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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 flowerhorn breeding programs.
Flowerhorn breeding dates from 1993. Malaysians admired fish 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, 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 and bred these fish 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. 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
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 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.
Blood parrots and 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. 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.
The genuine Golden Monkey (also called Good Fortune) or Kamalau was bred by Mr. 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.
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-thousand dollars during a Malaysian exhibition in 2009.
This breed originated 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 breed 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.
This breed 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 breed's strongest characteristic is pearling. Breeders often cross other types with Zhen Zhus because they breed easily and can create better pearling for the next generation. Weak tails can also carry over, however.Golden Base (Faders)
Red Texas cichlids are related to the golden base family of flowerhorns. They were originally created by breeding a green Texas cichlid with a Mammon 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.
King KamfaFrom the Kamfa family, this fish typically has white or yellow eyes, although red eyes are possible but rare. Distinctive features of this breed include an intense black double flower row along the lateral line, and very thick white pearling. Originating in Thailand, this breed 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.
The Titanium, also known as Thai Silk is a breed of flowerhorn that is almost completely metallic blue. The ones with the fewest marking and largest nuchal hump are considered the most valuable.
JPG or Golden Apple
Created by Ah Soon of Malaysia, these fish are characterized by a large stocky body, as well as metallic pearling.
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; this helps prevent development of a drop tail.
This strain was created by Mr. Tan of Vietnam, by crossing a Zhen Zhu with aKamfa. 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.
Strains developed in the United States
New flowerhorn strains have been developed through breeding programs in the U.S. Although it is hard for the U.S. to compete with Asia's well established flowerhorn breeding farms, strains with unique genetics have been created.
Gallery of early flowerhorn strains
- ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x Flowerhorn 101, A Guide to Flowerhorn Strains and Types.
- ^ Arnold W (2003) Singapore's 'lucky' pet Luohan can outnumber people in homes. International Herald Tribune. July 1.
- ^ http://library.thinkquest.org/04oct/01027/environmental.html
- ^ http://www.iol.co.za/index.php?click_id=31&art_id=iol1045231471487W253&set_id=1
- ^ http://www.aquarticles.com/articles/breeding/Soodhanan_Flowerhorns.html
- ^ Monster fish Arlina Arshad, The Straits Times, November 2, 2003