You are here

History of the Red Parrot

History of The Fascinating Red Parrot
(Cichlasoma citrillum x C. synspilum)
by Jian Zhi Chen

From AquaPets Magazine June, 2004
|Photos by Kai Shin Fish Breeding Research Institute from Yi Lan County, Taiwan
Translated by Bin Ziegler

This article was written based on my long time collection of information on the history of the creation of the Red Parrot from local fish farmers and fish breeding researchers  in Taiwan.

The Red Parrot first appeared in the the early 1990s (Chinese Republic Year Min Guo 81 to 82). I have written numerous articles on the classifications of the hybrid fish for AquaLife magazine.

I'm thrilled to see that my articles are still being used as references  by today's fish pet industry.  However, my comparisons and analysis will no doubt pose some challenges to some readers whose opinions may differ from mine.  I would like to have my readers contribute their comments to this interesting discussion on the Red Parrot.

The history of the Red Parrot can be traced back to the period of 1989 through 1990 (Chinese Republic Year Min Guo between 78 and 79).  With the publication of  an article called A New Hybrid Fish by Mr. Chen Yan Qing and Mr Cai Jian, the fish pet industry set their sights on a man-made hybrid fish (Bian Zhong Yu) or a modified hybrid fish (Gai Liang Yu Zhong), or a cross-bred hybrid fish (Za Jiao Yu Zhong).  The idea may sound odd, but it truly describes the entire breeding process of this hybrid fish.  Most of the fish breeding researchers in Taiwan prefer to call this species Bian Zhong Yu meaning a hybrid fish.

Chen Jian Zhi Mr. Wang Yu Sheng holding one of his Red Parrot fish. For more information on these fish, visit

Through years of experimenting, fish breeding researchers have discovered a breeding technique to cross breed between Red Devil (Cichlasoma citrinellum) and Redheaded Cichlid (C. synspillum) to create offspring known as Red Diamond (Xue Zhuan Shi) and Red Precious Stone (Xue Bao Shi).

The only difference in these techniques rests on the sequence of sex selection in pairing the parentage.  Some breeding researchers  chose male Red Devil to pair with female Redheaded Cichlid, some did the opposite.

At an earlier stage, due to the low supply of Red Parrot, fish pet shoppers could not utilize any standard to classify and grade  Red Parrot for their sizes and appearances.  With the increase of more available supplies of Red Parrot  on the market, the Red Parrot shoppers could finally  develop a standardized method to classify and grade the available Red Parrot on the market.  Below is a table of  my classifications and grading method on the four groups of Red Parrot which resemble  that from the fish pet industry.

The magnificent sight of a full tank of adult
Red Fortune God (Hong Cai Shen).

The table below is from an abstract of my article on Red Parrot published on AquaLife's June issue in 1980, which also appeared on the 11th issue of AquaPet magazine. My classification and grading method is still being adopted by today's fish pet industry in Taiwan.

Note:  The length in the table indicates the measurement from mouths to tails.  The height indicates the measurement from back to bottom of the Red Parrot.  The published articles and recorded document on Gold Severum (Jin Gang Ying Wu) can be found during this period of time.

Red Fortune God fish look very attractive with bright colors and humps in their foreheads.  These Red Parrot are not always fertile.  From the fish pet industry's points' of view, even if they are fertile, their offspring would not be considered for profit making.  Therefore, a lot of fish breeders have given up raising the fry from these species and turned their attention to crossbreeding between Red Fortune God (Hong Cai Shen) from Southeast Asia and Flower Horn (Hua Luo Han) from Taiwan.

ance Features

Ratio of Length (nose to tail)/

 Shape of the hump in upper back

Shapes and condi-tions of gills

Shape of Mouth

ness of Scales



Super A


Have obvious hump

 Have no external opening
but intact 

Triangle /not able to close

Smooth with no bumps

Red orange and bright red

Very low supplies



Have no obvi6us hump

Have no external opening but intact

Close to triangle shape not able to close

Smooth with no bumps

Orange red and bright red

Their bodies have some black spots and stripes



 Have no obvious hump

Have external opening but not intact

Normal shape and able to close

Not too smooth with some bumps

Orange red and pink red

Their bodies have some black spots and stripes



Have no obvious hump

Have external opening but not intact

Normal shape and able to close

Not very smooth with some bumps

 Pink red and bright red

Look similar to Gold severum(Jin Gang Ying Wu)

  Another photo of fascinating
Red Fortune God (Hong Cai Shen).

Ge Ma Lan Hong Yuan Bao (Ge Ma Lan Red Fortune Coin) Have wider and larger sized bodies, bright red colors, their backs and hips are longer than their tails. After two years, they can weigh over 1 kg.

Those classified in group super A and A are known for their large size and wider bodies.  These two groups  of Red parrot were in fact the beginning stage of   Gold Severum (Jin Gang Ying Wu in its Chinese name)!

In order to create more varieties of hybrid fish, fish breeding researchers have imported large quantities of cichladaes from South America to cross-breed with the Red Parrot in Taiwan. The selected fish for parentage include C. nicaraguense (Zhen Zhu  Huokou) C.octofasciatum (Lan Huo Kou), C. festae (Hong Fu Huo Kou),  C. Meeki (Jin Buo Luo), C. severum (Jiu Jian Buo Luo), C, centrarchus (Hua Wen Bao), C. managuense or C. dovii (Jin Qian Bao) C. carpinte (Jie Wang), Hypselecara temporalis (Shi Tou), C. nigrofasciatum (Hong Zhu Astoronotus ocellatus var and Uaru amhiacanthoides  Hei Yun).

