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Honey Gourami – Tankmates, Size, Feeding, and Care

The Honey gourami or Trichogaster chuna is a most attractive tropical fish that can make a nice addition to a peaceful community setup. These charming gouramis are easy to care for, making them a good choice for a beginner.

But what fish make suitable tank mates for the Honey Dwarf gourami? Is it true that Honey gouramis can change color? And, can the Honey gourami live in a nano tank?

Read this comprehensive care guide to find out more about these beautiful little fish.

Honey Gourami – Overview

Scientific Name

Trichogaster chuna

Common Name (species)

Honey gourami, Dwarf Fire gourami, Red Flame Honey gourami, Sunset Honey gourami, Honey Dwarf gourami

Family

Osphronemidae

Origin

South Asia, India, specifically Assam and Manipur, Nepal, and Bangladesh

Diet

Omnivore

Care Level

Easy

Activity

Active

Lifespan

4 to 8 years

Temperament

Peaceful

Tank Level

All parts of the water column but mainly middle and upper areas.

Minimum Tank Size

10 gallons

Temperature Range

Tropical 72° to 82° Fahrenheit

Water Hardness

4 – 15 dGH

pH Range

6.0 to 7.5

Filtration/Flow Rate

Moderate to low current with good filtration

Water type

Freshwater

Breeding

Bubble nester that can be relatively easily bred in a home tank

Compatibility

Peaceful community fish

OK, for Planted Tanks?

Plant-safe

Origins

The Honey gourami was first described in 1822 by Buchanan and Hamilton and is found in South Asia in Gangetic provinces, as well as in India, specifically Manipur and Assam, and in Bangladesh and Nepal.

The species does appear on the IUCN Red List but is categorized as being of Least Concern since it’s widespread and there are no notable threats to habitat. Pretty much all the fish that you see in the trade today are commercially raised, and it’s highly unlikely that you will find any wild-caught Honey gouramis for sale today.

Natural Habitat

Ganges riverside coastal area near Bay of Bengal

Honey gouramis live at low altitudes in tropical rivers, ponds, ditches, lakes, and flooded fields. The habitat here is thick with vegetation, and the water is generally slow-moving, although seasonal flooding does occur during the monsoon season.

Taking Aim!

Honey gouramis have been seen catching their prey by shooting it down using a carefully aimed squirt of water. The fish do that by making sudden contractions of their mouths, effectively spitting drops of water at insects on overhanging leaves, knocking the unfortunate insect into the water where it quickly becomes lunch for the hungry gourami.

What Do Honey Gouramis Look Like? 

The Honey gourami has a similar compressed body shape to that of the Dwarf gourami but is slightly slimmer, and the anal and dorsal fins are a little smaller. The fish has threadlike ventral fins that it uses to detect its surroundings.

Like all gouramis, the Honey gourami has a labyrinth organ, which enables the fish to breathe air at the water’s surface, taking oxygen directly into its bloodstream.

Color Variations

Honey gouramis are generally pale yellow to silver-gray with a light brown horizontal stripe along their lateral line. 

When spawning or stressed, the fish change color, becoming more vibrant during breeding when the male’s body and finnage become reddish-orange or bright yellow. The belly, throat, and face tend to turn black.

There are several selectively bred varieties of Honey gouramis, including red and gold color morphs.

Size

Honey gourami Trichogaster chuna tropical aquarium fish in fish tank. aquaria concept

Female Honey gouramis grow to around two inches in length, with males being slightly smaller than females at approximately 1.5 inches long. Their size makes these fish ideal for life in a 10-gallon tank

What Is The Lifespan Of A Honey Gourami?

Honey gouramis can live for between four and eight years when kept in optimum conditions and fed a high-quality, nutritious diet. 

Activity Level/Temperament

Honey gouramis are peaceful creatures that are perfect for a community tank of fish with a similar agreeable temperament.

However, these fish are quite slow-moving, spending most of their time cruising around the middle to upper areas of the water column. They can also be quite shy and timid, especially when first introduced to the aquarium. Once the gouramis become more confident, their colors will become more vibrant, and they’ll be less inclined to hide.

Compatibility And Tankmates

Honey gouramis can live alone, in pairs, or in small groups. 

Although these are not schooling fish, they do like company of their own kind, and they make a more impressive display when kept in groups of four to six specimens. Within a group, the fish will establish a pecking order with the Alpha fish becoming a little pushy at feeding times or when choosing a nesting site.

Male Honey gouramis can sometimes bully the female when kept in pairs.

Honey gouramis do best when kept with other peaceful species, including:

Fish Species To Avoid

I recommend that you avoid large aggressive or semi-aggressive species that might bully the shy gouramis.

