View Full Version : flowerhorns 101

10-12-2010, 05:23 PM
1. What's the origin of flowerhorns (briefly)?

Flower Horn (aka Louhan, La Han) first came into existence in Malaysia sometime during mid 1990s . It is commonly believed to be a hybrid between Amphilophus Citrinellus and Amphilophus Trimaculatum. After some generations in Malaysia, the appearance of the fish changes slightly and look somewhat different from their wild ancestor. This maybe caused by the changes in food types, climate and water quality. Later some local breeders uses these tank-bred fishes and cross them with the "Giant Blood Parrot" and became what we call today the traditional Flower Horn. Initially, it was not well received but after a series of breeding exercise the shape of the body improved to the people liking and was crowned "Flower Horn" because this sounded much like it's original Chinese name.

2. How long do flowerhorns live?
The consensus from hobbyists indicates that on average flowerhorns live up to 6-8 years.

3. How big do they get?
They can grow to 12-14 inches. In one rare case, the biggest flowerhorn has been reported to be 25 inches - ILC Biggest Golden Base Flowerhorn

4. How do I tell if my fish is a male or a female?
In general, it is difficult to tell the gender of a flowerhorn when it is still small. During spawning season, it is easier to differentiate male and female by looking at the vent near the anus of the fish. Below are general guidelines to distinguish male and female flowerhorns:

1) In general, in a batch of fry, males grow faster than females.

2) Males are usually larger and have a more developed nuchal hump (aka kok) on their foreheads.

3) In the earlier breeds of flowerhorns, about 80% of flowerhorns with black spots on the dorsal fin are females. However, with increasing cross-breeding, this fact does not hold true anymore. In the newer breeds, the double flower lines of some flowerhorns extend to the dorsal fin, again making this method unreliable.

4) The most reliable method is to look at the vent tube protruding from the underside of the fish, next to its anus. Males have a more narrow tube, looking almost like a V-shape. Females have a thicker tube with a U-shape opening. This part of the fish is their sex organ and it is more defined when they are mature. Follow this link, Male or Female?, to better understand this method. The article on that link has excellent graphical images regarding the said technique.

5. What's the minimum size of tank should I have for one flowerhorn to grow out his potentials?
60 gallons.

6. Can have more than one flowerhorns in one tank?
Flowerhorns are known for their aggressiveness, especially towards their own kinds. Young juveniles seem to be fine together in a tank but matured flowerhorns don't get along well in one tank. In general, it is not recommended to keep more than one flowerhorn in one tank, unless they're separated by a divider. In some rare cases, flowerhorns are kept in a very large tank (bigger than 180 gallons) with other cichlids and they seem to get a long fine.

7. If I wanted to have a community flowerhorn tank, what's the minimum tank size I must have?
In general, a community flowerhorn tank is not recommended. But a few hobbyists have successfully set this up. Usually the tank is greater than 180-gallon and there's usually presence of other cichlids in the tank as well.

8. What background color is best for flowerhorn?
Blue background

9. Should I have gravel in my flowerhorn tank? What color is best?
Some people like to keep their tanks bare bottom. Some people like to put gravels in their tanks. Usually mineral rocks and natural color gravels are preferred.


1. What kind of food is best for my flowerhorns?
Variety is good: bloodworms, market shrimps, pellets. A mix of different pellets such as Hikari Staple, Hikari Gold, Hikari Bio-Gold+, New Life Spectrum, Chingmix, Alife, Amazone, Grand Sumo, etc. is recommended.

2. How often should I feed my flowerhorn?
1-3 times a day. Do not over feed.

3. Can I give live feed to my flowerhorn?
Live feed such as feeder fish from pet stores often carry diseases. Generally it is not recommended to give your flowerhorn feeder fish to prevent your fish from getting infected with diseases. But if you really want to give feeder fish to your flowerhorn(s), make sure you treat feeder fish with anti bacterial solution in a separate tank before feeding them to your flowerhorn(s).

4. What food is best to make my flowerhorn grow big nuchal hump/kok?
Kok potential is 100% genetics. Food can only help bring out the potentials carried in the genes of your fish. A variety of food with high proteins and crude fat will help.

1. What temperature should I keep consistent for my FH?
Flowerhorns are ok with a temperature between 73oF - 86oF. But 80oF - 82oF is recommended.

2. What pH level should I keep consistent for my FH?
pH 7 to PH7.8, to maintain the pH level, best to add coral (Answer provided by Kao Luo)

3. How does pH affect the flowerhorn?
In general higher pH will induce the kok to grow whereas a lower PH will bring out the color of the fish.

4. How often should I change water of my FH aquarium?
Generally once a week, 10%-20% each time.

5. I see white worms in my tank. Are they harmful to my fish? How do I get rid of them?
Those white worms are planaria. They are not harmful to your flowerhorn. But you should remove them as soon as you can to prevent them getting into your fish's gills. They're usually a result of over feeding. To get rid of them, do a major water change (like 50%). If that does work, add salt and those will be killed. Another water change with gravel vacuum will expunge those dead worms.


1. Is salt good for my flowerhorn?
Salt at times acts like a stabilizer. It acts like a disinfectant as it helps in killing certain parasites. Salt also provides sodium and chloride ions that helps fish stabilize.

2. What kind of salt should I use?
Aquarium Salt. Or you can use Morton Water Softening Salt available at Home Depot.

3. How much salt should i put in my aquarium?
One tablespoon every five gallon of water.


1. At what size should I allow my FH to breed?

2. My male is more aggressive than his mate, how do I avoid fetal fighting, yet able to have breeding success?
One approach is seperating the male and female with a divider which is cut with at least one hole big enough for the female to swim through. Keep the clay pot on the male's side. When the female is ready, she would most likely go over to the male's side to lay eggs.

3. Should I remove the male or female after fertilization already occurred?
You should remove or separate the male and the female; and transfer the eggs to a small tank.

4. Should i remove the eggs before they hatch, or let the eggs hatch and then remove the wigglers?
It's recommended to move the eggs to a small tank before they hatch. A small tank, such as a 10-gallon, will allow easier feeding.

5. How long does it take the eggs to hatch?
Usually around 3 days.

6. What do I feed the wigglers?
Some people feed egg yolk but that can get your water pulluted rather quickly. You don't have to feed the babies right after they're hatched. They can feed from their own yolk sac. Once they are free swimmers, around 5-7 days later, you can feed them with Hikira First Bites. Once they get a little bigger, you can feed them frozen bloodworms and/or New Life Spectrum Growth Formula.

Miscellaneous Questions:

1. I am going on a long vacation. Will my fish survive without food?
Your flowerhorn will be fine without food for 2-3 weeks. Make sure to change your water before going on your trip.


10-12-2010, 05:35 PM
Very nice write up.
it answered a couple of questions i was unaware of even thinking about.