Flowerhorn Cichlid: Care Guide, Breeding, Tank Size & Disease

Flowerhorn is ornamental fish that has an exotic look and adds beauty to your fish tank. These distinctive fish have a great appearance which easy to keep. No matter you are a beginner or professional, this fish is easy to keep in the tank.

Information Chart Flowerhorn Cichlid
Scientific Name: Paraneetroplus synspilus
Family: Cichlidae
Care Level: Moderate
Temperament: Aggresive
Color: Vibrant, the upper part is pink while the body is red-orange metallic
Lifespan: Up to 10 years
Size: 10-12 inches
Diet: Carnivorous
Minimum Tank Size: 125 gallons
Temperature: 70–75-degrees Fahrenheit
WaterConditions: The pH level should be between 6.0-7.0
Tank Mate Compatibility Difficult, they are not social

About Flowerhorn Cichlid: Information

Flowerhorn Cichlid Appearance

Flowerhorn Cichlid

This is a colorful fish and has a noteworthy structure, The hump in the back of the fish is the most remarkable feature of the fish. The name of the fish comes due to the hump structure. The hump is called Kok or nuchal hump. This can shrink or expand in few days, depending upon the situation. 

They have a unique mixture of flamboyance and gracefulness. Flowerhorn cichlid has an elongated body and is compressed from its sides. The head is round that resembles a disc. The overall structure of the body is quite standard. The bulk of the dorsal fin of the flower cichlid resembles the anal fin. 

The fin begins in the two-third of the way back of the fish. The caudal fins are dwarf and stubby. At the end of the anal and dorsal fin, you will find a thin strand of tissue. The dorsal and anal fin is pointed, while the caudal fin is more rounded.

The color of the fish is vibrant. The body has greenish-metallic blue scales, with pink and red colors on the front of the body. In the back, the flowerhorns have white and black stripes.

The Lifespan of Flowerhorn Cichlid

The lifespan of flowerhorn Cichlid is in between 10-12 years. This is generally quite a long lifespan, so, as a keeper, you must be sure you want them in your tank as it is a commitment of a very long time.

The life span of the fish depends on the care you provide. In captivity, the fish should be provided with the right environment and conditions. These fishes are not that tough to keep and care for, but they need the right diet and proper filtration to grow and thrive. 

Flowerhorn Cichlid Size

The size of the flower horn cichlid is between 12 to 16 inches. These fishes can grow above 16 inches. Typically, the males are more extended than females, and they weigh more than females.

When you are setting up a tank, take note of which gender you are buying, as the size of the fish impacts the size of the tank. 

Natural Habitat and Origin

Flower horns are hybrid fish, so from their inception, they have grown in captivity. These fishes do not have any natural habitat. The origin of the fish is from crossbreeding different cichlid species. 

The cichlid species are notoriously promiscuous. They are pretty sexually active, and they gladly mate with the opposite sex, provided they are from similar species or different species.

These made the breeders think they could create unique fish by crossbreeding them. The flowerhorn was initially developed in Malaysia in the 1990s. These fishes had nuchal lumps and were referred to as “karoi”

Types of Flowerhorn Cichlid

Hua Luo Han Cichlid

Hua Luo Han Cichlid

The flowerhorn that are traded in the market today are known as Hua Luo Han Cichlid. These are freshwater fishes that were created in 1990 by crossbreeding Blood Parrot with hybrid Jingang blood parrot. Their crossbreeding gave rise to few types of flowerhorn.

  • Regular flowerhorn
  • Pearl Scale flowerhorn
  • Flowerhorn that fade

Flowerhorn Cichlid Care and Tank Size

Flowerhorns are big, so they require a bigger tank than any other fish depending upon the size. Flowerhorn care is not that tough, all you need is pepper tank set up, filtration, and stable conditions of water, and you are ready to keep a fish in the tank.

However, the difficult part of caring for the fish is interaction with other fishes. Cichlids are aggressive fish and do not get along with every other fish. So, you need to give proper care and attention to keep them in the tank with other tank mates. 

Tank Specification and Size

The care you provide helps in the healthy growth of the fish in the tank. The flowerhorns are hybrid fish which means they have consistently been grown in captivity. They have diverse genetic backgrounds, so a care guide can help you find the right balance of every aspect that makes the flowerhorn feel natural in the tank.

Tank Size

The recommended tank size for the flowerhorn cichlid is 125–165-gallon tank. The flowerhorns are big fish, which means the size of the tank should be big enough to swim around correctly. The ideal length of the fish tank should be 125 gallons. 

However, if you plan to keep a male flowerhorn, the size should be between 150 to 175 gallons. Ideally, they are put in small tanks when they are born and gradually transferred to giant ones. 

If you keep them at home, it is difficult for you to keep investing money in tanks. So, you can buy a big tank and give them the suitable condition to grow and become an adult and later stay at the same place.

The tank size will specifically depend on the gender of the fish, and at which age you are bringing them to your house.

