The Flowerhorn Cichild: Care, Lifespan, Tankmates, Food and More

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Have you ever wondered what the fish with a big forehead is called? They are a hybrid of cichlid known as Flowerhorn, and these “flower head fish” have been popular with aquarium enthusiasts since their introduction two decades ago.

How do you care for this type of cichlid? Is there a difference between caring for baby Flowerhorns vs. full grown? What is the average Flowerhorn lifespan and how big do Flowerhorns get?

We have asked these same questions and this Cichlid Breed Care Guide – Flowerhorn has been designed to answer them!

Table of Contents

Flowerhorn Care

Quick Facts

Size 8-16 Inches
Lifespan Short-Bodied Varieties: 4-5 Years;

Long-Bodied Varieties: 8-12 Years

Ease of Care Moderate
Native Region Man-made hybrid
Minimum Tank Size 55-gallon
Water Type Freshwater
Temperature 80-85 degrees Fahrenheit
Compatible with other breeds Very low
Diet / food Live, Frozen, and Pellets

There are more to this species of cichlid than the hump on their head. With proper care, the Flowerhorn can grow from fry to a healthy adult cichlid that is beautiful to look at and fun to interact with. This Flowerhorn video shows just 20 of the more popular types of Flowerhorn cichlids you might be interested in owning.

Let’s take a look at the Flowerhorn to determine if it is a species for you.

Are Flowerhorn fish aggressive?

It is important to note from the start that Flowerhorn is an aggressive species, more so than many other cichlids sub-species. The Flowerhorn Cichlid, however, can grow as large as 16 inches with some long-bodied varieties, which can make Flowerhorn fish deadly to other fish in the aquarium. This is why many enthusiasts will keep their pet Flowerhorn alone or as a mating pair in a separate tank.

If care is taken, you can find some fish that be housed with the Flowerhorn. Other large cichlids, Oscars, and common Pleco might make suitable tank mates due to their larger sizes. Careful observation after introducing them is key to fish safety and will help you determine if your Flowerhorn will tolerate other fish or not.

What is the Flowerhorn cichlid size when they are fully grown?

One of the most critical aspects of providing proper care for a Flowerhorn is understanding how big they will be as an adult fish.

Many short-bodied Flowerhorn species can grow to a foot in overall length, while some long-bodied species grow to a full length of 16 inches. This large size will influence many decisions that you make should you decide to keep any variety of Flowerhorn cichlid.

Flowerhorn tank size requirements

This species of cichlid require more space than a lot of other fish, including many other cichlid species. Most tank designs will not provide enough room for these fish to turn in sizes under 55 gallons. Ideally, smaller Flowerhorn species could be kept in an aquarium ranging from 75 to 90 gallons.

Larger varieties of Flowerhorn cichlids will require a minimum tank size of 125 gallons to provide adequate room for healthy growth and is the minimum size aquarium for a pair of this cichlid species. An aquarium of at least 150 gallons is recommended if you desired to keep a mating pair of larger Flowerhorn cichlids.

If a Flowerhorn is kept in smaller tanks, it can lead to problems from poor water conditions, lack of stimulation and exercise, stunted growth, and shortened lifespan.

Other Flowerhorn Care And Maintenance Considerations

Tank size is just one aspect to keep in mind when looking at Flowerhorn cichlids. Water column chemistry, aquarium substrate, and filtration, as well as decor, are things that will make the care of these fish easier on your wallet and your time.

Water Chemistry

As a man-made hybrid, the Flowerhorn is able to withstand a wider range of variance to the water column’s chemistry than more sensitive species can tolerate. These fish will do well in water with a ph level ranging between 6.5 and 7.8 but can tolerate levels as low as 6 and as high as 8.

The best ranges for water hardness are from 9 – 20 dGH (degrees of General Hardness). A better understanding of water hardness can found from the USGS. The region that you live in and the condition of your local tap water are things that can affect an aquarium’s water and should be considered when taking care of any type of fish. Fortunately, this hardy breed can tolerate a broader range than many other tropical fish species.

Water Changes

In fishkeeping water quality is paramount. You neef to adhere to a water change schedule and ensure the best filter for your flowhorn tank.

In order to keep your potential pet’s home healthy and safe, you will need to do partial water changes. Changing out 25 – 33% percent of the water column every weeks is recommended, especially with smaller tank sizes. As a large species, Flowerhorns can generate a lot of waste products.

Keep in mind that fish waste isn’t the only concern here. Uneaten food debris, as well as particles kicked up from the substrate, can influence the water column.

How Much Food Does a Flowerhorn Need?

Another fundamental element to proper care is choosing the best flowerhorn food available and feeding in the correct amounts and frequency.

Flowerhorn cichlid size does affect the amount of food that they can eat, we recommend a diet that consists of live foods, frozen foods, as well as Flowerhorn pellets. They should be fed two or three times each day, with a selection of foods listed above.

The amount of food should equal an amount that they can eat within 45 – 60 seconds. This prevents uneaten food from falling to the substrate and causing unwanted chemical build-up. You can also add supplements to their diet as part of their routine diet care.

Flowerhorn Cichlid Characteristics

These fish make a great aquatic pet, as they are naturally curious and will be interactive with their owner. There are other characteristics that make them a desirable breed to keep for many fish enthusiasts that go beyond their personality…

Flowerhorn Appearance

Their distinct head shapes and colored patterns are the most obvious visual characteristics found in the various sub-species of Flowerhorn. Breeders are coming up with new patterns all of the time through selective breeding. Potential owners should remember that their colors and patterns will change as they develop from baby Flowerhorns and juveniles.

It isn’t until these fish reach adulthood that their final color and patterns are established. This can make purchasing an adult more appealing for fish keepers who are looking for something specific. It should be noted that there is no established way to tell a female Flowerhorn from a male.

Flowerhorn Age

With many hybrid species, special characteristics of the fish come at the price of poor health parameters that limit lifespans. For a man-made species, this fish has a lifespan that is similar to many African cichlid species, averaging 10 years. This may not reach the levels of Goldfish or Oscars, but it does represent a longer span than Electric Yellow or Malawi species that may only last six or eight years.

Breeding Flowerhorn

For those interested in how to breed Flowerhorn must keep in mind that these are man-made hybrids. This means that they usually cannot reproduce, with the male being infertile more often than the female Flowerhorn. You will not be able to determine if a potential pet is capable of breeding by looking at it.

Also, these fish are aggressive and may not tolerate a potential tank mate, even from the opposite sex. If you can find a mating pair, however, they are easy to breed during any time during the year. It should also be mentioned that those looking to breed for profit need to realize that most fry produced will not develop into quality fish.

If your mating pair share their tank with others, care should be taken to separate them from the others with a plastic barrier before attempting breeding. While water chemistry does not need to be specific, water temperature should be at about 82 degrees. Care should be taken to keep female Flowerhorn safe from over-aggressive males as well.

Flowerhorn Prices

Head shapes and colorations influence the moderate to high prices on these fish. Male and female Flowerhorn cost the same and adults will cost more due to established color/pattern qualities that are set. Established sex and breeding pairs can increase prices.


If you are looking for a pet that offers character, color, interaction, longevity, and size with minimal care, then the Flowerhorn will make an excellent choice. They are highly aggressive and need lots of room, which requires attention and consideration in selecting potential tank mates and larger fish tanks.If you have personal experience with Flowerhorns, please feel free to share them!

If you have personal experience with Flowerhorns, please feel free to share them!

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