Have you been looking for an eye-catching, beautiful, and colorful fish to add to your aquarium?
The dwarf gourami just might be the right choice for you!
Suitable for competent beginners, these fish are both shy and peaceful, and they can also be kept well with many other species in community tanks.
Originally from India, dwarf gouramis are now predominantly captive-bred. They are not only very attractive, but they’re also quite hardy so dwarf gourami care isn’t too demanding of time or skill.
With multiple varieties to choose from, the dwarf gourami can add some fun colors to your tank. Not to mention, their antics will keep you entertained for hours on end.
They can thrive on a variety of foods, which makes keeping them quite easy. Just keep in mind, they tend to be a bit aggressive with others of their kind.
In this article, we take an in-depth look into the dwarf gourami profile, their care needs, tank setup, diet, breeding and about everything you need to know about these beautiful fish.
Quick Overview and Statistics
In this helpful table, we’ve outlined the most important information to refer to for your dwarf gourami care.
|Common name(s):||Dwarf gourami, powder blue dwarf gourami, red dwarf gourami, neon blue dwarf gourami, sunset gourami, striped dwarf gourami, dwarf banded gourami|
|Scientific Name(s):||Colisa lalia|
|Adult Size:||Up to 2 inches|
|Color Form:||Blue, orange|
|Minimum Tank Size:||10 gallons|
|Typical Tank Setup:||Heavily planted with floating plants available|
|Water Conditions:||Freshwater, 72-82° F, KH 4-10, pH 6.0-7.5|
|Tank mates / Compatibility:||Can cohabitate with many species of peaceful community fish, but may be territorial and aggressive with other dwarf gouramis if provided with insufficient space|
The dwarf gourami is a small, timid and quick-moving fish. Beautifully iridescent, many aquarium owners like to have them decorate their tanks. They are quite peaceful and get along with many other species.
While the males are more brightly colored than the females, both have scales with significant sheen.
Being a labyrinth fish, they can obtain their oxygen directly from the air. Because of this, they will always need to have access to the surface to breathe.
Dwarf Gourami will grow to be about three inches long. A beautiful fish with bright colors and extreme iridescence, they’re quite distinctive.
The females will be less brightly colored, generally staying in shades of silver, but they are as iridescent as their male counterparts. Males, on the other hand, boast much brighter colors.
If there’s any doubt of the sex, further confirmation can be found in the shape of the dorsal fin. Males will have a dorsal fin that’s pointed, while females have a rounded dorsal fin.
Behavior and Temperament
They are a shy species. While they can be territorial and care should be taken with selecting their tankmates, they do best when placed with other fish.
If paired, they will frequently be seen swimming together. They will likely spend time hiding when in new surroundings, or when new fish or items are added to their tank. Expect it to take some time before they settle in and return to a normal routine.
The territorial behavior of the males mean it’s best not to have more than one male in the same aquarium.
While dwarf gouramis can frequently be happy in pairs, there are times where the male may bully the female. If that happens, the male should be separated from the female. A later reintroduction may be possible.
Habitat and Tank Requirements
Dwarf gouramis have specific needs when it comes to their environment. For them to thrive, you’ll need to set up your tank appropriately.
You can help replicate the ideal living quarters by providing warm waters and plenty of hiding spots, but there’s more you have to consider.
Let’s go into some detail on how to set up the ideal environment for them.
What Size Tank do Dwarf Gouramis Need?
An individual needs at least a 10-gallon tank, if not larger.
If you plan on housing more than one, and maybe even other species, you will, of course, need a larger tank. We would suggest following the ‘one inch per gallon rule’ to determine the right size required for your number of fish.
Sufficient space can help alleviate any territorial tendencies they may have, so make sure your aquarium is large enough.
Water Type and Parameters
Dwarf gouramis are a freshwater species. They are native to India and prefer their water to be on the warmer side, between 72 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit.
The KH of their water should be kept between four and 10, and the pH kept between 6.0 and 7.5.
And remember, the greater your KH level, the more stable your pH will be.
What Substrate do They Need?
Sand or gravel is recommended. This will provide an environment that’s similar to their natural habitat and reduce the risk of stress.
Plan to use a fine- to medium-grain substrate for your dwarf gourami. Picking out a darker, neutral colored substrate will be a great background to really help show off their iridescence and vibrant colors.
Dwarf gouramis are a labyrinth fish. They can do well in tanks even with low oxygen levels, but they do require regular cleanings and don’t do well in brackish water.
While they do require a filtration system, they don’t enjoy aggressive amounts of water flow. For best results, look for a system that creates gentle water flow. Peat filtration is also highly recommended.
Dwarf gouramis can be easily overwhelmed by intense lights. This may encourage them to hide more than usual.
If you’re looking to add a healthy amount of light for better viewing, make sure to provide plenty of hiding places and live plants. This will help tone down lighting while also providing enough places for the shy dwarf gourami to feel safe and unexposed.
Plants, Decorations, Swims, And Open Spaces
Large decorations, whether they be life-like or castle-like, can help provide additional space for them to seek comfort and cover.
The more hiding spots you have, the less likely they will need to fight over territory they claim as theirs.
How Many Dwarf Gourami Per Gallon Can I Have?
