Just like angelfish, flowerhorns are beautiful ornamental fish. In this post, we will talk about flowerhorns. What are their characteristics, habitat, diet, and whether they can share the same aquarium as angelfish. We will also see what are the best mates for a flowerhorn.
Can flowerhorn and angelfish be together in the same tank?
The short answer would be no. But some aquarists might disagree. Of course, it always depends on each fish’s temperament. When we think about housing two different fish together,it is advisable not to keep fishes smaller than 10 inches (25.4 cm) like angelfish with flower horns.
Such smaller fish might become easy prey, regardless of flower horn’s having a semi-aggressive behavior, or the fact that angelfish are also cichlids. Do you still want to try to see if housing these two together works? Make sure that there are plenty of hiding spots so angelfish can fastly swim to.
In this post, you can learn more about angelfish as well as which are the best mates for sharing a community tank with them.
Flowerhorns are ornamental fish from the family Cichlidae. Their breeding started in the ’90s, due to a fascination of Taiwanese and Malaysians for fishes with protruded heads. This type of head is also known as ‘Kaloi’ or ‘warships’. These cichlids were considered to bring good fortune and health to their owners.
Flowerhorns are famous for their vivid colors and their ‘Kaloi’, which means protruded head. The protuberance itself is known as Kok, a nuchal hump that can be related to sex recognition.
Like blood parrot cichlids, flower horns are hybrid fishes and only exist in the wild because of their release. Crossbreeding between red devil cichlids (Amphilophus labiatus) and trimac cichlids (Amphilophus trimaculatus) from Central America, and later with the hybrid blood parrot cichlid from Taiwan, originated the flower horn in Malaysia in 1994. Another type of crossbreed was between the JinGang Blood Parrot from Taiwan, with the Seven-colors Blue Fiery Mouth (also known as Greenish Gold Tiger) from Central America, originating the ‘Hua Luo Han’ (louhan) Flower horn in 1998.
Depending on the location of release, this could be a problem since they might not have any competitors or predators. This can favor their breeding and dominance in the habitat due to lack of competition which can be detrimental to other species of fish. Good examples are Singapore and Malaysia where flower horns became an invasive pest animal after being discharged in rivers due to a surplus of these fish and their deformities which devalued their value. In Australia, flowerhorn’s importation was permanently banned.
What do flower horns look like?
Besides the ‘Kok’, initially, flower horns were either with or without silver or black-out spots running across the sides of their bodies. Flower horns that have these spots are often referred to as pearled flower horn or that it possesses a flowerline.
Golden flower horns are also common. The colors of flowerhorn fish can change throughout their lives, becoming more intense when they reach adulthood. However, colors may start to fade once flower horns begin to age. Some food containing natural colourants, for example, β-carotene, can affect the color of flower horns.
On the other hand, if a flower horn presents a severe color change especially such as dark or pale marks and spots, beware. These changes are frequently the result of either poor environmental conditions, stress, or even diseases.
In 1999, there were 4 varieties of flower horns: faders, pearled-scaled, golden, and regular flower horns. Crossbreeding these varieties led to difficulties in tracking their phylogeny, their lines of descent, and the types of relationships among them.
Besides the ‘Kok’, flower horns have a long, tall, and thin body. Depending on the species, their dorsal and anal fins wrap around the caudal fin that can be stubbier in comparison. In its turn, the ventral fin is fairly thin.
Flower horns can reach between 12 to 16 inches (approx. 30.5 to 40.6 cm) in length. Males are usually larger, heavier, with more vivid colors and bigger ‘Kok than females. They can live up to 10 to 12 years, depending on the care given to them!
Common types of flower horns
Below are the common varieties of domesticated flower horns:
- Zhen Zhu;
- Tan King;
- King kamfa;
- Golden Monkey.
Flower horns behavior
Like most cichlids, flower horns are quite aggressive especially when they are defending their territory. Hence, one must have in mind that these fish need lots of space. If you want a flower horn in a community tank you must carefully plan it. Despite their aggressiveness towards other fishes, flower horns are known to interact very well with their owners.
Some things to keep in mind when owning a flower horn are that:
- They like to swim and explore every inch of their tank. So, the bigger the tank, the happier the flower horn!
- Decorations can help them assert their territory and help other fishes to avoid a possible attack.
- Flower horns are explorers. They don’t have a preference towards a particular layer of the tank.
- They are territorial and can be quite happy on their own. However, fishes of similar size and temperament can be a good match for flower horns.
Flower horns diet
Flower horns must have a balanced diet with enough protein like cricket, worms, shrimp, bloodworms, and similar food. In addition, they need nutrients found in plant-based feed, often in the form of pellets. They eat quite fast. So, if they are taking longer than a minute to eat, you might want to feed them a bit less.
