Flowerhorn cichlids are not naturally existing fish. They are man-made hybrids, initially bred in Malaysia during the early nineties.
Their striking appearance is a conversation starter along with their much-mysterious origins. Yes, flowerhorn cichlids are no ordinary pets by a long shot―keep one at home, and you'll know what the hype is all about.
These creatures have come under the scanner for being an unnatural and potentially dangerous hybrid, with the usual disregard for the human contribution to their existence―let's not forget that they are entirely created by man. However, let's not delve into all of that at the moment, and turn our attention to caring for these beautiful creatures instead.
Before you get them home, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. Always buy your pet from an experienced and reputed breeder. Visit the pet store, and carefully observe the fish you are interested in buying. Your flowerhorn's appearance and coloring may vary, but it should look healthy and have a regular appetite.
If you are buying this fish for reasons pertaining to certain beliefs, it is better to zero in on an adult specimen. With the younger ones, there is no way to ascertain their looks when they grow up.
As far as their day-to-day maintenance is concerned, here are a few pointers.
► Flowerhorn cichlids are easy to maintain, hassle-free pets. The very first thing you should be doing is set up a suitably sized aquarium for the fish. Your breeder will be able to guide you regarding the matter if this is your first flowerhorn. These creatures have a nasty reputation for being aggressive, which means that they must be given the entire tank to themselves. Also, they grow up to be considerably large, so it is better to bring in a large-sized aquarium at the beginning. A minimum size of 55 gallons is acceptable, but it should ideally be at least 125 gallons.
► If you do plan on keeping another fish in the same tank, ensure that they are separated by natural territorial borders as cichlids can become destructive in no time. Plants are not the most ideal props in a cichlid tank, either as decorative items or barriers. Your cichlid will destroy them in no time.
► Your flowerhorn cichlid's endurance is legendary and can easily thrive in most water conditions, but it will do best in an aquarium where the pH level is between 7.5 - 8.0. The recommended water temperature is between 80 - 85°F.
► These fish have an enormous appetite, and you'll have no trouble coaxing them to eat. They have a speedy metabolism, which means that your fish will need a lot of energy and nutrients to stay healthy.
► Your flowerhorn cichlid will devour almost any kind of food, but pellets, in particular, are good to start off with. This can be supplemented with plenty of worms, crabs, shrimp, or similar types of meaty foods. Feeding should be at regular intervals of 5 - 6 hours.
► With all that eating, your fish is bound to produce a lot of waste as well. Frequent water changes are, therefore, imperative. The recommended course is to change 20 percent of the water every 3 days. In case you can only make one change a week, it has to be close to 25 percent of the water.
► Keeping the tank clean should always be a priority. Remember that topping up evaporated water does not qualify as a water change. Also, ensure that the water flow in the tank is regular so that there isn't any thermal layering. Oxygenated water needs to circulate throughout the tank.
You may fancy your flowerhorn cichlids for various reasons―be it their striking looks or their importance according to the principles of Feng Shui, but ensure that you treat them with the love and respect that a pet deserves. Make them an integral part of your family.