How to Keep Gouramis

Dwarf gourami
Dwarf gourami (Image: Courtesy of Quatermass)

Gouramis are labyrinth fish that can supplement their oxygen by breathing atmospheric air. This makes them easy to keep in an aquarium because they aren't finicky about their water conditions.

Things You'll Need

  • 10-gallon aquarium (minimum size)
  • Tight fitting aquarium lid
  • Heater
  • Floating plants

Prepare an aquarium for gouramis by making sure that you have attached a tight fitting lid to your tank and sealed any gaps or holes. Tight tank tops keep a warm microclimate on the surface of the water and discourage jumping. As the gouramis come to the top of the water to breathe occasionally, keeping 1 inch of warm air at the top of the tank is important, particularly during the winter months.

Provide floating plants. Most gouramis populate the top third of the tank and like to use floating plants as hiding places and sometimes to build their nests.

Offer gouramis a temperature range between 70 and 82 degrees F and water that is neutral to slightly acid or alkaline.

Select gouramis that are alert and have well defined, undamaged fins. For a community tank of small fish, chocolate and dwarf gouramis are good choices. For tanks with larger, gentle fish, like angelfish and swordtails, pearl gouramis make good tank mates.

Select tank mates for gouramis that are either smaller than the gouramis or are relatively slow moving. Gouramis can move quickly when they have to, but like to sustain a more majestic pace. They can sometimes be frightened by fast moving fish like zebra fish.

Tips & Warnings

  • Gouramis are often shy, so offer them lots of hiding places.
  • The presence of a fine layer of bubbles floating at the top of the tank may mean your gouramis are spawning. Gouramis make nests of bubbles on the surface of the water when they spawn. Gourami eggs, which float, are protected in the nests until they hatch.
  • Aggressive gouramis like the Siamese fighting fish and the paradise fish should be kept in specimen tanks. Male Siamese fighting fish should not be kept with other males. Vicious fighting will almost always result when males are kept together.
  • Gouramis can be determined jumpers, so it's important to keep a lid on the aquarium at all times. They can jump out of even small gaps, so be sure to completely cover filter and heater outlets.

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