The blood parrots has some deformities due to them being a hybrid fish. One of those deformities is a beak shaped mouth that the fish cannot close all the way, so it uses its neck muscles to crush the food. This makes the blood parrots somewhat harder to feed and potentially vulnerable to malnutrition. Because of this, some cichlid enthusiasts have called for their removal from the market, and have also organized boycotts against pet stores that sell them. Sometimes they will have a deformed swim bladder, causing an awkward swim pattern. They also have abnormal spines, causing a unique shape in these fish. Blood parrots also have unusual large and often deformed irises.
Blood parrots are usually bright orange in color, but can have other colors, such as red and yellow, naturally. Other colors may be produced by dyeing the fish, which shortens the life span. These fish can grow to be up to 8 inches long, and can live to be 10 years or older.
Male blood parrots are generally infertile, but successful breeding has occurred. Most females are fertile. Usually a female blood parrot lays her eggs on a hard surface. Both of the parents guard their eggs until the brood develops fungus, at which time the eggs will be consumed by the parents or other fish. Fish farms have recently started to inject a hormone in male blood parrots in order to increase fertility in males.