Dwarf Gourami Care Guide: Colors, Tank Mates and More…

Are you looking for a colorful fish that you can add to your community tank?

The Dwarf Gourami might be exactly what you are looking for.

These peaceful fish can be found in several different colors and they are one of the most beautiful fish around.

Their relaxed nature and simple diet makes them easy to care for and suitable for beginners too.

Do you have space in your tank for this breathtaking South Asian native species?

Keep reading to learn everything you need to know including: tank mates, color varieties, dietary advice and much more…

Flame Dwarf Gourami

Dwarf Gourami
Other Common Names: Flame Gourami, Powder Blue Gourami, Red Gourami, Sunset Gourami
Scientific Name: Trichogaster lalius
Family Name: Osphronemidae
Distribution: Pakistan, India, Bangladesh
Size: 2-5 inches
Color: Blue, Powder Blue, Neon Blue, Flame, Honey, Red
Care Level: Beginner
Temperament: Peaceful
Lifespan: 4-5 years
Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallons
Tank Mate Compatibility: Compatible with a wide arrange of other species, both fish and invertebrates

Dwarf Gourami 101

Neon Blue Dwarf Gourami

The Dwarf Gourami, scientifically known as Trichogaster lalius, is a fairly small species of fish found in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and India.

They are well known throughout the aquarist community to be perfect for beginners. This is because they have an easygoing disposition, can eat a wide array of food types, require minimal levels of water balancing, and are visually stunning. You can find them in 6 different colors (more on this later).

One of the most popular Dwarf Gouramis is the Flame Gourami which is a stunning sunburst orange color.

This species is much larger than the many types of nano fish that inhabit the same portion of the world. They can reach up to 4.5 inches in length (double the usual nano fish threshold of 2 inches) which means they require a bit more space.

In a well kept aquarium you can expect to them live for 4-5 years.

Because of their popularity within the hobby you can find them easily. Expect to pay anywhere from $5.99-$11.99 depending on the color variation being purchased.

Key Facts:

  • Experience Required: Recommended for beginners.
  • Nicknames: Flame Gourami, Powder Blue Gourami, Red Gourami, Sunset Gourami.
  • Color Forms: Blue, Powder Blue, Neon Blue, Flame, Honey, Red.
  • Size: 2-5 inches.
  • Tank Size: Minimum 10+ gallon.
  • Tank Temperature: 72°F to 82°F.

Dwarf Gourami Care Guide

Trichogaster lalius

They are fairly easy to care for.

The biggest care issue to be aware of is the species’ susceptibility to disease.

Dwarf Gourami Disease, or DGD as it is more commonly known, is an illness unique to this species.

Unfortunately there are currently no cures for this disease.

It can be spotted early on by noticing fading in color on the body (which should be pretty easy to spot due to the bright colors of the species in general), as well as fin degradation.

This disease is thankfully not infectious.

However Iridovirus in Dwarf Gourami (DGIV) is highly infectious.

It often leads to death and similar to DGD, there are no known cures to this disease.

The most effective way to prevent and control both of these diseases is to do regular water changes. You should keep the water quality at an appropriate level too, to make sure they stay healthy. Finally you should give them a balanced and nutritional diet.

In general you should watch out for irregular or labored swimming, a lack of appetite, and increased hiding as signs that your fish is sick.

Diet

They are omnivorous and should be fed once a day.

The best course of action would be to rotate what they eat daily and keep them on a weekly schedule – different foods every day.

They can eat live and artificial food, flakes and pellets – really anything they can fit in their mouth they will eat. Gouramis have also been recorded feeding on daphnia, crustaceans, and plant matter.

Dwarf Gouramis should be fed a pretty healthy supply of live food because it encourages their hunting techniques and keeps their moral high and anxiety low. This does not have to be a daily event but a few times a week will keep them in good spirits and physically able.

In the wild they also feed on algae so should your tank include live moss such as Marimo Moss.

The best foods for them are are:

  • Brine shrimp
  • Vegetable tablets
  • Banana worms
  • Daphnia
  • Freeze-dried bloodworms
  • Grindal worms

A mixture of these, along with occasional live feed, will provide your Dwarf Gouramis with the nutrition necessary to keep them healthy.

Blue Dwarf Gourami

Behavior

These Gouramis will spend most of their time in the middle to upper portion of the tank.

