against them. I just thought I'd let you in on where some Red Parrots come from. I have been interested in and have kept Red Parrots for years now, but they are almost impossible to come across. I have a friend who breeds them, and just to suprise you all -his parrots are actually just an offspring of severely inbred Red Devils. My friend bought what he thought was a breeding pair of devils, and yes they bred, but he found they were brother and sister, then the offspring of them also bred and the offspring were indeed Red Parrots - the cutest, most intelligent and loving fish. My Red Parrots have also tried to breed, laying about 200 eggs with about 5 surviving, and as you keep interbreeding them, their heads change shape and their spines seem more deformed. I refuse to keep any offspring as I believe the interbreeding should stop somewhere. Anyways, I just thought I'd let you in on a secret, and tell you that some are not actually a cross breed at all, unless...well you can believe what you want!
Wonderful site you have here. Where I came from (Singapore) the breeders actually cut off the tails (manipulation) of the blood parrots and part of the body into a "V" shape so that they become heart-shaped fishes. Also, the bright red of the fishes might be due to color-enhancing food pellets which turn them bright red. It is not known what their natural colors are, but mostly sold are yellow, orange and red, difficult to distinguish if they have been artifically color-enhanced or not. I've had 6 for about a year now and they are still extremely shy. Whenever someone comes near the tank they will all retreat to the farthest corner, attempting to hide. Mine prefer sinking food rather than floating ones, only consuming the latter after a few minutes, but immediately go for the former when added.
I have a breeding pair of blood parrot cichlids who are very attentive to their fry. A hollowed out cove of sorts is necessary for total protection of the fry, in order for the parents to care for them substantially. Parrots will lay eggs against the glass of the tank if they have no other place to lay. They then will not fertilize and allow other fish to pick off the eggs. For safety, a large ceramic pot or crater pot will be substantial for their breeding habits. They lay the eggs against the pot and continually aerate the eggs after fertilization. Quiet is needed during this time, for them to acclimate their fry to the water world. A pH level of 7.2-7.4 is perfect for their habitat during this time. Leaving the tank light off during the hatching of the fry is a good idea, and you can leave the fry with the parents, as they will not abuse them if left to care for them alone. I use an electronic feeder during this time, and although I miss their antics, I know that parenthood is sacred to us so it is also to them. After the fry are free swimmers, the parents will continue to leave them alone, feeding them and not bullying them, thus the school of parrots is at hand. It is not safe to stick your hand in the tank during breeding as the parents will protect the fry. Crushed frozen brine shrimp and fry food is a great supplement during their growth time and the parents enjoy the extra treats. They will regurgitate the food to feed their young, but the particles that fall to the bottom of the tank while they are small, will be quickly consumed by the fry. Watch your eggs if they turn white, they are fungi'd and need to be picked off of the nest. Doing so with tweezers will be the least harmful way but make sure you have a rubber glove on when doing this as the parents aggression will be seen at this time. Fungus can cause a multitude of problems with new fry, if they are subject to the fungus from the other eggs, they may become ill and die from the disease. Happy Parroting. Joy comes from the heart shaped mouth as they chase me around the room. :)