Flowerhorn 101

Ever been to an aquarium and seen those lovely fish with unique protruding heads, beautifully colored scales and bold black patterns on their side? This fish is called a Flowerhorn Cichlid. The Cichlid family is both large and diverse with 1,650 species scientifically identified and new species being discovered annually. Cichlids are popularly kept in home aquariums. Flowerhorn Cichlids, were first bred in Malaysia, Thailand, and Taiwan, and they eventually became popular with aquarium hobbyists all over the world.


Feeding your fish

Flowerhorn’s diet should consists of live food, frozen food, and standard dry fish food. Integrating live food allows them to hunt but can also stimulate aggression so be careful. Recommended live food includes earthworms,meal worms and wax worms. Small feeder fish can also serve as live food, just feed them sparingly as they are known to carry bacteria that can make your fish sick. Feed your fish with live food as a treat from their staple dry food. Another type of food that is a good substitute for live food, is frozen food. Young Flowerhorn normally eats Chironomus and brine shrimps. They also eat frozen fish which are intended for human consumption. But if you do choose to feed your Flowerhorn with frozen fish make sure that the fish you use are freshwater ones. Look for high quality food no matter which type you choose, the quality will show up in your flowerhorn’s appearance.

Remember that a Flowerhorn cichlid should be fed twice a day, every day. Be mindful of the amount of food you give your fish. Be careful and do not overfeed your fish. The rule is to reduce the amount of the food if you know that the food is rich in nutrients.

Feeding your fish does not just involve giving them food. It also includes cleaning the tank after your fish has eaten. Both live and frozen food have the tendency to make the water inside the tank become dirty and eventually polluted. This is unhealthy for your fish. This can also negatively affect the oxygenation of the water inside your tank. Removing the leftover food fast is a hassle but worth the effort as it will lower the amount of water changes you’ll have to do.

How are Flowerhorn Cichlids bred?

Flowerhorn cichlids are aggressive, territorial and predatory by nature. All these factors add to the difficulty of breeding them. They attack anything that moves in their space especially any other fish of similar size or build. In order to breed Flowerhorns, a large tank is needed. The female has to have enough space to hide. Normally, the male Flowerhorn digs a pit in the smooth rock or gravel for the female to lay their eggs when they are ready. Female Flowerhorns also tend to lay their eggs on a flat surface. When the female has laid her eggs, the male usually swims over them while releasing his sperm. This is how fertilization happens. After this, the parents have the tendency to fight each other. Before this happens, take the initiative to insert a divider into the tank to remove the female from harms way. The last thing you want is the female to get over stressed. When this happens, the female panics and sometimes eats her eggs. It is usually the male’s duty to guard the eggs, especially from other fish. He aerates the eggs by fanning them with his fins. When the eggs hatch, which normally happens after 3-4 days, he also guards the fry until they large enough to live by themselves.

Why do people keep Flowerhorn Cichlids?

People go gaga over these elegant looking fish. The trend exploded in the 90’s in South East Asia. It was also the time when people started to breed them in order to produce more colorful, bigger and interactive ones.

Another factor that makes them highly valuable in Asia, is the large hump that Chinese considers a trait similar to the forehead of Shou Xing, their god of longevity. This is why Flowerhorn is widely regarded as good luck charm. Some claim that markings on the side of a Flowerhorn resemble Chinese characters. This adds to the fish’s mysterious reputation. There was a story going around about a Flowerhorn with markings that translated into winning lottery numbers, bringing wealth to its owner. This also contributed to the fish’ popularity.

However, most of the fish-breeders do not need the lottery to make money from Flowerhorn Cichlids. You can take care of a fish, keep it until it grows to a nice size and sell it for top dollar. Some Flowerhorns can cost thousands of dollars, depending on the size of the  nuchal hump, the overall size and of course the coloration. The larger the fish the brighter the colors and the bolder the patterns the bigger the price tag. It is not uncommon for the most beautiful flowerhorns to be sterile unable to produce, this is another factor that can raise prices.

It’s not all about the money! A lot of hobbyists keep Flowerhorn because they have a great personality. They chase your fingers around when you feed them.  They are interactive and they want to play with their owners. This is as opposed to other fish which can be skittish and unresponsive to people..

Flowerhorn Cichlids are popular simply because they are beautiful to many. Try sitting in front of an aquarium with a Flowerhorn inside, they explode in bright colors, their tails and their fins fan in elegance, they spark conversation and they create intrigue. Ultimately the Flower is an amazing fish to keep if you are considering it weigh the responsibility and if it makes sense DO IT! You wont regret it.