Best Tank For Flowerhorn Cichlids

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Do you like fish that looks unique and interesting? Are you thinking of adding an eye-catching and colorful Flowerhorn fish to your fish tank? However, are you unsure about whether you have the best fish tank for your Flowerhorn fish?

If you wonder about the perfect fish tank size for your Flowerhorn, then there are things like the age and size of the Flowerhorn that you need to keep in mind. When it comes to getting the right fish tank for a Flowerhorn, the size of the fish plays the most important role!

Hence, below I have compiled information about what a Flowerhorn’s temperament entails. Then, there is information to help you figure out which fish tank size is the perfect fit for your Flowerhorn.

Finally, there is information on the ideal tank décor and water parameters, which will keep your Flowerhorn happy and healthy!

What Is A Flowerhorn Cichlid?

The Flowehorn Cichlid is a species born out of breeding done by the Chinese in the late 1990s. In other words, Flowerhorn Cichlids are a result of breeding two cichlids. However, due to them being released into the wild, there are variations of Flowerhorns swimming down rivers around the world right now!

Related article: How to breed Flowerhorn Cichlids?

Their most distinctive physical feature is a head protuberance, or “Kok.” This, along with their vivid colors, are what truly sets them apart. However, it is important to note their temperaments, too, before you make any hasty judgments!

Temperament of Flowerhorn Cichlid

A Flowerhorn Cichlid, like other cichlids, tends to be aggressive. They usually reside in slow-moving basins with a decent amount of plants on the bottom and lots of potential prey!

Hence, when placing Flowerhorn Cichlids in a fish tank, it becomes necessary for you to be aware of what their temperament is like. Understanding their temperament will further enable you to make the right choices for your fish tank. For instance, your process of choosing their tankmates will become much more efficient.

Most Suitable Tankmates

Because of Flowerhorns’ moderately aggressive nature, it is important to make sure that you avoid placing small fish with them. If you have other fish that are of similar temperament, then there should be no issues.

Hence, below I have listed some of the most suitable tankmates for Flowerhorn fish.

  • Silver Arowana
  • Oscar Fish
  • Larger Tetras
  • Shark species
  • Loaches

Related article: Kuhli Loach care guide- Everything you need to know

  • Bichir (the bigger the Bichir, the better suited it is for Flowerhorns)
  • Plecos
  • Spotted Hoplo Catfish
  • Pacu Fish
  • Other Big Cichlids

Related article: Red Devil Cichlid care- Everything you need to know

How Much Big Do Flowerhorn Fish Get?

As mentioned earlier, the size of your Flowerhorn fish is the most important in determining the best tank size for them. Hence, learning how big your Flowerhorn fish can get will help you greatly in choosing the right tank size.

Related article: Concept of Aquarium Size and Weight

Regular male Flowerhorns can grow up to 16” in length. Whereas, female Flowerhorn Cichlids are a bit smaller than male ones and weigh a little less. However, two short body Flowerhorns called Balloon and Bonsai, grow up to around 6” in length.

Best Tank Sizes for Different Sized Flowerhorn Fish

Now that we have an idea about a Flowerhorn’s size and temperament let us move on to setting up the best tank for them.

The table below shows the ideal and the optimal tank sizes for your Flowerhorn.

Based on their lengths and age group:

Flowerhorn Size Ideal Tank Sizes with Recommendations
Optimal Tank Sizes with Recommendations
Fry (approx. 1 inch) (12” x 12” x 24”) – 15 gallons tank

Hagen HG Fluval Flex Aquarium

(12” x 16” x 24”) – 20 gallons tank

Aquarium 20 Gallon Fish Tank

Juvenile (2-3 inches) (16” x 16” x 24”) – 30 gallons tank


(18” x 18” x 36”) – 50 gallons tank

SeaClear Acrylic Aquarium

Small (4-5 inches) (18” x 18” x 36”) – 50 gallons tank


(18” x 18” x 48”) – 70 gallons tank
Medium (5-6 inches) (18” x 18” x 36”) – 50 gallons tank


(18” x 18” x 48”) – 70 gallons tank
Large (7 or more inches) (18” x 18” x 48”) – 70 gallons tank (18” x 21” x 48”) – 75 gallons tank

Related article: How to set up a 20-gallon fish tank?

