Fish

10 Best Gourami Fish Types—Can You Keep Different Gouramis Together

Gouramis, also called gouramies, are a group of freshwater aquarium fish that are popular for their brilliant colors and patterns. The fish are native to Asia, from Pakistan and India to the Malay peninsula, and North East towards Korea.

They are closely related to betta (Siamese fighting fish) and are equally common in the aquarium trade. Presently, about 133 gourami species are recognized, placed in four subfamilies and around 15 genera.

However, only a few out of the 133 are sold in the aquarium fish keeping trade.

In nature, gouramis inhabit shallow, stagnant, oxygen-poor water because they have labyrinth organs that allow them to breathe air at the surface.

Males are larger with brighter colors and longer fins and are more aggressive than females.

Gouramis prefer soft, acidic water in the wild, but most aquarium bred species will survive in water with a higher ph and alkalinity.

Overall, your gourami fish tank ph should remain between 6.8 and 7.8, and the water temperature anywhere from 72°F and 80°F. Maintain good-filtration as well, and change 10 to 30 percent of the aquarium water at least once or twice a month.

A 30-gallon aquarium (or larger) is recommended for these fish, but smaller species like the dwarf and honey gouramis will fit in 10- gallon or 20-gallon aquarium.

The species is fairly peaceful, but males are known to attack other males, especially those of their own kind. So, while juveniles and female gouramis can be maintained with other gouramis (or other fish), it always advisable to consider having a species aquarium instead of a community tank.

That said, let’s look at 10-popular gourami species you’ll most likely find in your local fish stores. They all have beautiful colors and patterns and are good additions to home aquariums.

#1 — Dwarf Gourami (Trichogaster lalius)

These gouramis come in all colors of the rainbow and are guaranteed to make your aquarium stand out. Moreover, there are low maintenance, quite hardy, and exhibit some truly unique behaviors.

Dwarf gouramis are mostly endemic to South Asia including Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh, though they are presently distributed widely outside their natural range.

They inhabit slow-moving water in streams and lakes, mostly occurring in areas with plenty of vegetation.

Wild form dwarf gouramis have diagonal stripes of alternating blue and red colors on males and a silvery coloration on females.

Even so, the breeds sold in fish stores today have exotic colors that include powder blue dwarf gourami, and red flame gouramis. For this reason, dwarf gouramis are also called flame gouramis.

In the aquarium, provide them with a lot of live plants including floating species that cover part of the water surface.

The optimum ph is in the neutral range, and your water hardness should be 4 to 10 dGH. The ideal temperature for keeping dwarf gouramis is 77°F, plus they are Ok without an air pump since they are native to slow-flowing habitats have labyrinth organs.

Dwarf gouramis only reach an adult length of 3.5 inches hence are well suited for small fish tanks. They are good for aquariums as well because of their peaceful nature.

Maintain your dwarf gouramis with other small, peaceful fish, especially bottom-dwelling types. However, brightly colored fish may at times cause male gouramis to become aggressive as they are perceived as rivals.

Potentially good tank mates include dwarf cichlids (kribensis, german blue ram), cardinal tetras, neon tetras, guppies, platies, mollies, and plecos

A varied diet is crucial when keeping dwarf gouramis, though they are not outrightly picky and will eat anything you offer them. Flake-foods, frozen or freeze-dried foods, and even vegetable tablets are largely appreciated.

To maintain good health, supplement the fish’s diet with occasional servings of live food such as worms.

  • Size: 2 inches
  • Minimum Tank Size: 5 to 10 gallons
  • Care Level: Intermediate
  • Temperament: Peaceful, although males are slightly aggressive
  • Tank Conditions: 73°F to 82°F, hardness 4 to 10dGH, ph 6.5 to 7.5

#2 — Pearl Gourami (Trichopodus leeri)

Pearl gouramis are arguably one of the most beautiful gourami types and a renown species. Like the rest of the climbing perches, they have a special organ called a labyrinth that allows them to breathe atmospheric air.

The species is also called leeri or lace gourami, with a body that is stretched out and laterally compressed, and ventral fins that are long and thin.

Lace gouramis are native to Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia and grow to a maximum length of 4.7 inches. The fish’s bodies are brownish- silver in color and are covered in a pearl-like pattern (hence their name) with a distinct black line running from the head and gradually thinning towards the caudal fin.

Pearl gouramis require a 30-gallon fish tank with the water about 12 inches deep and plenty of plants to create hiding spaces. Floating plants are particularly helpful, and a dark substrate and low aquarium lighting highly appreciated.

