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HELP!!! Psychotic Blood Parrot!?

 He rams into the tank so fiercely that I am afraid he is going to hurt himself and rub the skin right off his face!!!  I recently tried to clean his tank and he kept grabbing the skin on the back of my hand and would start to shake, twist and tear at my skin.  It kind of reminded me of a crocodile death roll.  His attack only lasted a few seconds, but he drew blood and I don't even know how that is possible with his deformed mouth!  

Last night I was feeding him and the fish that he shares a tank with (peppered cories and various tetras). My hand was about 2 inches from the water and he actually jumped up out of the water and nipped me on the finger!  He has been clearing away the gravel in a spot in front of the tank which makes me think it might have something to do with breeding.  But, with all of my research on blood parrots, I have yet to find anything even close to what he is doing.  I am not 100% sure that Apollo is male.  

But, his breeding tube has been out of for most of the 2 months that this has been going on.  The breeding tube looks a little frayed at the end.  Is that normal?   I could try to take a picture, but I doubt he would cooperate.  I can not even get a good look at it because he is always facing me attacking the glass. Oddly, he has no problem with the cory cats swimming into "his" area and in fact one of the cories layed a ton of eggs on the glass right where Apollo has been ferociously cleaning and guarding.  He did not even try to eat them.  It was not at all easy to remove the eggs (all the corries are related so I remove them to prevent inbreeding).  I don't know for sure, but he was acting like those where HIS eggs or maybe it was just more of the extreme territorial behavior and the eggs just happened to be in the area that he is guarding.  

I don't  know if it makes any difference, but Apollo was raised with those cories and tetras.  I would not be so worried about this if it weren't for the fact that he is not eating as much.  Plus, it makes it next to impossible to clean and maintain the tank. I actually have a hicky on the back of my hand  from him attacking as I cleaned off the eggs. I kept gently pushing him towards his cave, but he kept coming back and that says something because before all of this he would quickly swim away from my hand and NEVER would he have allowed me to touch him especially repeatedly.  Is there any way to "snap" him out of this or do I just keep trying to get him to eat and wait this out?  Is this just normal mating behavior?  Is he waiting for a female to come along and chose him and his clean spot to lay her eggs?  

The spot he has chosen is right in the front of the tank which at least to me seems a little exposed if his goal was to create a nest.  I thought that they prefered to lay their eggs in a sheltered cave like area.  He has a hide that he used to use all the time.  Now, he just sits in the front of the tank and freaks out every time someone (even the cat) gets near the tank. Right now he is in a 30 gallon, but I plan to upgrade to a 55 in a couple months. 

Do I need to start looking for a mate for him?. I know males are generally sterile. But, I am not interested in babies so much as making Apollo happy and healthy.  There used to be a male dwarf gourami in the tank with him, but it died of old age.  Apollo would spend a lot of time with the gourami and even seemed a bit off for a while after it died last summer. So, if he needs a companion, does it have to be another blood parrot?  How can you tell at the pet store whether or not a blood parrot is female or male?  What would happen if I accidently got another male?  Would they fight?  Does it matter that the new parrot would be smaller and younger than Apollo?  Should I try a compatible cichlid like a female convict once I upgrade to a 55 gallon? 

 I was even thinking of tried a young african leaf fish since they are gouramis and Apollo got along so well with the dwarf.  But, since leaf fish get about the same size as blood parrots and have more functional mouths, would it be too big of a risk of Apollo getting hurt even if the leaf fish grew up with him?  I mean Apollo has proved that he knows how to use his mouth. lol  I am sorry for such a long post, but Apollo is my first cichlid and even though I have been keeping fish for most of my life and thoroughly researched blood parrots before I got him, nothing could have prepared me for this.  

I just want to do what is right for Apollo.  He is a smart, inquisitive active little ball of personality and I just adore him (even if he has the taste for human flesh)!!! So, any advice or comments are welcome and greatly appreciated.  Thank you for your time!

Update:  I finally found some clear pictures of female breeding tubes and I think that Apollo might actually be female.  I will do my best to try and take a picture  so someone here can help me confirm this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comments

OK, first, it does sound to me like Apollo is female. I've never seen one quite so aggressive, but they all do have aggressive tendencies, just usually not so much. The thing about these fish is, that you never know. I would actually try a very young parrot cichlid - like a baby - and see if Apollo takes to it, rather than trying a fully grown one and have it come to blows. It's a gamble in any case, but probably worth it, as long as you realize you may have to take the newcomer back to the store if things get out of hand.

 
 

Sorry, but here is another long post.  I try to keep it short, but never know what might be important.  I also tend to type more when I stress about something (like a killer parrot lol) so again Sorry!

