I’m a huge fan of the Gourami. Several species from this popular fish family are available in the aquarium hobby — check them out here. They’re mid-sized, have a peaceful temperament, and display a variety of beautiful bright colors and striking patterns that make them great “centerpiece” fish in a community aquarium.
Most Gourami rate an “easy” or “moderate” care requirement on our LiveAquaria quick stats, although there are some exceptions (like the “difficult” Chocolate Gourami), so don’t pick out yours on account of good looks alone.
Generally, they require a tank of at least 20 gallons, with lots of hiding spots and preferably lots of plants. If you wish to keep more than one Gourami, more space is always better. Males are territorial and will fight. I’ve witnessed the female of my Pearl Gourami pair become aggressive to the male when they didn’t have enough personal space. They may bully slower, long-finned fish; I’ve also seen a Gourami become violent with a betta. However, they will usually become shy and stressed by other quick, aggressive fish, even smaller ones. They definitely seem to have personalities and opinions on their tankmates.
Gourami are omnivorous, and will do well on a quality flake food. Variety is always best, of course, and they will happily consume live, frozen fish food, and dried foods as well. Frozen bloodworms and brine shrimp are very popular with mine.
My current favorite Gourami is a Blue, or Three-Spot, male. He cohabitates with my guppies and helps keep the population down by snacking on guppy fry. (I should note that none of my variety of guppies have very large or ornate tails, and he has never shown any interest in them.) At about 5 inches long, I think he looks very stately as he drifts calmly amidst the much smaller, quicker guppies. When I first got him he was quite timid, and would dart into hiding whenever someone came near the tank. I’d have to feed and then move several feet away, waiting to see him venture up to the surface to snatch some food and then disappear again into the wisteria. He’s become much braver since then, and will even eat from my fingers.
Interesting Gourami facts:
- They will often be seen gulping at the surface of the water. Like bettas, they possess a labyrinth organ that allows them to draw oxygen directly from air.
- Most have elongated, thread-like rays for pelvic fins. I call them “feelers,” because they’ll use these fins like antennae to touch and explore their surroundings.
- “Kissing Gourami” aren’t actually kissing – males fight by grappling each other by the mouth.
- Safe tankmates can be danios, small tetras, cory cats, loaches, and livebearers like mollies and platies.
- They’re a relatively easy fish to breed in captivity. The males of many varieties will build and guard a nest of bubbles into which the female lays eggs.
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