The preferred aquarium temperature range is between 72°F and 82°F and a water hardness of 5 to 18 dGH. Keep the ph between 6.5 and 7.5.

Pearl gouramis are territorial fish and are only suited for a community fish tank with similarly sized tank mates. However, aggressive behavior is mostly exhibited by males gouramis, with females largely peaceful.

If you opt to maintain your pearl gouramis with smaller fish, make sure they are fast enough to escape their larger, slower companions.

Good pearl gourami tankmates include pearl danios, neon tetras, dwarf cichlids, guppies, platies, and swordtails.

Pick a healthy diet for your pearl gouramis although the species is not picky. The fish live an omnivorous lifestyle and will eat most food you offer them.

Feed the fish flake. pellets, live foods, and frozen foods as long as they are small enough to fit in the gouramis’ mouth. Livefoods are good for the fish, especially when breeding and include brine shrimp and glass worms.

Also, instead of regular fish food, you can sometimes offer your pearl gouramis vegetables such as Zucchini.

One last thing to note is although pearl gouramis are somewhat hardy, they can be vulnerable to diseases. Therefore, a clean aquarium and good water quality is absolutely necessary.

  • Size: 4 inches
  • Minimum Tank Size: 30-gallons
  • Care Level: Easy to Intemediate
  • Temperament: Reasonably peaceful
  • Tank Conditions: 75°F to 86°F, Hardness 5 to 18 dGH, ph 6.5 to 8.0

#3 — Three Spot Gourami (Trichopodus trichopterus)

Three spot gouramis, also called blue or opaline gouramis are a peaceful species with quite comical tendencies as juveniles.

The fish have two spots one their bodies; one at the center, and a second at the beginning of the tail fin. The eye is widely considered the ‘third spot’ hence the name three spot gourami.

Although traditionally this species is a silvery-blue color, the shade can change significantly with the mood as well as during spawning, where the fish become a deeper blue.

That said, the fish sold as blue gourami today is a color variation of the three spot gourami and is usually silvery-blue. The Opaline or Cosby variations lack the two spots on the body and have a darker blue marbling, plus they are rarely available for sale.

Three spot gouramis are widespread throughout South East Asia and can also be found in the Mekong river basin in South China, Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia.

They frequent shallow lowland marshes, swamps, and peatlands, but can also be found in streams and canals or flooded forests.

Blue gouramis are arguably the hardiest of the gourami family and tolerate a wide range of temperature and are not demanding in terms of water conditions.

Even so, the fishes prefer soft, slightly acidic water in thickly planted aquariums. Juveniles require a 15 to 20-gallon fish tank, but as they grow to adulthood, they will need a 35-gallon tank (or more) because they can reach a length of 6 inches.

Three spot gouramis are territorial and don’t ordinarily make good community fish, so avoid keeping them with guppies, goldfish, angelfish, and betta or any other colorful fish with long fins and tail.

Better companions include tetras, loaches, danios, mollies, platies, barbs, and catfish.

Three spot gouramis are easy to feed and will accept virtually any food you offer them. They’ll eat flake food, freeze-dried foods, and even live foods.

They are also quite useful at consuming and eliminating hydra from fish tanks.

Having said that, the three-spot gourami has a couple of variants, so it’s not uncommon for the fish to be referred by any of these names depending on the type.

  • Blue gourami (blue morph)
  • Gold or golden gourami (yellow morph)
  • Platinum gourami (white morph)
  • Lavender or amethst gourami (for the result morph of crossing a blue and gold gourami)
  • Opaline or cosby gourami (deep blue morph that lack two spots on the body)
  • Size: 3 to 6 inches
  • Minimum Tank Size: 20 gallons
  • Care Level: Easy
  • Temperament: Semi-aggressive
  • Tank Conditions: 75°F to 86°F, Hardness 5 to 18 dGH, ph 6.5 to 8.0

#4 — Honey Gourami (Trichogaster chuna)

Honey gouramis are small freshwater fish that easily become a centerpiece in aquariums once they get settled. The fish are colored in soft hues of silvery-grey to light-yellow and sometimes have a light, brown, horizontal stripe along the center.

Males develop a vibrant honey color when breeding.

The species is native to the Ganges river in Northern India including its floodplains and delta in Bangladesh and the Brahmanputra system in the states of Assam, Manipur, Meghalya, and Arunachal pradesh, with additional records from Nepal.

Typically, honey gouramis occupy low-altitude, heavily-planted, sluggish waters in ponds, ditches, and flooded fields. Moreover, their habitat undergo seasonal fluctuations in water volume, chemistry and turbidity due to the annual moonsoon.