For Juvenile Flowerhorns

Flowerhorns are considered large fish since they can grow up to the length of 16”. Hence, getting a small tank for them will not prove to be a smart decision. However, in the beginning, when you only have Flowerhorn fry, a tank of 15 gallons is more than enough.

Nonetheless, you will soon notice that a 15-gallon tank is nowhere near enough space for a Flowerhorn. Especially because the tank size affects their head growth, it is important for you to invest in a larger tank.

For juvenile Flowerhorns of the size 2-3 inches, a 30-gallon tank is perfect, but a 50-gallon tank is even better. However, once Flowerhorns start growing, a 70-gallon tank may be the optimal choice.

For Adult Flowerhorns

As for adult Flowerhorns, of the length 5-6 inches, or 7 inches and longer, a tank of 70 gallons or more is the best choice. Flowerhorns will need more space for movement and physical activity. Hence, getting a larger tank becomes extremely important as they grow bigger.

What is the Best Filter for Your Flowerhorn Fish Tank?

Installing a filtration system is a great way of maintaining water quality in your fish tank. Even though some people may say that the water looks clean and a filter is not required, there could still be toxins that are not visible to our naked eyes. Hence, to provide your fish with clean water, installing filters is a great option.

Related article: Why Do Fish Tanks Get Dirty So Fast – How To Clean And Maintain Tanks

However, you may be wondering which filter you should get.

If you choose a sump filter, you will be able to design it and choose its size too. Hence, because a sump system is customizable, there is less probability of fluctuations in pH levels.

Therefore, a sump system may prove to be the best choice for Flowerhorns. I find UPETTOOLS Aquarium Filter Media useful and concise personally. It is a small ceramic bio media filter that is applicable in large tanks!

However, if you do not want to use sump filters, you can always opt for canister filters. In contrast, be aware that sometimes debris can be stuck in the canister filter and cause it to stop working. In this case, your Flowerhorns could get sick from dirty, unregulated water!

For canister filters, I would like to suggest you Fluval 207 Performance Canister Filter if you are looking for long term use! If you do not want to invest much, you can go for a mid-range canister filter like Penn Plax Cascade Canister Filter. However, if you want more affordable ones, MarineLand Magnum Polishing Internal Canister Filter work just right.

Related article: Is Water Change Harmful For Your Fish- How To Perform Water Change?

What Other Equipment Will Work Best for Your Flowerhorn Fish Tank?

Heaters are used in fish tanks so that the water temperature does not fluctuate along with the atmospheric temperature.

For Flowerhorn fish, the temperature needs to be at least 80° F for the fish to remain healthy. Therefore, you should install a heater in the fish tank, maintaining the temperature of at least 80° F.

I would also suggest installing two heaters that can provide the required electrical power instead of one, just if one of them stops working. For instance, a heater capable of providing 300 watts is required for a 75-gallon tank. So I would recommend you get two heaters capable of providing 150 watts electrical power each.

Lighting is another important part of maintaining a nice environment for your Flowerhorn fish. Since Flowerhorn fish are not particular about the type of lighting they require, you don’t have to get a specific lighting system.

However, do not leave them in the dark because their skin can get dull overtime if left in the dark for too long. Moreover, installing a good lighting system will bring focus to your Flowerhorn’s beautiful color. After all, they are ornamental fish, bred for their unique appearance!

Ideal Tank Decor for Flowerhorn Fish

Now that we have the best tank size figured out for your Flowerhorn let us move on to how you can best decorate the fish tank.

Should You Add More Décor?

