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13 Popular & Beautiful Types of Gourami (Species Guide)

Gourami fish are popular and showy aquarium fish. Most pet stores will carry several different types of Gourami.

When young and kept in stressful, crowded display tanks, they often don’t show their full potential. Which is a shame because the Gourami family is very diverse and includes some of the most colorful freshwater fish around.

That’s why I thought it best to outline the different types of Gourami. Some can be aggressive fish but many are great additions to a community tank with other fish.

All About Gourami Fish

Gourami (labyrinth fish) are natives of Asia and are found from Pakistan and India throughout Southeast Asia as far south as Indonesia and north into Eastern China, Taiwan, and Korea.

While they cover a large part of the world, the majority of Gourami have similar habitats.

They prefer shallow, warm waters like streams, ditches, and rice paddies. Because these waters are oxygen-poor, they all have a labyrinth organ that supplements their water breathing.

In fact, many gourami can survive out of the water for a while so long as they are kept moist!

The majority of Gourami are carnivores. Small aquatic insects, worms, fish larvae, and other prey small enough to fit into their mouths are delicately plucked from the weed-choked waters of their native habitats.

What are Gourami Fish Like?

Gourami has tall, thin bodies and cryptic coloring. This helps them blend into the dappled sun and shadows of the shallow water they prefer.

To navigate dark waters, several types of Gourami have mobile pelvic fins that act as feelers. Similar to a Catfish’s whiskers, a Gourami finds its way by feel in low light. But unlike Catfish these feelers can’t be used to taste or smell.

All Gourami are model parents. Many build bubble nests where eggs and young can cluster until they are large enough to forage alone. Others are mouthbrooders; after spawning the male or female will scoop up the egg cluster into his mouth.

Over a period of weeks where the parent rarely feeds, the young develop under the watchful eye of their father.

While popular in aquariums, the largest types of Gourami are also important food fish.

Snakeskin, Kissing, and Giant Gourami can often be found in markets across Asia, and even Asian markets in other countries.

Most types of Gourami are model community fish. But all Gourami are aggressive towards each other to some degree. And male gouramis are often intolerant of one another.

This aggression ranges from occasional but harmless displays, shoving matches that give Kissing Gouramis their name, and the deathmatches of Betta fish.

Several aggressive fish species will bully other fish, however, so I’ve outlined their personalities in detail below.

Common Types of Gourami Species

Here are a few of the most common Gourami species on the market:

1. Dwarf Gourami

dwarf gourami in aquarium with blurred background

Dwarf Gourami are one of the most popular types of Gourami in the aquarium trade due to the shockingly bright colors of the males. When displaying towards other males or trying to impress a female, they can become even more intensely crimson and blue.

Aquarists often buy only a single male since they are the most beautiful. But they don’t realize that Dwarf Gouramis show better colors when they have females to impress. The silvery Dwarf Gourami females aren’t as impressive but they bring out the best in their male partners.

Like most small Gourami, Dwarf Gourami are peaceful towards other community fish and won’t do well with Barbs and other fish that tend to nip at long, flowing fins like Gourami feelers.

Warm, slightly acidic water and ample frozen and live foods like bloodworms and brine shrimp are what Dwarf Gouramis love. These live and frozen foods also bring out richer reds thanks to the carotenoids they contain. They also encourage bubble nest building and spawning.

  • Scientific Name: Trichogaster lalius
  • Length: 2-3″
  • Tank Size: 10 Gallons
  • Ease of Care: Easy
  • Temperament: Peaceful

Powder Blue, Neon Blue, and Flame Dwarf Gourami

Each of these three color variants are the most common varieties of Dwarf Gourami you’ll see besides the standard form.

These color morphs are radically different in appearance. But they have the same care requirements and temperament as the standard Dwarf Gourami. Each will also breed with each other readily enough.

2. Honey Gourami

honey gourami in aquarium

One of the smallest types of Dwarf Gourami is the Honey Gourami. These gourami fish are somewhat uncommon compared to Three Spot and Dwarf Gourami. Honey Gourami are smaller than Dwarf Gourami and are actually a bit shy. Like most species of Gourami, the female is more of a subdued silver color but essential for the best color from your male.

