Electric blue flowerhorn

Electric blue flowerhorn DEFAULT

Electric blues

Electric blue Jack Dempsey.

Love them or hate them, the bright blue fish are here to stay, but it’s amazing how little is known of these manufactured species. We explore the big three of the electric blue guild – the Acara, the Ram and the Dempsey.
 

WORDS: NATHAN HILL

Manipulated fish in the hobby are being increasingly normalised. In some cases, with beasts like the curious and distinctly ‘un-fishy’ Parrot cichlids, they are conceivably more popular than normal cichlids. 

Some fish blur the definitions of hybrids or genetic mutations. When we think hybrid, we often think of a collision of species, resulting in some kind of distinct chimera. We imagine the massive pronounced heads of Flowerhorn cichlids, or the novel mind-pickling that comes with seeing a Red tailed catfish with a shovelnose ‘beak’. 

That’s not always the case. With modern man-made fish, traits tend to be augmented rather than crudely bolted on and obvious. Given how many times I’m asked the wild provenance of the Electric blue Acara, for example, it seems the breeders have achieved their aim of duping the hobby with an ‘authentic enough to be natural’ fish. 

But then not all our aquarium oddities are forced amalgamations of species. The progenitor to the electric blue craze was probably the Electric blue Jack Dempsey, Rocio octofasciata, and what we know of that fish now suggests anything but mixed blood. Instead, the blue of this fish has all the hallmarks of being a mutation, nothing beyond a ‘faulty’ gene throwing up more colour than would be found in any wild fish.

In some cases, it seems blue is an inevitability. With a fish as genetically plasticine as the Ram cichlid, mutations are abundant — that’s why we see the likes of Balloon ram, Long-fin rams, Golden rams, Giant rams and, the stars of today’s retail show, the Electric blue rams. Here, selective breeding along with a chance mutation tossed up the fish we see today. 

Regardless how you might feel about ‘fake’ fish like these, they have become an integral part of the hobby. and it’s worth taking time to investigate just what makes them tick…

Electric blue Dempsey

How the debate rages over these. Are they hybrids, aren’t they hybrids? The answer seems to be a contested ‘no’, they are not, based on DNA analyses of females. You’d normally expect a DNA test to put this kind of thing to bed, but the debate goes on that the hybrid gene may somehow linger in the males only. Still, the hybrid case is decidedly weak. 

However, that’s not to say that the line breeding position is perched upon an ivory tower. Line breeding usually involves dollops of inbreeding, in an attempt to get the greatest yield from a desired trait. Look at fancy goldfish, for example. There’s no hybridisation involved in the making of a Bubble eye or a Ranchu, but those fish are very far removed from their ancestors.

The downside to the line breeding of the Jack Dempsey is that no two Electric blues ever appear the same. Bent spines are commonplace (and note the slow but obvious appearance of ‘balloon’ morphs creeping in) as is irregular muscle growth, and knife backed fish with a ‘wasting disease’ appearance are all too frequently spotted. Most prominent of all, the heads of the fish are now as individual as any human faces. There are flat faced, long faced, fat, thin, sloped, and squared heads out there, plus more. Jaws may look natural, squat or underslung like a bulldog’s, and everything in between. 

The true wild Jack Dempsey is a brute. It was named after a famed boxer of the day, in homage to its predilection for fighting. Rocio octofasciata has drawn aquarist blood before, and will do again. They hail from Central America, namely Honduras, Mexico, Guatemala and Belize, where they live wherever the hell they feel like it. They are generalists in the truest sense, adopting rivers, ponds, lakes, canals, streams and drainage ditches as their homes. Reaching 20cm/8in fully grown, and being a solid chunk of muscle, little gives them cause for concern.

Which makes the limp nature of the Electric blue variants something of a disappointment, or a bonus, depending which way you look at it. Yes, the aggression is still sort of there, but it’s diluted down; more like a child with a temper than a traditional frenzied Celtic warrior. 

The benefit of that is that Electric blues have more than a chance of being housed alongside fish their wild counterparts would demolish. Small fish are a bit of a no-no, and though you might imagine that other cichlids would be problematic, I’ve seen them housed in mixed mid-sized cichlid communities with the likes of Oscars, Convicts and the ever-present Parrot cichlids. I’ve even seen them ignoring big Angelfish and gouramis. These are strange times.

Scientific name: Rocio octofasciata.
Origin: Central America.
Habitat: Multiple, from streams to lakes. 
Size: To 20cm/8in.
Tank size: Minimum 120 x 45cm/48 x 18in footprint recommended.
Water requirements: Relatively unfussy (especially the Electric blue variants). Slightly acidic to hard and alkaline: 6.5 to 8.0pH, hardness 4–16°H.
Temperature: 21–29°C/70–84°F.
Temperament: Varies between individuals. Some are outright psychopaths, others shy and timid. Expect aggression. 
Feeding: Sinking pellets, tablets, wafers, frozen bloodworm, Krill, cockle, mussel, fresh prawn, flaked pea.
Availability and cost: Pretty commonplace, from £7.50 upwards. Shop carefully, as there are some bad ones available. 