Tank Shape

The shape of the tank should have a larger area so that the flowerhorn can get enough oxygen. The tank should be thick at the bottom, they like to dig a lot, so if the tank is not more comprehensive at the bottom, there is a chase that can get damaged with time. 

It is better to go for the rectangular tank as in an oval-shaped tank, the bottom is narrow, so there won’t be enough space to dig or lie when you keep more than one fish. 

Filter Type 

As the flowerhorn requires big tanks, you must not forget proper filtration for them. A canister filter like FX4 is an ideal choice for them as you can ensure moderate water flow. When you make the right choice for a filter, it ensures it gets cleaned consistently. Hence, it gives you peace of mind and provides a healthy environment for the fish.


The flowerhorn cichlid likes to dig deep to search for scraps of food. If you put gravel bottom, it can harm them and may cause injuries. Moreover, these fishes can eat large chunks of food, so they accidentally eat gravel, thinking of it as food. So, it is best to provide a layer of soft sand as a substrate. Other popular choices for the substrate are large pieces of tiles, or you can keep the bare bottom for flowerhorn cichlids.

How Many Flowerhorn Cichlid Can You Put in A Tank?

You can put two flowerhorn cichlids in a tank of 175 gallons. The flowerhorns can live alone too, so if you don’t put any companion, it won’t cause any difference in their lifestyle.

Water Parameters for Flowerhorn Cichlid

Flowerhorn is a result of crossbreeding a variety of cichlids. Every cichlid has different natural habitat. So, the flowerhorn cichlid prefers soft to moderately complex water. 

But the main philosophy behind providing the perfect water parameter should be water should have stability which is more important than ideal parameters. Most of the parameters fit in the mold of tropical fishes.

Water Temperature

The ideal water temperature should be 80 degrees to 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

Water Hardness

The ideal hardness of the water in the tank should be between 8-20dGH.

Water pH Level

The pH level of the water in the tank to keep the flowerhorn cichlid should be 7-8pH range.

Water Flow Rate

The water flow rate for flowerhorn cichlid should be in between moderate to high flow. The flow rate may be too high. When the flowerhorns swim in the tank, the flow is too strong. Some aquarists recommend using additional powerheads to push the water towards the filter.

Flowerhorn Cichlid Tank Landscape

If you have ever visited an aquarium and seen flowerhorn, you might have noticed the tanks have a bare minimum. The flowerhorns are not as playful swimmers as goldfish, so they don’t need too much interaction. 

Decorations For Flowerhorn Cichlid Fish Tank

However, we like to splash some colors and items that make the aquarium’s landscape more beneficial for the Flowerhorn. Flowerhorns are pretty messy, so keeping a plant will be difficult. They can easily knock over the plant, which can injure them.

We recommend you use driftwood or put reasonably more significant pebbles on which they won’t knock over or eat. Avoid placing anything sharp or pointed as they swim a lot. They can get cuts from pointy things.

Lighting For Flower Horn Fish Tank

They don’t need much lighting. You can put an aquarium light, and that would be enough for them.

Nitrogen Requirement for Flowerhorn Cichlid

Flowerhorns are sensitive to ammonia, nitrates, and nitrites. They are sensitive than any other fish which are kept in the aquarium. That means any amount of ammonia or nitrate can damage their life cycle, so cycling the tank is essential.

The ammonia and nitrates appear at the beginning of the water cycle, while the nitrates appear at the end-stage. 

Nitrates develop in water when there is a lot of fish waste which the flowerhorn produces is not cleaned. When you change the water, it removes nitrates. It is essential to clean the tank twice a week so there are no toxins like nitrates or ammonia.

You can also take a water test. The API freshwater test kit is an accurate testing kit that helps you understand how much nitrate or nitrite is present in the water.


Flowerhorn cichlids are carnivorous. These big fishes have a large appetite, so make sure when you feed them, they are not underfed. These fishes need a lot of protein, and they like variety in the diet.

When you feed them, keep in mind they get a balanced diet as underfeeding fish do not grow well and are prone to diseases. They aren’t fussy eaters. They gobble up everything that comes in the way. You can feed them frozen, pellet, live, dry, and moist food. The high protein diet should consist of cricket, bloodworms, worms, and grasshoppers. Some people feed them crawfish. However, we don’t recommend this.

Best Diet for Flowerhorn Cichlids

The best diet for flowerhorn cichlid should include nutrients which consist of fresh and meaty foods. They enjoy variety in their food, so to keep your pet happy, you can feed them earthworms, frozen or moist cichlid pellets, anchovies, and grasshoppers. 

It is not necessary to feed them live foods. You can feed them frozen foods or dry foods. To ensure the fish isn’t nutrient deficient, you can provide them supplements that contain carotene.

How Often Should You Feed the Flowerhorn Cichlid?

The flowerhorn cichlid should typically be fed every 5-6 hours, which means three times a day. Feeding the food and providing them food depends on the type of flowerhorn and which type of food you are feeding.

Behavior And Temperament

The flowerhorns are tricky and cunning fish. There are aggressive. You cannot deny the fact they are created from the crossbreed of cichlids.

