Flowerhorn Cichlid – Care, Breeding, Diet and Tankmates

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Some creatures in the aquarium get your eyebrows raised, some get your jaws to drop, while some simply make you keep looking at them for long hours. Flowerhorn Cichlid is a true beauty, and for some reason, it doesn’t allow you to take your eyes off it.

Some of you might have heard it is a man-made fish? Well, you have heard it right. Chinese enthusiasts were indeed successful in creating a species with a sturdy body and extravagant features. Although this is not the kind of fish everybody likes to have in their aquarium, yet the attention it gets in the fish world is unmatchable.

First appeared in 1996; this is now a part of every odd fish selling outlet. The price of the flower horn fish is something that shakes your budget. Medium-sized flowerhorn cichlids and anywhere between $35 – $45. After that, it only takes a steep rise depending on the size and design.

If you just thought about petting a flowerhorn cichlid, you have come to the right place. Here, you’d be going through minute details of this fantastic creature. Let’s begin the ride already.

All About the Species

Quick Species Facts
Scientific Name CichlasomaSP
Other Common Names Horn Fish, Luohan, Flowerhead Fish, Floran Fish, Flower Fish
Family Cichlidae
Origin Malaysia
Lifespan 10 years to 12 years
Size Up to 16 inches
Type Freshwater Fish


Beauty isn’t the only thing that comes with this gigantic creature. There are believed to bring prosperity and wellness to the life of people. Now, who doesn’t want to bring luck to their family? But luck does cost you a bit. As mentioned, this species can land outside your budget, especially red dragon flowerhorn.

Another interesting feature to notice is the hump’s size. Resembling the Chinese God of longevity, people are inclined to believe that a bigger size brings in more prosperity. However, there is more fascination stuck to the life of this fish. Throughout its juvenile years, you see your flowerhorn fish baby change its colors and pattern.

Only when it reaches adulthood, a permanent look settle down. When it comes to breeding, there is no one species responsible for creating this creature. We have red terror, three spot cichlid, red devil, midas cichlid, jingang blood parrot, and red-headed cichlid, all contributing to creating this hybrid fish.


One who has seen this fish cannot ever forget about it. Such is the appearance of its bulb-like structure on the head that we call hump. These denote the status of the male when it comes to competing with others in the tank. Moving further, the kinds and types of flowerhorns are many, but the common features among all are pointed dorsal and round-shaped caudal fins.

A hump is also noticeable in females, but it is usually smaller than the opposite gender. Almost every flowerhorn cichlid has a black marking strip running through its whole body. These are regarded as flowers and thus the name. Talking about the colors and patterns, you can never be sure of what you are going to get.

This simply means that a baby flowerhorn changes its colors and textures while in the juvenile stage. Once it matures, the color and texture settle down. It is indeed exciting and fascinating to some people but also nonsensical to others because they want to have a unique outlook on it.

Quick Fact: While this species tends to have black-reddish eyes, the king kamfa flowerhorn has white or yellow eyes and looks quite unique, giving it a special status in the family.

Flowerhorn Cichlid Care Guide

Types of Flowerhorn Cichlid

While ‘horn fish’ and ‘fish with a horn on its head’ remain two widespread pronunciations of this species’ name, we do have half a dozen more kinds in the variety. While kamfa, blue, super red texas, and bonsai flowerhorn are popular, the variety does not just confide to these.

We further have zhen-zhu or zzmalau, followed by golden base and Thai silk flowerhorn. Every breed we have mentioned has a unique appearance and color, and only the eyes that see it live can describe its beauty. If you dig in a little deeper, you get to see the super red dragon, golden monkey, rainbow king, black, magma, and neon flowerhorn.


How big do flowerhorns get? Though the maximum length it can reach is 12 inches, we generally see the ideal flowerhorn size falling between 8 to 10 inches. Female flowerhorns are usually shorter than males and have a broader cross-section. Creating a community tank, you’d see a male getting bigger far rapidly than the opposite gender; such is the tendency of this species.

Pro Tip: Not just these; every other fish’s life and size depend on the environment it is kept in. A lot depends on the diet and surroundings. We recommend that you pour in a nutrient-rich, balanced diet.

Max. Life Expectancy

Although the cichlid species is fairly adaptable to the surroundings it is put in, you should never examine your pet’s potential. Flowerhorn cichlids usually have a lifespan expanding to 12 years, and few studies seem to have stated that it extends more. However, there is every possibility that the environment surrounding it affects its life.

Flowerhorn’s lifespan depends on three crucial factors: Tank Conditions, Water Temperature, and Genetics. While you can do the best with the first two, the last is not in your hands. However, one can look at the perfect tank setup for this incredible fish and take home some good news for their pet.


