Blue Polar Parrot Cichlid – Species Profile & Facts
Disclosure: I may earn a commission when you purchase through my affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. – read more
Cichlids are exotic and beloved fish in the aquarium business thanks to their personalities, lifestyle, and appearance.
These fish display an amazing variety in terms of size, coloring, pattern, and even overall behavior.
Today, we will look into the blue polar parrot cichlid, which is one of the more special types of cichlids available today.
We’ll discuss why that is in today’s article.
What is a Polar Parrot Cichlid?
As you may know, many aquarium fish have undergone extensive selective breeding as aquarists have tried to create new strains.
Selective breeding refers to handpicking the male and female based on specific physical characteristics.
This improves the chances of the fry inheriting many of their parents’ traits and, hopefully, showcase the exact characteristics you’re looking for.
It’s pretty much a process of trial-and-error, and some fish are more valuable than others based on the characteristics they’ve got.
The same process happens when breeding fish belonging to different families, as is the case with cichlids.
While many species of cichlids can breed with each other, they don’t do it in the wild simply because they live in different geographical areas.
Selective breeding eliminates this impediment, allowing people to breed 2 types of cichlids that would otherwise never come into contact with each other.
Such is the case with the polar parrot cichlid, which is the offspring of convict cichlids and blood parrot cichlids. In other words, polar parrot cichlids do not exist in the wild and rank as hybrids (manmade.)
The polar parrot cichlid combines traits from both parent species. So, the fish comes with a bulky body and a head shape, reminding of a blood parrot, but with the body coloration and pattern of a convict.
Polar parrot cichlids are either white or blue (in different shades) and display zebra-like black or dark blue stripes all over the body.
They make for quite the presence, especially since they grow quite large.
Polar Parrot Requirements
Fortunately, polar parrots are easy to care for since they are hardy and adaptable. This is great, as many hybrids have difficulties living normal lives.
After all, selective breeding isn’t an exact science, and the resulting hybrids often exhibit physical or genetical problems that reduce their lifespan or quality of life.
Fortunately, this isn’t the case with the polar parrot cichlid.
So, what should you know when looking to house one or more polar parrots?
Tank Size & Setup
As is typical with cichlids, polar parrots require a lot of swimming space, but they also need a specific aquatic setup.
The ideal tank size for a polar parrot is at least 15 gallons. I know that many people recommend 10, but this isn’t quite right. Especially given that some polar parrot cichlids can grow up to 8 inches; it’s best to be ready for it.
A pair of polar parrots should do great in 30 gallons, but the tank’s size isn’t everything. As is typical with cichlids, these fish utilize the entire tank.
Polar parrots are moderate substrate diggers, so expect them to spend a lot of time near the substrate. Provide them with a fine and familiar substrate, preferably sand, which is fine and easy to dig in.
You’ll have to manage the substrate carefully, though, to prevent the formation of anaerobic pockets that can accumulate ammonia over time.
Caves are also necessary to provide your polar parrots with good hiding areas in case they’re rattled or need to rest.
Live plants come in sparingly, but you should have several for a more natural setup and more well-oxygenated water.
Polar parrots require water temperatures around 72-80 °F and a pH level of 6.5 to 8.0. These are hard and very resilient fish that can cope with various water parameters, including poorer water conditions.
That being said, you should provide your cichlids with clean and clear water to keep them safe from stress and parasites.
Just because polar parrots are hardy doesn’t mean that they are immune.
Feeding and Diet
Polar parrots are opportunistic eaters that prefer an omnivorous diet. They eat anything and tend to eat a lot, so provide them with 2-4 small meals per day, based on their appetite.
The main problem is that polar parrots have small intestinal tracts, so overfeeding them affects the fish more severely than other species.
They can easily get constipated, so you should only provide easily digestible foods.
The meal size also matters a lot. Only feed your cichlids sufficient food for them to consume in about 30 seconds to a minute.
