The Honey Gourami is a sunset-colored Gourami with a peaceful personality. If Bettas are not quite your style then this species makes a wonderful alternative. They are not too big and do not have the same aggression that many other Gouramis have.
Their easy care requirements make them a great choice for first time fishkeepers. Has this remarkable little fish caught your eye? Keep reading to learn how to feed, house, and care for your own Honey Gourami…
Table of Contents
What is a Honey Gourami?
|Other Common Names:||Honey Dwarf Gourami, Sunset Gourami, Red Flame Gourami|
|Scientific Name:||Trichogaster chuna|
|Distribution:||India, Bangladesh, Nepal|
|Color:||Yellow, Gold, Orange, Red|
|Minimum Tank Size:||10 Gallons|
|Tank Mate Compatibility:||Peaceful Cyprinids And Bottom Dwellers|
The Honey Gourami (Trichogaster chuna) is also known as the Sunset, Red Flame and Honey Dwarf Gourami. They come from the Osphronemidae family (which includes all Gourami fish including the Betta) and are found in India, Bangladesh and Nepal. Just like all other Osphronemids they have a labyrinth organ which lets them breathe dry air. This allows them to survive in areas where there is very little oxygen in the water.
Honey Gouramis are fantastic for fishkeepers of any skill level. They are best known for their stunning appearance and color morphs. The are also known for its ability to knock down insects with streams of water.
You can find Honey Gourami at online retailers and specialty aquarium suppliers, where they are often available in several different color morphs. However Honey Gourami should not be confused with the Dwarf Gourami (more on this later). Expect to pay $5-$8 per fish.
- Experience Required: Recommended for beginners.
- Nicknames: Sunset Gourami, Red Flame Gourami, Honey Dwarf Gourami.
- Color Forms: Yellow, gold, orange or red.
- Size: 2-5 inches.
- Tank Size: Minimum 10+ gallon.
- Tank Temperature: 72°F to 82°F.
Appearance and Size
This Gourami is named after their bright yellow color. You can find male Honey Gouramis in yellow, orange, red or golden yellow. Whereas female Honey Gouramis come in brown, grey or silver.
- Yellow: A buttery shade of yellow is the most common color for this Gourami. The white underside turns black when the fish is in breeding condition.
- Sunset: The Sunset color morph is a deep red or red-orange color.
- Flame: The Flame variety features an orange color a few shades brighter than Sunset.
- Gold: This deep yellow-gold color resembles that of a Goldfish or Koi. It is one of the most sought after Gourami color morphs.
Early in their life males and females are the same silver or brown color. Once Honey Gouramis reach maturity, the males develop their bright colors while the females stay the same color. This is the easiest way to tell the difference between males and females but you can also tell by looking at the shape of their body and fins.
Females are almost always round with eggs. Their anal and dorsal fins are rounded at the tips, while the males’ fins are pointed. Honey Gourami will average 2 inches long, though some specimens will grow up to 3 inches. Their body is thin at both ends and wide in the middle.
In total these fish have 7 fins: The dorsal fin starts at the forehead and travels all the way down the body towards the caudal fin. On the ventral side, the anal fin runs parallel to the dorsal fin. There is a pair of very tiny pectoral fins, tucked close to the fish’s body. Below that are the long, filamentous pelvic fins that Gouramis are known for.
Just be careful when buying Honey Gouramis as they are often mislabeled as a Honey Dwarf Gourami.
However, it is easy to tell the two species apart. Dwarf Gouramis are a similar size and also come in yellow, but they usually have a striped or spotted pattern. They can also come in blue, red and many other colors. The Honey Gourami on the other hand is always a solid color – they only come in shades of yellow, red or orange.
Honey Gourami Care Sheet
Honey Gouramis are easy to care for and suitable for first time keepers. In the wild they have adapted to transient environments, so they can withstand many rookie mistakes.
The main thing to know is that their labyrinth organ is sensitive to sudden shifts in temperature, so the temperature of the tank should closely match the temperature of the room. Every week you should perform a 25% water change and clean the substrate and aquarium glass. Excess algae should also be removed from decorations and plants.