 Electric blue Ram.

Electric blue Ram.

Electric blue Ram

These blew on to the scene in a big way around 2009, and have been melting hearts and confounding amateurs ever since. 

To start, the Ram — the standard, mass-farmed, colourful and sprightly Ram — was never an easy fish to keep. Fussy for perfect water, exigent for the finest foods, greedy for compatible tank mates; they are surely one of those fish where failures outnumber successes. You don’t even want to think what the wild ones are like.

The Electric blue Ram is more difficult again. For beginners, they seem to tick a lot of the right boxes — they’re small, bright, bold and showy. The problem then is that they end up in undersized, or insufficiently established tanks, with the wrong company. 

Whereas many fish have adapted to tanks over generations of farming, Rams retain a lot of their wild demands. They’re hot-house lovers, requiring a temperature over 25°C/77°F and as high as 30°C/86°F, enough to broil most community fish. 

Electric blue Rams are also moodier than a raincloud. Get the genders wrong, and they’ll bash each other. Get them right, and they’ll form an amorous bond and bash everything around them, and then possibly each other too. They might even go on to spawn, which 

is a treat, as two blue Rams usually breed ‘true’ — their offspring will be as blue as mum and dad. 

But of course that does entail getting males and females, and farmed Rams in general have become notoriously hard to sex. Traditional methods, using belly colours and an elongate dorsal ‘whip’ in the males, have become so diluted as to be little more than a loose guide. You’d probably have more luck using astrology or swinging crystals to tell the sexes. In Blues, the belly colour is a non-starter, and elongate dorsal rays are ten a penny in both sexes, so your only hope is to buy either an established pair (pricey) or a small group and await pair bonds to form organically (also pricey). 

Getting the right tank is by far the biggest pitfall for Blue Ram keeping. First up, it needs to be bigger than you’re thinking — 60 x 30cm/24 x 12in on the base will house a single pair at a push, but 75cm/30in long is recommended. Anything smaller and you face two problems — fluctuating temperature, and potentially unstable water quality. Note that at the high temperatures Rams thrive at, filter bacteria can become a little sporadic. In the event of a hot spike, filter activity can be seriously compromised. Note also that at higher temperatures, pollutants like ammonia become increasingly dangerous. 

Perfecting pH is critical, and integral to Ram success. Wild fish live from around 4.0 to 6.8pH, and though you won’t want those extremes for farmed fish, you still want to be below 7.2pH. Above that, and you’ll see mucus, scratching, poor colours and general malaise.

Warning bells should toll when a Blue Ram on sale looks too bright. Some fish are artificially induced to show their colours with hormones, which can then wear off leaving a drabber fish with a limp immune system. 

At the risk of provoking hysteria, note that anecdotal evidence suggests that Blue Rams (indeed, all of the excessive morphs, like Gold, Balloon and Long finned) have a higher susceptibility to disease than normal strains, and as a former retailer of them, I’d be inclined to agree. Whitespot immunity in particular seems low, so have a decent whitespot medication like those from Waterlife or Interpet on hand, just in case.

Scientific name:Mikrogeophagus ramirezi.
Origin: Venezuela, Colombia, Brazil — farmed blue fish mainly from Eastern Europe or South East Asia.
Habitat: Heavily vegetated streams, rivers, floodplains and flooded forest.  
Size: To 5cm/2in.
Tank size: Minimum 60 x 30cm/24 x 12in footprint recommended.
Water requirements: Soft, acidic water; 5.0 to 7.2pH, hardness below 8°H.
Temperature: 22–30°C/72–86°F.
Temperament: All the rage of a hornet locked up in 5cm of adorable cichlid. Keep away from other cichlids, consider pencilfish and active tetra tank mates.
Feeding: Flakes, frozen Artemia, bloodworm, Daphnia, Cyclops.
Availability and cost: Quite common, price varies hugely with quality, starting from £5 and going up to the £25 mark for magnificent specimens.

 The Electric blue Acara is likely to be a hybrid.

The Electric blue Acara is likely to be a hybrid.

Electric blue Acara

If you hate hybrids, you might want to add these to your ‘not to-do’ list right now. While Blue Rams and Blue Dempseys are selectively bred, single species morphs, the Electric blue Acara is apparently not. 

 The 'normal' Blue Acara,  Andinoacara pulcher

The 'normal' Blue Acara,  Andinoacara pulcher

To clarify, there are two kinds of Blue Acara. In the first instance there is the standard, naturally occurring Blue Acara, Andinoacara pulcher. Wild types of this fish are gorgeous beyond compare, with streaked blue ‘warpaint’ over their faces, blue flecks and bars down their sides, and striking yellow trim to the dorsal and tail fins. At least, that’s how they were before mass farming overproduced them and turned them into ugly curs with washy colours, stunted bodies and ailments galore. 

The Electric blue Acara is quite different. Here, the popular theory goes that ordinary farmed Blue Acara are mixed with Blue Rams to make a new fish. It’s not a natural process, female Blue Ram eggs are fertilised with the sperm of male Blue Acara, giving rise to Electric blue Acara/Ram hybrids. Because of the relative closeness of Rams and Acara, genetically speaking, the new fish are then able to produce offspring of their own. 

