Hope this will provide newbies with the basics of keeping Flowerhorn.
First of all, the Flowerhorn is as easily maintained, as it is beautiful. It thrives over an enormous range of pH and hardness values but looks its best in hard, alkaline water, which should certainly endear it immediately to those aquarists living in areas characterized by such water conditions. Though it is quite tolerant of dissolved nitrogenous wastes, it must be noted that the Flowerhorn is an ‘eartheater’ and therefore suffer health problems in aquaria with poorly managed nitrogen cycles, a situation accentuated by the "eartheater" habit of constantly sifting the substrate in search of food, and in the process liberating waste materials from the substrate into the water column. The choice of a filtration system should therefore be a prime consideration in designing and maintaining an aquarium containing the Flowerhorn. Although there are numerous systems that will work, any selected should incorporate the following: an easily (and frequently) cleaned, efficient mechanical pre-filter; a biological filter protected from clogging; and regular partial water changes as chemical filtration-media tend to clog long before their capacities are fully exhausted. An easily cleaned, high speed outside power filter charged with an efficient reusable medium will prevent solid waste build-up in the aquarium if changed frequently and simultaneously provide this species with the water movement it appears to enjoy.
Like most cichlids, the Flowerhorn can tolerate temperatures ranging between of 20°-30°C, with 25°-30°C being ideal for spawning.
The Flowerhorn is easily fed. A voracious eater, this hybrid takes any of the usual live and prepared foods. The intensity of its red and yellow coloration is, to some extent, dependent upon its diet. Given its catholic tastes, it is a simple matter to supply the appropriate precursor substances for the synthesis of these pigments. Either color enhancing flake foods, shrimps or bloodworm sold frozen in most shops, will suffice quite nicely in this regard. Given its healthy appetite, it is best given several small feedings daily rather than a single large meal.
Perhaps the Flowerhorn’s strongest selling points are a combination of its big adult size, its nuptial hump and brilliant coloration. It is seriously aggressive towards its own kind and especially more so during periods of sexual activity. At this time males begin to defend spawning territories, where females eventually join them. The average territory measures c. 30cms, and resident pairs show little interest in expanding their boundaries beyond these limits even when more space is available.
The biggest offender against the cichlid psyche, any fish for that matter, is the bare display tank, devoid of all furnishings save an inside box filter or powerhead. The bare tank offends in a way that fish are exposed at all angles. When it is frightened, it darts all around banging onto the side or bottom of the aquarium. There is no reason, in fact it is cruel, to inflict such trauma.
A fish needs to feel safe. It needs to know that there are safe places within the tank that they can seek refuge when threatened. Providing a hiding place or two, a ‘cave’, would give the fish a sense of security.
It also needs to do what comes instinctive to them. The Flowerhorn, in this case, is an ‘eartheater’ by nature. So, all it takes is to spread a thin layer of natural gravel over the bottom of the aquarium for it to dig into and play with.
These two simple measures will instantly alleviate the major sources of stress.A stressed free fish would almost certainly look its best at any given time. It will also live longer and be more resistant to disease. Such practices require nothing more than a little bit more time to clean on the part of the aquarists.
Remember, your fish is a living thing. It is not something which you can simply mistreat as you wish. Try to understand and provide for it and it will repay you with joy for many years to come.
SALT AND ITS BENEFITS
Aquarium salt has been used for decades as a sort of "tonic" for freshwater fish. While it's hard to put a finger on just why salt is beneficial, many aquarists have noticed that certain fish simply do better with a small amount of aquarium salt added to their tanks.
What are the advantages of using aquarium salt?
Firstly, some tap water sources are very low in dissolved salts compared to certain fish-collecting or fish-raising areas, and the addition of aquarium salt might simply make the fish feel more "at home".
Secondly, salt provides replacement sodium and chloride ions that stressed or sick fish need.
Thirdly, salt may inhibit the fishes' uptake of toxic chemicals like nitrite.
Finally, salt inhibits parasites that are sometimes difficult to diagnose or treat.How much salt should be added - and what type - and how often?
A tablespoon for every five gallons of water works well. Use only aquarium salt, not table salt. The idea is to get just salt, with no additives like iodine or potassium. Salt should be added with the initial setup and only replaced thereafter with water changes (e.g., if you change 10 gallons of water in a 30 gallon tank, add 2 tablespoons of salt).
