Flowerhorn Cichlid Care Tips

Flowerhorn cichlid

Last updated on July 2nd, 2022 at 04:49 am

Flowerhorn cichlids are a type of cichlid fish that originated from Asia. These fish are bred and raised as food fish in Asia. However, they’ve become popular as aquarium pets in the United States, due to their bright colors and interesting patterning. They are intelligent, active, and playful fish that require a lot of attention, but if you’re willing to devote the time and effort necessary to care for them properly, flowerhorn cichlid can make wonderful pets.

If you’re in the market for a unique new pet, the flowerhorn cichlid might be right up your alley. This fish comes in bright colors and has an enormous horn on its head, which makes it stand out from other types of fish like bettas or goldfish. However, this doesn’t mean that it’s an easy pet to care for!

The flowerhorn cichlid is a tropical freshwater fish belonging to the family Cichlidae. Also, native to the Mekong River basin in Asia, flowerhorn cichlids have been bred in captivity and are now commonly found in pet stores around the world as ornamental fish and popular aquarium hobbyist fish species.

Let’s take a look at some flowerhorn cichlid care tips to help you keep these unique fish healthy and happy.

Origin and descriptions

The flowerhorn cichlid, or Cyprichromis leptosoma, originates from Lake Tanganyika in Africa. The coloring of males and females is different: males have a red-orange coloration and females are golden yellow. Flowerhorns reach about 16 inches (40 cm) in length.

Both male and female flowerhorn cichlids are aggressive, which makes them ideal for larger aquariums with ample cover to prevent injury. Flowerhorns do best at 80°F (27°C), but need pH between 7.0 and 8.5 and water hardness between 6–15 dH; they don’t tolerate lower than 75 ppm nitrate levels very well.

They have been bred into hundreds of unique varieties that vary in size, shape, color patterns, finnage patterns, etc., although most of these are rarely available outside their native African countries due to how difficult they are to care for properly. They can live up to 15 years if cared for properly.

They are predatory fish known as gulpers, meaning they will try and eat almost anything given half a chance including other freshwater fish such as tetras, gouramis, catfish like Oscars, or plecos.

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Species profile

Flowerhorn cichlid

The Flowerhorn cichlid is a popular fish due to its unique flowery appearance. However, despite their popularity in aquariums, they aren’t exactly beginner-friendly.

They have become extremely popular in recent years. These large, colorful South American fish grow quickly and are easy to breed. They can tolerate brackish water, which makes them an excellent choice for aquariums with varying salinity levels.

They are a favorite of many aquarium hobbyists, but because they’re so new to most people, there is limited information about how to keep them successfully and breed them regularly.

Flowerhorns like warmer temperatures between 78 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit. Ideally, your pH level should be neutral at 7.5-8.5; anything below or above those ranges may harm their health over time. In addition, it’s important to maintain good filtration to remove any dissolved waste products.

If your tap water has high nitrate levels, use a reverse osmosis filter or purifier instead of running it straight through your tank. The key to successful breeding depends on ensuring proper nutrition throughout their life cycle. Flowerhorns need lots of protein when first added to an aquarium—you should provide 2–3 times more food than usual until they settle into their new environment.

While each flowerhorn will develop its own personality, here are some basics that should help get you started raising these beautiful fish.


Freshwater Flowerhorn cichlid originates from southeast Asia, including Malaysia and Indonesia. They typically prefer clear, acidic water with a pH between 6.0 and 7.8, and a temperature between 75 degrees F (24 degrees C) and 82 degrees F (28 degrees C). In addition to their natural habitat, they are hardy enough to survive in similar conditions in captivity as well.

Flowerhorn cichlid size

This species can grow up to a size between 12-16 inches (30-40 cm) in length.

Flowerhorn cichlid tank size

Due to their size, the minimum recommended tank size for a flowerhorn cichlid is 70 gallons (265 liters).

Tank requirements

Flowerhorns require a fairly large tank. A 70-gallon tank should be sufficient, but larger tanks are always better. They are very active and will require plenty of swimming room in order to swim properly. Therefore, a large aquarium is vital to ensure they remain healthy. Make sure you have strong filtration for your fish as well; many people choose canister filters because of their ability to filter large amounts of water at once.

Cyphotilapia frontosa (Frontosa Cichlid or Humphead Cichlid)

This species is primarily freshwater with some salt added for specific species; however, salt should never comprise more than 5% of your tank’s total volume. They have evolved to thrive in brackish waters and will not survive long in saltwater or freshwater-only tanks. It is vital that you know what your water conditions are when attempting to breed these fish.

Also, note that Flowerhorns are fairly sensitive to changes in water conditions and may take some time to acclimate properly to a new environment. Once they have settled into their aquarium, there is no need to change any water parameters besides normal cleaning.

Each species has its own unique requirements as far as pH and temperature goes; research your particular flowerhorn before buying it so you can prepare adequately for all needed requirements.

