- Family: Osphronemidae
- Care level: Easy
- Temperament: Territorial
- Diet: Omnivorous
- Water conditions: Freshwater, 23 – 28 degrees Celcius (74 – 82F), 6 – 8 pH
- Max Size: 15 centimeters (5 inches)
- Minimum tank size (as an adult): 75 Liters (20 gallons)
Brief Overview: Gourami Fish Care
Gouramis are a group of colorful ray-finned fish indigenous to Asia in regions of Pakistan, India, Malay Archipelago, and Korea. Gouramis are comprised of 133 recognized species split into 4 subfamilies and 15 genera. All of these species exhibit excellent parental care: some are mouthbrooders and many others build bubble nests at the water’s surface. Both methods involve Gouramis protecting their eggs from predators.
Most Gouramis have an antenna-like feeler in front of each pelvic fin and a lung-like organ called the labyrinth organ, that allows them to absorb atmospheric oxygen gulped at the surface of the water. This organ is vital to fish like the Gouramis that spend large amounts of time in shallow warm water that has low levels of oxygen.
Gouramis are popular aquarium species due to their bright coloration and visibility in a tank. This fish spends a large part of its time swimming in free space near the middle and top of the tank. Though generally easy to care for, a Gourami should be the only aggressive species in a community tank and, if you have a male Gourami, you should only have one. Some Gourami species can grow quite large and are not suitable for the average aquarist. When housed with other similarly-sized peaceful fish, Gouramis can be an excellent addition to a community freshwater tank. Make sure to read up on different types of Gourami before making the decision to add one to your tank.
Regardless of which species you choose, Gouramis are an eye-catching and delightfully beautiful fish to introduce to your aquarium.
Gourami Fish Lifespan
How Long Do Gourami Live For?
Gouramis have a life expectancy of about 5 years in an aquarium with excellent care and conditions.
How fast/slow should you expect your Gourami to grow?
Gouramis have a relatively slow growth rate. Most smaller species will reach their maximum size in 1 to 2 years but this can vary from species to species.
What’s Gouramis max size?
The maximum size of a typical Gourami is usually around 15 centimeters (5 inches), but species like the Giant Gourami can grow over five times that length.
Different types of Gouramis
There are 133 recognized species of Gouramis. Here are some of the most popular among fishkeepers:
Paradise Gourami (Macropodus spp.): There are actually 3 species that are considered Paradise Gouramis. One has a forked tail, one has a rounded tail, and the third has a pointed tail with rays spreading outwards from the middle. All 3 species have exquisitely bright stripes of green or blue with orange/red stripes interspersed. They also have small metallic blue or black spots all over their bodies.
Pearl Gourami (Trichopodus leerii): The Pearl Gourami is arguably the most popular species of Gourami. They are characterized by gorgeous pearly-white spots across their bodies and a black stripe running horizontally down their middle.
Sunset Gourami (Trichogaster labiosa): This species has been selectively bred for its orange/gold color and comes from the strain of thick-lipped Gouramis. Using a dark substrate will show off a Sunset Gourami’s striking coloration.
Powder Blue Gourami (Trichogaster lalius): The Powder Blue Gourami is a color variant developed by breeders from the Dwarf Gourami. This species can be kept in tanks as small as 40 liters (10 gallons).
Snakeskin Gourami (Trichopodus pectoralis): This species of Gourami is named for the coloration they exhibit. Snakeskin Gouramis are light yellow/brown to olive-gray and have a broken backline that runs along the middle of their body. They may also have a few diagonal stripes. Snakeskin Gouramis are relatively peaceful but can grow as large as 20 centimeters (8 inches).
Three Spot Gourami (Trichopodus trichopterus) The Three Spot Gourami is named for the 2 black spots on each side of its body (the eye is the third “spot”) and can come in shades of opaline, blue, and gold.
Chocolate Gourami (Sphaerichthys osphromenoides): Also known as the “four-eyed fish,” the Chocolate Gourami is typically a chocolatey-brown color. This species is sensitive to water changes and has particular needs when it comes to water conditions. They prefer soft water with a low pH, sometimes even below 4.0. The water of their natural habitat is usually dark due to decaying organic matter, so in a tank, they need lots of plants and dark areas, with water conditioned through peat or with peat extract. This slow-moving fish is easily intimidated so other peaceful community fish are preferable.
Moonlight Gourami (Trichogaster microlepis): The breathtaking Moonlight Gourami is named for its silvery iridescent body, though they attain a slight green coloring as they mature. They have long fins which can make them targets for other fish, so peaceful tank mates are a must as well as plenty of swimming room.
Giant Gourami (Osphronemus goramy): These fish are the largest Gourami you could keep. They can grow to be about 28inches big. If you want to keep a Giant Gourami, you’re going to need to make sure you have a large enough tank.
Gourami Diet & Feeding
Gouramis are omnivorous and can eat just about anything. Variety in the diet of your Gourami is important to ensure they receive balanced nutrition.
What do Gouramis eat in the wild?
Gouramis are native to parts of Asia where they typically inhabit slow-moving waterways with dense vegetation. They feed on a combination of plant material, small fish, and insects.
What foods are recommended for Gouramis?
In an aquarium setting, Gouramis can be fed a combination of fresh, frozen, and tropical fish foods.
A balanced diet should vary daily and can include spinach, lettuce, and cooked peas for plant material as well as brine shrimp, blackworms, and glass worms as a source of protein. Freeze-dried or frozen forms of these treats are recommended over fresh or live foods to avoid possible bacterial or parasitic infections being introduced into your tank.