Some food has natural pigments that can intensify their color. However, avoid giving your flower horn pigments injections. Instead of enhancing their color, that actually can make them sick.
Flower horns Breeding
Flower horns are a bit rough when it comes to courtship. Due to their aggressive nature, male flower horns can attack females.
Breeding a flower horn can be tricky. Because flower horns originated from crossbreeding, some specimens cannot produce any viable offspring. If attempting to reproduce flower horns, this must be done in a separate breeding fish tank.
Female flower horns lay about 1,000 eggs monthly regardless of whether a male specimen is present or not. If breeding is successful, move the female back to the main aquarium. The male flower horn takes care of their newly-hatched spawns.
Flower horns fiercely guard their eggs until their fries start swimming. Afterward, they are ready to return to their original tank and let the fries fend for themselves. During the first few months, owners must feed the fries up to 10 times a day.
The best aquarium for a flower horn
Go big or don’t even go home
A 70-gallon tank is the minimum tank size to maintain a happy, stress-free flower horn, if alone. If you can not provide that size of a tank for the fish, maybe a flower horn is not the fish for you.
Water quality is very important to keep your flower horns disease-free. The water temperature should range from 80 to 86 F (approx. 26.6 to 30 °C), and in a neutral to alkaline pH (7.0 – 8.0). Water hardness should be between 8 to 20 dGH. To keep the levels of nitrate acceptable, the water should be regularly changed. But do not change all at once. Maybe between 8 to 10 gallons (30 to 40 L) at a time.
Flower horns can be comfortable on their own, and an enriched environment can avoid stress. Since they are quite good diggers, steer clear of gravel to avoid unnecessary cuts on your fish. Bigger and smooth rocks can be a better option. If you don’t want your fish destroying rooted plants, consider floating ones.
These fish are fine with standard aquarium light but they do need a good filtration system at a moderate flow, given the size of their tank. If the water is not clean or has activated charcoal on it, flower horns can develop the hole-in-the-head disease by protozoan infection. This is curable once the quality of the water improves but it is better not to risk letting your fish get sick.
Which are the most suitable mates for a flower horn?
Since angelfish are not the best mate for a flower horn, which fishes could be? A good mate for a flower horn would be a fish with a similar size and temperament. Calmer fishes, regardless of having a bigger size than a flower horn can be in danger if put together.
Crustaceans such as crayfish and shrimp or snails can become flowerhorn yummy snacks instead of mates. So, beware of what you add to your community aquarium.
Remember, flower horns must share the aquarium with fishes that are similar in size and temperament! A well-planned, safe environment is the best one to give your fish.
Tankmates galore: 21 fishes that could be good companions for flower horns in a community tank
Here are some fishes that could be a suitable match for flower horns in a community aquarium:
- Green Terror cichlids;
- Red Terror cichlids;
- Texas cichlids;
- Midas cichlids;
- Wolf cichlids;
- Jaguar cichlids;
- Pacu fish;
- Silver Arowana;
- Blood-red Parrot Fish;
- Sailfin Plecos;
- Leopard Plecos;
- Bristlenose Plecos;
- Common Plecos (Hypostomus plecostomus);
- Clown loaches;
- Tinfoil Barbs;
- Bichir Dragonfish;
- Oscar fish;
- Giant Gourami;
- Three Spots fish;
- Spotted Hoplo Catfish.
Flower horns are flamboyant fish in their own right. Their unique features attract the eyes of various aquarists around the world. They can be alone in a tank without any problems.
They are rather easy fish to take care of once you are aware of the main conditions, they need to thrive: a large tank, no gravels, and attention to environmental settings (water and temperature).
However, the fact that they are territorial and aggressive makes it tricky to find suitable mates. Smaller fishes, such as angelfish, as though semi-aggressive might not be the best match for a flower horn.
In this post, we talked about the flower horn, its characteristics, and possible matches. Do you have flower horn fish? Are they king of their tank or do they have mates? Tell us your story. Or, if you have any questions about flower horns, do not hesitate in leaving a message below.
Azimi, A. et al. (2014). Effects of natural (red bell pepper and tomato) and synthetic (astaxanthin & pigments) on flower horn fish (Cichlasoma sp.) blood parameters. Int. J. Adv. Biol. Biom. Res, 2 (11), 2761-2767.
Herder, F. et al. (2012) Alien invasion in Wallace’s Dreamponds: records of the hybridogenic “flowerhorn” cichlid in Lake Matano, with an annotated checklist of fish species introduced to the Malili Lakes in Sulawesi. Aquatic Invasions, Volume 7, issue 4: 521-535.
Sahandi, J.; Hajimoradloo, A. (2011) Hole-in-the-head disease: new method of treatment in flower horn ornamental fish. HVM Bioflux, volume 3, issue 2.