Recently my family relocated our 30 gal fish tank upstairs so everyone can enjoy it. It had been empty of tetras for about three months, and we decided to try something new--cichlids. Blood parrots.
We bought two blood parrots and a couple of tiny convict cichlids to keep them company.
All the fish were introduced to the tank at the same time, so there is no disparity there. The main difference is in the parrots. One is ever so slightly larger than the other and has an easier time moving his mouth than his tankmate--he still has the characteristic 'beak', though. The other parrot has a more 'severe' beak and has a harder time getting food than his more robust mate.
The problem is, the larger, stronger parrot constantly bullies the smaller one. I know that cichlids are notorious for being territorial and aggressive, but the more robust parrot seems to have dominion over the entire tank. The robust parrot snatches most of the cichlid pellets away from the smaller one, leaving him with less to eat. The dominant parrot chases the submissive parrot anytime he catches his eye, which is often. The smaller parrot never chases the other parrot back--the poor thing eventually just stops fleeing and idles in a corner, taking it to the belly.
We have a couple of cave-like structures set up for our parrots, but the dominant one seems to have the run of the whole tank and bullies him away from them. Occasionally we'll see the submissive parrot hiding out in one 'cave' we have set up, but most of the time he seems to just float idly in a corner. I just know he wants desperately to hide, but he's always chased away by the bully.
On closer inspection this morning, I noticed some black spotting on the smaller parrot's belly that wasn't there before. There is no torn skin or scales that I can make out, but the smaller parrot is clearly stressed out.
One more thing that has to be factored into this--nitrite levels. We're still trying to get the biological filter set. When we moved the tank, we had to start from scratch. Before we bought the fish, we thought everything was ready to go--nitrite levels and ammonia levels were just fine. But, several days and nitrite tests later, we realized the nitrite was building up higher than it should be. We've been doing routine water changes and add stress zyme and bacteria as necessary--but could this be having an effect on how aggressive the big parrot is acting? Once nitrite levels drop to normal levels, can we expect his bullying behavior to slow?
I know that high nitrite can't possibly be helping the situation at all, but once that is taken care of, can I expect things to lighten up between the two of them? I just feel so bad for my smaller parrot and don't want him to be tortured by the bully.
We've had our fish for a little less than a week now.