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A Cichlids Article on: Parrot Cichlid
The parrot cichlid is not a fish that is found in the wild, it's a man made hybrid. It gets its name from its head and mouth that are shaped like the beak of a parrot. While the most common colors of parrot cichlids are orange and red, they are becoming more widely available in various other colors such as blue, green, and even purple.
The males will reach around 10 inches when fully mature and the females are slightly smaller at about 7 inches. With the right conditions and proper care, they can live for 10 years or more. Water conditions should range between a pH level of 6.5 to 7.5 and the temperature should be maintained between 75 and 85 degrees for optimal health.
Parrot cichlids love to swim, so it is very important that the tank is big enough to provide them with lots of room to move. A 50-gallon tank is usually sufficient for 2 or 3 parrots, but if you have more, you should add another 10 gallons to the size of the tank for each one. And, tank length is more important than tank height as they are bottom dwellers.
They love to have several places to hide, so add some driftwood, rock, or clay pots that can serve as caves. They will also appreciate a soft substrate such as sand, because they love to dig. But, because they love to dig so much, a good filtration system is essential. They will constantly be stirring up all the waste that gathers in the sand and they produce a lot of waste.
Plants can be added to the aquarium, but the need to be well anchored. Again, because parrot cichlids dig so much, they will constantly uproot any plants that are not weighted down properly. Usually placing a few rocks around the bottom of artificial plants is enough to keep them in place.
When it comes to food, parrot cichlids are not finicky at all. They will eat almost any type of food such as cichlid pellet, bloodworms, brine shrimp, and even flake foods. You can buy specialty foods that will help to intensify their colors, but any food that is high in b-carotene will also make their colors more vibrant.
There is really no way to distinguish the sex of parrot cichlids. However, once a male is ready to breed and chooses a mate, he will have a pinkish tint behind the gill cover and on his throat. The male will perform a little ritual dance, he will turn sideways and sort of shimmy rapidly moving his fins and tail. This mating ritual can last for several days.
They will choose an area in the substrate under some rocks or driftwood to make a nest, but they may just dig a pit in the sand. Once the eggs are laid, the female will stay with them only coming out occasionally to eat, while the male guards the nest. Any eggs that are not fertilized will become white with fungus and are eaten by the parents.
After the fry has hatched, they will feed on the yolk sacs for a couple of days. But, then you will need to give them newly hatched brine shrimp. Parrot cichlids are excellent parents and both will take care of the young fry, sometimes for months. When they no longer take care of the young, you should move them to a separate tank; they will eat most of them when they get ready to spawn again.
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