Dwarf Gourami – Everything you wanted to know

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Dwarf gourami or Colisa Lalia belongs to the family Belontiidae, which is an incredibly colorful addition to your plain tank aquariums. They are tropical and peaceful fish that swim together in harmony when kept in pairs. If you’re planning to get dwarf gourami for your tank, I suggest putting at least four gourami fish together to make them feel secure.

With that being said, I’ll discuss everything in detail about dwarf gourami in this article.

So, read on.

A Brief Overview of The Dwarf Gourami Fish

Scientific NameTrichogaster lalius
Common NamesDwarf gourami, flame gourami, powder blue gourami, red gourami, sunset gourami
FamilyOsphronemidae
OriginIndia (Assam, West Bengal), Pakistan, and BangladeshDiet: Omnivore
DietOmnivore
Care LevelEasy
ActivityPeaceful
Lifespan3 – 5 years
TemperamentPeaceful
Tank LevelMiddle to top-level
Minimum Tank Size10 gallons
Temperature Range72 – 82 °F
Water Hardness10-20 dGH
pH Range6.0 – 8.0
Filtration/Water FlowLow
Water TypeFreshwater
BreedingEgg layer
Difficulty to BreedIntermediate
CompatibilityCommunity tanks
OK, for Planted Tanks?Yes

What Are Dwarf Gouramis?

The scientific name for Dwarf gourami is Trichogaster lalius. It is a freshwater tropical fish that is usually timid and gets along with other tank mates easily. Dwarf gourami is a schooling fish, thus, aim to put at least four dwarf gouramis in a tank.

Dwarf Gourami in Aquarium

Also, like betta fish, they are also labyrinth fish. The labyrinth organ allows them to get oxygen from the water surface. Therefore, you’ll likely find your gourami fish spending most of their time at the top or middle level of your freshwater tank.

Origin and Habitat

Dwarf gourami originates from India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, Borneo, and Myanmar. Mostly they are found in the regions of River Ganges and Brahmaputra as it inhabits and thrives in stagnant water that is heavily planted and has slow-moving streams and lakes. They also grow in flooded rice fields.

Apart from their natural habitat, dwarf gourami is introduced to Colombia, Singapore, Taiwan, Florida, The Philippines, and Canada.

Appearance

Dwarf gourami is freshwater fish known for its beautiful appearance. The male dwarf gouramis have larger bodies than female dwarf gouramis. Also, the male gouramis possess a bright reddish-orange body and vertical stripes, extending into the fins. Whereas, females are usually dull with bluish-silver color. On the thread-like pelvic fins of dwarf gourami are touch-sensitive cells.

Types of Dwarf Gourami

Many different types of dwarf gourami differ in colors, sizes, patterns, and shapes. However, in this article, I’ll list the five most popular freshwater dwarf gourami types.

Powder Blue Dwarf Gourami

Out of all the five categories, the powder blue dwarf gourami is the most popular freshwater fish with beautiful iridescent “powdery” blue accents that is a result of selective breeding (video source). The body of powder blue dwarf gourami has little vertical stripes of reddish-orange color. The powder blue dwarf gourami variety is commonly known as Coral blue dwarf gourami.

Flame Dwarf Gourami

Flame Dwarf Gourami

Red dwarf gourami, Blushing Gourami, or The Flame gourami species are a striking color morph of the dwarf gourami with more solid accents. The body of flame dwarf gourami is mostly painted with solid bright red and contrasted by a bright blue dorsal fin. These species of dwarf gourami lack vertical striping unlike most gourami and the fins are also found on its parentage. The flame gourami is a result of selective breeding, which makes an astounding fish for aquariums.

Honey Dwarf Gourami

Honey Gourami in Fish Tank

The honey gourami was once called Colisa chuna and Colisa sota. They are a wonderful addition to your community tank once it gets settled. Honey gouramis are adored by fish experts for small aquariums for their pleasant and docile nature. They come in soft hues of grayish silver to light yellow that sometimes are accentuated with the light horizontal brown stripe along the center of the body. During the time of breeding, the male honey gourami turns vibrant honey-like color. Like other types of dwarf gourami, the honey dwarf gourami is not popular aquarium fish due to its bland colors.

