Flowerhorn Cichlid: Ultimate Guide (Care, Diet, Breeding & More)

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Written By Matt Stevens

Hi, I'm Matt! I've been obsessed with fishkeeping for over 15 years now and created this site to share my knowledge with others.

Flowerhorn Cichlid is an exceptional hybrid fish with a loyal following in the aquarium community.

They spot beautiful, vivid color patterns and iconic forehead humps that make them stand out in any environment.

If you need a stunning, man-made Cichlid species that will instantly capture anyone’s attention, the Flowerhorn Cichlids should be your favorite selection.

However, we find it unusual that despite their hardiness and ease of care, some aquarists still make obvious mistakes when keeping tFlowerhorn Cichlids at home. 

Luckily for you, this guide will cover everything about Flowerhorn Cichlid care.

In the next paragraphs, you will learn everything about these fish’s lifespan, appearance, tank size, diet, behavior, tank mates, breeding, and more.

Species Overview

Flowerhorn Cichlid is a distinct ornamental fish that never fails to capture aquarists’ attention. They are purely captive-bred and lack a wild population.

To be more precise, Flowerhorn Cichlids are believed to result from crossbreeding experiments involving Red Devil and Blood Parrot Cichlids.

History points to the Asian countries of Malaysia, Thailand, and Taiwan as the fish’s original habitat. But it wasn’t long before more aquarists around the world got attracted to their majestic appearance.

Over the years, these fish have been discovered in different parts of the globe, including other Asian regions, parts of Central America, Europe, and the USA.

Despite their limited to non-existent wild population in the past, Flowerhorn fish remained a highly sought after Cichlid species, and perhaps their beauty explains just as much.

But in recent years, similar fish have been erroneously introduced to the wild environment, threatening the existence of the native species with the ensuing competition for food and other resources.

ColorBlue, purple, reddish, green and more
LifespanUp to 10 years
Care LevelIntermediate
Behavior & TemperamentModerate to aggressive
Food and DietOmnivores
SizeUp to 16 inches
Tank SetupFreshwater, few planted
Tank Size (Minimum)75 gallons


A typical Flowerhorn Cichlid will live for about 11-12 years. Their lengthy lifespan can either be an advantage or disadvantage, depending on how you look at it.

On the positive side, such a lifespan is exactly what you want from a favorite pet fish. Moreover, it guarantees that you will enjoy your pet’s company for as long as you wish, given ideal living conditions.

However, on the flip side, a long lifespan also means a long-term commitment. You will likely have your Flowerhorn Cichlids for a long time, and the earlier you understand their care guidelines, the easier it becomes to manage them.

Of course, we are not saying these fish will have a standard lifespan in any environment because everything depends on how you care for them at home.

Sometimes, they won’t even pass the 10-year mark if you keep them under substandard conditions.

In general, the first step to maximizing the fish’s lives is to control their aggression. And we will cover that in the following paragraphs.


The least you can expect from an ornamental fish is a colorful, natural beauty that won’t fail to capture your visitor’s attention. And that’s exactly what you will get from Flowerhorn Cichlids.

Flowerhorn Cichlid is a colorful freshwater fish with an iconic nuchal hump. This is neatly placed on top of the fish’s head and is more pronounced in the males.

Aside from the notable hump, Flowerhorn’s entire body profile resembles most Cichlid species; long, thin, and symmetrical.

What’s more, they have elongated anal and dorsal fins, contributing massively to their average body size in maturity. On the other hand, their caudal fins are short and won’t be as noticeable as the aforementioned dorsal and anal fins.

Also, Flowerhorn Cichlids have thin ventral fins that are just enough to compliment the general body pattern.

Their eyes are just as noteworthy as their nuchal humps and contribute to their stunning appearance in captivity.

In terms of gender comparisons, the male Flowerhorn Cichlids have more pronounced lips, giving them an eye-catching facial configuration that never stops to amaze seasoned aquarists and first-time Cichlid keepers.

Types of Flowerhorn Cichlids

Save for their aggression and territorial behavior, Flowerhorn Cichlids are a spectacular hybrid species and worth every penny. They can introduce a transformative wow factor to any aquarium.

Apart from the original hybrid, called the Luohan, other exciting varieties exist and include the following;

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


A full-grown Flowerhorn Cichlid measures anything from 12-16 inches. Their large size means you must first set up the right tank size before heading to your local pet store.

Typically, the male Flowerhorn Cichlids appear larger and heavier than the female species.

However, the fish’s actual size in captivity heavily depends on the tank water conditions and the general setup. Other factors like diet, tank mates, and water parameters can also influence the fish’s average size and growth rate in captivity.

