Soon to adopt 2 mature blood parrots- any advice please?

Missflo

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Hi everyone!

I am getting a 240 litre Aqua One Aquatica tank delivered next week, to house 2 BP I fell in love with at my local fish store. They were trade-ins that had been sitting in a small holding tank at the store for months. Apparently they were badly neglected and sick when they came to the store, and needed to be medicated and nursed back to health along with their tank mates.

They are quite big. The bigger one is around 25cm long (10’’) and seems to get on with the littler one. He won me over with his outgoing personality- I never imagined a fish could be so engaging and interactive! Anyway, they will be in their new home by the end of next week, which gives me a bit of time to do some more research and ponder questions such as sandVs. gravel substrate (thoughts anyone?) etc.

My immediate question is : should I be worried about getting my hands in the tank and getting my fingers nipped? I have read a lot of contradictory advice (some say they can’t close their mouths so can’t bite, others say they can, some play with their BP inside the tank, others get attacked when they try to clean the tank...) and while I would love to hand feed them I am worried about getting bitten.
Seen from the outside of the tank they display no aggression and seem super curious and friendly, however I am aware I I haven’t invaded their territory yet!

A lot of the advice I have seen on the topic is from people who own smaller BP, I would really appreciate hearing from you owners of mature BP- do you put your hand in without fear?

I have started researching re: fish-in cycle. If I understand we’ll I will need to test the water daily for ammonia and nitrites and will also do daily water changes as needed, up to 50%, which I am happy to do. How long do you guys think it will take for the tank to cycle?
We will be going away for 8 days in 6 weeks, so 5 weeks after setting up the tank w/ fish. I was going to either get a fish feeder or have someone pop in and feed them (with pre-dosed portions ready and the rest hidden:)
If I do things right the first 5 weeks and do a big water change before going away is there a chance the tank bacteria can cope with the level of waste by that stage?

Thank you in advance for your help and advice!
 

Colin_T

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Hi and welcome to the forum :)

As long as the 2 fish are a bonded pair they should be ok. However, if they are both males, they could fight when moved into a new tank. Males have long pointed dorsal (top) and anal (bottom) fins.

You can use sand or gravel on the bottom of the tank. It doesn't make any difference.

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Because you are doing a fish in cycle, you should only feed the fish once every couple of days and do a 75% water change and complete gravel clean about 4-8 hours after feeding. And do a 75% water change and gravel clean the substrate any time you have an ammonia or nitrite reading above 0.

A 75% water change will dilute these nutrients more effectively than a 50% water change. The fish and filter bacteria will be fine with big water changes as long as the new water is has a similar temperature, pH & GH to the tank water (which it should have if you use the same water supply), and the water is free of chlorine/ chloramine before it is added to the tank.

It normally takes around 4-5 weeks for the filters to develop the beneficial bacteria that keeps the water free of ammonia and nitrite. However, it can take longer, anywhere up to 3 months or more, but normally it's about 4-5 weeks. Adding liquid filter bacterial supplement (liquid bacteria in a bottle) can help speed things along. Double dose the supplement each day for a week and it should help. Add the liquid bacteria to the aquarium near the filter intake.

Make sure you use clean buckets that have not been used for cleaning products or anything else. If possible, get a couple of new (75 litre) plastic rubbish bins and some smaller 10-20 litre plastic buckets. Use a permanent marker to write "FISH ONLY" on the buckets and keep them with the fish keeping equipment. Do not let anyone use these containers for anything except the fish.

If you use a sponge to clean the glass, make sure it does not have anything added to it. Some of the more expensive sponges that are used in the kitchen have anti-mould and anti-bacterial products in the sponge. These should be avoided at all cost because they will poison the fish. Just use a check no name brand sponge from the $2 shop, or something without anything added. You should also wash any new sponge with warm soapy water to remove any dye in the sponge. Use a perfume free soap and rinse well with fresh water. Keep the sponge with the fish buckets.

Get yourself a basic model gravel cleaner like the one in the following link. Use it to drain water out of the tank and clean the gunk out of the substrate.
https://www.about-goldfish.com/aquarium-cleaning.html
If you can't find a basic model gravel cleaner you can make one out of a 1.5 litre or 2 litre plastic drink bottle and some clear hose or garden hose from a hardware store. Cut the bottom off the plastic bottom and remove the cap. Find some plastic hose to that fits snuggly over the top of the bottle (where the cap normally goes). And you have one gravel cleaner.

For big tanks like yours you can get 10 meters or more of hose and a garden hose might work. You run the hose out the door onto the garden and gravel clean the tank. Then fill the tank up with dechlorinated water, flush the garden hose out to remove any gunk. Empty the hose and roll it up until it is needed. The plastic drink bottle (gravel cleaner) can be rinsed and put in the fish only bucket.
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If they are the deformed style of blood parrot cichlid the fish could have internal issues due to their bodies being shortened and squashed up a bit. Fish that are shorter in the body should not be fed as much dry food or fed as often because their intestine is usually a bit squished up and too much food can restrict the food flowing through their digestive tract.

If you are going away for 8 days then assuming the filter is working correctly, you can feed the fish before you go and then leave it at that. If you have a trustworthy person that can feed them, then measure out some food into individual containers and get them to feed the fish every 3-4 days and no more than what you have measured out into the container. The fish do not need to be fed every day and more fish die from over feeding than starvation.

Unlike terrestrial animals that use most of the food they eat to keep warm, fish take their body temperature from the surrounding environment (the water). This means any food they eat is used primarily for moving and growing. This allows fish to go for weeks or even months without food and not die from starvation.
 
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Missflo

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thank you so much Colin T for taking the time to get back to me with such a complete and informative reply! I am very grateful, and definitely a bit more confident now!

The BP are a bonded pair so I am not expecting trouble there as they have been getting along for months in a smaller bare tank and will now have a bigger living space with rocks to provide some partitioning as well.

They don’t seem very deformed to me- granted, I am no expert! Judging by photos I have found on the net, they do not have a markedly rounded, ballon shaped shorter body I have seen on some, and they seem able to close their mouth, although their ‘default mouth position’ looks like a little smile with slightly parted lips.

I have tried to upload photos but the size is too big...

Thank you again very much for your welcome and for your recommendations. I am now fully equipped with chemicals, testing kit, python gravel cleaner, and expecting the new tank delivery over the next couple of days!
 

Colin_T

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You can use the Python Gravel cleaner to remove the gunk from the tank, but don't fill the tank back up with it. Get a clean bucket that has never had soaps or cleaning products in and fill that with tap water and conditioner, and stir it up. If possible, allow it to aerate for 30 minutes before adding it to the tank. At the very least add some dechlorinator to the bucket and fill the bucket with tap water, stir and let it stand for a minute, then add to the tank.

If you have a couple of big buckets, then you can fill them up, add dechlorinator and aerate them while you are gravel cleaning and draining the tank. Then use a small water pump to pump the water into the tank.

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If you have liquid test kits try to keep them cool. I kept mine in a plastic icecream bucket with lid and had that on the bottom shelf in the fridge.

Make sure children and animals can't get the test kits because the chemicals are poisonous. And wash the test phials out under tap water after using and then wash your hands with soapy water after doing water tests.

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If the pictures are too big to put on the forum, set the camera resolution to 2MB and the images will be smaller and fit on here. :)
 

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