This is because similar to Bettas, they have a labyrinth breathing mechanism. This means they breathe straight from the air opposed to getting their oxygen from water – they do this by using their labyrinth organ which is similar to a lung.

They are a very social species and school a lot.

If there is a pair in a tank together (male and female) then they will swim together. The males are territorial, particularly of their females, and will get aggressive with one another should another fish come too close.

However when it comes to interacting with other fish, Dwarf Gouramis are a very easy-going species.

They will rarely harm or harass a fish outside of their species unprovoked.

Another behavior that sets them apart from other species is their hunting technique.

They are natural born hunters and in the wild they are known for hiding in the shadows of the water (underneath surface plants) and pouncing on insects that get too close to the surface. They are methodical and calculated hunters, something that is not often seen in domesticated fish species.

You can incorporate their natural hunting tendencies into their feeding schedule.

Habitat and Aquarium Set Up

These fish are native to inland wetlands in Southern Asia

Here the habitats are full of underwater vegetation and have sandy bottoms. The water in these habitats is very clear too.

Before you add any species to a tank you should make sure the aquarium is cycled.

The ideal temperature for this fish is anywhere from 72°F-82°F, however the sweet spot is 80°F. Water hardness should be between 4-10 dGH and the pH should be between 6.0-7.5.

Substrate is not very important when designing a tank for the Dwarf Gourami.

However you could use fine dark sand to compliment their colors.

In the wild they are used to a slow water flow so which filtration system you use should be kept on a low level to keep water moving slowly.

No matter the time cycle these fish are on, their daytime environment should have a fairly strong light. If they are on the shyer side, strong light will result in more hiding than is typical. Floating plants will help with this and provide natural shade.

Because of their labyrinth organ, the Dwarf Gourami is much more active in the upper-middle portion of the tank.

You should have free-floating plants to help them feel safe while moving around. Good floating plants include Amazon frogbit, duckweed, and hornwort.

As you have probably realised reading this section, an absolute key requirement for this fish is lots of flora.

The more cover you provide that is anchored to the floor of the aquarium, the better. Overhead floating vegetation is encouraged as well. Just remember there must be enough room for clear breathing paths.

Tank Parameter Requirement
Minimum Tank Size 10 Gallons
Tank Type Freshwater planted
Temperature 72-82°F
pH 6.0-7.5
Hardness 4-10 dGH
Flow Slow
Substrate Smooth and dark

What Size Aquarium Do They Need?

These fish can thrive in a 10 gallon tank, as long as there are only 2-3 females present.

Males should be kept in at least a 15-gallon tank because they are slightly larger.

Add 5 gallons for each additional Dwarf Gourami in your aquarium.

Dwarf Gourami Appearance

Red Dwarf Gourami

This species ranges from 2 inches to 5 inches depending on the sex.

They have a very slim, hydrodynamic body with large, prominent dorsal and anal fins (both of which are merged).

One of the most appealing aspect of the Dwarf Gourami is the vast color variations they can be found in. Lots of these variations do not appear in the wild and are the result of selective breeding over the past 50 years.

Just remember that the color of the fish does not change the general description of their body or behavior.

Dwarf Gourami Types

The following six variations are the most popular types of Dwarf Gourami:

Blue Dwarf Gourami

Their entire body is a crisp blue that melts into their scales in a way that almost makes their body glow when hit by daylight. Reddish-brown lines run horizontally through their torsos. A similar tone is found all around the edges of their fins.

Powder Blue Dwarf Gourami

Similar to their blue counterparts, the powder blue is a light shade of blue. However the brownish stripes (found on the pure blue variation) that run through the body of the fish are much stronger with this color variation.

Neon Blue Dwarf Gourami

The only way to describe this color variation is that the intenseness of the blue is much stronger.

These fish have an almost alien-like shine to their bodies.

The brown stripes found on the pure blue and powder blue variations are still there, however they are not nearly as visible.

Flame Dwarf Gourami

The Flame Dwarf Gourami’s color looks like a strong flame.

Their body is a reddish-orange that becomes faded near the top of their head, and the merged dorsal fin is a deep, striking blue. A silver color is commonly found at the tip of the merged anal fin (although the distinctness and size of the marking varies from individual to individual).

Honey Dwarf Gourami

This is the least intense color variation.

They have a yellow-orange body with transparent dorsal and caudal fins. A somewhat common mutation found in this variation is a deep brown (almost black) stripe near the bottom of their face which runs through the merged anal fin.

