Flowerhorns are the ultimate “pet” fish due to their extremely interactive nature. They have been specifically bred to respond to the humans around them, and some will even lift their nuchal hump out of the water to be petted!
Flowerhorns are a hybrid fish that are based on one of the earliest man-made hybrid fish: the blood parrot. Since the first flowerhorns, often called luohans, flowerhorns have been hybridized with dozens of other cichlids. Their genetic history is unknown and varies greatly with each strain. When referring to different types of nuchal humps, they are most commonly referred to as koks.
Short bodied flowerhorns often only live for 4-5 years, while longer bodied ones live 8-12 years on average. The size of your flowerhorn will vary greatly depending on the strain. King Kamfas, for example, reach sizes around 30-40 cm, while Thai silk often stay around 20-30 cm. Short bodied flowerhorns will be a few inches (~5 cm) shorter than their long-bodied counterparts.
Flowerhorns are highly territorial and require a voluminous aquarium with oversized filtration to match. Provide a substrate of soft sand or small rounded gravel. Sizeable pieces of driftwood and rocks/slate can be used to create sheltered areas, but these should be made secure as these hefty cichlids are notorious diggers and they more than capable of moving décor around.
Bonding pieces of rock together with aquarium grade silicon sealant prior to filling the tank is sensible. As large quantities of substrate are likely to be bulldozed on a daily basis, plants cannot be cultivated. A guard should be fitted to the heater in order to protect it against breakages, or better still, opt for a canister filter that has a heater built in, so the element is not situated in the tank itself. Partial water changes should be carried out on a very frequent basis to help keep nitrate to a minimum.
The following are suitable to keep with Flowerhorns
- Sailfin Pleco
- Common Pleco
- Tiger Oscar
- Large Bichirs
- Other large Cichlids
- A flowerhorn of the opposite sex
- Smaller Arowana species (e.g. Silver)
What to Avoid in the Tank
Any fish smaller than 25cm: Fish under this size with peaceful nature will not survive the aggressive nature of a flowerhorn. It is recommended to only keep them with other large cichlid species that will match their level of aggression.
Flowerhorns will eat any shrimp, snail, or crayfish that is unfortunate enough to make it into their tank. This does mean that you can keep some marmorkrebs and breed them as feeders for your flowerhorns, but there are no good invertebrate tank mates for them.
Flowerhorns have been specifically bred for their coloration and interaction. Adding tank mates will greatly decrease the interaction between you and the flowerhorn, as will the addition of decorations and toys. If the Flowerhorn is already spending energy playing with the other fish in the tank, it will not be nearly as interactive with you.
There is always a chance that your Flowerhorn will just be too aggressive to house with other fish. Keep in mind that if the Flowerhorn is constantly chasing off the other fish, the Flowerhorn will become stressed. It views them as intruders in its territory, and its inability to chase them away can stress the Flowerhorn.
Flowerhorns are far from picky when it comes to eating, but they require a protein rich and strongly varied diet. Live foods are not necessary, as they will eat frozen and dried foods with no problems. Flowerhorns need a staple pellet to provide micronutrients and vitamins as well as additions like sun dried crickets, grasshoppers, mealworms, anchovies, and frozen shrimp. Worms, such as white worms, blackworms, earthworms and nightcrawlers can also be fed to Flowerhorns.
Flowerhorns are sensitive to ammonia, nitrite, and nitrates, more so than other fish. Any measurable amount of ammonia or nitrite is actively causing damage to your fish, so cycling the tank beforehand is necessary. Since overfeeding can lead to excess ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate, don’t do that!
|Adult Size:||20 – 40 cm depending on variety|
|Aquarist Experience Level:||Intermediate|
|Minimum Tank Size:||500 litres|
|Tank Level:||All levels|
|Diet:||Omnivore, eats most foods|
|Temperature:||20 to 26°C|
|pH:||6.0 – 8.0|
Image Source: wikipedia