General: As mentioned in Flowerhorn history, they are crossbreeding species. As a result, the majority or even most flowerhorn males are sterile, which means that they cannot reproduce. By far, a very small percent of a batch would result in fertile males whereas the rest of the batch or sterile. Since not every male flowerhorn is fertile, finding a best or perfect fertile flowerhorn is time consuming. That is, hobbyists have to wait until the fish is sexually mature and then pair the male with a female to see if the male is fertile. It takes up to 8 months for a male flowerhorn to be sexually mature. A recommended age for a flowerhorn male to be tested its fertility is 10 months. Note: The process of testing the male's fertility is the same as pairing and breeding fertile ones.

Unlike males, female flowerhorns, on the other hand, have very high chance to be fertile. That is because all they need is eggs. If they have eggs, then the chance to be fertilized by sperms from the male is very high. By far, most females that were able to produce eggs were fertile.

Flowerhorns are quite selective about their partners. In some cases, they don't like each other. In other cases, either the male or female does not like its partner. As a result, they will fight each other. Aggressive male could kill the female, and aggressive female could cause a lot of damage to the male especially on the hump.

Breeder tank: Tanks for breeding flowerhorns should not be too small or too large. Typically, 40-gallon breeder tanks are recommended. However, 55-gallon tanks are also suitable for breeding flowerhorns. Too small tanks would not have enough space for both parents, and too large tanks are too large for the fries after they were hatched. There should not be any gravel in breeder tanks because the parents will be taken out after spawning, and the hatched fries will be fed with baby brine shrimps.

Pairing: Pairing flowerhorns is simple, but they were often paired only when the female were about to lay eggs. Both the male and female need to be in the same tank with a transparent or see through divider in between them and put a clay dish or some sort of hard surface object in the tank. Both of them will show aggressiveness at the beginning for one to two days. Some hobbyists make a hole just large enough for the female to go through to the other side of the male. Doing this prevents the female from beaten by the male. When the male attack the female, it will go through the hole back to its side, and the male cannot go through the hold. At the same time, hobbyists prefer to put the clay dish with the male.

After pairing: When the female is about to lay eggs, its sexual organ (the tube) will come out about 3 - 5 millimeter. Its color intensity will increase, e.g., the red dragon female will be very red and healthy. After pairing the female with the male for 2 or 3 days, the divider can be taken out and let the pair come together. By this most male will not attack the female unless the female attack the male first. However, it is typical that flowerhorns will attack each other when they were together. Therefore, it is fine that the pair will attack each other right after the divider was taken out. If they attack each other badly, put back the divider and separate them for a few more hours or even a day. Attacking each other badly signal that the female is not going to lay eggs in two or three hours. Within 1 to 2 hours before the female would lay eggs, the pair will not attack each other, but they will help each other clean the clay dish. This indicates that the female will lay eggs in 30 min to 1 hour.

Spawning: Flowerhorns normally take about 1 hour for laying eggs and spawning.

The purpose of the clay dish is for the female to lay eggs on it.

If there is no clay dish, the female will lay eggs on the glass surface of the aquarium.

Eggs will come out of the tube about 10 to 20 eggs at a time.

The eggs will stick on the surface of the dish.

At the same time, the male will come over and spawn.

Tips for successfully breed flowerhorns:
Because the sperms are too small and light, they could be easily suck by power filters and even sponge filters. Therefore, all power filters should be turned off. Then, run only one sponge filter for the entire tank at one end of the tank and put the dish at the other end of the tank.
Use low intensity light. Do not turn on all the light nor turn off all of them. If there were two light bulbs, turn off the one near the dish, but keep the one near the sponge filter on.
Temperature should be around 84 °F.
Do not do water change about 3 days before spawning because heavy metals and chlorine could toxic to the eggs and sperms.
Watch some videos from Youtube.
Ask experienced hobbyists and breeders for more information.

After spawning: The hump of the male normally shrinks or decreases after spawning, and the color intensity of both male and female also decrease as well. At this time, they are weak and easily sick or infected by bacterial infection. Therefore, they should not be taken out right after spawning. They should be fed with high nutrition food, supplementing with frozen bloodworms or live black worms is recommended. After 24 hours, if the eggs were fertilized, the parents could be taken out and put into different and separate tanks.

Eggs: Unfertilized eggs will turn white within 12 - 24 hours while fertilized eggs will not. Within 36 hours, fertilized eggs will show two black spots or lines on the outer shields. About 48 hours, the tails of the fries will develop outside the eggs. A few hours after 48 hours, eyes of the fries will develop outside the eggs. Within 72 hours, about 80 - 90% of the fries will completely develop outside the eggs.

Fertilized and unfertilized eggs Hatched fries about 2 or 3 days.

Fries: On Day 4 after hatching, strong fries can free swim. On Day 5, most fries are free swum and start to look for food. On Day 6 and after, all fries should be free swim and grow by hours.


