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- Parrot cichlids — to be cherished or avoided??
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Parrot cichlids — to be cherished or avoided? - Practical Fishkeeping
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There were even tattooed Parrots with messages and pictures scarred onto them. Placed into everything from African cichlid tanks to arowana set-ups these are the clearly most abused of all tropical fish and treated with similar disrespect, by many, to goldfish.
One noticeable factor with Parrot cichlids these days is how large they can grow. The Midas cichlid is native to hard water and Central American lakes, so requires pH in the high Parrots are easy to feed and will accept dry frozen and live foods. As they get larger a main diet of cichlid sticks or pellets will be fine.
As for tank mates, if Parrots grow up with them from small they are generally OK with such as rasboras, tetras and barbs, though add a shoal of small Neons to a tank of large Parrots and they will be eaten. The standard mix with Parrot cichlids typically includes Angelfish, Silver dollars, Tinfoil barbs, Convicts, Severums, Jewel cichlids and hardy medium-sized catfish such as Doras and Synodontis.
Depending on where you shop, these are sometimes kept and sold alongside Malawi cichlids. One thing that often happens with Parrot cichlids is that they spawn. They are substrate spawners, like their ancestors, cleaning a rock or piece of wood on which to lay hundreds of adhesive eggs. If the fry hatched they would protect them too, only they never do, and despite being one of the most likely cichlids to actually spawn, I have never seen or heard of the eggs hatching, instead going white due to being infertile. Midas and Severums would make sense, though I have seen them spawn with any number of other Central American cichlids, from Jaguars to Convicts, luckily with the eggs never hatching.
What may start off as an interesting chance spawning may become tiresome as your singular Parrot lays batch after batch of eggs that prove infertile. We actively campaign against the sale of dyed fish, as we know through our own research that the dye is injected into these fish or tattooed onto them. Heart Parrots are treated even worse, though we have not seen them for sale in the UK. Hybrids cause us problems too see below when it comes to identifying fish.
So although they are cute, clever and generally good fish for the community, we would recommend that you try some other fish instead. If you still want to buy Parrot cichlids avoid all but the apricot coloured ones, or rarely, the olive coloured ones, as these are not dyed for appearance.
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Hybrids are found everywhere in the animal world and are especially common in the terrestrial plant world. It could be argued that domestic Discus are probably hybrids of the three wild species, as are some forms of platy crossed with swordtails and lots of Malawi cichlids, like calico Aulonocara.
If you knowingly buy hybrids and breed them, as long as the buyer knows what they are there may not be a problem. Hybrids do, however, cause problems when you want to positively identify fish like the very similar Vieja cichlids from Central America or Metriaclima cichlids from Lake Malawi and when it becomes paramount to keep a species absolutely pure, as in conservation.
As any seasoned Malawi cichlid keeper will confirm, if left to hybridise the hybrid progeny becomes increasingly large, drab and similar, and if left for years a Malawi tank can change from a colourful, diverse mix of many different species to one, singular hybrid mass. Imagine that happening in the wild? Hybrids may then, unknowingly, make their way back into the shops and have the fish buffs puzzling over them, misidentifying them and then unknowingly crossing them again. This creates a headache for the home collector and loss of the true species that we sought out and brought into the hobby in the first place.
Some argue that hybrids are sterile, as Parrot cichlids in particular seem only ever to produce infertile eggs.
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So beware. Hybrids are also known to have something called 'hybrid vigor' with a new injection of foreign blood making them larger, more aggressive potentially and more successful than either single parent species. This again could be catastrophic if hybrids are released into the wild.
There is another Parrot cichlid — not a hybrid, but a true species — called Hoplarchus psittacus from South America pictured above.
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- Parrot cichlids — to be cherished or avoided? - Practical Fishkeeping.
This large, softwater fish is peaceful and until recently very rare in the hobby. It is becoming increasingly more available, however, and being tank bred it can be kept with other, large, peaceful South American cichlids like Uaru, Severums and Satanoperca.