Also, some of the tetra species tend to be nippy, which will stress the gouramis. Unless you have a large tank, other gouramis are best avoided, as they can become aggressive toward each other. 

Diet And Nutrition

Always buy the highest-quality fish food that your budget will stretch to, as that will keep your fish healthy and will also bring out their most vibrant colors.

What To Feed Honey Gouramis

Honey gouramis are omnivores. In nature, the fish eat insects, zooplankton, and small invertebrates.

Heap of dry complete multi-ingredient flake food for daily feeding of all ornamental fish

Aquarium-kept Honey gouramis can be fed flake foods, frozen foods, and pellets.

Can Your Feed Honey Gouramis Live Foods?

Although gouramis do enjoy live foods, I advise caution here. Parasites and bacteria commonly find their way into the aquarium with live foods, so I prefer to feed the frozen equivalent instead.

Never take live foods from the natural environment. You don’t know what you might be bringing into your tank with the food in the form of parasites or even harmful chemicals.

However, if you want to give your Honey gouramis live food to vary their diet, you might want to consider taking on a home brine shrimp hatchery.

How Much and How Often To Feed

You should feed your fish two to three times per day, giving them only what they will eat in a few minutes.

Never overfeed your gouramis. Leftover food will degrade in the substrate, polluting the tank water, and overfeeding can cause serious health issues for your fish, too.

Tank Setup

Tank size 

The small Honey gourami can live happily in a small 10-gallon tank, although you will need something more spacious if you want to keep a community of fish.

Since these fish are labyrinth breathers, they need to come to the water surface to take occasional mouthfuls of air. Gouramis are also surface feeders, so I recommend that you choose a long tank instead of a tall one. Also, a rectangular tank provides more surface area for good efficient gaseous exchange.

Honey gouramis can jump when alarmed, so always use an aquarium with a lid or cover slide.

Tank Setup

Substrate

Honey gouramis can have any kind of substrate, although dark-colored gravel brings out their colors best.

Decoration

Honey gouramis can be quite shy, so make sure that you include lots of dense planting and other hiding places where the fish can take shelter if they want to.

Species of floating plants are useful for providing shade and making the perfect spot for bubble nest building. However, bear in mind that Honey gouramis need unencumbered access to the surface to breathe, so remember to thin out the plants occasionally.

close up image of underwater landscape nature style aquarium tank with a variety of aquatic plants inside.

You can create an attractive, natural-looking habitat by using twisted roots, stones, and driftwood to decorate the tank.

Habitat Requirements

Although Honey gouramis are relatively hardy fishes, you do need to keep their water clean and well-oxygenated. So, you must perform 25% to 30% partial water changes every week and vacuum the substrate to eliminate accumulations of waste that would otherwise pollute the water.

Filtration

Your tank needs a good filtration system. However, Honey gouramis don’t appreciate a strong current, so choose a filter with a flow adjuster or buffer the current with plants or decorations.

JZMYXA Air Stones Bubble Stones Fit for Aquarium Fish Tank, 0.98 inch, 10 Pieces

Generally, a canister or HOB filter is the best choice for gouramis rather than an internal box filter that will generate too much water movement for these sensitive fish.

To ensure that the water is well-oxygenated, you might want to include an airstone or bubbler.

Water Parameters

Water Temperature

Dwarf Fire gouramis are a tropical species that need a water temperature of between 72° and 82°F. 

IMPORTANT!

The room temperature must be consistent with that of the water in your fish tank so as not to damage the gourami’s sensitive labyrinth organ.

Water Hardness And pH Range

The water pH should be in the range of 6.0 to 7.5, with a water hardness of between 4 and 15 dGH.

Lighting

These fish live in relatively shallow water, so the natural lighting in the wild environment is pretty bright. That said, the habitat is heavily shaded by the dense vegetation that grows there. 

Honey gouramis don’t need any special lighting, so you can use a regular LED lighting unit to keep your living plants healthy and provide enough light for you to enjoy your fish.

Aquarium Maintenance Tasks

Every week you must vacuum your aquarium gravel to remove fish waste, rotting plant matter, and uneaten food. Concentrate on the corners of the tank, under decorations, and between plant bases.

Cleaning the aquarium. Pumping water out of the aquarium. Close-up. Siphon Gravel Cleaner Tool In The Aquarium. Aquarium fish content and hygiene concept.

At the same time, change 25% to 30% of the aquarium water, and rinse the filter media through in that dirty water to get rid of any sludge that would otherwise clog the media and prevent the water from circulating through the unit properly.

Remove algae from the glass with an algae magnet or sponge. 