One of the more important aspects of the water fish live in is its pH, a measure of how acidic or alkaline the water is. The pH scale runs from 0 to 14, with values below 7.0 becoming increasingly more acid, and above 7.0 increasingly more alkaline. As a rule, a neutral pH - 7.0 - is fine for most aquarium fish, but Flowerhorns do better in moderately alkaline water - closer to 8.0.
Most tap water is more alkaline initially, but the biological processes in the aquarium tend to lower the pH toward a more neutral value. One way to maintain a stable pH is regular partial water changes. Spreading a thin layer of coral sand in the tank would also help as the sand dissolve, albeit very slowly and leeches calcium. Fish do not tolerate large, sudden changes in pH very well, so a stable pH outside of a fish's ideal range is better than having the pH go up and down with large but infrequent water changes. Inexpensive pH test kits are available at pet and aquarium stores.
Just like you and I, our fish need gaseous oxygen to live. They can't breathe the oxygen that's bound with hydrogen to make water. Water absorbs gaseous oxygen from the air at the water's surface. Agitating the surface will create a larger surface area for dissolved oxygen transfer while turbulence increases this absorption.
Hence, contrary to popular believe, that nice stream of bubbles does not directly contribute oxygen into the tank. What it does is agitate the water surface thus creating a larger surface area for oxygen absorption.
Even the simplest aeration/filtration system, such as a corner box filter and air pump, will aerate an aquarium.
The movement of water in the aquarium is probably a subject to which most of us give little direct thought. However, it is one of the vital functions in the aquarium and is directly responsible for a number of important processes.
Let us look at some of the functions water movement performs.
Firstly, water movement will overcome the problem of thermal layering by mixing the warm and cold-water layers, so we end up with an evenly heated tank. The movement of water in the tank also prevents the formation of a film on the water surface, which would inhibit gaseous exchange between the water and the air. Water moving around the tank effectively increases the surface area of the tank by constantly changing the layer of water in contact with the atmosphere. This, of course, dramatically increases the rate at which oxygen can be dissolved into the water and carbon dioxide released into the air. Water that is well oxygenated is essential for the health of the fishes, plus, we can keep more fishes or bigger fishes in a given space.
Moving water carries oxygen to the nitrifying bacteria in the tank, which are responsible for the breakdown of harmful waste products.
A strong movement of water in the aquarium, as produced by a power filter, provides the fishes with a current in which to swim, and many fishes find this both enjoyable and beneficial.
There's just no getting around it; sooner or later, every aquarium needs a water change. Clear water with a stable pH and temperature do not mean clean water. No filter system can extract 100% of waste materials that accumulate in our tanks. These waste materials can make the water cloudy or yellow, stunt our fishes' growth, and can lead to stress and sickness.
Water changes replenish trace elements that are essential for growth, dilutes nitrate (a by-product of broken down ammonia and nitrite) and reduces algae spores. Therefore, the question is not if we should change water, but rather how we should go about it. Many inexperienced aquarists (and some who should really know better) use the "kill 'em with kindness" approach. They allow the aquarium water to go unchanged for months until it is almost unbearable for the fish. Then they strip the aquarium and virtually sterilize everything, often putting their poor fish in various buckets and bowls about the house while the cleaning is being performed. The result is often disastrous.
If the fish somehow survive the ordeal of being netted twice, put in water which is dramatically different from that to which they've become accustomed, and just being terrified in general, they find that the worst is yet to come. Their nice, clean home is actually too clean, as the aquarist has eliminated all of the "good guy" bacteria that normally break down fish waste. As the bacteria re-establish themselves during the following weeks, fish waste accumulates, ammonia or nitrite levels shoot up, and the fish weaken, and perhaps die.
A much better approach is to change smaller portions of water more often, and to leave the fish right in the tank while you're doing it. A good average would be to change one third of the aquarium water every two weeks, or better still, every week. Once per month is the bare minimum, and usually leads to declining water quality. More frequent water changes wouldn't hurt but are rarely necessary. Keep in mind that seldom is it advisable to change more than one third at a time. Also remember that topping off an aquarium for evaporation doesn't count. When water evaporates, only clean, pure H2O goes out; all the dissolved waste stays behind in the aquarium.