Dwarf Gouramis are known for their unique swimming patterns. They often swim in a vertical position with their bodies close to the substrate of the aquarium, or tank. As they do this, Dwarf Gouramis eat whatever food falls to the bottom of the aquarium. This can be uneaten fish food, loose fish waste, or even bits of plant matter that have fallen to the floor of the aquarium.
This feeding pattern leads many people to believe that Dwarf Gouramis are bottom feeders. But is this really true? And if so, how can you tell if your fish is a bottom-feeding fish? Let’s take a closer look.
Are Dwarf Gouramis True Bottom Feeders?
To answer this question, let’s look at the definition of a bottom feeder. A bottom feeder is typically defined as any fish that spends most of its time at the bottom of an aquarium.
For example, Clown Loaches spend almost all their time actively foraging at the bottom of the aquarium looking for food. Similarly, Pleco catfish are active swimmers which spend most of their time near the bottom or mid-water column hunting out uneaten food.
These fish typically have mouth parts that are designed well for feeding on the bottom of an aquarium. The mouth of a Clown Loach, for example, is designed to shovel up food items from the substrate.
For this reason, these types of fish will typically pass over any food that falls higher in the tank than the substrate’s surface level.
Bottom Feeding Dwarf Gouramis?
So how does the Dwarf Gourami compare to these examples of bottom feeders? To start, we know that Dwarf Gouramis spend a large amount of time resting on solid objects within the aquarium. They can often be seen resting on leaves and other objects close to the surface of the water.
Since Dwarf Gouramis rest on solid objects for a significant portion of their day, it is certainly possible that they could be considered bottom feeding fish, at least while resting on these objects.
However, while swimming upright through the aquarium or searching for food in the open areas of the tank Dwarf Gouramis do not show any significant similarities with bottom feeding fish.
When swimming in this upright position, Dwarf Gouramis use their pectoral fins to propel themselves forward through the water.
This motion is very different from Clown Loaches or Pleco catfish who “shovel” their bodies across the substrate using only the motion of their mouths.
Dwarf Gouramis also do not show any signs of “mouth digging” while resting on solid objects such as plants or rocks in order to acquire food items.
For these reasons, Dwarf Gouramis are not true bottom feeders. Instead, they may be more accurately classified as middle-grained feeders.
In fact, most fish experts consider Dwarf Gouramis to be part of a group known as “surface feeders,” which typically include other types of Anabantoids such as Paradise Fish and Siamese Fighting Fish (Betta splendens).
However, while there is some debate about whether or not Dwarf Gouramis should be considered bottom feeders, there is less question that they will eat almost all types of food items other than those falling from the surface of a tank.
This means that Dwarf Gouramis are not often considered to be selective feeders. Instead, they typically eat any type of food item offered to them by fish keepers, regardless of the depth at which the food is introduced into the tank.
In conclusion, Dwarf Gouramis are not true bottom feeders. Instead, they should be considered members of a group known as “middle-grained feeders.” This means that Dwarf Gouramis will eat food items from the middle levels of an aquarium, regardless of whether or not they fell to the substrate or were introduced to the water at the surface.
Because Dwarf Gouramis are not true bottom feeders, they may also be more likely to pass over sinking food in favor of food items which have fallen closer to them when resting on solid surfaces in the tank. However, while actively swimming through the open areas of an aquarium their pectoral fins allow them to move in a way that is very similar to bottom-feeding fish.
For these reasons, most experts recommend offering sinking food items for Dwarf Gouramis so they can be more likely to grab them. However, floating food items will also often be eaten by Dwarf Gouramis when they are introduced to the water at the surface of an aquarium.