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Kissing Gourami – Helostoma temminkii

Kissing Gourami

Gouramis originate in Asia and have a form of lung which enables them to breathe air and make nests from bubbles. The Kissing Gourami, however, is not a bubble-nester.

Is the Kissing Gourami a good community fish? The Kissing Gourami grows to be around 12 inches in length and will require an aquarium of at least 75 gallons. Typically it will live for more than 7 years and can live for over 20 years so this is not a fish for the novice aquarist.

Origins of the Kissing Gourami

The Kissing Gourami originates from southeast Asia ranging from Thailand to Indonesia.

Key Facts

CategoryKey Facts
Common name(s)Kissing Gourami
Scientific nameHelostoma temminkii
Originate fromSoutheast Asia ranging from Thailand to Indonesia
Care requiredWill acclimatize to a wide range of water types
TemperamentBest kept in large-species tank
Colour & FormSilver, perhaps with pink or green tinge
Lifespan7 to 20 years
Adult sizeUp to 12 inches
Aquarium size75 gallon minimum
Compatible withLarge species
Avoid keeping withSmall species
BreedingEgg-scatterer – eggs float to surface and adhere to floating leaves, etc.
Water temp75 – 82 Fahrenheit
Water pH6.8 to 8.5
Water hardness (dGH or dH)5 to 30 dGH

Characteristics of the Kissing Gourami

As you can see, the Kissing Gourami is a beautiful fish. It can grow to around 12 inches in size so will require a tank of at least 75 gallons in size, preferably even bigger. The Kissing Gourami is omnivorous and will take live and flaked food as well as scraping algae off rocks. The Kissing Gourami will live to around seven years of age but could well live for over twenty years.

Kissing Gourami - Pair

The Kissing Gourami is typically silver in colour but the ridging of the scales can make it look as though it has horizontal stripes of silver and black when caught in the right light. That said, there are three main colour variations of this fish: a pink or flesh-coloured form; a silver-green form (known as the “green kisser;”) and a mottled variety. The pink variation does not occur frequently in nature and is the result of a reduction in pigmentation (known as leucism). This characteristic has been selectively bred for by the aquarium trade.

Kissing Gouramis kept in an appropriately sized aquarium are a graceful and beautiful addition. Kissing Gouramis should only be kept with medium-sized to larges fishes otherwise they may consider small fishes as prey. Kissing Gouramis can be somewhat aggressive and have been observed ramming the flanks of other fishes so this characteristic should be looked out for and, if seen, the offending fish should be removed from that tank, if possible.

Kissing 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, Kissing Gouramis tend to move slowly and purposefully. A well-planted tank is recommended so that your Kissing Gouramis can move around in the vegetation and, of course, browse algae if they so choose.

Kissing Gourami – Video

How do Kissing Gouramis breed?

Kissing Gouramis are unlike most other Gouramis in that they do not build bubble nests. Kissing Gouramis are egg scatterers. Until they spawn it is virtually impossible to sex Kissing Gouramis and this makes it difficult to determine which fish to move into a breeding tank unless you are paying close attention and notice the swelling of a gravid female.

Breeding tank for Gouramis

You should prepare a tank of around 75 gallons in size with mature, still water. Remember that in nature, Kissing 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.

The female will lay up to 1,000 eggs which will be fertilized by the male and will float to the surface and adhere to floating leaves, so large, free-floating leaves are recommended in the breeding tank.

Once the female has laid her eggs the breeding pair should be removed carefully from the breeding tank because to prevent them from eating the eggs, which will then hatch in around 24 hours or so. After a couple more days, the fry will become free-swimming.

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

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 Kissing 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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