August 13

Dwarf Gourami: The Ultimate Care, Diet, Setup, & Breeding Guide

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Dwarf Gourami is another highly popular species because of its peaceful nature. Their colorful body and docile nature make them quite alluring for freshwater fishkeepers – whether novices or experts.  It adds brilliant color as well as diversity to a passive community aquarium. 

As they are labyrinth fish, they breathe straight from the air like a lung-like organ. Therefore they need easy access to the water’s surface. They are also unique because of their ability to construct complex yet fantastic nests when breeding. 

In this comprehensive Dwarf Gourami Care guide, we cover everything: From its basic keeping essentials to care and breeding different kinds of its species, you will get answers for all of your questions. So, without further ado, let’s begin. 

About Dwarf Gourami 

  • Scientific Name: Trichogaster, Trichopsis, Trichopodus or Colisa,
  • Species: T. Lalius
  • Nature: Very Friendly &Peaceful
  • Care Level and Upkeep: very easy
  • Breeding: Bubble Nests &Egglayer
  • Specie Origins: South Asia and South east Asia
  • Common Names: Dwarf Gourami

Freshwater Dwarf Gourami

Temperament 

The temperament of Dwarf Gourami is very friendly & peaceful. That is why they make an excellent addition to any community aquarium. 

But, there are certain species of fish that can make them restless, stressed, even aggressive. For instance,  Anabantoids like betas are hostile. They will start fighting each other for the territory. 

Likewise, if you keep multiple males in the same small space and belong to different species, expect a riot. 

Besides these two instances, Dwarf Gourami is a peaceful species. They have a docile nature which goes well with most of the other peaceful species of fish. 

Each Dwarf Gourami kept in a tank will display a very unique personality. And they develop a very puppy-like temperament towards the owner. These qualities make them an excellent addition to an aquarium. 

Natural Habitat 

Dwarf Gourami originates in South East Asia and South Asia. It is native to regions like Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, and Bangladesh. However, it has also been widely distributed to other regions. These countries have diverse Dwarf Gourami populations. Its native regions have slugging large rivers. That’s why Dwarf Gourami loves heavily planted aquariums, lush in vegetation and with a slow flow of water. 

These fish are suitable for small fish tanks and community aquariums. They can become very restless when subjected to noise. So, Gouramis should be kept in a quiet and peaceful location. 

Gourami Lifespan 

The average and most common lifespan of Dwarf Gouramis are 5 to 7 years. The term Dwarf Gourami refers to several different species of fish. Therefore the lifespan can be variable. Some of the Gouramis live only for 4 years max. On the other hand, some of their species can achieve as long a life as 10 years. 

However, it depends on the proper care and suitable conditions. Poor diet, stress, or inadequate living conditions can reduce their lifespan. Generally, they are a very peaceful kind of fish. Unlike the standard Gourami, which can get pretty aggressive, Dwarf Gourami lives longer.

Gourami Size 

Dwarf Gourami – as the term dwarf suggests – are very small fish species. It becomes all the more apparent when you compare them with their cousins – the regular Gouramis. The regular Gouramis can be as large as 2 feet. 

The average size of a Dwarf Gourami can be anywhere from 3.5 inches to  4.5 inches, depending on the species. Of course, your fish can be bigger than this size. The size depends on several factors. But for the most part, if your fish is within this range, it’s fine. 


    Dwarf Gourami Care 

    When it comes to the caring routine, there are several things you need to keep in mind. Consider these before keeping them in your aquarium. 

    Dwarf Gourami

    Requirements 

    Dwarf Gourami is an easy-to-care fish and does not require a large aquarium. They are also hardy species and are relatively tolerant of water quality. They get along pretty well with other peaceful species, making them a perfect addition for beginners aquarium.

    Be mindful of these two things, though: 

    1. Tank size: The tank size for most Dwarf Gourami should be 20 to 30 gallons. This provides them with plenty of swimming space. Some smaller types, such as the glittering Gourami, only reach 1.5 inches and can be accommodated in as small tanks as 5 gallons.
    1. Waterflow: Dwarf Gouramis are Anabantoids, which means that they have a labyrinth-like organ. It allows them to get oxygen from the air, not just water. However, they cannot do so if the water flow is fast or turbulent. That’s why they are ideal for slow water flow tanks. 

    Water Parameters 

    Initially, Dwarf Gourami used to come from soft water rivers. These waters have very low pH, which made life difficult for them in hard water areas. However, after years in captivity, they have become quite adaptable. Today, they can adapt to normal water parameters. 