The techniques adopted include:  natural pairing and manipulated pairing of parentage even invitro techniques.

The commonly chosen male parents for breeding are Purple Parrot (Zi Hong Huo Kou), Red Devils, and C. dovii (Jin Qian Bao).  The success occurs by choosing male Red Devil to pair with female Red Parrot to produce their offspring of second and third or even more generations.  This breeding technique has created today's Gold Severum (Jin Gang Ying Wu).

On rare occasions, a small number of Red Parrots were injured by accidents from attacks from other aquatic creatures or fish keeping routines.  As a result, they have lost some body parts such as part of their chests, backs, and tails.    Some unique names were given to describe these species' body characteristics such as One Finnage Red Parrot (Du Jiao Hong Ying Wu) and Yi Ke Xin.  With a vision for making  a profit on such Red Parrot, some smart fish breeders started mass production of  these injured Red Parrot.  Fish Breeders from the north and south part of Taiwan considered this an inventive technique in multiplying the quantities of injured  Red Parrot, but it has been criticized by  the aquatic world for degrading the quality of Red Parrot therefore putting this mass production to a halt.

However, this invention has inspired fish breeding researchers  to adopt different breeding techniques to improve  the colors of the Red Parrot with poor color qualities. They injected red and purple red colors into the selected Red Parrot for breeding.  As a result, Purple Parrot were created and became quite popular in fish pet industry.  Because of this success,  the few breeding farms who were able to breed Purple Parrot had replaced the majority of the Red Parrot breeding farms.  Mr Wang Guo Zhong and Mr. Li Ji Tai were pioneers among  them.  Through a  brief  period of experimenting, some fish breeding researchers have discovered another breeding technique to create Green Parrot, Blue Parrot, Rainbow Parrot and Candy Parrot.  Though they need some improvement, the new hybrid fish have turned the fish pet shops into  a painters' color mixing dish.  These new hybrid fish  have also  become a conversation piece in the fish pet industry in Taiwan.


Fish breeding researchers have also focused on the topic on whether Red Parrot can naturally produce their own offspring.  After five years of research, they have discovered that the male Red Parrot bred from Taiwan could not produce sperm mature enough to penetrate the female Red Parrots' eggs.  In even worse cases, many of these male Red Parrot could not produce any sperm at all.  The only successful breeding technique rests on crossbreeding between male Red Parrot from Taiwan and female Red Parrot from South America.  This has proved the importance of selecting the fertile male Red Parrot to produce their normal offspring.


Kai Shin Fish Breeding  Research Institute located in Yi Lan County, Taiwan.


 Director of Kai Shin
Fish Breeding Research
Institute,  Mr. Wang Yu Sheng
and his wife.


Ancestors of Parrot Cichlids

Redheaded Cichlid
Red Devil


This breeding technique has created a new form of hybrid fish with red colors coming from female parents and black spots and stripes coming from male parents.  The commonly selected male parents for breeding were C. synspillum (Zi Hong Huo Kou), and C. dovii (Jin Qian Bao).  The most successful breeding technique was selecting Red Devil as male parents to produce their second, third and more generations of offspring.  This was how today's Gold Severum (Jin Gang Ying Wu) was created.

The history of Red Parrot has reached its peak in  the fish pet industry.  From a very rare ornamental fish with limited supplies in fish pet shops, with no means for classifications, Red Parrot have now become a commonly traded hybrid fish in the fish pet industry in Taiwan.  However, they are still very unique with their bright colors and attractive appearances.  Based on relative comparisons, I have classified Red Parrots into the following categories:

  1. Red Parrot:  Have medium sized and wider bodies..
  2. Purple Parrot:  Have purple color in their bodies due to injections of purple color into either male or female parents during spawning season.  Their purple color will  gradually fade and return to their original red color.
  3. Yi Ke Xin.  Have strong vitality to survive after being injured.  They can continue to grow to 20 cm. long even after their tails have been cut off.
  4. Jin Gang Ying Wu .  These are super large sized Red Parrots.  The matured Gold Severum (Jin Gang Ying Wu) are 25 cm. long.  Their mouths are always open, and their chins are protruded forward.
  5. Ge Ma Lan Hong Yuan Bao (Ge Ma Lan Red Fortune Coin)  Have wider and larger sized bodies, bright red colors, their backs and hips are longer than their tails.  After two years, they can weigh over 1 kg.
  6. Ge Ma Lan Hong Cai Shen (Ge Ma Lan Red Fortune God)  Have super large sized and wider bodies with a hump on their forehead which indicates good fortunes (Fu) in Chinese. After two years, these fish can reach between 28cm. – 30 cm.
  7. Hong Hua Luo Han (Red Flower Horn) They are very territorial by nature and therefore should be raised alone.  This characteristics resembles that in Red Devil.


The history of Red Parrot has witnessed great successes in breeding techniques of Red Parrot.  From its emerging stage as just a rare ornamental fish with not enough supply to be classified on the market, to a mass production of super large sized Red Parrot.  This made me keep wondering whether we will encounter more miracles of fascinating new hybrid fish that will continue to marvel the aquatic world.



1. AquaLife
A Taiwanese Aquatic magazine
that has ceased publication.

2. The author witnessed these varieties being used although can't be sure that the later generations successfully bred further or had a market value according to the views at that time. Many hybrid lines were abandoned for lack of market value. Among these abandoned fish, one of the lines which ended up coming back to Taiwan from S.E. Asia in the last few years, was the Flowerhorn (luo-han).