fbpx
Tankarium is reader-supported. When you buy via the links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

Dwarf Gourami – Tankmates, Diseases, Size, And Care

The Dwarf gourami is a beautiful small tropical fish that makes the perfect addition to a  peaceful community tank. These brightly colored members of the wider gourami family are relatively easy to care for and make excellent companions for many other small, non-aggressive aquarium fish species. 

But what do Dwarf gouramis eat? What fish make good gourami tank mates? And are Dwarf gouramis good fish for beginners?

Read this comprehensive guide to learn everything you need to know about these gorgeous fish.

Dwarf Gourami – Overview

Scientific Name

Trichogaster lalius

Common Name (species)

Dwarf gourami, Red lalia, Dwarf Banded gourami

Family

Osphronemidae

Origin

Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Singapore, the U.S., Colombia

Diet

Omnivore

Care Level

Easy

Activity

Active

Lifespan

Annual in the wild, but 2 to 5 years when tank-kept

Temperament

Peaceful, can be timid

Tank Level

All areas of the water column but mostly middle and top

Minimum Tank Size

10 gallons

Temperature Range

Tropical 72° to 82° Fahrenheit

Water Hardness

5 – 18 dGH

pH Range

6.0 to 8.0

Filtration/Flow Rate

Moderate to low flow with good filtration

Water type

Freshwater

Breeding

Egg-layer that can be relatively easily bred in captivity

Compatibility

Peaceful community fish

OK, for Planted Tanks?

Plant-safe

Origins

The pretty Dwarf gourami was first described in 1822 by Hamilton. 

These fish were originally discovered in South Asia, ranging from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and India. These days, there are also feral populations of Dwarf gouramis to be found in Colombia, the U.S., and Singapore.

Thanks to their wide distribution, Dwarf gouramis are not currently listed on the IUCN Red List. All the fish that you see for sale in fish stores are commercially bred rather than wild-caught, so overfishing is not likely to have an impact on the gouramis’ wild numbers.

Natural Habitat

In nature, Dwarf gouramis live in paddy fields, slow-moving streams, irrigation channels, and other similar habitats where the current is very slow and the vegetation is thick.

children fishing on the river

Wild Dwarf gouramis are omnivorous, feeding on algae, insects, and small invertebrates.

Interesting fact: Dwarf gouramis have a neat trick that they use to catch insects above the waterline. The fish lay in wait below the surface under low-hanging plants, watching for prey above. When an insect settles within range, the fish squirt drops of water by making sudden contractions with their mouth cavity. If the fish’s aim is accurate, the insect is knocked off its perch into the water, where it’s grabbed and eaten by the fish.

What Do Dwarf Gouramis Look Like?

The Dwarf gourami’s body is compressed with large, rounded fins. The ventral fins are threadlike, carrying touch-sensitive cells.

The males of the species are a beautiful translucent blue-green color with red-orange vertical stripes that extend to the fish’s fins. During spawning, males develop a deep purple color on the breast and flare their dorsal fins in a fascinating courtship dance.

Dwarf gourami on a blurred background (Trichogaster lalius)

Female Dwarf gouramis are somewhat less colorful, having a silvery, light gray background and lacking the bright red stripes of the males.

Variations

There are several varieties of the species that have been produced by selective breeding to produce the most attractive specimens.

Particularly beautiful color morphs include the Powder Blue Dwarf gourami, which is completely bright blue in color, and the Flame Dwarf gourami, which has a gorgeous deep flame orange-colored chest and belly. You can also find Neon Blue Dwarf gouramis that have bright blue and dark red stripes.

Size

Dwarf gouramis grow to between two to three inches in length, with males being a little larger than females. That makes these fish perfectly suited to life in a 10-gallon tank

What Is The Lifespan Of A Dwarf Gourami?

The dwarf gourami (Trichogaster lalius) is a species of gourami native to South Asia.

Dwarf gouramis can live for up to four years when kept in the correct conditions and fed a balanced, nutritious diet. 

