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New Parrot Owner - lots of questions

Hi! My brother bought what he thought was an unusual goldfish a couple of years ago from a local pet store, and put it into a 1 gallon tank for his 3 year old daughter. Very quickly the fish GREW and became much too large for the tiny tank. A few weeks ago I begged my brother to let me take the fish off his hands and place it in a 20-gallon tank that I had which was already established but had no fish in it. I know 20 gallons is not enough for him in the long term, but it's way better than 5! I just couldn't watch that fish suffer - he had grown to about 6 inches, his color was pale, and he actually looked unhappy. Plus my neice had lost interest in him.
My brother agreed, and now Mr. Smoochyfish lives with us. Once he was with us, I went looking to find out what he was - I thought maybe an Oscar - and found this website. When I saw the pics I said "That's him!" Since then I have been researching, but I'd like to have some advice from some experts! He has really blossomed in the time he has been with us. He is very responsive to both myself and my husband, and is great fun to watch. He seems to like to "wallow" in the substrate, so I put more in, and he has made a very hilly landscape on the bottom of the tank. I'll try to get some pictures of him, but here is a link to a video I posted on YouTube of him, a couple of days after we got him:

1. What is the best thing to feed him? His color is better since he's been with us but he is still really pale. I am currently feeding him a variety of flakes, nuggets, and crisps - but I read on this site that they like veggies, so I'd like to try that. Also, I'd like to keep him healthy and happy without encouraging rapid growth - how much should I feed? He's about 6 inches long right now.
2. He had several black patches on him when he arrived, so I put some coppersafe in the water and they have shrunk down a lot. Is this most likely black spot disease? And is there something better to use to help him recover?
3. There is a lot of algae growth on the walls of the tank. Can I put a Pleco in there or will Smoochyfish attack him?
4. I call the fish "him" but is there a way to tell if it is male or female?

Thanks in advance for any advice you can give me!




well done !! I am amazed he survived in such a small tank, he will need a bigger tank later, at least 30 galls as he gets older, and you will buy him one because you will love him so much,I feed as much as they will eat in about two Min's, twice a day if ANY bits reach the bottom, that's it, you have a big fish, he will grow on whatever you feed him!!!mine love shelled, thawed, frozen peas, and a few, a couple of times a week is good for them, helps digestion,constipation, etc,also try a variety of food, shredded crab meat, prawns (don't overdo protein food) the black spots look definitely like black spot disease(not a disease at all) its just a sign that his living conditions were poor (also can appear when under stress, IE spawning or new tank mates etc) all you need to do are regular partial water changes(use dechlorinator for the fresh water, at least 50% change per week,you don't need to add any chemicals don't add a pleco, they grow too big , (although someone on this site who keeps one may suggest a suitable one,the problem that comes up is that of the pleco sucking at the sides of the parrot! algae growth depends on nutrients in the water(don't overfeed) and light, is your tank near a window?without picking him/her up and turning him/her over, its difficult to tell the sex, if you buy a 40-50gall tank now, you could put another in,your going to have to eventually, ( just a thought) otherwise, a male has a thingy like V and a female like U underneath, he looks very happy, not shy at all, this tank must seem like a ocean to him, plan ahead though for when he gets bigger and if it old tank is empty, try to get it, it is only suitable as a hospital or quarantine tank which is handy,nice to have you with us

Thanks for all the input! I do already love him, so I am sure you are right about me buying him a larger tank.
My tank is not near a window, but I have a skylight, and depending on the time of year sometimes the sun hits it, sometimes not. I don't want to move it, but maybe I could rig some sort of shade for the sunny times...

I keep the curtains closed to prevent algea growth

the black spots are probably just from the stress of moving and change of environment. "he" will get over it in a week or two. you will have to keep on top of the water changes since he is in a 20. try to do 50% water changes twice a week to keep him healthy. it will be a little more work in a 20 gallon, but it is still only 10 gallons per water change. i do water changes once a week, but my tanks are bigger and i change about 125 gallons at a time.
for food,buy a cichlid pellet with asthaxithin in it. this is a natural color enhancer that enhances reds and oranges.
as far as the pleco, you can get a rubberlip, a bristle nose, a clown, or a pit bull pleco. these stay small and should work fine for you. the best cleaners out of those are the rubberlip IMO.

never having had a pleco, i dont know much about them, only that some can grow big, I remember sunnysdad saying before that a rubberlip was suitable

thanks - I'll see if I can find one. In the meantime, I scraped the algae off the glass and smoochyfish started eating it!

wow that is often for water changing! I did a 50% yesterday. He seems a little subdued today - staying in one spot in the tank instead of swimming all around. Should I be concerned?

maybe he is just subdued from the water change, I guess he didnt get many in his old tank, how is he today?I do a 50% change weekly, treat your new water with dechlorinator, water changes are really important and prevent many problems,always test your water with a test kit weekly for now,how are the black spots looking,I had a algae problem with my other tank, I taped black cardboard to the outside end to cut down on light,now I have a better filter system and it seems to help, too much light and/overfeeding can make it worse but if your fish eats it that's your answer

He was the same this morning - staying in one spot high in the corner of the tank until i walked over, then he moved and became more responsive. I will test my parameters when I get home. The water was de-chlorinated before I added it.
His black spots are a lot fewer now, but not completely gone. He is also paler since the water change - maybe stress? But he is eating normally. Also I got a pretty good look at his underside, and I think it is a male. I will take another video or pics soon.

hanging out near the top of the tank is usually a sign of ammonia,nitrites or lack of dissolved oxygen,does he(?) gulp near the surface?

