Gouramies or gouramis are a freshwater anabantiform group of fish that consist of the Anabantidae, helostomatidae, and osphronemidae families. The name gourami is originates from their native Maly-Archipelago.
There are numerous types of gouramis with different colors and sizes. But a lot of them have a similar extended feeler-like ray on the front end of their pelvic fins. Currently, there are about 133 recognized species of gouramis, categorized in 15 genera and four subfamilies.
Male gouramis typically have longer fins and brighter colors. Several of the gourami species have been selectively bred for fancier fins and colors.
Gouramis respire through a labyrinth organ that works like lungs; it enables them to suck in air at the surface. This adaptation makes it possible for gouramis to thrive in stagnant, oxygen-poor, and shallow water, which is common in their natural habitats.
Gouramis are native to southern and eastern Asia – Pakistan, India, Vietnam, Thailand, China, the Malaysian Archipelago, Japan, and Korea. They live in wetlands, swamps, marshes, slow-moving rivers, and temporary pools.
Gouramis are not very selective when it comes to food; you should, however, balance their nutrition by varying their diet. You can provide them with a well-rounded diet by feeding them with a combination of live/fresh food as well as dry flake and frozen foods.
If you’re preparing the fish for breeding, you should feed them with fresh vegetables like lettuce, spinach, and cooked peas in addition to live foods like glass worms, brine shrimp, and black worms. You should ensure all the breeding specimens are healthy and well-fed before you place them in a breeding tank.
For best results, alternate their diet on a daily basis and only feed them what they can eat under two minutes, once or two times a day.
Water & Tank Requirements
If you want to keep your gouramis healthy, you should keep them in the right tank and water conditions. Here are few requirements for gourami fish to keep in mind:
Most gourami species require a 30 gallon or larger aquarium. Some like the kissing gouramis become quite large, and so need an over 55-gallon tank. Conversely, smaller species like the dwarf gouramis can thrive in smaller 10-gallon sized tanks.
Besides, most gouramis prefer being close to the surface, so it helps if your tank has tall plants or floating vegetation. Such vegetation makes them feel more at home. Gouramis are also less stressed and reveal their best colors when they’re in a well-adorned aquarium. You should always keep your aquarium’s lid on to prevent them from leaping out.
In the wild, most gouramis are found in acidic and soft water. However, most aquarium gouramis in the market today are bred commercially in an environment that has higher alkalinity and PH compared to the native habitat, and thus they’re exceedingly adaptable.
PH should range from 6.8 to 7.8 and alkalinity from 3° to 8° dkH. Water temperature should range from 75° to 80° F.
If your aquarium is in a room that’s below 75°, use an aquarium heater to maintain the right temperature. You should also ensure that your tank is equipped with a sound filtration system, and you should change at least 10% of the water twice a month.
Male gouramis should ideally be kept individually; this is because they can be very hostile towards each. Female gouramis usually get along.
If you want to mix color varieties or species, you should do it in a bigger and well-decorated tank. Remember that the lavender, gold, blue, opaline, and three spot gouramis are the same species – they’re just bred for various colors.
Gouramis are slower and thrive when kept with other fish of the same size and those that are not too active or fin nippers. Leon tetras, danios, silver dollars, precostomus catfish are all compatible choices.
Although gouramis are generally seen as peaceful, they’re still capable of killing or harassing longer-finned or smaller fish. Compatibility is hinged on the species and the type of fish that co-habit the aquarium. Aggressive tendencies can also be triggered by overcrowding.
Some species like Belonit and Macropodus are predatory or super-aggressive and kill or harass less aggressive or smaller fish. Conversely, some species like Sphaerichthys and Parosphromenus are need specific water conditions and or are very shy and thus don’t thrive when housed with typical community fish. Always consult an expert before you add a new fish into your tank.
Gouramis do breed in captivity, but that depends on many factors. Also, it takes a lot of effort to raise the fry until they’re mature. Most gouramis in the aquarium trade are those that build bubble nests.
Breeding is a long process that takes several days. If your species is the bubble-nest-building type, the male sets the breeding process in motion by building an appropriate nest among objects or floating plants. It may even anchor the bubble nest in one of the corners of your aquarium.
Once the nest is up, and the female gourami is all set for spawning, the male enfolds her with his body and fertilizes the eggs as she lays them. The eggs can number from hundreds to thousands.
As the eggs fall, the male catches each of them and places them in the nest. For species that don’t build bubble nests, the eggs are randomly dispersed in the tank.
To prevent the females from eating the eggs, males can be very violent, so the females should be removed from the tank. For species that don’t build bubble nests, you should remove both parents from the tank immediately after the spawning process to avert egg predation
The males protect and nurture the fry until they can thrive on their own. The male can be removed once the fry can swim competently.
About a dozen of gourami species are commonly sold in stores. Many of them have more than one color but belong to the same species.
These colorful and striking fish come in multiple colors and sizes, with distinctive personalities and unique sets of requirements. In a nutshell, Gouramis are beautiful, and there is a type for everyone – whether you’re new to fish keeping or a seasoned aquarist.