Red Dwarf Gourami

This coloration is generally the same as the flame variation however there are two distinct differences.

Red Dwarf Gouramis do not have the blue merged dorsal fin found on the flame variation, and the overall sharpness of the red is much weaker. They are actually closer to a mixture of orange and brown, opposed to the reddish-orange of the flame individuals.

Tank Mates

Dwarf Gourami

In the wild this fish is commonly found in the same habitats as Tank Gobis and Glass Fish.

They are also found alongside other members of the Osphronemidae family.

Because of this they mix well with lots of similar sized fish including:

  • Molly fish
  • Green Swordtail
  • Kuhli Loach
  • Zebra Loach
  • Clown Loach
  • Chili Rasbora
  • Harlequin Rasbora
  • Dwarf Rasbora
  • Platy fish

Invertebrates can also make very good tank mates.

Species like the Pomacea bridgesii and the Cherry Shrimp are compatible with this easygoing fish. As is the case with many other species, however, breeders may have problems with the offspring of invertebrates as Dwarf Gouramis will prey on these larvae.

The only species to avoid are those that are much larger.

If they are kept with fish that are too large or aggressive, they will suffer from anxiety and not be as active as they should be. This can lead to serious health problems as they need to be able to reach the surface of the tank to breathe.

Cichlids should also be avoided.

They are known to be very aggressive and they have been known to eat Dwarf Gourami when kept in close proximity.

Keeping Dwarf Gourami Together

This is a schooling fish which should be kept together.

The main thing is keeping a good ration of males-to-females because males will become territorial and aggressive towards one another if there is too much conflict over a single female.

There should be at least 2 or 3 females for every 1 male.

Breeding Dwarf Gourami

You can trigger spawning by trying to replicate the sensation of a natural tide lowering.

To do this you should set the water levels in your tank from anywhere between 6-8 inches.

Raise the water temperature to well above the normal temperature (82°F+) of your tank.

Your breeding tank should also be full of vegetation because Dwarf Gourami females make bubble nests out of these plants. These nests can be inches across and up to an inch deep. They appear to just be bubbles that have not popped yet, but they are in fact individually created by the females to harbor their young.

The males will begin to court the females after these nests have been made.

He will circle and chase the females, pushing his fins out in an aggressive manner. The female will indicate her interest by circling the male back. When it has been acknowledged that they are both ready to breed, she will use her mouth to touch his tail or back and they will reproduce.

Depending on how many females a single male is able to breed with, a 2-4 hour breeding session can make up to 900 eggs. Once they reach the nest, the male will add another layer of protection to it with his own bubbles.

You should then remove the females from the tank and keep them separate from the males until hatching occurs.

Once they have hatched the offspring will be able to move freely on their own within 3 days.

A Dwarf Gourami Close Up

History and First Sighting

The Dwarf Gourami was first acknowledged in physicist Francis Buchanan-Hamilton’s 1822 three-volume catalogue titled An account of the fishes found in the river Ganges and its branches.

This catalogue included hundreds of new species.

Buchanan-Hamilton had spent years in India and other parts of Southern Asia working for the East India Company, traveling around the area and compiling a massive collection of lists and data on the many species he came across.

One of those species happened to be the Dwarf Gourami.

Gouramis make up the family of fish known as Osphronemidae.

All of these species are a similar size and are native to southern Asia. Besides this fish, species such as the Pearl Gourami and the Sparkling Gourami also belong to this family.

Since their discover little research regarding aspects of life in the wild has been conducted. The small size of this fish makes field analysis very difficult. Most of our knowledge about this fish comes from aquarist observation.

Over the last 50 years the interest in this fish has boomed and there are now more than 6 man made color variations.

Should You Keep The Dwarf Gourami? (Summary)

The Dwarf Gourami is a must-add to pretty much every freshwater aquarium due to their incredible colors.

With just a bit of research, a small amount of experience, and some common sense, anyone can raise happy this fish.

Your main tasks will be staying on top of water changes and feeding routines.

If you do this then you will have a fantastic addition your tank.

What is your experience with Dwarf Gouramis? Let us know in the comments section below…

David Thomas Author Bio Picture
David Thomas leads the team at Everything Fishkeeping as the Editor-in-Chief. David has been keeping fish since he was a child. In his first tank he kept goldfish and since then he has kept over 30 different species. Now he has 4 separate tanks and his favorite is a 100 gallon freshwater tank with a school of Rasboras, Tetras and Loaches.

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