Parrot Fish Eggs: Hatching Time, Fertilization, Care & More

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When my Parrot fish first laid eggs, I didn’t know what to do. Luckily, over the years, I found some helpful information on caring for Parrot fish eggs. I have also learned what not to do from the mistakes I have made.

Here is a brief summary on Parrot fish eggs hatching and caring:

  • Parrot fish eggs hatch in 5 days. 
  • It takes about 4 hours for the eggs to be fertilized. 
  • The eggs should be kept at 82 degrees Fahrenheit (28 degrees Celsius).
  • The suitable water pH is between 6.5 to 7.4.
  • 15 to 25 percent of the water should be changed weekly. 
  • The tank should have about 15 gallons of water in it (54 liters).

As we proceed, I will go into detail about how long Parrot fish eggs take to hatch and how you can know if they are fertile. Then, I will share some tips on how to take care of these eggs to ensure they hatch in time.

How Long does it Take for Parrot Fish Eggs to Hatch?

It takes between two to five days for Parrot fish eggs to hatch. Though, this can vary depending on the species, as well as the environmental conditions. Another crucial factor is fertilization. If the male hasn’t fertilized the eggs, they will turn white and will never hatch.

After hatching, Parrot fish larvae usually depend on plankton and other microorganisms to survive. The larval stage can last anywhere from two weeks to six months, depending on fish species. At this point, they are called “fingerlings.”

Parrot fish are oviparous, which means that their eggs need to be fertilized by a male before they hatch. The incubation time for these particular species lasts a few weeks, and egg clutches usually contain about 50-150 eggs. 

It is rare to see more than 50 eggs in a clutch, as larger clutches do not have a better survival rate in the wild because of the amount of food intake required by the mother. Even though Parrot fish are not live-bearing fish, they still provide parental care for their eggs. 

If one of the eggs does not hatch, it is likely that the mother’s body will release a hormone that will induce all of the unhatched eggs to hatch at once. This reduces her energy costs and increases her chances of survival.

How do You Know if Parrot Fish Eggs are Fertilized?

You can know that Parrot fish eggs are fertilized by their color. Eggs that have been fertilized will appear clear, and infertile eggs will be milky white. Another sign for fertilized eggs is the presence of a wavy membrane known as a zona pellucida that surrounds each egg. 

If the eggs are infertile, they will dry up, and the zona pellucida will disappear. Infertile eggs will also be smaller, lighter in weight, and will not hatch in time. 

How to Ensure That Parrot Fish Eggs Will Hatch?

There are some steps you can take to make sure that the Parrot fish eggs will indeed hatch in time:

1. Make Sure There is Enough Oxygen in the Tank

The Parrot fish is most likely to lay eggs if raised in an aquarium with enough oxygen. Fish require oxygen for their eggs to develop correctly, especially during the first few days after fertilization. If there is not enough oxygen available, they might not lay any eggs.

That is why I use the Hygger Aquarium Air Stone Kit (link to Amazon) in my aquarium. All I have to do is to place the stone in the middle of my aquarium. Then, the device will create bubbles and efficiently oxygenate the entire tank.

2. Make Sure the Temperature is not Too Cold

The Parrot fish will not be able to lay eggs if the water temperature is too low. This is because they require warm temperatures during their development. Try to keep the water temperature at about 82 to 84 degrees Fahrenheit (28 to 29 degrees Celsius).[1]

It is also crucial that the temperature remains stable. Consistent fluctuations will stress the fish and may damage the eggs. To achieve that requirement, I use the Cobalt Aquatics Neo-Therm Pro Aquarium Heater (link to Amazon), which I also reviewed here.

3. Avoid Overfeeding

If you are unsure of what to feed your fish, try feeding them smaller portions at first. Avoid overfeeding, as the excess food could pollute the tank and cause a water quality problem. If you notice that there is a build-up of uneaten food in the tank, you will need to siphon it out immediately.

4. Remove Any Unwanted Tankmates

Parrot fish eggs will not be able to mature if there are any unwanted tankmates in the tank. Avoid adding fish that will eat the eggs as they develop, as this will prevent the Parrot fish from laying any eggs. 

When you add them to your tank, choose peaceful fish that are not known for eating eggs. Suitable tankmates for Parrot fish would be danios, catfish, angelfish, and mid-sized tetras.[2] You should avoid aggressive fish like Tiger Barbs and Flowerhorns.[3]

5. Keep the Angles of the Tank at 90 Degrees

If your tank is not kept at a 90-degree angle, it may be too much of a challenge for the fish to lay eggs and grow them into healthy fry. The female Parrot fish will only lay eggs if she can keep them stable in her nest or under her tail.