Anything above that will either turn into food leftovers or risk constipating your cichlids.
As a side note, keep an eye on your cichlids during feeding. These fish can get snappy when competing over food, and violence is often their go-to behavior.
Do Polar Parrot Cichlids Need a Heater?
Yes, they do. Polar parrot cichlids love warmer waters which keep them joyful, calmer, and more active overall. The fish’s immune system will drop if the temperature drops too low or the cichlid experiences drastic temperature fluctuations.
It’s common for cichlids to experience stress due to dramatic temperature changes, causing them to stay in hiding, display a lack of appetite, and become grumpier.
Invest in a good heater to keep your cichlids comfortable, and they will reward you for it with their vivid and colorful personalities.
Do Polar Parrot Cichlids Need a Filter?
If there’s any fish that requires a filter, that’s the polar parrot cichlid. These fish can get extremely messy because they eat a lot and they have small intestinal tracts.
So, you should expect them to poop a lot as well.
You might need to vacuum the tank’s substrate at least once every 2-3 days or even daily if you’re housing many cichlids.
Doing so will remove fish waste and food residues that could poison the environment with time.
Naturally, the filter is an essential addition to any cichlid tank. The filtration system improves the ecosystem’s oxygenation and clears the water of any floating particles. Most of the fish waste will get sucked into the filtration system, keeping the cichlids’ habitat cleaner and healthier.
Your only concern should be positioning the filter’s intake. Don’t place the intake too close to the substrate because polar parrots are known substrate diggers.
They will often disturb the substrate, blasting sand particles through the water, which can clog the filter.
Keep the intake closer to the tank’s middle area to prevent that.
How Much do Polar Parrot Cichlids Cost?
Fortunately, these hybrids aren’t too expensive. Expect to pay somewhere around $10-$25 for a piece, depending on the cichlid’s size, age, and other factors.
You can get a pair or several cichlids at significant discounts if you take your time researching the market.
The idea is to check where the cichlids come from before any purchase. Make sure they’ve been kept in good environmental conditions and that they’re not sick or have any physical deformities.
Many sellers breed cichlids in overcrowded and poorly maintained environments, causing cichlids to develop poor immune systems and experience health problems along the way.
Low-end sellers interbreed cichlids to produce more fry, which are genetically inferior and can develop genetic problems that shorten the fish’s lifespan and overall life quality.
So, this is a more sensitive topic that could benefit from an entirely separate discussion.
Bottom line is: get as much info as you can about your cichlids before purchasing them.
What is the Lifespan of Polar Parrot Cichlids?
Polar parrot cichlids live between 5 and 10 years, depending on their living conditions, genetic profile, and overall care.
You can provide your cichlids with superior care in terms of diet, water parameters, and aquarium maintenance to boost their lifespan considerably.
A safe, comfortable, clean, and stress-free environment will help in this sense tremendously as well.
So, always assess your cichlids’ demeanor and quality of life to prevent stress and diseases that could take years off of the fish’s life.
How Big do Polar Cichlids Get?
Interestingly enough, there’s quite a debate on the internet regarding this point. Some people claim that polar parrot cichlids won’t grow beyond 4 inches, while others claim that they can reach 8 or even 10 inches.
As with most things, the truth about polar parrots is somewhere in the middle.
The truth is that these cichlids can grow up to 8 inches, but they’ll most likely remain smaller, around 4-5.
Some of the factors that influence the cichlids’ size and growth rate include diet, living conditions, and genetics.
How to Tell if Polar Parrot is Male or Female?
It’s virtually impossible to sex polar parrot cichlids during their young/juvenile phase. Males and females are identical until the cichlids become adults.
When that happens, males and females gain distinct characteristics, allowing you to tell the difference easier.
Females are rounder and bulkier, while males remain slimmer and appear broader. Male polar parrots may also display brighter coloring, especially during the mating phase.