Flowerhorn Cichlid Care

We think Flowerhorn Cichlids are best kept by experienced aquarists familiar with similar species. But this doesn’t mean their care requirements are as challenging as some species.

All in all, the trickiest part in keeping healthy Flowerhorn Cichlids relates to their aggressive behavior. Still, that shouldn’t be a challenge if you set up the right tank from the beginning.

Now, let’s address every care aspect in detail;

Tank Size

A single Flowerhorn Cichlid will thrive in a 70-gallon tank. That’s why we only recommend them to aquarists with enough resources and experience to manage other large-sized species.

If its two species from the onset, you will need another 70 gallons for the best experience. Like any fish, Flowerhorn Cichlids would appreciate an even larger tank if they are to flourish in a confined environment.

And there’s no harm in surpassing the standard tank size if you want to eliminate their aggressive tendencies.

Flowerhorn Cichlid’s activity level is another reason you should give them extra space in captivity. They are an energetic and highly active species that will want to feel as comfortable as possible at home, regardless of the environment.

So, providing enough room to explore gives them ultimate satisfaction that’s great for relieving tension.

Water Parameters

Setting up the right tank is important when keeping Flowerhorn Cichlids at home. But that’s just the first part of quality care.

The next step will be to maintain ideal conditions inside the tank to help your fish flourish without worrying about common freshwater ailments.

Many a time, the fish’s mood and activity level will depend on the actual tank water conditions. And being a typical tropical fish, you should modify everything to suit such conditions.

Precisely, the key parameters include the following;

  • Water Temperature: 80°F-86°F
  • Water Hardness: 8-20 dGH
  • pH Levels: 7-8

As usual, we won’t stop reminding aquarists to cycle the tank water frequently to eliminate potential contaminants like ammonia, nitrates, and nitrites.

What to Put in Their Tank?

Setting up bare tanks has been a common trend among Flowerhorn Cichlid lovers, and while that’s highly debatable, sometimes it works just fine for these fish.

But in our opinion, an ideal pet fish deserves proper tank enrichment with a suitable substrate, plants, and other decorative elements.

Look, we are not disputing the whole idea of going with a bare tank for Flowerhorn Cichlids, but we think they would appreciate suitable tank enrichment if they are to thrive in a confined environment.

This is emphasized by their unrivaled digging prowess that will always have them go as far as uprooting the live plants and other tank decorations in some cases.

In all honesty, Flowerhorn fish will always look like a restless species in captivity. They will try to uproot anything on sight, and if you choose to include live plants inside the tank, you better be ready to handle fatalities at some point. 

We recommend perfectly sized rocks and driftwood as part of general tank décor. However, you must avoid sharp objects when selecting the substrate, which leaves you with fine sand as the best option. 

The fish’s large size implies you must set up a powerful filtration system to eliminate possible contaminants from time to time.

Here, a strong canister filter with moderate water flow fits the bill. The bottom line is to get a reliable system that consistently gives impressive results without putting your fish in danger. 

Common Diseases

Flowerhorn Cichlids are not vulnerable to many freshwater diseases like many fish, but they detest substandard living conditions.

The biggest culprit in this community is the hole in the head diseases, sometimes called Head and Lateral Line Erosion (HLLE). HLLE is a terrifying freshwater disease that stems from reduced tank water quality. Its classic symptoms include multiple holes in the Flowerhorn Cichlid’s head.

You can manage HLLE with simple strategies like adjusting the tank water quality, but there’s always a likelihood of scar formation on the fish’s heady after complete healing.

Ich is the next disease you will be battling to keep away from a healthy Flowerhorn Cichlid community. It is a parasitic infection that’s quite common with most freshwater fish.

Watch out for multiple, white spots on the fish’s body or constant rubbing against the tank decorations that could possibly signal an Ich outbreak.

Ich may not be a life-threatening condition but it’s one worth keeping an eye on in the Flowerhorn community.

A comprehensive treatment plan involves the following:

  • Fixing the tank water quality.
  • Getting the proper medications.
  • Seeking expert advice if necessary.

What Do Flowerhorn Cichlids Eat?

Flowerhorn Cichlids have a diverse feeding routine, starting with the regular proteins. They need a balanced diet to maintain a colorful appearance throughout their time in captivity.

And for a standard meal, high-quality proteins like worms, shrimp, grasshoppers, bloodworms, and crickets will do the trick. We recommend plant-based foods like pellets and any high-quality option you deem fit for your beautiful Cichlids for vitamin sources.

With their large size, it won’t be easy to tell if your Flowerhorn Cichlids are satisfied. They can eat anything available in captivity, which usually predisposes them to the risks of overfeeding.