After that, you can breed Electric blue Acara to your heart’s content, occasionally tossing in fresh Blue Acara DNA to stop inbreeding becoming rampant.

There’s a counterargument by some that the Electric blues are just a line bred mutation, like the Blue Ram, but this seems refuted by people who have bred them with normal Blue Acara and assessed the dominant and recessive traits. The farmers and breeders who sell these fish prefer the lay public (and by extension other farmers) not knowing how these most valued assets are produced, so it’s little surprise that there’s never any clarification when asked.

So here’s a curious thing. If it is a real hybrid, the Electric blue Acara inherits the temperament of neither its Ram mother, nor Acara father, and of all the ‘fake blue’ fish, these are up there as some of the more peaceful. That’s not to say they won’t scoff the occasional small fish, because they do. But anything over the 5cm/2in mark is usually quite safe. 

A true Blue Acara can hit around 20cm/8in fully grown, but the electric fish struggle to get close. Most I’ve seen top out around 12cm/4.8in, and females at about 8cm/3.2in. Still, they benefit from a tank of 75cm/30in or longer, and they do gain from being kept away from other cichlids that inhabit the same territory. There will be a degree of aggression at spawning time, but it’s not deeply entrenched.

Sexing Electric blue Acara can be more guesswork than skill, especially when very small. As the fish grow, look for larger, full bodied fish with long dorsal and anal fins — these are likely males. If your fish aren’t too deformed, there are also suggestions that the size of the ‘hump’ on the head is larger in males than females. 

As a big downside, these fish tend to have the highest degree of deformities of the Electric blue fish. Look especially to the jaw, which may protrude, slant or fail to open or close properly. Gill covers may struggle to cover the whole gill or close properly (a common problem in overbred fish). Spinal deformity is rife, along with snarled or twisted fins. Shop carefully and reject any fish that doesn’t look pristine. 

Quite a few struggle to gain or retain weight, which suggests internal abnormalities, but these may not manifest until later in life. 

But, for these problems, a top-end specimen can actually look superb. They won’t be to everyone’s taste and will long have as many detractors as fans, but if they’re your thing, they can make a superb, relatively peaceful addition to a larger community tank. 

Scientific name: N/A — likely a hybrid fish.
Origin: Apparently first appeared on an Asian farm.
Habitat: None.  
Size: To 12.5cm/5in.
Tank size: Minimum 75 x 30cm/30 x 12in footprint recommended.
Water requirements: Soft, acidic to slightly alkaline water; 6.0 to 7.2pH, hardness below 12°H.
Temperature: 23–30°C/73–86°F.
Temperament: Pretty laid back for a cichlid, usually only aggressive when spawning.
Feeding: Flakes, frozen Artemia, bloodworm, Daphnia.
Availability and cost: Quite common, with prices starting around the £10 mark for small fish. Fork out as much as you can, because you get what you pay for.

Sours: https://www.practicalfishkeeping.co.uk/features/electric-blues/

Flowerhorn cichlid

Ornamental fish

Golden Base type flowerhorn

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. Flowerhorns first emerged for sale on the aquarium market in Malaysia in the late 1990s and soon became popular in many countries in Asia. First developed in Malaysia, Thailand, and Taiwan, they became very popular with Asian fish hobbyists. They are also kept by hobbyists in the US, India and Europe. Numerous cast-off flowerhorns have been released to the wild, especially in Singapore and Malaysia, where they have become an invasive pest animal. Their importation is banned in Australia.

Origin[edit]

Flowerhorn breeding dates to 1993.[1][unreliable source] Taiwanese and 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. These fish were then bred together, marking the birth of the flowerhorn.[dubious – discuss]

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.[1][unreliable source] This crossbreeding led to the first generation of hua luo han flowerhorn hybrids (often generically called luohans in English), which were then followed by subsequent flowerhorn introductions.

Arrival in the West[edit]

When luohans were first imported to the United States, there were only two varieties of these fish for distribution, flowerhorn and golden base.[1] 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, which were developed into the Zhen Zhu variety. Within the golden bases, the unfaded ones developed an attractive golden skin in place of what had been the flowerhorn's grey skin.

By 1999, there were four varieties of flowerhorn available in the American market: regular flowerhorns, pearl-scale flowerhorns, golden flowerhorns, and faders.[1] Commercial breeders proliferated, and fish were selected for appearance with little regard for terminology.[1] Consequently, names became confusing and parentage became difficult to track.

Around 2000 to 2001, 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.[1] 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.[1]

In captivity[edit]

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 40 gallons, with 75 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.

There are several ways by which breeders distinguish between male and female flowerhorns. Generally, the males are larger than the females, but there are some exceptions. Males have the kok, or the nuchal hump, on their foreheads. Males also usually have brighter and more vivid colors. For most breeds, the females have black dots on their dorsal fins, whereas males usually have longer anal and dorsal fins. Females tend to have an orange belly, especially when ready to breed. The mouth of the male is thicker and more pronounced than the female's. One sure way to determine the sex of flowerhorn is that grown female will lay eggs every month even without the male.[2][self-published source?]

