Flowerhorn Cichlid (Hybrid) Species Guide

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 pearls (silvery gray spots on their skin). Slightly aggressive and territorial, flowerhorns are spectacular fish. Here is my complete care guide, with all the information you need.

A hybrid species with lots of different subspecies and variations, these fish can truly add the wow factor to your tank.

Basic Facts

Name: Flowerhorn Cichlid

Scientific Name: Unknown (Hybrid)

Diet: Omnivore

Size Of The Fish: Max. 16″ (40.64cm) or less

Temperament: Territorial but semi-aggressive

Aquarium Size Required: 

  • For one fish: 70 gallons minimum, 75 is best.
  • For a breeding pair: 150 gallons minimum (size varies based on the size of fish).
  • With tank mates: 215 gallons minimum.

Care Difficulty Rating: Intermediate

Good Paired With: In breeding pairs or by themselves, only good with other species when the flowerhorns juveniles.

Water: Freshwater


Flowerhorn Cichlids are human-made in origin. As a result, they don’t have a natural habitat. These fish are never found somewhere naturally in the wild, if they are, they’ve been introduced by humans.

Red Devil, Trimac Cichlids, and Blood Parrot Cichlids were imported from Central America to Malaysia. The Red devil and the Blood Parrot were bred together, creating the Flowerhorn. 

The fish were first produced in Malaysia, Thailand, and Taiwan. Asian fish hobbyists then took a liking to Flowerhorn Cichlids.

United States and European hobbyists keep flowerhorns, but importing Flowerhorn Cichlids is banned in Australia.

The first generation of Flowerhorn cichlids available on the market was the Hua Luo Han. These fish were bred in about 1998. Since then, their hybrids became quite popular.

The Seven Colors Blue Fiery Mouth (also known as the Greenish Gold tiger), was imported from Central America and crossbred with the Jin Gang Blood Parrot from Taiwan.

This breeding made the first breed of Hua Luo Han flowerhorn hybrids. Since the development of other varieties of strains, they’ve risen in popularity.

Their lifespan is about 10-12 years, 12 years being on the rarer end.

Note: The cichlid flowerhorn isn’t to be confused with the parrot cichlid or the blood parrot cichlid.

Though they’re all freshwater fish, the parrot cichlid comes South America, and the blood parrots are a hybrid.


Flowerhorns are among the most vividly colored in the cichlid world. Males are more colorful than females, and these fish also have a ‘nuchal hump’ or ‘Kok’ on their foreheads. 

Both sexes of this freshwater fish have flat, long bodies, with long dorsal and anal fins extending to the tip of their tails. Their pectoral fins are translucent and much shorter than their others.

Both male and female fish can grow up to 30-40 cm in size.

One of the easiest ways to differentiating male flowerhorn cichlids from other fish is their hump on their forehead. Females don’t have any.

Flowerhorn fish come in an extensive range of assorted colors, from light to dark, purple to red and gold. Their eyes are usually always red with a dark pupil in the centre of their eye.

You’re sure to find your favorite color or type in the extensive range of flowerhorn cichlid strains.

How To Tell The Sex Of A Flowerhorn Cichlid?

Here are a few pointers to help you determine the sex of the fish.

Markings and Colours: Males have more pronounced and vivid colors than females, making them stick out more. Females have black spots on their dorsal fins, and the dorsal fin is quite short.

Another way to tell is the males of these south american cichlids tend to have longer dorsal fins and anal fins.

Size and Body Shape: Males have a different head shape, with a large nuchal hump on their forehead. Males are larger than females.

Behaviour: Another tell-tale trait is when it becomes breeding season, everything on the male’s body gets brighter, and their skin patterns become more vibrant.


These cichlids should successfully breed if you follow these steps and ensure they will be as comfortable as possible.

Just a warning, the aggression of the males hightens drastically during this time. Beginner breeders should avoid attempting to breed them.

Before you breed flowerhorns, note this: Most flowerhorns become fully-grown and prepared to reproduce at 1.5-2 years. You usually don’t need to interfere or encourage the spawning procedure.

Important pointers

  • First, put both cichlids in a tank in which size suits the measurements of the breeding pair.
  • In the breeding tank, there should be 3-4 females per one male fish, all the same species to avoid hybridization. Don’t get two males. Otherwise, both will try to kill the other.

When the female fish lays her eggs (usually on a flat surface in the breeding tank), the male fish fertilizes them.

If the male fish becomes hostile, you can separate him from the fry using a tank setup with a divider.

Two days later the eggs of the flowerhorns hatch and the youngster freshwater fish will begin swimming about after two days more.

If you can, place these young offspring fish in a separate fry tank away from the parents.

Flowerhorn Cichlid Care

Make sure to monitor your fish, as, unfortunately, it’s common for flowerhorns to suffer from diseases such as a hole in the head and digestive blockages.

Tank Conditions

The flowerhorn is a slightly high maintenance fish and needs a huge tank with excellent water quality, and a lot of water flow. It’s best to have a canister filter with powerful filtration.

They need lots of space in their aquariums.

Flowerhorns make a mess when they eat, and these fish thrive best in clear water.

The aquarium light should be muted and not too bright.

These fish like digging into the gravel substrate, so having plants isn’t the best idea, rocks are a better choice to have on the bottom.

You should also clean the water weekly, with regular water changes to keep the water conditions under control.

Seventy-five gallons is the minimum tank size for an individual. For a breeding pair, flowerhorns require 150 gallons or more. But it depends on the size of the fish.

Water Parameters – PH And Hardness

Keeping the hardness and pH in good order with frequent water changes is very important to the health of the flowerhorn cichlid. If the parameters aren’t right, the fish will get sick.

pH: 7.4 – 8.0. 