    Basic water parameters for Dwarf Gourami are: 

    pH level: 6.0 to 7.5

    Alkalinity: 4 to 10 dGH

    Water temperature: 75 to 82 degrees F

    Experts suggest instead of worrying about perfect water parameters, this species prefers stability. If the parameters are a few degrees north, it’s not really a problem as long as they remain stable. 

    They are just sensitive to nitrite, nitrates, and ammonia. If your water has a measurable amount of these salts, it can be toxic. Therefore, always cycle your tank before adding this species. 

    Gourami Diet 

    This specie of fish is omnivores. They require quite a varied diet. From algae-based plat food to meat-based nutrients, they require everything. A good thing is that they are not picky about food at all. You can throw them any flake, frozen or dried-frozen food, and they will happily feed on it. Just ensure the fish food is from a reputable brand. 

    Oh, and don’t forget, over-eating is never good for fish. On top of that, Dwarf Gourami has a very small stomach. Consuming more food can cause an excess amount of nitrate, nitrite, and ammonia buildup. So always feed them in small quantity, multiple times in a single day. 

    Schooling 

    Dwarf Gourami is a schooling species. They love to live in groups, and they’re happiest when kept in a group of 10 or more. You can also keep some of their species with other fish if there is enough room in the tank. Without a bigger tank, they will feel very stressed as there are fewer opportunities to interact with others. And they feel less secure. 

    Sure, they are territorial, but they can exist very peacefully in the case of a large tank where there’s more room to swim. The space requirement for different Dwarf Gourami species varies considerably. 

    Types of Gourami 

    Dwarf Gourami Care

    There are approximately 133 species of Gourami. When talking specifically about the Dwarf Gourami, there are countless types. In this section, we will be discussing six of the most popular and unique Dwarf Gourami types. 

    Dwarf Gourami 

    These are the most popular and widely available Gourami species. Dwarf Gourami comes in varying colors, including Power Blue Dwarf Gourami, Neon Blue, and Flame Dwarf Gourami. They are easily distinguishable because of their unique body shape and prominent coloration. 

    However, their colors vary with morph. Some can have vibrant blue colors with red stripes, while others may have an orangish body like a melon discus. All Dwarf Gourami varieties mature to a size of about 3.5 inches. 

    Finding a female Dwarf Gourami can be a problem, though. This is because all the pet stores sell male fish. But, if you are lucky enough to find a female Dwarf Gourami, expect anywhere from 400 to 800 eggs. 

    Sparkling Gourami 

    Sparkling Gourami is a small fish species just like Dwarf Gourami. This makes them ideal for nano fish tanks. Most aquarists prefer to keep them in the same species aquariums. However, it’s not really a requirement. As long as you are keeping them along with other peaceful fish species, they should be fine. 

    These fish are sold as a mix of both males and females. Both have fantastic iridescent patterns across their body. That’s why they are a little easier to breed. But, they lay fewer eggs in comparison with others (only 40 to 80). Like Dwarf Gourami, this species prefers very little water flow. 

    Honey Gourami 

    Honey Gourami goes by several other names. Some people call them red honey Gourami, while others prefer Golden or Golden Honey Gourami. Whatever name you choose to call them by, they are another very peaceful Gourami species and love to socialize with others. An adult Honey Gourami can reach anywhere from 1.5 to 2 inches, making them ideal for small fish tanks. 

    As they are very peaceful, you can keep multiple males of the same species in a 20 or 29 gallons tank. Their coloration ranges from deep orangish to golden yellow. The scientific name of Honey Gourami is ColisaChuna. 

    Three Spot Gourami 

    The Three Spot Gourami is also known as Blue Gourami, Golden Gourami, or Opaline Gourami. It is one of the largest species of the Dwarf Gourami. An adult Three Spot Gourami reaches up to 5 inches in length. Usually, it has a light bluish body with blue spots and stripes. 

    The reason it’s called a Three Spot Gourami because there are two dark circles across their body. These two spots sit right in line with the eye, which creates a kind of the third spot. Its fins are dark blue, and there are little light blue spots on the reverse side of its body. Three Spot Gourami love living in waters with temperatures ranging from 72 to 82 degrees F. 

    Pearl Gourami 

    The Pearl Gourami is also known as Diamond Gourami, Mosaic Gourami, and Lace Gourami. It has a light brown or cream hue, and there are iridescent spots all over the body. These spots are distributed in a geometric pattern. That’s why it is called Mosaic Gourami. 

    A Pearl Gourami has little brown stripes that start from the eyes and taper off around the midsection. This species of Dwarf Gourami is most resilient to the environment and can easily live past five years of average Dwarf Gourami age. 

