Dwarf Gourami Care Guide: Tank, Feeding & Breeding

Written By Lewis German  |  Tropical Fish  |  0 Comments

What are Dwarf Gouramis?

Dwarf Gourami (Trichogaster lalius) is a species of small Gourami. They come in a few different colours in the aquarium trade but are typically blue/green with red striping.

They are in the suborder of Labyrinth fish (Anabantoidei) which contains Gouramis and their relatives, as well as the many species of Betta and a few other oddball fish.

Where are Dwarf Gouramis from?

Dwarf Gouramis are found in South Asia, in parts of Pakistan, Bangladesh and India. They live in slow moving rivulets and streams in areas with dense plantlife and lots of organic debris which soak into the water, turning it acidic and tannic.

Because of its acidic pH and slow movement, this water is heavily oxygen deficient, so Gouramis have developed a special respiratory organ called the Labyrinth which allows them to extract oxygen from the surrounding air.

Water parameters for Dwarf Gourami

Since Dwarf Gouramis are found in blackwater streams, they are accustomed to living in environments with low oxygen, low pH and low hardness, with low levels of water movement.

We recommend the following water parameters for your Dwarf Gourami:

pH6.0 – 7.6
HardnessLow KH and GH
Temperature22C – 27C (72F – 82F)
Ammonia (NH3)0 ppm
Nitrite (NO2)0 ppm
Nitrate<5 ppm

We also recommend keeping your tank filtered using a sponge or box filter, as they are air powered and do not produce a strong current which the Gouramis may struggle to swim against.

They also do a good job of oxygenating your tank, as while Gouramis are adapted to live in oxygen deprived environments, they still need oxygen to be present in the water.

Feeding and diet of Dwarf Gouramis

Dwarf Gouramis are omnivores, but like most Labyrinth fish, they lean towards carnivory and have a large portion of their diet taken up by meaty foods like bloodworms, mosquito larvae and daphnia.

Dwarf Gouramis in the wild feed on small invertebrates and infusoria that hang around the water’s surface. Their main diet consists of mosquitos, both the adults and their larvae, which are a great source of protein.

In the aquarium, Gouramis will eat most prepared fish foods, especially flakes and small pellets which float on the surface of the water.

Frozen bloodworms, brine shrimp and mosquito larvae are also great sources of protein which are regularly enjoyed by Gouramis.

Best tank mates for Dwarf Gouramis

Dwarf Gouramis are considered to be semi-aggressive by some, but most of the time they are generally peaceful in nature. Although, they can become territorial towards each other and to other fish if they feel threatened. 

It is best to house them with other peaceful fish, or fish that do not bother them on the upper level of the tank.

To house them with other fish successfully, with minimal incident, it is best to keep them in a tank upwards of 15 gallons. This provides enough space for them to establish a territory and gives enough room for them to avoid other fish.

Salt and Pepper Corydoras (Corydoras paleatus)

Salt and Pepper Cories are great community fish and they pair up especially well with Gouramis for a lot of reasons. Cories and Gouramis need a very similar, protein rich diet, so can be kept on the same food. Gouramis are also not fast eaters and do not oppose much competition to Cories like many other fish do when it comes to feeding time.

Salt and Pepper Cories also like to live in similar water parameters to Gouramis, enjoying a soft hardness level and low acidic pH. They also live along the bottom of the tank, occupying their own territory, away from the Gouramis.

Cories however, are a fish of the river and need high levels of oxygen, so a strong air stone or sponge filter to disturb the surface of the water is necessary if you want to house these two fish together.

Kuhli Loach

Kuhli Loach

Another bottom feeder, Kuhli Loaches make great tank mates for Gouramis for many of the same reasons Corycats do. They like similar water parameters, need a protein rich diet and stay in amongst the rocks and plant life on the floor of the tank, occupying their own territory away from the Gouramis.

Kuhlis are also a great cleanup crew and will eat any food that falls to the bottom that the Gouramis miss.

Neon Tetra

One of the most commonly kept fish in tropical community tanks, for good reason, Neon Tetra are a great, small, peaceful fish to go with your Dwarf Gourami. They stay around the mid and upper levels of the tank, swimming around in schools. They are peaceful in nature, yet can move fast avoiding danger easily.

