If you’re relatively new at fishkeeping or have never had any fish before, Gourami fish are a good place to start. They are a tough breed and can survive just about anything. That’s one of the reasons why Gouramis are so popular with beginners, as well as experts. They can also tolerate different water conditions.
Gourami fish are freshwater fish that are overall very interesting to watch.They’re really active and beautiful to look at with eye-catching colors. Their subspecies will need the same amount of care; the only thing that will change is color and size.
Different subspecies of Gourami fish will need different water tank sizes, so make sure you research what each subspecies of Gourami needs.
There are different subspecies of Gouramis: the Red Gourami, the Honey Gourami, and the Dwarf Gourami. So you’ve got a wide selection here, guaranteed to liven up your fish tank. You should definitely get this fish for your aquarium for all of the above reasons, as well as many more, which we will discuss in this extensive post.
First, let’s do a species overview, so you can get a better idea of what the Gourami fish’s lifespan is, what is its natural breeding ground, and how to recreate it so you can breed your Gourami fish.
So let’s discuss the Gourami fish’s lifespan to get to know this fish species better. Like any breed of fish, the established lifespan can vary according to how well you look after your fish. But generally, a Gourami fish’s lifespan in captivity should be between three to four years.
When they’re in the wild, Gouramis tend to live longer, usually anywhere from five to seven years. That’s the case for Kissing Gourami fish..Some subspecies even have a longer life than that, so it really depends on which Gourami you are referring to.
If you care for your Gourami fish properly, give them a balanced diet, offer them good tank and water conditions, as well as suitable tank mates, your Gourami will most likely live up to four years. If you don’t take good care of your Gourami fish, it won’t live as long.
The life expectancy of Gourami fish can also be shortened if your fish catches some kind of disease.
Natural Breeding Grounds
Let’s now talk about the natural breeding grounds of Gourami fish, whether you can breed them in a fish tank, and how to recreate their natural environment to facilitate breeding.
It is possible and relatively easy for your Gourami fish to breed in captivity. In fact, most species can easily be bred. The only real challenging part will be raising the fry to adulthood.
The first thing you need to do if you want to breed your Gourami fish is to find a suitable mating pair, male and female. It’s pretty easy to determine which are the female and which are the male Gouramis. The female fish tend to be on the grayer side of the color palette, while the male fish tend to have brighter colors, as well as having larger fins.
Then, you will need to put the mating pair in a breeding tank that recreates the same natural breeding grounds these fish need to reproduce. For example, most Gourami fish will need the water level to be six inches deep in the tank. If your fish are larger, as you might expect, you will need a deeper water level.
As for the lighting in the tank, it should be dimmed, and you should progressively raise the water temperature for multiple days before the spawning happens. You should do this until the temperature reaches around 82 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
Most Gourami fish are bubble nest builders, which means that after building a nest on the surface for the eggs, the male will then court the female until they spawn. Then, the eggs will be laid in the nest progressively by the male. The male Gourami will then guard the nest until the eggs hatch.
You might want to remove the female Gourami when the male Gourami fish is protecting the nest, as the female fish can eat them, and because the male fish can attack the female to guard the eggs.
Make sure you place floating plants and objects in the breeding tank, so your Gourami fish can build their nest there. Some experts suggest using pieces of styrofoam so that this fish species can build its nest there. The breeding tank should also have a lid and make sure that the bubble nest doesn’t get caught in a filter.
Also, ensure that the water stays relatively still, as you don’t want to damage the bubble nest. Regularly check on the water levels and the pH as well, to ensure that the natural breeding conditions are followed, so you can have healthy fry that then turn into adult Gouramis.
Before following these instructions, please do check that it applies to your specific Gourami fish species as well.
What Do They Look Like?
Now that you know more about the Gourami fish’s lifespan as well as their natural breeding grounds, let’s dive into what they look like, from their size to the different appearance of all the several subtypes of Gourami fish.
First, let’s talk about size. A Gourami fish can grow anywhere between two to eight inches. It would really depend on which type of Gourami fish you have. Usually, Gouramis take approximately 14 to 20 weeks to develop and to reach their full maturity.