    Thick Lipped Gourami 

    Finally, we have the Thick Lipped Gourami. These are also called Sunset thick-lipped gourami. This species has rusty red & blue stripes all across its fins and body. They are usually brown or orange in color and rarely get past 3 inches in length. This makes them one of the smallest Gourami species. 

    These are also very schooling species. So, people choose them as tankmates to create diverse, colorful aquariums. Their females are comparatively easy to find. When bred, a single spawn has the ability to produce 500 to 600 eggs. 

    Dwarf Gourami Tank Mates 

    Best Dwarf Gourami Tank Mates

    Tanks that are species-only look fantastic. There’s no doubt about it. But, having a school of sparkling Gourami or pearl gourami adds more variety and color to the aquarium. Luckily, all dwarf gourami species are very friendly and peace-loving creatures. They go along really well with a wide range of other community fish species. 

    Suitable Tank Mates 

    While Dwarf Gourami is very friendly with every other fish species, They go really well with the following: 

    • Cory Catfish
    • Fancy Guppies
    • Mollies
    • Small plecos
    • Platys
    • Large shrimps
    • Danios
    • Rasboras
    • Small loaches (for instance, Rosy loach)
    • Tetras
    • Swordtails

    Tank Mates to Avoid 

    Below are some species you should definitely NOT pair with Dwarf Gourami. 

    Small Shrimps

    Small shrimps like caridina and neo-caridean are not suitable to keep with Dwarf Gourami. This is because the Dwarf Gourami will try to eat them. Larger shrimps such as Amano are fine to house, though. 

    Ananbantoids

    Dwarf Gourami are anabantoids. But they are very aggressive towards other anabantoids. Likewise, other anabantoids behave the same way towards them. For instance, if you keep a Betta and a DG in the same tank, they will fight. 

    Cichlids

    Larger Cichlids like Jack Dempsey or Oscar cichlids can eat Dwarf Gourami. Therefore, they are unsuitable for keeping as mates with Dwarf Gourami. 

    Setting up a Gourami Tank 

    Care for Dwarf Gourami

    Do you want to keep Dwarf Gourami? If yes, then this section is for you. In the following paragraphs, we will be explaining everything you need to know for setting up a Gourami Tank. Consider the following important factors. 

    Equipment  

    The essential equipment is: 

    Tank – Tank size depends on how many DG you want to keep and which species. Generally, a 29 gallons tank is suitable for most cases. Some species like Sparkling Gourami can contentedly live in a 10 gallons tank. While others like the Three Spot Gourami will prefer a larger 40 gallons tank. 

    Water Filteration – Your choice. Just ensure your tank has a constant slow flow. Cannister filters are usually ideal, but not really if you have a 10-gallon tank with some sparkling gourami. Likewise, HOB filters are a good solution for tanks with larger species. 

    Lighting – Get some LED Lights. DG loves a heavily planted tank. Therefore having some LED lights in your tank will help plants grow. 

    Heater – DG prefers stable temperature. Any temperature fluctuation will stress them out. Therefore you need a suitable heater to keep the water temperature at a stable level.  

    Choosing a Substrate 

    The substrate isn’t really that much crucial for Dwarf Gourami. You can keep them on sand or gravel without any problem or noticing any change in their behavior. But, in case you want bottom-dwelling species like Cory Catfish alongside DG, a sand substrate is a must. 

    On the other hand, if you don’t plan to keep bottom-dwelling species in your tank, you can go with any substrate that helps plants grow. Sand has meager nutrient absorption ability, which means root tablets become essential if you want some plants other than floating ones. 

    Adding Live Plants  

    While DG isn’t really a demanding fish species, they love stem or floating plants for cover. Below are some non-demanding and low-tech plants you can start with: 

    • Java Moss
    • Rotala
    • RedRoot Floaters
    • Frogbit
    • Brazilian Water Weed (Anacharis)
    • Amazon Sword
    • Subwassertang
    • Java fern

    Dwarf Gourami loves to hide. So, they like every hiding place, such as different rock and stone formations, driftwood, etc. Mopani wood is another excellent option for DG tanks. Leave aqua-scaping options open for them, and they will be happy in your tank. 

    Cycling  

    Cycling before adding any fish is an absolute must. DG is very sensitive to nitrite, nitrates, and ammonia. Therefore, it is vital that you cycle your tank before adding any new fish. 

    Although you have to wait before adding fish, you can add plants, rocks, and other hardscapes right away. Let your creativity run wild. You can create an aquascape you like before adding the fish species. 

    Plants absorb nitrogen compounds and help convert them into less harmful ones. It also speeds up the cycling process. Wait during the cycling period helps you set up your ideal hardscape. What’s more, it allows the biofilm to establish and take hold in the tank, which creates a healthy overall ecosystem. 