Hardness: 9-20 dGH

Water Parameters – Water Temperature

The best water temperature for these flowerhorns is 78.8-86 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Suitable Tank Mates

It’s best to keep these in a maximum of one breeding pair of these fish per tank, or one individual. Not one tank mate, even another flowerhorn.

You can raise flowerhorns together as juveniles, but once they reach adulthood, separate the adults fish, so each has their territory to make their own ‘homes.’

Avoid having other tank mates, especially those of different species, because fights and the other fish tankmates being hurt will be a common occurrence.

Their compatibility is essentially zero, they’re not the best community aquarium fish.

What To Feed Flowerhorn Cichlid?

You can feed these large fish directly from your hand, as flowerhorns generally aren’t afraid of you, but careful, as bolder ones will bite!

If the fish refuse to eat, usually a clear sign they’re sick, as these cichlids have a very hearty appetite, and though they’ll eat just about anything, make sure you feed them the correct food.

Fish keepers say to feed the flowerhorns about two to three times a day, and adjust the amount as necessary. They need a variety of different things in their diet, and lots of protein.

Recommended Foods

  • Pellets – Make sure they’re high in protein and high quality with lots of necessary nutrients and supplements.
  • Live foods such as mussels or prawns
  • Dry or live food such as krill, bloodworms, worms, low-fat fish, smaller fish species, even crickets
  • Spirulina

Other Options To Consider

These are more treat foods, but you can still feed flowerhorns these occasionally.

  • Pieces of calamari
  • Grasshoppers
  • Earthworms

Things To Avoid

  • Red meat or meat used for people consumption, it’s very bad for the digestive system of a flower horn cichlid.

Recommended Foods For Fry

Here’s a list of recommended foods for fry. Keep in mind you can usually find commercially made fry food at most aquarium stores.

  • (Baby) brine shrimp
  • Egg yolk
  • Infusoria
  • Microworms
  • Vinegar eels
  • Green water
  • Specially made fry foods you can find at aquarium stores

Things To Avoid

For fry, avoid big foods like flakes, as they may end up being as big as the fry themselves!

Types Of Flowerhorn Cichlids

Here is a list of the different types of flowerhorn cichlids.

  • KamFa
  • Kamalau (KML, Golden Monkey, or Kamfas)
  • Chinese Zhen Zhu (ZZ)
  • Thai Silk (Titanium Flower Horn)
  • Red Dragon Flowerhorn
  • Gold Flowerhorn (Golden Base)
  • Faders
  • Red Texas
  • King Kong Parrots
  • Red Ingots

Their species also include Strains (fish bred from two different parent fish species). An example of a Strain would be a Golden Monkey female with a Zhen Zhu male, making an IndoMalau.

Some of the Flowerhorn Strains include –

  • Coronation Link
  • Tornado Effect
  • Perfect Harmony
  • Unique Track
  • Absolute Wonder
  • Ancient Warship
  • Legacy
  • Creative Measure
  • Exotic Marvel
  • Scarlet Passion
  • Rising Rainbow
  • Living Legend
  • Royal Deegre
  • Quantum Grace
  • Pacific Miracle

Your Cichlid Questions Answered

What Is The Puffy Part On A Flowerhorn Cichlid?

The puffy part is called a nuchal hump or Kok. It appears on the male flowerhorns and not the females.

Where To Buy Flowerhorn Cichlid?

In general, the best place to buy one would generally be online and get it delivered or buy the flowerhorn at your local aquarium store.

Why Won’t My Flowerhorn Cichlid Eat The Pellets?

One of the most common reasons why your flowerhorn won’t eat food is because it may be stressed.

Stress has a significant effect on these cichlids and will cause the fish to lose their appetite for a couple of days. 

Uneaten pellets and food will cause ammonia. You can utilize a small siphon or turkey baster to get rid of them.

Can I Keep My Flowerhorn Cichlid With An Oscar?

Indeed you can, but ensure the oscar is mature and defend itself from the flowerhorn’s attacks. If the flowerhorn is fully grown and powerful, it may kill or attempt to kill the oscar. 

Before you buy the fish, note:

  • You put the oscar in the tank before the flowerhorn; the flowerhorn will not accept the oscar in its tank if you put the oscar in after the flowerhorn.
  • Both fish are the same size as each other
  • The tank is a suitable large size

If you’re looking for a peaceful fish with peaceful tank mates, flowerhorns aren’t a good idea. Sometimes, the flowerhorn will be friendly with its tank mates.

But, it depends on the size of the tank, and the nature of the flowerhorn.

Can Flowerhorn Live With Cichlids?

Yes, but keeping a cichlid/s with flowerhorns is a challenge. Being an aggressive fish, flowerhorn cichlids won’t take kindly to multiple tank mates, even if it’s just one other.

How Big Do Flowerhorn Cichlids Get?

Being 16″ (40.64cm) at a maximum and 12″ (30.48cm) at a minimum in length, flowerhorns are one huge fish!

Are Flowerhorns Aggressive?

Yes. Flowerhorns generally are aggressive. Male flowerhorns are especially aggressive during breeding.

Flowerhorns are almost otherworldly, due to their unique range of coloration and nuchal humps, a truly spectacular fish.

Though these fish are a bit to handle and manage, it’s definitely worth it if you’re up for this challenge in the aquarium hobby.

Is there something missing from this article, or do you have a question? Let me know in a comment below.

Flowerhorn Cichlid Pin


  1. All creatures need protein to grow. It is the essential building block for muscle tissue. This means that you should feed your flowerhorn the recommended amount of protein-rich food every day.


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