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Sunset Gourami – Trichogaster labiosa


Sunset Gourami

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

Is the Sunset Gourami a good community fish? In general, the Sunset Gourami could well be described as a good community fish but it does tend to nip the tails of other Sunset Gouramis and may have a tendency to bully slow-moving fishes such as Angel Fish and Bettas (Siamese Fighting Fish).

Key Facts

CategoryKey Facts
Common name(s)Sunset Gourami – aka:
Golden Thicklip Gourami
Orange Thicklip Gourami
Sunset Thicklip Gourami
Yellow Honey Sunset Gourami
Scientific nameTrichogaster labiosa
FamilyOsphronemidae
Originate fromSouth Asia, specifically from the rivers, streams and swamps of Burma (now known as Myanmar)
Care requiredModerate – reasonably easy to care for
TemperamentMales can be quite dominant but generally good in the right community
Colour & FormRich, golden, honey colour
LifespanApproximately 4 to 7 years
Adult size4 inches
DietOmnivorous
Aquarium size10 gallon minimum
Compatible withMost community species
Avoid keeping withFantail 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 pH6.0 to 7.5
Water hardness (dGH or dH)4 to 15 dGH

Origins of the Sunset Gourami

The Sunset Gourami originates from south Asia, specifically from the rivers, streams and swamps of Burma (now known as Myanmar).

Characteristics of the Sunset Gourami

The Sunset Gourami is known by a variety of names including:

  • Golden Thicklip Gourami
  • Orange Thicklip Gourami
  • Sunset Thicklip Gourami
  • Yellow Honey Sunset Gourami

The Sunset Gourami is often confused with the Honey Gourami (Trichogaster chuna) due to its similar colour.

In respect of the colouring of the fish, this is often a good indicator of the condition of the fish, as when the fish is stressed or otherwise in poor health, its colour will be paler, whereas if the fish is in good condition it will be a rich, golden colour. As is usual with Gouramis, the colour of the male will deepen significantly at breeding times.

As is typical with Gouramis, the male Sunset Gourami displays a richer golden Sunset colour than the female. At breeding time, his colouring will darken significantly. The dorsal fin of the male Sunset Gourami is longer than that of the female and is pointed at the tip, whereas the tip of the female’s dorsal fin is rounded, which is typical but not universally true amongst all Gouramis.

The Sunset Gourami will grow to up to 4 inches in length and it will live for between 4 to 7 years of age. The Sunset Gourami should not be kept in an aquarium of less than 10 gallons in size.

The Sunset Gourami is quite a timid fish so care should be taken to ensure that they are not outcompeted for food by other, more vigorous fishes.

Sunset Gouramis kept in a mixed aquarium are a graceful and beautiful addition to most aquariums. Sunset Gouramis do, however, have a tendency to nip at the tails of other Sunset Gouramis as well as slow-moving fishes and 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 Sunset 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 Sunset Gouramis in the same tank.

Sunset 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, Sunset Gouramis tend to move slowly and purposefully, using their pelvic fins to feel around them and are rather timid fishes.

As with all smaller fishes, a well-planted tank is recommended so that your Sunset Gouramis can move around in the vegetation and, of course, browse algae if they so choose.

Sunset Gourami – Video

How do Sunset Gouramis breed?

Sunset Gouramis are labyrinth bubble-nesters which provides an excellent clue as to how they breed. Sunset Gouramis are a hardy fish when compared with, for example, a Dwarf Gourami and this tends to make it easier for the aquarist to breed them.

Before you can breed Sunset Gouramis, however, first you need to know whether or not you have a male and female fish.

The male and female are similar in size but the male has a longer, pointed dorsal fin than the female, which has a rounded dorsal fin. The male Sunset Gourami also displays darker colouring in general and especially when they wish to breed.

The male Sunset 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.

Note that the differences in young Sunset 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 Sunset Gourami is generally the dominant fish and it will be the male Gourami who ensures that the eggs hatch into fry.

Breeding tank for Gouramis

You should prepare a tank of around 10 to 20 gallons in size with mature, still water. Remember that in nature, Sunset Gouramis thrive in still or slow-flowing water. Ensure that there is plenty of floating vegetation in the tank under which the male can create his bubble nest but further ensure that there is clear water surface where the Gouramis can take their gulps of air.

For breeding, it is recommended that the temperature of the water is around 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Being that my general recommendation is to maintain community tanks at 75 degrees Fahrenheit then I would recommend increasing the temperature of the breeding tank from 75 degrees Fahrenheit by no more than one degree per day.

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

The male Sunset 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 on her side 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 500 eggs and spawning will continue until the female is spent of her eggs.

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 Sunset 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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