How To Raise The Bigheaded Flowerhorn Cichlid

If you are looking for a unique addition to your freshwater fish tank, you should consider the Flowerhorn Cichlid. This fish has a unique personality that makes it the star of any aquarium, and many people keep them as pets for this reason. Plus, it has an eye-catching appearance that is sure to turn heads and attract attention to your fish tank.

Easy to care for and even easier to watch for hours, this fish should be at the top of any aquarium hobbyist’s list. Here are the top things you need to know in order to raise the Flowerhorn Cichlid.

Flowerhorn Cichlid

Flowerhorn Cichlid Background

Flowerhorn Cichlids
Photo by Prakash Chakraborty

Flowerhorn cichlids have been bred as a result of interbreeding from other cichlids. These fish can also be bred with other types of cichlids, as long as they do not become sterile. Some cichlid types, like the Parrotfish, is sterile because it is the result of artificial crossbreeding.

Flowerhorn Cichlids, on the other hand, were bred from various types of cichlids in Malaysia. These fish change colors throughout their lives until they become fully grown adult fish, so you will enjoy watching it change colors throughout the duration of its lifespan. Keep in mind that when you are purchasing your Flowerhorn Cichlid, you should do so with this consideration in mind – it will not remain the same color throughout its life.

Bred in captivity in Malaysia, this fish made an appearance in the mid-1900s. Artificially bred from South American Cichlids, this breed was first prized for the large hump on its head. Although this information is a well-kept secret and unclear to most of us, the Flowerhorn Cichlid was probably first bred from one of these different types of cichlids: Cichlasoma Labiatum, Cichlasoma Citrinellum, Vieja Synspila, Cichlasoma Trimaculatum, or Cichlasoma Festae.

The first Flowerhorn Cichlids ever produced were called Hua Luo Han Cichlids, with a hybrid developed in 1998 by cross-breeding the Blood Parrot with the hybrid Jingang Parrot.

You can find several different types of Flowerhorn Cichlids for sale, including KanFa, Super Red Dragon, Golden Base Flowerhorn, Kamaula, Zhen Zhu, Thain Silk, and PearlScale Flowerhorn.

You can purchase a young fish and enjoy watching it change colors as it gets older. These fish are hardy and very easy to care for, able to adopt a range of water parameters and temperatures. Large fish, they can grow to impressive sizes and are best kept singly.

Types Of Flowerhorn Cichlids

Flowerhorn Cichlids 2
Photo by Prakash Chakraborty

Because Flowerhorn Cichlids are created by crossbreeding various types of cichlids, there are thousands of different potential Flowerhorns you could end up with. After all, there are over 1000 different types of cichlids in the world!

Flowerhorn Cichlids are best known for the humps on their heads, as well as their vibrant colors. That being said, these are some of the most popular types of Flowerhorn Cichlids:

Golden Monkey

Golden Monkey Cichlids were bred in Malaysia and original fish. These can be quite expensive, usually costing over $1,000 apiece!

King Kamfa

This fish has white or yellow eyes that are sunken back into its head. In some cases, you may find one with red eyes – though this is rare. This fish also has a very intense black double flower row along its lateral line in addition to dense pearling. It originates from Thailand but is also common in Vietnam. It has a fantail and is larger than some other Flowerhorns. It’s the most expensive type of Flowerhorn, too.

Golden Base

These fish start off gold in their juvenile stages and then turn black. Later, the black fades again to form a vibrant color like red or yellow. This fish is one of the most lovely to look at and is also called Golden Trimac.


This type of Flowerhorn has a body and a face that looks like a standard Kamfa – it also has the sunken eyes and unique fin patterns of a Kamfa. However, this fish also has a frosted look that is uncommon. This frosted pearling continues across the entire body of the fish.

Zhen Zhu

This fish originated after the Kamfa and was also derived from the Luohan. It has a round tail, protruding red eyes, a prominent head bump, and a large mouth. This fish has unique pearling, too.

Thai Silk

Thai Silk, or Titanium, is a somewhat new strain of Flowerhorn Cichlid that is almost completely metallic gold, white, or blue. It’s unclear where this fish originated, but what is known for sure is that this fish has a sub-strain that has a body like a Kamfa. Some people speculate that this fish was the result of breeding Texas cichlids and Viejas.


The Kamfa Cichlid was bred from the Luohan and it too has white or yellow eyes – red eyes can be found but are not as common. This fish has a watery-looking head bump as well as a fantail. It has small lips and a square body.