Subtypes Of Gouramis
There are several subtypes of Gouramis. To be more precise, there are currently 133 types of Gourami fish that have been identified. There are around a dozen that are easily available in the market, so those are the ones we’ll discuss. The goal, after all, is that you can get at least one suitable Gourami fish for your fish tank. Or even more than one.
Here is a list of a few subtypes of Gourami fish: Three-Spot Gourami, Leeri Gourami, Kissing Gourami, Pearl Gourami, Moonlight Gourami, Opaline Gourami, Red Gourami, Powder Blue Gourami, Sunset Gourami, Snakeskin Gourami, Thick-lipped Gourami, Gold Gourami, Honey Gourami, Banded Gourami, Chocolate Gourami, Dwarf Gourami, and Blue Gourami.
So you see, there’s really quite a lot. The hard thing for you is to choose which one you prefer. To give you a general idea of what Gouramis can look like, the females tend to be grayer in color while the males have brighter shades of color, along with a larger decorative fin..
Let’s now explore the six most popular types of Gouramis, so you can get an idea about their appearance and behavior in general.
- Blue Gourami
First, let’s discuss the Trichogaster trichopterus, aka the Blue Gourami. As you can probably tell by its name, it’s often blue, but there can be other colors as well, and different patterns. It’s also known as the Opaline Gourami, Three Spot Gourami, Cosby Gourami, Silver Gourami, or Golden Gourami.
It’s probably the most well-known species of Gourami fish. They’re easy to look after, but they can be aggressive with other fish, especially male fish if they are with other male Gouramis. We recommend keeping it in a separate tank if you decide to choose this well-known type of Gourami.
- Dwarf Gourami
Now, let’s talk about the Colisa lalia, aka the Dwarf Gourami. It’s also known as the Red Gourami or the Powder Blue Gourami. It seems contradictory, I know, but that’s because this Gourami fish subspecies can have several different colors, from red to powder blue.
Not only is this Gourami subspecies beautiful, but it’s also one of the smallest in size amongst the large Gourami fish family. You can even keep them in mini fish tanks. That’s how tiny they are.
- Chocolate Gourami
If you’re already an avid fishkeeper with lots of experience and are up for an extra challenge, then consider getting a Sphaerichthys osphromenoides, aka a Chocolate Gourami fish. You can’t keep them around more aggressive fish, and they’re very sensitive to the fish tank’s water conditions.
It’s also harder to find Chocolate Gourami on the fish market, but it can be really rewarding to have one if you’re an experienced and keen fish hobbyist. Its color, as the name indicates, is brown.
- Moonlight Gourami
The Trichogaster microlepis, aka the Moonlight Gourami, has a beautiful silver color, as the name suggests. It’s also known as Moonbeam Gourami; it has an overall very poetic name and connotation.
This Gourami subtype is one of the largest there is in the Gourami family, so you will need an extra large tank with lots of hiding spaces if you intend to get one or more. They’re also very shy, just like Chocolate Gourami.
- Kissing Gourami
Let’s move on to the Helostoma temminckii, aka the Kissing Gourami. It also has other names, such as the Pink Kisser or the Green Kisser.
As the name points out, these are very funny and unusual fish to watch, as they appear to be kissing each other. That’s actually just territorial, but it’s a fun supposition. As for their color, they tend to be pink or green, as the name indicates..
- Pearl Gourami
The last one on our list- although there are many more varieties of Gourami- is the Trichogaster leeri, aka the Pearl Gourami. It’s also known as the Leeri Gourami.
This is a great fish to start with if you want to have a Gourami in your fish tank. Pearl Gouramis do well with all other fish species, are very easy to care for, are highly adaptable, and very hardy. Plus, they look beautiful and seem as though they have a pearl coating on their body, as hinted at in their name.
Behavior & Temperament
Now that you know a lot about some Gourami fish subtypes and what they look like, let’s talk about their behavior and temperament. You may have learnt a little about this in the previous sections, with the six Gourami types we discussed.
