How to Breed Flower Horn Fish


Flowerhorns are a type of cichlid fish that are very well known for two things: beauty and aggression. While they’re a very physically attractive fish, with sparkling scales and a moderate size, they’re also known for attacking other fish, including each other, and dirtying their tanks by uprooting plants and shuffling gravel. They’re very common in the fish trade, but breeding them can be quite an extensive task that may rely more on the luck of the draw and the hope that your mating pair actually takes a liking to each other, than on the skill of the aquarist.

Things You'll Need

  • Breeding tank
  • Mature male flowerhorn
  • Mature female flowerhorn
  • Hanging filter
  • Tank divider
  • Gravel
  • Air pump
  • Rubber hose
  • Air stone
  • Towel

Line the floor of the breeding tank with clean gravel and fill it with water.

Install a hanging filter on the back of the tank and let the water cycle for at least 24 hours.

Place the divider in the center of the tank, creating two equal sections.

Place the breeding pair in the tank, with the female on one side and the male on the other.

Connect the air stone to the output (where the air is expelled) of the air pump using the rubber hose and switch the pump on.

Place the air stone in a corner of the tank on the female’s side.

Wait three days. If the female begins to develop black stripes and an enlarged genital papilla, which will be bright red or orange and located near her back fin, then remove the divider.

Cover the tank with a towel and wait one day.

Check underneath the towel to see if the male has began shuffling gravel around, creating a bowl. If he has, keep the towel in place.

Check the tank on subsequent days to see if the female has laid eggs. They will be located near the air stone. The parents will fan the eggs over the next few days.

Once the eggs have hatched, remove the parents immediately and tend to the fry (baby fish) using specialized fry foods (a well-reputed brand is Wardley’s, which is a liquid mixture).

Tips & Warnings

  • Breeding flowerhorns is a trial-and-error type of process. You may need to mix up different pairs of flowerhorns until you find a combination that will mate. To prevent any fungal infections of the eggs, consider adding a copper solution, which can be purchased at any given pet store, to the water, which will temporarily tint it blue.
  • It is imperative that you do not disturb your breeding pair during their mating, as doing so may cause them to eat or destroy their eggs or refuse to mate altogether. If you do not remove the breeding pair immediately after the birth of the babies, there is a strong possibility the babies will be eaten. Though cichlids are typically good parents, they're still predators and will not hesitate to devour their young, especially if they feel threatened.

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