Flowerhorn Cichlid- Care, Tank Mates, Feed & Full Details!

The Flowerhorn Cichlid is an exquisite breed not found in the wild, rather born out of careful captive breeding. This stunning breed owes its existence to the crossbreeding of the blood parrot cichlid with the red devil cichlid.

These majestic creatures are hard to miss, thanks to their robust size and striking aesthetics. If you seek a departure from typical aquarium inhabitants, the Flowerhorn Cichlid is your go-to option.

They are celebrated for their vibrant hues, unique markings, and a prominent hump, adding a splash of color and intrigue to your aquarium.

This guide serves as your roadmap to understanding and caring for a Flowerhorn Cichlid, with focus on their size management and temperament control.

By the end, you’ll be well equipped to welcome this aquatic marvel into your home.

Table of Contents

Quick Stats About Flowerhorn Cichlids

Scientific name: Paracheirodon innesi
Common names: Flowerhorn cichlid
Distribution: Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Taiwan
Size: 10–16 inches
Life expectancy: 10–12 years
Color: A range of vibrant colors, including green, red, purple, blue, orange, yellow, and pink
Diet: Omnivore
Temperament: Moderate–aggressive
Minimum tank size: 70 gallons
Temperature: 80–89°F (23–31°C)
pH: 6.5–7.8
Hardness: 9–20 dGH
Care level: Moderate
Breeding: Egg-layer

An Overview of the Flowerhorn Cichlid’

Dive into the exciting world of Flowerhorn Cichlids, a gem in the freshwater aquarium community.

Born in the regions of Thailand, Taiwan, and Malaysia, this breed has since piqued global interest, spreading its fins to the United States and Europe.

Some human-released Flowerhorns have even established themselves as invasive species in the wild.

Despite these hurdles, these aquatic wonders continue to attract global demand, often commanding high market prices.

The Flowerhorn Cichlid, with its vivid colors and distinctive hump, is a prized possession in any aquarium, making it a unique spectacle in the aquatic world.

Appearance of Flowerhorn Cichlid

The first thing that strikes you about the Flowerhorn Cichlid is its fascinating appearance.

Their vibrant colors and patterns, combined with a distinct hump on their head known as a ‘nuchal hump’ or ‘kok,’ make them a delightful addition to any aquarium.

This kok can fluctuate in size over a few days, adding another layer of intrigue to their already captivating demeanor.

Their body shape is tall, long, and thin, sporting a symmetrical appearance that adds to their aesthetic appeal. The dorsal and anal fins start about two-thirds down their body, extending to the back and easily overshadowing their rather stubby caudal fin.

They also have a thin strand of tissue at the end of their dorsal and anal fins, adding a hint of delicate elegance to their robust frame.

Flowerhorn Cichlids also have a characteristic ‘chin’ area, leading into their thin ventral fins, which begin a third of the way down their bodies.

The males are endowed with prominent lips, lending them an expressive face, making them a charming aquarium companion.

There are various types of Flowerhorn Cichlids, like the Zhen Zhu, Thai Silk, and Golden Monkey, each with unique aesthetic aspects.

However, the Red Dragon Flowerhorn is the most commonly found variant.

Types of Flowerhorn Cichlids

Let’s explore the different types of Flowerhorn Cichlids.

King Kamfa Flowerhorn Cichlid

The King Kamfa is one of the most sought-after Flowerhorn types. It’s known for its distinct characteristics, such as a large, fan-shaped tail, a pronounced kok, and bold black markings on a white or yellow body.

King Kamfas typically have shiny, pearl-like scales that add to their striking appearance.

Red Dragon Flowerhorn Cichlid

Red Dragon Flowerhorns are loved for their intense red coloration. This type also has a pronounced kok and a thick body shape.

Red Dragons are often more active than other types, making them a dynamic presence in any aquarium.

Thai Silk Flowerhorn Cichlid

Also known as Blue Diamond, the Thai Silk variety is unique for its vibrant blue hue.

They have a smooth, metallic sheen over their scales that makes them look like they’re made of silk, hence the name.

Thai Silks may not have as pronounced a kok as other types, but their mesmerizing color more than compensates for it.

Golden Monkey Flowerhorn Cichlid

Golden Monkey Flowerhorns are a prized variety due to their golden coloration. This type often features red markings, adding to their visual appeal.

Like the King Kamfa, Golden Monkeys have a large, pronounced kok and a robust body shape.

Zhen Zhu Flowerhorn Cichlid

The Zhen Zhu Flowerhorn has a red body with a black belly, tail, and fin tips.

