flowerhorn cichlid

Flowerhorn Cichlid-Origin, Types, Food, Lifespan and Breeding

Like other cichlids family members, the flowerhorn cichlid is another tremendously beautiful and attractive species that is widely popular due to its extremely social and friendly nature. They get well along with their owners, and their stunning display of colors keeps everyone cheered up.

Flowerhorn cichlid is, without any doubt, one of the ultimate goals of a fishkeeping hobby. Interestingly, flowerhorns love to play around; sometimes, they even lift their little hump above water to be petted by their owner. This little activity correctly depicts their peaceful and friendly nature.

This article will provide you with every little detail that might help you petting flowerhorn fish with ease. Let’s get started with this amazing fish.

Origin and History

Flowerhorn cichlid is one of the earliest fish developed through cross-breeding between different members of the cichlid family as they are hybrid, so they don’t have any scientific name. Just like parrotfish, flowerhorn cichlid is another human-made hybrid developed after years and years of constant cross-breeding.

Flowerhorn was first developed around the 1990s in Thailand, Malaysia, and Taiwan. They are not seen in the natural environment quite often, and if seen, they must be the ones that escaped. The first bred was named “luohans,” a cross-breed between the seven-colored blue fiery mouth and blood parrot cichlid.

After Taiwan and Thailand, this amazing fish was brought to South America. Within a short span of time, almost four different varieties of flowerhorn cichlid became available in America. From then on, there has been a massive increase in its types, boasting the aesthetics of aquariums worldwide. The ones you can find in the current trade are most commonly referred to as Hua Luo Han Cichlids.


Flowerhorn cichlids are famous around the world for their magnificent beauty. They have an elongated shape and are slightly narrowed around the sides of the body. Occasionally, round or oval shapes are also seen. Their long and pointed dorsal and anal fins also add to their elongated shape.

There are many colors and patterns seen in this fish. Plain-colored, bi-colored, multi-colored, and even calico all are available. Their peculiarly fascinating body shape accompanied by stunning vibrant colors make them stand out above all.

Flowerhorn cichlids are named after the most defining feature of their body: a small hump over their head. Due to their bulging head, they have deep-set eyes. This protuberance is originally named “Kok” or “nuchal hump.” This characteristic feature makes lots of people fall for this wonderful fish.

There are many different types of these nuchal humps, including the following.

  • Hard Kok
  • Soft Kok


As a result of the endless cross-breeding efforts of the fish breeders, there are numerous different types of flowerhorn available. The most common flowerhorn for sale is the red dragon flowerhorn, Zhen zhu, golden monkey. Based on their colors, patterns, and body shapes, there are following different varieties available these days.

Golden Monkey

One of the most highly prized flowerhorn strains around the globe is the golden monkey. This magnificent fish is considered a sign of luck and prosperity in many cultures. Golden monkey basically has a gold-colored base with blue, gold, silver and red colors scattered all around their body.

Moreover, they have black straps of flowers. A magnificent pair of red eyes further adds to its beauty. The golden monkey is one of the last louhan flowerhorns, so they are definitely rare and demanded.

Zhen Zhu Flowerhorn

Zhen zhu flowerhorn cichlid is famous for its stunning flower line known as “pearling.” They are more commonly known as “pearl flowerhorn.” They have piercing red eyes with a combination of a pink and off-white base color. Silver spots are spread all over their body giving them a pearlescent look.

Zhen zhu flowerhorn cichlid is one of the best strains, highly demanded to breed worldwide.

Kamfa Flowerhorn

Classic Kamfa is popular for its huge nuchal hump or Kok. They are widely used or cross-breeding to produce more fascinating species. There is little to no evidence of its origin.

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Kamfa has a beautiful flowering pattern with white or yellow eyes. These flowerhorns have a red-colored base with light blue or white spots across the body and fins. They have an elegant flowering pattern in the center of their body.

Golden Base Fader

Golden base faders are similar in coloration to bettas. They are called faders as their color fades and reappears with time. In the beginning, these flowerhorns have a golden and red color base; as they mature, they become black in color, and after that, they return to even brighter colors.

These faders have beautiful and massive nuchal humps and bright red protruding eyes. Faders are in high demand for their color-changing abilities.

Thai Silk

Thai silk flowerhorns have their bodies covered with metallic silver scales, known as “titanium flowerhorn.” They have vibrant blue, silver, and gold colors.

They have varying eye colors, including white, yellow, or red. Thai silk flowerhorns have a particular body shape close to a square.


Being a cichlid, flowerhorns are quite aggressive toward other species. However, they are pretty playful and learn tricks with their owners but hardly get along with other fishes.

Flowerhorns cichlids are not schooling but keeping a pair of these could prove good. A pair of flowerhorn cichlid is believed to help lessen stress and competition. They usually chase the other tankmates and gives them unnecessary stress.

Flowerhorns are massive in size, and thus they have slow movement in comparison to other small fishes. As they love to move along and play, thus, they don’t inhabit any particular area of the tank.