Appearance And Behavior Of Flowerhorn Cichlids

Flowerhorn Cichlids 3
Photo by Aaron Tabarejo

Flowerhorn Cichlids, as we mentioned, change colors throughout their lives. Look forward to watching its patterns and colors evolve, and know that these fish will grow not only quite colorful, but also quite large. Flowerhorn cichlids generally can grow up to 16 inches long, even in captivity!

As a result, you will need to keep your fish in a large tank. Most people keep Flowerhorn Cichlids by themselves because they can be quite aggressive and territorial. However, if you want to keep them with other companions you can – you will just need a larger tank.

Flowerhorn Cichlids have large oval bodies that can be somewhat bulky in appearance. They have fan-shaped fins and brightly colored bumps. These large fish can grow up to 16 inches in length, and in most strains, the fish will have black horizontal markings. They also have long, pointed anal and dorsal fins – the caudal fin, on the other hand, is shaped like a spade.

These fish can live up to ten years in captivity. When you are looking for a good, healthy Flowerhorn Cichlid, you should make sure that it has a bulky abdomen that is somewhat rounded. The fish should be oval-shaped and have an occipital hump that is symmetrical to the body size. The fish should also have horizontal lining that is dark black.

Most Flowerhorns are red, but there are some fish that are found in other shades, too – therefore, just look for a fish that is brightly colored. The fins should be erect and large, while the eyes should be distinct and alert. The scales should be pearl and shiny.

There are not many differences between male and female Flowerhorn Cichlids. Some breeder stake the fish out of the water and lay them on their back. If you press the belly below the rib cage and clear liquid squirts out of the vent, it’s a male – otherwise, it’s a female. You can also tell the difference between these fish because female Flowerhorn Cichlids will lay eggs every month, even if they don’t have a male Flowerhorn around to fertilize them.

Flowerhorn Cichlids usually keep to themselves and are not very social fish. They sometimes enjoy being around a mate, but usually you can have just one fish and not have to worry about the fish suffering from any ill effects.

It should be noted that Flowerhorn Cichlid fish have a tendency to be aggressive and territorial. If you add a Flowerhorn Cichlid to a tank that has other fish in it, you may have some serious behavioral problems – but it can be even worse if you add other fish to a tank that already houses a Flowerhorn Cichlid.

Tank Requirements For Flowerhorn Cichlids

Flowerhorn Cichlids 4
Photo by Aaron Tabarejo

Flowerhorn Cichlids are best kept by themselves in a tank of around 75 gallons in volume. Because they are so aggressive, they are easiest to keep on their own. However, if you truly want to keep your Flowerhorn Cichlid with other companions, you can – but you are going to need a truly large tank. You can’t really have anything smaller than 175 gallons.

Flowerhorn Cichlids, like many types of cichlids love to dig around in the substrate and eat up plant matter. This digging behavior can lead to some difficulty in decorating your tank – and in keeping the decorations in position. However, you can reduce the destructive behavior by selecting rocks or a heavy gravel as a substrate and placing all decorations right on the tank bottom. Select decorations that will be difficult to move, and make sure you anchor them down carefully.

Because this fish is so large, it will also produce a lot of waste. Invest in a high-quality filtration system and make sure you clean your tank regularly. A large tank will also help keep things clean. Remember, one fish warrants 70 gallons, and even just one breeding pair of Flowerhorn Cichlids requires a tank of at least 120 gallons.

It’s tough to create a nice-looking hardscape in the tank because your fish will like to move things around so much. While you use the decorations and substrate we outlined above, in some cases, it might be easiest just to use a bare-bottom tank.

Not only will a bare-bottom tank be easy to set up – and less likely for your Flowerhorn Cichlid to destroy – but it will also make it easier for you to clean you the massive amounts of waste that these fish produce. If you want some kind of substrate, you can always use a light aquarium sand or gravel.

These fish are not sensitive to water conditions but you should still maintain a regular cleaning schedule. Clean the tank weekly and do a ten percent water change to keep the water healthy.

Flowerhorn Cichlids should be kept in tanks with pH ranging from 7.4 to 8.0. Temperature should be between 75 and 81 degrees Fahrenheit.

What Should I Feed My Flowerhorn Cichlid?

Flowerhorn Cichlids 5
Photo by Aaron Tabarejo

Flowerhorn feeding is relatively simple. They will eat just about any food you provide to them, but the best foods will be ones that are high in protein. These fish need to be fed protein-based foods like live foods, pellets, flake foods, and frozen foods.

They can be tough to feed because they have a reputation for biting. They’ll even bite your hand when you put it into the tank to feed your fish! These bites aren’t necessarily dangerous, but they sure are painful.