The distinguishing feature of the Zhen Zhu is its pearl-like markings, similar to the King Kamfa, but more densely packed.

Kamfamalau Flowerhorn Cichlid

The Kamfamalau is a hybrid of the King Kamfa and the Malau types.

This type has the large kok of the King Kamfa and the distinctive coloration of the Malau, making it a fascinating blend of both.

Fader Flowerhorn Cichlid

Faders are known for their ability to change color. They start with a grey or silver color that slowly fades to a more vibrant hue as they grow, hence the name “Fader.”

This transformation makes them a fun and exciting addition to any aquarium.

Flowerhorn cichlids are indeed a fascinating species, with each type offering unique traits and captivating beauty.

Whether you’re an aquarium enthusiast or a beginner looking to add some color to your tank, Flowerhorn cichlids make an excellent choice.

Always remember, though, that they require proper care and a suitable environment to thrive, so do your research before choosing your new aquatic friend.

Growth, Size & Lifespan of Flowerhorn Cichlid

Flowerhorn Cichlids are rather large, growing anywhere between 12 to 16 inches in length.

Males are typically larger and heavier than their female counterparts. Their size plays a crucial role in planning their tank setup, affecting feeding practices and the choice of tank mates.

The average lifespan of a Flowerhorn Cichlid is an impressive 11-12 years. Their long lifespan necessitates a commitment to their care. Please note that the lifespan can vary based on the quality of care and the suitability of tank conditions.

Natural Habitat of Flowerhorn Cichlid

Interestingly, Flowerhorn Cichlids do not have a natural habitat as they are a human-made breed. These stunning fish are the result of selective breeding in captivity, proving human ingenuity in the world of aquatics.

Flowerhorns that are found in the wild are usually those introduced by humans and have become invasive species in several countries.

However, these man-made marvels have shown remarkable adaptability by surviving and thriving in diverse conditions in the wild.

Origin and Distribution of Flowerhorn Cichlid

The birth of Flowerhorn Cichlids can be traced back to Thailand, Taiwan, and Malaysia. Their stunning appearance and unique characteristics quickly captured the interest of aquarists in other parts of Asia, Central America, and eventually, the United States and Europe.

Despite their non-natural origins, Flowerhorns have managed to establish themselves in various parts of the world, often as an invasive species.

Regardless, the global demand for these striking fish remains high, with breeders fetching premium prices for them worldwide.

Behavior and Temperament of Flowerhorn Cichlids

The personality of Flowerhorn Cichlids is as vibrant as their appearance. They’re known for being assertive, and sometimes aggressive, especially when it comes to protecting their territory.

Despite this, they’re incredibly interactive with their human caregivers, often following them around the tank, much like a pet dog would.

Their intelligence is notable, and they’ve even been known to recognize and respond to their owners.

Flowerhorns are territorial by nature and can be aggressive towards other fish, especially during breeding times.

It’s best to keep this in mind when considering tank mates. However, they are also fascinating to watch due to their active and playful nature.

Tank Setup for Flowerhorn Cichlids

Flowerhorns are not just any ordinary fish, and their tank setup shouldn’t be either. Here’s a detailed guide to help you create the ideal environment for these magnificent creatures.

Tank Size

The Flowerhorn is a large fish, often growing up to 16 inches in length. Therefore, it requires a sizable tank to swim and grow comfortably. For a single Flowerhorn, a 75-gallon tank is a good starting point. If you plan to house more than one, you’ll need to upscale the tank size accordingly.


When it comes to the tank’s substrate, Flowerhorns aren’t particularly picky. However, a softer substrate like sand is often preferred as it’s gentle on their bellies and allows them to sift through as they naturally would in the wild.

Decorations and Hiding Spots

Flowerhorns are active swimmers and appreciate a tank with plenty of open space. Decorations can be added, but ensure they don’t cramp the tank. Sturdy, smooth-edged rocks and driftwood can be used to create hiding spots without risking injury to the fish.

Water Parameters

Maintaining optimal water conditions is crucial for the Flowerhorn’s health. The water temperature should be between 80-85°F, pH level around 6.0-7.5, and hardness between 9-20 dGH.

Filtration and Aeration

A robust filtration system is necessary to keep the water clean and free from harmful toxins. Additionally, an air pump can be used to improve oxygenation and water movement, mimicking the Flowerhorn’s natural riverine habitat.


Flowerhorn Cichlids don’t require special lighting. Standard aquarium lighting that facilitates a day-night cycle is sufficient. Too intense lighting could stress the fish, while a dimly lit tank will showcase their vibrant colors.