In general, male Gouramis tend to be more aggressive, so if you have a male Gourami in your tank, you should take it away and place it in an individual aquarium. There’s usually no problem between female Gouramis.
You can mix different types of Gouramis together in a tank, but it has to be in a really large and decorated fish tank. You have to be careful since some Gourami fish can be more aggressive, such as the Chocolate Gourami type.
Otherwise, Gourami fish are usually slow-moving and peaceful. But do check each specific subtype, as some can be really aggressive, even to the point of killing smaller fish or even going after other fish with larger fins.
However, that’s not true for all Gourami fish subtypes. Also, when that happens, it’s most often because the fish tank is overcrowded.
Now that you know more about the temperament and behavior of Gourami fish, let’s talk about how to take care of them, so they can have a long healthy life in the tank.
Let’s dig a bit more into their diet and food needs, water conditions, and best tank options.
Food And Diet Info
Gourami fish are omnivores, which means they can eat about anything, so they’re really easy to feed and maintain in general. But, like any other fish species, you should make sure your Gourami fish have a varied, nutritious, and balanced diet. Especially if you want them to breed.
You can, for example, feed them a varied diet of live foods such as brine shrimp, bloodworms, blackworms, and glass worms. You can also combine that with fresh vegetables, algae flakes, freeze-dried food, and even some regular flake pellets. Yes, you read that well. Vegetables such as cooked peas, lettuce, and spinach help your Gouramis stay in shape.
It’s recommended to feed your Gourami fish twice a day, with smaller portions rather than a huge portion once a day. You should remove any food leftovers immediately so that it doesn’t alter the water’s condition and your fish don’t overeat.
It’s advised to spread the food throughout the tank. If the food is all located in the same place, the Gouramis can get competitive and even showcase aggressiveness during feeding time.
Creating the ideal water conditions, similar to their natural habitat is essential, so your fish stay healthy. Luckily, Gourami live in easily attainable water conditions. Only Chocolate Gourami are fussier about their surroundings and have a more difficult temperament in general.
First, to create the perfect water setup, you should keep the temperature of the fish tank between 77 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit, with a low flow. As for the pH, it’s similar to what you would expect for freshwater fish: between 6 to 8. The water hardness can range anywhere from 5 dH to 20 dH.
What Type Of Tank Is Best For Gouramis?
It’s good to have a fish tank that can withhold at least 20 gallons of water. Most Gourami fish species require a tank that can fit around 30 gallons of water or more. The larger species of this family, such as the Moonlight Gourami, should have a 55 gallons tank at least.
The tank should be tall and rectangular, with enough space for your Gourami, so they’re happier and avoid conflict. Also, don’t put a lid on it, as Gourami fish like to breathe in fresh oxygen and swim up to the surface.
Ideal Tank Mates For Gouramis
Now that you are aware of their diet, temperament,behavior and water conditions, let’s discuss their ideal tank mates.
You can pair Gourami fish with others from their species, as long as you don’t have the males together in the fish tank and if it’s not overcrowded.
Most freshwater fish will be ideal tank mates for Gouramis, for example, Silver Dollars, Danios, Plecos, Mollies, Loaches, Rasboras, Neon Tetras, Corydoras, Botias, Swordtails etc..
The tank mates will mostly depend on which type of Gourami you have; whether their behavior is aggressive or peaceful. You should, however, always house them with non-aggressive fish species that are non-territorial and will be mid to bottom dwellers, as Gouramis prefer to be near the surface.
That can change based on the type of Gourami you have, of course. So do check which Gourami fish you would prefer, and move forward from there.
After reading this post, you now hopefully get why Gouramis are such a great breed and why you should get them for your aquarium!
They are not only beautiful to look at, but they’re also really easy to maintain. What’s not to like?
Ian Sterling, founder of Fishlab.com, began his aquarium journey over 30 years ago, driven by a deep fascination for fish and their diverse personalities. His website, Fishlab.com, is dedicated to making fishkeeping accessible and enjoyable, offering beginner-friendly guidance, expert insights, and a community for aquarists to connect and share experiences.