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Honey Gourami In-Depth Care Guide

Honey gourami are slightly less popular than the many other types of gourami out there. Which is a shame because these little fish have so much to offer space limited aquarists who live vibrantly colored fish.

Honey Gourami

Dwarf gourami are a little more popular because their contrasting blue and red tones really catch your attention. However, honey gourami are worth looking at because they are even more of a dwarf than the dwarf gourami!

In today’s in-depth care guide, we will look at the specifics of honey gourami care. From feeding and choosing tank mates to caring for honey gourami eggs, you will be a master of keeping these little wonders alive by the time you’re finished!

Honey Gourami Species Profile

Like all gourami species, the honey gourami is a labyrinth fish. It has the ability to partially breathe air, something few fish are capable of.

Honey Gourami Species Profile

Ever watch a betta or gourami rise to the surface and take a gulp? It is not trying to eat anything; your fish is refreshing the air it holds in its labyrinth organ.

In the wild, honey gourami live in shallow, hot, stagnant bodies of water. These places are where few fish can live because the oxygen levels are so low and the heat is too intense.

But as you probably already know, mosquito larvae and other aquatic insects tend to thrive in these fishless places. Gouramis and bettas evolved the ability to supplement their gills with the ability to breathe atmospheric air so they can get at insect larvae that other fish normally can’t.

Since they are often found in oxygen-poor and polluted waters, gourami and bettas are very hardy aquarium residents. The honey gourami is no exception; it is not a picky eater and they tend to be very peaceful towards their tank mates.

You may even run across a honey gourami bubble nest on occasion if your male and female honey gourami are in the mood to spawn! Like all bettas and gouramis, honey gourami are good parents. They build nests of bubbles to provide their eggs and fry protection and a place to develop!

What else is there to discover about honey gourami care?

  • More Common Names: Sunset Honey Gourami, Red Honey Gourami, Gold Honey Gourami, Golden Honey Gourami
  • Scientific Name: Trichogaster chuna
  • Origin: South Asia (India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh)
  • Length: 1½ to 2 inches
  • Aquarium Size: 10+ gallons
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Ease of Care: Easy

Types of Honey Dwarf Gourami Fish

Like any popular aquarium fish, gold honey gourami come in a few color morphs. If you aren’t as attracted to the wild-type color pattern, maybe buy honey gourami that are bred for more vibrant red and yellow colors!

Sunset Honey Gourami

found on reddit

One of the most popular varieties is the sunset honey gourami. Since some aquarists want to see more vibrant yellow tones this variety was bred to do away with the chocolate brown and black belly of wild honey gourami.

Instead they are a rich yellow and orange all over, sometimes with red undertones. Males may have varying amounts of silver to their bellies and may or may not have a blue dorsal fin. Females always have silver and are a little less rich in color than males.

Red Honey Gourami

found on Pinterest

The red honey dwarf gourami is very distinct in appearance from a standard honey gourami. It does not have the black band of a mature male wild-type gourami. Nor are the golden butterscotch tones apparent.

Instead, red honey gourami are fiery scarlet in color, from belly to back! Even when not breeding, they are some of the most intensely colored fish in the tank. Males will usually have a bright blue dorsal fin as well.

A red female honey gourami will often be very bright as well, which is unusual for gouramis. However they have more silver along their backs and bellies.

Gold Honey Gourami

Gold Honey Gourami
found on reddit

Last we have the gold honey gourami, which is actually just another name for the sunset honey gourami. Also known as the golden honey gourami, gold honey gourami are identical in appearance and care to any other honey dwarf gourami for sale that you’d come across!

Honey Gourami Care

Now that we know you can buy honey gourami of any number of varieties, it is time to talk about the intricacies of honey gourami care! How do we keep honey gourami alive as long-term aquarium residents?

Honey Gourami Size

Honey Gourami Size
found on Flickr

What makes honey gourami fish so remarkable is their manageable size! Many types of gourami tend to get very large. Pearl gourami each 4 to 6 inches; blue gourami can top this length. Kissing gourami grow 10 to 12 inches long and the giant gourami can be longer than 24 inches!

Honey gourami size, on the other hand, shows that they are truly the midgets of the gourami world! With a maximum size of 1 ½ to 2 inches they are one of the smallest types of gourami.

