Flowerhorn Cichlid Care, Types, & More | Ultimate Guide


Flowerhorn Cichlids are a unique looking fish that can easily be identified by their appearance. The most distinguishable feature that Flowerhorn Cichlids have is their bulbous forehead. This structure on their head is called a nuchal hump. The nuchal hump is often referred to as a Kok as well. This structure is present in both males and females, but it is more prominent in the males. The nuchal hump becomes more prominent around spawning time.

There are a few different varieties and color variations of the Flowerhorn Cichlid on the market currently. They vary in coloration and markings. The color of the Flowerhorn CIchlid ranges in tans, yellows, and reds. The body shape of the Flowerhorn Cichlid is very similar to that of other African Cichlids.

Are Flowerhorn Cichlids Considered to be Good Luck?

Flowerhorn Cichlids are considered lucky because of the way that they look. It has been said that due to the shape of the Flowerhorn Cichlid’s head, it closely resembles the Chinese god of longevity. Just like the Chinese god of longevity, Flowerhorn Cichlids have prominent, bald foreheads. Due to the Flowerhorn Cichlids resemblance, it is considered to be a lucky fish to keep in your home aquarium.

Common NameFlowerhorn Cichlid
Scientific NameParaneetroplus Synspilus
OriginMalaysia, Thailand, Taiwan
Temperature80F – 89F
Water pH6.5-7.8
Size12 to 16 inches
DietOmnivorous
Flowerhorn Cichlid
Flowerhorn Cichlid

Flowerhorn Facts

  • Flowerhorn Cichlids are rather large fish. They can grow up to 16 inches in length at full maturity, this can make them rather difficult to house in a home aquarium per their tank gallon requirement.
  • Flowerhorn Cichlids are considered to be lucky as they resemble the Chinese god of longevity and have a similar head shape.

Flowerhorn Care

Flowerhorn Cichlids are omnivorous fish that are described by many as having voracious appetites for food. They prefer eating a protein rich diet, and they will readily accept a variety of foods in captivity. Bloodworms, shrimp, and other fish make up the majority of the Flowerhorn Cichlids diet, as well as commercial foods in pellet form. The problem is not with getting them to eat, it is getting them to stop. It is easy to overfeed African Cichlids, so you will want to stick to a regular feeding schedule. They do best when fed 2 to 3 times a day with one day a week with no feeding to clear out their digestive system. This is important for their digestive health.

Size & Lifespan

Flowerhorn Cichlids can become rather large at full maturity. They can reach anywhere from 10 to 16 inches long when they reach adulthood. Their maximum length seems to largely depend on how well they are cared for as improper care will stunt their growth and shorten their lifespan. 

Tank Requirements

If you are planning on setting up a tank for Flowerhorn Cichlids, you will want to make sure that you start out with a tank that is big enough to accommodate their full adult size. Just one Flowerhorn Cichlid needs a minimum of 75 gallons, and if you have the space and can provide a larger tank, even better. Flowerhorn Cichlids require a much warmer temperature of around 80 F to 89 F, and 6.5 pH to 7.8 pH. Since 80 F is not a typical temperature, you will need to look into installing a reliable heater in a Flowerhorn Cichlid tank to help ensure that they stay in the correct temperature range constantly.

Flowerhorn Cichlids are sensitive to major fluctuations in their water temperature. Since adult Flowerhorn Cichlids are rather large fish, they will require a large filter for their aquarium to keep their water clean, as well as regular water changes.

Tank Setup

You should be careful when choosing substrate for your Flowerhorn Cichlids as they are voracious eaters and tend to gobble up bits of their substrate with their food. Some owners of Flowerhorn CIchlids suggest that larger pieces of gravel, or tiles are acceptable substrate that they will not be able to eat pieces of. However, most owners that have Flowerhorn Cichlids keep their tanks with a bare bottom so there is no chance of injury or harm to their fish. Bare bottom tanks are also beneficial in that they will not harbor potentially deadly bacteria.

It is tough to introduce any decorations into a Flowerhorn Cichlid tank. They tend to dig around and tear up plants and decor. When Flowerhorn Cichlids are young, they can cohabitate with decor and plants as they are too small to really disturb anything. Flowerhorn Cichlids grow very fast, and they will not leave these things alone for long. In short, it is better to leave these things out of a Flowerhorn Cichlid tank so that they do not get hurt as they go after their food, and so that they also have as much room as possible to roam.

Lighting is another important thing to consider for a Flowerhorn Cichlid tank. They require light not only to help show off their vibrant ornamental coloration, but if they are kept in darkness, you will be able to see their colorations dull considerably.

Breeding Flowerhorn

If you are looking to breed Flowerhorn Cichlids, then you will want to start with a dedicated breeding tank as they become rather aggressive when they are near spawning time. They will even become aggressive towards their mate during this time.

