Can Blood Parrot Cichlid and Oscar Fish Live Together?
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As a cichlid lover, it’s no surprise that you would end up loving Blood Parrots and Oscars with the same intensity.
These cichlids are both different and similar in numerous areas, making them compatible tank mates, but only under specific circumstances.
So, can you keep the 2 together, or are they too different, so it’s not even worth trying? Let’s discuss this point in more detail!
Do Blood Parrots and Oscars Get Along?
The answer is both yes and no. One thing to remember about these 2 species is that they are cichlids. It’s only natural for them to express territorial behavior when challenged.
The good thing about these species is that they prefer calmer and peaceful tank mates, and neither of them is particularly aggressive, to begin with.
Here is a summary of both species to help you understand them better:
Blood Parrots are hybrid cichlids which is another way of saying that they are the result of human-guided selective breeding.
These fish don’t exist in the wild, and it’s unlikely that they can adapt to such a life.
Females are fertile, but males are not. At least most aren’t, since some can fertilize the females’ eggs, but they are rare and far between.
Blood Parrots can display some genetic faults due to being relatively new hybrids (less than 40 years since the first hybrid was created.)
One of these faults is the small and awkwardly-shaped mouth that’s always open, stuck in an O shape.
This renders the Blood Parrot incapable of fighting with other fish, competing over food, biting, or consuming anything other than small chunks of food.
That being said, Blood Parrots are friendly and peaceful creatures that can live up to 15 years in captivity, given adequate care and maintenance.
They are omnivorous and versatile with their diets and require a mixed habitat layout, combining rocks and caves with open swimming spaces.
That’s because they are quite active fish that like to investigate and roam their environment in search for food and to improve their fitness.
Such a habitat layout will also allow them to retreat into hiding whenever threatened by a more aggressive tank mate. These fish are territorial but not over-the-top as other cichlids.
Just keep in mind that they don’t do well when overcrowded or placed in small tanks with insufficient space.
The Oscar fish is among the most valued cichlids in the aquarium world, which is mostly due to their sharp and polished intelligence levels. Oscar fish are also called water dogs, thanks to their intelligence levels.
They are capable of recognizing their handlers, will come to eat from your hand and require intellectual stimulation to remain healthy, active, and joyful.
Many people entertain them with ping-pong balls floating on the water’s surface or introducing mirrors into their tanks.
Oscars are also hardy and will display impressive growth rates of up to 1 inch per month during their first year of life. Knowing that an average Oscar can reach up to 10-12 inches. This means that they can reach full body size in 12 months.
This is that much more impressive when knowing that well-maintained Oscars can live nearly 20 years in captivity.
Behavior-wise, Oscars are rather territorial but won’t mind other tank mates so long as they have sufficient space for themselves.
These fish are omnivorous and are strong enough to render all light tank decorations useless.
The Oscars will just tip them over or even break with ease, which is almost a given, considering their inquisitive nature.
All in all, there’s no reason why you wouldn’t make the marriage between the 2 work. However, to do that, you need to consider several aspects, as we will discuss in the following section.
Keeping Blood Parrot Cichlids with Oscars
Here are the key components to have in mind when looking to pair Oscars with Blood Parrots:
Blood Parrot cichlids demand at least 30 gallons of space to remain peaceful and comfortable.
This is enough for one adult Blood Parrot, measuring around 7-8 inches which is the average size.
Larger Blood Parrots, revolving around 10-12 inches, may require more space, preferably in the neighborhood of 40-50 gallons per fish.
Oscars, on the other hand, require even more space. The official recommendation is 55 gallons for an adult Oscar, but you’ll often need more space than that. Oscars can quickly become territorial, especially in the presence of another large cichlid.
I recommend a 75-gallon water volume for your adult Oscar to prevent any meaningful confrontations.
The math is simply in this context. The ideal tank size necessary to accommodate one Blood Parrot and one Oscar is 125 gallons.
You can go for a slightly smaller tank than that, but you should consider the space necessary for various other tank aquatic elements as well.
These include the filter, heater(s), rock system, driftwood decorations, if necessary, etc.
So long as each fish has its designated water volume, the 2 won’t have any problems with one another.
In case some territorial confrontations do arise, they will always have the room to flea and take cover until things cool off.
This tends to describe the Blood Parrot’s situation more accurately since they typically avoid confrontations, preferring to seek refuge near their cave system.
Size and Growth
Blood Parrots will typically grow around 7-8 inches with a maximum of 10 or even 12 in more extreme cases.