Only a few other species of gourami, such as sparkling gourami (Trichopsis pumila) and chocolate gourami (Sphaerichthys osphromenoides) are smaller.

Honey Dwarf Gourami Tank Size

Honey Dwarf Gourami Tank Size
found on reddit

Since honey gourami size is so small, this means that you can keep them in aquariums that are very manageable for beginners!

Even aquariums as small as 10 gallons can work for a red honey gourami pair! Just make sure that you don’t add too many other tank mates to such a small fish tank. The “one inch per gallon” rule is a little outdated because it does not take into account the fact that bigger fish have way more body mass than smaller fish. 10 1-inch neon tetras do not equal one 10-inch oscar.

But for small fish like honey gourami it is a good way to plan out how many fish you can add to a fish tank!

And if you want to keep them in larger aquariums, your honey gourami will love the extra space to explore!

How Long Do Honey Gouramis Live?

So how long do honey gouramis live? 5 to 8 years is an average lifespan for these smaller aquarium fish. In fact, that’s a fair bit longer than other fish their size; most small pet fish like betta fish live between 2 and 4 years!

Do Honey Gourami Eat Plants?

Honey gourami are some of the most plant-safe fish in the aquarium world. Since honey gourami are carnivorous fish the only need they have for plants is a place to hide and to build their bubble nests into.

Occasionally you may see a honey gourami pick at plants but only out of curiosity. Even softer plants won’t be eaten by them.

In fact, I recommend keeping live plants in your honey gourami fish tank. Live plants provide oxygen by removing carbon dioxide from the system during photosynthesis. Honey gourami breathe oxygen from the air but this helps other fish that are more sensitive to low oxygen levels and are in need of extra aeration.

Plants also suck up ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and other nitrogenous waste products. While fish find these to be poisonous, plants love these compounds for use as fertilizer! Once you trim away any excess growth, you’ve effectively exported toxic compounds from the aquarium!

Water Conditions for Honey Gourami

When setting up an aquarium for red honey gourami you will need to be aware of the water parameters that they favor. Like all gourami, they come from very warm, acidic waters. While nearly all honey gourami are captive bred and thus tolerant of alkaline conditions, they still strongly prefer it if you can provide water chemistry closer to their home waters.

A pH of 5.0-7.0 will result in dramatically improved colors, health, and appetite. And if you are looking to breed your male and female honey gourami then there is no substitute for proper water conditions.

Honey gourami can be a little more sensitive to high ammonia levels than other types of gourami. So only add them to a fully cycled tank with an active and mature biological filtration system.

Warm water temperatures are also extremely important; keeping honey dwarf gourami too cold is a major reason why these fish get sick and die. The water temperature should remain between 75-82℉.

And if you want to encourage a golden honey gourami pair to spawn, increasing the temperature to 84℉ is the best way to do so!

Since honey dwarf gourami are true freshwater fish, adding aquarium salt is unnecessary. Save it for brackish water aquarium setups instead!

Honey Gourami Disease Concerns

Gouramis are pretty hard overall and rarely get sick. But occasionally you may find a honey gourami disease arising. Like all fish, they do get illnesses sometimes.

Gourami are particularly susceptible to ich if another fish in your tank has the disease. This is because ich has an easier time infecting fish with smaller or thinner scales.

Since honey gourami scales are easy for them to penetrate, an ich infection can last a very long time! If you do see signs of ich (white spots the size of salt crystals), I recommend moving your honey gourami to a quarantine tank as soon as possible.

By doing this, you can help control honey gourami disease by regulating the temperature effectively. You can also add medications without them hurting any of your other fish or invertebrates!

Honey Gourami Tank Mates

Honey Gourami Tank Mates
found on Flickr

Choosing honey gourami tank mates should be carefully done. Not because these fish are at all aggressive. In fact, honey gourami can be peaceful to the point of being shy!

But we don’t want to keep them with fish they might find too intimidating. Large, fast moving fish can frighten honey dwarf gourami, even if they are peaceful. So avoid large barbs, giant danios, large killifish, and other boisterous tank mates.

Instead, stick to nano fish and small fish that are the same size or smaller than your honey gourami pair. Good candidates include neon tetras, harlequin rasboras, cherry barbs, and other soft water community fish. Most tetras are excellent tank mates so long as they aren’t fin nipping species like black skirt tetras.