Dwarf Gourami do well in most community tanks but Honey Gourami will be intimidated by swift-moving fish of the same size or larger. They also prefer a heavily planted tank with plenty of cover like floating plants. The more hiding places you offer the more you will see them out in the open.

Wild-caught Honey Gourami can be found in stores on occasion. They often have a deeper color than captive-bred Honey Gourami but are more sensitive to poor water conditions. They are perfect inhabitants for planted Aquascapes, however.

Wild Honey Gourami usually prefer frozen and live foods, which are also good for their captive-bred cousins. Flakes and micro pellets are readily accepted and they prefer warm, neutral to acidic waters with little current.

  • Scientific Name: Trichogaster chuna
  • Length: 2.5″
  • Tank Size: 10 Gallons
  • Ease of Care: Moderate
  • Temperament: Very Peaceful

Sunset Honey Gourami

The Sunset Honey Gourami is a vividly colored variant. While lacking the black mask of standard Honey Gourami, the Sunset has a red or white chin and tail. These colors are a striking contrast to the orange and crimson body.

3. Kissing Gourami

kissing gourami in aquarium

Kissing Gourami are one of the largest types of Gourami; they can grow nearly a foot in length but 8″ is more common in aquariums. Unlike most Gouramis, Kissing Gourami are mostly herbivorous. They use their large, fleshy lips to kiss and suck algae, detritus, and pick at soft plants in nature.

Kissing Gourami also eat small worms, insect larvae, and other live prey they come across but readily accept flakes and pellet food in aquariums. Like other large types of Gourami, Kissing Gourami are raised as food fish throughout Asia.

Kissing Gourami can be semi-aggressive, which may come as a surprise to some aquarists. They will not only spar with one another but will use their toothy, rasping lips to bite tankmates, especially fish with tall flanks like Angelfish and Discus. Kissing Gourami use their lips like shields to push and prod one another and will flare them wide before locking lips in wrestling matches.

Kissing Gourami graze for food by kissing and sucking detritus and biofilms from rocks, floating plants, glass…And the slime coats of their tankmates. As they grow, they make better tankmates for fish that will defend themselves or are both large and fast, like large Cichlids, Giant Danios, or Silver Dollars.

  • Scientific Name: Helostoma temminkii
  • Length: 8-12″
  • Tank Size: 55+ Gallons
  • Ease of Care: Easy
  • Temperament: Semi-Aggressive

Pink Kissing Gourami

The Pink Kissing Gourami is more popular than the wild-type Green Kissing Gourami. Pink Kissing Gourami are probably a leucistic form of the Green. Leucism is similar to Albinism except the eyes don’t lose pigment and remain black.

4. Paradise Fish

colorful paradise fish in fish tank

Despite their name, Paradise Fish or Paradise Gourami often make the lives of their tank mates difficult. These medium-sized Gourami are vividly colored and have showy fins almost like a Betta but are intolerant bullies. They spend most of their time chasing tankmates around and like Betta fish, males will fight to the death if kept together.

With their small mouths and slow swimming speed Paradise Fish can’t do too much damage to tank mates that can get out of the way easily. You’ll want a tank of at least 20 gallons if keeping them in a community tank and preferably larger, with ample hiding places and breaks in line of sight. Paradise Fish will slowly but doggedly pursue intruders within the area they claim as territory. However fast-moving schooling fish like Tetras and Danios don’t have much to fear.

Paradise Fish are found throughout East Asia as far north as Korea and are one of the most cold-tolerant types of Gourami. They can even be kept in unheated aquariums. Paradise Fish are otherwise attractive and easy to keep so long as you only keep one. 

When trying to breed them females should be introduced already full of eggs or the male will relentlessly harass her to death with a mixture of fin displays and bites. Introducing them in a divided aquarium is the best way to encourage them to spawn without the female being killed by the overeager male. 

  • Scientific Name: Macropodus opercularis
  • Length: 3-4″
  • Tank Size: 20+ Gallons
  • Ease of Care: Easy
  • Temperament: Aggressive

5. Snakeskin Gourami

Snake skin gourami (Trichogaster pectoralis) in aquarium

Snakeskin Gourami are one of the larger types of Gourami. They are also relatively uncommon in the aquarium trade as they aren’t brightly colored. Instead, they are far more often bred for food in Southeast Asia and China. 