Some owners of Flowerhorn Cichlid breeding pairs say that they place them in a breeding tank with a clear divider to reduce their aggression towards one another but also allow for their hormones to be available to one another in the water to induce spawning. There are other owners of Flowerhorn Cichlids who suggest that the breeding pair can be kept together provided that they are given enough room. If you are considering this method, then it is important to make sure that there are no issues between the two fish.

When Flowerhorn Cichlids are ready to spawn, the male and female will perform an intricate dance together. This dance has been observed in Flowerhorn Cichlids of different types. When Flowerhorn Cichlid females are ready to lay their eggs, they will lay them on flat, clean surfaces. If you are observing your breeding pair of Flowerhorn Cichlids, you will see the female cleaning and picking at the surfaces she has chosen to lay her eggs. The breeding tank should be kept to a minimum, but it is ok to place flat tiles in the tank for the female Flowerhorn Cichlid to lay her eggs.

After the female Flowerhorn Cichlid has laid her eggs she should be removed from the breeding tank as she will not provide any parental care to her fry. The male Flowerhorn Cichlid should be left in the breeding tank to care for the fry. He will even move them around where he feels they are the most safe.

It takes the Flowerhorn Cichlid fry around 3 to 5 days to hatch and become free swimming. Once the fry are free swimming, the parent male Flowerhorn Cichlid should be removed from the breeding tank.

What Fish Make a Flowerhorn?

Flowerhorn Cichlids are considered an ornamental, hybrid fish. This means that they were selectively bred for their looks, color, and whatever else the breeder and buyer find desirable. Flowerhorn Cichlids have been around in the aquarium trade since the 1990s. They began appearing in the regions of Southeast Asia and parts of Taiwan. They were desired for their bulbous foreheads as they resembled the Chinese god of longevity. These fish quickly became thought of as good luck to keep in the household.

Flowerhorn Cichlids are the result of breeding Blood Parrot Cichlid, Red Devil Cichlid, and Three Spot Cichlid. As the Flowerhorn Cichlid increased in popularity, more and more types of Cichlids were bred together and sold as Flowerhorn Cichlids regardless of their markings.

Flowerhorn Disease

Flowerhorn Cichlids are susceptible to many of the same diseases as most other freshwater fish. They can get bacterial, parasitic, or fungal infections. It is important to give them one day a week with no food as it will help them clear out their digestive system and prevent blockages.

Here are some common diseases for Flowerhorn Cichlids:

  • Hole in the Head Disease: This disease is exactly as it sounds, and it shows up as a hold that appears on the head of your fish.
  • Ich: Ich is a parasitic infection that shows up on the scales or gills of your fish as white spots. Ich can be treated if caught early enough, but if left unchecked, the white spots will quickly spread all over the entire fish. Ich can easily be spread to other inhabitants of the aquarium as well so it is important to quarantine any affected fish away from healthy ones in an attempt to prevent the spread.
  • Fin Rot: Fin rot is an active infection that appears on the tail and fins of the fish. Fin rot is easily one of the most preventable conditions that can affect your fish as it is most often caused by poor water quality.
  • Popeye Disease: Popeye disease in fish is a condition that causes swelling of the eyes. It will also cause their eyes to become cloudy. If left untreated it can result in the loss of the eye of the fish. You can treat Popeye disease with epsom salt baths.
  • Air Bladder Disease: As this disease suggests, it is a condition that affects the swim bladder of the fish resulting in the fish’s inability to control its swim bladder effectively. This is a condition that can be treated if caught early enough on, but is a more serious condition.
  • Digestive Blockages: Flowerhorn Cichlids are known for their mighty appetites. These appetites are often their downfall as they can easily get digestive blockages. The best way to deal with this condition is to pick a day of the week where you do not offer your Flowerhorn Cichlids food. This will help their digestive systems clear out and catch up.

Flowerhorn Tank Mates

Flowerhorn Cichlids are rather large and somewhat aggressive fish to keep. It can be difficult to keep them in a community setup. They can be kept with other fish of similar temperament and size, but it would not be a good idea to keep them with other timid, smaller fish as they will become a meal for the hungry Flowerhorn Cichlid.

Examples of compatible tank mates for Flowerhorn Cichlids are other Cichlids of similar size, Oscar fish, Plecos and Gouramis. These are all fish that will be able to hold their own against the Flowerhorn Cichlid, and not run the risk of becoming its dinner.

Examples of tank mates that will not do well with Flowerhorn Cichlids are any fish that are smaller as they will be seen as food to a hungry Flowerhorn. They also do not do well with timid, easily stressed fish. Flowerhorn Cichlids have such hardy appetites that they can damage themselves, decor, or their other tank mates in their mad dash for food.

Are Flowerhorns Friendly?

Flowerhorn Cichlids are a fish that has been selectively bred to appeal to humans, and for its friendly nature. Most Flowerhorn Cichlids are not afraid of human interaction, and some will even raise their heads out of the water to be pet.

