Types of Flowerhorn Fish

By Betty Lewis

The flowerhorn fish is a hybrid, likely created by breeding two cichlids in Malaysia in the mid- to late-1990s. He may have remained an obscure hybrid fish if not for the story of an Asian man who won a lottery based on the pattern on a flowerhorn fish. The flowerhorn's popularity grew, and today he is in high demand for his beautiful colors and unique profile.

Flowerhorn 101

When you're talking about the types of flowerhorn fish, keep in mind this guy was created by breeding cichlids. If there were only a few varieties of cichlids, you could narrow down the field to a tidy list of types of flowerhorns. However, given that there are well more than 1,000 varieties of cichlids, it's impossible to know how many different types of flowerhorn fish are in existence. As well, not all breeders are reputable and some take additional steps to enhance a flowerhorn's appeal, such as dying a fish to a more popular or intense color. Finally, different varieties of flowerhorns are being bred with cichlids and other flowerhorns to produce yet more varieties of flowerhorn fish. Flowerhorn fish are prized for the humps on the front of their head -- known as the horn or kok -- as well as their colors, which can range from bright and intense to a popular pearl. Some have black markings, giving him the flower portion of his name.

Kamfa Flowerhorn

The kamfa flowerhorn was developed from a flowerhorn and a parrot fish, giving this guy a full fin and no gaps between his tail and anal and dorsal fins. Red is the most common color for him, though he comes in a variety of colors. He may be marked with flowers, and his eyes may be white, yellow or reddish-orange.

Zhen Zhu or Pear Flowerhorn

The zhen zhu flowerhorn also is referred to as the pearl flowerhorn. His tail will be diamond-shaped or rounded and his other end will sport a large head horn. In between you'll find a large mouth and red eyes. He gets the "pearl" in his name from his silvery white spots, resembling pearls, on his skin. His pearly appearance makes him a popular fish for crossbreeding to create other types of flowerhorns.

Golden Monkey

The golden monkey really is golden, as he's a very expensive fish. If you get by with a $1,000 price tag for this guy, be happy because the most expensive golden monkey was purchased for several hundred thousand dollars at a Malaysian exhibition. His body is square in proportion, with yellow and lots of pearls. If you look at him from the front, his face has a monkey-like appearance.

A Few Others

The golden base, or fader flowerhorn gets his nickname because his color fades away while he's a juvenile, turning completely black, which eventually transforms to a vibrant red or yellow. The kamfamalau is a cross between a male golden monkey and female kamfa. This fish has a unique frosted pearl appearance that extends across the head bump, which is rare in flowerhorns. As one of the most popular flowerhorns, the king kamfa really is king. His eyes are usually yellow or white and he sports a double flower row on his side and white pearls.