If you’re like me, you may have been considering purchasing a gourami fish for your home aquarium. These beautiful fish come in a variety of shapes and colors, making them a popular choice for home aquarists.
In this article, I will discuss the proper way to care for these fish so that they can live long and healthy lives. So, if you’re thinking about adding a gourami to your tank, be sure to read on!
Gourami fish do best when kept with other docile tank mates. They are not a schooling fish, and generally prefer to be on their own or as a couple. In the wild gouramis may school together for protection from predators, but in an aquarium environment, it is best to keep them alone. Avoid keeping them with aggressive species.
Gourami fish are slow swimmers and can easily become stressed when moving at high speeds as is common among many types of aquarium fish. Fish such as tetras, guppies, or angelfish would be a poor choice since they will quickly zip around the tank and harass the gouramis, causing stress.
Instead, try to keep your gourami in a tank with other slower-moving fish that won’t stress them out too much. Tetra’s such as the Black Neon Tetra, Zebra Danio, and Cherry Barb would be ideal choices due to their low aggression levels and slow swimming speeds. You can also add some shrimp species.
Tank Mates for the Gourami Fish
If you’re looking to keep more than one gourami, be sure that your tank is large enough and properly decorated. The tank should contain plenty of hiding places for them to avoid aggression from other fish and still provide adequate swimming space.
The tank should be no smaller than 30-gallons and filled with a variety of plants such as Java Moss, Java Fern, and Anubias. The addition of floating plants like the Amazon Frogbit will help provide some cover for your fish while adding oxygen to the water. You will also need some sort of sturdy decorations; driftwood or rocks make great choices since they tend to be less likely to be moved around by the fish.
A breeding pair of Gouramis will require a separate tank, since they will need their own space once they start spawning. Be sure that you provide them with ample cover and plants in this tank as well; any moving plants should be anchored down so the parents don’t eat the eggs.
Tank Water Conditions
The first thing you must do to ensure the health of your gouramis is bring your water to the proper temperature. Gouramis come from the tropical regions of Asia which have a slightly higher temperature than most homes will have, around 82-86 degrees Fahrenheit.
You can purchase a tank heater that will help to keep the water at this temperature, or if you have an extra tank you can move your fish into it temporarily to let the tank’s heater raise its temperature.
Another thing that you will need to do is provide a good filtration system. Gouramis are very sensitive to ammonia and nitrite levels in their tanks; they are prone to getting Ammonia burns, which will cause their fins to tear.
The water needs to be well circulated so that it can easily circulate oxygen through the tank. A power filter with an adjustable flow is a good choice for this type of fish; I prefer the Penguin series by Marineland due to its durability and easy cleaning.
You will also need to change the water regularly, about 30-50% weekly depending on how many fish are in your tank.
Gourami Water Temperatures
You should never let your gourami’s water temperature drop below 70 degrees Fahrenheit or go above 82 degrees Fahrenheit. Low temperatures can lead to Ammonia burns which will affect their skin and waste away their muscles, making it difficult for them to breathe.
High temperatures will lead to increased aggression, respiratory distress, and can potentially kill your fish if they are exposed for too long.
Water Changes for Gourami Fish
As mentioned above the biggest thing you have to watch out for is ammonia levels in their water. You need to change about 30-50% of their water weekly to keep this from becoming a problem and monitor the levels of ammonia in your tank daily.
Regular testing kits can be bought at any fish store or online; you need to test for both Ammonia and Nitrite. Levels of 0 ppm (parts per million) are ideal, but anything under 5 ppm is acceptable.
If the levels of either test are too high you will need to perform a water change to bring them back down; if they’re both off the charts you will need to do two separate water changes, one for each chemical.
Make sure that when you remove the old water that it is disposed of properly; never return dirty water to your tank.
Feeding Your Gourami Fish
Gouramis are omnivores, they will eat just about anything that you can put in their tanks. Some of the most readily accepted foods by them include brine shrimp, tubifex worms, bloodworms, and algae wafers.
You should also be sure that you feed them high-quality flake or pellet food. Look for one that specifically says it is for “Cichlid” fish since they will need more protein than other types of food.
You can supplement their diets with blanched vegetables like zucchini and lettuce; these must be chopped up into small enough pieces that they can eat them. Even though your gourami is a larger fish you want to make sure that their food is bite-sized so it’s easier for them to eat.
Breeding Your Gourami Fish
Gourami fish are generally easy to breed if their needs are met during the breeding process. If you have ever kept an aquarium before this should not be new to you.
The first thing you need to do is put the male and female in separate tanks at least 5 gallons each so that they can lay their eggs without being disturbed. They use bubble nests as a way of protecting them from predators, but it also helps keep the eggs oxygenated until they hatch. You want to make sure that there are no other fish in these tanks with your Gourami because any tank mates may eat some of the eggs or fry when they are released.
Another thing to remember is that you don’t want to house your female with any other males while she’s trying to get ready to lay her eggs. If the male doesn’t have a clear shot at mating with her, he will become very territorial and may even start bullying or harassing your female.
Once the two have mated, the female should begin releasing anywhere from 20-100 tiny translucent eggs about every other day. They are usually attached to fine leaved plants in order for them not to be swept away by the currents in the tank. You need to make sure that there are no other fish in your tank so they don’t eat any of these babies!
It usually takes 5-7 days before they hatch, and usually during the late evening hours. Once they hatch you will need to siphon out any decaying organic matter from the tank that might be causing the water quality to go down.
Gouramis are very easy fish to take care of if their basic needs are met. They are peaceful, hardy, colorful additions to just about any home aquarium. As long as you provide them with plenty of space and monitor their water quality they should do well for many years in captivity!