Flowerhorns are artificial hybrids of several Central America cichlids that were created via artificial insemination. Their exact lineage is a closely guarded trade secret, since these colorful fish can fetch thousands of dollars. However, their bright colors and appearance can vary considerably with their diet.
The main food you feed a fish is called a staple. For most aquarium fish, flake foods fill this role. However, for a medium to large fish like flowerhorns, flakes are not as substantial. Instead, try feeding cichlid pellets. To avoid digestive problems, soak the pellets in aquarium water for at least a minute before feeding. While flowerhorns will readily accept almost any food, you should supplement their pellets with other foods to make sure their vibrant colors don't fade.
Grocery Store Foods
You can also feed your flowerhorn many grocery store seafoods. This includes salmon and herring flesh, as well as crustacean meat. These foods are rich in many vitamins and minerals, including carotenoids. These foods can enhance a flowerhorn's colors substantially, particularly reds, oranges and yellows. To feed these foods, store them frozen and shave off appropriate-sized pieces for your flowerhorn. Thaw the foods before feeding to avoid injuring your fish's digestive tract.
Freeze-Dried, Frozen and Live Foods
Most pet shops sell a variety of fish foods, including freeze-dried, frozen and live foods. Depending on the size of your flowerhorn, they will eagerly eat krill, mysis and bloodworms, as well as almost any animal-based foods. If you feed frozen food, thaw them in aquarium water before feeding. Similarly, soak freeze-dried foods for a minute in aquarium water to prevent digestive issues. These foods are rich in nutrients and mimic many of the foods the flowerhorn's non-artificial-hybrid ancestors eat in the wild.
How to Feed
Flowerhorns are greedy feeders that will eagerly eat whatever you toss in the aquarium. In order to support their rapid growth and vibrant colors, you should feed your flowerhorns two to three times per day. However, you should skip one day a week. This "fast day" helps clear the fish's digestive tracts. Regardless of the specific food you feed, only feed what your flowerhorns can eat in 30 seconds or less. Flowerhorns will probably miss some of the food if you feed more than this, and the extra food will rot and foul the water.
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