They are typically aggressive with tank mates. They stalk the tank mate and might indulge in fights. They can even scare their tank mates, so make sure they get ample space to swim if you put them with other fishes. 

The general behavior of the flowerhorn cannot be put in a box. While other fishes like to swim and roam in a specific area, these fishes are known for scavenger hunts. They investigate everything starting from the decoration to the substrate. 

This is one more reason to give them enough space as they like to investigate everything. They never sit around in one place or roam in a specific area.

Are Flowerhorn Lone or Societal?

Flowerhorns thrive pretty well when they are alone. They are not that social and can attack tank mates sometimes. Due to their aggressive nature, it is better to keep them isolated. 

Tank Mates

Due to their aggressive nature, it is difficult to find suitable tank mates for them. They are big and view the tank as their lone property, so they restrain from sharing it with other fish. These fishes are pretty happy on their own, and it is better to leave them as they are. However, if you still want a pet buddy, you should be careful with your pick. We have listed some of the excellent and bad tank mates for the flowerhorn cichlid.

Ideal Tank Mates

These fishes work well with flowerhorn:

Oscar fish

Bad Tank Mates

The fishes which are timid and are peaceful should not be kept with flowerhorn. They can become prey to flowerhorn cichlids.

Any fish which is smaller in size than flowerhorn is not a good tank mate. They need space, and they are fast swimmers, so every fish can’t get along with that pace. Moreover, it would help if you avoided any invertebrates like shrimp or snails.

Breeding Of Flowerhorn Cichlid

The hybrid pair of flowerhorn cichlid breed efficiently in a tank. They can breed in home tanks, but they are not easy to produce due to their aggressive nature. However, with few steps, you can get successful results. 

Spawning of the tank should start with making a suitable landscape in the breeding tank. Provide rocks and cave-like structures where the females can hide if the male becomes aggressive.

The spawning process is natural, and you don’t have to put any stimulation in the water. Put ceramics on the tank’s floor, as the female lay them on a smooth substrate like rock or ceramics. They can lay up to 900 eggs at a time. 

When the eggs are laid, the hatching process begins. It tackles one to two days to hatch the egg; The juvenile will start swimming. You can feed them shrimp brine or specific food you can get from any fish pet store.

The parent flowerhorn look after their young for about two months, and after two months, you can place them back in the tank. At around six months, they start developing characteristic appearance. When they become adults, you can distinguish the male from the female.

Breeding Level


Sexual Dimorphism?

It is easy to distinguish males from females. The males are bulkier and more extensive compared to females.

Common Diseases and Their Treatment

There is a couple of diseases from which you should save your flowerhorn. Ideally, they aren’t prone to diseases are they are quite tough and hardy. They are immune to live in subpar conditions. 

Hole In The Head Disease

The hole in the head disease is quite common in flowerhorn cichlid. This happens due to the poor quality of water. It is quite gruesome and can cause a lot of pain to the fish. Put activated carbon in the tank to clean up the tank. 

It looks like two pit holes in the head of the fish, which isn’t curable. It is best to prevent the disease by keeping the water clean. As it is not curable, your fish will always have a scar.


Keep an eye out for ich as it is the most common fish disease which is caused due to poor water quality or not cleaning up the tank enough. The water parasite is the reason behind the illness. To treat the ich, you can increase the temperature of the water in the tank.

Facts About Flowerhorn Cichlids

  • It all began in Malaysia as they inclined bulky-headed fish. It resembles “karoi.”
  • The ancestor of flowerhorn cichlids is red devil cichlids. Now you know why they are so cunning and aggressive.
  • They are very territorial and quite aggressive, so keep a glass wall in between if you put more than one in the tank.
  • They are termed as “hybrids of hybrids” as they are crossbreeding a lot of times.

Are Flowerhorn Cichlids Good for You?

Author’s Note:

Flowerhorns are quite cunning fish, and they are aggressive. If you are a beginner in keeping a fish, you should avoid them as you have put a lot for them. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Flowerhorn Cichlids Easy to Take Care Of?

These fishes thrive pretty well in captivity. They love clean water in moderate flow. You can put a canister filter and maintain the correct temperature of the tank. If you do these bare minima, that will be enough for you to keep the fish in the tank.

How Do You Keep Flowerhorn Healthy?

To keep the flowerhorn healthy, provide them proper nutrition, a combination of protein and calories. They should be fed in a good amount to prevent nutrient deficiency.

What Do Flowerhorns Like in The Tank?

The flowerhorns like a bare tank as they need space to swim around. It is best to keep soft sand substrate and leave the tank bare for them.

Do These Fish Need Gravel?

No, you should avoid putting gravel as the poop gets stuck in the gravel and makes the water stinky and dirty. 


These are very unusual fishes; they are enormously beautiful in appearance and aggressive in nature. These fishes are enigmatic and need a spacious environment to survive. If you provide the proper nutrition, they can survive up to 10 years.

We hope we have provided enough information in the article for you, so you won’t falter while keeping a flowerhorn cichlids.

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