The Flower Horn fish is considered by the Chinese as the most auspicious fish that is developed by aquarists to date (much to the frowns of many Western purists). Its every characteristic is somehow related to prosperity, health and wealth, to the owners of the fish, of course! The nuchal hump, the colour, the aggression, the so-called "pearls", etc is much sought after. For the bigger, the brighter or more active fish believes to tell directly on the owner s level of abundance.
So, how do you select the best fish?
The forehead or "Nuchal Hump" of the Flower Horn fish is the main focus of attraction of the Flower Horn fish and is much sought after. After all, the main reason (among others) that this fish is so popular is because of its unique feature: the head!
A fully developed forehead, which is round and tender, is a symbol of luck, prosperity, longevity and happiness. It enhances the glory of its owner. A huge and beautiful forehead that harmonizes with its body qualifies it to be a fish of choice.
Some even believe that as the head grows bigger and bigger, so does the level of prosperity to the owner!
A fully developed forehead decorated with evenly spread red spots is more preferred. Such a forehead is called "li-zhi" forehead resembling the auspiscious Chinese fruit : Lychee!
The colour on the fish should be naturally pleasing yet intense enough to generate excitement. The more varied and intense the colours, the more outstanding the fish will be. The base colour of the fish should not be pale and dull.
Nowadays, the Flower Horn fish possess lots of shimmering/luminiscent scales or so-called "pearls". There are generally 2 colours on the "pearls": blue and green. Some "pearls" are by patches, like an armour and some are bright dots like stars in the sky. These "pearls" add more spectrum of colors and shine to the fish and is a considered a "must-have" on the latest Flower Horn fishes. The most auspiscious gem for generations of Chinese must be pearls, hence, the more "pearls" on the body of the fish, the better!
Among the numerous strains of flower horn, those which are most active or responsive to people are most interesting.
The Flower Horn fish is an aggressive and territorial type of fish and will chase away any intruder to its territory. Because of this nature, early owners of the fish started "playing" with their fishes by training their pet to follow their hands. This is done by gently swaying the hands OUTSIDE the tank and letting the fish follow the fingers. If this is done correctly, the fish can be trained to do "loop-the-loop" or "topsy-turvy"!
A healthy fish will naturally chase away any intruders to its territory and the more active the fish is, the more interesting it is to "play with it", thus the more form or responsiveness.
One of the many interesting aspects of the Flower Horn fish is the black horizontal markings on its body. Many early hobbyists have hit jackpots or strike lottos/lottery by buying the numbers supposedly seen on these black markings. What actually stemmed from a lucky play of imagination (just like imagining an animal-like figure from cloud formations) resulted in a belief system that the Flower Horn fish is auspiscous and brings luck to its owners.Some markings even resembles lucky Chinese characters and this fetch a very high price for its owner!
This belief still prevails till today, so most hobbyists regards that the more the black marking on the fish, the better. A general idea is that if the marking extends from the base of the tail to the middle of the fish s body, it is A grade. Anything lesser than that, is B grade or C. If the marking fully extends to its gill cover, the fish is of AA or double A quality. Sometimes there are verticle black markings that extends right up to the dorsal fins and that is called double-row marking. Some people do not like this because in their opinion, the fish is dark or "dirty" in colour.
Anyway, it is almost near impossible to find the perfect fish which is double A grade and have beautiful colours and big head. These types are considered show quality or competition level fish and is very rarely found. Most of the times, if the colour and the head of the fish is good, a good marking is oftentimes not necessarily a must-have.