Wild and well-fed captive Snakeskin Gourami develop a marbled dark brown to an iridescent green pattern similar to a python, hence the name. While similar to the closely related Pearl and Blue Gourami, the drab pattern and broken black line from eye to tail make them easy to tell apart.

Snakeskin Gourami are capable of growing up to 10″ in the wild and as thick as a man’s hand but 6-8″ is more common in aquariums. Like most types of Gourami they are opportunistic feeders of insect larvae, daphnia, and other small prey found in weedy, still or slow-moving bodies of water.

Despite their size, Snakeskin Gourami are model community tank dwellers. Even when spawning the males are peaceful and won’t harass tank mates or other Gourami. Snakeskin Gourami can have as many as 7,000 babies per spawn and take care of their young in tidy bubble nests built among floating weeds.

  • Scientific Name: Trichopodus pectoralis
  • Length: 6-8″
  • Tank Size: 30+ Gallons
  • Ease of Care: Very Easy
  • Temperament: Peaceful

6. Pearl Gourami

Pearl gourami (Trichopodus leerii), also known as the mosaic gourami.

Pearl Gourami are one of the most attractive types of Gourami and thankfully, are peaceful fish and easy to care for. They reach the impressive but easily housed size of 5 inches. 

The males have a vivid red robin’s breast that turns intensely crimson when ready to spawn and have filamentous extensions to their anal fin that give them a lacey appearance. Alternative names include Mosaic and Lace Gourami.

Pearl Gourami males are mildly territorial but won’t cause each other permanent damage when kept together. Since they are easy to sex when mature, a single male and female make fine companions for a community tank. 

With their small mouths, Pearl Gourami are only a threat to young fry and won’t bully other fish, even other Gourami.

  • Scientific Name: Trichopodus leerii
  • Length: 4-5″
  • Tank Size: 30+Gallons
  • Ease of Care: Very Easy
  • Temperament: Peaceful

7. Three Spot Gourami or Blue Gourami

three spot gourami in aquarium

Popular both as food and aquarium fish around the world, Three Spot Gourami  (better known as the Blue Gourami) are popular with pet stores around the world Like other types of Gourami they are easy to care for and will accept a wide variety of prepared, live, and frozen foods. 

Wild type Three Spot Gourami are a bit plain and rarely seen in the aquarium trade. Opaline, Gold, Lavender, and Blue Gourami are far more common.

Blue Gourami fish get deceptively large; 6-8″ is common even in aquariums and they can be bullies on occasion. Blue Gourami tend to chase fish with long, flowing fins, such as guppies, Bettas, and other fish that can’t get away quickly. 

They make better tankmates for semi-aggressive cichlids, large loaches, and catfish. Smaller fish that school and swim quickly can also be kept safely with the Blue Gourami.

  • Scientific Name: Trichopodus trichopterus
  • Length: 6-8″
  • Tank Size: 30+ Gallons
  • Ease of Care: Very Easy
  • Temperament: Semi-Aggressive

Lavender/Gold/Opaline/Blue Gourami

While these fish are strikingly different in color from one another a quick glance confirms they have identical body shapes and similarities to their patterns. Each is a color morph of the Three Spot Gourami and has identical care requirements.

8. Moonlight Gourami

moonlight gourami in aquarium

Unlike the closely related Three Spot Gourami, Moonlight Gouramis are peaceful, retiring community tank dwellers that are easily bullied by larger fish. These fish are striking, with a silvery iridescence that makes them great choices for planted Aquascapes with strong lighting. 

Moonlight Gouramis are found specifically in the Mekong River basin of Indochina (Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos).

Moonlight Gouramis are a bit more challenging to sex. Both males and females are iridescent silver color and are peaceful in temperament. Mature males have a stronger bluish-green hue as well as red tones in their long, trailing pelvic fins. 

They are easy to breed bred, however. And like all types of Gourami, the male will take excellent care of the young fry.