Flowerhorn cichlids are subject to several diseases, including hole-in-head disease, "ich", and digestive blockages.

Varieties[edit]

General flowerhorn variety classification, containing several subsets of varieties (strains) from different countries and breeders.

The original flowerhorn hybrid stock are referred to as luohans (from the Chinese word for the Buddhist concept of arhat). The four main derived varieties are Zhen Zhu, Golden Monkey, Kamfa, and the golden base group,[1] which includes Faders and the Golden Trimac. They are sometimes referred to as breeds, though that term technically only refers to varieties of fully domesticated species.

King Kong Parrots and Red Ingots[edit]

Blood parrot cichlids were the earliest defined type of cichlid hybrid, whereas the King Kong Parrot represents an early stage in the transition to flowerhorn breeding. The blood parrots are smaller, with a bigger head, more protruding eyes, and a V-shaped mouth. The King Kong Parrot is longer, with a reddish orange color, and a dorsal fin shorter than the anal fin. The shape of the King Kong is similar to the red devil cichlid, and, when it reaches a size of 18 cm, the shape of the mouth changes to a triangle with a more protruding jaw. Only 20% of these fish grow to a size of a half kilogram.[1]

King Kong Parrots are sometimes colored purple or blue by pigment injection. This practice is unhealthy for the fish, and the color will fade with time.[1] Parrot cichlids fed with natural colorants and attractants naturally develop a red color. With further breeding, a round body shape has been selected, with the dorsal fin and anal fin longer than the tail fin, and the mouth can open and close naturally. These fish have clear eyes, and 90% of them grow to 1 kg or above, with the characteristic flowerhorn head shape.[1]

The Red Mommon and Red Ingot varieties are the most typical of these hybrid cichlids. Both of these fishes are appreciated for feng shui.[3] The Red Mommon is named for its high forehead, which looks like the hat worn by the God of Fortune. The Red Ingot is named for its yuan-bao shape, referring to odd-shaped gold or silver pieces formerly used as money in China.[1]

The Red Mommon and Red Ingot grow faster in the first year, with a size of about 20 cm. They grow to 25–28 cm by two years later. Their maximum size is not yet known, and it is believed that the fish may grow to 30 cm or above in the future. Both of these fish are raised at 28 °C water temperature, pH ~6–8 (with slightly acid water preferred), and kH ~3–6, while avoiding any sudden change in water quality. It is also common to test regularly for ammonia and nitrite. Both of these fishes can be bred with different kinds of cichlids.[1]

Golden Monkey[edit]

The genuine Golden Monkey (also called Good Fortune) or Kamalau was bred by Lam Seah and Lam Soon in Bercham, Ipoh, Malaysia. After the third generation, all of them were sold to the A-1 Aquarium in 2001. This type of flowerhorn is an original luohan-based fish and not a mixed-type Zen Zhu or Kamfa.[1]

It can be a particularly expensive flowerhorn, carrying a price tag of more than one thousand dollars. The most expensive Golden Monkey was sold for $600,000 dollars during a Malaysian exhibition in 2009.

Kamfa[edit]

This variety originated directly from the luohan. Its main characteristics are white or yellow eyes (red eyes are possible but not common), a fan tail, a water-colored head bump, sunken eyes, and smaller lips than the Zhen Zhu. This variety generally also has a larger and more square body than that of the Zhen Zhu. Head flowers can be found on the Kamfa, but not as prominently as with Zhen Zhus.

Zhen Zhu[edit]

This variety originated slightly after the Kamfa, derived from the luohan. It has a rounded tail, large mouth, red protruding eyes, and a prominent head flower. Zhen Zhu means 'pearl flowerhorn'. This variety's strongest characteristic is pearling. Breeders often cross other types with Zhen Zhus because they breed easily and can create better pearling (flowerline) for the next generation. Weak tails can also carry over, however.[1]

Golden base[edit]

Golden base is a group of multiple varieties, including Faders and Golden Trimac.[1] Faders are called by that name because during the juvenile period of life they first lose their color and go completely black then, as the fading process continues, the black fades away, leaving a more vibrant color, usually yellow or red.

Red Texas cichlids are related to the golden base family of flowerhorns. They were originally created by breeding a green Texas cichlid with a Mommon or King Kong parrot, then crossing the offspring back to the parents until a consistent red color was achieved. Hobbyists consider the most important feature of the red Texas to be the color. Red Texas cichlids range in colors, and are rated as:

  • Unfaded: lowest grade of red Texas.
  • Yellow: second lowest grade.
  • Orange: the majority of red Texas fall into this category.
  • Coral: pinkish but not quite full red.
  • Red: most desirable color.

