Video: Parrot cichlid gets 'massage' from owner

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Video: Parrot cichlid gets 'massage' from owner

Fishkeeper Roland Giroux treats his pet parrot cichlid to a daily 'massage'.

He uploaded a video onto his YouTube channel showing him stroking and massaging the fish underwater.

Mr Giroux says his Parrot cichlid used to be part of a trio, but aggression became a problem and the other two were re-homed.

After that he says he started hand feeding her bloodworm and then slowly began to pet her. He adds that it's probably pretty rare for a fish to be that comfortable with its owner but says that she now becomes frustrated if he doesn't interact with her every day.

You can watch the video below. We'd be interested to hear your comments. PFK's Nathan Hill offers his own opinion at the bottom of the page.

Nathan Hill says:

"My initial response was that there was so much wrong with the video I didn't know where to start, but I fear I'm lacking some data to be too damning.

"Problem one is the Parrot cichlid itself. We know the fish is a non-naturally occurring, forced hybrid that can suffer a whole range of problems on the back of deformities (especially those of the mouth). But that's a separate debate that I've already had.

"Problem two is the actual interaction of hand and fish, but this could go one of two ways. The first would be to say that the fish is receiving enrichment, and that it benefits from the interaction. Cichlids are curious enough fish for this to not be an unfair assumption, and even goldfish seem to benefit from 'some' human interaction. I don't know if anyone recalls the R2 Fish Training School (I reviewed the thing years ago), but at that time I was discussing novel objects as a form of enrichment. However, even then I made the point that even if not cruel, many would still consider the set unnecessary, and I think that might still hold. The second way this could go would be to suggest that the fish is showing confused territoriality, and seeing the hand as a threat. In the event of the latter, it'd be fair to say there'd be cortisol production, and the fish would potentially be stressed. Not having evidence to support either of these claims, I'd have to leave problem two open, and hope that people don't let anthropomorphism get the better of them when deciding just what the fish is doing.

"Problem three is the handling of the fish without gloves. Ever been spiked by a Parrot cichlid? I have once, while trying to perform a skin scrape. Hurt like hell, and could have easily become infected. Luckily for me, the system I was working on had no history of Mycobacterium (fish tank granuloma, or fish TB — pictured below by Silver Leapers, Creative Commons).

"Call me a pedant, but problem three is the one that worries me most. The imputation taken from the video (and especially from those promoting it) is that it's fine to handle fish in this way - I've even seen some places actively encouraging it. Well, if you don't mind running the risk of actively encouraging aquarists to expose themselves to potential Mycobacterium infections, then go right ahead. But I won't be doing it, because I'm more responsible than that. In fact, I want it on record that if you're going to even work in the same tank as a fish that displays this level of potential aggression, thick gloves are a bare minimum. Otherwise, all it takes is one spike, and you could be spending the next half a year on antibiotics. Remember that girl who nearly lost limbs through fish TB? Yeah, that could be you. I'm not trying to sell condoms here, but be safe, not sorry, right?

"Fancy calling me a hypocrite? Yup, I've handled livestock before, but I want it on record that I don't even touch the rays in SeaLife centres - I think that's a big no-no. Anyway, a key difference is that when it comes to handling fish, I only ever do it in a professional sense - for scrapes, health checks, etc., and not for my own entertainment. In the latest issue of the mag (out soon) I even have an image of a pro discus keeper holding one of his fish. The difference is, he knows the risk, and isn't suggesting that amateurs do the same. There's a time and a place for holding fish, but to promote the 'petting' of creatures with sharp, flesh-puncturing spines and unpredictable natures is not something I want to be part of.

"Problem four is a sideline issue, and it's simply that I find that tank as tasteless as boiled cucumber. But that's just me."

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