Are Polar Parrot Cichlids Aggressive?
These are cichlids, so, yes, they are aggressive. However, polar parrots tend to be calmer than other species of cichlids, ranking only as semi-aggressive.
The distinction between aggressive and semi-aggressive doesn’t make much of a difference, though. The truth is that polar parrots are territorial and will attack other fish, especially if there’s not enough room for everyone.
Each polar parrot cichlid should have at least 10-15 gallons at its disposal to minimize its aggression.
To mitigate the cichlids’ violent tendencies, consider:
- Reduce the number of males – Cichlid males are notoriously violent towards each other. They fight over females, food, territory, and hierarchical positioning every time they see each other. They often fight on pure testosterone-driven instinct alone. So, I recommend only keeping 1 polar parrot male per tank since there’s no aquarium large enough to house 2 males safely.
- Consider more hiding areas – Cichlids love caves and aquatic decorations that they can use as hiding spots. Provide them with plenty of rocks, tunnels, underwater bridges, and other elements that allow cichlids or other fish to hide. These allow fish to flee any unwarranted aggression or bullying, much of which will most likely come from cichlids.
- Find compatible tankmates – To be fair, polar parrot cichlids are not offensive aggressors. This means they tend to remain calm and docile unless their more inquisitive or violent tankmates initiate the aggression. So, most polar parrots will become aggressive as means of self-defense. Pair them with other docile fish species, and you won’t have to deal with that.
Polar Parrot Cichlid Tankmates
The ideal tankmates for polar parrots should be docile, friendly, and mind their own business.
Are Polar Parrot Cichlids Good for Beginners?
Yes, polar parrots are essentially good for beginners, but the answer might not be so simple.
The truth is that, while polar parrots are easy to care for, they have their unique preferences about their environment that need addressing.
Polar parrots demand a fine substrate fit for burrowing through, plenty of hiding areas, and sufficient swimming space for them to feel comfy and happy.
They also demand several small meals per day, and some occasional live food treats 2-3 times per week. Regular cleaning is also necessary, given that cichlids poop a lot.
So, yes, polar parrots are easy to keep in theory, but you need to put in some work to keep them healthy, comfy, and happy.
Otherwise, they’re not difficult fish at all; you only need to set up a good cleaning and maintenance routine, and they will thrive.
How do Polar Parrot Cichlids Breed?
Polar parrot cichlids mate and breed every 3 months, with the actual mating phase often lasting up to 2 days.
The female isn’t keen to mate and is rather pretentious about picking the right contender.
Once that happens, the female cichlid will lay the eggs in a spot prepared by the male, as is typical with most cichlids.
The male will use its tail to stir the substrate and create a hole in a secluded area, preferably near a cave, where the female can lay the eggs.
It does so to keep the eggs out of sight and safe from other fish. The eggs take 2-3 days to hatch.
Polar parrots require a good diet during the breeding season and top water parameters with higher temperatures.
Do Polar Cichlids Care for Their Fry?
Polar cichlids protect both the eggs and the fry after hatching. They may for great parents as they keep the eggs safe from any intruders and attack other fish that may come close to the spawning zone.
This is one of the reasons why polar parrots require a lot of space and multiple caves and hiding areas.
Such a setup will reduce their aggression during the breeding season when cichlids are particularly snappy.
Blue polar parrot cichlids are amazing fish that even a novice can handle.
They’re not that different from other cichlids in terms of care requirements, but you do need to learn their specifics to provide them with the best care.
- Provide polar parrots with at least 15 gallons of water per fish
- Offer them 3-4 meals per day
- Keep the meals small so that they can consume them within 30 seconds, tops
- Clean the cichlids’ habitat regularly to remove fish residues and poop
- Perform at least one partial water change every week
- Pair cichlids with docile tankmates
- Decorate their environment with plenty of caves, rocks, and other decorative elements for hiding purposes
- Provide additional care and support during the breeding season