13 Types Of Gourami (And How To Care For Them)

Gourami are popular ornamental fish for freshwater aquariums and all varieties originate in Asia. In this article, we will describe thirteen different types of gourami and provide you with the necessary information for each species’ optimal care and maintenance. We will educate you on their habitat preferences, optimal water conditions, diet needs, as well as what size tank is appropriate in which to house them.  

There are far more species of gourami than are listed here, but these ones are commonly sought after by aquarium hobbyists and range in ease of care from a beginner level to expert. Be prepared to be dazzled by the brilliant colors and spectacles that the wide variety of gourami species can provide.

A Quick List of the Different Gourami Types

  • Dwarf gourami
  • Paradise gourami
  • Honey gourami
  • Pearl gourami
  • Kissing gourami
  • Thick lipped gourami
  • Snakeskin gourami
  • Samurai gourami
  • Three spot gourami
  • Chocolate gourami
  • Moonlight gourami
  • Licorice gourami
  • Sparkling gourami

What Are the Different Types of Gourami?

Dwarf Gourami

There are different types of dwarf gourami that all vary in appearance. The blue dwarf gourami is bright blue with red-brown lateral lines and fins with light brown edges. Their scales are very large and often close together.

The flame dwarf gourami sport bright red and orange mixed colors. The honey dwarf gourami is a dark red with a little bit of orange, clear tails, and dark splotches on their fins. Some even have black or gray-colored heads.

Dwarf gouramis require a light cycle that mimics their natural habitat so using an aquarium light 8 to 10 hours a day is preferred. They also enjoy having floating plants and hiding places in order to nest. Plant-based foods and floating pellets are the best things to feed them as they normally “hunt” near the surface of the water.  

They are easy to care for as long as the water in the tank is kept clean and at a stable warm temperature. Their pH preferences are fairly neutral and optimal water hardness tends to be moderately hard.

  • Care level: Easy 
  • pH: 6.0 to 8.0
  • Hardness: 10 to 20
  • Temperature: 77 to 78.5 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Size: 2 to 3.5 inches
  • Tank Size: 10 gallons

Paradise Gourami

Paradise gourami also come in different varieties that can be distinguished from one another by the shape of their tails either forked, rounded, or pointed. They have bright blue/green and red/orange stripes with small shiny blue/black dots on their bodies. They prefer sandy substrate and lots of aquarium plants for hiding places.  

They eat both plants and animals and require a lot of protein in their diet. Their preferred foods include frozen and live mosquito larvae, brine shrimp, and bloodworms, but supplementing with vegetables and algae wafers is recommended.

Paradise gourami can tolerate a wide range of water parameters, but their care can be slightly challenging due to their aggressive nature. It’s best to keep them with large, peaceful fish so they are less likely to pick a fight.

  • Care level: Medium
  • pH: 6.0 to 8.0
  • Hardness: 5 to 30
  • Temperature: 70 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Size: 2 to 3 inches
  • Tank Size: 20 gallons

Honey Gourami

Honey gouramis are a soft buttery yellow with a black mark around the eyes and tend to stay small like dwarf gourami. A variant of the honey gourami known as the sunset honey gourami lacks the black mark but has a red or white chin and tail with an orange and red colored body.

Honey gouramis prefer aquarium plants to provide hiding places and will become stressed if the vegetation is too sparse. They require a lot of protein in their diet which can be provided by frozen tubifex, bloodworms, and brine shrimp. Algae flakes are also a good addition to provide well-balanced meals.

Their optimal water conditions include slightly acidic to neutral pH, soft to moderately hard water hardness, and a wide range of warm water temperatures.

  • Care level: Medium
  • pH: 6.0 to 7.5
  • Hardness: 4 to 15
  • Temperature: 71 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Size: 2.5 inches
  • Tank Size: 10 gallons

Pearl Gourami

Pearl gouramis are reddish-brown with white spots all over their bodies and a black lateral line that runs from head to tail. They are used to dark habitats so equip the aquarium tank with dark substrate, lots of vegetation, and little bright light exposure.

They will eat a well-balanced diet of both animal and plant matter including fresh lettuce and spinach, cooked peas, and live brine shrimp, bloodworms, and glass worms. Pearl gourami are very easy to care for and prefer slightly acidic waters that favor a warmer range of temperatures but can vary in hardness from soft to hard.