It might prove to be a bit tricky to figure out exactly what decorations to add to a tank with Flowerhorns. As a fry, Flowerhorns love to hide out in little spaces. Though as they grow older, Flowerhorns need more space for physical activity.

Furthermore, Flowerhorns tend to move around so much as they get bigger that they could actually get themselves hurt by bumping into decorations in the tank. Hence, my suggestion would be to add no decorations!

Although, if you must, you can imitate the tank that you would set up for other large cichlids by using gravel, rocks, and bogwood. However, be wary of any damage these fish might cause to the décor or themselves!

Related article: How to decorate a fish tank- Beginner’s guide

What Kind of Plants Should You Have in Your Flowerhorn Fish Tank?

So, because Flowerhorns are moderately aggressive, putting live plants in the tank would be, simply put, wasteful. They love to dig up, shred, and even eat live plants. Hence, you can use plastic plants if you really want to dress up your fish tank. Otherwise, no plants at all could also be a great way to go too!

What are the Ideal Water Parameters for Flowerhorn Cichlid?

Furthermore, for your Flowerhorn to live a healthy life, you will need to set specific water parameters in the tank. Hence, the following are the ideal water parameters for your Flowerhorn.

  • Temperature: 80-85 °F
  • pH: 6.0 – 8.0
  • Alkalinity: 6 – 20 dGH

Related Article: How to maintain the hardness of the water in the aquarium

Signs that Your Flowerhorn is Sick or Stressed

Once you have set up the perfect tank for your Flowerhorn, it is important to look out for signs of sickness or stress. Since sickness or stress usually evolves from water conditions, you could cure your Flowerhorns simply by adjusting the water parameters.

Hence, I have listed some of the most obvious signs of sickness and stress below.

  1. If your Flowerhorn is rubbing itself against rocks or gravel, it is a sign of infection due to a parasite. In this case, it is best for you to test your water for high levels of ammonia and nitrites.
  2. If your Flowerhorn is gasping for air at the surface, it means that the oxygen levels are low in the water.
  3. If your Flowerhorn is swimming around haphazardly or crashing into the bottom of the fish tank, it is because their stress levels are high.
  4. Hiding out for long periods is a definite sign that your Flowerhorn has high levels of stress.
  5. Finally, a loss of appetite is also a cause for worry. It usually happens if the water conditions in the tank are not up to par.

Related article: How to feed an aquarium fish?

Why Do Flowerhorn Fish Require Bigger Tanks?

Now that we know which tank size will be best for your Flowerhorn fish let us now move on to understanding why they require such big tanks. The main reason is that the tank size is the most important factor affecting the Flowerhorn’s head growth and health.

Moreover, because Flowerhorns are aggressive, a bigger tank will also allow room for the other fish not to feel the full impact of the Flowerhorn’s aggression. Hence, if your focus is on keeping a peaceful environment in your fish tank, opt for a larger fish tank!

Advantages of a Large Fish Tank For Flowerhorn

Are you wondering whether opting for a large fish tank is necessary? Below are the differences that a larger fish tank will make.

For instance, the nitrogen cycle parameters will be better, i.e., there will be less ammonia per gallon in the water. Since you will have Flowerhorn fish in your fish tank, the chances are that there will be other large fish in there too. Hence, a larger fish tank will allow for more room for all of them to swim around!

Moreover, a larger fish tank means a higher volume of water; hence, the concentration of waste and debris will be less. It means that the water will be clean for longer and require you to perform water changes less frequently!

Final Words

In conclusion, before you start measuring fish tanks, figure out the age and size of your Flowerhorn. Once you have this information, look at the table above and note which fish tank you should get.

However, if you have restrictions regarding budget or space, then there is only one thing to remember. A Flowerhorn requires a tank of a minimum of 40 gallons with 75 gallons being optimal!

Hence, my parting words would be to keep their size, age, and temperament in mind. All the other important information is given above in this article!

Also Read: Can you use normal garden soil in the aquarium?

Image Source: Flickr account, Aaron Tabarejo,

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