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A bully and a killer

In mid-april, I bought three young "blood parrots" from my local fish store (I use quotation marks because the two that survived only have the blood parrot color and mouth, but a very regular cichlid body).  Within the first few months, as some may remember from my previous posts, the two that were related had killed my Piebald, Sophie.  Calcifer is the main aggressor, and STILL even bullies his little brother when the mood strikes him.  I decided to buy some darting fish for him, to maybe ease his aggressive behavior toward his brother, Green Tiger Barbs (recommended by the fish store).  Two nights in, and one has disappeared each night so far.  I'm starting to fear he may be too aggressive to house with anything else.  He's still fairly young, only about three and a half inches, and he and his brother share a 40 gallon breeder with a Cascade 1000 filter, two large caves, and several terra cotta pots for hiding spaces.  There's also some Anubias to break up the visual.


The weird thing is...he forces his brother to put his nose in the corner sometimes?  If Incindie turns around, Calcifer zooms back over and forces his nose back into the corner, then leaves.  He's always been highly aggressive.  Sometimes, Incidie will push back and gets left alone, but he's such a wibble baby that he usually just takes it.  ANY advice would be greatly appreciated.


When introducing Zipper to my 20-gal community, I had very similar problems. Sherbet--the established "Queen" of the tank--would bully him to such extent, he would hide anywhere she couldn't easily see or reach him; which wouldn't last for long... even when the tank was darkly lit, with a large area of it in the shadows. 

I tried removal & reintroduction with both, with the two being separated for weeks. But, even when they did seem to finally pair, when the first attempt at spawning--on the gravel, surpringly--had failed, it was back to as before.

Having grown tired of playing "musical fish-tanks", I recalled many videos I've seen about acclimating new fish to tanks with aggressive fish by use of a separator. With the "newbie" safely kept on one side of the partition, and the aggressor on the opposite, they would be kept separate until neither had shown signs of aggression towards each-other for a while. Then the partition would be removed, and the newcomer could swim freely about the tank--without fear of attack from the more aggressive fish. 

So I tried it... with a xheap, mesh-screen breeder basket. Both showed strength of will, as Sherbet tried to get at Zipper, and Zipper fought to escape the basket. For three days, they would bounce against the nylon mesh material of basket... neither getting what they wished, but remaining unharmed.

Finally, after both had settled-down and lost interest in their goals, I released Zipper fully into the tank... And guess what? They began their pairing dance again, and have remained unaggressive--at least not hurtfully--to each-other since! Their defensiveness towards others in the community--particularly during spawning attempts... Well, that's another story... but nothing to worry about.