Livebearing fish like guppies, platies, and swordtails can also work. Just be aware that many livebearers prefer hard, alkaline water conditions (pH 7.0+). But if you can balance the water conditions towards neutrality, then keeping them both together is possible!

Can I Keep a Honey Gourami with Betta?

Bettas and sunset honey gouramis can be kept together so long as you are careful about your betta. Bettas vary quite a bit in personality. Some are very peaceful while others chase any tank mates they have.

Since honey gourami are similar in color to many bettas, be careful when adding them. I recommend choosing a blue betta, koi betta, plakat betta, or other dissimilar fish to minimize aggression.

What Do I Feed Honey Gourami Fish?

Feeding sunset honey gourami is very easy to do; all you need is a protein-rich pellet or flake food formula that is sized to fit their tiny mouths. Supplement this with frozen or live prey items like brine shrimp, blood worms, or daphnia. Since honey gourami eat mostly invertebrates in the wild, these items will spur their appetites and encourage them to prepare for spawning!

Some guides say that honey gourami are omnivorous; this is not actually true. As carnivores we want to feed an animal-based flake or pellet formula to our honey gourami. So look for whole fish, shrimp, squid, and other ingredients in any prepared food that you offer!

Breeding Honey Gourami

Breeding Honey Gourami
found on Flickr

Breeding honey gourami fish is one of the most exciting aspects to caring for these little wonders! It is also not too difficult to do so long as you’ve followed the detailed instructions in this honey gourami care guide!

So how do we go about sexing honey gourami, to begin with?

Sexing Honey Gourami Fish

Sexing honey gourami is fairly straightforward because these fish are strongly sexually dimorphic, meaning that you can tell sexes apart by looking at them. The male honey gourami will be more vibrantly red, yellow, or orange.

He also will have a chocolate brown or deep black stripe running from his face down his belly to the anal fin. Female honey gourami fish have silver bellies and faces instead of brown to black.

The male honey gourami is also the one that builds a bubble nest and then tries to entice the female to mate beneath it. If you don’t see a honey gourami bubble nest then check to see if any surface agitation is disrupting it as he tries to make one.

These fish live in still waters and can’t build a bubble nest if the surface is constantly being splashed by small waves.

Floating plants also give a secure anchor to any gold honey gourami bubble nest. Though even if you don’t have any plants a male honey gourami will likely anchor it in the corners of your aquarium.

Caring for Honey Gourami Eggs and Fry

Assuming your honey gourami pair successfully spawn, you still have some work ahead of you! Honey gourami fish are good parents and won’t eat their eggs or fry. But the fry are extremely tiny and need specialized food once they hatch.

Unfortunately, crushed flakes are going to be too large for them; even brine shrimp nauplii won’t work for the first week or two after the honey gourami eggs hatch.

Instead, you will have to cultivate infusoria for them, which is fortunately easy to do but takes a few days to get going. So start raising them the moment you see your honey gourami bubble nest being constructed and the female honey gourami beginning to swell with eggs.

More Frequently Asked Questions about Honey Gourami Care

How Many Honey Gourami Should be Kept Together?

Honey dwarf gourami are social fish and should be kept together, either in pairs or in small groups. Males may display to one another occasionally to compete for females. But so long as you have 5 to 10 gallons of space per fish, their spats won’t be too violent. So if you see a honey gourami for sale, consider picking up more than one!

How Big Does a Honey Gourami Get?

The honey gourami is one of the smallest types of gourami! 1 ½ to 2 inches is the usual honey gourami size for fully grown fish!

What Fish Go With Honey Gouramis?

Honey gourami fish are very peaceful and can be shy if kept with large fish. So only keep them alongside other peaceful fish. Good honey gourami tank mates include tetras, livebearers that like soft, acidic water, smaller barbs, sparkling gourami, and rasboras! Corydoras, otocinclus, and other smaller bottom dwellers also get along great with honey gourami!

Is a Honey Gourami a Dwarf?

Yes; in fact, the honey dwarf gourami is one of the smallest gouramis of all! Only the sparkling gourami, chocolate gourami, and a few others are smaller in size. This means that you can keep a honey gourami pair even in tanks as small as 10 gallons in volume!

Jason Roberts
About Jason Roberts
Jason is an aquarium fanatic that has been a fish hobbyist for almost three decades.