For this reason, honey gouramis will survive in a wide range of water conditions, thoug they prefer warm aquarium water, with a hardness anywhere from 4 to 15 dGH and a fairly neutral ph.

Maintain the temperature in your fish tank between 72°F and 82°F.

Also, this species fair best in a well planted, shady setup with plenty of surface cover in form of tall stem plants and floating species. Driftwood can also be used to attach other plants like Java moss, plus clay pots and plastic pipes can be used to provide more shelters.

Because the fish naturally inhabit sluggish waters, filtration should not be strong and an air pump is not absolutely necessary.

In the aquarium, honey gouramis will accept flake foods, but should also be offered plenty of small, live or frozen foods such as daphnia, and bloodworms.

A good balanced diet will especially develop optimal colors in your fish.

  • Size: 3 inches
  • Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallons
  • Care Level: Easy
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Tank conditions: 71°F to 82°F, Hardness 4 to 15 dGH, ph 6.0 to 7.5

#5 — Kissing Gourami (Helostoma temminckii)

Kisser fish or pink kisser, commonly called the kissing gouramis are a silvery-peach colored species with thick lips that can be extended or pursed as in kissing.

They are generally peaceful, though occassional pressing of the lips between males is considered a territorial challenging behavior albeit harmless. Besides, the behaviour tends to diminish with age, so does the desire for mating territories.

The pink kisses are native to the Indonesian Island of Java, with fewer populations found in Borneo, Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam.

Howbeit, most kissing gouramis sold in the USA are commercially bred in Florida.

Kisser fish require a big (75 gallons) aquarium as they can get up to 12 inches in length, and are not recommended for beginners because of their specific maintanance requirements.

In nature, they inhabit slow-moving, heavily-vegetated ponds and marshes, but in capitivity, they are quite hardy and tolerate a range of water conditions. Like other gouramis, they can survive in low oxygen tanks since they are able to breath from the water surface. Which also means a powerful filter or an air pump for rapid water movement is not too necessary.

Even so, kissin gouramis need a lot of space with access to the surface, warm water and plenty of plants. However, they are fond of plant matter in their diet, so use artificial plant in your tank or sturdy live species such as Jave fern, Java moss, and Vallisneria.

Kissing gourami can be querrelsome when kept with a few large species so observe some caution when pairing them. Plus dont maintain them with small, non-aggressive fish.

When keeping them in a community, its best to house them with medium to large sized fish and keep a close eye to ensure they are not bullying their tankmates.

Good kissing gourami tankmates include loaches, barbs, large tetras, certain cichlids, and some catfish.

Usually, pink kissers feed on algae and vegetable matter, but they’ll accept a variety of food in an aquarium including flake, frozen, freeze-dried and small live foods like tubifex and brine shrimp.

There staple is vegetable matter and so should be provided plenty of spirulina,based foods as well as fresh veggies such as fresh romaine lettuce, cooked zucchini, or peas.

  • Size: 12 inches
  • Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons
  • Care Level:Easy to Intermediate
  • Temperament: Semi-aggressive
  • Tank Conditions: 72°F to 82°F, hardness 5 to 20dGH, ph 6.8 to 8.5

#6 — Chocolate Gourami ( Sphaerichthys osphromenoides)

Know for their gentle,shy nature, chocolate gouramis are a species native to the Malay peninsula, sumatra and Borneo and have a chocolate color with golden bands running down their bodies.

Chocolate gouramis are fairly small in size with a flat oval shape that reach a length of 2.5 inches and a small head and pointed mouths.

Mostly, these fish are found in the blackwater peat and swamps adjacent streams, but sometime they venture into clear water areas that are tannin stained by decomposing leaves.

Therefore, maintain your chocolate gouramis in a well-planted aquarium with gentle filtration with added peat extracts to mimic their natual environment.

In regard to water chemistry, this species is delicate and is particularly prone to bacteria and skin parasites meaning they are not good for beginners.

However, it is a rewarding challange for experienced aquarist if maintained in a properly set up 30 gallon fish tank.

Frequent water changes are especially crucial, plus these gouramis do well when kept in pairs.

Chocolate gouramis are only compatible with other shy, peaceful tankmates such as danios, small rasboras like harlequins and eye-spot rasboras or some loaches like kuhli loach or mini loyal loach.

These fishes are slow-moving and are easily intimidated, so any fish that will out compete them for food or scare them should be avoided.

Chocolate gouramis are omnivores and will accept most fish foods, but they require a balanced diet that includes algae-based flake as well as meaty treats.