Tank Mates

Due to their aggressive nature, Flowerhorns are often best kept alone. If you wish to add tank mates, choose large, equally assertive species. Always monitor their interactions to ensure there’s no excessive aggression.


Flowerhorn Cichlids are omnivorous and require a varied diet. High-quality cichlid pellets can be the staple, supplemented with fresh, frozen, or dried protein sources like shrimp, krill, or earthworms.

They also benefit from occasional plant-based foods. Remember, overfeeding can lead to health problems, so it’s important to monitor their diet closely.

Essential Tank Maintenance for Flowerhorn Cichlids

Maintaining a healthy environment for your Flowerhorn Cichlid is not just about setting up the perfect tank, but also ensuring its ongoing upkeep.

Regular tank maintenance is crucial for the wellbeing of your fish, influencing their health, lifespan, and overall happiness.

Regular Water Changes

Water changes are a fundamental aspect of tank maintenance. For Flowerhorn Cichlids, aim to change 10-20% of the tank’s water every week.

This practice helps maintain the water’s chemical balance, remove waste, and prevent the buildup of harmful bacteria and toxins.

Always remember to treat the new water to remove chlorine and match the tank’s temperature to avoid shocking your fish.

Cleaning the Tank and Decorations

Over time, your tank and its decorations can accumulate algae and waste, creating an unsightly view and potentially harmful living conditions.

To prevent this, it’s important to clean the tank walls and decorations regularly. Use a suitable algae scrubber for the tank walls and soak the decorations in hot water to remove any stubborn algae.

Avoid using soap or detergents as they can be harmful to your Flowerhorn Cichlid.

Filter Maintenance

The filter is the heart of your aquarium, working tirelessly to keep the water clean and safe for your Flowerhorn.

Therefore, it’s essential to keep it in optimal working condition. Rinse the filter media in tank water during your regular water changes to clear out debris without disrupting beneficial bacteria.

Depending on the type of filter, you may need to replace the media every few months. Always check the manufacturer’s instructions.

Monitor Fish Health

While maintaining the tank, take the opportunity to monitor your Flowerhorn Cichlid’s health. Look out for signs of illness such as changes in color, spots, bloating, or unusual behavior.

Regular monitoring helps detect issues early, allowing for prompt treatment. Remember, a healthy tank leads to a healthy fish!

To sum it up, tank maintenance for a Flowerhorn Cichlid involves regular water changes, cleaning, and filter maintenance, along with ongoing health monitoring.

By sticking to this routine, you’ll create a thriving environment for your Flowerhorn, promoting its vibrant colors and unique personality.

Acclimating Your Flowerhorn Cichlid

Welcoming a new Flowerhorn Cichlid to your aquarium is a thrilling experience. However, it’s crucial to ensure a smooth transition for the fish from the store to your tank.

The process known as acclimation helps your Flowerhorn adjust to its new environment, minimizing stress and potential health issues.

Acclimating your Flowerhorn Cichlid should be a gradual process. Begin by floating the bag containing your new fish in the aquarium for about 15 to 20 minutes.

This allows the water inside the bag to slowly match the tank’s temperature. After this, start introducing small amounts of tank water into the bag every ten minutes for about an hour.

This helps your Flowerhorn get used to the water parameters in its new home.

Once acclimated, gently net the Flowerhorn out of the bag and release it into the tank. It’s essential to avoid adding the store water to your tank, as it may contain unwanted bacteria or parasites.

After introducing your Flowerhorn to its new home, monitor it closely for any signs of stress or illness.

Flowerhorn Cichlid Diet and Feeding

Flowerhorn Cichlids are not picky eaters, but they do thrive on a well-balanced, nutritious diet.

Providing a variety of food types will help ensure your Flowerhorn receives all necessary nutrients, enhancing its colors and promoting good health.

Pellets and Flakes

Commercially available cichlid pellets or flakes can serve as the staple of your Flowerhorn’s diet.

These products are nutritionally balanced and often fortified with vitamins and minerals. Choose a high-quality product to ensure it’s free from fillers and artificial ingredients.

Live and Frozen Foods

Adding live or frozen foods to your Flowerhorn’s diet introduces variety and helps stimulate natural hunting behaviors.

Suitable options include brine shrimp, bloodworms, and daphnia. These foods are protein-rich and contribute to the healthy growth of your Flowerhorn.

Fruits and Vegetables

Occasionally supplementing your Flowerhorn’s diet with fresh fruits and vegetables provides additional vitamins and fiber.

Try offering small pieces of peas, spinach, or zucchini, and fruits like bananas or apples. Remember to wash and peel any produce and remove it from the tank if not eaten within a few hours.