  • Care level: Easy
  • pH: 5.5 to 7.5
  • Hardness: 2 to 30
  • Temperature: 77 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Size: 4 to 5 inches
  • Tank Size: 30 gallons

Kissing Gourami

Kissing gourami are easily identified by their puckered mouth which features an extra jaw joint that allows them to open their mouths wider than other gouramis when feeding. They are usually pink or silver-green and some may have small spots, dark stripes, or brown fins. They prefer lots of shade provided by aquarium plants and are used to stagnant waters so extra oxygenation is not necessary.

Like most gourami, kissing gourami eat a variety of plant and animal matter so providing a balanced diet of foods such as spinach, lettuce, zucchini, and frozen and live bloodworms, daphnia, and brine shrimp is essential. Their optimal water parameters cover a range of temperatures, pH, and water hardness, but they do require a lot of space due to their maximum length of 12 inches.

  • Care level: Easy 
  • pH: 6.0 to 8.0
  • Hardness: 5 to 20
  • Temperature: 72 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Size: 8 to 12 inches
  • Tank Size: 55 gallons

 Thick Lipped Gourami

Thick lipped gourami can be rusty orange, brown or olive green in color with vertical turquoise stripes that run from the back of the head to the tail. The sunset variant of the thick-lipped gourami is typically a bright orange-gold color. Vegetation placed toward the back of the aquarium is key so this species has a place to hide.

They have a wide range of food preferences including fish flakes and pellets, algae wafers, live bloodworms, white worms, and brine shrimp, and fresh vegetables. Their optimal water conditions cover a range of warm temperatures, soft to moderately hard water hardness, and slightly acidic pH. They also need additional oxygenation so adding an air pump to the tank is a good idea.

  • Care level: Easy
  • pH: 6.0 to 7.5
  • Hardness: 4 to 15
  • Temperature: 72 to 83 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Size: 4 inches
  • Tank Size: 15 gallons

Snakeskin Gourami

Snakeskin gouramis are usually a dark mottled brown color with an iridescent green shimmer similar to that of a python (hence the name). Like most gourami, adding aquarium plants to their tank will help reduce captivity stress and provide plenty of places to shelter.

Snakeskin gourami eat mostly plant-based foods so algae wafers should be the main part of their diet. However, supplementation with live brine shrimp, bloodworms, and white worms or fish flakes or pellets will help keep this species in optimal health. They can withstand quite a range of pH, water hardness, as well as warm water temperatures so caring for this species is fairly easy.

  • Care level: Easy
  • pH: 5.5 to 8.5
  • Hardness: 2 to 30
  • Temperature: 72 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Size: 6 to 8 inches
  • Tank Size: 30 gallons

Samurai Gourami

Samurai gourami have red and green vertical stripes as well as a green iridescent sheen to their bodies with a red tail. They enjoy dark habitats so it is essential to provide a lot of vegetation and driftwood for shade and keep the aquarium lighting dim. It is also important to provide plenty of places to hide so adding caves and small structures is a good idea.

Samurai gourami prefer live food so trying to feed them frozen food or flakes and pellets isn’t your best option. Instead make sure they have plenty of live moina, mosquito larvae, bloodworms, brine shrimp, and daphnia.

This species can be difficult to care for because they are very picky about their environment. They thrive in acidic waters that tend on the warmer side of temperatures and are very soft on the water hardness scale.

  • Care level: Difficult
  • pH: 4.0 to 5.0
  • Hardness: 0 to 3
  • Temperature: 75 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Size: 2 inches
  • Tank Size: 20 gallons

Three Spot Gourami

Three spot gourami can come in a variety of colors including blue, gray, opaline, gold, lavender, and silver. The more colorful varieties tend to be more popular among aquarium hobbyists than the plainer silver ones. They prefer floating cover such as unrooted plants, driftwood, or leaf litter, but with plenty of open space for free swimming.

They will eat a multitude of foods including plant matter, algae wafers, worms, and crustaceans. They are fairly easy to care for and maintain as they can thrive in a wide range of water parameters including acidic to alkaline pH, soft to hard water hardness, and a breadth of warm water temperatures.

  • Care level: Easy 
  • pH: 5.5 to 8.5
  • Hardness: 3 to 35
  • Temperature: 75 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Size: 6 to 8 inches
  • Tank Size: 30 gallons

Chocolate Gourami

Chocolate gourami are brown in color with three to five vertical white to yellow stripes. They sport long fins with yellow edges and a slightly forked tail. This species likes a variety of rooted as well as floating aquarium plants with places to hide but also access to light.

They need to eat a well-balanced diet that includes both plant and animal-based foods. The best food options for chocolate gourami are algae flakes, and live or frozen daphnia, brine shrimp, and mosquito larvae.