No, he's not gulping at all. I checked my parameters - pH and alkalinity are low. Nitrites are zero, nitrates around 60. I don't have an ammonia kit.

This morning he wanted to hang in the top right corner; tonight he wants to be in the lower left corner (which is where he hung out when he was first in the tank).

I offered him a pellet, but he showed no interest. *worried*

if your nitrates are 60 or above, you need to do a water change twice weekly,don't worry, the water changes are good for him, do you use strips, test kits are better and they test for ammonia too,pH should not be too low around 6-8 I wonder whether this tank is still cycling,If smoochyfish suddenly appears worse with no obvious cause,do water changes every day as a first aid measures are there any other changes? is he eating today,

His color is better today and although he was in the corner, when I fed he came up and ate. Tank was well established when I put him in but what I had in there before was much smaller so the parameters were easier to manage. I am using strips, used to have a full test kit but used it up and haven't spent the $ to get another.

the reason i said to change water twice a week is because he is in too small a tank. it doesn't take long at all to do a 50% water change in a 20 gallon tank and it is hard to filter the water enough for a parrot in a 20. i recommend having (at minimum) twice the rating of filters for each tank you have. my 20 gallon has two filters one rated at 30 gallons the other at 20 gal. each of my 29s have 75 gal worth of filters. my big tanks have crazy amounts of filtration.
imagine being in a small room with no windows or doors to let fresh air in. the only way the tanks get clean water is water changes. filters help keep the water clean longer but, there is no substitute for a water change. now, since your fish is in a tank that is too small for it, your filters are not going to be able to keep the water clean as long. so the easiest way to take proper care of your fish is to do an extra water change a week.
when my tank was seriously overloaded, i had to do alot of extra water changes. you can either test nitrates starting 3 to 4 days after a WC and doing a WC when your nitrates get to 60ppm, or you can be cheap, like me, and just do the extra WC. with a python WC system, it akes about 5 to 10 minutes to do a 50% WC in a 20.
i try not to be a jerk when people have their fish in too small a tank because, everyone makes this mistake when they are new to fishkeeping. i just offered the solution to keeping clean water in too small a tank. what you do is up to you. if water is kept clean, you won't be on here in a while asking why your fish is floating upside down or why there is a large hole in its head. i breed fish and understand that you need to croud fish into whatever you can sometimes.

I already knew that he was in too small a tank, believe me, but I rescued him from a 5 gallon tank, so I thought it was a darn big improvement. :) I am not new to fishkeeping - I have been doing fresh and salt for many years and never intended to keep him in the 20 gallon tank. Does not matter now, as we lost him. I am quite sure it was bacterial, now - won't go into all the details, water under the bridge. But I am setting up my 45 gallon tank to me my new cichlid tank.

im so sorry about ur fish :( if ur getting a new tank these guys r really cool fish usually.

Actually, yes, we did get a new tank - 45 gallons, and we have 3 PCs in it and they are doing so great! I need to take some pics of them. I started with "Babysmoochy" and then added "Jake" and "Jodi" (stories on both those names but I'll explain it another time). Jake is now the biggest and lightest in color. Babysmoochy is the most vibrant orange. Jodi is the bravest. I just love them. :)

Iam so sorry to here about your lost I know what it is like to lose cichlids. :(

I feed mine a variety of flakes,bloodworms (freeze dried and frozen). They also get brine shrimp as well. When feeding frozen foods. I thaw mine under cool running water in a small net. They also love krill. I give them this as a treat about twice a week. I feed them the flakes daily and alternate the other foods. I have tried feeding mine zuchini but they didn't respond to it well. I have spoke with others who have Parrots and they say thier fish go absolutely love it. You can also give them thawed frozen peas as well. I hope some of these suggestions are helpful.

I offered him a couple of peas yesterday and he gobbled them right up!
Thanks for the tips - re: frozen food & krill - doesn't it get tiny when thawed? Will he just "vacuum" it in?

peas r great 4 them and help digestion ( something they tend to have a problem with), but make sure u take the shell of the peas b4 u give it to them! they can have trouble digesting the shells.

What is best? Thawed frozen peas? Canned peas?

I have a bag of frozen peas, I take a few out and drop them in a cup of hot water for a while, then I shell them and nip them into small bit sized bits, getting a bit mixed up with this post, is your fish alright now,or still not eating and staying on the bottom?

The original smoochyfish died a long time ago. I now have 3 more: Babysmoochy, Jake, and Jodi. :)

Ok so this morning he was hanging at the top of the tank, this evening he wants to stay in the bottom corner. I am really worried that he doesn't feel well. :-(
I just offered him a pellet and he didn't show any interest. *worried*

No, he is not gulping, but I checked my parameters just now - the pH and alkalinity are low, zero nitrites but nitrates at 60 or so. I don't have an ammonia kit.

How often should I feed my parrot fish. He is a juvenile, probably 4 to 6 inches long. I have him & a pleco in a 30 gallon tank. I have been told to feed him once or twice a week. What are your feelings?

i feed my parrots 2 times a day! i couldnt imagine onl;y feeding them twice a week! just put only enough food that they can eat in about 2-3 minutes

just not too much at a time

more fish become ill from overfeeding than ever do from underfeeding, a healthy adult fish can (if necessary) survive for 2 weeks or so without food at all, so, feed them a varied diet, I feed mine just once a day, as much as they will eat in two mins, if any reaches the tank floor, then stop, if your fish devour everything in 2 mins you can adjust the time by a faction or choose to feed x2 daily