The second characteristic that sets the red Texas apart is the pearling. Red Texas can vary greatly in terms of the type of pearling.[1]

King Kamfa[edit]

From the Kamfa family, these Flowerhorns are known for their massive nuchal humps, also called a kok, and their strikingly varied patterning. This fish typically has white or yellow sunken eyes, although red eyes are possible but rare. Distinctive features of this strain include an intense black double flower row along the lateral line, and very thick white pearling. Originating in Thailand, this strain has seen a recent rebirth in Vietnam. The body is typical of a Kamfa, with a fan tail, and a longer body than some other Kamfas.[1] King Kamfa is the most expensive flowerhorn strain.[citation needed]

Kamfamalau[edit]

This is a cross of a Kamfa male and a Malau female. The body and face resemble a typical Kamfa (see above). The finnage and sunken eyes reflect the Kamfa genes. The main feature of a Kamfamalau is the pearling. Fins typically take on a "frosted" pearl look that is rarely found in any other varieties of flowerhorn. Pearling usually crosses all the way across the head bump, another rarity in flowerhorn varieties. This strain should display the best characteristics of both Kamfa and Malau.[1]

Thai Silk[edit]

The Thai Silk, also known as Titanium, is a relatively new strain which is almost completely metallic blue, gold, or white. Its origins are unclear. A new strain of Thai silk has been developed more square body shape like a Kamfa but their eyes can be red, yellow and white. It was believed to be a cross between White Tigers (Texas lineage), pure Texas cichlid and a Vieja.

Strains[edit]

A strain is a more specific subset within a particular variety. Strains can get as narrowly defined as all coming from one individual parent fish. Strains can also differ by country of origin and by breeder.

JPG or Golden Apple[edit]

Created by Ah Soon of Malaysia, these fish are characterized by a large stocky body, as well as metallic pearling.[1]

IndoMalau[edit]

These were created by the Indonesian Luohan Club (ILC), using a Golden Monkey (or Malau) female and a Zhen Zhu male. The second generation was spawned from the Elvis selection and a Golden Monkey female. The strain is characterized by extensive pearling all over the body, face, and head. What distinguishes an IndoMalau's pearls from that of a Zhen Zhu or a King Kamfa is that they are extremely fine. As the fish ages, the pearls become more intricately woven and thinner. Flowerlines vary dramatically; some only have a few flower spots. Most ILC IndoMalaus will include some singular flowers on the back line or "top row". The front half of the fish, from the pectoral fins forwards, is red. The back half is a golden gradient intensifying in color towards the tail. The body is very wide and high, a throwback to the original luohan. There is a very pronounced chin or "gobbler". The head is usually forward-protruding. The tail is fan-shaped, close to that of a Kamfa. The dorsal and anal fins lack trailers, a common trait found also in Zhen Zhu. The caudal peduncle is very large and pronounced in this strain.[1]

Tan King[edit]

This strain was created by a Mr. Tan of Vietnam, by crossing a Zhen Zhu with a Kamfa. It has pearls and a flowerline like a King Kamfa, but the body and fins are more closely related to the Zhen Zhu. Most have protruding eyes and a more rounded tail like a Zhen Zhu.[1]

Strains developed in the United States[edit]

New flowerhorn strains have been developed through breeding programs in the United States. Although it is hard for the US to compete with Asia's well established flowerhorn breeding farms, strains with unique genetics have been created.

Gallery of early flowerhorn strains[edit]

Criticism[edit]

Flowerhorns have been criticized by cichlid hobbyists and environmentalists for a number of reasons. Interest in flowerhorns resulted in culling of surplus and deformed fish, some of which were dumped in the wild in Malaysia and Singapore, where they survived and disrupted riverine and pond ecosystems.[4][5] Like many other cichlids, flowerhorns are aggressive and can breed quickly, competing with and eating native fish.[6]

Flowerhorn breeding[2] contributes to the commercial demand for new and different fish, leading to unethical practices such as breeding for anatomical deformities, as occurred in goldfish breeding.

Within the aquarium hobby, flowerhorns are not favored because of the difficulty of breeding them. The majority of flowerhorn males are sterile (cannot reproduce), so finding one that can is time consuming. Hobbyists have to wait until 8–10 months for a male fish to reach sexual maturity then pair it with a female to test fertility.[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ abcdefghijklmnopqrstuv"Flowerhorn 101: A Guide to Flowerhorn Strains and Types". FlowerHornCraze.com. January 4, 2009. Archived from the original on 29 July 2009. Retrieved 9 December 2018.[self-published source?]
  2. ^ abc"Flowerhorn sex (louhan sex)". ThaiFH.com. May 1, 2015. Retrieved February 5, 2016.
  3. ^Arnold, W. (July 1, 2003). "Singapore's 'lucky' pet luohan can outnumber people in homes". International Herald Tribune.
  4. ^"The Flowerhorn Fish - Fish Facts - Environmental Impacts". Library.Thinkquest.org. 2005. Archived from the original on March 29, 2009. Retrieved July 5, 2012.
  5. ^"Killer fish unleashed in Malaysia". IOL.co.za. February 14, 2003. Archived from the original on May 3, 2009. Retrieved July 5, 2012.
  6. ^Arshad, Arlina (November 2, 2003). "Monster fish: Luohan fish-breeders' grotesque 'mistakes' are being dumped in rivers". The Straits Times. Singapore. Archived from the original on December 14, 2010. Retrieved May 10, 2010.
Sours: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flowerhorn_cichlid
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15 Best Flowerhorn Tank Mates

For fish owners who are looking for large and colorful fish, the Flowerhorn Cichlid is always a great choice. A combination of bright colors, unusual patterns and unique body composition gives the breed an inimitable tropical look.