They also enjoy the same acidic waters that Dwarf Gouramis like to live in, but again, need high oxygen levels, as they are a river fish, so adding an airstone is a good idea if you want to keep these species together.

Harlequin Rasboras

Harlequin Rasbora

Another small peaceful schooling fish, much like Neon Tetras, who enjoy swimming in the mid to upper levels of the tank. They are not a bothersome fish either and will tend to leave Gouramis alone, which is great.

Harlequins like all the other fish on this list also prefer soft, acidic waters with a pH anywhere from 6.0 – 7.6 and are very easy to feed in a community setting.

How to breed Dwarf Gouramis

Gouramis breed in much the same way that Bettas do – the male will construct a bubble nest amongst dense floating plants, where the female will lay her eggs. The male does all the parenting work and will place the eggs in his nest, carefully cleaning them and aerating them for the next few days while they hatch.

Once they hatch and eventually become fry, he will no longer care for them and will go on to make another bubble nest so that he can raise the next batch of eggs.

To condition your Gouramis, it is best to house them in their own tank, with low flow and lots of plant life, and maintain a neutral to slightly acidic pH and low hardness level. Adding tannins can also help a great deal, as it simulates their natural habitat.

Feed the pair well with live or frozen bloodworms, daphnia and mosquito larvae and increase the temperature to 27C / 82F. In the tank, have plenty of floating plantlife where the male can build his bubble nest.

You will then need a male and female pair:

How to sex Dwarf Gourami

Most Gouramis are sexually monomorphic and look very similar to us, it can be difficult to tell the difference at first glance, but there are some subtle differences.

  • Female Gouramis tend to be slightly larger than males and have a more stocky body shape. Their bellies are more rounded and they appear taller, with slightly dampened colouration and rounder finnage.
  • Male Dwarf Gourami are small and slim. They also have more elongated dorsal and anal fins with a sharp finish.

Rationing Dwarf Gourami

Male Gouramis are highly territorial when they are in condition, and will not tolerate other males in their vicinity as they are competition. For this reason, it is best to just have 1 breeding male. It is also best to just have 1 breeding female too, as a male can only court and breed with 1 female at any given time.

He will also be highly territorial towards females once he has eggs, and will show her the same level of aggression he would show to another male.

So a 1:1 ratio is best, with one male and one female, in a tank to themselves.

Once they have mated however, and the male has eggs, he should be kept on his own and the female removed, as she becomes a threat to his eggs and a threat that he will not tolerate.

Dwarf Gourami spawning and fry

After spawning takes place, the female should be removed and the male should be kept in a stress free environment with clean water, consistent, good quality food and with no other fish or animals to disturb him.

A stressed Gourami will eat his young and eggs, so make sure he is comfortable and keep contact/disturbance to a minimum, so no rearranging the tank while he has babies.

The eggs will hatch within a day or so and will emerge as wigglers. The father will still typically take care of these for the next 2 days, after that, he should be removed or the fry should be taken into a grow-out tank.

They are to be fed infusoria, live baby brine shrimp and eventually crushed fish flakes and fry foods.

Dwarf Gourami aren’t easy to breed and raise since they are so small and it requires multiple aquariums to do, however, once successful, they can be an extremely rewarding species to breed.

What tank size do Dwarf Gouramis need?

One Dwarf gourami can be housed in a tank as small as 10 gallons, however, bigger is always better when it comes to aquariums and the more space you can provide your animals, the better they will do.

For housing them in pairs, or with other fish species they need a tank larger than 15 gallons. For housing them in groups, we recommend anything larger than a 20 gallon aquarium.

What plants are best for Dwarf Gouramis?

The best plants for Dwarf Gouramis are floating plants, especially those that provide plenty of shade and or have low hanging roots:

  • Salvinia
  • Duckweed
  • Water Lettuce
  • Amazon Frogbit
  • Water Hyacinth
  • Dwarf Aquarium Lily
  • Brazilian Pennywort

Tips and tricks for care

Some advice we can give when keeping gourami is to keep them with air powered sponge filters that have little current. Dwarf Gouramis don’t like much water movement and are generally poor swimmers, so a filter that doesn’t emit much of a current is ideal.

Gouramis also like heavily planted tanks, with plenty of cover up top, so tall plants and floating plants will get you the best success in keeping a very happy Gourami.