Since the early years of 2000, a new species of Cichlid known as Flower Horns aka Hua Luo Han 花罗汉 has taken the Aquatic Hobbyist in Asia by storm. Even aunties and uncles keep them for one main purpose, to strike windfall luck. Flower Horns originated from Malaysia – Penang, Ipoh and KL, and they only became famous around 1996.
The origins of this hybrid fish can be traced from the Cichlid family, which is classified under the family of Cichlasoma. It is believed that this fish is a descendant from a wild caught cichlid known as “Amphilophus Trimaculatus”. Formerly, it was used as a feeder fish for Arowanas.
Malaysian fish farms and breeders crossed bred them with many other kinds of Chiclids and the last strain used was the King Kong Blood Parrot from Taiwan. The appearance of the fish changed slightly and look somewhat different from their wild ancestor. The newer breeds are known as Jin Hua Luo Hans 金花罗汉.
During the first few years, and even till now, many people are saying that this is just a fad and it will be gone in a year or even months. But even in difficult times of economic slump, this fish rejuvenated the fish trade industry in the whole of Asia. This craze came and go just like a storm.
The Luo Hans 罗汉 were so expensive but relatively easy to breed, thus many home breeders emerged to set up small fish shops taken over from those who failed in the Bubble Tea craze and started this Luo Han craze ongoing. However, not all breeders could afford good pairs of Luo Hans 罗汉, thus, they used the lower quality fishes to breed. Once the Luo Han 罗汉 grew up, they are not nice and neither do they have the big hump on the head.
Thus subsequently, people gave up this hobby because they were disappointed every time they paid tonnes of money which ended up in the drain. As the downfall of Luo Hans 罗汉 started, many fish shops with low grade Luo Hans wound up and all the low grade fishes were dumped into drains and ponds all over the place. This has actually created a disturbance and upset to the ecological system because the Luo Hans 罗汉 started to breed and attacked / destroyed other fishes.
Currently, the remaining experienced breeders of Luo Han 罗汉 in Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Taiwan and Malaysia are focusing on breeding good breeds which have a hump on the head at around 2 to 3 inches and the price is far more competitive. Throughout the years, many new breeds have emerged and many people are coming back to this wonderful hobby. The hobbyists are expecting better quality fishes and are still wiling to pay for it, although the prices are not as crazy as the earlier days, which is good because more people can afford to keep good quality fishes at a more reasonable price.
Good to see these fishes coming back with more potential and at a reasonable price. Now, you can find Thailand, Japan, Taiwan, Hongkong, Phillipines, Indonesia coming up with their own breeds of Luo Hans 罗汉. Even places like China, India and Middle Eastern Countries and America are keeping Luo Hans 罗汉 too.