Flowerhorn Cichlid

Flowerhorn Cichlid

What characterizes them the most is their aggressive and sturdy behavior. This is especially true for the males. Therefore, it is important to plan out in advance which other species they are put together with in the tank.

If put together with fish of similar size or even slightly bigger ones, there will be no conflict between them.

However, the Flowerhorn has to be accompanied with breeds that have similar, aggressive or semi-aggressive temperament. Here are 15 of the best tank mates for this breed:

1. Midas Cichlids

Midas Cichlids

Midas Cichlids

The Midas Cichlid has an oval-shaped body and a jutting forehead. The females usually have a smaller hump on their heads which makes them easily distinguishable from the males.

In fact, the lump on the female’s head only appears in the breeding season in its natural habitat.

In the fish tank, however, it is always there. Fortunately, this doesn’t have any negative effect on the fish.

Midas Cichlids are omnivorous and they tend to eat smaller fish as well. Therefore, it is recommended to accompany them with tank mates of similar size.

The bright orange, yellow combined with white makes this breed very attractive and valued amongst fish enthusiasts. The Midas Cichild was also an essential breed in the process of developing the Flowerhorn.

It definitely needs a big fish tank to live comfortably. They get aggressive once another fish invades their territory.

2. Jaguar Cichlids

Jaguar Cichlids

Jaguar Cichlids

The Jaguar Cichlid can be an awesome addition to any aquarium as long as it is kept around the right tank mates. It has a highly aggressive, predatory temperament that should not be ignored. It is also a rather big fish to keep so it requires a bigger tank in order to live comfortably.

It has small, black spots all over its body on a silver background that turns into yellowish gold around its head. There are also bigger, vertical black spots placed close to each other that start next to the eyes and end at its tail. It pretty much resembles the appearance of a Jaguar.

The only way to keep Jaguar Cichlids is to include other aggressive fish in the aquarium. They are definitely not going to attack other, large fish. It is important to avoid putting plants into the tank because they will tear them apart in no time. Big and solid decoration is recommended.

3. Wolf Cichlids

Wolf Cichlids are one of the most aggressive fish species one can add to their tank.

There are not that many fish breeds that can live in the same tank with them. What makes it a great choice is its attractive pattern and colors.

The Wolf Cichlid has a big mouth with thick lips and a jutting forehead. It typically has a distinctively dotted body on a light silver or goldish background.

There are shades of green and red around its head, while its fins and tail have a green and blue shade to them.

It is easy to distinguish between a male and a female Wolf Cichlid because the female is almost fully yellow.

One of the main traits of this breed is that it likes to play with the decoration he pleases. They will eat any food prepared for freshwater carnivores.

4. Pacu Fish

Pacu Fish

Pacu Fish

The Pacu fish is yet another unusual looking breed that can be an awesome addition to your fish tank. They originate from the rivers of South America and there is a wide range of Pacu fish species to choose from. What makes all of them special is that they have teeth that looks similar to ours.

Their teeth are not particularly sharp, yet they won’t shy away from biting anyone they feel threatened by. Since the meat of the Pacu fish is delicious, it is quite popular in gastronomy as well. The specialties prepared from its meat can be ordered in many South American restaurants.

Pacu fish that live in their habitat can weigh as much as 25 kilos, which is plenty of meat. They are more than eager to travel far away in order to find their food if necessary. Unlike piranhas who are carnivorous and have sharper teeth, Pacu fish are both plant and meat eaters.

5. Oscar Fish

Oscar Fish

Oscar Fish

The Oscar fish is the type of fish that can swim gracefully all day as long as it doesn’t run into any smaller ones in the aquarium.

Once it does, it instantly gets aggressive and devours its prey. Therefore, it shouldn’t be in the same tank with smaller fish.

The Oscar fish has to have its own territory; therefore, it needs enough space to swim around on its own.

They get particularly aggressive during the breeding period, which means they will attack any other fish that gets in their way.

It is yet another fish that can’t be put in the same tank with many other species. Oscar fish are omnivores, which makes it easy to feed them.

The main reason people like this breed is its unique shape and mixture of colors. Of course, their behavioral patterns are also rather interesting, provided that the right conditions are set.

6. Texas Cichlids

Texas Cichlids

Texas Cichlids

The Texas Cichlid is an amazing choice for every fish enthusiast thanks to its bright colors and unique pattern. It is very aggressive and defends its own territory vigorously, yet it’s still very popular because of its distinctive looks.

With a Texas Cichlid, there is no need to worry about the temperature of the water because it can adapt to both warm and cold fish tanks. Its main characteristics is a flat, oval shaped body, a big and protrusive mouth and bright blue and green spots on a dark brown background that cover its whole body.