Feeding Frequency

Flowerhorn Cichlids should be fed 2-3 times a day, offering only as much food as they can consume in about 3-5 minutes.

Overfeeding can lead to obesity and water pollution, so it’s important to monitor your fish’s eating habits and adjust portions as necessary.

In conclusion, a well-rounded diet for your Flowerhorn Cichlid should include a mix of pellets or flakes, live or frozen foods, and occasional fruits and vegetables.

Regular feeding and careful observation will help maintain your Flowerhorn’s health and vibrancy, allowing you to fully enjoy this fascinating fish.


Flowerhorn Cichlid Tank Mates: Friends and Foes

When it comes to the choice of tank mates, Flowerhorn Cichlids can be quite a challenge due to their aggressive nature.

However, with careful selection and adequate space, it’s possible to find suitable companions for your Flowerhorn.

Suitable Tank Mates for Flowerhorn Cichlids

While it’s generally recommended to keep Flowerhorn Cichlids in a species-only tank, certain robust, larger fish can sometimes coexist with them, given enough space and hiding spots.

Here are some potential tank mates:

Oscar Fish: Oscars are large, resilient fish that can withstand the Flowerhorn’s assertive behavior. Both species share similar water conditions, making them a potential match.

Jaguar Cichlids: Known for their aggressive nature, Jaguar Cichlids might hold their own against a Flowerhorn.

Large Plecos: Plecos tend to keep to themselves and can survive with a Flowerhorn, thanks to their tough exterior.

Jack Dempsey Cichlids: These fish can match the Flowerhorn’s aggression and size, although they should be monitored closely.

Convict Cichlids: Convicts are feisty, resilient, and can occasionally coexist with Flowerhorns.

Tank Mates to Avoid

Smaller, peaceful fish are not suitable companions for Flowerhorns due to their aggressive nature.

Here are some examples of fish to avoid:

  1. Neon Tetras: These small, peaceful fish would be at a high risk in a tank with a Flowerhorn.

  2. Discus Fish: Discus are delicate, slow-moving fish that would struggle with the Flowerhorn’s aggression.

  3. Angelfish: Although they are cichlids, Angelfish are generally peaceful and would not fare well with a Flowerhorn.

  4. Guppies: These tiny, peaceful fish would likely become a meal for a Flowerhorn.

  5. Corydoras Catfish: Their small size and peaceful nature make them unsuitable tank mates.

Breeding Flowerhorn Cichlids and Fry Care

Breeding Flowerhorn Cichlids can be quite challenging, given their aggressive nature and the fact that they are man-made hybrids.

However, with patience and careful attention, it’s possible to breed these captivating fish.

Breeding Process

  1. Pairing: Ideally, a male and female Flowerhorn should be introduced to each other while they’re still juveniles. This increases the chance they will accept each other when they reach sexual maturity.

  2. Spawning Site: The female will select a flat surface, such as a rock or the side of the tank, where she will lay her eggs. The male will then fertilize them.

  3. Guarding the Eggs: Both parents will guard the eggs fiercely. It’s crucial to monitor them closely, as aggression can escalate during this time.

Fry Care

Once the fry hatch, they should be removed from the tank to avoid any potential aggression from the parents.

Here are some tips for fry care:

  1. Feeding: Initially, the fry can be fed infusoria or newly hatched brine shrimp. As they grow, you can gradually introduce finely crushed flakes or pellets.

  2. Water Quality: Maintain pristine water conditions in the fry tank, performing regular water changes to prevent the buildup of waste.

  3. Growth Monitoring: Keep a close eye on the fry’s development. Any signs of illness or abnormal behavior should be addressed promptly.

In conclusion, while breeding Flowerhorn Cichlids can be a challenging venture, it’s not impossible. With careful planning, appropriate conditions, and a lot of patience, you can successfully breed and raise these stunning fish.

As always, their health and well-being should be your top priority.

By adhering to these guidelines, you can ensure that your Flowerhorn Cichlids and their offspring thrive, adding a vibrant touch to your aquatic world.

Recognizing Signs of Stress in Flowerhorn Cichlids

Just like any living creature, Flowerhorn Cichlids can undergo periods of stress.

Being aware of the signs and intervening promptly can protect your fish from potential health issues.

Flowerhorn Cichlids may exhibit several signs of stress:

  1. Changes in Behavior: Your fish may become less active, hide more often, or even become more aggressive.

  2. Loss of Appetite: If your Flowerhorn Cichlid is under stress, they may eat less than usual or even refuse food altogether.

