Flowerhorn Fish: Care, Lifespan, Diet & More

Flowerhorn cichlids are some of the most beautiful and exotic pet fish in the aquarium hobby. They come in a variety of colors and patterns, and no two are exactly alike. This beautiful species are man-made and are not naturally found in the wild. 

They are unique in many ways, from the giant bump on their head to their unique body colors and patterns. They also have a very unique personality that you might not find in other species of fish.

In this article, we will provide you with the correct care guidelines and other necessary information so you confidently care for this species.

Species Profile & Overview

Flowerhorns are hybrid species and are not occurring naturally in the wild. These species were first introduced to the pet market in the 1990s. Since then, they have become one of the most famous and exotic types of fish you can buy. 

Flowerhorns are noted for their vivid colors and the distinctively shaped head growth on their heads. They are hybrids of several different South American cichlid species. This species first started to appear in the pet markets of Malaysia and Taiwan in 1993. But they soon became available to hobbyist in western countries as well. 

The exact origins of the fish are unknown, but it is thought that they were first bred in Malaysia and Taiwan. This fish is crossbred between different types of South American species but the exact fish are also unclear. 

Most people believe these fish are originally made from crossbreeding of Three spot cichlid, Red Devil Cichlid, and Blood Red Parrot Cichlid (Blood Parrot) which itself is a hybrid fish. Since then this fish has also bred with multiple other types of fish to create different colors of Flowerhorns.

Note: This fish is considered to be a good luck charm in some cultures in Asia.


Super Red Dragon Flowerhorn
Super Red Dragon Flowerhorn

This brightly colored exotic pet is known for its unique hump on its head. They are famous for the large fleshy growth on their heads, which is called a “kok”. 

Currently, Flowerhorns are available in a wide variety of colors, including red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple. They typically have large eyes and a compressed body.

This fish is a member of the cichlid family and has a body shape that is similar to other cichlids. It, however, is characterized by the large and colorful nuchal hump. This hump is larger on the male specimens and females usually luck this nuchal hump.

Their body is short and compressed into an oval shape. However, they are unusually shaped for a cichlid but they still have some similarities. The tail fin of the fish is forked and it is long and flowing and can have eye-catching marking.

The fins on a Flowerhorn fish are large and flowy, and they look beautiful against the fish’s body. They have the same pattern as the rest of the body and help the fish to swim around gracefully while creating a show for any bystander. 

If you are looking for a fish that is sure to stand out in your aquarium, then a Flowerhorn can be the one. These fish are super beautiful with bright colors and interesting patterns. They however are not beginner fish and you should only keep them if you have experience keeping aggressive types of cichlids.

Adult Size

Flowerhorn cichlids are large and can grow up to 12 inches long. The male specimens are often a lot larger than females and grow at a faster rate.

This species is typically about 12 inches long, although some can grow up to 18 inches. Reaching 18 inches is not very common in these fish as they must have the genetics for it.


There is no definitive answer to this question as it can vary greatly depending on the individual fish and its environment. However, in general, Flowerhorn have a lifespan of between 10 and 12 years. Diet, water quality, and genetics are important factors that can affect the lifespan of these fish.

This species create a lot of mess and their aquarium require regular maintenance to ensure the health of your fish. An aquarium is a tiny ecosystem where debris and waste can easily build up. This can immediately lead to poor water quality and unhealthy conditions causing your flowerhorn to get sick or even die. 

Regular cleaning and water changes can help to prevent this build-up of toxins and will ensure a longer lifespan for the fish.

Behavior & Temperament

Flowerhorns are known for their aggressive and territorial behaviors. They can become super aggressive towards other fish, and even humans. They are very protective of their tank and will defend it with all they have!

Flowerhorns have been known to attack and kill other fish if they do not get introduced to the tank the right way. This type of behavior usually occurs when the flowerhorn feels threatened to lose its territory. 

However, if they are given enough space to roam and are not overcrowded, they will typically not exhibit this type of behavior. You should also never add a new fish to a flowerhorn tank without a transparent divider.

Having a large tank will help to keep this species from feeling cramped and stressed, which can lead to aggression. In a larger tank, it’s also easy to create hiding spots so each territorial fish can pick one and defend it.

