I got my first pair of polar blue parrot cichlids back in 2018. I remember there was no information available about these fish at all. I relied on scanty info provided by the breeder, my own experience, and lots of luck to raise them.
Fast forward a couple of years – I am surprised by the amount of misinformation out there for all of us to consume. Bloggers and sellers alike have simply copied and pasted the information they’ve used for blood parrots.
And although there are a number of similarities between polar blue parrot cichlids and blood parrots, especially in terms of behavior and needs, there are pretty significant differences as well.
So, in this blog, I will explain to you all that you need to know about raising these fish. I guess it’s going to be a long article. So, buckle up!
Here’s a quick look first.
|Name||Polar blue parrot cichlid|
|Nicknames||Zebra parrots, Short-body convicts|
|Temperature||72 – 80°F / 22 – 27°C|
Polar Blue Parrot Cichlid Origin
Polar blue parrot cichlids aren’t found in the wild. They are man-made hybrids. And like most man-made cichlids, it’s widely believed that they were first bred in Taiwan, Asia. And due to easy breeding, today, they’re found in all corners of the world.
Unfortunately, there’s no one consensus about what fish were initially used for breeding them.
The most common answer on the internet was that these fish are a cross between convicts and blood parrots. But upon further investigation, I found fish that are a cross between convicts and blood parrots, and they look nothing like polar blue parrot cichlids.
Another popular theory is that they’re a cross between Honduran red points and convicts. This seemed a bit more convincing to me. That’s because female polar blue parrot cichlids have a massive egg tube just like red points.
But as I said, we don’t know yet! Unfortunately, there’s a lot of misinformation on the internet on the subject. One site even claimed that they’re a cross between black convicts and king kong parrots!
Anyway, despite the muddy origins, the fish looks absolutely beautiful.
Polar Blue Parrot Cichlid Lifespan
Polar blue parrot cichlids can live anywhere between 5-8 years. Some sites have listed that they can survive a decade or so, but I think that’s a stretch. That’s just recycled info from blood parrots.
My polar blues are around 4 years old now, and they are still going strong. So I think they have at least 2 years of life left.
How Much Do Polar Blue Parrot Cichlids Cost?
Polar blue parrot cichlids cost anywhere between $15-25. As much as possible, make sure to purchase from a credible local buyer so you don’t put the fish through the hassle of traveling a long distance, which will quite seriously stress them out.
Polar Blue Parrot Cichlid Appearance
Polar blue parrot cichlids have a distinct balloon-shaped body, but it’s not as exaggerated as a blood parrot’s. They are ash blue in color with dark blue stripes running across the body that almost looks black. Males develop a nuchal hump on their forehead, but it’s not as prominent as a flowerhorn’s hump.
Both males and females may have red or yellow markings on the tail. Also, the female’s belly turns pinkish to orangish when she’s carrying eggs.
They have small mouths, and their nose almost looks like a parrot’s beak. And although small, their mouths are fully functional, unlike a blood parrot’s.
Like all cichlids, these fish have a fully developed set of pharyngeal teeth in their throat, in addition to regular teeth. They also have spiny rays in the edges of the anal, pectoral, dorsal, and pelvic fin, which helps to deter predators. However, the front parts of these fins have a soft texture, which helps them glide effortlessly in the water.
And like all cichlids, polar blue parrot cichlids have one nostril on each side, while most fish have 2.
Polar Blue Parrot Cichlid Size
These fish don’t get too big. They will clock in somewhere between 3 to 4 inches. The body, excluding the tail, is just around 2 inches long.
Once again, on many sites, it’s mentioned that these fish grow around 8-10 inches long. But that’s a lie. That’s just blood parrot’s information they copied and pasted.
My fish were about an inch long when I first got them. They grew around 3.5 inches and plateaued at around 6 months. So, in my experience, these fish grow pretty fast but not too big.
Polar Blue Parrot Cichlid Male VS Female
Male polar blue parrot cichlids are usually a tad bit bigger than their female partners. They are also more intensely colored and have a distinct nuchal hump on the forehead. The beak is also more prominent in males.
On the other hand, females have roundish bodies with shorter, rounder fins. In addition, their bellies develop a distinct pink-orange color during the breeding season.
As juveniles, it’s quite challenging to tell them apart.
Polar Blue Parrot Cichlid Temperament
These fish are small, but they pack a lot of personalities. They aren’t as hostile as convicts, but we can definitely describe them as semi-aggressive fish. One hobbyist on YouTube shared that his polar blue parrot cichlids quite relentlessly chased angelfish and mollies at the beginning.