Coming from South America’s rivers, this species came into existence due to man-created mutations. Summing up the characteristics of flowerhorns cichlids, you see a nuchal hump-like structure on the head or silhouette, which one can never miss seeing. Subsequently, the possibilities of colors and patterns are countless, and you never know how graceful the adulating would be.

Being a big, sturdy, and adaptable fish, this has a significant market worldwide. Plus, its prices soar high when you look at the reds, yellows, and blue colorings taking shape. These are known to bring positivity and wellness in life for what’s worth. So, if you are thinking of petting this, there is every reason to go ahead.

Gender Identification

Well, here you can never get sure whether the one you are looking at is a male or a female until the sight you see is that of eggs, under which it is a female (a female can lay eggs without a male). However, we have gotten a few more features to help you decide which gender you are looking at.

Starting with the hump, males usually have a bigger hump that is easily noticeable. On the other side, females have a negligible to a hardly-visible hump. Subsequently, males have thick lips that look way more prominent than opposite flowerhorn cichlids.

A word from Expert: If you have an expert’s eye, you can look at the flowerhorn’s dorsal fin. A female usually has black spots on it, and its dorsal fin is comparatively smaller in size than males.

Care Instructions

Quick Care Facts
Care Level Moderate
Social Temperament Oddly Aggressive
Diet Omnivore
Breeding Challenging

Diet and Feeding

There is no such thing as inactivity for long hours in this species. Your daytime routine can set in quickly for the feeding part. When it comes to the best food for flowerhorn, make sure you offer protein-rich supplements. Being an omnivorous creature, this creature unfolds several feeding options. To begin with, you can have live food.

Some options are bloodworms, shrimps, nightcrawlers, small grasshoppers, and crickets. Commercial fish food is another significant option, and you may even buy special food in the fish store nearby. Since this fish will eat everything you put in its food form, it is equally essential to monitor it.

Pro Tip: We strongly advise against overfeeding. The extra amount consumed will only turn into excessive ammonia and nitrate excretion. Hence, a balanced diet is a must in this case.

Temperament & Social Behavior

Since the cichlid bloodline takes aggression with it, you can certainly be sure that it will be no different. Unlike many other species that stay at one spot, a flowerhorn cichlid wanders here and there in the tank. Sometimes, it is close to the brim, while on other occasions, you may notice down the substrate.

A fish with a big forehead might often be the one that is of short temper. Yes, pet owners have witnessed this mesmerizing beauty turn into a beast when others barge in its territory or try to create dominance. Sometimes, there can be no reason for this aggression. Hence, creating a community tank is a big challenge.

Expert Advice: What should one do? Keeping the flowerhorn cichlid alone is probably the best thing you can do, and the next best would be keeping other creatures out of sight. Hence, we endorse creating multiple hiding spots, as it would benefit your fish.


There is more than one reason that denotes that flowerhorn’s breeding process can get a bit tricky. The first is infertility. Since this is a hybrid species coming out of artificial mutations, it lacks proper fertility in males. The second reason is the aggression that this species possesses. Keeping a couple together does not guarantee peace.

Hence, the first step of the breeding process would be dividing the couple through a wall in between. This is to make them comfortable with one another. Otherwise, what you’d see is one attacking the other, most of which is the male. Once the couple settles in, you can see the eggs being laid, ready to get fertilized by the male.

Once you see your flowerhorn fish laying eggs, you should monitor the couple’s activity. If some stress is observed, you should instantly build the wall again. Further, regulating the water temperature and clearing the tank is highly recommended.

Common Diseases

Although the creature lives well within the conditions provided to it, it is still prone to some ailments if you are not keeping the surroundings right. Most of all would be fin rot or infection, as one might state. Other diseases like ich and hole-in-head are also common. Under the latter, a parasite finds its way inside its head. Medications are prescribed for it.

People have witnessed flowerhorns cichlids’ inquisitive aggressive nature landing them in trouble, time and again. Taking a hint of substrate always puts them at risk if there are sharp stones or marbles. Hence, keeping soft toys and pebbles would be recommended.

Make sure you get the best filter for the tank. There is no hard rule to flowerhorn’s filter setup. It just needs to be oxygenating the tank and have steady currents going.

From the Experts: The best care step for any fish would be – prevention first. Prevention in terms of toys, water parameters, tankmates, and unhealthy food is strongly advised. It results in maturing a healthy baby to an even sturdier adult.

