The blood parrot cichlid is a hybrid aquarium fish species around which notable controversy exists. Produced by crossing the midas cichlid (Amphilophus citrinellus) and the redhead cichlid (Paraneetroplus synspilus), the blood parrot cichlid's genetic mixture has left the fish with a combination of physical traits that compromise the fish's ability to thrive. It has a very small mouth, for example, that makes it difficult for the fish to feed itself adequately.
Some aquarium enthusiasts believe this is a hybrid that should not be bred, and some even go so far as to boycott petshops that sell it.
However, the unusual appearance—round body and beak-like head with large eyes—along with the fish's ability to coexist with other species in a community environment, has made it popular among some enthusiasts.
Origin and Distribution
The blood parrot cichlid is a hybrid produced by breeding the midas and the redhead cichlid. The fish was first created in Taiwan around 1986. Although they've been on the market for some time, blood parrot cichlids were not seen widely in pet shops before the year 2000. Usually sold under the name blood parrot or bloody parrots, they should not be confused with freshwater parrot cichlids (Hoplarchus Psittacus) or the saltwater parrot fish (Callyodon fasciatus).
Controversy surrounds this fish, especially the ethics of creating it through cross-breeding. Of most concern are the numerous anatomical anomalies, some bordering on deformities, that create hardships for the fish. For example, the mouth is quite small and oddly shaped, and this affects the fish's ability to eat. At feeding time, bloody parrot cichlids may have difficulty competing with tankmates that are more aggressive and have larger mouths. Bloody parrot cichlids also have spinal and swim bladder deformities which affect their swimming abilities. Creating a fish with such deformities is considered by many to be unethical and even cruel, and some enthusiasts go so far as to boycott shops that sell this hybrid.
The controversy even exists over the genetic parentage of this fish. Although the most likely pairing is between the midas cichlid (Cichlasoma citrinellum) and the redhead cichlid (Cichlasoma synspilum), some forms (often known as "calico" bloody parrots) are likely the result of crosses between a green or gold severum (Heros severus or Cichlasoma severum) with the red devil (Cichlasoma erythraeum).
It is also possible that Amphilophus labiatus or even Archocentrus species are used in creating bloody parrots.
Regardless of their heritage, one thing is certain—these fish do not exist in nature but only as the result of human interference in natural breeding.