Well, if they do have the convict cichlid’s gene in their body, I guess the apple won’t fall too far from the tree. If that’s the case, you can expect these fish to be a little mean.
And despite the murky origins, we know that these fish have Central or South American roots. So, they will inevitably get territorial and mark random objects in the tank.
Like most cichlids, they can be pretty hostile during the breeding season, as males compete for the females’ attention, and they hunt down a suitable place to lay eggs.
They’re also known to be quite aggressive with their own species. So, we advise keeping them in a group of 5-6 to spread out the anger.
These fish have a thing for digging. You can occasionally find them rummaging through the substrate and sometimes toppling decors in the tank.
Tankmates For Polar Blue Parrot Cichlid
- Giant gouramis
- Yoyo loaches
- Clown loaches
- Severum cichlid
- Blood parrots
- Cory catfish
- Kuhli loaches
- Honey gouramis
Polar blue parrots aren’t really community fish. Small livebearers like guppies and tetras don’t stand a chance against these feisty fish. And since they have fully functional mouths, unlike blood parrot fish, they can bite and nip other fish.
Therefore, they should only be placed in tanks with similarly-sized cichlids with equally strong personalities.
Polar Blue Parrot Cichlid Male:Female Ratio
Since these fish can breed quite prolifically, housing more females than males can result in hundreds of unwanted fry. So, the ideal polar blue parrot cichlid male:female ratio is 1:1.
Polar Blue Parrot Cichlid Diet
Polar blue parrots are omnivores with a sizable appetite. However, since their body is relatively compact, the digestive tract is cramped up together. Therefore, you should only feed them food that can be digested easily. While choosing pellets, it’s better to buy ones specially made for parrot cichlids since they have small mouths. Live foods should only be given as treats once in a while.
Feeding food rich in carotenoids like beta carotene will make their colors richer and brighter.
Here’s a list of food you can feed them:
- Brine shrimp
- Feeder fish
- Blanched vegetables
If you’re interested, here’s a link to pellets I give, made explicitly for blood parrots.
Hikari Blood Parrot Pellets
Why I Love This Product
- Pellets small enough to easily fit inside their tiny mouths
- Color-enhancing, scientifically derived formula
- Fortified with vitamin C
- Made with nutritious ingredients like marigold flower meal, chili pepper, and krill
And here’s the link to Hikari Bio-Pure FD Blood Worms that I give as treats:
Why I Love This Product
- Frozen with Pharmaceutical-grade freeze-drying technique
- Contains micro-encapsulated vitamins
Ideal Water Parameters For Polar Blue Parrot Cichlids
|Temperature||72 – 80°F / 22 – 27°C|
|General hardness||2-25 dGH|
The numbers shown above represent the minimum and maximum ranges these fish can tolerate. Try to achieve numbers towards the middle of these ranges. And remember, it’s more about maintaining consistent parameters – not hitting specific numbers.
Like blood parrots, polar blue parrot cichlids are messy eaters in my experience. So, you have to be on your toes to maintaining water parameters.
You can conduct 20%-25% water change every week, depending on how many fish you have and your tank’s size. Remember, the smaller the tank, the more temperamental it will be. The temperature of the water you add should be the same as the water temperature inside the tank. Don’t forget to clean the filter media at least twice a month.
Occasionally, also clean the viewing panes with an algae magnet or a sponge. And after algae settle to the bottom of the tank, use a siphon vacuum to get rid of all the debris accumulated. And make sure to remove leftovers every time after the fish is done eating to keep the water pristine for a longer period.
And don’t forget to monitor the water every week diligently. We use API Freshwater Master Test Kit, which measures 5 important water parameters: pH, high pH, nitrate, nitrite, and ammonia.
Buying this master kit offers more value for money than buying individual strips. If you are interested, I’ll leave an Amazon link below:
Recommended Tank Size For Polar Blue Parrot Cichlids
The minimum recommended tank size for polar blue parrot cichlids is 20 gallons for a pair. However, we always recommend going bigger whenever possible.
They’d be truly happy in a bigger tank – so the ideal choice would be 29 gallons or more.
Best Substrate For Polar Blue Parrot Cichlids
The dark, sandy substrate would bring out a polar blue parrot cichlid’s color the best. Also, since these fish have a knack for digging, coarse or rocky substrate can tear their fins and injure them – so avoid them.
Best Decorations For Polar Blue Parrot Cichlids
The aquarium should have plenty of rocks and roots for the fish to retreat in when stressed. But at the same time, there should be enough open areas to swim freely. Place rocks, caves, and driftwood strategically to create pathways for the fish.
If you are using driftwood, make sure to vigorously boil it first to get rid of the tannin that makes the water acidic.
