Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Flowerhorn Cichlids

Flower-horn cichlids

 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 do not exist in nature. First developed in Malaysia and Taiwan, they are now kept by fish hobbyists worldwide. Some critics have questioned the impact of flower-horn breeding programs.
 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 flower-horns, pearl scale flower-horns, golden flower-horns, 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 flower-horn 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 the Zhen Zhus began line breeding their fish to develop faster and become more colorful, in order to compete with the Kamfa strains.
2010 Many states have started their own breeding organizations. Minnesota stands out as one of the leaders in flower-horn breeding in the United States due to so many hobbyists importing fish regularly.
 Flowerhorn cichlids 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 approximately 20–30 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.

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