I went to the nearby pet store chain and bought a blood parrot as a mate for Apollo.  I had planned on putting the new parrot in with Apollo after a few months in the isolation tank so that is could grow a bit more.  I was very excited because it had the correct juvenile colors and was about 1 1/2 inches long (unlike Apollo who was bright orange at that size).  They had the parrots housed in one of the very top tanks, so being as short as I am I could not get a real good look at the fish.  But, I asked two employees if the parrot had the standard deformed mouth.  They both said yes.  They put the new fish in a bag before I could even check it.  It looked ok in the bag, but being that small it was kind of hard to tell through the plastic.  I also bought 10 ghost shrimp for Apollo to snack on.  I got home, acclimated and released my new parrot into the isolation tank.  It had a normal fish mouth and the body was more elongated verse the rounder standard parrot shape.  It was also INFESTED with ich!!!  It was clearly struggling to breath. But despite being quite ill, within 5 minutes of being in the tank it had killed and shredded 3 shrimp and then went about attacking it's reflection for at least an hour.  By morning it had shredded all of the shrimp.  It did not eat any of them that I could tell.  It just killed them to kill them.  It was not like it was defending it's territory because it had only been in the hospital tank for a few minutes before attacking.  Maybe it was a predatory response.?  I have also never seen a fish adapt to a new tank so quickly!   It took Apollo 6 months to come out of hiding!  So, my thinking is (correct me if I am wrong) that the new parrot was not a "pure" blood parrot, but a cross between a female parrot and another cichlid.  From the pure raw aggression and the body shape I was thinking maybe a red devil.  I guess it does not really matter.  The next day I ended up taking it back to the store due to it not being the true (expensive) blood parrot that I paid for, it's extreme aggression and the severe ich infestation.  The ich was so bad that it might not even recover with treatment.  I don't think that that fish would have been a good mate for Apollo anyways and since it did not have a deformed mouth, it could have even harmed her.  Plus, I really don't want to have two unusually aggressive fish to deal with.  The whole point in getting Apollo a mate was to try and calm her down and allow her to go through the breeding motions with the hope of venting some of this aggression, frustration and maybe even loneliness.?  I feel horrible for that fish though.  I have NEVER had to take a living fish back.  I don't see fish as a product or commodity that can be bought and returned like a sweater that did not fit.  I know it was my own fault for not demanding to see the fish before it was bagged, but I thought that I could trust this store.  It is where I have bought my fish for years.  I did learn something while talking to the pet store employee though.  Apparently, they just changed their fish supplier, but their previous supplier did in fact dose the young blood parrots with hormones to make them change color faster and earlier than normal.  I bought Apollo from there when the store was using that supplier.  So, Apollo was likely dosed with hormones and who knows what else.  Now that she is reaching sexual maturity, I wonder how those hormones could affect her development and behavior.  Could this be why she is so aggressive?!   Has anyone here had any experience with a blood parrot that was dosed with hormones?  She drew blood again this morning when I went to reattach the thermometer that had floated away.  I love her dearly and she is an amazing fireball of personality!!!  But, between her attacks and the "fake"  parrot, I am starting to get a little turned off to blood parrots.  I am not giving up on her or finding her a mate, but I am getting a bit discouraged.

Has anyone else here tried to buy a blood parrot and ended up with something that was the result of a parrot  bred with some mystery cichlid?  I mean you would not think that a national pet store chain would sell a fish (especially with the high price tag) like that and label it a blood parrot!  I can only imagine what would happen if someone with less experience bought one of those fish and put it in a tank with ANY other fish.  From what I saw, I think that there would be almost nothing left alive in the tank in a few hours even with the parrot cross only being around 2 inches.  When I returned the fish, I got a better look into the tank that housed the parrots and black convicts.  It looked like the convicts had the tar beaten out of them.  The parrots were less than half the size of the convicts.  The only way anyone could keep a fish like that would be to keep it alone.  Has anyone here ever bought or bred and raised a parrot cross?  Was it unusually aggressive?  Maybe not all crosses are that aggressive.  Maybe the level of aggression is determined by the cichlid species that is bred with the female blood parrot?  I know that jellybean parrots are a cross between pink convicts and blood parrots and they aren't known to be unusually aggressive are they?  I know aggression is kind of relative here considering normal cichlid behavior.  All I can say is that the fish that I bought was seriously unstable.  But, who knows what it's genetic background was.

  With all of the cross breeding, dyeing and hormones, how can you find a real, healthy blood parrot?  I don't know about anyone else, but I don't want to pay full price for a blood parrot and get an unstable, aggressive cross that will kill my other fish!  Any advice about buying blood parrots would be greatly appreciated as I am still looking for a mate for Apollo.  It seems like every store around here that sells blood parrots is either selling fish that have been altered or cross bred with some mystery cichlid.  Sorry, I know this is a long comment/ post/ whatever, but Is it possible that these parrot crosses could be fertile regardless of gender?  I really don't want to risk having Apollo lay eggs and then have one of these crosses fertilize them.  Even more concerning is if they can easily reproduce, it will make it even harder for buyers to tell if a fish really is a "true" blood parrot.  Suppliers could start regularly back-breeding parrot crosses with true blood parrots and selling the offspring as blood parrots.  Any advice would be greatly appreciated as Apollo is still trying to kill me every time I even go near the tank.  I am not looking forward to cleaning the tank today.  This situation has become rather frustrating.   Thanks for the help!

 

 

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