    Breeding Dwarf Gourami 

    Keeping Dwarf Gourami

    As we already discussed, finding female DG can be a problem unless you are going after a DG like the Sparkling Gourami. Sparkling Gourami is easy to keep in groups, so you can easily find a bubble nest full of both males and females. 

    If you are fortunate enough to find a female DG, you will need a separate tank for breeding. In the following section, we explain how you can set it up, help them spawn, and raise the fry. 

    The Breeding Setup  

    First of all, consider the tank size. A 20-gallon tank is a minimum size to get started with. Now, you can use any of these two strategies for your breeding setup. 

    1. Have a dedicated breeding tank – This is the ideal setup. DG creates bubble nests that float on the surface. Usually, they need something else floating on the surface to help create the nest around. You can use anything from a Styrofoam cup to a floating plant. As the fry can fall from their nest, avoid substrate, and males will have trouble bringing them back. First, remove females from the breeding tank once they are done with spawning. 7 days later, remove males as well. 
    1. Having a dedicated fry tank – You can spawn DG in the primary tank. But keep in mind, the fry’s survival rate will be low in case your tank has a substrate. As parents can be houses in separate tanks, At least one will have to move from tank to tank. Breeding is already a very stressful process for DG, and having them move from one tank to another can add to their stress. 

    Setting up a Fry Tank  

    Start with setting up a fry tank. Give it ample time to cycle and create biofilm before moving the fry into it. Make sure this tank has a bare bottom. You can use some floating plants to provide cover. Besides this, it should be simple with just a heater and a sponge filter. 

    Its size will depend on the DG species you want to breed. 800 fry will obviously need a bigger space than a 60 fry. Also, fry starts small, therefore having a 40 to 60-gallon tank is a good place to start. 

    We recommend a sponge filter for fry and breeding tanks. This is because it doesn’t damage the fry. Other types of filters can grind up fry. Last but not least, keep ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels as low as possible. Ideally, it shouldn’t be higher than 10ppm. Even trace amounts of these compounds can wipe out an entire batch of fry. 

    Determining Gender  

    Females are generally brown. There are also some light stripes and minimal color patterns. You can distinguish their color from more vibrant and flamboyant males. Among all the other Gourami listed above, Sparkling is the toughest to mate. Try flashing bright light sources towards their front. If Gourami is a female, their ovaries will become noticeable near their tail. 

    Conditioning Your Fish  

    The normal conditioning period for DG is one to two weeks. Ideal live food is white worms, daphnia, black worms, fairy shrimp, and other protein-rich food. Some people also use frozen food during the conditioning period, which is fine. During this time, separate your male and female population, feed them at least 3 to 5 times a day and then introduce them to each other in the breeding setup. 

    Inducing Spawning  

    A change of tank can often induce spawning in fish. Therefore, moving them from their normal habitat to a breeding tank can help with the spawning process. Mildly increase the temperate to 82 degrees F. Keep the top covered with a secured lid. You will need a thick moisture layer on the water surface. Otherwise, the nest will pop. As a result, the fry will fall off. You don’t really need a special lid for this purpose. Get a saran wrap with some holes, and it should work just fine. 

    Caring for the Eggs  

    Like all the other Labyrinth fishes, DG males have excellent parental skills (at least for the 1st week). They will take care of the fry and eggs. However, he will also attempt to take free swimming fry back to the original tank. This can stress out the male as well as the fry. The fry will start free swimming by the end of the 5th day. At this point, experts suggest removing the male. 

    Fry Care  

    Once the fry has reached free-swimming age, they will absorb their egg sacks. You will have to feed them some live food. We recommend providing at least two different types of food during this period. This will ensure it’s receiving enough nutrition to start life as a mature individual. 

    In the first week, a mixture of micro-worms and infusoria is ideal. If the micro-worms aren’t available, you can go for Vinegar eels. After the first week, you can still use the micro worms, but it’s not enough. A day before they end their first free-swimming week, set up a brine shrimp hatchery. 

    Brine Shrimp can easily sustain them for weeks. Slowly as your GD grows, add some white worms, grindal worms, and blackworms to their food. Once they reach ½ to ¾ inches in length, you can then feed them powdered dry food. 

    Final Thoughts

    This brings us to the end of the Dwarf Gourami Care guide. It’s no wonder DG is one of the trendiest freshwater aquarium fish right now. They are beautiful, and their always busy lifestyle adds a new life to your dead aquarium. They play well with other mates and are absolutely fun to watch. We hope this write-up helps you ensure that your DG lives a happy life to its fullest. And bring joy to you as well. Thank you for reading!


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