Setting Up Your Aquarium

Asian women set the fish tank

Assemble everything you’ll need to set up your aquarium, including: 

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

Setting Up Your New Fish Tank

  1. Wash the gravel under running water to get rid of any dust. 
  2. Put two or three inches of gravel in the aquarium.
  3. Plug in the filter, lights, and heater but don’t switch them on.
  4. Fill the aquarium with dechlorinated tap water just below the fill line. Tip the water slowly over a stone or upturned dish so that the gravel doesn’t get scattered all over the tank.
  5. To kickstart the nitrogen cycle, add a few drops of pure ammonia, a pinch of fish food, or a handful of a substrate from a mature tank.
  6. Wash your ornaments and arrange them in the tank.
  7. Snip away dead leaves or damaged stems from your live plants and add the plants to the aquarium. Make sure that you leave enough space between each plant so that they have room to grow and spread out.
  8. Switch on your heater and filtration system.
  9. Living plants need eight to ten hours of light daily to photosynthesize, so you might want to buy a timer if you’re not around to set the lights yourself.

Now, the waiting game begins! You need to allow the aquarium to cycle before it’s safe to add your fish. The nitrogen cycle can take between ten days and four weeks to complete, although you can speed things up by adding a biological supplement to the filter. 

During the cycling process, you need to test the water every day with an aquarium water testing kit. When the levels of ammonia and nitrites are at zero and nitrates are less than 20ppm, the cycle is complete, and it’s time to add several small fish.

Health And Disease

Honey gouramis are pretty hardy fish provided you give them the proper water conditions and diet.

Indicators Of Good Health

Your fish should be seen exploring the tank, feeding, and taking regular trips to the surface to gulp air.

Honey gourami Trichogaster chuna tropical aquarium fish in fish tank. aquaria concept

Red Flags

These warning signs might indicate that your fish are not thriving as they should:

  • Not eating
  • Inactivity
  • Not breathing at the water surface
  • Ulcers or red patches on the body
  • “Flashing” against the gravel or against solid objects in the tank
  • Hanging at the surface

Common Health Issues and Treatment

Health Issue

Symptoms or Causes

Suggested Action

Ich (White Spot Disease)

Ich is a very common disease that’s caused by an aquatic protozoan parasite. 
Fish infected with Ich develop a sprinkling of tiny white spots on their fins, gill covers, and bodies. They also flash against the gravel and other solid objects in the aquarium.

Raise the water temperature to 82o F for three days. Use an OTC  White Spot Disease medication to treat the tank.

Flukes

Flukes is the term used to describe various types of external fish parasites. 
These macroparasites can often be seen with the naked eye attached to the fish’s skin or gills.

Treat the fish tank with an OTC antiparasitic medication.

Fungal Infections

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

Quarantine infected fish, and treat with an antifungal medication.

Bacterial Infections

Sores and ulcers on the body and head, ragged, bloody fins.

Treat the tank with OTC antibacterial treatment.

Health Issue

Symptoms or Causes

Ich is a very common disease that’s caused by an aquatic protozoan parasite. 
Fish infected with Ich develop a sprinkling of tiny white spots on their fins, gill covers, and bodies. They also flash against the gravel and other solid objects in the aquarium.

Suggested Action

Raise the water temperature to 82o F for three days. Use an OTC  White Spot Disease medication to treat the tank.

Health Issue

Flukes

Symptoms or Causes

Flukes is the term used to describe various types of external fish parasites. These macroparasites can often be seen with the naked eye attached to the fish’s skin or gills.

Suggested Action

Treat the fish tank with an OTC antiparasitic medication.

Health Issue

Fungal infections

Symptoms or Causes

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

Suggested Action

Quarantine infected fish, and treat with an antifungal medication.

Health Issue

Bacterial infections

Symptoms or Causes

Sores and ulcers on the body and head, ragged, bloody fins.

Suggested Action

Treat the tank with OTC antibacterial treatment.

Breeding

In the right conditions, you can breed Honey gouramis in the home aquarium. However, it’s worth noting that males can be belligerent toward the female, especially right after spawning has taken place.

Like all gouramis, the male constructs a bubble nest. The female lays her eggs underneath the nest, and the male carries each egg to place it in the nest, where he will guard the eggs until they hatch.

Once hatched, the fry feeds on the egg sac, eventually becoming free-swimming when the food source has gone. I recommend that you remove the male at this point, as he might eat the fry.

Availability

You can find the various color morphs of Honey gouramis for sale in good fish stores and online for a few dollars per fish. 

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 this guide to the Honey gourami.

These beautiful little fish make the ideal addition to a peaceful community tank, and they can be kept successfully in a small, 10-gallon setup. Make sure that you provide your gouramis with plenty of hiding places and cover, as these fish can be quite shy. Given the right conditions, you can breed Honey gouramis, too. 

Do you have Honey gouramis? What tank mates work well with your pets? Tell us in the comments box below.

And, please remember 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.

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