As carnivores, Flowerhorn Cichlids have voracious appetites and will consume both dry and live foods. Consider feeding them choices like nightcrawlers, earthworms, cichlid pellets, crickets, krill, and the supplements that are enhanced with carotene.

Flowerhorn Cichlids are quite easy to were underfed – make sure you give them enough food and know that the quality and coloring of the food can affect the coloring of the fish.

Tankmates For The Flowerhorn Cichlid

Flowerhorn Cichlids aren’t great tank mates for other types of fish. Since they are so large and rely on an established territory in order to remain comfortable in the tank, you will be better off just keeping a single Flowerhorn Cichlid or keeping a breeding pair. If you do decide to keep other fish in the tank, make sure you invest in a super large tank – otherwise, even large fish, like Angelfish, won’t be safe.

Flowerhorn Cichlids will even bite you! These fish aren’t afraid of anything, and it’s important that you select appropriate tank mates and a very large tank in order to keep them away from others.

You might want to consider tank mates like Jaguar Cichlids, Black Pacus, Plecostomus, Tiger Oscars, or Leopard Plecos. These fish generally hang out in different areas of the fish tank and your Flowerhorn Cichlid won’t usually bother them.

Flowerhorn Cichlid Diseases

Unfortunately, Flowerhorn Cichlids get sick just like any other fish – or other creature, for that matter! To prevent and treat these illnesses, it is recommended that you provide your fish with optimal care via ideal tank conditions and proper feeding regimens. You need to make sure you keep the tank nice and clean to prevent disease from taking hold.

There are several distinct signs of disease in your Flowerhorn Cichlids. You should keep a close eye on your fish to watch for peculiar behaviors or other signs of illness. Make sure the water temperature of your tank are in the ideal range and check your equipment regularly to make sure it is functioning properly.

One of the most common diseases among Flowerhorn Cichlids is White Spot. Also known as Ich, this disease causes symptoms like pure white spots all over the body of your fish – in fact, it will look like somebody covered your fish in salt! Your fish may experience a loss of appetite and may scratch its body against hard items in the tank. In order to treat ich, you need to conduct a water change of 75%. You will also need to raise the water temperature and quarantine infected fish.

Another common cichlid disease is Hole in the Head. This illness is caused by the Hexamita Protozoa, a highly contagious creature that spreads in less-than-ideal water parameters. The disease causes small pimples to develop in the head of your fish, along with small grayish worms to appear. This can cause weight loss and dark coloration.

To treat this disease, you will need to change the water in your tank. You might also need to add a medicine to help your fish feel better, which can be purchased from your local veterinarian.

Finally, Flowerhorn Cichlids can also suffer from fungus. Most fungi, like Mouth Body Fungus, thrive in poor water quality and can be influenced by a change in water quality. Your fish may have a loss of appetite along with the fundamentals and finds that get shorter.

To treat a fungal infection, you may need to add aquarium salt to your tank. In addition, you often will need to raise the temperature and conduct more frequent water changes.

Breeding Flowerhorn Cichlids

Many hybrid, man made fish breeds are not fertile – this is a result of crossbreeding. However, Flowerhorn Fish are fertile. That being said, it can be difficult to breed them because of their aggressive behavior toward others.

That’s not to say that it can’t be done! You first need to understand that in order to create juvenile who are of the same line pattern and color as their parents, you need to know how the breeding line works. Otherwise you might end up with resulting fish who don’t look anything like their parents.

Flowerhorn Cichlids need lots of places to hide during the breeding process. If you don’t give your fish room to escape from the male’s advances, you will likely find that she has wounds and scars all over her body from fighting off the male. A good way to ensure this is to divide your tank using a net – this will keep the female safe. You can also give her a large flat rock under which she can lay her eggs.

When you are ready to breed your Flowerhorn Cichlids, you should raise the water temperature slightly – to around 82 degrees Fahrenheit. pH should be at a neutral pH of 7.0. It may help to feed the parents a few times a day and to perform regular, more frequent water changes to reduce the bioload in the tank.

Once the female Flowerhorn lays the egg and the male has fertilized it, the parents will guard their eggs a day and night. It’s recommended that you only allow one parent to guard because they may attack each other, thinking they are protecting their eggs from the other parent.

After your eggs hatch, fry and juveniles can be fed with brine shrimp or high-quality flakes or pellets.

Is A Flowerhorn Cichlid Right For You?

If you can keep up with the territorial nature of this colorful fish, then raising a Flowerhorn Cichlid might be a rewarding prospect for you. Not only are these fish fun to watch, they are relatively hardy and will hold up well to most water conditions.

Think you have what it takes to raise one of these fish? Now that you have all the knowledge you need, you can get started.

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