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8 Deadly Blood Parrot Diseases And How To Treat Them !

Although blood parrot fish are captive-bred fish species, that doesn’t mean that these fish do not fall ill. So, if you see any change in their body or behavior, it is essential to identify the cause. We will list common blood parrot fish diseases here with their symptoms and possible treatments.

Blood parrot fish are cute-looking hybrid fish developed by hobbyists and breeders. They are not scientifically named, and you will not find these species in the wild.

They are not exotic fish, and they will get sick just like most other tropical fish kept in captivity. In fact, these fish are more prone to fish diseases than other pure breed cichlids because of their deformities.

Blood Parrot diseases

Blood Parrot Cichlid Diseases

The reason for most fish diseases is poor fish tank quality water and low oxygenation. Blood parrot cichlids tend to get stressed when they are not provided with enough hiding places, which can cause them to become sick.

Other possible reasons are overcrowding, improper diet, leaving the lights on all the time, injuries, being bullied by other fish, and inadequate habitat.

Common symptoms of diseases include:

  • Loss of color
  • Cloudy eyes
  • Swollen body
  • Abnormal swimming or resting posture 
  • Increased mucous production 
  • Excessive scratching or rubbing against objects in the tank 
  • Lethargy 
  • Loss of appetite 

If you observe any of these symptoms and behavior, then it is time to investigate further.

The most common diseases that Blood parrot fish get infected with are Ick, Swim bladder issues, and stress spots. Other uncommon diseases are skin flukes, protozoa, worms, fungal infections, and bacterial infections.

Most of these diseases are curable when diagnosed early. However, some diseases are hard to treat and may require specific medication.

In unfortunate cases, you may have to euthanize the sick fish to save others. So, it is essential to learn about fish diseases, signs and symptoms, and treatment options.

Common Diseases


Ick (Ichthyophthirius multifiliis) is a parasitic infection of fish that can cause white spots on the body and fins. It is one of the most common diseases in aquarium fish.

The ich parasite is a ciliated protozoan that lives on the skin and gills of fish. The life cycle of the Ick parasite starts when a free-swimming form attaches to the fish after penetrating its outer layer.

It then forms a protective cyst around itself while feeding on the fish’s cells, fluids, and tissue. The ick protozoan will be enclosed in this cyst until you see the white spots on your fish.

As the ick protozoan matures, it will break out of the cyst and release hundreds of new ick parasites to infect other fish in the tank.


  • Remove all affected fish from the tank and place them in a quarantine tank
  • Increase the tank temperature to 86° F (30° C) for three days.
  • If that doesn’t work, treat the entire tank with an ick medication according to instructions. (You can use copper-based Ick medications for Blood parrots. Copper will not harm them. In fact, Copper bases medications are more effective than other treatments. However, you should keep the medicine within proper levels to be on the safe side.)
  • Do not bathe your fish (baths can cause more stress and damage mucus membranes).

Swim Bladder Disease 

Swim bladder disease is another common problem of Blood parrot fish. It occurs when they eat something that causes their swimbladder to become ill.

Swim bladder disease will cause your fish to float in an abnormal position, such as at the top of the tank or lying on their sides.

They also swim in odd ways when they are infected. (Note: This freshwater fish usual swimming pattern differs from other fish. So, you should observe that pattern first before making any decisions.)


  • Feed them rich foods such as bloodworms and brine shrimp for a few weeks to help them heal faster.
  • Feed them shelled peas once a week until their swim bladder has recovered.
  • If this doesn’t work, then do an Epsom salt bath for 20 minutes twice a day. However, this should be done as a last resort.

Stress Spots 

Stress spots are caused by various things such as poor water quality, being bullied, overcrowding, and changes in the tank environment.

These brown or black spots on the fish’s body will start to appear when they are stressed and fade as they become more comfortable in their environment.

When a stressor is discovered and eliminated, these spots typically go away.


  • If the fish has spots because of a change in the tank, then make sure to provide them with proper hiding places and do frequent water changes.
  • If it is due to stress from another fish, you should separate them as soon as possible. 
  • Do your fish seems ill?, then perform appropriate treatments to cure them.
  • If the water quality in your tank is poor, then change the water and clean your tank to reduce stress.

Less Common Diseases

Skin Flukes 

Skin flukes are parasites that attach themselves to your fish’s skin. These parasites are so small, about 1-2mm long, that they are hard to see with the naked eye.

These parasites quickly multiply in poor water conditions and increased temperatures.

Once the fish is affected, it will have symptoms, and signs like clamped fins, increased mucus covering its body, loss of appetite, discolored or swollen gills, and difficulty breathing.

Most often, skin flukes also affect the gills, which cause your fish difficult to breathe. However, you will have to scrape the skin and/or do a gill biopsy to confirm the disease.

Flukes are very contagious, so you must quarantine the fish and treat both tanks to get rid of flukes.


Flukes are often hard to get rid of easily. Therefore, several treatments will be necessary to cure your fish.

The best approach is quarantining the fish and emptying the main tank for about two weeks so that the remaining eggs will dry off in the main tank.

If that is not possible, you can treat all the fish in the tank with a fluke medication.

  • Do a 30% water change and vacuum the gravel.
  • Add one tablespoon (15 ml) of salt for every 5 gallons (19 L) of water.
  • Treat the tank with a fluke medication according to instructions. You can use praziquantel, organophosphates, mebendazole, and toltrazuril for treating your blood parrots.
  • After treatment, repeat the water change and gravel vacuuming.

Repeat the process within seven days to kill the remaining eggs in the tank. Make sure to keep your tank clean and free of parasites to help prevent their return.