However, this can also lead to more aggression if the tank is overcrowded or it’s a small tank. This is why the majority of people keep their pet flowerhorn in a single species smaller aquarium. 

Flowerhorn Care

Flowerhorns are tropical fish from cichlid family so all the basics of keeping south American cichlids apply to them. However, these fish are more aggressive than most other cichlids making them hard fish to keep. 

They are definitely not a good beginner fish because they require a special tank environment. They are also messy eaters and will produce a lot of waste so you need to know exactly how to keep a tank clean. 

That being said, they are also very adaptable species and are very hardy. They are able to live in a wide range of water conditions which makes it easier to keep them.

In the next few sections, we will show you exactly how to care for this beautiful species. 

Tank Size

A Flowerhorn fish needs a minimum tank size of at least 55 gallons. In a tank of this size, you can only keep one single fish. We have kept our flowerhorn “KoKo” in a 55 gallon aquarium for many years now. He has been growing and developing the most beautiful coloration a flower horn can have.

It is also important to remember that these fish can grow up to 18 inches in length. Therefore, you might want to make sure you have a larger tank if you don’t want to do a lot of water changes. 

A larger aquarium is the best way to keep your Flowerhorn healthy and happy. It provides them with plenty of space to swim and explore, and the extra water volume helps to keep their water quality stable. 

a large tank also has a greater capacity to buffer against sudden changes in temperature or pH, which can be stressful for its inhabitants. As a result, a fish kept in a large aquarium is likely to have a longer lifespan than one kept in a small aquarium.

What To Put In A Flower horn Tank

When it comes to decorating an aquarium for Flower horn fish, there are a few key things to keep in mind. Because this fish species is known for its bright and vibrant colors, it is important to create an aquascape that will really showcase these features.

But since these fish are aggressive and eat a high-protein diet it can be hard to add a lot of decorations in the tank. Each decoration you add to the tank is a hazard for the fish. They can either harm their scales trying to defend their territory or trap food and pollute the tank.

This is why most people keep their flowerhorn tanks bare with no decorations or substrate. However, we prefer to aquascape our flower horn tanks with a minimalist design. Doing so will make the tank look beautiful without causing any water quality issues.

Try to avoid any large and sharp rocks and driftwood. While they can make your tank look more beautiful, they can cause the fish to harm itself. A thin layer of sand can make your tank look more natural. They also like to dig through the substrate. 

A black or blue background with white or black sand is the ideal way to bring out the true beauty of this fish. Adding anything extra to your tank is a risk you are taking.

Super Red Dragon Flowerhorn
Super Red Dragon Flowerhorn

Light Requirements

Good light is necessary to bring out the true beauty of your exotic fish. While the fish itself does not need light, having quality light can make your fish look a lot more beautiful.

A good lighting also helps to keep the algae in the aquarium under control.

There are many different lights available in the market, but you should pick a light based on the colors of your fish. Meaning if your flower horn has more red tones a light with red LEDs can make it look more red. 

For most flowerhorns, a full spectrum light that has blue and red LEDs is the best choice. The blue and red spectrum of light will make your fish shine in the tank. 

The light should also be on a timer so your fish gets used to a day and night schedule. This will help the fish to feel less stressed. Fortunately, most LED aquarium lights are already equipped with timers. 

Water Conditions & Parameters

Flowerhorn cichlid are very adaptable and hardy fish that can thrive in a wide range of water conditions. Since they are bred from South American cichlids, it is a good idea to match the water parameters of your aquarium to what similar cichlids prefer in that area.

The flow of water in the tank is also very important. Not only the right amount of water flow can make your tank look more natural, but it can also help to keep the water oxygenated and circulated. 

keeping the water flowing also helps to keep the fish healthy and active. Try to have a moderate flow in the tank so your fish can enjoy swimming without getting exhausted. You can adjust the water current in an aquarium by using powerheads and air pumps.

To give your fish the best living environment make sure your tank parameters fall within the following range:

  • Temperature: 80 – 85 Degrees Fahrenheit 
  • PH: 6.8 – 7.5 
  • TDS: 50 – 200 PPM

Filtration System

A strong filtration system is an important part of keeping a pet Flowerhorn. These fish are messy eaters and make the tank messy in no time. So a good filter is needed to keep the water clean and free of harmful toxins. 

