Monthly Archives: August 2014

Breeding Flowerhorn Part 9

Last month we went over how to raise the fry. This month, we will go over how to grow out the fry. This will conclude our series on how to breed Flowerhorn.

Flowerhorn have large Spawns and there can be 100 to 600 eggs, so you will need at least a 10 gallon tank to start the fry rearing process. We recommend that the set up be very simple, a 10 gallon tank, a submersible heater and a sponge bubble filter. That’s it.

Flowerhorn grow extremely fast. If kept properly, they can reach the 1 inch size in two to three months. As they grow, you will need to move them into a large tank or spread them out over several tanks. Flowerhorn are extremely aggressive, but can be kept together in large holding tanks until they are around 3 inches. At that time, we move them into 20 gallon individual grow out tanks. When you keep large numbers of Flowerhorn in tanks to grow out, it is important to add lots of distractions and hiding places. For Distraction, we will put three strong bubblers in the tank, The currents keep them distracted and as they have to constantly swim to move with the current, the exercise helps them to grow faster. To make lots of hiding places, we will add in 8 3 inch elbow PCV pipe fittings. These work well as they stay stable on the bottom and as there is a 90 degree angle, a bully Flowerhorn cannot see one hiding on the other end of it.

Food is important. We feed the fry 4 times a day, as much as they can eat in 5 minutes. We feed them Beef Heart Flake twice, Egg Yolk Flake one and Freeze Dried Blood Worms once. We feed at least once at night with the lights off.

Flowerhorn are extremely hardy. Do not spend a lot of time worrying about the conditions. They will adapt. We do recommend a 80% water change once a week for the first three months. Keep the temperature high around 84 degrees to stimulate their metabolism and stimulate rapid growth.

Breeding Flowerhorn Part 8

Last month we went over the hatching of the eggs. This month, we will go over how to raise the fry. Next month we will go over how to grow out the fry.

Flowerhorn have large Spawns and there can be 100 to 600 eggs, so you will need at least a 10 gallon tank to start the fry rearing process. We recommend that the set up be very simple, a 10 gallon tank, a submersible heater and a sponge bubble filter. That’s it.

Flowerhorn, even as fry, are extremely hardy. You do not need to worry very much about water conditions such as Ph and Gh. It is important that you keep the water very warm, around 82 degrees, to stimulate growth and appetite. You also need to make sure that there is no ammonia build up in the tank. On a daily basis, for the first month, you will need to do partial 50% water changes. The best way to do this is using an airline as the siphon and very slowly sucking up the food on the bottom. We run the airline into a net over a bucket, so that if you suck up any of the fry, you can recover them.

They will start to become free swimming about 2 to 3 days after hatching. Flowerhorn fry, while still extremely small, are larger than many other Cichlid fry. This is a huge advantage, as compared to other Cichlids such as a Discus, as they can eat larger food. Newly hatched Brine Shrimp is the best food for the first week. Two days after they become free swimming, we start mixing in Beef Heart Flake that we have sifted into a fine powder. After two weeks, we stop the Brine Shrimp and feed them exclusively a mix of Egg Yolk Flake and Beef Heart Flake, once again made into a fine powder. As they grow, you need to gradually make the powder more course by sifting it through a larger mesh.

There will be some fry that die no matter what you do. These are the weaker and/or defective ones. Natural selection will eliminate 10 to 30% of the fry. The ones that are left will be the strongest, healthiest ones.

Breeding Flowerhorn Part 7

Last month we went over the behavior after the spawn. This month, we will go over the hatching of the eggs. Next month we will go over how to raise the fry.

Flowerhorn have large Spawns and there can be 100 to 600 eggs.

After 48 to 72 hours, depending mainly on water temperature, the eggs will begin to hatch. Only the dark ones will hatch. They are dark because after about 36 hours, the eye starts to develop and will show through the egg sack. Most of the fry will stay attached to the surface where the eggs were laid via a small membrane on their head. A few will become detached and will fall to the bottom. At this point the fry will look like a small comma to the naked eye. Under magnification, they are quite ugly and will look like something straight out of a monster movie.