Flowerhorn cichlid tank mates

Flowerhorn cichlids are moderately aggressive fish, so they should be kept in tanks with other non-aggressive fish. Good tank mates include small to medium-sized tetras, barbs, danios and rasboras. These fish will coexist peacefully with flowerhorns and provide them with good company while also cleaning up after them. Like most bottom-feeders, though, it’s best to avoid keeping these cichlids with large carnivorous fish such as tiger barbs and Oscars.

Other good tank mates are giant danios, shell-dwelling cichlids such as Jack Dempsey and Plecostomus. Since flowerhorns spend a lot of time burrowing in sand or digging through substrate, they have large eyes that help them to see clearly even in muddy water. For example, a betta would not be a good choice as it has poor vision and is aggressive towards other fish.

Flowerhorn cichlid breeding

Flowerhorn cichlid

Flowerhorns can reproduce sexually, but you’ll need a large tank to raise their fry. They typically reach reproductive maturity at around 6 months of age, which means that if you want to breed your fish, you’ll need to separate them from their parents around then. Flowerhorns lay small clutches of eggs several times a day. You can expect roughly 100-200 eggs in a given clutch and can expect them to hatch after 3-4 days.

Once hatched, the fries are relatively easy to care for; they require a diet consisting of microfry or freshly hatched brine shrimp. The most important aspect when raising the fry is water quality, and filtration systems will be very useful in keeping your baby Flowerhorns healthy. As with all livebearers, there’s an incredibly high mortality rate during the first week of life.

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If conditions aren’t good and proper attention isn’t paid to details, half of a brood may die within 2 days. It’s essential to have plenty of aeration present as it helps make sure that oxygen levels remain high enough for survival. And since aeration uses up dissolved oxygen in aquarium water, it’s best to ensure you have strong filters running so that dissolved oxygen levels don’t dip too low.

Flowerhorns grow pretty quickly once they’ve reached adulthood, especially when fed properly. They are omnivorous creatures, meaning that both plant matter and animal proteins will find its way into their stomachs. Both meaty foods such as bloodworms, frozen fish food pellets, and beef heart work well for the adults who should be fed twice per day.

Are Flowerhorn cichlid aggressive or peaceful?

The Flowerhorn cichlid is extremely aggressive with other species. They will fight to death over territory, food or a female. Because of their aggression, they must be kept in a large tank (70 gallons or more) with plenty of hiding places such as rock caves and driftwood.

If you are keeping multiple males in a tank you will need lots of hiding spots or one male will be left out and picked on until he dies.

Flowerhorn cichlid care

Flowerhorn cichlid

The Flowerhorn cichlid is an excellent fish for a beginner aquarist. In fact, they can survive in water with low levels of oxygen. They don’t require much oxygen, but they do prefer to live in large tanks with plenty of hiding spots.

Ideally, you should keep them in a tank of their own—this way you won’t have to worry about fighting among themselves for territory or potential mates. Tank size doesn’t seem to matter when it comes to these guys; they will adapt well in tanks as small as 50 gallons. If your budget allows, I would recommend 70 gallons at minimum, with 75 gallons or more being preferable.

They also prefer deeper waters, so make sure you have plenty of space between your rockwork and substrate so they can burrow down if needed. Also, make sure there aren’t any electrical wires lurking around that could shock them.

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Flowerhorn cichlid food

Flowerhorn cichlids are omnivores, meaning they eat both meaty foods (like snails) and plant-based foods (like algae). But because their bellies are so large, they should not be fed too much protein—plant-based food sources work best. They love to eat flake food, but only feed them as a treat once per week or so.

If you’re interested in keeping fish with your flowerhorn cichlids, you might consider betta fish.

Flowerhorn cichlid lifespan

The average lifespan of a Flowerhorn is 10-15 years. That is longer than most other fish in its class (i.e. Angelfish, Discus, etc.). If well cared for, it can live even longer.

Parasites and diseases

Flowerhorns are not as hardy as other cichlids, so you will need to give them extra special care. They have been bred in captivity for their beauty, so be prepared to spend some time ensuring your fish is healthy. Parasites and diseases are common among them, so do everything you can to keep them from happening in your tank. The best way to avoid these issues is by keeping your water clean and doing regular partial water changes with fresh water whenever they become necessary.

The first line of defense is to quarantine new fish before introducing them into your aquarium. Place new arrivals in an isolation tank for at least 30 days—the longer you keep them there, the better. During that time, observe their behavior; if anything seems off, contact your local pet store immediately.

Do Flowerhorn cichlid make good pets?

While flowerhorns are interesting fish, they can be much more work than people expect. They require a lot of attention, so if you’re in search of a low-maintenance pet that needs less care than other pets, you may want to reconsider your choice to buy a flowerhorn cichlid.

Also, these fish aren’t recommended for aquariums smaller than 70 gallons. If you don’t have that kind of space in your home or apartment, think again before purchasing one.