How Do I Tell the Difference in a Male and Female Blood Parrot Fish?

By Frank Whittemore

Blood parrot fish are members of the cichlid family of fish and possess an inbred deformity of the spine that gives them a distinctive, parrot-like profile. The blood parrot fish is a hybrid fish, developed by breeders and hobbyists, that does not exist in the wild, and is only found in aquariums. The male and female of this species are often so similar that they are impossible to differentiate; however, there are clues that may help sex a parrot fish.

Examine the dorsal and anal fins. If the fins are rounded, the fish is a female. If the parrot fish has pointed dorsal and anal fins, the fish could be either a male or a female.

Look at the other body characteristics of the fish. Males often have a more pronounced separation between the head and the body. By contrast, females may have smaller gill plates and any lip deformities may be less prominent than in male blood parrot fish.

Examine blood parrot fish when spawning. Males are more colorful during spawning, and they display more pink on the throat and behind the gills. Female fish are the ones laying the eggs.

Observe the behavior of the fish. The male of a mated pair will dig a nest in a gravelly bottom, while the female patrols the perimeter of the nest. Once eggs are laid, the female will occupy the nest and the male will protect it from outside.