Food for flowerhorn fries
Fries: At different stage during the growth of the fries, they need different types of food. A few days after they are hatched, baby brine shrimps, by far, is the best. Some hobbyists raise their own brine shrimp whereas others just purchased from local fish store. By experience, flowerhorn fries prefer live baby brine shrimps than frozen ones. Flowerhorns fries grow by hours and overnight, so they need a lot of food to grow. Thus, they should be fed several times throughout the day. Some hobbyists feed nearly 10 times per day.

Young Fries: At the age about two or three weeks, brine shrimps are too small for the fries. At this time, daphnia is probably the best food for them. Daphnia came as frozen fish food and can be purchased at local fish store. Still, they should be fed several times per day.

One Month Fries: At the age of one month, adult brine shrimp of bloodworms are probably a better choice. However, some fries would be bigger than others. Healthy flowerhorn fries can eat all the time, so the bigger and stronger ones would have higher chance to get more food. As a result, the bigger fries grow faster than the smaller ones. To solve this problem, some hobbyists separated the fries into different tanks according to their sizes.

One to Three Month: After one month, feeding them with adult brine shrimp, daphnia, or bloodworms is expensive because they now need more food to grow. At this time, cichlid pellets, i.e., ColorBits from TetraColor, are preferred.

After Three Month: After the age of three months, healthy flowerhorn fries can grow up to three inches. By far, the best flowerhorn food for flowerhorn after three months and older is Grand Sumo Red. Grand Sumo fish food is specifically formulated for flowerhorns. It helps promote growth, enhance color, and maximize the humps.


Flowerhorns are aggressive aquarium species. They cannot be kept with small cichlids, i.e., African cichlids, peacocks, etc., or they will kill the small cichlids. Likewise, they cannot be kept as a group in one aquarium; they will fight each other until the strongest one last. Very few hobbyists keep them with large cichlids in large aquarium; however, it is not recommended. Most flowerhorns are raised individually in separate aquariums or with a divider between them after the size of 1 - 1.5 inches for the rest of their lives. 

Some hobbyists like to put a red parrot cichlid into a tank with a flowerhorn. Doing so is popular among kamfa hobbyists and breeders. One of the reasons is to keep the flowerhorn active and aggressive. When flowerhorn shows agressiveness, its potential is fully shown and is very eye-catching to hobbyists. In many cases, the red parrots were killed or beaten badly by the flowerhorn. With other breeds of flowerhorns, the red parrot would be killed shortly after putting it to the tank.


Water Condition
Water is probably the most important factor that influences flowerhorns both positively and negatively. Like many other fish, flowerhorns like clean and safe water. Clean and safe water helps promote the health of the fish and enhances their color. Coloration and humps of flowerhorns are strongly influenced by water condition (and temperature as mentioned above). Crystal clear water does not necessarily mean that the water is clean and safe. Therefore, some hobbyists would find water-testing kits from local fish stores. They occasionally tested their water condition to make sure that the fish are safe and healthy.

Water Change

Fish wastes contain ammonia and other toxic chemicals. A small amount of these chemicals in the aquarium does not harm the fish. However, flowerhorns are large aquarium fish and release a relatively large amount of wastes to the aquariums daily; thus, the level of ammonia and other toxic chemicals may increase substantially in a week or two. For 55-gallon aquariums or less, at least 25% water change should be performed weekly. New water that would be added to the aquarium should be treated with some sorts of water conditioner, i.e., Stress Coat, StartRight, etc., to remove chlorine and other heavy metals or toxic chemicals that would come with the water. These water conditioners are relatively inexpensive and can be purchased at local fish stores. Furthermore, the temperature of the new water should be close to that of in the aquarium.
Some hobbyists like to store some water in large containers or buckets for one or two days and use it for water change. Often, aging water would eliminate chlorine.

Water temperature should be warm (kept at 30 C or 85 F).


Food
Fries: At different stage during the growth of the fries, they need different types of food. A few days after they are hatched, baby brine shrimps, by far, is the best. Some hobbyists raise their own brine shrimp whereas others just purchased from local fish store. By experience, flowerhorn fries prefer live baby brine shrimps than frozen ones. Flowerhorns fries grow by hours and overnight, so they need a lot of food to grow. Thus, they should be fed several times throughout the day. Some hobbyists feed nearly 10 times per day.

Young Fries: At the age about two or three weeks, brine shrimps are too small for the fries. At this time, daphnia is probably the best food for them. Daphnia came as frozen fish food and can be purchased at local fish store. Still, they should be fed several times per day.

One Month Fries: At the age of one month, adult brine shrimp of bloodworms are probably a better choice. However, some fries would be bigger than others. Healthy flowerhorn fries can eat all the time, so the bigger and stronger ones would have higher chance to get more food. As a result, the bigger fries grow faster than the smaller ones. To solve this problem, some hobbyists separated the fries into different tanks according to their sizes.

One to Three Month: After one month, feeding them with adult brine shrimp, daphnia, or bloodworms is expensive because they now need more food to grow. At this time, cichlid pellets, i.e., ColorBits from TetraColor, are preferred.

After Three Month: After the age of three months, healthy flowerhorn fries can grow up to three inches. By far, the best flowerhorn food for flowerhorn after three months and older is OKIKO platinum. It helps promote growth, enhance color, and maximize the humps.


