The sparkling gourami (Trichopsis pumila) is a very beautiful fish. The male has brilliant blue color and the female is yellow with green spots. The problem with these little gems? They are one of the messiest fish available to hobbyists.
In this article, I will try to dispel some of the myths about how to keep sparkling gourami and explain why they are so difficult.
To my surprise, many of the forum posts I found on the Internet were recommending a tank as small as 10 gallons for two adults. In fact, they often recommend even smaller tanks! An adult male-only grows to 3½ inches, but it is best to keep them in a group of at least six to ensure that they are happy. You would need at least four females for each male, which will increase the size requirements even more. So, I think that 10 gallons is not enough for two adults, let alone three or four.
Basically, the rule of thumb with gourami is to provide the biggest tank you can for the fish.
Another problem with sparkling gourami is that both adults need to be present in order for them to be happy, otherwise they will fight. As small as they are, males may not be able to defend their territory against females when they are ready to breed. Once this happens, one or more of the fish may be killed.
While sparkling gourami is great in a community tank, they aren’t compatible with bettas or guppies. The male may harass the female guppy until she dies. If you want to keep these species together, get at least 20 gallons of space for each adult pair—and that’s just for one species.
I have found that sparkling gourami are much happier when they can school together in a larger space. I suggest at least 20 gallons to ensure the fish are comfortable. However, this size tank would be too large to fit into many people’s budgets or living room décor.
Another issue is feeding them properly. Good-quality flake food is usually recommended, but they need to have some green stuff in their diet. It’s best to include live or frozen brine shrimp, daphnia, tubifex worms and vegetable foods such as algae wafers.
Sparkling gourami are also known for being more sensitive to deteriorating water quality than most other fish, so regular water changes are a must. Sparkling gourami have been known to live as long as 10 years, but the average lifespan for this species is around five years.
All of these factors lead me to conclude that sparkling gourami are best kept by advanced aquarists with a lot of experience and a large tank.
If you have the resources, you will find that sparkling gourami are a fantastic addition to a community tank. They’re very peaceful and they don’t bother other fish at all, as long as there is sufficient space for them. If you can meet their needs properly, you have a great opportunity to enjoy one of the more beautiful species of fish available to hobbyists.