  • Size: 2.5 inches
  • Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons
  • Care Level: Difficult
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Tank Conditions: 75°F to 86°F, Hardness .5 to 6 dGH, ph 6.0 to 7.6

#7 — Licorice Gourami (Parosphromenus deissneri )

Licorice gourami is a group of small, beautifully colored labyrinth fish with males more brightly colored then females.

There are about 20 scientifically described fishes but most are facing extinction because they live in peat swamps that have been drained exntesively for oil palm ciltivation in their native habitat.

Also, due to their small size, they are prey to many predators that include herons, snake heads, and large shrimp.

Male licorice gouramis have verticle stripes in black and silver and iridescent, turquoise blue and red hues on the fins and tails, while females are brownish with black edging on the fins.

Other common color forms include black, blue, red, and tan.

Licorice gouramis make a great addition to the accomplished hobbyist, but are largely challenging to new fish keepers.

They like a well planted aquarium that is 20-gallons or more, with soft, slightly acidic water and a good filtrations.

Dim lights and dead leaves are a prerequisite to succeful care and breeding licorice gouramis as well.

The fish are care breeders so adding a couple of pots and shells in the tank is also recommended.

Licorice gouramis are omnivores that prefer both algae-based food as well as meaty treats. So, an algae-based flake food along with freeze-dried bloodworms, tubifex, and brine shrimp will provide your fish with the necessary nutrition.

  • Size: 1.25 inches
  • Minimum Tank Size: 20 gallons
  • Care Level: Difficult
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Tank Conditions: 74°F to 82°F, Hardness 0 to 10 dGH, ph 5.6 to 7.2

#8 — Sparkling Gourami (Trichopsis pumila)

Also known as pygmy gourami, sparkling gouramis are tiny but glaring fish that are not too common in home aquariums hence a unique addition.

They have golden bodies that are speckled with flecks of iridiscent red and fins that are adorned with blue and green spots. They only reach a total length of between 1 and 1.5 inches and are ideal even for small, 1o-gallon fish tanks.

They are native to the ponds, slow rivers, and rice fields of South East Asia.

Keep your sparkling gouramis in an aquarium planted with live aquatic species and decorated with rocks or driftwood as they need plenty of places to hide.

A dark substrate or slightly tinted water is advisable to bring out the best colorations of the fish and best mimic their natural environment.

Males can be territorial with each other but become timid around more aggressive species, so maintain them with slightly boisterous fish of the same size and similar water requirements.

However, due to their small size, avoid species that will agitate or devour your sparkling gouramis. Good tankmate include dwarf gouramis, rasboras, and dwarf rainbow fish. Corydoras, tetras, and Otos make ideal companions as well.

In the wild, sparkling gouramis feed on small insects, but in the tank, they’ll gladly eat dry and live foods with flake foods forming a good base diet.

  • Size: up to 1.6 inches
  • Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallons
  • Care Level: Easy
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Tank Conditions: 72°F to 80°F, Hardness 4 to 10 dGH, ph 6.0 to 7.0

#9 — Moonlight Gourami (Trichopodus microlepis)

Moonlight gouramis are some of the most popular gouramis in the aquarium trade and are sometimes called moonbeam gourami. The fishes are native to Cambodia and Vietnam.

Usually, these gouramis grow to a maximum of 5 inches and require an aquarium that is at least 30-gallons in size.

In the wild, they inhabit still or slow-moving waters with plenty of vegatation such as ponds, bogs, swamps, and lakes, although they are also found in floodplains of the Mekong river.

Moonlight gouramis are long and flat with a head that is concave shaped. They have ventral fins with thin filaments which are sensitive to touch and males pelvic fins are red.

Female pelvic fins are yellow or colorless.

Overall, the fish have small, silvery scales which develop a pretty greenish glow as they mature; their eyes are red and orange.

Keep your moonlight gouramis in a planted aquarium with sturdy plants like Java fern, Java moss and vallisneria. Water sprite and Amazon swords are good alternatives as well.

The fish are largely shy and may hide most of the time, but they are largely peaceful and will accomodate non-aggressive tankmates.

However, a thing to note is males can get quite territorial, so if you keep them together in a small aquarium, there is a chance you will end up with both fish having grievous wounds which often prove fatal.

In the wild, moonlight gouramis feed on insects, inverts, algae, and small amounts of plant matter. For this reason, a high quality flake food with occasional treat of live foods is considered good enough.