It will be best to cap your community to aingle male and female pair (though one male with two females can work as well) per tank—whether you have 10 gallons or 40 gallons to work with.
Unless you have an exceptionally large and heavily-planted tank, this will ensure your fish have the space they need to avoid aggressive behavior.
Diet and Feeding
An omnivore, they will need to have both plant-based and meat-based foods in their diet, but it’s relatively easy to keep them satisfied.
What do They Eat in the Wild?
In the wild, they frequently eat small insects and larvae. As omnivores, they will also eat algae and plant matter they come across.
What Can They Be Fed in an Aquarium?
An algae-based commercial food pellet can be a great food choice, supplemented with meat proteins.
Freeze-dried bloodworms and brine shrimp can be a great source of protein for them.
What Human Foods Can They Eat?
They will happily eat vegetables. Zucchini, yellow squash, and raw green beans are especially well-liked.
How Often Should They Be Fed?
You should plan on feeding your a small amount of food twice daily. Remember to keep meals only to what’s consumed in a few minutes and to remove the excess, to prevent the tank from becoming soiled.
If you feed fresh vegetables, any foods not consumed within 24 hours should be removed from the tank as well.
Any Special Care Requirements?
Look to source your dwarf gouramis from a reputable breeder. While they’re generally available at your local fish supplier, many of these at the time of writing are currently arriving at distributors with a virus.
This virus (iridovirus) causes lethargy and a darkened color. It leads to death, and there is no cure. It may be transferable to other fish in your community (depending on what you have) and care should be taken not to introduce a sick individual.
Consider a quarantine period for any new fish before integrating into your existing tank and monitor behaviors closely.
Compatibility With Other Fish
While they are usually great companions for other types of fish, It’s not recommended that you keep them together with other gouramis. You should also avoid keeping them with anabantoids and betta splendens. These are aggressive species that only encourage the dwarf gourami to be aggressive as well.
Other species to avoid include tiger barbs and clown barbs. As a general rule, you’ll also want to avoid species that are significantly larger.
Males may be territorial over their space. As with any other animal, providing excess living space can help minimize aggressive and territorial behaviors.
Can Multiple Dwarf Gouramis Be Kept Together?
You may have success keeping multiple dwarf gouramis together. For best results, you should plan on housing only one male per tank. One or two females may be able to coexist peacefully with a single male.
While you can keep multiples of one type of dwarf gourami, it’s best to stick with that one type. Introducing multiple varieties to a single aquarium is best avoided.
Dwarf gouramis are readily available at pet shops and can be had for an affordable price tag. You can expect to pay between 5 and 10 dollars per fish. With the current virus epidemic and the high possibility of exposing your existing fish community, consider purchasing your stock from a well-known and reputable local breeder.
When shopping for your fish in person, avoid any that seem lethargic or listless. Any that spend excessive time near the bottom of the tank should also be avoided. Any lesions, especially on the head, may indicate an existing infection with dwarf gourami iridovirus. If there’s any doubt at all, look for another source.
Should you not be able to find your fish locally, you can successfully order and ship them via an online source.
While they breed easily, ensuring that the fry hatch and reach adulthood involves some work. They are bubble nest builders and, as such, will need to have access to floating plants to reproduce successfully.
When moving forward with breeding them, you’ll want a dedicated breeding tank. It should be supplied with plants and have a bare bottom. Java moss and floating water sprite can be great additions.
If kept on a regular basis together, it’s likely your dwarf gourami will choose to reproduce on their own. If for some reason you need to trigger spawning, you may have success by lowering the water temperature. You can also try separating them for a short period of time, although keep them where they can still see one another.
The male will begin by constructing the nest. He will do this by collecting material from the plants in the tank. Frequently, these nests will be anchored to the floating plants, so it’s always wise to have them made available to the male.
The female will have her eggs fertilized by the male as she releases them. Most of these eggs will then float toward the nest. The bare bottom of the breeding tank will enable the male to retrieve any eggs that sink and add them to the nest.
Once the eggs have been laid, the female should be removed from the tank. At this time, the male will begin to guard the eggs. The eggs will hatch in about 24 hours. As soon as the fry are free swimming—usually about 36 hours from hatch—the male should also be removed.
Interesting Facts and Trivia
- They are a labyrinth fish—like the well-known betta, they have a special organ that enables them to breathe oxygen straight from the air.
- The dwarf gourami is the smallest of the gourami breeds.
- They are known for their peaceful disposition—standard sized gouramis, on the other hand, are more aggressive.
- Sometimes they are freeze-dried and used as food for larger aquarium fish.
If you’re looking for a splash of color for your tank, a dwarf gourami can be just what you’re after. Whether you prefer reds, blues, or oranges, chances are there’s a color out there that will work for you. There’s even a rainbow variety!
These are hardy fish that can be great for even a beginner aquarium keeper. Although you do need to monitor how many of them you keep in a single tank, they do well with other peaceful species. They’re great for a spot of color and provide hours of entertaining viewing.
You’ll need to make sure you have a tank that’s at least 10 gallons, plenty of plants, and a strong filtration and cleaning regimen. Once you do, you can expect your fish to thrive for years to come.
Love dwarf gourami? Haven’t had success with them in your tank? We’d love to hear about your experience, and any tips on their care and keeping you might have. Leave us a comment below.
Happy fish keeping!