Flowerhorn Fish

Breeders in Malaysia have created a new type of cichlid fish that is costly in more ways than one.

In the case of fuel-efficient cars, hybrids can be a good thing. But when it comes to fish, man-made hybrids can wreak havoc on wild populations of native species. One of these hybrids - the carnivorous Flowerhorn cichlid - was introduced to Malaysia about four years ago and is rapidly depleting local populations of Malaysian natives, including the popular fighting fish and the three-spotted gurami.

With a hump on its forehead and patterns that resemble Chinese characters on its body, the Flowerhorn cichlid has recently become the focus of a major craze in Asia, which started when one lucky Flowerhorn owner claimed to have struck it rich by getting his lottery numbers from the black markings on his fish. Since then, parallels have been drawn between the humps on the heads of the Flowerhorn cichlid and the Chinese God of Longevity.

Today, particularly prized Flowerhorns can sell for over $300,000 a piece. However, as breeders work to produce more lucky fish, they often create less colorful offspring that are relatively worthless. Worried that killing these fish would bring bad luck, they throw any unwanted Flowerhorns into local lakes and streams, which means bad luck for the native species.

Flowerhorn cichlid with appearance of Chinese characters. Questions about diluting strains of distinct fish species are raised in protest against the selective breeding that develops hybrids like the Flowerhorns.
Photo: www.ddott.com/flowerhorn/gallery
Flowerhorn cichlid.
Photo: www.ddott.com/flowerhorn/gallery