Home » Fish Guides » Do Freshwater Parrotfish Eat Plants? (Parrot Fish Feeding)

Do Freshwater Parrotfish Eat Plants? (Parrot Fish Feeding)

Yes. Parrotfish eat plants. Simply, these fish love to eat anything that you provide, including both animal and plant matters. Freshwater parrotfish is a fantastic creature that adds a beautiful view to your aquarium. However, if you love freshwater parrotfish, you should create a better environment for them without hurting live plants in the aquarium. Also, you should feed them well. These two factors cover around  50% of parrotfish care. So, keep reading. This article will help you to rear and care for parrotfish well without any trouble. 

parrotfish eat

Do Freshwater Parrotfish Eat Plants? | More Facts

Freshwater parrot fish knows as omnivorous and they eventually eat aquarium plants in your fish tank. So, you can see them nibbling on aquatic plants. However, do not worry. Because of the above reason, you should choose aquatic plants with solid and waxy leaves. Also, you can select fast-growing live plants. Because the fast-growing live plant can survive better than other plants. Even if fish eat your plants, they will not die because they grow faster than fish consume. 

In addition to this, freshwater parrotfish love to dig the substrates. As a result of this behavior, they tend to uproot live plants in the aquarium. It can kill your aquatic plants. So, if you wish to keep live plants with your freshwater parrot fish, you must go with either plants with a robust root system or floating plants. 

What Are Freshwater Parrotfish?

The parrotfish is a popular freshwater aquarium fish. Also, it is one of the cichlid family members and does not have a Latin or scientific name. So, relatively, this fish species is a new hybrid of unknown origin. But there are several assumptions. The majority’s idea is that the freshwater parrotfish is the cross-breeding of South or Central American cichlids. 

Further, you cannot find parrotfish in the wild. The general belief is that the farmers introduced the parrotfish in the far east about 30 years ago. When considering the appearance of parrotfish, they have beautiful orange coloration. In addition to that, they come yellow and red. These color forms help them to compete with other most colorful fish in the industry. 

Generally, if you care for them well, the parrotfish can grow up to 8 to 10 inches or 10 to 25 cm in size when they reach adulthood. Further, it has a round body with a cute face. They have large fins. Also, their mouth is like a beak. Now they are popular in the fishkeeping world, including in Thailand, and Singapore. Additionally, parrotfish are famous in Chinese culture due to their color. Because Chinese people love the orange-red color. 

If you also like to add parrotfish to your fish collection, you can keep one fish or group of fish. Further, you can rear them in the community tank because parrotfish are generally peaceful fish species. But here, you should be highly aware of their tankmates, because they get stressed easily. The main reason is aggressive tankmates. Also, when we consider their behaviors, parrotfish are very shy. But if they make sure they have much more hiding space in the aquarium, they will swim actively. 

Special Note: There are several types of parrotfish. Some of them are:

  • Red blood parrot 
  • Purple blood parrot 
  • Love heart parrot 
parrotfish eat

What Do Parrot Fish Eat?

Freshwater parrotfish is an omnivore species. So, they eat both plant and animal matters that you provide them. However, you can prepare the diet of parrotfish with dried, frozen, frozen dried, as well as live foods. But freshwater parrotfish have difficulty grabbing the foods that are on the surface of the water. So, it would be best if you used sinking pellets and flakes to feed them. Further, you can buy dried foods that are specifically formulated for cichlids. 

Frozen and live foods contain more nutrients.

For instance, bloodworms, brine shrimps, and daphnia are the favorite frozen and live foods of parrotfish. You can provide these foods as supplements for your freshwater parrotfish with dried foods. Because a balanced diet can supply a range of nutrients for your parrotfish. So, it helps to enhance the coloration, growth, and overall health of parrotfish. But do not try to feed your freshwater parrotfish with live or fresh foods daily. These foods are highly rich in proteins. So, it is recommended to provide live foods once or twice a week. In addition to these foods, cichlids eat vegetables and fruits too. They love to eat,

  • Zucchini
  • Boiled carrots
  • Cucumber
  • Peas
  • Lettuce, 
  • Spinach 

On the other hand, they love to eat fruits such as,

  • Strawberries
  • Grapes
  • Blueberries

So, you can prepare a balanced diet for these freshwater parrotfish by using above mentioned foods. It also helps to increase the appetite of your fish. 

Special Note: The five best freshwater parrotfish foods are listed below. These foods include full of nutrition that helps to improve parrotfish’s immune system. Also, it brightens their colors. 

  • Aqueon Cichlid Food Pellets 
  • HIKARI Blood Red Parrot+ 
  • Omega One Super Color Cichlid Pellets 
  • Omega One Freeze-Dried Blood Worms 
  • Aqua Master Cichlid Food 
parrotfish eat

Parrot Fish Feeding Frequency

It would be best if you fed them twice a day and morning and the evening time is best. However, parrotfish tend to eat even if they are not hungry. Therefore do not add additional feeds, rather than the general routine. So, make sure you do not overfeed them. Another important thing is the amount that you feed. You should provide enough amount that parrotfish can finish within a couple of minutes. Further, you should remove the uneaten foods from the tank. Because these excess foods can badly affect your water condition. Moreover, you should perform regular water changes. 

parrotfish eat

Which Plants To Keep With Parrot Fish?