Blue Dwarf Gourami

The blue dwarf gourami or the three spot gourami are identical, in which, they are generally two spots. The eye of the blue dwarf gourami is mistaken as the third spot. These species are a color variation of the three spot gourami. It is brown with yellow gills and irregular darker bars on the shoulder. These species are beautiful with a hazy, bluish-white coat. If you’re just entering the fishkeeping hobby world, I recommend starting with this variety as it’s one of the hardiest and aware of its owners.

Neon Blue Dwarf Gourami

Even though the neon blue dwarf gourami species look exactly the same as the dwarf gourami (video source), these fish have a lot more blue.

They are one of the most popular freshwater fish and widely available out of all the color morphs of the dwarf gourami. With a bright neon blue to turquoise color, complemented with strong vertical red stripes, the neon blue gourami is an outstanding addition to your home aquariums. Sometimes, the blue coloring showcases a shiny metallic cast to it, which gives this variety a new name, Rainbow Gourami.

Lifespan

The dwarf gourami is one of the small schooling fish that is also very hardy. The average lifespan of dwarf gourami is 4 years, but with proper care and tank maintenance, it can extend up to 7 years.

Average Size

The dwarf gourami is the smallest of all Gourami variations that grow up to 3.5 inches in length. Some reports suggest they normally grow up to 3 1/2″. However, males reach a length of around 3 inches and females are a bit smaller, around 2.4 inches in length.

Dwarf Gourami Care

Though the dwarf gourami is a hardy fish that is excellent for novice and busy fish keepers, they need strict tank maintenance as they are vulnerable to fish diseases. Dwarf gourami is considered an easy-going species in terms of food and breeding.

However, if you’re planning to buy a Dwarf Gourami for the first time, be careful as these species usually carry a virus, Dwarf Gourami Iridovirus (DGIV), which is transferable with no successful treatment.

Aquarium Setup

Dwarf Gouramis love all parts of the tank, but they enjoy swimming in the middle and top level of the aquarium the most. They also prefer slow-moving water because, in their natural habitat, they inhabit lakes, creeks, canals, and ponds.

Since they are small freshwater fish, you can keep them in a smaller tank. However, they thrive in large aquariums with plenty of swimming space and lots of vegetation along with their tank mates. Also, since they have a labyrinth organ, the tank should be kept at room temperature with a proper filtration system with a slow to moderately slow current to ensure the safety of the labyrinth organ.

The placement of the tank is also important to keep your fish healthy because they get easily stressed when kept in loud and noisy areas.

Tank Size

Since Dwarf Gourami is a small fish, many aquarists tend to keep it in small containers, and jars. However, this is wrong. Dwarf gourami needs at least a 10 gallon tank to thrive and live happily. However, if you’re keeping two to three gouramis together, a 20 gallon tank would suffice.

Water Parameters

No matter how hardy these fish are, poor water conditions will lead to stress, disease, and possibly death. Thus, maintain the quality of water to raise a happy fish. With that being said, the water parameters should be considered before placing your fish in the tank.

Temperature range:

These species thrive in temperatures around 72° F to 82° F, whereas, the ideal temperature is 77° F. To avoid illness and stress levels, I recommend keeping the room temperature consistent with the tank water temperature. It will also allow help prevent trauma to the labyrinth organs.

pH range:

The ideal pH level range of a dwarf gourami aquarium tank is 6 to 8.

Hardness range

The ideal water hardness range for a dwarf Gourami tank is around 10 to 20 dGH

Filtration and Aeration

If you’re not a fan of tank filters, Good news! DwarfGouramis (Trichogaster lalius) can go without a tank filter. But you need to be very proactive if you’re planning to set up a no-filter tank for your gouramis.

How to Setup a no filter tank for your dwarf gourami

Add lots of aquarium plants: If you’re skipping the filter, it’s imperative to add many live plants that provide enough hiding spots and aerate water while absorbing CO2 and eliminating harmful toxic chemicals from the tank.

Install an air pump: An Air pump is used to aerate the aquarium water. The air pump produces air bubbles that hit the water surface and remove carbon dioxide and add oxygen to the tank water.

Best Aquarium Filter for Dwarf Gourami

If you cannot do frequent water changes and maintain the aquarium timely, you definitely need an aquarium filter. However, bear in mind that too much current puts your gouramis under stress. Therefore, I recommend air stones to oxygenate the water well.