  • Scientific Name: Trichopodus microlepis
  • Length: 6″
  • Tank Size: 20 Gallons
  • Ease of Care: Easy
  • Temperament: Peaceful

9. Licorice Gourami

If you come across Licorice Gourami in a pet store you may not be impressed. Licorice Gourami usually look very dull at first. However, these types of Gourami rarely get a fair chance at catching your attention.

The key to a happy, healthy Licorice Gourami is replicating the water conditions of their natural habitat. Nearly all Licorice Gourami in the aquarium trade are wild-caught or captive-bred in identical conditions by specialists. 

They come from forested blackwater creeks in Indonesia where the pH can be as low as 3.5-4 due to the heavy buildup of decaying plant matter. Hardness is extremely low to non-existent. They also need very warm water, from 75-84F in order to thrive.

You’ll need not only pH reducers and buffering agents like driftwood and Almond leaves but products like Brightwell Aquatics Blackwater Liquid Fresh Water Conditioner that add beneficial tannins to the water. Plant tannins not only increase acidity but turn the water a dark tea color that reduces light levels and helps Licorice Gourami feel safe in exploring in the open. 

Good tankmates include equally small fish from the region like Kuhli Loaches and Rasboras as well as South American blackwater fish like Cardinal Tetras.

When attended to in this way Licorice Gourami can display incredible color; the males are black and silver with fins like flags full of red, gold, and blue hues that they wave towards each other and females. While slightly territorial towards one another they aren’t aggressive and can be kept in small groups in planted aquariums. 

There are several species of Licorice Gourami but all have similar requirements. They are all very challenging to keep but are well worth the effort!

  • Scientific Name: Parosphromenus sp.
  • Length: 2″
  • Tank Size: 10+ Gallons
  • Ease of Care: Difficult
  • Temperament: Very Peaceful

10. Chocolate Gourami

Giant Chocolate Gourami (Sphaerichthys acrostoma)

Like Licorice Gourami, Chocolate Gourami are also from highly acidic blackwater environments. They are found in peat swamps and blackwater conditions in Malaysia and Borneo where the acidity can be as low as 3.5-4. Chocolate Gourami are also highly sensitive to poor water conditions and will be the first to develop fungus, pop-eye, ich, and other infections. 

However, these requirements make them ideal tank mates for Licorice Gourami and other blackwater fish. They are peaceful to the point of being shy and easily intimidated by large or groups of fast-moving fish. Chocolate Gourami should be given plenty of live plants and tangled driftwood to weave in and out of. 

They are also tolerant of their own kind and can be kept in pairs or small groups. Their delicate patterns, subtle colors and slow movement makes them graceful additions to planted aquascapes.

Chocolate Gourami are also unique in how they spawn. Instead of the male building bubble nests, the female collects the eggs and mouth broods for a period of 2 weeks until the eggs hatch. The male will also stay and defend the female from the attentions of tankmates until the fry are ready to leave and fend for themselves. 

  • Scientific Name: Sphaerichthys osphromenoides
  • Length: 2″
  • Tank Size: 10+ Gallons
  • Ease of Care: Difficult
  • Temperament: Very Peaceful

11. Sparkling Gourami

sparkling gourami

Sparkling Gourami are some of the most unique types of Gourami. For starters, they’re very small, barely growing beyond 2″. Sparkling Gourami are very peaceful and are better kept in pairs or groups of 4-6, making them ideal inhabitants for small planted aquariums. Like all Gourami, the males will display on occasion but they never fight to the death.

Sparkling Gourami also occasionally go by another name: Croaking Gourami. All Trichopsis species have the ability to rub their pectoral fins together in a manner that creates a soft croak that even we humans can hear! 

The males will croak and display rather than nip at one another. And females will audibly purr to let makes know they are willing to spawn. Like most types of Gourami, they are bubble nest builders and the male takes responsibility for raising the fry. Sexing adults is not too challenging when they are healthy. 

Sometimes in aquarium stores, both males and females look pale and brown. However, Sparkling Gourami get their name from the red and blue spangles and bright blue iridescent eyes of the males. Females are a pale brown and white in color. 