  3. Changes in Appearance: Rapid color fading or the appearance of spots or sores on your fish’s body can be a sign of stress.

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Common Health Issues and Treatments for Flowerhorn Cichlids

Flowerhorn Cichlids are generally hardy fish, but they can still succumb to a number of common fish diseases.

Here are a few of the most common health issues:

  1. Ichthyophthirius (Ich): This is a common fish disease that manifests as white spots on the fish’s body. It can be treated with over-the-counter medications and by gradually raising the tank’s temperature.

  2. Fin Rot: This is a bacterial infection that can be caused by poor water quality. Regular water changes and antibacterial medications can treat fin rot.

  3. Bacterial Infections: Symptoms vary but may include loss of appetite, lethargy, sores, or unusual swimming behavior. Medication will be required and should be prescribed by a vet.

Additional Tips for a Healthy Aquarium

Maintaining a healthy aquarium is crucial for the wellbeing of your Flowerhorn Cichlid.

Here are some additional tips:

  1. Check Water Quality Regularly: Routine water testing ensures that the water parameters are at optimal levels.

  2. Provide a Balanced Diet: Offer a variety of high-quality fish food to meet all their nutritional needs.

  3. Monitor Fish Behavior: Regularly observe your fish for any changes in behavior, as this can be an early sign of stress or disease.

Should You Get a Flowerhorn Cichlid for Your Aquarium?

Deciding to bring a Flowerhorn Cichlid into your aquarium is a decision that should be made after careful consideration.

These fish are truly unique in their appearance and behavior, but they do require specific care to thrive.

If you are a novice aquarist, a Flowerhorn Cichlid might not be the best choice as they require a larger tank, specific water conditions, and a carefully monitored diet.

However, for the more experienced aquarist, Flowerhorn Cichlids can be a rewarding addition.

Their vibrant colors, unique shape, and engaging behavior can make them the centerpiece of your aquarium.

With proper care and attention, a Flowerhorn Cichlid can be a long-lived and interactive pet.

Flowerhorn Cichlid: Conservation Status

As Flowerhorn Cichlids are a product of captive breeding, they don’t have a conservation status like many other fish species.

Flowerhorn Cichlids don’t naturally occur in the wild, so habitat destruction or overfishing don’t directly affect them.

However, situations have arisen where people have released these fish into the wild. In such cases, they can turn into an invasive species, causing disruption to local ecosystems.

Therefore, it’s essential to keep these fish responsibly, ensuring they remain in the confines of your aquarium.

Availability and Pricing For Flowerhorn Fish

Flowerhorn Cichlids are widely available in the aquarium trade, thanks to their popularity among aquarists.

They can be found in most pet stores and fish specialty shops, as well as online. However, the price of Flowerhorn Cichlids can vary dramatically, primarily depending on their size, color, and the distinctiveness of their hump.

Typically, juvenile Flowerhorns are more affordable, while mature, high-quality specimens can fetch a hefty price.

To give you a rough estimate, you can expect to pay anywhere from $50 for a juvenile to several hundred dollars for a highly sought-after adult.

It’s worth noting that caring for these fish also involves ongoing costs, including food, tank maintenance, and potential veterinary care.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Flowerhorn Cichlids

In this section, we’ll address some of the most commonly asked questions about Flowerhorn Cichlids, offering you a more in-depth understanding of these fascinating creatures.

  1. Are Flowerhorn Cichlids aggressive?

    Yes, Flowerhorn Cichlids are known for their assertive and territorial behavior. They can show aggression towards other fish, especially when they feel their territory is threatened.

  2. What do Flowerhorn Cichlids eat?

    In the aquarium, Flowerhorn Cichlids can be fed a diet of high-quality pellets, live food, and frozen food. They require a balanced diet to maintain their vibrant colors and overall health.

  3. How big do Flowerhorn Cichlids get?

    On average, Flowerhorn Cichlids can grow up to 12-16 inches in length. However, in some cases, they can even grow larger, especially when given plenty of space and proper care.

Conclusion: Is the Flowerhorn Cichlid Right for Your Aquarium?

Flowerhorn Cichlids are undeniably charismatic and visually stunning fish that can bring life and color to any aquarium.

Flowerhorn Cichlids require a certain level of care, size, and understanding of their potential aggression, making them a more fitting choice for seasoned aquarists.

If you’re willing to commit to a suitably large tank, diligently maintain ideal water conditions, and ensure a diverse, balanced diet, you’ll find a Flowerhorn Cichlid to be a gratifying and captivating addition to your aquarium.

Their unique appearance and individual personalities are truly unparalleled, making them a fascinating subject for any fish enthusiast.