So, it’s crucial to design a suitable dietary plan that ensures your Cichlids get all the important nutrients every day without the risk of overeating.

While this will vary from one individual to another, the conventional routine is to feed the fish three times a day.

While doing so, pay attention to their feeding habits to be sure they complete everything in as little as one minute. If it’s longer than expected, you should probably cut down on their dietary intake.

Behavior & Temperament

We mentioned that only advanced hobbyists are well-positioned to keep Flowerhorn fish at home, and that’s all down to their aggressive behavior. They are a territorial species, and there’s no shortcut around it.

In captivity, their first major task will be to mark their territory, which can sometimes mean asserting their dominance over any small, defenseless fish on sight.

But their aggression never stops there. It also limits the choices of the right tank mates because Flowerhorn Cichlids won’t hesitate to attack anyone on sight, even if it’s just a perceived enemy.

Interestingly, some Flowerhorn Cichlid species form perfect bonds with their owners and will want to attract their attention during feeding. Still, don’t be certain that will be the same situation with your fish.

Regarding their activity levels, Flowerhorn Cichlids don’t show a specific pattern in captivity.

At one time, they will be exploring specific areas inside the tank, like the middle and bottom sections. But in the next moment, they will be swimming near the tank surface.

Sometimes, they will be glued to the substrate, completely immersed in the beauty of the aquarium.

Regardless of their behavior pattern, we can’t ignore Flowerhorn Cichlids’ swimming prowess in captivity. They will want to roam around the tank if they feel comfortable, and this is the perfect time to enjoy the beautiful setting.

Flowerhorn Cichlid Tank Mates

So, can Flowerhorn live with African Cichlids? No!

Flowerhorn Cichlids are a large, aggressive species that won’t cohabitate with most fish at home. They are a territorial species that will want complete dominance over their new habitat.

So, you can play safe by keeping them alone at home. By this, we mean keeping just one species in captivity. There’s no point in trying so hard to find a suitable tank mate if the fish readily enjoys its own company.

If you have to introduce a new buddy to the same habitat, the safest strategy is to go with similar species. In that case, you will have to select a bonded pair to simplify the breeding process.

Usually, many aquarists don’t opt for this path because it involves a significant investment in terms of Flowerhorn Cichlid tank size.

You can introduce the following species to a Flowerhorn Cichlid’s habitat, albeit with caution considering the Cichlids’ aggressive behavior;

So, can Flowerhorn Cichlids coexist with snails and other invertebrates? Perhaps you already know the answer, and it’s a simple no.

Any new invertebrate will be like an ordinary snack to Flowerhorn Cichlids, and you don’t want it to end that way for your cute-looking snails. Or do you?

What’s more, the atmosphere can get quite tense with the introduction of a new tank mate, and that’s down to Flowerhorn Cichlid’s hostility. That’s why you must monitor their interaction inside the tank over the first few weeks to be sure they are a great match.


Breeding Flowerhorn Cichlids at home is not easy. A series of challenges stand between you and successful breeding, and perhaps the biggest of all is the fish’s questionable fertility.

If you don’t select the right species from the start, you may end up with an infertile fish that won’t even think about breeding.

But if you overcome that, Flowerhorn Cichlids will need a new breeding tank with the right size and enough decorations. A bare tank can work perfectly during breeding, but there’s no harm in adding smooth rocks at the bottom to complete the basic decoration.

Similarly, Flowerhorn Cichlids don’t need any extraordinary tank water adjustments during breeding as long as you maintain efficient water flow to the mating partners.

After fertilization, the male Flowerhorn Cichlids will be responsible for guarding the fry and the territory, and you might even consider removing the females from the tank at this point.

You can remove the male fish from the breeding tank after hatching has occurred in just a few days.

As usual, the baby Flowerhorns will be ready to eat live food to stabilize their growth as they learn to fend for themselves. But be sure to provide enough food within a standard duration (about 5-10 minutes) to match their dietary needs.

Final Thoughts

Flowerhorn Cichlids are among the most beautiful Cichlid varieties that can transform any aquarium.

Caring for them is not challenging but requires a solid understanding of the tank water conditions and what your fish appreciate most in the wild. Usually, this is tied to the nature of the habitat, water parameters, and tank mates.

Their aggressive behavior should guide you when setting up the primary tank because they need a spacious environment to flourish.

Being such an intelligent species, having Flowerhorn Cichlids as your favorite pets is just as awe-inspiring as their appearance. So, it’s little wonder we can’t stop recommending them to many aquarists looking for an ideal freshwater Cichlid to add style and beauty to their tanks.

If you are ready to jump on the bandwagon, now is your time to keep a gorgeous-looking, hybrid Cichlid of the Asian descent.