They will remain attached to the substrate for another 48 to 72 hours. There is not much to do at this point. They will have an egg sack and will live off of it during this entire time. The main concern is fungus. Adding Methylene blue to the water will mostly solve this. If you are going to artificially raise them, and have taken the parents out of the tank, you should add aeration about one inch from the fry to keep the water moving around them. They will start to become free swimming about 2 to 3 days after hatching.

Breeding Flowerhorn Part 6

Last month we went over the actual spawn. This month, we will go over behavior after the spawn.

The good news is that unlike many other Cichlids, Flowerhorn will usually not eat their eggs.
They will display other common post spawn activities that many Cichlids display. The female will take up a position above the eggs and will constantly mouth the eggs. The purpose of this is to get rid of any eggs that are infertile and to keep fungus from forming on the eggs. She will defend the eggs with her life. If you put your hand in the tank near the eggs at this time, she will viciously attack it (and it will hurt). Most of the time she will chase the male away from being directly above the eggs, but not always. It can vary depending on the pair. The male will usually stay near the eggs guarding against any other threats. Once again, if you put your hand in the tank, even on the other end, the male will attack it. While the male and female will often show some aggressive behavior towards each other, they will not usually do any actual damage to each other while there are viable eggs. You can feed them pair while there are eggs without any worry that it will stimulate the to eat the eggs. They will eat while they guard the eggs.

Breeding Flowerhorn Part 5

Last month we went over getting a pair to spawn, this month we will go over the actual spawn.

The first sign that your Flowerhorn are getting ready to spawn is that they will start to clear off a flat surface in the tank. As we said last Newsletter, this will often mean that they clean of the bottom of the tank. Flowerhorn can lay up to 500 eggs in one spawn and that requires a surface that is about 8 inches square. Prior to this, the male will have been the dominant fish. During the entire spawn and while the eggs are not yet free swimming, the roles will reverse and the female will become dominant. She will start acting aggressively toward the male and often will do “Lip Locking” with the male as a sign of courtship. Lip Locking is not a sign off affection as in kissing. Rather, it is a sign of aggression in the courtship. Unlike many other Cichlids, such as Discus, they will do very little in the way of a spawning “Dance”. At some point she will try to herd the male to the area that will be the spawning surface. Spawning actually starts when she begins laying the eggs. She will lay them in rows of 10 –30 eggs. The male will follow behind her, sometimes every time she lays eggs and at other times after every 3rd or 4th laying run, and fertilize the eggs. After the spawn, the female will stay directly above the eggs and the male will stay on the periphery of the eggs and guard against all intruders. If you put your hand in the tank, it will be viciously attacked.

Breeding Flowerhorn Part 4

Last month we went over breeding tank set up, this month we will go over getting a pair.
You will find that the triggers for getting Flowerhorn are pretty much the same as other Cichlids. Once they go into pre spawning mode, the fighting will decrease, but rough mating will start.
The technique that works the best is hard for most of us aquarist to do, as it goes against everything we strive to accomplish with our aquariums. With that said, it works and does not hurt your Flowerhorn in the long run.

The best way to get a pair of Flowerhorn to spawn is to let their aquarium conditions become very poor for one to two weeks. This will include, taking the filter pads out of the filters and running them without the pads (they need to run to keep the water circulating), letting algae build up in the aquarium and letting the water level of the aquarium get low. Please make sure that you leave aeration in the tank so the water does not become oxygen depleted. I also recommend that you feed them at about ½ the normal amount during this time. Once the conditions in the aquarium have deteriorated to the point where it is becoming stressful, do a complete water change and cleaning of the tank. You will find that most pairs will spawn within one or two days (often within hours) of the completion of the cleaning.

Other techniques are:

• Change the water temperature to 72 degrees for a few days and then bring it up to 84 degrees over about 12 hours and then leave it at 84 degrees for the remainder of a week.

• Feed them heavily for a few days, then stop feeding them for two days, followed by feeding them live food for three days.

• Leave the tank dark for two full days and then turn the lights on for two full days.

Breeding Flowerhorn Part 3

Last month we went over how to keep a pair, this month we will go over breeding tank set up.

The first thing to be aware of is that mature Flowerhorn are very strong and no matter what you do, they will most likely completely rearrange the tank when they spawn. As part of the pre spawning courtship, they will move, pile, re-move and then pile again any gravel in the tank. They like to spawn on flat, horizontal surfaces. I always place several large pieces of slate to lay flat on the bottom of the tank. Flowerhorn can lay up to a thousand eggs at one spawning, so you need to make sure the pieces of slate are at least 8 x 8 inches.