For an aquarium filter, I suggest installing a canister filter or a hang-on back filter. Also, make sure to adjust the water flow rate to the lowest since Dwarf gouramis do not enjoy high current and strong water flow.

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Additionally, the dwarf gourami is vulnerable to nitrites. Therefore, a good quality filter should be used to prevent the buildup of nitrites. The canister filter or hang-on back filter will keep the water clean, avoiding unnecessary stress and health issues in your fish. I also advise setting up a partial water change routine weekly so the dirty water is replaced with clean water.

However, if you have a small tank, I suggest sponge filters because they produce a low water current, ideal for your Dwarf Gouramis.

Lighting

Gouramis love natural lighting. As for the artificial light, it’s necessary if you have a heavily planted tank but a strong light would disturb the gouramis. Therefore, I suggest a dimmed or adjustable aquarium L.E.D light to switch on maximum for 8 to 10 hours.

Aquatic Plants and Decorations

Since they come from an area with loads of plants, Dwarf Gourami loves a densely vegetated tank with some drifting and floating plants (Hornwort and Duckweed) to give them shade. However, make sure you don’t overpopulate the tank with floating plants as your gouramis will regularly breathe air at the tank’s surface.

Dwarf gouramis need hiding places to rest and hide occasionally. Therefore, plants are the best option that provides a natural cover to your gouramis. You can also add small caves, driftwood, and well-rounded sand grains.

Tank Maintenance

It is recommended to maintain the hygiene of the tank by removing any uneaten food. I recommend changing 25% of the water weekly for a Dwarf Gourami tank.

Substrate

The dwarf Gourami spends most of their time in the middle or top of the tank. Therefore, the substrate is not an issue. However, they show their best colors on a beautiful dark substrate of sand or gravel. I recommend choosing a substrate of large grains, so the Dwarf gourami doesn’t swallow it.

Dwarf Gourami Tank Mates

Dwarf Gourami is peaceful fish that enjoy the company of other compatible fish in the community tank. Thus, avoid keeping them with large, aggressive, and territorial fish such as Cichlids. Also, avoid fin nipping fish with as Dwarf Gourami tank mates.

The ideal tank mates for dwarf gourami are fish that dwell near the bottom of the tank. Some great examples of compatible tank mates for your dwarf gourami are:

  1. Harlequin Rasbora
  2. Peaceful barbs
  3. Kuhlii Loach
  4. Corydoras
  5. Otocinclus
  6. Small Rainbowfish
  7. Plecos
  8. Swordtail fish
  9. Mollies

Incompatible Tank Mates

Some of the worst tank mates for your Dwarf Gourami are:

  1. Betta (Siamese Fighting Fish)
  2. Paradise fish
  3. Guppies
  4. Murray Cod

Breeding

Firstly, you need a separate breeding tank to successfully breed and raise Gouramis. For breeding purposes, you can get a tank as smaller as 5 gallons. However, a 13 Gallon tank would do great. In the breeding tank, keep the water temperature at around 81 degrees F with a slightly acidic pH and 10 dH water hardness. Fish experts also recommend lowering the water to around 8 inches. The breeding tank should be well equipped with floating plants and other live plants. Most importantly, keep only one male in a breeding tank.

The dwarf Gouramis are bubble nest builders, i.e., the male incorporates floating plants into their nest that is comparatively larger than the fish. Under the bubble nest, male gouramis attract the female following a few meetings. The spawning begins when the male wraps his body around the female while releasing the sperm. Many eggs don’t float up into the bubble nests themselves, thus, the male carries these eggs with their mouth, putting them into the bubble nest. One female gourami can lay up to 800 eggs at a time.

After successful spawning with one female, the male finds another female and entices it under the nest. This process continues until there’s no fertile female left in the tank. After spawning, the male takes care of the nest and his eggs.

The eggs hatch in around 12 to 24 hours. It is recommended to remove the male fish after 3 days since the fry can swim freely. The fry is very small that you cannot even notice with the naked eye. Thus, microscopic food should be given to the fry. One of the first food of the fry is green water, filled with algae. After a few days, the fry will be big enough to eat infusoria. After a few weeks, it is recommended to shift your fry to bigger food such as brine shrimp and daphnia. I always recommend feeding live food to the fry instead of commercial food.

