Flowerhorn breeding dates from 1993. Malaysians admired fishes with protruding heads, known as Karoi 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, the red devil cichlid (genusAmphilophus) and the hybrid blood parrot cichlid had been imported from Taiwan to Malaysia and bred with these native fish, 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 asGreenish 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.
Arrival in the West
When flowerhorns were first imported to the United States, there were only two breeds of these fish for distribution, flowerhorn and golden base. 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, or Zhen Zhu. With the golden bases, the unfaded ones developed an attractive golden skin in place of what had been the flowerhorn’s grey skin.
As of 1999, there were four strains of flowerhorn available in the American market: regular flowerhorns, pearl scale flowerhorns, golden flowerhorns, and faders.Commercial breeders proliferated, and fish were selected for appearance with little regard for terminology. Consequently, names became confusing and parentage became difficult to track.
Around 2000–2001, 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. These brought in some new traits, such as short mouths, wrapped tails, sunken eyes, and increasingly larger head bumps. Seeing this, those who bred theZhen Zhus began line breeding their fish to develop faster and become more colorful, in order to compete with the Kamfa strains.
Flowerhorn cichlids are usually kept at a water temperature of 80–85 °F, and a pH of 7.4–8.0. They require a large tank (minimum of 50 gallons) to grow. 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.
General flowerhorn classification, containing several subsets of strains from different countries and breeders. The parent breed is called Luohan, from the Chinese word for theBuddhist concept of arhat. The four main breeds of flowerhorn are Zhen Zhu, Golden Monkey, Kamfa, and Goldenbase Faders.
King Kong Parrots and Red Ingots
The blood parrot was the earliest defined type of cichlid hybrid, whereas the King Kong parrot represents an early stage in the transition to flowerhorn breeding.The blood parrot is 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 adorsal 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.
Blood parrots and King Kong parrots are sometimes colored purple or blue bypigment injection. This practice is unhealthy for the fish, and the color will fade with time. 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.
The Red Mommon and Red Ingot breeds are the most typical of these hybrid cichlids. Both of these fishes are appreciated for feng shui. 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.
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.