Other than Ick, Blood parrots are also prone to other protozoan diseases like Velvet, Rust – Gold Dust Disease, and Chilodonella. Protozoa are single-celled parasites that can cause a variety of conditions in fish. These diseases can be difficult to diagnose and treat. 

Symptoms include cloudy eyes, glancing off decor or substrate, possible weight loss, clamped fins, respiratory distress (difficulty breathing), and yellow to brown colored “dust” on the body.

If you suspect that your fish might have a protozoan disease, then you should immediately quarantine it and do multiple water changes per day. 


If you discover your blood parrot has protozoans, it must be treated as soon as possible.

  • Change the water and vacuum the gravel every day.
  • Treat with a protozoan medication according to instructions. (You can use copper-based drugs like Aquarisol or Acriflavine [trypaflavine] for this. However, be careful to use the correct dosage and monitor your water parameters).
  • Keep the tank clean and free of parasites to help prevent their return.

You will have to repeat the treatment once per day for several days until the fish is cured.


Blood parrots are also susceptible to intestinal worms like Nematodes which attach themselves to the intestinal lining and feed on the blood of your fish. This can cause serious health problems and even death.

Symptoms of intestinal worms include loss of appetite, weight loss, bloated stomach, discoloration around the anus, and frequent passing of feces (poop).

If you suspect that your fish might have intestinal worms, you should immediately quarantine the fish and check for worms.

Although it is not easy, you can usually diagnose intestinal worms from the feces of the infected fish. You will have to collect the feces and check with a microscope for parasite eggs.


  • If you discover your blood parrot has an intestinal worm, then it must be treated as soon as possible.
  • Quarantine the fish and then treat it with an intestinal worm medication according to instructions. (You can use praziquantel, levamisol, piperazine,and epsom salt). You may have to mix the medication with food to get the fish to eat it.
  • Change the water and vacuum the gravel every day to keep the tank clean and free of parasites to help prevent their return.

Bacterial Infections

Blood parrots are also susceptible to bacterial infections like columnaris, Tuberculos, fin rot disease, and dropsy.

Each disease has specific symptoms and treatment. Columnaris causes cotton-like growths on the gills, mouth, and eyes.

Fin rot disease results in frayed fins and bloody wounds on the fish’s body. Dropsy causes scales to stick out, bloated stomachs, and red marks around the body.


  • If you suspect a bacterial infection, then you should immediately quarantine the fish and treat it with a bacterial medication according to instructions.
  • You can use antibiotics like erythromycin, Penicillin, tetracycline, Furan, Copper sulfate, Nifurpirinol, kanamycin, Acriflavine, and Chloromycetin (use under veterinarian’s instruction)
  • Change the water and vacuum the gravel every day to keep the tank clean so that your fish won’t get infected again.
  • You will most likely have to treat the fish for several days or weeks, depending on the type of bacterial infection.

Fungal Infections

Fungal infections are rare in well-maintained fish tanks, but they can occur. Blood parrots are susceptible to a fungus called Saprolegnia.

This fungus causes a slimy film to form over the fish’s skin. If left untreated, these fungas can even kill your fish.

According to instructions, you can treat the fungus with a chemical fungicide called phenoxethol. You will have to remove the carbon from your filter and treat the water with the fungicide two times.

However, do not repeat the treatment three times as it can harm aquarium inhabitants. If you have a severely infected fish, you will have to quarantine the fish and continue treatment.

Blood parrots are also prone to Ichthyosporidium fungus that manifests the fish internally. The symptoms include loss of balance, hollow belly, sluggishness, external cysts, and sores.

But when you see external signs, it may be too late. This fungus is difficult to treat, and you will have to euthanize the fish before spreading this disease. Sometimes, Phenoxethol and Chloromycetin can help in treatment, but not always.

How to Prevent Diseases in Blood Parrot Cichlids?

The best way to prevent diseases in your blood parrot cichlid is to maintain a healthy, clean tank. Change the water regularly, vacuum the gravel, and use a good quality water filter. The ideal water conditions for Blood parrot cichlids are,

  • Temperature: 70.0 to 82.0° F 
  • ph level: 6.5-8.0
  • Hardness: 2 – 25 dGH

Usually, fish get infected with diseases from other fish in the tank, so keeping your fish population low is important.

Do not overcrowd your blood parrot tank with too many fish. The minimum tank size for one blood parrot cichlid is 30 gallons. You should add 10 gallons more for each additional fish.

When you introduce new fish, decorations, plants, and equipment to your Blood parrot cichlid tank, always quarantine the new items for a few weeks before adding them to your tank. This will help prevent the spread of diseases.

Also, feed your fish a balanced diet and do not overfeed them. Keep your tank free of parasites by using a de-worming medication every six months.

If you see your blood parrot cichlid fish acting strangely, then something is likely wrong. Perform a water test to look for the problem and take corrective action immediately.

If you notice any unusual symptoms in your fish, immediately quarantine the fish and treat it with the appropriate medication.

Final Thoughts

There are other diseases that can affect blood parrots, but these are the most common. If you notice any of these symptoms in your fish, then take appropriate action and treat them immediately.

Having a healthy blood parrot is essential to ensure they live a long and happy life. By following the proper steps, you can do your part to keep your fish healthy.

Credit to : Fish & Aquarium Hobby
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About Dr.Chamika

Hello, I'm Dr. Chamika. I am a Researcher in Water quality, Aquatic organisms, and Environmental chemistry. I am a passionate fish keeper, with10 years of experience. My mission is to help other aquarists experience the joy of fish keeping.