It is an omnivorous fish that eats any food it can find. However, it tends to generate more organic waste than the typical fish, which makes it harder to keep the water clean. Also, the Texas Cichlid has to be put together with select tank mates, otherwise it gets really aggressive.

7. Green Terror Cichlids

Green Terror Cichlid

Green Terror Cichlid

The colorful freshwater fish named Green Terror is as aggressive as it gets. What mostly matters to this fish is water quality.

Keep the water clean and fresh and it will live in the aquarium comfortably. They can be found in their natural habitat in Peru and Ecuador, being discovered there back in 1860.

The Green Terror Cichlid likes to swim around in the aquarium, discovering all the decorations and messing around with the gravel.

Therefore, they occupy pretty much the whole tank while they don’t like to be disturbed by other fish.

They only tolerate breeds of similar size. Smaller fish will definitely get eaten or killed by them at one point, especially during spawning season. They also get more violent as they age.

This breed should be fine with enough space for free swimming and big enough decorations. Green Terror Cichlids often like to hide from bright light even though they are not sensitive to it.

8. Acara Cichlids

Acara Cichlids

Acara Cichlids

Since Acara Cichlids are territorial and semi-aggressive, they give no mercy to smaller fish. Sooner or later, they are going to eat them so it is better to accompany them with fish of similar size. There are various colors of Acaras to choose from, including black, brown, blue, green and gray ones.

The body of the typical Acara Cichlid is covered with a mixture of patches, dots and stripes. The stripes can be both horizontal and lateral depending on the species. This fish breed is not particularly dependent on water quality, which makes it pretty much effortless to create an environment they can comfortably live in.

In the tank, there should be a bigger open area so that the Acara can seamlessly swim around. Rocks, roots and other decoration should be kept on the side. They might occasionally find hiding places once they are done swimming around.

9. Three Spot Cichlid

The Three Spot Cichlid is a red eyed fish that can be found in the slow flowing stretches of Central American rivers.

The color of its scales is a mixture of green and yellow with black spots on the sides and one red spot next to the gills.

An interesting fact about the Three Spot Cichlid is that it was one of the required fish breeds for creating the Flowerhorn.

They tend to peacefully swim around near the bottom of the fish tank, hiding among roots, weeds or pretty much any decoration.

If there are smaller fishes in the tank, then the Three Spot Cichlid is definitely going to eat them.

Otherwise it lives on insects, bot terrestrial and aquatic. Fish keepers who keep them for breeding purposes should put them in a larger fish tank with a flat stone in it where the female can spawn the eggs.

10. Blood-Red Parrot Cichlid

Blood-Red Parrot Cichlid

Blood-Red Parrot Cichlid

The Blood-Red Parrot is one of the more peaceful breeds that we recommend keeping together with a Flowerhorn. With its bright red color, short body and a head that associates with a bird’s beak, it is a peculiar addition to any community aquarium.

With its blank stare and its mouth that is always open, the Blood-Red Parrot constantly looks surprised. Since the teeth of this breed are developed deep in its mouth, it has no way to attack the other fish. They tend to bump into other fish in the aquarium and then move on.

Blood-Red Parrots can eat both meat and plant-based food as long as it fits into their tiny mouth. It is important for the owner to make sure their Parrots have indeed eaten. It is significantly harder for them to compete for food with their small, unusually shaped mouth.

11. Common Pleco (Hypostomus plecostomus)

Pleco Fish

Pleco Fish

The Common Pleco is one of the friendlier fish that can be put in the same tank with a Flowerhorn.

Other species really don’t bother them and as long as they are of similar size with other, aggressive fish, they are not going to be attacked either.

However, the Common Pleco tends to rule its own territory if there are other fishes around from the same family.

They are rather passive during the day, using rocks and decoration to hide. This is the type of fish that gets active in the darkness or when the night comes in its natural habitat.

Even when they active, they usually swim close to the bottom of the fish tank in a slow pace.

They also clean up the algae as they move, which is another great thing about this breed. The Common Pleco is among the more popular cat breeds that people add to their collection.

12. Silver Arowana

Silver Arowana

Silver Arowana

While Silver Arowanas are only moderately aggressive, they are well-known about their hunting abilities. They are rather big and can be recognized of their unusual jawline and flat mouth that points upwards. Each of the scales that cover its body looks like a shining silver pearl.

While the Silver Arowana is in its juvenile period, these scales usually have a blue shade to them. Although they might appear thin while looking at them from the side, it is only because of their long shape and shiny scales. They are actual quite thick, especially the females.

Silver Arowanas are the type of fish that can be scared by quick movements inside or outside the tank. Even a simple thing as turning on the lights can scare them.

They can mostly be seen swimming near the surface of the water. If they feel like the fish tank is too small for them, they might even attempt to jump out.

13. Giant Gourami

Giant Gourami

Giant Gourami

Just as its name suggests, the Giant Gourami is yet another one of the bigger fish breeds that should be kept in bigger tanks.

