Can parrots eat fish

Can Parrots Eat Fish? (Which Fish Is Best For Parrots?)

Many parrot owners have concerns about feeding fish to their birds due to the possibility of mercury poisoning. However, in small amounts, fish does not cause any harm. In fact, it has many essential nutrients that cannot be found in other parrot foods. 

Parrots can eat fish as long as it is thoroughly cooked and fed occasionally. Fish is a good source of protein, Omega-3 fatty acids, Riboflavin, Calcium, Vitamin D, and many other nutrients. 

Smaller fish such as salmon, sardines, anchovies, and cod are often best suited for parrots to eat as they contain the lowest amount of mercury. Shellfish like shrimp and oysters also contain very low amounts of mercury.

Benefits Of Feeding Fish To Your Parrot

Fish is loaded with nutrients that parrots are often lacking. Adding fish occasionally to your parrot’s diet can provide them with many essential vitamins and minerals. 

Seafood for parrots

Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Along with being delicious, fish are packed with omega-3 fatty acids. According to a study published in the Journal Of Animal Science, the supplementation of psittacine diets with fish oil is safe and can be beneficial for the parrot’s health. 

In this study, two groups of adult cockatiels were fed a custom diet and given different sources of omega-3 fatty acids. One group received their omega-3 supplementation from flax seeds, while the other group was provided with omega-3 through fish oil.

Even though both fish and flax oils provided similar results, fish oil had a more significant positive impact. It led to greater reductions in cholesterol and TAG (triacylglycerides) levels in the birds’ blood. It also resulted in more Omega-3 fatty acids being incorporated into their red blood cells.


Fish is a great source of dietary protein. Unlike some other plant-based sources of protein such as nuts, fish contain low amounts of fat. The high protein content in fish can be beneficial for parrots. Protein is essential for the growth of new feathers, beak material, and nails of parrots. It also helps in the development of strong muscles and bolsters the immune system. 

Vitamin D

Captive parrots are often lacking vitamin D because they are mostly kept indoors. Fish can make up for that providing a good amount of Vitamin D to parrots. 


Fish are a reliable source of calcium and can easily provide the amount necessary for your parrot’s daily intake. However, it is important to point out that you should not go for canned fish even though they have higher amounts of calcium. 

The canning process breaks down the bones’ protein which increases the calcium levels overall but it might not be the best choice for parrots. Canned fish often contains excessive sodium levels, which can be harmful to birds. 


The phosphorous content in fish is quite high making it a healthy addition to a parrot’s diet. Phosphorus is a vital mineral for parrots, especially for bone health and egg formation.

Risks Of Feeding Fish To Your Parrot

When it comes to feeding fish to parrots, moderation is key. Aside from the risk of mercury poisoning, there are a few other factors that you need to take into consideration. Below are the risks of feeding fish to parrots:

Choking Hazard

When you offer fish to your parrot make sure to debone it. While parrots are quite good at picking unwanted things out of their food, small fish bones can still pose a risk of choking. Some bones can be tiny and may potentially hurt the parrot while eating. 

Mercury Poisoning

All fish contain a small amount of mercury. Mercury is released into the ocean through natural sources such as volcanic eruptions as well as from coal burning. It accumulates in the tissues of fish.

The larger ones that prey on small fish contain higher levels of mercury. While in small amounts, it is unlikely to cause any damage, certain fish can contain higher concentrations of mercury, which is why it should be fed in moderation.


Raw or undercooked seafood, including fish, can potentially carry harmful bacteria like Salmonella. If a parrot consumes raw fish, it may be at risk of contracting salmonellosis. Parrots are particularly susceptible to avian salmonellosis, so it is crucial to make sure any type of seafood that you feed your parrot is well-cooked. 


Fish are infested by various internal parasites including, roundworms and tapeworms. Although these are from the fish, there is still the risk of nematode larvae, especially when consuming raw or undercooked fish. This is why you should cook fish properly before feeding it to your parrot.

Which Types of Fish Can Parrots Eat?

Always go for the small, short-lived species when choosing fish for your parrot. These fish tend to accumulate less mercury and are considered safe. Larger fish should be avoided because they feed on other fish and have a longer lifespan which means they accumulate more mercury content. 

Can Parrots Eat Salmon?

Salmon is one of the healthiest fish for parrots to eat and a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. It can strengthen their immune system and also reduce inflammation. 

Cooked salmon

Can Parrots Eat Tilapia?

Parrots can safely eat tilapia in small portions. Tilapia has one of the lowest mercury levels of all fish and seafood as they are a short-lived species. They grow fast and have a short lifespan which does not allow mercury to accumulate.

Can Parrots Eat Anchovies?

Anchovies are small fish and one of the best options for parrots. They have the least amount of mercury of all the small fish, even lower than salmon and tilapia.

Can Parrots Eat Cod?

Cod is one of the best types of fish for parrots to eat. It is low in fat and provides all the essential nutrients including omega-3 fatty acids. It is also very low in mercury.

Can Parrots Eat Sardines?

Sardines are also fine for parrots to eat. They are small in size and have a good nutrition profile. Do not opt for canned sardines though, as they contain too much sodium.

Can Parrots Eat Catfish?

Yes, parrots can eat catfish. It is on the lower side when it comes to mercury levels and provides a healthy balance of vitamins and minerals.

Can Parrots Eat Tuna?

Parrots can eat tuna but it is not the safest choice. Tuna tends to have higher levels of mercury than other seafood items. This is because tuna feeds on smaller fish which leads to the accumulation of mercury. You may still feed it your bird but do so in moderation. Avoid giving canned tuna to your parrot as it contains too much sodium. Sodium in excess can be toxic to parrots.

Can Parrots Eat Mackerel?

Certain types of mackerel that are low in mercury are fine for parrots. Pacific Mackerel and Atlantic Mackerel are generally safe for parrots to consume. However, king mackerel has a high concentration of mercury and is not considered safe for parrots.

Do Wild Parrots Eat Fish?

Parrots in the wild do not eat fish because they cannot swim. Wild parrots mostly forage on trees and between grass. Their main sources of nutrition are seeds, nuts, fruits, and sometimes insects.

How To Prepare Fish For Parrots?

When preparing fish for parrots, you can cook it either by grilling, steaming, roasting, or boiling. You should avoid any method of cooking that involves using oil. Also, avoid using seasoning that may be harmful to them. Once cooked, debone the fish and offer it to your parrot in small portions. 

Can Parrots Eat Fish Skin?

Parrots can eat fish skin but it should be properly cooked. Fish skins also contain mercury which can be harmful to parrots when consumed raw. Aside from that, fish skin has plenty of protein and other nutrients. So you can offer your parrot some fish without the skin removed.

Dorson Joseph
Dorson Joseph

I'm Dorson, a bird enthusiast who's had a lifelong fascination for the avian world. I am a parent to my beloved Senegal parrot and budgie, which has deepened my love for avian creatures and taught me a lot over the years. I co-run a bird store and care center with my friends, where we work with experienced professionals to care for our flock. Now, I find great joy in sharing my knowledge with others, hoping to assist fellow bird keepers and enthusiasts in understanding birds and helping them live happy lives.

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