They can be very difficult to care for since they have a very selective preference for acidic waters that remain soft on the water hardness scale but warm in temperature. They can not tolerate a wide swing in these parameters or else they could become very ill.

  • Care level: Difficult
  • pH: 4.0 to 6.0
  • Hardness: 1 to 6
  • Temperature: 77 to 84 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Size: 2 inches
  • Tank Size: 10 gallons

Moonlight Gourami

Moonlight gourami are a non-aggressive species that sport a silver-colored body with a slight greenish tint. It is easily distinguished from other gourami species by the head which features a
concave slope. Providing tall aquarium plants for hiding places are necessary for moonlight gourami to maintain low-stress levels.

This species needs a variety of foods to maintain optimal health including live and frozen crustaceans and worms as well as fish flakes. Moonlight gourami requires neutral to slightly acidic waters, with a hardness that can range from soft to hard, and fairly warm temperatures.

  • Care level: Easy
  • pH: 6.0 to 7.0
  • Hardness: 2 to 25
  • Temperature: 79 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Size: 6 inches
  • Tank Size: 20 gallons

Licorice Gourami

Licorice gourami live up to their namesake by sporting a black lateral band from head to tail and also have white, black, or red patterns on their tails. They have long skinny pectoral fins and pointed snouts. Almond leaves and driftwood are essential to providing this species with a good imitation of its Indonesian habitat in blackwater creeks.

Licorice gourami will eat both plant and animal matter but its main diet should consist of algae-based pellets or wafers. Adding some meaty supplements will help keep a well-balanced diet and give them the necessary protein.

These little fish can be hard to take care of because they are very particular about their water conditions. They require very acidic waters, extremely soft water hardness, and warm water temperatures in order to maintain optimal health.

  • Care level: Difficult
  • pH: 3.0 to 6.5
  • Hardness: 1 to 4
  • Temperature: 71 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Size: 2 inches
  • Tank Size: 10 gallons

Sparkling Gourami

Sparkling gouramis are silver in color with a variety of patterns including spots and stripes of varying colors such as red, brown, blue, and green. They shimmer in the light and are usually very fast swimmers so they appear as darting sparkles in the water. They prefer a lot of vegetation in order to maintain low levels of stress and lots of good hiding places.

Sparkling gouramis need a sufficient amount of protein in their diet so it’s important to feed them plenty of daphnia, bloodworms, and artemia. In order to receive a well-balanced diet, you should also supplement with vegetables.

These little fishes are easy to maintain and great for beginner aquarists as they prefer slightly acidic to neutral pH waters, can tolerate a wide range of warm temperatures, and need soft water hardness.

  • Care level: Easy
  • pH: 6.0 to 7.0
  • Hardness: 4 to 8
  • Temperature: 76 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Size: 1.5 to 2 inches
  • Tank Size: 30 gallons

FAQs

How Many Types of Gourami Are There?

There are over 130 different species of gourami representing 15 genera and 4 subfamilies. These freshwater fish are native to Asia, but have become popular aquarium fish all over the world. Gouramis come in a variety of sizes, colors, and patterns and add flair to any fish tank.

Gouramis also vary greatly in their water parameter tolerances and have been discovered in a multitude of different environments. Because parts of Asian freshwater systems are still left undiscovered, there is a great chance that there are even more species of gourami yet to be identified.   

Which Gouramis Are Aggressive?

Paradise gouramis tend to be very aggressive and bettas, three spots, and kissing gouramis have also been known to display aggressive tendencies. Aggression in gouramis is mostly due to reproduction, whereas the males are aggressive towards other males during mating season and females are aggressive in their protection of eggs.

It’s best to place aggressive species in an aquarium tank with larger, peaceful fish or by themselves so there is little chance of the aggressor harming themselves or other individuals who may inhabit the tank.

Recap

Gourami come in all sizes, colors, and temperaments. Whether you are looking for a small 15. inch docile breed or a large 12-inch aggressive species, you can find these fish in all colors of the rainbow. It’s important to pay attention to their individual needs, however, in order to maintain optimal health not only for the gourami but other fish that may cohabitate.

Some gourami are used to very acidic and soft water blackwater conditions while others are hardy and can tolerate a wide range of pH, temperatures, and water hardness. Most gouramis eat both plant and animal, but some have preferences on either side of the diet spectrum. Whichever species you choose to raise, may sure you do your homework to give your gourami their best life possible.

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