Activity Level/Temperament

Dwarf gouramis are peaceful fish that are ideal for a community tank. That said, these gouramis can be shy and a little timid, especially if kept with fish that hassle them. For that reason, your aquarium needs plenty of dense planting to provide hiding places and also for bubble nest building.

Your tank’s location is also important as the fish can become very nervous in heavy traffic areas where there’s lots of activity around the aquarium.

Male Dwarf gouramis can be belligerent toward other males or similar-looking species, and they sometimes bully females, even during spawning. So, I recommend that you keep a group of gouramis in a large tank so that each individual has the space it needs to keep away from the others.

Compatibility and Tankmates

There are plenty of small, peaceful fish species that can make good tank mates for Dwarf gouramis, including:

Fish to Avoid

I recommend that you avoid keeping large, semi-aggressive fish that might hassle and stress the Dwarf gouramis. 

Certain species of tetras are not a good choice, as they can be nippy. Brightly colored fish such as guppies should also be avoided as they can trigger aggression in the gouramis. The same is true of other gourami species and bettas unless you have a very large aquarium with plenty of space for everyone.

Can I keep Dwarf Gouramis Together?

Dwarf gouramis are often sold in pairs, but sometimes the male will bully the female. Like betta fish, male Dwarf gouramis will often fight, especially if kept in a small tank. If you want to keep a group of these fish, you’ll need a large tank with plenty of cover and hiding places for the fish.

Diet and Nutrition

When choosing food for your Dwarf gouramis, always buy the best quality food that you can afford. A high-quality, balanced diet will keep your fish healthy and bring out their best colors.

What to Feed Your Dwarf Gouramis

Frozen bloodworm for feeding aquarium fish and crabs.

Dwarf gouramis are omnivores. That means they eat a diet of both vegetable matter and meat.

Wild gouramis eat algae, insects, and small crustaceans. In captivity, you can feed your gouramis a mixture of tropical fish flakes, frozen bloodworms, brine shrimp, and the like.

Do Dwarf Gouramis Like Live Foods?

Dwarf gouramis love live foods. However, you need to be very careful that any live foods you offer your fish come from a reliable source. Live food is one way that dangerous bacteria and parasites can get into the tank.

The safest way to provide your gouramis with some live food in their diet is by setting up a home brine shrimp hatchery.

Although it might be tempting, never harvest worms and other living foods from the wild environment. Again, you might inadvertently introduce parasites or other pathogens into your aquarium.

How Much and How Often Should You Feed Your Fish?

Little girl feeding fishes in the aquarium.

If possible, you should feed your Dwarf gouramis two or three times each day, offering just what the fish will clear in a few minutes.

Don’t overfeed your fish! Overfeeding can cause health problems, and uneaten food will decompose in the substrate and pollute your aquarium water.

Tank Setup

Tank size 

Iridescent Sharks are timid and rather shy, and their behaviors change as they mature. Juvenile sharks prefer to live in groups and often school together for safety, which is simply a beautiful sight. Once they reach adulthood they become a little less social and more independent.

Dwarf gouramis are generally happy in a 10-gallon tank, although if you want to create a community of fish, you’ll need more space.

These fish are labyrinth breathers, coming to the surface occasionally to take gulps of air. Also, gouramis are surface feeders, so they do best in a long tank rather than a tall one. These fish are quite active, too, and a rectangular tank does offer more space for swimming, as well as providing more scope for efficient gaseous exchange.

Choose a tank with a cover slide or lid. Dwarf gouramis can jump, especially when frightened, and you don’t want any of your fish ending up on your living room carpet!

Aquarium Setup

Substrate

Although Dwarf gouramis will be happy with any kind of substrate, dark-colored aquarium gravel is best to show off their colors.

Decoration

Dwarf gouramis enjoy a well-lit tank, but you need to provide plenty of places where the fish can hide if they want to.

