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 exist in the wild only because of their release. First developed in Malaysia, Thailand, and Taiwan, they became very popular with Asian fish hobbyists. They are also kept by hobbyists in the US and Europe, but their importation is banned in Australia. Some cichlid hobbyists have questioned the impact of flowerhorn breeding programs and their impact on the health and reproduction of the animals, and on natural fish species.
Flowerhorn breeding dates from 1993. Malaysians admired fish with protruding heads, known as Kaloi or “warships,” found in the western part of the nation. The slightly protruding forehead and long tail of these fish were prized in Taiwanese society as bringing luck in geomancy. By 1994, red devil cichlids (typically Amphilophus labiatus) and trimac cichlids (Amphilophus trimaculatus) had been imported from Central America to Malaysia and the hybrid blood parrot cichlid had been imported from Taiwan to Malaysia and bred these fish together, marking the birth of the flowerhorn.
In 1995, the blood parrots were further crossbred with the Human Face Red God of Fortune, which produced a new breed called the Five-Colors God of Fortune.With its beautiful colors, this fish quickly became popular. Selective breeding continued through 1998, when the Seven-Colors Blue Fiery Mouth (also known as Greenish Gold Tiger) was imported from Central America, and crossbred with the Jin Gang Blood Parrot from Taiwan.This crossbreeding led to the first generation of Hua Luo Han flowerhorn hybrids, which were then followed by subsequent flowerhorn introductions.
Flowerhorn cichlids have a lifespan of 10–12 years. They are usually kept at a water temperature of 80–85 °F, and a pH of 7.4–8.0. They require a tank of a minimum of 55 gallons, with 125 gallons optimal. A breeding pair may require a tank of 150 gallons or more, depending on size. 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.