Flowerhorn and Oscar Fish

Oscar fish and Flowerhorn Cichlids can be tank mates, but a few conditions have to be met before they can be safely housed together. They both enjoy roughly the same water parameters, diet, and behaviors. The key to keeping the Flowerhorn Cichlid with any other fish is space. Each fish will need to be able to claim its own territory, and still have plenty of space to roam. Fully grown Oscar fish and Flowerhorn Cichlids are roughly the same size, and this is when it is safest to attempt to house them together. They grow at different rates and it would be too risky to try to introduce them until they are fully mature and there is no risk of one fish becoming a meal for the other.

Flowerhorn Kok

The Kok of the Flowerhorn Cichlid is simply the bulbous protuberance of their forehead. The protuberance is more prominent in male Flowerhorn Cichlids, and becomes more prominent in both the male and female when they are closer to spawning time. The Flowerhorn Kok is also called the nuchal hump. The Kok of the Flowerhorn Cichlid is made up of soft tissue and can easily be injured.

What are the Growth Stages of Flowerhorn Cichlid Kok?

The Kok of the Flowerhorn Cichlid can be observed in small, 1.5 inch fry. If these small fry do not have a Kok yet, do not worry, as one could develop up till they are around 5 inches in length. If they do not have any signs of developing a Kok by this size, chances are that they will not develop one at all.

The key to increasing the size of the Kok of the Flowerhorn Fish depends on the happiness of the fish. You can make your fish happy by feeding them a varied diet, giving them lots of space, and making sure that they are maintained in the appropriate, clean water parameters.

Why is the Flowerhorn Cichlid Kok Deflated?

The Kok of the Flowerhorn Cichlid will have the appearance that it has deflated in times of great stress to the fish. If you notice that your Flowerhorn Cichlids Kok appears to be deflated, then that means that there is something wrong with your fish.

Why is the Flowerhorn Cichlid Kok Not Growing?

The growth rate of both the Flowerhorn Cichlid and its Kok depend on the way that the Flowerhorn Cichlid is being kept. If the Flowerhorn is kept in a tank that is not adequate, it will stunt the growth of the fish and the Kok. The diet of the Flowerhorn Cichlid plays a huge part in the role of Kok development as well. You will want to make sure that your juvenile Flowerhorn Cichlid is getting a varied diet of high quality proteins.

Do Female Flowerhorn Cichlids Have a Kok?

Female Flowerhorn Cichlids often do have a Kok, but it is not as big or pronounced as it is in the male Flowerhorn Cichlid.

Where Can I Purchase Flowerhorn Kok?

If you are looking to purchase Flowerhorn Cichlids for your home aquarium, then you should be able to find them in most pet stores, and from breeders online. The price of each Flowerhorn Cichlid is going to vary greatly depending on the type, and the region that the fish is being sold in. You can expect them to cost anywhere from $30 to $300 and up.

How Much is the Most Expensive Flowerhorn?

The most expensive Flowerhorn Cichlid ever sold was a Golden Monkey Type of Flowerhorn Cichlid that sold for $600,000.

Why are Flowerhorn Expensive?

Flowerhorn Cichlids are an expensive fish due to their popularity. They didn’t start out as expensive fish, but as their popularity grew, so did their price tag. The crossbreeding of different types of Flowerhorn Cichlid have led to them being selectively bred to achieve certain rare colorations and markings.

Types of Flowerhorn

  • Kamfa Flowerhorn – This type appeared in the early 2000s. They had more sunken eyes, and larger Koks.
  • King Kamfa Flowerhorn – The King Kamfa Flowerhorn Cichlid was bred for its particularly large Kok and vibrant pattern. They have a more square body shape.
  • Red Dragon Flowerhorn – Red Dragon Cichlids are specifically bred to have a larger nuchal hump or Kok on their heads, and for their patterning along their backs that sometimes resembles Chinese writing.
  • Super Red Dragon Flowerhorn – The Super Red Dragon Flowerhorn is much like the Red Dragon Flowerhorn, but it is much larger.
  • Golden Monkey Flowerhorn –  The Golden Monkey Flowerhorn Cichlid was bred for its bright coloration. They are a mixture of patterning, yellow, orange, green, and even black.
  • Golden Base Flowerhorn –  The Golden Base Flowerhorn Cichlid is a plain tanish coloration with a bright orangish red patterning over the top.
  • Thai Silk Flowerhorn – The Thai Silk flowerhorn Cichlid is a light shimmery silver-blue in color.
  • Zhen Zhu Flowerhorn – This breed of Flowerhorn Cichlid is the most commonly sold in the United States. They have a reddish color to their heads, and a silvery blue color on the rest of their bodies.

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With decades of collective fishkeeping experience, we are happy to share the fish care tips that we've picked up along the way. Our goal at Fish Laboratory is to keep publishing accurate content to help fishkeepers keep their fish and aquarium healthy.

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