Dense planting is excellent for providing cover and hiding places for the gouramis. Floating plants also work very well for this fish species, providing dappled shade and offering the male Dwarf gouramis somewhere to build bubble nests. However, remember that these fish need to get to the surface to breathe air, so you need to make sure that some areas of the water surface are open and free from clutter.

Driftwood, rocks, and twisted roots can all be used to create an attractive underwater scene, but be sure to leave some swimming space for these active fishes.

Habitat Requirements

Young man changing water in aquarium using siphon.

Dwarf gouramis are pretty hardy fish. However, even though the labyrinth organ enables the fish to survive in poorly oxygenated water, a build-up of toxins in the water will cause the same health problems and damage as in any other species. 

That means you’ll need to carry out weekly water changes of 25% to 30%.

Filtration

The aquarium should have an efficient mechanical and biological filter system. That said, gouramis don’t appreciate too much water movement, so you’ll need to buffer the flow from an internal filter or choose a canister or HOB system.

Dwarf gouramis prefer well-oxygenated water, so I recommend that you provide an air stone.

Water Parameters

Water Temperature

A small catfish ancistrus stuck to the glass of the aquarium near the thermometer

Dwarf gouramis are tropical fish that prefer a water temperature of between 72° and 82° F, ideally 77°. 

NB: It’s important that you keep the room temperature consistent with that of the aquarium water to avoid damage to the fish’s labyrinth organ.

Water Hardness and pH Range

The water pH needs to be between 6.0 and 8.0, with a water hardness of 5 to 18 dGH.

Lighting

The species’ natural environment is generally well-lit but shaded by dense vegetation. Generally, a standard LED lighting unit is fine for the aquarium as that will provide enough light for your plants and your gouramis.

Tank Maintenance

Vilnius, Lithuania A man vacuums a fish tank.

As with any aquarium, you need to perform 25% to 30% water changes every week and keep the filter media properly maintained so that it doesn’t clog.

Be sure to vacuum the gravel, especially between the bottom of plants, underneath decorations, and in the corners of the aquarium. That’s an important task, as it removes fish waste, decomposing plant debris, and leftover fish food, which would otherwise rot and pollute your water.

Keep the glass clean by using some form of algae cleaner. 

Setting Up Your Fish Tank

Asian women set the fish tank

Gather what you’ll need to set up your new tank, including: 

  • Dark-colored substrate
  • LED lighting unit
  • HOB or canister filtration system
  • Water conditioner
  • Heater
  • Aquarium thermometer
  • Tank decorations
  • Floating plants
  • Aquarium water testing kit

Setting Up Your Aquarium – Step-By-Step

  1. Rinse the gravel under running water to remove dust.
  2. Add two or three inches of gravel to the tank.
  3. Plug in the heater and filtration unit but don’t switch them on.
  4. Fill the tank to just below the fill line using dechlorinated tap water. Pour the water over an upturned plate or stone so that the gravel isn’t displaced.
  5. To start the nitrogen cycle, add a small amount of ammonia, a pinch of fish food, or some gravel from a mature tank.
  6. Rinse your decorations and arrange them in the aquarium.
  7. Trim dead leaves or broken stems from live plants and add them to the tank, allowing enough space between each specimen so that the plants can grow and spread.
  8. Turn on the heater and filter. Live plants require eight to ten hours of light every day for photosynthesis, so use a timer and set it accordingly.

Now you must allow the tank to fully cycle before you add any fish. Cycling can take anywhere from ten days to four weeks, but you can sometimes accelerate that by adding biological supplements to the tank to encourage the growth of nitrifying bacteria.

While you’re waiting, test the water each day using an aquarium water testing kit. Once ammonia and nitrate levels are zero and nitrates are below 20ppm, the cycle is complete, and you can introduce a few small fish.

Health and Disease

Dwarf gouramis are generally pretty hardy fish when given the correct conditions as described above. 

Signs of Good Health

Healthy gouramis are active fish that visit the water surface periodically to breathe.