Realistically speaking, your Blood Parrot will probably not exceed 7 inches. They are also rather slow growers since their growth rate drastically depends on factors like diet, water quality, parameter stability, stress, or genetic makeup.
For the most part, Blood Parrots will reach their maximum size within 2-5 years, depending on these factors and the fish’s species.
Oscars can grow almost twice as large. A fully-grown Oscar cichlid will typically measure around 10-12 inches but can reach 16 inches in some cases. But what truly makes the Oscar special is its growth rate.
Oscars will grow up to 1 inch per month during their first year of life. With proper care and an optimized diet and feeding pattern, Oscars can achieve full-body maturity within their first year-year-and-a-half.
This raises an interesting problem.
Since Blood Parrots and Oscars grow at vastly different rates, you should be very careful when you introduce them to one another.
I would advise first introducing the Blood Parrot into the aquarium and allowing it to grow a bit and accommodate in the habitat before getting the Oscar.
This way, the Blood Parrot will be large enough for the Oscar to no longer consider it as prey. Or, even better, introduce both fish when they’re still juveniles so they can get accustomed to one another.
This way, despite them growing at different rates, they will have sufficient time to figure out the dynamics between them and reach a reasonable agreement about their territories.
Blood Parrots require higher environmental temperatures, ranging between 75 and 80 F.
They don’t like temperature fluctuations that much and don’t appreciate colder waters since these can affect their digestive system and immunity.
Oscars are more adaptable in this sense since they allow for a larger temperature range. They will remain comfortable at water temperatures between 72 and 80 F.
That being said, they too hate abrupt or sudden temperature fluctuations that disrupt their natural vibe.
A good heating system is necessary, although, for a 125-gallon tank, you might need 2 heaters.
These will spread out the temperature more evenly to prevent hot and cold pockets that would force the fish to avoid some areas in favor of others.
Feeding and Diet
Fortunately, Blood Parrots and Oscars are compatible in this area as well. They are both omnivorous and will consume a variety of foods, both animal and plant-sourced.
You can feed them commercial fish food, live food, or veggies in paste form, either boiled, cooked, or fresh.
There are numerous fish food recipes to consult with an astounding ingredient variety. One of the most noticeable differences between Oscars and Blood Parrots is that the former prefers a more protein-reach diet.
While Oscars need their fair share of veggies, they require more protein to grow and remain healthy, especially as juveniles.
Blood Parrots need a mixed diet with some protein treats 2-3 times per week.
Feed both fish 2 times per day and make sure they’re always full and satisfied. This will minimize the stress and aggression associated with insufficient food.
Oscars are more resilient when it comes to water quality, but Blood Parrots are not. The latter require clean environments and stable water conditions to remain healthy, with strong immune systems.
And this is where the true problem is found. Oscars are messy fish that will produce a lot of fish waste.
An Oscar living in a 75-gallon tank will be fine with one partial water change every 2-3 weeks. So long as you’re cleaning their waste and vacuuming the substrate along the way, of course.
This changes now that you also have a Blood Parrot involved.
I recommend changing their water weekly, no more than 10% at once.
This is enough to keep their habitat clean and fresh and oxygenate the water while diluting the ammonia and nitrites at the same time.
Number of Fish
How many fish you choose to house in the same setting depends on how large the tank is.
As I’ve already mentioned, the optimal tank size for one Blood Parrot and one Oscar should revolve around 125 gallons.
You can get away with less water volume than that, provided you take some measures along the way.
One of them is making sure that the Blood Parrot has plenty of hiding spots to fall back to.
Decorate the tank with a robust reef or live rock system, and your Blood Parrot will feel at home even if the tank isn’t as big.
The situation is trickier when discussing Oscars since these cichlids are more territorial than Blood Parrots.
I don’t recommend keeping more than one to avoid bloody and potentially lethal territorial fights.
Do Oscars and Blood Parrots Fight?
Yes, Oscars and Blood Parrots will fight under certain conditions.
- Keeping them in a small tank with insufficient room for both of them
- Not providing the Blood Parrot with any hiding areas to fall back to
- Not feeding the fish properly
- Or not cleaning their tank as you should, stressing them out as a result
- Keeping several of them in the same environment, overcrowding the fish, and creating the perfect environment for increased aggression and territoriality
Oscars and Blood Parrots aren’t quite the ideal tank mates, but you can make it work. It takes some planning and logistics work, but it will be worth it.
Just make sure you monitor your cichlids daily and assess their dynamics to prevent any unwarranted or excessive aggression.