There are many different types of filters available on the market, so it is important to choose the right one for your aquarium. Some factors to consider when choosing a filter include the size of the aquarium, the feeding schedule, and if other species will be living in the tank.

Canister filters are the best type of filter for a flowerhorn tank. You will need to invest in a bigger canister filter regardless of the size of your tank. 

For our flowerhorn “KoKo”, we use a canister filter that is rated for a 120 gallon tank. Even Though KoKo lives in a 55 gallon aquarium. A large filter will circulate the water much faster and keep the aquarium much cleaner.

Common Diseases and Prevention

Flowerhorns are hardy species but that doesn’t mean they don’t get sick. In fact, there are a few diseases that they seem to be more susceptible to. These diseases are often caused by the negligence of their owners.  

When keeping this fish in smaller (55 gallon) tanks, it is super easy for things to go wrong if you are not an expert fish keeper. These fish eat a lot and produce a substantial amount of waste that can pollute the aquarium quickly. 

Polluted water can cause many ammonia-related diseases; including hole-in-the-head that are common in cichlids. 

The “Hole in the Head” or Hexamita disease is a parasitic disease that is believed to be ammonia-related. This disease will cause multiple holes in the head of flowerhorns and can easily kill a fish if not treated quickly. 

Ich and fin rot are also common diseases that a flowerhorn can contract. These external diseases can cause the fish to suffer and in extreme cases can cause the fish to die.

Both of these diseases will usually come with the new fish you are adding to the tank. So it’s important to quarantine new fish for 6 – 8 weeks before adding them to your main aquarium. 

They are also susceptible to other aquarium diseases like White Spot Disease, Velvet Disease, and Fin Rot. All these diseases can be deadly to your pet fish if left untreated. 

To prevent diseases, it is important to choose pet fish from a reputable breeder or source. Once you have your fish in its tank, you should never add any new specie to your tank without quarantining them for a few weeks.

The aquarium should be kept clean, with regular water changes and vacuuming of the gravel. Regular water changes are the key to keeping the water parameters stable. Keeping your tank stable and clean is the key to keeping this magnificent fish healthy for years to come. 

Diet and Feeding Requirements

While there are many debates on what to feed flowerhorns, if you ask any expert flowerhorn keeper they will say keep it simple but diverse!

We also believe feeding flowerhorns a simple yet a mix of high quality diet is the best way to keep this fish healthy. 

By studying the ancestors of this fish, we can guess that they are omnivore species that prefers to eat meaty foods. So in your tank, you should have high-protein pellets to feed them on a regular basis. 

They should also receive live and frozen foods so they can receive all the nutrition they need. When choosing a food, it is important to select one that is high in quality and contains all the nutrients needed for proper growth and development. 

Some good dry food choices for Flowerhorn include Hikari Cichlid Gold pellets, New Life Spectrum pellets, and Omega One Cichlid foods. For frozen food, you can feed them bloodworms, Brine shrimp, and muscles. 

Frozen aquarium fish foods are an excellent source of nutrition for your fish, and they should receive them on a regular basis. Most frozen foods are packed with essential vitamins and minerals that your flowerhorn needs to stay healthy and develop better coloration.   

Tank Mates

Flowerhorns are aggressive and territorial species so they should live in a species-only tank. However, under the right circumstances, some seem to be okay with sharing a tank with other species. 

A larger tank will give them more room to swim and explore, and may help to reduce their aggression. But each fish has a different personality and one rule can not apply to all fish. So it’s best to be cautious when adding new fish to your tank. 

You should never add any small fish to our tank as your flowerhorn will hunt and eat them. If you still want to try your luck with keeping this fish in a community tank, here are the fish that have a similar size and personality. 

Here are our top picks of tank mates for your Flowerhorn:

Super Red Dragon Flowerhorn
Super Red Dragon Flowerhorn


This unique and popular aquarium fish is known for its bright colors and interesting patterns. They are also relatively easy to care for, making them a good choice for beginner fish keepers.

While they are not the most active fish, they do require some space to swim. They are not beginner fish and you should only attempt to keep them if you already have experience with predatory and aggressive cichlids.