How to Breed Flowerhorn Cichlids – Step By Step Guide

The Flowerhorn cichlids are some of the most commonly kept fish in the fish keeping hobby. These fish are close to being a perfect fish in the fish keeping hobby. This is because they have a great personality, are very playful, and some can recognize their owners. And not to mention the beautiful and bright colors of this fish. These fish are widely known for its unusual yet beautiful nuchal hump/Kok and its bright red colors. Flowerhorn Cichlids are some of the most interesting and entertaining fish to keep in an aquarium.

The Flowerhorn Cichlids are not naturally found in the wild. These fish are artificially made by carefully crossbreeding different types of fish to obtain a particular trait of a particular fish. The Flowerhorn cichlids are obtained by crossbreeding fish like Parrot cichlid, Trimac cichlid, Red Devil Cichlid, Redhead cichlid, and Midas cichlid. It is very hard to trace out the exact cross breeds performed on the fish, however, this theory is the one that makes the most sense and is accepted all around the world.

The Flowerhorn Cichlids were first developed in Malaysia around 1990 and was later introduced to other countries in the 2000s.

The Flowerhorn cichlids are bred all over the world for the sole purpose of its appearance. Breeders have been selectively breeding Flowerhorn cichlid to obtain large nuchal hump which is very famous among Flowerhorn enthusiasts. You can find all different sorts of Flowerhorn Cichlids. Some Flowerhorns have large Nuchal hump/Kok, while the other tends to have beautiful metallic colors.

And in this article, we will be learning a step by step guide on how to breed Flowerhorn Cichlids.

How to Differentiate Between the Male and Female Flowerhorn Cichlid?

Male and female cichlid is very distinctive from each other. There are a lot of ways to differentiate their sex. One of the simplest ways to differentiate is by looking at the size of the fish. Male Flowerhorn is larger than the female even if they are of the same age. The male Flowerhorn cichlids have a wider and longer body while the female has a narrower and shorter body. Male Flowerhorn cichlids have a large hump/ Kok while the female usually has a small hump and even no humps in some cases.

Some of the other ways of differentiating the Flowerhorn fish sex are by observing at the dorsal fins. Male Flowerhorn cichlids have long-running dorsal fins while the female generally has a shorter dorsal fin. The dorsal fin of a female Flowerhorn also consists of some dot markings which are absent in the male Flowerhoron.

These steps will help you differentiate between the male and female Flowerhorn, but these signs are not 100% reliable. To be sure you must vent the individual Flowerhorn cichlids. A male Flowerhorn cichlid will have a V or a triangular-shaped vent and a female Flowerhorn cichlid will have an O or circle shaped vent. In this way, you can differentiate between the male and female Flowerhorn cichlids without any mistake.

How to Choose the Right Pair of Flowerhorn Cichlid To Breed?

You have a variety of Flowerhon Cichlids which have been breed specifically to get the desired characters of the fish. Some of the Flowerhorn Cichlids are breed to bring out a darker shade of colors while most are breed to bring out the massive nuchal hump.

You should be very careful while breeding the Flowerhorn. The upcoming generation of Flowerhorns will be largely influenced by the choice of parents you decide to use for the breeding project. You can choose Flowerhorn cichlids having different characteristics and traits that you want in the new batch. The fry of Flowehorn with large nuchal hump will develop a large nuchal hump when they mature. And similarly, a short body Flowerhorn cichlid will have a fry with short body characteristics. You should strictly avoid any Flowerhorns with any genetic deformities or other complications for breeding purposes. These types of Flowerhorn cichlids will weaken the line

Flowerhorns with bigger Nuchal hump/Kok has always been the choice for breeding for every breeder. This is the character that every flowerhorn enthusiast seeks for. You should select the Flowerhorns which has perfect strong and dense fins and doesn’t have any genetic defects like short gut should be used for breeding to keep their line strong and free from any deformities.

How to Prepare Your Flowerhorn Fish?

The Flowerhorn cichlids breed easily when you provide them with suitable parameters. After you select the pair, you can start by keeping them in the same tank separated by a glass divider. You need to separate the male and female Flowerhorn cichlids as they are very aggressive towards each other fish and might also end up killing each other.

After you introduce the pair, you need to take a close notice on the behavior of the fish. It usually takes some time about 1 week but in some of the cases, they pair instantly. You can try to introduce the fish to each other by removing the divider. If the pair of fish don’t fight and swim together you can leave them on their own. If they become aggressive towards each other you must put back the divider on and try again later.

Before you introduce the fish to each other you must feed them with enough food. Flowerhorn cichlids go for days without eating. So you will need to feed the pair very well prior to breeding them.