You can keep several aquatic plants with parrotfish in the same aquarium. Here I listed the most commonly used aquatic plants in freshwater parrot fish tanks.  

Anubias plants

This small live plant can thrive in a wide range of conditions. Anubias can grow up to 5-10 cm in height. The special thing is, that the leaves of this plant survive for several years. Fortunately, freshwater parrotfish do not eat anubias species because they do not like the taste of the plant. Further, anubias is easy to grow. If you have driftwoods in our aquarium, it is best to plant anubias.

Java Fern 

Java fern is also known as Leptochilus pteropus or Microsorum pteropus. This plant is traditionally green. Also, the main components of java fern are rhizomes and leaves. The leaves of this aquatic plant are very hard and also have a leathery texture. Further, java ferns can grow up to 13.5 inches in height and 6-8 inches in width. The most popular java fern aquarium varieties are,

  • Narrow-leaf java ferns
  • Needle leaf java ferns
  • Trident leaf java ferns
  • Windelov java ferns. 


Simply, people called this plant Vals. Vallisneria is popular in aquariums because of its easy care and quick growth. Also, this live plant species is similar to the seagrass. You can use Vallisneria as a background plant in your parrotfish aquarium. 

Java moss 

Java Moss is also one of the hard-live plants in the freshwater aquarium industry. Similarly, this plant is easy to grow. Java moss has the ability to provide a natural and aging look to your parrotfish aquarium. Further, when this plant grows, it attaches itself to different surfaces like gravel, rocks, driftwood, and commercial decorations. This plant suit for your parrotfish tank because it is impossible to kill this plant quickly. 

Dwarf Sagittaria 

Dwarf Sagittaria is also known as Ribbon Wapato and Hudson Sagittaria. You can plant and care for this aquarium plant very easily. That is because this is one of the few plants that have the ability to thrive in very high pH levels and hard water. 


Hornwort is also ideal for parrotfish aquariums. This hardy freshwater aquarium plant can tolerate a wide range of water conditions. Further, Hornwort or Ceratophyllum is a fast-growing live plant. 

Can We Keep Parrot Fish In Planted Tank?

If your planted aquarium has different types of valuable live plants, keeping parrotfish is not a good idea. Because parrotfish like to dig aquatic plants’ root areas. This behavior leads to uprooting the live plants. Also, parrotfish tend to eat or nibble many live plants. But you can keep a parrotfish with some aquarium plants in the same tank because they do not tend to nibble on them. Also, these live plants can tolerate the predation of parrotfish. These are;

  • Hornworts
  • Java fern
  • Java moss
  • Vallisneria

However, if you like to keep aquatic plants in your parrotfish tank, the selected plants should have a robust root system. Also, choose a  live plant that is not famous as a cichlids snack. 

What Fish Don’t Eat Plants?

Many fish species do not like to eat live plants. However, we can list some of them as follows. 

  • Acara 
  • Angelfish 
  • Livebearers 
  • Rams
  • Apistos
  • Kribs 
  • Discus 
  • Small sunfish species 
  • Dwarf cichlid 
  • Corydoras 
  • Danios 
  • Loaches rasboras
  • Ottocinclus
  • Betta
  • Killifish 
  • White cloud mountain minnow 

Do Fish Like Plants In Their Tank?

Most fish species like to live with aquatic plants. This is because the live plants help to create an environment that is similar to the natural habitat. Also, live plants provide natural foods to many fish species. Further, plants give shelter and breeding grounds to the fish. Moreover, when fish feel unsafe, planted aquariums offer many hiding places to protect themselves. Also, aquarium plants support reducing the algae growth in your tank. Because plants absorb excess nitrogenous waste to grow. Finally, live aquatic plants give a remarkable appearance to the fish tank, including the parrotfish tank.  Therefore, you can decorate your fish tank with them.

What Does Blood Parrot Fish Eat?

Blood parrotfish are omnivores. So, they accept both meaty foods and plant matters. So, you can provide them pellets, flakes, frozen, freeze-dried foods, and live foods for them. For instance, blood parrotfish prefer to eat bloodworms, daphnia, and live brine shrimps. In addition to these foods, you can add veggies and fruits to your blood parrotfish diet. You can add any of the food that I listed below table to feed your fish.

Vegetables Fruits 
Lettuce Grape 
Boiled carrotsBlueberry


You should carefully plan your aquascape when you have an idea to add freshwater parrotfish to your aquarium. Because parrotfish love to eat plants stuff, including live aquatic plants. But some live plants cannot tolerate the predatory activities of parrotfish.  So, you should be highly aware of parrotfish vs. live plants. In this article, I  give good background knowledge about freshwater parrotfish and aquatic plants that can add to them. So, I hope you gather more knowledge regarding the live plants that can thrive with parrotfish.  

Read Next: Can Pleco Fish Survive In Cold Water? Find The Answer With More Facts

Sharing is caring!

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.