Flowerhorn cichlid

The flowerhorn cichlid is a must-have for all colorful and large fish lovers. This exotic beauty offers a wonderful mix of graceful appearance and unique coloration.

This cichlid is an amazing freshwater fish growing in popularity among the aquarist community.

They are quite large, making it even harder to miss them! Their elegant impression, combined with their sturdiness, has made them one of the most sought-after cichlids.

This fish is a great starting point regardless of whether you have dealt with such species before or not; they are a piece of tropical magic.

They like to root about in their substrate and redecorate their tanks frequently. There are very few aquarists that regret getting a flowerhorn for their collection.


  • Family: Cichlidae
  • Origin: Hybrid
  • Social: Semi-aggressive
  • Care Level: Intermediate
  • Color Form: Blue, purple, green, reddish and many more
  • Lifespan: Up to 10 years
  • Size: Up to 16 inches
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Minimum Tank Size: 75 gallons
  • Tank Set-Up: Freshwater, few planted
  • Compatibility: Limited
  • Breeding: Egg-layer
  • pH: 7.0 to 8.0
  • Hardness: 8 to 20 dgH
  • Temperature: 78 to 84 F (25 to 29 C)

Origin of Flowerhorn cichlid

The flowerhorn is an artificial fish. It was created by the hybridization of two different South American cichlids. Originally developed in Malaysia, the flowerhorn was touted as a positive feng shui influence for the areas in which it was kept. It was also a symbol of wealth.

The Flowerhorn fish, also known as the Flowerhorn cichlid, is an artificial creation of human breeders, originated from Southeast Asia in the 1990s.

Taiwanese and Malaysians admired fish with protruding heads, known as ‘kaloi’ or ‘warships’, found in the western part of the nation.

In 1995, the blood parrots were further crossbred with the Human Face Red God of Fortune, which created a new breed called the Five-color God of Fortune.

These fish were bred together, marking the birth of the flowerhorn. With its beautiful colors, this fish quickly became prevalent.

Flowerhorn cichlid Appearance

The Flowerhorn cichlid is a medium-sized fish, normally measuring anywhere up to 16 inches in size. A rounded, balanced formation defines it with a long dorsal fin running along the back, a fairly long anal fin, and a fan-shaped tail fin.

Female Flowerhorns have nuchal humps, but they are much smaller. The males have the huge ones that are the hallmark of this fish. Males are mostly thick-bodied, heavy fish. They have enunciated lips that help add to their appeal.

These fish have beautiful showy fins. Most varieties have long trailing rays at the ends of their dorsal and anal fins. Different color variants come with different tail shapes. Most varieties are covered in large rainbow blue speckles, known as pearls.

Flowerhorns have a strip of irregular black markings that run from their heads to their tails. These markings are called “flowers” and are part of its name. Both males and females are brilliantly colored, but females are much smaller than males.

Flowerhorn cichlid Lifespan

Flowerhorn cichlids can live for a considerably long time, so make sure that this fish wants and can house for the duration of its life! These large Cichlids also have quite an impressive lifespan adding to their popularity.

As a popular aquarium fish, the Flowerhorn faces no serious threats in captivity. However, the quality of their care will significantly impact their lifespan. Flowerhorn cichlids have a lifespan of 10–12 years.

Colors and Markings

The flowerhorn cichlid is known among aquarists for its beautiful range of colors and big nuchal hump on the head of the males. These include shades such as orange-red, gold, grey, blackish-grey, and other colors with silvery gray spots on their skin.

There are a few varieties of Flower Horns available in the commercial market. The common and most recognizable is the Red Dragon Flower Horn. The juvenile Red Dragon is commonly silver with some dark spots along the body.

Normally, fish will have a marbled pattern of red with white and black patches. As the fish matures, the coloration varies to a bright red. Other types are lighter in color, ranging from tan to yellow instead of red.

Habitat and Care

The Flowerhorn fish does not exist naturally in the wild. Breeders gradually developed it in Malaysia, Thailand, and Taiwan.

The flowerhorns have been released into the wild through the aquarium trade, especially in Malaysia and Singapore. It has become very popular with aquarium hobbyists throughout East Asia.

It also gained a small but eager following in Europe and the United States. A Flowerhorn Cichlid does well in a tank with some added plants.

They do tend to dig up plants from the substrate. It’s best to keep them in tanks with plants that prefer to grow on other objects like driftwood and rocks with their roots exposed.


Caring for flowerhorns is easy as they are not picky eaters and are hardy fishes. Most of their care revolves around avoiding the temptation to feed them too much and just keeping up with the maintenance schedule. This fish is, however, relatively sensitive to high levels of ammonia.

Despite being an artificial fish, the Flowerhorn Cichlid is quite hardy and fairly easy to care for. If keeping fish is new to you, you shouldn’t have any problems, but the experience is better. The required tank size often puts off new fish keepers.

Flowerhorns are also quite aggressive and messy. This can complicate things in keeping other fish with your Flowerhorn. You’ll also need regular maintenance to keep the tank clean and the water conditions perfect.

Tank Conditions

Flowerhorns are a hardy species of fish. Flowerhorns require a tank of a minimum of 40 gallons, with 75 gallons optimal. A breeding pair may require a tank of 150 gallons or more, depending on size.

The water should be invariably maintained at a temperature of 80 to 86 degrees and a pH of 7.0 to 8.0. A standard canister filter with a moderate flow rate will keep the tank clean and healthy.

Two or more flowerhorns are usually not kept together, but the tank housing them can be divided up with acrylic dividers or egg crates.

This species seems to be more sensitive to ammonia than most. It would be best to introduce them into a tank after being well cycled. They will efficiently knock over decor and hardscape in the tank unless it is very heavy or solidly attached to something.


Flowerhorns are typically an aggressive species that will prey on smaller fish and bully fishes of similar size. Hence, they do not make good community fishes at all. However, some species do quite well with the flowerhorn.

The best tank mate is another Flowerhorn, preferably a mated pair. Both males and females can be aggressive towards others of their species. For two Flowerhorns, you will need a 150-gallon tank. Some larger fish that can stand against the Flower Horn include the Oscar Cichlid and the Suckermouth Catfish.

The older and bigger they get, the more aggressive they get. So, you might be able to keep them with other fish while they’re young, but more than likely, they will start trying to murder their roommates once they mature.

Diet and Feeding

The Flowerhorn fish can be described best as an opportunistic omnivore and well accustomed to eating pelleted and other prepared foods. Choose a large cichlid pellet to anchor their diet, and you can supplement with both vegetable and meaty treats.

Flower Horns have a very healthy appetite and can be overfed if owners are not paying attention to their diet. In captivity, plant-based foods in any form should compose part of its diet.

Treats should be given once or twice a week at most. Given a warmer water system, a feeding minimum is required twice a day.


These hybrids produce viable offspring; there is no guarantee that your fish will be able to do the same. There are many known cases of Flower Horns that are unable to spawn, even with all the right cues. Be sure to feed a diet high in protein and fat to encourage proper development.

You will need to move the mating pair to a separate spawning tank to attempt spawning. After the fry hatch, move female fish back to their main tank, so the male cares for the eggs properly.

It is advised that the spawning tank contain a few smooth rocks and no substrate.

After spawning, your fry will hatch in a few days. Once they hatch, the male can rejoin the female in the main tank. Temperature manipulation is not often required, but raising the tank, a few degrees can help.

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