  • Scientific Name: Trichopsis pumila
  • Length: 1.5-2″
  • Tank Size: 10+ Gallons
  • Ease of Care: Easy
  • Temperament: Very Peaceful

12. Giant Gourami

giant gourami swimming in fish tank

Giant Gourami live up to their name as the largest types of Gourami. Reaching over 2 feet in length, these popular Asian food fish are also mostly vegetarian. While they will take flakes and pellets they do best on blanched whole vegetables, soft-leaved floating plants, and flakes or pellets enriched with Spirulina with animal protein as a supplement.

While Giant Gourami aren’t picky about water quality, providing a suitably sized tank for adults is an issue. Unfortunately, these types of Gourami are usually sold when small, around 2-4″. The unsuspecting aquarist eventually comes to realize that their small, peaceful Gourami keeps eating and growing and just won’t stop. 

Giant Gourami are semi-aggressive and will bully other Gourami and peaceful tankmates, particularly when crowded in small aquariums. They range in color from grey to nearly black when males are ready to spawn. Albino Giant Gourami are also common in the pet and food trade.

Giant Gourami are famous for having a ton of personality. They sometimes can be trained to recognize the person who feeds them, will take food from your fingers, and even allow gentle petting underwater! 

  • Scientific Name: Osphronemus goramy
  • Length: 20-28″
  • Tank Size: 200+ Gallons
  • Ease of Care: Moderate
  • Temperament: Semi-Aggressive

13. Betta

Dragonscale Betta
Dragonscale Betta

Believe it or not, the Betta fish is also classified in the family Osphronemidae, making it a type of Gourami. Bettas are possibly the most popular Gourami in the world due to their tolerance of extremely poor water quality and showy fins. 

However, they put on a much better display when kept in planted aquariums with a variety of fresh and frozen invertebrate foods. A warm water temperature and slightly acidic, filtered water are also important to them. 

Bettas are famously intolerant of other males. When kept with several females, heavy floating plant cover, and in the largest of aquariums (55+ Gallons) it’s sometimes possible to get away with more than one. Bettas have been captive-bred for aggression in Thailand for centuries so you’re better off just keeping one.

Bettas will occasionally chase other long-finned fish, especially fancy guppies, which remind them of other males. However, their long, flowing fins make them slow swimmers and most fish can easily avoid their short-lived bouts of rage. Bettas are fine community tank inhabitants and more often than not need defending from fin nippers like Danios and Barbs.

Betta is actually a genus of several related Gourami and includes fish that are mouthbrooders, peaceful to aggressive in temperament, and some that are even larger than Betta splendens. However, these are usually wild-caught Betta species and are sometimes picky about water conditions and feeding. 

  • Scientific Name: Betta splendens
  • Length: 2-3″
  • Tank Size: 5-10 Gallons
  • Ease of Care: Very Easy
  • Temperament: Semi-Aggressive

In Conclusion

Labyrinth fish include some of the most beautiful and easy to keep freshwater fish around. Many species of gourami even come in several color morphs, allowing you to mix and match colors in the same tank setup. So long as you provide them with a warmer water temperature, occasional frozen or live food, and a well-planted tank, you should enjoy most species of gourami fish for years to come.

More Frequently Asked Questions about Gourami Fish

Do you have a few more questions about Gourami care that weren’t answered in the species profiles above? Then here are a few frequently asked questions and answers that should put your doubts about these tropical fish to rest.

Are Gouramis Friendly?

Most gouramis are peaceful fish but a few can be a little more aggressive in the same tank setup. The smaller species, including the Dwarf Gourami, Honey Gourami, Sparkling Gourami, and Chocolate Gouramis tend to be the most peaceful fish. It is best to keep these shy fish with similar-sized fish that won’t chase or bully them.

Do Gourami Fish Get Lonely?

Chocolate Gouramis and other smaller fish will sometimes act like shy fish if they are kept with no other tank mates. However, they are not schooling fish so you can keep a single gourami in community aquariums with other fish easily.

Are Gouramis Good Community Fish?

Most gouramis are peaceful fish but a few can be aggressive fish. As a rule of thumb, it is best to keep gouramis in community aquariums with similar-sized fish. Otherwise, the gourami fish may try bullying their smaller tank mates.

Can Gouramis Live With Other Fish?

It is best to keep gouramis with other fish in community aquariums. When kept alone they can be very shy fish and may simply hide all of the time.

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

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