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Dwarf Gourami – Trichogaster lalius


Dwarf Gourami

Gouramis originate in Asia and have a form of lung which enables them to breathe air and make nests from bubbles.

Is the Dwarf Gourami a good community fish? Whilst the Dwarf Gourami is a shy fish, it is perfect for keeping in a community tank, is a beautiful little fish and can be bred by aquarists by following some simple steps.

Key Facts

CategoryKey Facts
Common name(s)Dwarf Gourami includes variants known as:
Flame Gourami
Neon Blue Gourami
Powder Blue Gourami
Red Gourami
Turquoise Gourami
Scientific nameTrichogaster lalius
FamilyOsphronemidae
Originate fromIndian sub-continent, specifically from Pakistan, India and Bangladesh
Care requiredModerate – reasonably easy to care for
TemperamentMales can be quite dominant if breeding but generally good in the right community
Colour & FormA range of colour combinations
LifespanApproximately 5 years
Adult size2.5 inches (but can attain 3.5 inches)
DietOmnivorous
Aquarium size20 gallons or more recommended
Compatible withMost community species
Avoid keeping withBigger Gouramis, Fantail Guppies, Swordtails, male Bettas and similarly elaborate fishes
BreedingEasy if you put the fish in the right environment.
Male builds a bubble-nest on the water surface.
Water temp75 – 80 Fahrenheit
Water pH6.8 to 7.8
Water hardness (dGH or dH)3 to 8 dGH

Origins of the Dwarf Gourami

The Dwarf Gourami originates from the Indian sub-continent, specifically from Pakistan, India and Bangladesh.

Characteristics of the Dwarf Gourami

The Dwarf Gourami is also variously also known as:

Powder Blue Gourami
Powder Blue Gourami

As you can see, the Dwarf Gourami, in its numerous forms, is a beautiful little fish. It can grow to around 3.5 inches in size but average 2 inches to 2.5 inches in size. The Dwarf Gourami is omnivorous. The Dwarf Gourami will live for four to five years of age.

Dwarf Gouramis kept in a mixed aquarium are a graceful and beautiful addition to most aquariums. Gouramis do, however, have a tendency to nip at the tails of fishes with elongated or elaborate finnage so it’s best to avoid keeping them with the various fantail Guppies, Swordtails, male Bettas and similarly elaborate fishes.

The male Dwarf Gourami is territorial when he is ready to mate whereas the females are comfortable as a small shoal so you could quite reasonably keep one male and several female Dwarf Gouramis in the same tank.

Dwarf Gouramis are extremely fascinating to watch. They tend to occupy the area of the tank from the top to the middle but will venture to all parts of the tank on occasion.

Much of the time, Dwarf Gouramis tend to move slowly and gradually and are rather shy little fishes but they can dart around the tank with great speed when the mood takes them.

Dwarf Gourami – Video

How do Dwarf Gouramis breed?

Dwarf Gouramis are labyrinth bubble-nesters which provides an excellent clue as to how they breed. Before you can breed Dwarf Gouramis, however, first you need to know whether or not you have a male and female fish.

The male of the species is a slightly larger fish than a female of the same age. Of course, if there is a significant age difference then this observation may reveal nothing of value.

The male Dwarf Gourami tends to have a slimmer, less rounded body whilst the female has a more rounded body which is greater in girth. This more rounded body is usually particularly obvious around the belly area between the pectoral and anal fins.

The most obvious ways to differentiate between the male and female Dwarf Gourami, however, is, firstly, that the male has a much more striking colour and distinct, striped markings and also to observe the dorsal fin. In the image above, the female Gourami is to the right, She has a much paler colouring and less distinct markings.

Compare this with the male on the left. His colouring is both striking and markedly different from the female and his dorsal fin is larger, longer and has a more rounded tip. Note that the differences in young Dwarf Gouramis may not be obvious so it may be that you must wait for the fishes to become more mature before you can determine their sex with certainty.

The male Dwarf Gourami is generally the dominant fish and it will be the male Gourami who ensures that the eggs hatch into fry.

The male Gourami tends to become much darker when it is time to breed. The belly of the female Gourami becomes much larger as it is filled with eggs.

Breeding tank for Gouramis

You should prepare a tank of around 20 gallons in size with mature, still water. Remember that in nature, Dwarf Gouramis thrive in still water. Ensure that there is plenty of floating vegetation in the tank but further ensure that there is clear water surface where the Gouramis can take their gulps of air.

If the tank contains an air block and/or a filter then turn them off or the Dwarf Gouramis simply will not breed, as they require the water surface to be still.

The male Dwarf Gourami will start to build a nest of bubbles into which he wants the female to lay her eggs.

Once he has built a substantial nest he will then entice the female to lay her eggs by performing a ritual dance which includes wrapping his body around hers and rolling her so that she deposits her eggs into his nest.

The male will collect any eggs that are not contained in the nest and place them into the nest. The female can lay up to 200 eggs but she may lay only a dozen or could lay more than 200.

Once the female has laid her eggs she should be removed carefully from the breeding tank because the male then becomes very protective of his nest and may well kill the female. He will certainly chase her away from his nest so she will have a miserable time until she is removed back to the community tank.

During the time it takes the eggs to hatch, the male will tend to the nest and protect the eggs.

Once the eggs start to hatch (usually after a couple of days) then it is wise carefully to remove the male, as he may devour the fry as they hatch.

At this point, you can switch the filter back on.

It will take the fry a few days to be capable of swimming freely so it may be prudent not to switch on an air block (unless it is contained in an under-gravel filter tube).

Assuming that the breeding tank is a mature tank with a good collection of mature plants then the natural cycle of life in the tank will have produced the infusoria (a collective term for the microorganisms that help with the decomposition of plant material) that the fry (baby fishes) will consume once they are hatched. If in doubt, add infusoria at least daily for the first week after hatching.

After around one week you may wish to add some small, live brine shrimp, as the fry will probably have grown sufficiently to catch and consume them.

Should your Dwarf Gouramis have a special diet for breeding?

This is a much-discussed topic amongst aquarists. My personal belief is that all fishes should enjoy a rich and varied diet at all times including flake food, vegetable matter, live food and dried, live food. The fishes will themselves determine what they prefer to eat. In a community tank, fishes should be fed, as a general rule, once or twice each day and any food placed in the tank should be consumed within three minutes. The only exception to this is live food which the fishes will hunt down and devour.

Having decomposing food lying at the bottom of the tank is bad for the tank and bad for the fishes and, if you have catfish in the tank, they are not there as vacuum cleaners and should be treated with the same thoughtfulness as your other fishes.

If your fish are always maintained in the best possible condition then there is no reason whatsoever why any fishes should require a special diet to induce them to breed. You could make a point of feeding more than the usual amount of live food if you make any changes at all.

Mike Wheeler

I started keeping freshwater tropical fish in 1972 and it has been something of a passion ever since. In this website, my aim is to build up an everyman's guide to help the everyday aquarist get the best from this inspiring and entertaining hobby.

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