With that said, it is my experience that they usually choose to remove all of the gravel from an area of the bottom of the tank and actually lay the eggs on the glass bottom of the tank.

Directly prior to spawning, the male sometimes will brutally hurt the female. During spawning, they will often get along fine. Directly after spawning, the female will become extremely protective of the eggs and I have seen her actually beat up and kill a male that just days before was abusing her. I mention this so you will know that it is extremely important for you to have plenty of hiding places in the tank during the entire breeding process. I usually try and put several 8 inch pieces of PCV pipe in the tank that are large enough for the female to go into, but small enough that the male, who is usually larger, cannot go into. This can be easily accomplished as PCV piping is sold in 2, 3, 4 and 6 inch diameter sizes. Also, I always place several pieces of driftwood, that are riddled with large holes, in the tank. I usually will stack them on top of each other to great a small hill of porous caves.
I always add extra filtration to the tank a day after the eggs are laid to keep the water exceptionally clean during hatching. I remove the extra filter directly before the babies become free swimming.

Breeding Flowerhorn Part 2

Last month we went over how to sex them, this month we will go over how to keep a pair.

Sexing Discus is not the end, it is actually just the start of the most difficult part of breeding Flowerhorn. The problem with breeding Flowerhorn is that the male will often kill the female, sometimes within hours of putting them together. Males can be relentless in attacking females (and other males). There are several ways to deal with this problem:

• Occasionally you will get a pair that are not overly aggressive towards each other. While this is rare, it can happen, and if you do get one of these pairs, count your blessings.
• The best way to get a pair that will be OK together is plan well in advance. If you by 6-10 of them at a very small size, usually they will grow up without becoming fatally aggressive. They will still be very aggressive, but not fatally, starting around 3 inches, so make sure you have many, many hiding places. Usually, the largest male will pair off with the largest female when they become mature. This pair can then be kept in a separate tank together. Once again, while they will not kill each other, they will still be aggressive, especially between spawning, so make sure there are plenty of hiding places. Often if you keep the ones left in a large tank, another pair will separate out after you take out the first pair.
• Another trick is to keep them in a divided tank. This will keep them from killing each other while they are not spawning. Once Flowerhorn start the process of spawning (we will go over this in a subsequent Newsletter), they will stop being so aggressive towards each other. The female will actually become the dominant one once the eggs are laid and will often chase the male off. Be careful with this technique as they will often go to great lengths to get together. I have experienced ripped screens, broken dividers, dislocated dividers, fish that tunnel under a divider and fish that will try and jump over a divider (often ending up on the floor).
• The last, but least effective technique is to keep the female alone in a tank until she becomes so egg bound that she lays the eggs even without the male present. The problem with this technique is that when you introduce the male, he is often so stressed by the new surroundings that he does not fertilize the eggs. The incidence of unfertilized eggs is much higher with this technique.

Breeding Flowerhorn Part 1

We will be starting a new series of articles on how to breed Flowerhorn.

We will begin with sexing them. It is nearly impossible to sex Flowerhorn less than 3 inches. The only techniques that can be used at that size is the males will grow slightly faster and will usually be the most dominant fish in the tank of fry. With that said, there will be exceptions to both. At around 3-4 inches males will start to develop a KOK (hump). This hump is made up of fluid and fatty tissue and will actually increase and decrease in size depending on the conditions. When spawning, it will slightly increase in size. Males will also grow longer streamers from the Dorsal and Anal fins. Males will grow to be larger than females, often significantly larger. Females will have a more plump and rounded belly. When they become egg laden, this will become even more apparent. When mature their sexual organs will become visible. Directly before the anal fin will be the oviduct in the female.

It will be a round tube (for laying eggs) that in a mature female often be 1/16-1/8 inch long and about the width of a spaghetti noodle. Males will have a much smaller urogenital tube that will also be at the very front of the anal fin. It will look like a very small penis, but is not intended to ever be inserted into the female. Instead it helps them direct the spray of sperm onto the eggs that the female lays. Usually you cannot see it, but at spawning, it does become visible. The male urogenital tube will be about the width of a straight pin.