January 31

Flowerhorn Cichlid Care Guide: Tank Mates, Food & Other Tips

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In an effort to add variety to aquariums, adding new breeds of fish are a great idea! Among these fish, one of the recent most famous options has been this fish with a prominent forehead – a Flowerhorn cichlid. No offense to your other fish, but the flower horn has some serious pizzazz. This guide will, hopefully, help you understand everything you need to know about this fish.

fish with a big forehead

Species Summary

A Flower horn cichlid is not a naturally occurring fish. This is a fish that has been entirely produced through breeding. Hence, any natural occurrence of this fish found in the wild would mean that it has been introduced there externally. 

Over time, this bred fish has found its way all across the world and is now swimming in a lot of individuals’ tanks. It’s a decently valued fish too!

Lifespan

A flowerhorn lifespan shapes out to be around 11-12 years, which is a lengthy period in fish years! This fish is going to be with you for a while. So make sure you take good care of it (explained below) in order to let it live its full potential life.

Appearance

The first thing one notices in a flower head fish (especially in the males) is the big bump on their forehead. Apart from this protrusion and their colorful appearance, there is a distinctly visible chin. Flower fish, in general, are thin, long, and tall and resemble in the rest of their anatomy to a lot of other fish. They also have multiple fins around their body.

Size

The sizing of a flowerhorn cichlid needs to be kept in mind when planning out your tank or getting them for your current tank. They can grow as big as 12-16 cm. A male flowerhorn (especially kamfa flowerhorn) is generally larger and weighs more than a female flowerhorn.

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Flowerhorn Cichlid Care

For the most part, a flower horn won’t give you much trouble. Just provide it with a decently spacious tank and keep the water quality clean and stable, and this fish will thrive. The attitude and occasional aggression of this fish is another subject. For now, let’s delve into its more physical care information and tips.

Tank Size

70 gallons is the minimum appropriate flowerhorn tank size. Being bigger and taller in size, these are not the fish that will fit adequately in your average tank size. We would suggest going even more size up if you choose to add 2 or more Flower horn fish in the mix. Not only does this make the aquarium more comfortable for them, but these are some of the most aggressive fishes out there. They would appreciate some extra space given their territorial nature.

Water Parameters

Perform regular water changes. Also, make sure that you keep a close eye on the quality of water in which these fish are kept. They can contract many a disease that can originate from low-quality water. A pH of 7-8 and 80°F – 86°F water temperature should do the trick. These are all the parameters of a standard tropical fish.

What To Put In Their Tank

Did we mention that these fish are aggressive? Well, they are probably going to attack almost anything you put in the tank, so you might as well ensure that it’s something that can take some damage. Likes of big rocks or driftwood, etc., are good contenders here compared to rooted plants. Also, make sure your substrate is soft. Flower fish love to dig around and cut themselves if the substrate is harsh. And one last thing: a robust water filter. You will need it for the sake of your tank water’s well-being.

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Common & Potential Diseases

These fish aren’t completely weak immunity-wise and can withstand diseases decently. What they cannot handle, however, are lousy living conditions. Some of the commonly contracted diseases by this fish are hole-in-the-head disease and ich. The former, as previously mentioned, occurs when the water quality of the tank is low. It can be easily cured by remedying the water condition. The latter is more common in a diverse range of fish. A good determinant of this disease is the white spots that appear on your fish’s body.

Food & Diet

Flower fish are not very picky eaters, but like a lot of fish, pellets are a great source of everyday nutrients for them. A plant-based diet works great for them. The common feeding time for these fish is about three times a day and gives them enough food to eat within a minute. No more than that! These fish will eat it, but it likely won’t be good for them. They also enjoy a good protein source. Here options like grasshoppers, shrimps, worms, crickets, etc., are great choices but should not only be provided in moderation.

Behavior & Temperament

If there’s one fish that knows how to throw a tantrum, it’s a Flowerhorn cichlid. These fish are seriously bossy and aggressive, but they can also be really playful with their owners at times. It all depends on what kind of space they’re provided. As mentioned previously, flower horns can be really territorial, which is why a spacious tank comes in handy. They’re also really very curious, so no matter what you place in your aquarium, it’s bound to get knocked over if it’s fragile or gets a good few bumps in case it’s sturdy enough to withstand. 

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Flowerhorn Cichlid Tank Mates

A flowerhorn’s aggression and temperament is something to be kept in mind when choosing their tank mates. These can be pretty hostile and unwelcoming roommates, so place close attention on how your flowerhorn reacts to any change. If you want to keep your flower horn alone in the tank or pairs, then that’s really the best option, but if you’re looking for tank mates to generally tend to go well with these fish, then these are some options:


    • Jaguar Cichlids
    • Pirapitinga
    • Oscar Fish
    • Leopard Pleco
    • Spotted Hoplo Catfish
    • Suckermouth Armored Catfish
    • Bushynose Catfish
    • Bichir
    • Silver Arowana
    • Bristlenose Plecos 
    • Giant Gourami etc.

    Breeding

    This is very tricky territory, one that poses a lot of challenges should you choose to attempt it, but it’s not impossible. Let us preface with the biggest hurdle: most flowerhorns are infertile. So before the breeding process even occurs, it’s important to know if your fish are capable of it or not. Secondly, they generally don’t require a lot of environmental changes to want to mate. They can do it at their normal water temperature. Once the fertilization has occurred, the female is generally removed (to another tank of similar size). At the same time, the male looks after the eggs. Once the hatchlings are out, the male can be removed as well.

    Final Thoughts

    This is a fish that rewards you for understanding it better. It is pretty beautiful and a fabulous spectacle in your tank. It also does not demand a lot of extra care. One of its only significant issues that need to be looked after is its aggression. Once gotten that under control, you’ve mastered being a Flowerhorn cichlid owner.


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