How to Tell If Blood Parrot Cichlid is Male or Female?

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If you’re already familiarized with Blood Parrot cichlids, you’re already aware of the controversy surrounding them. These fish are the exclusive result of selective breeding which means they haven’t evolved naturally in the wild.

Parrot cichlids are hybrids that are considered less than ideal, to put it like that.

Some Parrot cichlids experience genetic faults since their species hasn’t had time to settle properly. This makes little difference to cichlid lovers who appreciate cichlids in all shapes and forms. And the Blood Parrot cichlid makes for quite a unique addition to your fish tank.

The problem most aquarists are struggling with, novice hobbyists at least, is the Parrot’s dimorphism. How exactly do you differentiate between male and female Parrot cichlids? Let’s have a look.

Male vs. Female Blood Parrot Cichlid

Several markers inform you of a Parrot cichlid’s sex, although some are more reliable than others.

These include:

Fin Shape

Like most other male fish from other species, male Parrot cichlids have pointy anal and dorsal fins. On the other hand, females have rounder fins with a lobe-like appearance.

Unfortunately, this difference isn’t always reliable since some females may also display pointy fins, except not as often.

In other words, the fin’s shape is only an indicator that the cichlid is most likely a male. Not that it is. For a definitive verdict, you’ll also have to assess other markers.


This is probably the clearest indicator you can get. Male cichlids will display a different and more invasive behavior compared to females.

This behavior becomes obvious in situations like:

  • Territorial dominance – Cichlids always have a dominant male setting up the territorial boundaries. The male will protect its turf fiercely, especially against other Parrot males or aggressive fish species. It’s the main reason why Parrot males will never get along in the same environment, especially a small one. A Parrot cichlid requires at least 30 gallons of water to satisfy its territorial requirements and calm the males a bit.
  • Reproductive competition – The breeding process is when all the behavioral differences become clear. The male will chase after the female and display nesting behavior to lure the female into laying the eggs. The Parrot male will ruffle the substrate, dig into the sand, and remove pebbles to make a comfy nest for the female’s eggs. Soon after the female lays its eggs, the male will spill its milt all over the area. At this point, the fish’s sex shouldn’t be a mystery anymore.
  • Hierarchical dominance – This behavior is more visible in larger groups where you have several cichlids of undisclosed sex. You will always have one ruling over everyone else via a type of herding behavior. The fish will occasionally swim around and poke at other cichlids to keep them packed and maintain order. This is the dominant male. The issue is that there may be other males around without you knowing. That’s because the presence of a dominant male inhibits the other males’ proper development. So, they may be smaller and look more like females, at least until the dominant male leaves the environment.

As an interesting fact, most Blood Parrot males are infertile. This is a common issue among fish species resulting from selective breeding.

That being said, the males will engage in reproductive behavior and attempt to fertilize the female’s eggs either way. It’s just that, in most cases, the milt is sterile, so the eggs will die off soon.

The fish will consume them to prevent the formation of fungi that could infest the environment. If that doesn’t happen, you should remove the eggs from the environment. If they haven’t been fertilized, they will turn white soon.

Body Shape

Parrot females are typically fuller with larger bellies and rounder bodies.

Their bodies are specifically designed to accommodate a large number of eggs. Males, on the other hand, are slimmer with flatter bodies.

They are also more agile because of it, swooshing through their environment at a moment’s notice.

Their heads are also slimmer, whereas the females’ are bulkier with more protruding cheeks.

Vent Shape

The Parrot female’s vent area is shaped like a U, while its breeding tube is fat and mostly blunt.

The male has a V-shaped vent with a rather skinny breeding tube. These differences may be more subtle than others.

Growth Rate

Parrot males grow faster and larger than females.

This is due to their biological roles as males need to protect their territory, and the larger they are, the more intimidating and more powerful.


Blood Parrot cichlids share the same yellow-orange color no matter their sex. So, differentiating them based on their coloring only is next to impossible.

With one exception: when the spawning times come. That’s when males will stand out, thanks to their brighter coloring.

They will display a brighter, reddish-orange, separating them from the females that will retain their duller shades.

This shows there are a handful of markers to rely on, although they’re not all reliable. To sex your Blood Parrots accurately, you should combine several of these markers and not only rely on one.

At What Age Can You Sex Blood Parrot Cichlids?

You can sex your Blood Parrot cichlids when they are about 18-months of age. That’s when the cichlids are fully sexually mature and begin to display sex-specific traits.

However, you will have to wait longer than that to distinguish between the sexes accurately.

Males and females tend to display a variety of overlapping features, making it difficult to tell which is which.

Do Blood Parrot Cichlids Change Gender?

No, Blood Parrot cichlids cannot change their sex. There’s surprisingly little information on these cichlids in terms of sex stability.

Part of that is due to many people mistaking Blood Parrot cichlids with parrotfish when looking for this information. And the latter can change its sex.

Another reason for the confusion lies in the Blood Parrot’s overlapping characteristics. In other words, females will sometimes display male-like features like pointy fins and similar colors.


Blood Parrots are relatively easy to differentiate by sex if you know what you’re looking for. I really hope, this article has helped you identify the gender of your blood parrot cichlids. If you have any questions, please leave a comment.

Author Image Fabian
I’m Fabian, aquarium fish breeder and founder of this website. I’ve been keeping fish, since I was a kid. On this blog, I share a lot of information about the aquarium hobby and various fish species that I like. Please leave a comment if you have any question.
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