Types of Flowerhorns By Karen Frisch, eHow Contributor

An exotic fish, the flowerhorn is a hybrid engineered by man in the early 1990s. Originating in Malaysia and Taiwan, flowerhorns were created by cross-breeding cichlids from Central America. The four main types are Zhen Zhu, Golden Monkey, Kamfa, and Golden Base or Faders. Various strains exist within these types. Cross-breeding has made flowerhorns available worldwide.

  1. Description

    • Prized for their unusual appearance and brilliant colors, flowerhorns have several common characteristics. Often reaching a foot in length, they have foreheads featuring a large hump or protuberance. Markings can include a pearling pattern (white spots either in patches or all over the body) and a row of black marks along the side that resemble Chinese characters. Bodies are broad and oval-shaped with wide, graceful tails and fins.

    Zhen Zhus

    • With a name that translates as "pearl flowerhorn," Zhen Zhu are the most common flowerhorn in the United States. They usually have a rounded tail, large mouth, bulbous red eyes, and a noticeable head flower. Known for the pearling pattern, Zhen Zhus mature early and mate readily. A hardy fish, Zhen Zhus are popular because they demand little special attention. These agreeable breeders are often bred with other flowerhorn types. The pearling creates a desirable skin quality in their offspring.


    • The territorial Kamfa has a larger, more blocky build. It often has white or yellow recessed eyes, small mouth, fan tail and sometimes head flowers. More aggressive than other flowerhorns, Kamfa are difficult to breed because they remain immature longer and have fertility problems. They prefer heated water that has been sitting for a day. With a black double flower row and white pearling, the King Kamfa is a member of this family.

    Golden Base (Faders)

    • Golden Base flowerhorns are also known as faders because as juveniles they lose color and turn black. The black then disappears, leaving vivid color in its place, traditionally red or yellow. One of the two original fader types in the United States retained their natural color, eventually replacing its gray skin with a golden hue. Red Texas cichlids are related to faders. To get the desirable red color the earliest flowerhorns, King Kong parrots were crossed with green Texas cichlids.

    Golden Monkey

    • Golden Monkey flowerhorns have the traditional large head hump with a coat that features pearling all over. When bred with a Zhen Zhu male, a Golden Monkey female produces the popular IndoMalau strain. A Golden Monkey male crossed with a Kamfa female produces a fish with a face and body resembling the Golden Monkey while the fins and eyes mirror the Kamfa. Fins have a rare frosted pearling over the head.


    • Popular because of their bright colors and exotic appearance, flowerhorns are coveted as pets, although their care requires thought and consideration. Most need a spacious aquarium where they can be kept alone because of their size and aggressive nature. While breeding flowerhorns raises controversy among fish enthusiasts because of genetics and overbreeding, their popularity remains strong.

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