In an unclean tank bacterial infections can lead to fin rot with Gouramis. The first sign of this is a white lesion along the edges of the fins. Fin rot will eventually spread to the rest of the body if allowed to progress, so it is important that it is treated early when you see it. The condition can be treated with antibiotic medication.
Velvet disease is another common illness that Honey Gouramis can get. This is a parasitic infection that creates a sprinkling of gold dust over their body. The dust is difficult to see on a yellow or orange fish, but there are some other signs, such as lethargy and sudden weight loss. The fish may also rub against the glass or other surfaces. Copper medication is the preferred treatment for velvet disease.
In the wild Honey Gouramis use jets of water to knock live insects down from leaves and trees. If you have a paludarium then you can see their unique talent up close. Just place a few crickets or fruit flies on a leaf or twig and watch. They also eat invertebrates, small prey and occasionally nibble on plants too.
In an aquarium you should feed Honey Gouramis a mix of live prey and commercial or homemade fish foods. Fish flakes and pellets should have a mix of protein and vegetable content. Your Gouramis will occasionally munch on your aquarium plants but you can stop this by giving them the trimmings each time you prune your plants. Here are some of the best things to feed your Honey Gourami:
- Vegetable tablets
- Fruit flies
- Mosquito larvae
- Plant material
Unfortunately, these are rather shy eaters and tend to be outcompeted by the more aggressive fish in the tank. It can be difficult to make sure that they get enough at every meal. You should feed them at separate times from the other fish in your community, once in the morning and once during the evening. Make sure that they can finish all of their food within 3 minutes.
When Honey Gouramis feel safe they will be active during the daytime. However they are very timid and will shy away when something is not right. If a tank mate is distressing them or if something is wrong with the water quality, they may hide for days on end. It is important to provide them with enough plants and other decorations to hide behind. When free swimming they tend to hang around the middle levels of the tank. However, they can be found near the surface when they are coming up for air.
Honey Gourami are not very social and will not even interact with their own kind. Once they pair off, they stay by their partner’s side and ignore everyone and everything else. Just note that during mating season the males can be quite aggressive to each other and other similar looking species (such as the Dwarf Gourami). If you have a group then there should be at least 3 females for every male.
Habitat and Aquarium Set Up
In the wild you will find this fish in stagnant bodies of water in the northern Ganges. They can be found in floodplains, ponds, pools and drainage basins. Honey Gouramis stay in areas with little to no flow and take shelter in caves and under leafy plants.
The water is slightly acidic from all of the plant decay. Since the water is so slow moving there is not always as much oxygen as there would be in the high-flow areas. For this reason this fish stays in shallow areas where they can surface for air.
Tank Set Up
A 10 gallon tank is perfect for a single Honey Gourami. If you want to keep a pair of them you will need to use a 20 gallon aquarium. Add 10 gallons of water for each additional Gourami.
For the water parameters you will need to keep the temperature from 72-82°F. The pH should be mildly acidic, ranging from 6.0 to 7.0. The water hardness can range from 4-15 dGH. Make sure your tank is fully cycled and completely free of ammonia, nitrates or other waste products.
Because your Honey Gourami will surface for air you should not fill the tank all the way up to the top. The tank should also be secured with a lid or a hood to keep the fish from jumping out. To keep both noise and flow to a minimum you should use a hang on back filter or a small sponge filter. Also a little bit of dissolved oxygen is good. You can use a bubble generator or a small air stone, or rely on the bubbles from your hang on back filter.
Your lighting system should be suitable for your plants and provide 3-4 watts per gallon from a full spectrum bulb. You can use soft fine grain for your substrate.