Tank Recommendations

Quick Tank Facts
Minimum Size 70-80 Gallons
Water Temperature 80˚F to 90˚F
Water Hardness 8-20 dGH
pH Level 7.0 – 8.0

Ideal Tank Size

Having a flowehorn in a 20-gallon tank is like petting an adult elephant in a tiny cage. This huge creature likes it big. Therefore, be ready to have plenty of space provided to it at all times. An aquarium containing 75 odd gallons of water would be ideal for flowerhorn’s tank size. Further, you can keep the tank’s dimensions to 5 feet long and 3 feet wide (if you have a sole fish). Additionally, the tank size increases as the tank mate numbers enhance.

If you are looking to breed this species, be sure to have a 125-150 gallon aquarium ready since you’d be needing two distinct columns for the pair during the initial stage. However, if you believe that a big tank would look empty with just one fish, it won’t be the case with this crown-carrying creature.

Tank Setup, Décor, and Plants

When it comes to the tank setup for flowerhorn, leave the beautification task to this creature. There is no need to spend on those hefty toys. And even if you do, expect them to get carried away by this creature. With strong jaws, this can even extract the plants from their base. Hence, you are advised to create more open spaces where the active time is well spent.

The least you could see is a flowerhorn sleeping. They enjoy digging and swimming. We recommend you give them the ideal space to do so. For beauty enthusiasts, you can have substrate containing classy pebbles and snags on the top. As for the substrate mentioned, make sure you do not put any item that affects water parameters negatively.

Water Parameters

Setting and monitoring water parameters are of utmost importance for any aquarium. And in this case, it is about the big lad that is most likely to swim alone in the tank. Hence, keep the temperature, hardness, and pH close to the ideal. Here, set these at temperature 75˚F-85˚F, hardness at 9-20 dGH, and pH in between 7.0-8.0. Colorful LED lights would enhance the complexion of your mate.

Being an active swimmer, this freshwater fish likes to have moderate flow running around their bodies. If you see your fish being carried away by the water, it’s time you regulate the flow. Besides maintaining these parameters, make sure you are regularly monitoring these. Anything goes sideways, you may end up seeing your fish having troubles with fins and infections.

Compatible Tankmates

Being an aggressive creature, you do not want a small fish to be anywhere around this fish. We say keep the bare minimum to 25 cm. The most suitable tankmates would be large cichlid species. Other than these, you must avoid shrimps and snails. Anything of this class, the bighorn will eat it.

Quick Fact: Though cichlids are one of the most aggressive, never-letting-go fish, they are also probably the most interactive creatures. Having a friendly side for humans, they also like to come close to your fingertips as you place them outside the tank.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I correctly pair my flowerhorn fish?

If you do not know how to breed a flowerhorn step by step, you should ask an expert. The first step would be pairing. For that, you may need separate spacing. This is done by creating a wall-like structure in between. Let the couple get aware of each other. Once they are comfortable, you can remove the wall. If you see any rifts between the two, create a division again.

Is there any food to increase its hump size?

While no special food or practices are being developed to enhance the size of hump or KOK, it is recommended you keep a protein-rich diet available all the time. The better the quality of food is, the more chances of a healthy growing body.

How to identify if my flowerhorn is a male or a female?

Identifying this fish’s gender might get tricky since there are no apparent signs for this. For all we know, the male is usually bright in color, bigger in size, and his lips are also thicker. Females might just be an inch or two short, less colorful, and there is negligible to no-hump present.

When do flowerhorns get their hump?

These creatures keep on growing and changing their patterns in their juvenile age. As for the hump, development is a continuous process, and you’ll eventually see their hump starting to grow at a young age only.

Can Flowerhorn and Oscar fish live together?

Both the former and the latter carry their own magnificence, and getting them together within the same tank would be a trick. Make sure you do not have a toddler being put in there. Let the Oscar be of the same size and strength as the primary pet. This is to ensure there are no attacks from any side.

Why is my flowerhorn not eating after I changed the water?

Cichlids are prone to constipation, and there is every chance that there is a deviation in water parameters. If your flowerhorn is not eating pallets after a water change, you are advised to check for temperature, hardness, and pH. The next best thing would be fasting. Give it a break. Try giving boiled pea, and as soon as it gets normal, bring in delicacies.

What kind of flowerhorn Cichlids are there in the market?

Their high prices do not let them reach any ordinary fish store. Some of the most popular types are blue dragon, blue diamond, red devil, fireman’s dream, and texas flowerhorn cichlid.

Final Remarks

Having a flowerhorn cichlid would be a great deal, especially with the positivity it carries with it. As far as we know, it is a magnificent creature, hardy species, and perhaps, the prosperity-carrying fish to swim in your tank. Now that you have learned everything about it, you might as well go for it.

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