Adding flat rocks and caves can encourage breeding if that’s what you are looking for. For the cave, you can topple a tank-safe plastic cup or pot sideways.
You can add plants like java fern and anubias that are incredibly hardy enough to even thrive in alkaline water conditions. And since these plants don’t need to be rooted to the substrate, your cichlid won’t uproot them. Just make sure to anchor them securely to rocks and decors.
Recommended Equipment For Polar Blue Parrot Cichlids
Like blood parrots, polar blue parrots have compact bodies with delicate fins. Thus, you need to get an aquarium filter that does the job well but only produces gentle flow.
It’s equally important to invest in a reliable heater to prevent sudden rises and drops in the temperature, which can prove fatal in the worst-case scenario. If you cut corners with this one, the risks of electrocution and overheating quite dramatically amplify.
Below, I will drop the Amazon links to equipment that I use for my polar blue parrot cichlids. These equipment don’t boast fancy bells and whistles, but they are easy on the pocket and do a decent job.
Skroutz Aquarium Starter Kit 29 Gallon
MarineLand Penguin 200 BIO-Wheel Power Filter
- Multi-stage mechanical, chemical, and biological filtration
- Patented Bio-Wheel technology for excellent wet/dry biological filtration
Boxtech Aquarium Heater 100 W
- Made with heat-resistant milky quartz glass
- Fully automatic control
Breeding Polar Blue Parrot Cichlids
Breeding polar blue parrot cichlids is relatively easy. They will breed readily as long as the environment is conducive. If you want to encourage them to mate, make sure to increase the water temperature slightly, feed protein-rich food, and provide flat surfaces and little caves.
The female has a massive egg tube. Her belly will turn pinkish or orangish shade when she is carrying eggs. During spawning season, both males and females get moody and territorial.
I didn’t find any information on the web, but in my experience, males maintain a polygamous relationship where they mate with several females.
The courtship and mating ritual is identical to that of other southern and central American cichlids. The male will dance, shimmy, and the two may also lip lock.
Once the eggs are laid, male will swiftly follow and fertilize them. The female will then guard the eggs while the male’s job is done. She will fan the eggs, so they get enough oxygen.
Polar blue parrots lay eggs almost once a month. So, you will end up with so many tiny fry.
And if you are serious about breeding these fish, it’s essential to set up a new tank for the fry equipped with a reliable heater and a sponge filter. You must use a sponge filter, so the fry don’t get sucked in.
Here are the links to the sponge filter and air pump that I use:
For the first 4-5 days, the fry will rely on the yolk sac for nutrition. After that, you will need to feed them pulverized flakes or pellets, newly hatched baby brine shrimp, microworms, and daphnia.
It’s important to monitor if the fry are eating or not closely. If they seem to deter the food you give, you should immediately offer something else as they can quickly die from starvation.
And once they get big enough to fend for themselves and not fit into an adult fish’s mouth, you can move them to the main aquarium.
Polar Blue Parrot Cichlid Diseases
Like all cichlids, your polar blue parrots are susceptible to many diseases if the diet and environment are not right. Some of them are swim ich, bloating, swim bladder disease, and stress spots.
Let’s go through them quickly before we end this article.
Ich is caused by protozoan ichthyophthirius multifiliis, and fish with weak immunity are especially susceptible to it. This disease manifests as tiny white dots across the body. What’s worse is it doesn’t need any host to transfer from one fish to another.
To treat ich, you need to elevate the temperature slightly – around 86°F (30°C) – and use a copper-based treatment. But make sure to remove the water conditioner before you use the treatment.
Swim Bladder Disease
Swim bladder disease is a condition characterized by malfunctioning of the swim bladder due to injury, disease, or any abnormality. It disrupts the fish’s buoyancy – causing it to swim sideways, upside down, or sink to the bottom.
If you think your fish has this disease, fast the fish for 3 days. On the fourth day, feed a skinned pea and continue to do so for a couple of days. If it doesn’t subside, you will have to seek professional help. The fish surgeon will remove a part of the bladder or put a small stone on it to restore buoyancy.
Like blood parrots, polar blue parrot cichlids are prone to developing dark blotches in response to stress. These spots appear especially when the fish is being harassed, the tank is dirty, or when it is changing homes.
Final Words: Polar Blue Parrot Cichlid Care Guide
I came across a lot of misinformation surrounding polar blue parrot cichlids on the internet. So, I had to come up with my little guide.
These cichlids may have a muddy origin, but if you keep an open mind and get a few things right, it’s a breeze to care for them. They’ll definitely be the centerpiece of your aquarium just like they’ve been mine!
So, have you decided to bring polar blue parrots home? Or have already? Let us know!