Finally, because these Gourami enjoy hiding in caves in the wild you need to give them some in your aquarium. You can use logs, PVC pipes or flower pots. Your tank should feature plenty of underwater plants too. Java Fern, Anubias, Water Wisteria, and Anacharis are the best plants for this particular setup.
|Minimum Tank Size||10 Gallons|
|Tank Type||Freshwater planted|
Since Honey Gouramis are so shy you will need to be careful when picking their tank mates. They are quite solitary in the wild. You will need to find peaceful and docile species that do not nip at fins. Suitable tank mates include:
- Sparkling Gourami
- Kuhli Loach
- Cory Catfish
- Oto Catfish
- Cherry Barb
- Rosy Barb
- Dwarf Barb
- Zebra Danio
- Celestial Pearl Danio
- Ember Tetra
- Mystery Snail
- Rabbit Snail
While there are plenty of community fish you can include, there are also plenty that you should avoid. Cichlids are at the top of the list. Red Tail Sharks and Rainbow Sharks should also be avoided as they tend to be very aggressive and territorial. Aggressive Gouramis (such as the Paradise Fish) are a bad idea for the same reason.
Dwarf and Pearl Gouramis look too similar to the Honey Gourami to be expected not to pick a fight. Betta fish should be kept out for the same reason. Tiger Barbs, Guppies and Algae Eaters will pick at your Gourami’s long fins. Even certain Tetras (such as the Neon) tend to do this too. Finally, you should avoid adding fish that are much larger.
Keeping Them Together
These fish are happy in groups of up to 6. Honey Gourami will not shoal or school but they will pick a partner to pair off with. Your group should be even numbered so that each individual has a chance to pair off. They will not interact outside of their pairs.
If there are too many males in your group then they will try to compete for the attention of the females. For this reason, every group should have at least 3 females for every male.
The breeding behavior of these fish is fascinating. Just like other Osphronemids, Honey Gouramis will place their eggs in bubble nests along the surface. You will need a breeding tank with a sponge filter. The water level should be between 6-8 inches high and there should be floating Anacharis. When the male and female fish in your group pair off you can try to get them into breeding condition by raising the temperature to 79°F and giving them live prey up to 3 times a day.
When the male’s color grows brighter he is getting ready to breed. The female’s abdomen will swell up with eggs and the male will construct the bubble nest. Once they are ready to spawn the male will wrap the female in an embrace to stimulate spawning. Females will lay eggs in the water and the male will catch them in his mouth and take them to the bubble nest.
Up to 300 eggs can be laid during each spawning period in clusters of around 20. They are fertilized externally after being placed in the nest. For the next 24 hours the male will defend the nest until the larvae hatch. After this you can remove both parents from the nursery tank.
Once hatched your larvae will use their yolk sacs for 2 days. After this you will need to feed them infusoria and liquid foods. After a week you can give them small microworms and larval brine shrimp. All of the new fish will be the same color as they grow up. Once the males develop their adult colors you can place your mature fish into the community tank with your other Honey Gouramis.
History and First Sighting
Trichogaster chuna was first discovered by Francis Hamilton in 1822. Because the males are so distinct from females they were mistakenly classified as 2 different species. Males were originally classified as Trichopodus chuna and the females were classified as Trichopodus sota. However, they were soon discovered breeding together and confirmed as the same species.
The Honey Gourami was introduced to home aquarium in the 1880s and became an instant hit because of their beautiful colors. Dwarf Gourami and the Thick Lipped Gourami entered the hobby at around the same time which caused confusion between the 3 species. Keepers looking for a Honey Gourami were surprised to discover their new fish was actually a Dwarf or Thick Lipped! However over time the confusion dwindled as people became more familiar with the species.
While the species is not a particularly common find, they are well loved by aquascapers and Gourami enthusiasts. Many beginners will choose them as an alternative to the Betta.
The Honey Gourami is certainly a species worth considering. They are pretty, peaceful, and makes a great addition to an aquascape. There are plenty of different freshwater setups to fit this fish into. You can even use it to accent the freshwater pools in your paludarium. Just remember that this fish loves to hide so you can keep them with lots of popular aquarium plants.
If you are selective with their tank makes then it will make them feel safe, happy and at home. No matter who you are a Honey Gourami will brighten up your tank.
What color is your Honey Gourami? Let us know in the comments section below…