Red Flags

These red flags might indicate that all is not well with your Dwarf gouramis:

  • No appetite
  • Inactivity
  • Not taking breaths at the water surface
  • Sore, red patches on the body
  • Flicking against the substrate or decorations
  • Hanging at the water surface

Common Health Issues and Treatment

Health Issue

Ich (White Spot Disease)

Flukes

Fungal infections

Bacterial infections

Symptoms or Causes

White Spot disease and is caused by a parasite. 
Fish with Ich develop lots of tiny white spots on their fins, body, and gill covers, and usually flick themselves against objects in the tank.

Flukes is a catch-all term that’s used to describe various species of external fish parasites. You may see lice, flukes, or tiny worms latched onto the fish’s body or gills.

White cottony growths on the fish’s mouth, head, and body.

Bloody, disintegrating fins. Sores and ulcers on the body.

Suggested Action

Elevate the tank temperature to 82o F for three days. Use an OTC  Ich treatment to treat the aquarium.

Dose the fish tank with an OTC antiparasitic treatment.

Quarantine any infected gouramis. Treat with an OTC fungus treatment.

Treat the aquarium with OTC antibacterial medication.

Health Issue

Ich (White Spot Disease)

Symptoms or Causes

White Spot disease and is caused by a parasite. 
Fish with Ich develop lots of tiny white spots on their fins, body, and gill covers, and usually flick themselves against objects in the tank.

Suggested Action

Elevate the tank temperature to 82o F for three days. Use an OTC  Ich treatment to treat the aquarium.

Health Issue

Flukes

Symptoms or Causes

Flukes is a catch-all term that’s used to describe various species of external fish parasites. You may see lice, flukes, or tiny worms latched onto the fish’s body or gills.

Suggested Action

Dose the fish tank with an OTC antiparasitic treatment.

Health Issue

Fungal infections

Symptoms or Causes

White cottony growths on the fish’s mouth, head, and body.

Suggested Action

Quarantine any infected gouramis. Treat with an OTC fungus treatment.

Health Issue

Bacterial infections

Symptoms or Causes

Bloody, disintegrating fins. Sores and ulcers on the body.

Suggested Action

Treat the aquarium with OTC antibacterial medication.

Breeding

Dwarf gouramis can be bred in captivity relatively easily, but the male can be very aggressive toward the female, especially after spawning.

The male builds a bubble nest, transferring the eggs to the nest and guarding them until they hatch. The fry remains in the nest for several days until the egg sac has been exhausted and they become free-swimming.

At this time, it’s best to remove the male as he may eat the fry.

Availability

All the color morphs of Dwarf gourami are widely available in fish stores and online typically for a few dollars each.

Product Recommendations

  • Water dechlorinator
  • Algae cleaner
  • Aquarium thermometer
  • Aquarium vacuum
  • Books on keeping tropical fish
  • HOB or canister filter
  • Fish tank (minimum size 10 gallons)
  • Heater
  • High-quality tropical fish flakes and frozen foods
  • LED lighting unit
  • Live plants
  • Tank decorations
  • Dark gravel
  • Aquarium water testing kit

In Conclusion

I hope you enjoyed our guide to the beautiful Dwarf gourami.

These gorgeous fish add a pop of color to any peaceful community setup, and you can also breed them in captivity. However, be wary of keeping Dwarf gouramis in pairs and groups of males, as these fish can be intolerant of each other unless kept in a large tank with plenty of cover. 

What types of Dwarf gouramis do you have? Tell us in the comments box below.

And, feel free to share this article if you loved it!

Alison Page has been an avid fish keeper for over 35 years and has owned many different species of freshwater tropical fish including bettas. Currently Alison has two large freshwater tanks. The first tank has two huge fancy goldfish who are almost ten years old and still looking as good as ever. In the other, she has a happy community of tiger barbs, green tiger barbs, corydoras catfish, platys, and mollies.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.