It is not only big but it also eats a lot compared to the average aquarium fish. It is interesting to follow how the appearance of this breed changes as it ages.

While juvenile, they have a flat head that slowly turns into a swollen one with big lips and thick chin as they get older.

What makes females distinguishable is that they have thicker lips. A juvenile Giant Gourami is typically colored with a mixture of silver blue, golden yellow and silver.

As they age, they get darker and darker, slowly turning into dark grey. It is recommended to put only one Giant Gourami into the tank because their own species are the only fish they don’t tolerate.

As long as the aquarium is big enough, it won’t be aggressive towards other fish at all.

14. Bichir Dragonfish

Bichir Dragonfish

Bichir Dragonfish

Fish keepers like to make their collection more diverse by including Bichir Dragonfish in their aquarium. This breed has a unique eel-like body with a head like that of a dragon.

Although they are not as aggressive as Flowerhorn fish, there is still the possibility that they eat the smaller fish around them.

Bichir Dragonfish have no problem living with fish that are bigger than them. They peacefully swim around the tank, near to the bottom. Since their eyesight is pretty bad, they don’t rely as much on it and prefer getting food in the dark, relying on their other senses.

They sometimes crawl around on the substrate, using their tail and fins to get from one place to another. Another interesting fact about Bichir is they can breathe air through the top of their head. With these two attributes, this fish breed has the ability to adapt to land-life.

15. Clown Loaches

Clown Loach

Clown Loach

What makes Clown Loaches a good choice for every fish enthusiast is its unique striped appearance and playful nature. They are not aggressive at all and prefer being part of bigger fish groups.

If put together with a group of less than 5 fish, they will behave passively and try to find places to hide.

Otherwise they are absolutely energetic and eager to chase each other around. Clown Loaches tend to “play dead” from time to time, sinking to the bottom of the tank and not moving.

This is just one of their typical behaviors so it is definitely not something to worry about.

Clown Loaches follow a specific hierarchy that compels them to behave in specific ways. A great way to liven up the fish tank is to put more of them into it.

Their group of younger Loaches always follows the female alpha and copies it movements, which is interesting to watch.

How to Deal with Flowerhorn’s Aggressive Behavior?

The simplest way to lower the aggression of a Flowerhorn is to put another one in the tank. If they have enough space, the two will swim together and reduce each other’s stress levels. Pretty much every fish breed with an aggressive temperament has to have enough space to swim around.

Each of them has its own territory that other fish shouldn’t invade and the Flowerhorn is no exception. It definitely helps to put enough decoration, rocks or wood elements into the tank where other fish can hide from the Flowerhorn’s line of sight.

Keep in mind that they are big, massive fish that occasionally bump into objects. If the decoration is not properly fixed, the aquarium can quickly turn into a mess. Since the Flowerhorn doesn’t prefer to stay in a particular layer in the tank, they will leave no stone unturned.

Fish to Avoid Keeping with Flowerhorns

Flowerhorns act aggressive toward fish that are smaller than 10 inches. These fish will surely not survive if put in the same aquarium, especially if they are peaceful in nature. A rule of thumb is to match the aggression and size of the Flowerhorn.

Even some of the peaceful larger fish can get in danger with them such as goldfish, discus and angelfish. They also don’t hesitate to eat any invertebrates they can find in the tank. If they bump into any snail, shrimp or crayfish, they are immediately going to consume it.

Wrapping it up

Flowerhorns have an interesting way to behave and their exotic beauty makes it a must buy for any fish keeper. The only problem to handle is their aggressive behavior, which can be easily solved by accompanying them with tank mates of similar size and temperament.

With these 15 fish, anyone can comfortably fill up an aquarium with an enviable group of fish that can comfortably live together. We mostly suggested aggressive or semi-aggressive fish breeds that each have interesting personalities and will surely make any owner proud.

Flowerhorns   Freshwater  

avatarI’m Fabian, aquarium fish breeder and founder of this website. I’ve been keeping fish, since I was a kid. On this blog, I share a lot of information about the aquarium hobby and various fish species that I like. Please leave a comment if you have any question.

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Sours: https://smartaquariumguide.com/best-flowerhorn-tank-mates/
Electric Blue Flower Horn

Thai Silk Blue Flowerhorn 3cm

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.

The Thai Silk, also known as Titanium, is a relatively new strain which is almost completely metallic blue, gold, or white. Its origins are unclear. A new strain of Thai silk has been developed that has a kamfa-type body and red, blue, or white eyes. It was believed to be a cross between White Tigers (Texas lineage), pure Texas cichlid and a Vieja.

  • Species – Flowerhorn
  • Common Name -Thai Silk Flowerhorn
  • Origin – Asia
  • Diet – Omnivores
  • PH Range – 6 – 7
  • Temperature – Tropical 24°c – 30°c
  • Breed Type – Egg Layer
  • Current Size – approximately 5cm (Grows to approximately 25cm)
  • Sex – Un-sexed
Weight0.1 kg
Dimensions5 × 5 × 5 cm
Sours: https://aquariumfishonline.com.au/product/thai-silk-blue-flowerhorn-5cm/

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