Tank Conditions

When it comes to developing a healthy living space for your fish in fish keeping, you must know all of its requirements. Although there is a whole world of different strains of this fish, their tank requirements are almost the same.

Following important points will help you to create a fantastic living environment for your flowerhorn.

Tank Size

As flowerhorns have a high amount of activity and tremendous growth, thus they require fairly large space. For a pair of flowerhorns, a tank of at least 125 gallons to 150 gallons is necessary. For a single fish, the preferred minimum tank size would be a 70-100 gallon tank.

 A tank smaller than this size might contain them and dissolve the waste in time as well. But such smaller tanks don’t provide your fish with the appropriate space to turn around and enjoy.

Moreover, flowerhorns are quite aggressive and territorial as well. Thus, providing them with more space and more territories might help lessen the aggressiveness.


When it comes to cichlids, most fish hobbyists prefer to cover the base with a gravel substrate. Although it works best for small fish, in the case of bigger fish like flowerhorn, there is a chance that your fish might ingest the gravel as well. Thus, to prevent a bare-base aquarium or soft sand substrate works the best for flowerhorn cichlids.

Water Parameters

In flowerhorn, sustaining a particular range of parameters is more beneficial than maintaining ideal water conditions. Following water parameters must be attained before adding the fish in; otherwise, you might end up killing your fish.

Tank size75 gallons
Temperature80-85-degrees Fahrenheit
Hardness6-20 dGH
Chlorine and chloramine levels0ppm
Ammonia, nitrate and nitrite levels0ppm

Flowerhorns prefer warm waters; thus, a higher water temperature is necessary. Coldwater can prove harmful to the fish as it lowers the fish’s immunity.

Moreover, flowerhorn cichlids are pretty sensitive to ammonia and nitrates. A small amount of these chemicals can put your fish in grave danger. Thus, cycling the tank beforehand is inevitable. Additionally, to ensure maximum care, test the water parameters with testing kits before adding the fish.

Furthermore, an efficient and powerful filtration system is essential as the waste buildup is quite quick to flowerhorns. To cope with all the pilling up nitrate, regular water changing and testing are required.

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As flowerhorns generally prefer slow-moving waters, thus a water pump is totally optional. Flowerhorn is a pretty powerful fish, so additional water currents will not harm your fish.

Flowerhorn cichlids love a large share of greenery around them. A planted aquarium with a grass bed will be highly appreciated. An aquarium laded with rocks, caves, crevices, and driftwood is perfect for flowerhorn fish. Before putting the fish in the tank, make sure that all the plants and decorations have firmly adhered, or your fish might end up ruining the place by digging all around.

flowerhorn cichlid origin and Care guide

Flowerhorn Cichlid Care Guide

Although flowerhorns are quite hardy and resilient, so they don’t get sick that often. However, their large size and territorial nature make them difficult for beginners. Flowerhorn cichlids, just like other fishes, are prone to a bunch of freshwater fish diseases. In that case, absolute care is required.

Thus, prevention is way much better. To protect your fish, you can follow the following list imperative for flowerhorn cichlid care.

  1. Carefully observe your fish’s eating habits. Don’t overfeed your fish.
  2. The quality of food also matters a lot. A low-quality can instantaneously affect the digestive system of your fish.
  3. Make sure to use an efficient filter to remove excess waste or left-over food particles.
  4. Cycling the tank is another important precautionary measure.
  5. Replacing 25-30% every week is inevitable.
  6. Keeping an eye on their daily activities is also significant, as they might hurt themselves during playing or digging. Thus, you should avoid putting any sharp object in your aquarium. Any small injury can later turn to infection.
  7. Monitoring the water parameters and minimizing the fluctuations is compulsory.
  8. Maintaining a higher water temperature is another important factor that readily improves immunity and helps combat the diseases.

Common Diseases

There is a list of common diseases that your flowerhorn might catch.

  • Head in The Hole Disease (HITH)
  • White Spot Disease (ICH Disease)
  • Flowerhorn Fungus Disease
  • Dropsy
  • Flowerhorn Flukes
  • White Poop Disease
  • Swollen Eyes Disease
  • Swim Bladder Disease

Except for the above-mentioned diseases, there is a list of many minor diseases that your flowerhorn is susceptible to. Thus, taking care of your fish should be your utmost priority.


Feeding a flowerhorn is quite convenient. They are not pick-eaters and accept everything happily. Moreover, their omnivores’ nature makes it easier to choose a healthy diet for them.

Meat, plants, and proteins are basically needed. Live, dried, or frozen, all sorts of foods are gladly appreciated by flowerhorns. Flakes, pellets, or other store-made fish food for cichlids are best as they are healthy and handy.

Furthermore, shrimps, bloodworms, grasshoppers, and other dither fishes are better options as they provide necessary proteins for boosting your fish’s colors.

