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Giant Gourami – Osphronemus goramy

Giant Gourami

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

Is the Giant Gourami a good community fish? It can be provided that it doesn’t consider its tankmates to be food. This is certainly not a fish for the novice, as it requires a huge aquarium and can live for around 20 years.

Kay Facts

CategoryKey Facts
Common name(s)Giant Gourami
Scientific nameOsphronemus goramy
Originate fromSoutheast Asia, especially the regions around Borneo, Java and Sumatra
Care requiredModerate – reasonably easy to care for
TemperamentMay well eat small fish but okay with medium to large species
Colour & FormGrey to silver-grey – fades as fish ages
LifespanApproximately 20 years
Adult size28 inches (but typically 18 inches in aquarium)
DietOmnivorous but largely herbivorous.
Aquarium size175 to 200 gallon minimum
Compatible withLarger species
Avoid keeping withSmall species, as they may be eaten
BreedingEasy if you put the fish in the right environment.
Male builds a bubble-nest on the water surface.
Water temp70 – 85 Fahrenheit
Water pH6.5 to 8.0
Water hardness (dGH or dH)Up to 25 dGH

Origins of the Giant Gourami

The Giant Gourami originates from southeast Asia, especially the regions around Borneo, Java and Sumatra. As with many tropical fish, the Giant Gourami has also been introduced far and wide into different continents that have an appropriate climate.

Characteristics of the Giant Gourami

As you can see, the Giant Gourami is an impressive fish that can grow to around 28 inches in length (but reportedly only (!) grows to around 18 inches in anything less than a giant (perhaps commercial) aquarium and live for up to 20 years. The Giant Gourami is omnivorous and may well treat smaller fishes as food but it is generally recognized to be a herbivorous fish and, due to its size, can devour huge amounts of plant material.

It is not unusual to throw in a decent-sized plateful of uncooked vegetables of the type that you would include with a Sunday roast – green vegetables, carrots, parsnips and so forth. Equally, the Giant Gourami will enjoy brine shrimp, tubifex worms and other live foods. In its natural habitat, the Giant Gourami dwells in slow-flowing rivers and shallow ponds with lots of plants and insect life.

The Giant Gourami tends to like the food that it becomes accustomed to eating, so if you are buying a mature fish then make sure you understand its diet, as it might reject that which you offer it if it is different from what it is used to.

The Giant Gourami will require a tank of at least 175 to 200 gallons in size. It makes sense either to have nothing at the bottom of the tank, in which case as a tank with a dark bottom would be preferred or if you are going to plant the tank, use fairly large gravel or substrate, as a fish of this size will certainly churn the sediment.

The filtration system needs to be highly capable because with the amount of vegetable matter that your Giant Gouramis will consume there is bound to be a significant amount of material that would otherwise foul the water.

The male Giant Gourami is known to be a somewhat aggressive fish, especially when breeding but it will quieten down after a few years. As the male grows, it develops a characteristic bump (or forehead) and in its native environment is nicknamed a “warship” (“Kaloi” in Malaysia and Taiwan).

The Giant Gourami may be kept as a lone fish or you may choose to keep a breeding pair.

The female Giant Gourami is paler than the male of the species and never develops the characteristic bump on the forehead.

In general, you can guesstimate the age of the fish by the depth of its coloring. As the fish grows older, its coloring fades almost to white, as it reaches the end of its natural lifespan but, as is characteristic with Gouramis in general, the male will develop much darker coloring during the breeding season.

Giant Gourami – Video

How do Giant Gouramis breed?

Like most Gouramis, Giant Gouramis will make a nest of bubbles underneath a floating mass of plant material and any wood floating or lying on the surface of its environment.

Once the male Gourami has built its nest of bubbles then it will encourage the female to lay her eggs, which the male will fertilize, into the nest.

It only takes around one day for the eggs to hatch. As with most other Gouramis, the male Giant Gourami will zealously guard the nest and will drive off any perceived threats – including the female.

From a practical standpoint whilst it is theoretically simple to breed Giant Gouramis unless you have a gigantic aquarium, the fry are unlikely to reach adulthood whilst they are kept with the adult pair. Giant Gouramis grow quickly so, if you do breed them, you will need the facilities to keep them as they grow.

Giant Gouramis are commercially bred for human consumption in southeast Asia and Australasia. In a commercial breeding environment, a Giant Gourami can achieve 24 inches in length in around four years.

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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