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1 dominant parrot + 1 weaker parrot = worried owner

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.

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Comments

The thirty gallon tank is too small in the long run.

What I'm curious about, though, is everyone else's comments on convicts with blood parrots. Is that a good combination? I'd like to know that for myself.

Nancy

u are overstocked. your 30 gallon should only house 1 bp and no other fish at all. You need to rehome them. They are all teritorial and will end up picking each other apart. They will create to much waste and it will stunt their growth and cause internal damage and death. Im guessing that you basically set it up as a new tank, so your nitrates are a part of the cycle process, your fish are going through a horrible ordeal. You need to study up on what you buy prior to buying it. Thanks for coming to the site for answers and you seem to care a lot. I would rehome the 2 convicts immediately and set up a 55 gallon as soon as possible for the 2 bp's. if 55 is out of question rehome 1 of the bp's as well.

No it is NOT a good stocking choice. The convicts will OWN that tank in no time. Terrible idea.

Your fish were introduced about six weeks too early. You need to study the nitrification cycle. In the mean time, go out NOW and buy some PRIME by Seachem and add it to your uncycled aquarium to save your poor fish from ammonia and nitrite poisoning. Then learn how to deal with the mistakes you've made.

After that you can worry about the bullying and overstocking and underfiltration.

Thanks everyone for the help--I had no idea that 30 gallons would not be sufficient for bps--we had been shopping around for several weeks before settling on the fish we bought.

Every pet shop we went to told us that our 30 gal. tank would be just fine for two parrots, and the listed size they had for a full grown parrot was 8".

I'll get some prime for them right away.

pet stores need to make money, so if they turn away people due to tank size they lose money, so it is not always a good thing to listen to them. go to google and actually google fish you want and read up on them. It will save many headaches and fish lives.. if you stick with my suggestion about rehoming then you will do fine... 1 bp with a few mollys would still be a bit squeezed in there but better.

a. Thanks for coming here, we appreciate your willingness to seek help.
b. 30 gallons is way to small. Either get a 55 gallon and rehome the convicts, or rehome everybody except 1 BP. Better yet, rehome everybody and find fish more suitable to your experience level and tank size. I suggest a set up with 5-7 Tiger Barbs, 1 Rainbow Shark, and 1 Gourami (not dwarf). Highly active, entertaining lot, they are.
c. Like people, sometimes fish just don't get along. I had two parrots once, Elton and Sissypants. Elton was a total jerk to Sissypants and I ended up having to sell him. It was the best option for Sissypants's health and well-being. I have since found a different buddy for Sissypants.
d. You added fish way to early and now you have high nitrates. Go buy Prime or Amquel and treat the water with it along with 50% water changes weekly until it's all squared away. They may never be 0, but they need to get down.