Bright active and always entertaining, Gourami are extremely appealing little fish who also have the advantage of being naturally hardy and easy to look after. Playful, energetic, and happiest in large shoals, they fit in well in any aquarium with suitably sized companions.
Gourami like lots of plants (especially tall ones) and other vegetation with slightly acidic water. They are happiest when they have plenty of hiding places, though they’ll also need free swimming space to dart about.
Though they’re generally peaceful, the males can be quite territorial when they’re ready to breed, so it’s best not to keep more than one male unless you’ve got enough room for each to establish his own territory; however, Gourami’s are shoaling fish and large numbers of females can be kept together without problems. They are friendly by nature and will get along well with any non-aggressive tankmates.
Gourami are very easy to feed and will eat almost anything they’re given, though for best results you should ensure that they have a varied diet. Flakes, freeze-dried foods, and live foods are all suitable provided that they are an appropriate size for these fish’s small mouths.
Gourami have labyrinth organs that enable them to breathe air efficiently from the surface. It is common for them to spend their time near the top or middle of your aquarium to easily reach the surface when they need to take another breath.
Do not be alarmed if you see them gasping at the top of the tank. It’s important to ensure that they always have access to the surface.
Types of Gourami
There are several different species of Gourami available for your aquarium. The good news is that they will happily shoal together in mixed groups, though it’s advisable to have one male and at least one female of each sort. Some of the most popular varieties include:
- Blue Gourami – Also known as Three Spot Gourami, these pretty fish vary in color with their moods and darken during spawning. They are among the largest gourami species.
- Pearl Gourami -Among the hardiest gourami species, living as long as eight years. These attractive speckled fish are highly adaptable but prefer an aquarium with subdued lighting and a dark substrate. Being omnivores, they will eat just about anything.
- Banded Gourami -Also known as Rainbow Gourami, these sturdy fish need plenty of vegetable matter in their diets.
- Kissing Gourami – gets its trade name from its distinct mouth and somewhat aggressive tendencies. The males will lock their mouths together when challenging each other. They have small, sharp teeth which make them efficient algae eaters. Pink and green variants are available.
- Moonlight Gourami –Distinctly different in shape from their kin, distinguished from other gourami species by the head, which features a concave slope. They prefer tall aquarium plants to hide in and maintain low-stress levels. These shy fish are notable for the male’s habit of rolling the female onto her back during spawning.
- Dwarf Gourami –These tiny fish need a quiet environment enjoying floating plants and hiding places in order to nest. They are available in several color varieties and require a light cycle that mimics their natural habitat, so using an aquarium light 8 to 10 hours a day is preferred. Plant-based foods and floating pellets are the best things to feed them as they normally “hunt” near the surface of the water.
Gourami are relatively simple to breed and are recommended for beginners trying to acquire these skills. Males and females are fairly easily distinguished, with the former having a more slender body shape and more angular fins.
Just one male and one female should be selected for breeding at one time, and they should be placed in a special breeding tank with low water (six to eight inches will do), warmer temperature in the low 80’s degrees Fahrenheit, and plenty of vegetation.
Fairly large-grained, loose gravel or pebbles will be useful to the male as he builds a bubble nest. When he’s ready, he’ll try to lure the female into this and persuade her to lay eggs. Bear in mind that males can be quite aggressive at this stage, so it’s important that the tank contain plenty of hiding places where the female can escape from his advances.
After spawning, the female gourami should be removed from the tank. The male will make a good parent, tending the eggs and fry and sometimes spitting water into the air as he endeavors to keep everyone safe in the nest.
Once the fry hatch, they can be fed with infusoria and tiny brine shrimp. Although they are comparatively simple to keep, Gourami’s should not be dismissed as a beginner’s fish.
Gourami are a fantastic and often underrated aquarium fish. With lots of varied colors and interesting behaviors, they are fascinating to watch for any aquarist. Attractive and personable, they make a great choice for any aquarium.