Gourami Fish Feeding habits
Gourami should be fed a diet that varies daily but includes both plant matter and sources of protein. Feed Gourami twice a day but do not offer more food than they can consume in 2 – 3 minutes as overfeeding can cause health problems and issues with water quality. Most Gourami species dwell near the surface and do well with floating food.
Gourami should be monitored to ensure they are eating. A Gourami that sulks near the bottom of the tank or is uninterested in food is most likely sick and should be closely observed for other symptoms.
Gourami Fish Tank Setup
Like all fish, Gouramis thrive best in a tank that resembles their natural habitat and suits their needs.
A brief overview of natural habitat
Gouramis generally inhabit areas in Asia of slow-moving, shallow water that is acidic and often dark from decaying organic matter. Gouramis use tall, dense vegetation to hide and feed.
Gourami Tank size
Tank requirements for Gouramis vary depending on the species. The Dwarf Gourami can thrive in a tank as small as 40 liters (10 gallons) while the Giant Gourami can reach lengths of 70 centimeters (27 inches) and needs a much larger tank. Fish length is not the only limiting factor for Gouramis: some species need more free-swimming space or larger territories than others. Most Gouramis need a tank between 75 and 115 liters (20 to 30 gallons).
Gourami Water Conditions
Most Gourami species are typically hardy and can adapt well to a variety of water parameters, though quick changes in conditions may negatively affect them. Gouramis are a freshwater species that prefer a water temperature between 23 and 28 degrees Celcius (74 – 82 degrees Fahrenheit). In the wild, Gouramis thrive in acidic water conditions but after being raised in captivity, they have adapted to most neutral water conditions, regularly kept at a pH somewhere between 6 and 8.
Gouramis are shy and require plenty of places to hide to feel comfortable in their tank. Dense vegetation is required for a Gourami to have plenty of spaces to hide. Since Gouramis spend most of their time near the surface, tall plants and floating plants should be included in tank decor. Cryptocoryne, Java Fern, and Vallisneria are all suitable plant options for Gouramis.
A fine to medium-sized neutral-colored substrate suits most Gouramis, though some prefer dark substrate. Tanks should be lidded to avoid Gouramis jumping out.
Gourami Tank Mates
Most Gourami species can be aggressive and territorial. Only one male Gourami should be kept in a tank unless the tank is large enough for each individual male to establish his own territory. Groups comprised of one male and multiple females may get along.
Surprisingly, a Gourami can make a decent addition to a community tank as long as other fish are nearly the same size and are not territorial or aggressive by nature. This fish can grow to a decent size and is omnivorous, so it may prey upon smaller fish that fit in its mouth.
Some possible tank mates for Gouramis (excluding the Giant Gourami) are:
- Harlequin Rasbora
- Zebra Loach
- Sailfin Molly
- Common Pleco
- Pineapple Swordtail
- Tiger Barbs
- Upsidedown Catfish
- Cory Fish
Gourami General Behavior
Gouramis can be territorial but are shy and peaceful when they don’t feel threatened, making them great choices for a community tank of other amicable fish.
How to Keep Gouramis Healthy
Gouramis are hardy but can be susceptible to typical ailments that affect freshwater fish, especially in environments of lower water quality.
Common diseases to look out for
When treating an individual fish, best practice calls for removing the fish to a separate “hospital tank” devoid of plants or gravel for treatment. If a disease has affected an entire tank, it is probably best to treat the tank. Read and follow the instructions for any medication or treatment for best results. Take care, as some treatments can destroy beneficial bacteria or otherwise adversely affect water quality. The carbon in your filtration system may absorb some medications, rendering treatment ineffective, and may need to be removed.
Like most aquarium fish, Gouramis are susceptible to ich, a disease caused by protozoa. Symptoms of ich include twitching, rubbing their bodies on various surfaces in the tank, and the appearance of white spots on the body and gills. They usually respond well to medication and heal quickly.
Swim bladder disease is an ailment characterized by abnormal swimming patterns and trouble maintaining buoyancy. This can be caused by genetics, improper nutrition, overfeeding or constipation, a physical deformity, or even an infection. Some cases are successfully treated by feeding defrosted frozen peas.
Gouramis can be affected by skin flukes and other parasites, fungal infections, and bacterial infections. Know the signs and treatments of common freshwater fish diseases to catch problems early and keep your Gouramis happy and healthy.
Tips on keeping Gouramis in good health
Gouramis are typically easy to keep healthy as long as you monitor and maintain your water composition. Perform water changes and test water quality regularly to keep ammonium and nitrite levels in check, and do not overfeed as food waste will cause these levels to spike.
Keep in mind that parasites and bacteria can be introduced by new tankmates as well as live food, plants, and tank decorations.
Most species of Gouramis breed well in captivity. Males of many species build bubble nests at the surface by secreting saliva to encourage females the lay their eggs. A male will protect the nest until the fish fry is able to swim freely.
In an aquarium setting, it is best to keep one breeding pair alone in a shallow tank and to remove the female as soon as she lays her eggs to avoid aggression from the male. After the female lays her eggs, which number in the hundreds or even thousands, the male will bring each egg to the bubble nest individually. If the species is not a nest-builder, the eggs will remain distributed randomly around the tank and both parents should be removed shortly after spawning.
Interesting Facts About Gourami
- Giant Gouramis can grow to be 70 centimeters long (27 inches) and require a tank of several hundred liters.
- Gouramis are excellent dads, caring for their fry until they are able to swim away from the nest.
Are Gourami right for you?
Though they have a propensity for aggression, as long as Gouramis are the only territorial fish in a tank they can make a wonderful, brightly-colored addition to a community aquarium. Provide them plenty of places to hide and they will feel comfortable swimming freely in full view near the water’s surface. The large variety of Gouramis means there are at least one species that will work for almost any aquarist’s setup.