Setting up a Breeding tank for Flowerhorn Cichlids

You can set a 40-gallon tank for breeding Flowerhorn cichlids. That will be the minimum size aquarium for breeding them.  You should keep the water very clean and a subsequent amount of water change will encourage the fish to breed. The water temperature of the aquarium should be around 28°F to 30°F which is the perfect temperature for breeding Flowerhorn cichlids.

For filtration, you can use a sponge filter in the breeding tank as it is very gentle for the eggs and the fries. You can also powerhead filter during the breeding process.

Powerhead filters produce too much water flow which is not suitable for the eggs and recently hatched fish. So I would suggest you to either use a sponge filter or other similar air-driven filters in the fry tank.

For the female flowerhorn to lay egg use can use a smooth clay plate.

Mating ritual

Flowerhorn Cichlids do not perform any mating dance or ritual. We can observe a little bit of tail slapping and biting that the Flowerhorn cichlids do to make sure their breeding partners are suitable for the fish to pair up with.

An egg tube will emerge out of the anal pore of the female when it is ready to lay eggs.

The breeding process starts with the female Flowerhorn cichlid cleaning the surface of the clay plate to lay her eggs. After it is done the Male Flowerhorn cichlid courts the female Flowerhorn cichlid for some time.

Female Flowerhorns can release about 70-1500 eggs in a single batch. The eggs will get adhered to the smooth surface (in our case the clay plate).

The male Flowerhorn will swim over the egg and fertilize the eggs.

Both the parents are protective towards their eggs and newborn so they will be protecting their eggs.

The pair of Flowerhorns might not eat for a couple of days while they are guarding the fries.

The fertilized eggs of the Flowerhorn will turn in to a clear color while the unfertilized egg of the Flowerhorn turns to white. The female Flowerhorn fish will eat all the unfertilized eggs after some days.

The fertilized eggs hatch in about 2-3 days. The size of the fry is very small when they hatch out so they move in a group and are usually inactive for a couple of days. When the recently hatched becomes free swimmers which are after 2-3 days they start to swim in the aquarium in the search of food. This is the best time for you to remove the parent’s form the breeding tanks as the fry can take care of themselves.

How Do You Raise The Flowerhorn Cichlid Fry?

Raising Flowerhorn cichlid fry can be hard at times. You will need a large tank for the fries too. They tend to very aggressive so there might be a lot of aggressive behavior in a small tank. You will also need to separate the larger fries from the smaller ones. The larger sized Flowerhorn fries always bully the smaller ones and end up killing them at times.

You can feed your Flowerhorn fry with baby brine shrimps once they hatch out of the egg. And since the Flowerhorn fries are very small they won’t be able to feed on pellets. And as they grow out you can change the food to Daphnias and tubifex worms. After the Flowerhorn fries grow up to 2 inches you can feed staple pellet food. You should always feed your Flowerhorn fish with high-quality fish foods having a high amount of protein content.

Some of the best fish foods for the Flowerhorn Cichlids are Hikari Carnivore, Okiko Platinum, Headup, Humpy Head, etc. You can also feed your Flowerhorn with live foods like live shrimps every now and them. You should not use any color enhancing food for your Flowerhorn. These types of foods will affect the health of the Flowerhorn fish in the long term.

Feeding high-quality fish food with a high protein amount will promote quick growth and beautiful coloration in your Flowerhorns.

Questions related to Breeding Flowerhorn Cichlids

At what age Flowerhorn Cichlids Start to Breed?

Flowerhorn cichlids reach their sexual maturity at 8 months to 10 months and can breed for up to 6 years. You can easily breed them over and over again if you provide the Flowerhorns with good food and good water condition.

How often do Flowerhorn Cichlids Breed?

If you can provide them with pristine water conditions that are suitable for breeding purposes. A pair of Flowerhorn cichlids will breed once every two to four months.

Are Flowerhorn Cichlids easy to Breed?

Flowerhorn Cichlids are some of the easiest fish to breed. If you can pair up Flowerhorn cichlids they breed very often and very easily. However, raising Flowerhron cichlids might be a challenge for most people. And if you have all of the aquarium and aquarium filters sorted out before you breed the fish. Breeding and raising Flowerhorns are very easy.

What filters should we use While Breeding Flowerhorn Cichlids?

We should always try and avoid aquarium filters with a strong flow while breeding Flowerhorns. You should only use an aquarium filter with a gentle flow rate.

I would suggest you use a sponge filter. Sponge filters are some of the most reliable filters. You can use these filters for breeding purposes and for the fry tank as well.


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