When it comes to a plant-based diet, packaged food is so far the best choice. If the diet lacks leafy materials, it might end up eating the plants in the aquarium to satisfy the craving.


Finding tankmates for your flowerhorn is one of the most difficult tasks. As flowerhorn cichlids are quite aggressive and territorial and they don’t get well along with other fishes. Although finding perfect companions for your fish might be difficult, but it is not impossible, so here is a list of fishes that suit well with your flowerhorn.

Favorite Tankmates

Tankmates To Avoid

 There is still a bunch of fishes that should be avoided. Following are fishes that should never be kept with your flowerhorn.

Keeping Flowerhorns Together

Flowerhorn is not a schooling fish, and it prefers to stay alone. Their aggressive temperament makes it quite hard to get along with their kind. A pair of flowerhorn cichlids can work well together in case a fairly large space is provided. A tank of 150 gallons or more is perfect.

Large space is believed to reduce fierceness. Thus, male and female flowerhorn can stay together if conditions are favorable. At the same time, more than one male in a tank is an absolute no.

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Steps Toward Successful Breeding

As flowerhorns are human-made creatures in the first place, breeding a flowerhorn is not a big deal. All you need is a nice pair of strains and plenty of space.

Breeding flowerhorn is one of the most rewarding experiences in the life of a fish hobbyist, both in terms of money and satisfaction. One of the greatest limitations in achieving this goal is infertility. Moreover, deformities like stunted bodies and no dorsal fins can be a serious issue. Mostly the male members are infertile as compared to females. Thus, the first thing you need is a healthy pair of flowerhorns and the right temperature in the breeding tank.

characteristicsBreeding tankFry tank
Size55 gallonsDouble than the breeding tank
Temperature1-3 degrees more than the usual tankBetween 80-85-degrees
Nitrates levelLess than 40ppmLess than 10 ppm
substrateSand bottomBare bottom

How to Breed Flowerhorn Fish Step by Step

Following steps should be followed to ensure perfect breeding of flowerhorns.

  1. The breeding pair should be at least 1.5-2 years old and should be fertile.

  2. Separate the breeding pair from the rest of the fish at least two weeks before mating.

  3. Conditioning the fish is necessary. Provide your fish with a protein-rich diet. Moreover, to induce the mating, increase the temperature to at least 84-85 degrees.

  4. Provide flat surfaces like tiles or glass plates to your fish as flowerhorns lay their eggs on flat surfaces.

  5. In case of sand bottom tanks, the male usually digs a hole in the sand to protect its fry.

  6. Separating the pair for some hours a day is suppose to induce mating. To do that, a glass divider that permits water flow is used.

  7. Flowerhorns put on a great show of dancing movements to entice their partners.

  8. Female flowerhorns lay almost 500-2000 eggs at a time.

  9. It takes a minimum of 4-5 days for the fry to become free-moving and independent.

  10. Now separate the parents from the offspring as they might hurt their own fry.

  11. Now is the time to feed the young ones. Finely divided shrimps are the best food for growing fry.

  12. Feed them at least 4-8 times a day to meet their requirements.

  13. After 4-5 months, the young ones are almost 2-3 inches in size; it’s the time to sell them.


How big do flowerhorns get?

Flowerhorn cichlids can grow to unbelievably large sizes. The adult flowerhorn fish can reach a maximum of 14-16 inches in size.
Moreover, size varies with different strains; for example, the Thai silk flowerhorn can grow to a maximum size of 8-12 inches. Furthermore, the classic Kamfa can reach o almost 16 inches.

How long do flowerhorns live?

Flowerhorn has quite an impressive life span. The short-sized flowerhorns can survive for a good 5-6 years. In comparison, the larger ones can live up to 8-12 years.
Unfortunately, the new generations are short-lived, but it is only true for a few strains worldwide.

How many times to feed flowerhorn fish?

Another important thing to be kept in mind regarding the flower horns diet is its timing. It would be best if you fed your fish at least twice a day. Occasionally, larger fish requires more food to fulfill their enormous appetite.
Feeding time should not exceed more than 5 minutes. If you find any left-over food on the bottom of the tank, it means that you should lessen the feeding time or the amount of food. 

How much is flowerhorn fish?

Regarding its magnificent beauty and attractiveness, this fish is worth any price. A healthy, good-looking flowerhorn can cost a good sum of 150-300$. Including its tank, food, and other necessary equipment, a flowerhorn is worth a minimum of 300-500$.
The most expensive type of flowerhorn is “KING KAMFA.”


Although petting a flowerhorn is every fish keeper’s ultimate goal, but certain things make it a hard fish for beginners. This fish is praised all around the world for its marvelous beauty and stunning display of colors.

We hope this article will help you overcome any problem that comes your way of keeping this beauty.

Tell us which type of flowerhorn is your favorite?

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2 thoughts on “Flowerhorn Cichlid-Origin, Types, Food, Lifespan and Breeding”

  1. Pingback: Where did Flowerhorn Fish Come From? - Flowerhorn Love

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