6. Make Sure There is Enough Calcium in the Tank

Parrot fish need a good amount of calcium for the development of their eggs. If there is not enough calcium present in the water, your female Parrot fish will likely not lay any eggs. You can use crushed eggshells for that purpose.

Another option would be the JOR Tourmaline Balls (link to Amazon), which I also use in my aquarium. Scatter a few of those across the tank, and you are done. The balls will ensure that the calcium level gradually rises.

7. Test Your Water for pH and Ammonia Levels

The suitable pH for Parrot fish would be somewhere between 6.5 to 7.4.[4] You should also test your ammonia levels every other day and watch for any changes in your aquarium. If the ammonia level is too high, the water will be acidic, and the eggs might not survive. If it is too low, Parrot fish eggs will not be able to grow or develop into healthy fry.

For that purpose, I use the API Aquarium Test Kit (link to Amazon). That highly affordable bundle accurately measures the pH, ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates in your tank. With a simple, colored stripe, you’ll know within minutes if something went wrong.

8. Keep Your Water Clean

It is important that you keep the water in your aquarium clean at all times. You should always perform water changes regularly. If there is a build-up of nitrates in your tank, the eggs will not be able to develop as they would in clean water.

Make sure that you replace the 15-25 percent of the water weekly. Smaller tanks require more frequent changes since ammonia tends to accumulate in those faster. Nitrate levels will also be higher in tanks without enough filtration.

9. Provide Your Parrot Fish with a Plant-Rich Tank

The Parrot fish is often found near coral reefs in the wild, so it is important for you to provide your fish with plenty of plants and other natural items to help her feel as comfortable as possible. They should also have a place in the tank to hide from predators. 

Additionally, you should provide your fish with plenty of shelter for his offspring to be born. If the newborns are exposed, predators are likely to eat them pretty quickly. Suitable plants for Parrot fish would be the Cryptocoryne family, particularly Cryptocoryne Wendtii and C. Lutea.

You can also give your fish some fake plants designed to work with his size and shape. These plants are made of durable plastic that will last a long time without breaking down as real plants do. These fake plants are easy to clean and offer a lot of value in terms of helping your fish feel at home in his environment while also looking just as natural as real plants would.

How do You Know if Parrot Fish Eggs are Infected?

There are ways that you can tell if Parrot fish eggs are infected. First, you can tell by the color of the eggs. If they are not clear or even appear milky white, this means that there is an infection and they are rotting.[5] Another sign of infected eggs is by touch, as a cloudy layer will form over the eggs when there is a bacterial infection.

Another way to tell is if there is a foul odor on the eggs or if you notice cloudiness covering them. If you suspect that the eggs developed an infection, your next step should be to remove the eggs before they contaminate the aquarium.

How Often do Parrot Fish Lay Eggs?

Parrot fish lay eggs every two to three weeks. That happens even if a male is not present in the tank. However, the eggs do not hatch immediately after laying. The eggs are laid, and then the mother fish leaves the nest, not returning to it so that the male can fertilize the eggs.

The male will stay in or near the nest to keep an eye on it until the eggs start hatching. The eggs will lay dormant and hatch at a later time. However, if the eggs are not fertilized, they will turn white and then die.

Can Parrot Fish Lay Eggs Without Male?

The female Parrot fish can lay eggs without a male; however, it is hard for them to do so. If the female is young and does not have a male, she will lay many unfertilized eggs that will die as they dry up in the water.

If she does not have a male, your best bet is to manually remove the eggs from the tank for hatching. You can also try hatching them in an aquarium with another female, as this may be successful.

How to Choose a Female Parrot Fish for Breeding?

If you are planning on breeding Parrot fish, make sure that you choose the correct female. One that is too small will not give birth to healthy fry. The female that you choose will have a better chance of producing healthy eggs if she is slightly larger than the one you decide on.

The female should also be chosen based on her color and skin texture. If she is less than a year old, the chances are that the eggs she lays will be infertile. She should also have a healthy appetite and be in good condition when you choose her.

If you do not have enough females to choose from, you can ask an expert if there is an appropriate substitute for the female Parrot fish. A large tank that contains plenty of live plants might work just as well, so long as there is a place to hide near it for the female.

As of last words, here is the equipment I use in my tank to breed Parrot fish:

Using the right equipment will ensure that your Parrot fish lays eggs successfully, and you can have healthy fry to take care of in no time.