Dwarf Gourami Food and Diet

The dwarf gouramis are omnivorous and tropical fish. Thus, it’s essential to feed them a tropical diet such as tropical flakes and pellet fish. They also feed on small invertebrates in their natural habitats such as algae, and aufwuchs. Hence, in captivity, dwarf gouramis feed on live food, and fresh and flake foods. I suggest supplementing their diet with white worms, daphnia, blood worms, and brine shrimp with vegetable material like peas, and zucchini.

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You should feed your Gouramis at least twice or thrice a day.

Dwarf Gourami Disease and Health Problems

The dwarf gouramis are considered very hardy fish, exceptional for beginner aquarists. If you keep their aquarium clean with ideal water parameters, you’ll hardly face any problems. However, like any other fish, they are prone to some diseases and bacterial infections, constipation, and hole in the head. Thus, maintaining water quality, and providing them with healthy nutrition is imperative to the well-being of your fish.

Here are some of the diseases and infections that your gouramis can carry easily:

Viral Infections

The symptoms of viral infection in Gouramis are:

  1. Faded color
  2. Loss of fins

The main cause of viral infections is water pollution.

Iridovirus in Dwarf Gourami

DGIV is a very serious infection that can be deadly. The main reason for Iridovirus in dwarf Gouramis is a weak immune and digestive system.

To treat the infection, you need to consult with a nutritionist to follow a diet plan for your fish.

Fungal Infection

Many times, in fungal infections, aquarium fish rub their bodies against the objects of the tank, which makes them stressed. It is due to the unhealthy conditions of the aquarium. Thus, I always recommend getting rid of fish waste, and uneaten food to maintain the healthy environment of your tank.

Tips and Tricks to Keep Your Gourami Fish Happy

  1. Always check your fish while buying them from the pet store for diseases and illnesses. A best practice is to quarantine if you can manage it.
  2. Make sure your gouramis are in the right proportion, i.e, three females to one male. Always get at least a group of 7 or 10 gouramis at a time. However, if you’re short on space, get a pair to keep them happy.
  3. Plan their diet carefully. Add a varied diet and occasionally feed them flaked food. Notice the color of your fish, if it fades out, increases the proportion of live food
  4. Avoid keeping them in aquariums less than 10 gallons as they require free-swimming places and hiding places.
  5. Make sure to place the tank in a quiet environment as gourami fish doesn’t like noisy places and get easily stressed out.
  6. Reconsider introducing more than one male dwarf gouramis in an aquarium as they can get very territorial and fight aggressively. 
  7. Male Gouramis are known to harass females. Therefore, I recommend adding at least three females in a separate tank with one male fish. Once the female lays eggs, immediately remove them from the tank after spawning.

FAQs

How many dwarf gouramis should be kept together?

Dwarf gouramis are schooling fish and should be kept in a group of at least 4. They feel secure in a group, thus, the bigger the group, the better. However, if you have a small tank, I suggest keeping them in pairs.

Are dwarf gouramis easy to keep?

Yes, dwarf gouramis are very hardy fish and very easy to keep even for first-time aquarists. All you need to take care of is the quality of water.

Do dwarf gouramis need to be in pairs?

Yes, Dwarf gouramis are social fish that enjoys the company of other fish species. Therefore, if you have a small tank, keep a pair of dwarf gourami to keep them healthy and happy.

What size tank does dwarf gourami need?

Dwarf Gouramis need at least a 10 gallon tank to thrive. However, if you have space, I suggest getting a 20 gallon tank as they need a lot of swimming space and hiding places.

Are dwarf gouramis good beginner fish?

Yes, dwarf gouramis are beginner-friendly fish that need little care.

Final Thoughts

Dwarf Gouramis are beautiful, colorful fish that add opulence to your home aquariums. The biggest reason I suggest keeping them is their ever-friendly attitude and hardy nature with a tank requirement of at least 10 gallons. However, make sure to maintain the water quality as they are highly prone to fatal diseases, and bacterial and fungal infections.

by Mark

Mark is the founder of Aquarium Store Depot. He started in the aquarium hobby at the age of 11 and along the way worked at local fish stores. He has kept freshwater tanks, ponds, and reef tanks for over 25 years. His site was created to share his knowledge and unique teaching style on a larger scale. He has worked on making aquarium and pond keeping approachable. Mark has been featured in two books about aquarium keeping - both best sellers on Amazon. Each year, he continues to help his readers and clients with knowledge, professional builds, and troubleshooting.

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