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are parrots allowed to eat fish?

Can Parrots Eat Fish And Seafood? (Safety Considerations)

(Last Updated On: May 12, 2023)

Seafood and fish are good sources of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, vitamin D, and phosphorus.

Parrots can eat fish and seafood, but exposure to pollutants, toxins, and heavy metals (mercury) means that crabs, shrimp, and shellfish are less healthy. This also applies to fish, like tuna, as it’s high in mercury.

Reduced quantities of these harmful substances are found in salmon, cod, and catfish.

Fish and seafood can be fed to a parrot in small quantities. However, too much can cause digestive issues. If you feed a parrot canned fish, ensure it’s water-packed without added salt or oil.

Are Parrots Allowed To Eat Fish?

Fish is a healthy food because it contains nutrients that aren’t abundant in other foods.

Parrots should only be fed fish 1-2 times weekly (and only certain varieties). Fish and seafood aren’t substitutes for other dietary staples, like pellets, fruit, vegetables, nuts, and seeds.

Animal Protein

Alongside chicken, fish is among the best animal protein sources because it’s lower in saturated fat and calories. Parrots rely on dietary protein for the following reasons:

The best source is animal protein. Vegetarian diets contain some amino acids but lack several essential aminos, like lysine and methionine.

According to Food and Chemical Toxicology, eating the recommended amount of fish per week can increase a parrot’s lifespan. That’s better than red meats, which are high in saturated fats.

can parrots eat seafood?

Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Fish high in omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, sardines, herring, lake trout, and light tuna. The omega-3 fatty acids are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

Omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial in these ways:

  • Cardiovascular disease prevention.
  • Lower risk of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).
  • Increased levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL).

Salmon and sardines are often used for extracting omega-3 for use in vitamin capsules.


According to the Journal of Veterinary Medicine, seeds, leafy greens, and fruits are poor sources of calcium. This means that parrots can be calcium deficient (hypocalcemia).

Certain fish are calcium-rich. Calcium is essential for strong and healthy bones.

If a parrot is low on calcium, you may find it develops the following problems:

  • Skeletal decalcification (osteoporosis).
  • Egg binding (dystocia).
  • Malformed eggs.
  • Poor feather formation.
  • Seizures.

Calcium-rich fish include sardines, salmon, anchovy, and shrimp.


Phosphorus is vital in bone formation, so it’s essential for a parrot’s skeleton. Fish contains phosphorus in abundance, which helps:

  • Utilize proteins for growth and repairing cells and tissues.
  • Produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP), a molecule used in the body to store energy.
  • Fluid balance and kidney function.
  • Nerve and muscle function.
  • Bone formation.

Fish high in phosphorus include carp, sardines, clams, and pollock.

Vitamin D

Parrots don’t fare well in dark, secluded environments because they won’t absorb vitamin D from the sun.

Fish are among the best sources of vitamin D. The main role of vitamin D is keeping bones and eggshells healthy, which it achieves by promoting calcium absorption.

Even if a parrot ingests calcium and phosphorus, insufficient vitamin D causes weak bones.

The best sources of vitamin D are oily fish, such as mackerel, herring, tuna, and salmon.

Do Parrots Like Fish?

Parrots love the taste of fish. The meat is lean, flavorful, and easy to tear through. However, a parrot may be hesitant to try new foods. If that’s the case, you can do the following:

  • Eat fish together. A parrot may trust that fish is safe once it’s seen you eat it.
  • Offer it by hand. It may be hesitant to taste new foods in its bowl.
  • Types of fish. All fish have different flavors, so experiment with different types.

Never add oil, salt, or seasonings to make fish more palatable to parrots.

Do Parrots Eat Fish in The Wild?

Wild parrots rarely eat fish as they find it difficult to hunt for them.

Fish-eating birds have long, sharp beaks to stab fish in the water. Exceptions include pelicans, but this bird has a pouch that allows it to scoop up fish.

Since parrots have curved beaks (hookbills), catching fish from the water is difficult.

Can Parrots Eat Seafood?

Parrots can eat seafood, such as:

  • Lobsters.
  • Shrimp.
  • Clams.
  • Oysters.
  • Squid.
  • Octopus.

These types of seafood have the same health benefits as fish. Unfortunately, they also contain compounds that can make them harmful to parrots, including:


Shellfish are more likely to retain pollutants found in the oceans. That’s especially true for shellfish, which rely on eating decay or waste found on the sea floors.

While many types of seafood are reared on farms that limit contamination, this isn’t always the case.

Shellfish Toxins

Shellfish may pick up different forms of bacteria, parasites, and toxins.

Crabs and shrimp rely on algae as one of their main food sources. Some types of algae are toxic and remain in the meat of the shellfish.

Of course, there are strict safety standards to prevent toxic shellfish from being sold.


Heavy metals, like mercury, can build up inside fish and other marine animals, making them more toxic to eat. Shellfish are more likely to retain these toxins after being cooked.

Smaller fish have higher levels of mercury, and bigger fish contain less. The preparation of seafood will affect the amount of mercury present. Fish or seafood that contain less mercury include:

  • Salmon.
  • Cod.
  • Catfish.
  • Pollock.
  • Oysters.
  • Clams.
  • Sardines.

What Fish And Shellfish Can Parrots Eat?

We’ll look at the health benefits and risks that come from eating fish and shellfish:


Shellfish contain more toxins than other fish, but you can feed some to parrots when the following apply:

  • You’ve checked where the shellfish were sourced.
  • The shellfish were thoroughly cooked.
  • Shellfish isn’t being fed to young, elderly, or sick parrots.

Tuna Fish

Tuna contains protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and B vitamins, which are healthy for parrots. Unfortunately, tuna contains salt and more mercury than any other seafood.

Light and skipjack tuna have the lowest mercury concentration, whereas bigeye and albacore tuna have the highest concentration. Mercury can accumulate in the body tissue of parrots over time.

Tuna also contains sodium (salt), so it should only be fed to parrots in moderation.

Opt for water-packed tuna since tuna packed in oil will be too fatty for your parrot, leading to weight gain, digestive issues, and lethargy.

can parrots eat tuna fish?


Salmon is high in vitamins in minerals, easy to source, and less likely to contain mercury. Both baked and smoked salmon are good options.


Cod has a lower likelihood of containing mercury. You can grill, smoke, bake, or sear cod in a pan. While it may taste bland to humans, plain cod is delectable to parrots.

Crab Legs

Parrots can eat crab legs, but shellfish carry additional contamination risks. If you have crab legs that are as well-sourced, they can make a healthy treat.

Crab legs have sweet, juicy meat high in omega-3 fatty acids, protein, vitamins, and minerals.


Shrimp consumption carries dangers due to pollutants.

Parrots will benefit from antioxidants and fatty acids. They can peel off the shell and gnaw on the meat underneath, which they’ll find a fun and enriching experience.


Sardines should only be offered in small quantities because they’re oily fish and high in calories.

How To Prepare Seafood for Your Parrot

Thoroughly cooking seafood reduces the amount of toxins present.

The best ways to prepare seafood for parrots are as follows:

  • Baking.
  • Broiling.
  • Grilling.
  • Boiling.

Don’t add oil, seasoning, or salt when cooking. So, avoid breading or frying fish.