Color enhancer
Enhancing the beauty of flowerhorn fishes is not confined with improving the size of their nuchal humps alone. Equally important is increasing flowerhorn color intensity.

Natural Colors
The most popular color for flowerhorn fishes is red. It is extremely popular among people who practicefeng shui. Other popular colors include yellow, orange, blue, and silver, as in the case of Thai Silks.  
In enhancing the natural colors of the fish, consider developing both intensity and spread of its coloration. Its colors should be vivid and crisp, and their coverage should be as wide as possible. Often, there are lines that separate or surround the colors, enhancing those lines are also recommended.


Balance
Flowerhorns often have different colors at varying width and intensity. If one of its colors is more intense than the others, it is recommended to enhance the less intense ones more. This would make the colors of your fish more balance and that no part of its entire body appears dull.
Caution: Darkening of Colors
This often occurs when the fish has developed a certain type allergic reaction because of too much enhancer. A good example of this is feeding blue dragon flowerhorns with red enhancing pellets thinking that this will make the fish red. As a result, the fish would turn dark for months even after feeding of the red enhancing food has already been stopped. 

Other causes of color darkening are disease, poor water condition, injury, or stress.

Golden base flowerhorns would normally turn dark before they shed off their scales to reveal its new coloration. 

Some fishes naturally have dark colors. In some cases, nothing can really be done to change that. As a rule, it is better to choose light colored flowerhorns than dark ones to avoid this problem. 
Pellets with Color Enhancing Pigments
Many flowerhorn and cichlid fish food contain varying amounts of color enhancing pigments. The most common is astaxanthin, which is used for enhancing red and orange coloration. Some may contain xanthophyll for enhancing yellows and spirulina for enhancing blues. Ideally, it is recommended using fish food that contain balanced amounts of all of these pigments. 

Fish foods that focus on enhancing a specific color are typically used by those who participate in flowerhorn competitions.

Astaxanthin
Astaxanthin, enhances red and orange coloration of fishes. It is perhaps the most widely used in flowerhorn fish foods among other color enhancer.  Astaxanthin is derived from natural sources such as krills and shrimps. Some fish food would indicate containing canthaxanthin. This is the synthetized form of astaxanthin.
When using astaxanthin, be careful not to feed too much to blue-based flowerhorns as this may cause unwanted allergic reactions. XO Super Red Syn is known for such so use this fish food only according to instructions. 
Recommended flowerhorn fish food containing astaxanthin are XO Ever Red, Alife, XO Super Red Syn, and OKIKO. It takes a bit longer for this fish food to show desired results, but the enhanced redness is much beautiful and does not fade easily when feeding is discontinued.


Spirulina
Spirulina is used to enhance blues. In nature, they are abundantly found in blue green algae. 
In most cases, blue-based flowerhorns are somewhat dull in coloration. To address this, you must feed your fish with spirulina rich pellets consistently. It may take as long as three months before you notice the difference, but trust me it's worth the wait especially if you like classic flowerhorns.
Another common use of this enhancer is for the pearly dots or wormlike pearls found in many new strains. Thai Silks would also benefit from Spirulina-rich fish food. 

Xanthophyll
If you have been shopping around for flowerhorn food that enhances yellows (those containing Xanthophyll), you should have already known that there is not many around.  As an alternative, you may cross-over to fish food intended for other cichlids or even to goldfish pellets. I have tried Tetra Goldfish Pellets and I really liked the results. 
You may also check your local pet shops and go over the ingredients lists of the fish food they carry.  Look for those containing xanthophyll, marigold powder, dried egg, or corn gluten meal. These ingredients enhance yellows.


Live Food
At one point, a hobbyist would try using live food to enhance the coloration of their fish. Shrimps and frozen blood worms may be used to enhance redness and dried egg yolks for yellows.  I have tried these ones, and I don’t necessarily recommend them as they could expose your fish to a variety of diseases. I assure you, you are better off using color enhancing fish foods.


Lighting
Lighting plays a crucial role in enhancing the coloration of your fish. It has been noted that fishes exposed to ample indirect sunlight project more vivid colors. As a rule, your flowerhorn tank must be placed in a well-lighted room and much better if the light source is indirect sunlight. You may check ourguide on flowerhorn lighting for more information on this matter.


Age
Age plays a role in the color development of flowerhorns as well. They commonly start to develop their coloration when they are around two to three inches in size. For male flowerhorns, colors would continue to intensify and spread in area until they are around six to eight inches in size. After this, their coloration will start fading slowly, a sign of aging.
At around 3-5 inches in size, golden base flowerhorns will also change their coloration characterized by first shedding off of old colors. After this, new coloration is revealed and intensified after some time.

Breeding
When breeding flowerhorns, it is a common practice to stop using any color enhancing feeds. Some believe that too much enhancers could adversely affect the the breeding process. 

Flowerhorn sex (louhan sex)


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Flowerhorn breeding

Male flowerhorns tend to have bigger head than females but this also depends on the gene of the fish. There are males that do not have kok or females that have kok. One way for sure is that female flowerhorns lay eggs every month even without the male. Below is an easy way to determine the sex of your flowerhorn.

Flowerhorn care