Flowerhorn cichlids are ornamental aquarium fish
noted for their vivid colors and the distinctively shaped heads for which
they are named. Their head protuberance, or kok, is formally termed a "nuchal hump." Like blood parrot cichlids, they are man-made hybrids that
do not exist in nature. First developed in Malaysia and Taiwan, they are
now kept by fish hobbyists worldwide. Some critics have questioned the
impact of flowerhorn breeding programs.
Arrival in the West
were first imported to the United States, there were only two breeds of
these fish for distribution, flowerhorn and golden base. Flowerhorns came
in two varieties, those with pearls (silver-white spots on the skin) and
those without. Golden bases also had two varieties, those that faded and
those that did not. Among the flowerhorns, the ones without pearls were
quickly overtaken in popularity by those with pearls, becoming pearl scale
flowerhorns, or Zhen Zhu. With the golden bases, the unfaded ones
developed an attractive golden skin in place of what had been the
flowerhorns grey skin.
As of 1999, there were four strains of flowerhorn available in the American market: regular flowerhorns, pearl
scale flowerhorns, golden flowerhorns, and faders. Commercial breeders
proliferated, and fish were selected for appearance with little regard for
terminology.Consequently, names became confusing and parentage became difficult to track.
Around 20002001, the Kamfa variety appeared. These
were hybrids of any type of flowerhorn crossed with any species of the
genus Vieja or with any parrot cichlid. These brought in some new traits,
such as short mouths, wrapped tails, sunken eyes, and increasingly larger
head bumps. Seeing this, those who bred the Zhen Zhus began line breeding
their fish to develop faster and become more colorful, in order to compete
with the Kamfa strains.
2010 Many states have started their own
breeding organizations. Minnesota stands out as one of the leaders in flowerhorn breeding in the United States due to so many hobbyists
importing fish regularly.
Flowerhorn cichlids are usually kept at
a water temperature of 8085 °F, and a pH of 7.48.0. They require a tank
of a minimum of approximately 2030 gallons to grow. Being aggressive and
territorial, two or more flowerhorns are usually not kept together, but
the tank housing them can be divided up with acrylic dividers or egg crates.