One of the best staples to offer these fish is micro wafers and their favourite live food happens to be mosquito larvae, bloodworms, blackworms, daphnia and brine shrimp.

  • Size: 3 to 5 inches
  • Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons
  • Care Level: Intermediate
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Tank Conditions: 79°F to 86°F, Hardness 2 to 25 dGH, ph 6.0 to 7.0

#10 — Paradise Gourami (Macropodus opercularis)

Paradise gourami, paradise fish, or paradise-fish are a colorful species of freshwater fish of the gourami family that have a thin rectangular body and characterized by their flowing fins.

Wild form paradise gouramis have both red and blue markings, though in modern times, solid red and solid blue types have been produced by breeders.

Still, they’ll all display dark blue lateral lines on the sides during a fight or when agitated.

Like all gouramis, they have two thread-like pelvic fins and grow to an adult size of around 4 inches in length.

The species is native to East Asia ranging from the Korean peninsula to Northern Vietnam where they inhabit slow-moving, shallow waters that mostly vary in condition.

Consequently, paradise gouramis are extremely hardy and will survive in a range of water and tank conditions. However, to keep them at their healthiest, a heavily planted aquarium with moderately soft water is prefered.

Also, since like other gouramis paradise fish have labyrinth organs, it is key you make sure the tank has sufficient surface area for your fish to breathe.

Paradise gouramis are fairly combative and usually attack each other as well as kill smaller fish. Mostly, they will show aggression towards other of their kind than fishes of a different species.

Ergo, keep males apart to lower aggressive behavior and instead maintain a single male with several females or maintain females together in a group.

Avoid other colorful fishes that may be perceived as threats too.

If you must maintain your paradise gouramis in a community, stay clear of slow-moving fish with brilliant colors and flowy fins like angelfish, goldfish, and betta.

Instead, companion them with larger non-aggressive species of cichlids and gouramis. Danios, clown loach, redtail sharks and bala sharks are also good companions.

That said, paradise fish are refined jumpers, so add a firm cover at the tops of your fish tank.

Lastly, the fishes are omnivores and will readily accept most flake and pellet based food. However, it is important to supplement their diet with live foods such as mosquito larvae, bloodworms, and daphnia.

  • Size: 4 inches
  • Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons
  • Care Level: Intermediate
  • Temperament: Semi-aggressive
  • Tank Conditions: 61°F to 79°F, Hardness 5 to 30 dGH, ph 5.8 to 8.0

Can You Keep Different Types of Gouramis Together?

There are several types of gouramis each with different temperament and aggression level, so maintaining them together is at best a hit or miss.

Hence, there is no direct answer as to whether this combo will work or you’ll end up with an oddball that kills every other fish in the tank.

Even so, there are gourami species that can live together as long as your aquarium is heavily planted and decorated with enough hiding spaces and obstacles that break their line of sight.

For instance, blue, lavender, and gold gouramis are ideal for a gourami communities, moreso when there are no females or when there are enough females for every male fish in the tank.

On the flip side, maintaining species like dwarf, honey and pearl gourami together can be challenging, though not impossible. Usually, the pearl will pick on the honey and dwarf considering they are smaller and less meaner.

That said, there are one thing you should keep in mind before you try housing different gouramis together.

That is all gouramis exhibit territorial tendencies and are especially belligerent towards their own kind or similarly colored and patterned fish that are perceived as threats.

However, (as I had mentioned), the aggression levels vary from one species to the other with males more aggressive than females.

Therefore, to dampen hostile behavior in your gourami tank when keeping different species together:

  1. Add a lot of tall plants, rocks, driftwood, and decorations to both create enough hiding spaces and break the direct line of sight for your fish. Plus this helps each fish establish a territory wihtout venturing into anothers fish’s turf.
  2. Besides adding plants and decorations, leave enough space (plus use a big tank) as its takes a big aquarium to ensure each fish gets enough water area under its control.
  3. If you notice bubble nests, take it out and use power heads or other powerful filters to make the water surface turbulent because the last thing you need is a breeding gourami in a community situatuion.
  4. Having one male to several females will sufficiently dampen aggression, but avoid placing more than one male (regardless of the species) in a community tank with a limited number of ladies. Also, consider adding different types of the same species like flame powder blue and dwarf gourami or blue with lavender or opaline gourami, before maintaining different species together.
  5. Lastly, do not combine different gouramis if you do not have a spare tank to move your fish in case of an altercation.

That’s all…

…enjoy keeping gouramis

Eddie Waithaka

Resident Content Creator and Marketer at AquariaWise who talks about aquariums and fish and aquascapes a lot.

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