Dwarf gourami fish are some of the most exciting fish to keep in your tank. They are small, but they come in a wide variety of bright colors. However, dwarf gourami require specific tank conditions to thrive.
Before you add any dwarf gourami to your tank, you need to know how to keep it healthy and happy. Doing your research before purchasing your fish will save you a lot of trouble if you run into any problems.
What Are Dwarf Gourami?
Dwarf gourami are freshwater fish that live in still or slow-moving water in the wild. They are native to Southern Asia, but there are now populations in North and South America.
Dwarf gourami have been assigned several different scientific names in the past. They used to be known by Colisa lalia, but today their scientific name is Trichogaster lalius.
These fish, along with all gouramis, are part of the Anabantiformes order. That means that dwarf gourami have organs other fish don’t that act like lungs. They can breathe oxygen directly from the air outside of your tank.
Another feature that makes dwarf gourami so distinctive is how bright their coloring is. There are a lot of varieties of dwarf gourami with colors ranging from pale blue to vibrant red.
Male and female dwarf gourami have different colorations. Male fish are more vibrant, and female dwarf gourami will have a paler color.
Dwarf gourami are small, which is where the “dwarf” part of their name comes from. Fully grown dwarf gourami range in length from 3 to 4.5 inches long.
The lifespan of dwarf gourami is disputed within the fishkeeping community. Most agree that dwarf gourami live for about 4 years, but some claim that they can live for 5-7 years in ideal tank conditions.
Dwarf gourami are peaceful schooling fish. They will not create conflicts with the other fish in your tank as they prefer to swim together in groups.
Dwarf Gourami Fish Habitat and Tank Conditions
Dwarf gourami need to be kept in specific conditions to stay healthy. Maintaining your tank’s plants and water levels are important when it comes to caring for your fish.
How Big Should My Tank Be?
Because dwarf gourami are so small, it’s easy to believe that they can be kept in small case. In actuality, you need a larger tank for your dwarf gourami.
This is because dwarf gourami are schooling fish. Even though they are only about three inches long, when you keep them together, you will quickly need more space in your tank.
For a school of two or three dwarf gouramis, you will need a minimum of 10 gallons in your tank. Add 5 more gallons to your total tank size for each additional fish.
How Do I Take Care of My Tank’s Water?
Dwarf gourami are freshwater fish that can tolerate a range of different temperatures. You should generally keep your tank between 72-82° Fahrenheit.
These fish can also withstand fluctuating temperatures. Dwarf gourami in the wild are used to temperature swings in the rivers and ponds they are native to. This means that they can tolerate some temperatures outside of the recommended range.
Dwarf gourami can also thrive in a wider range of water hardness and pH levels. However, they prefer softer water with a slightly lower pH level.
As long as water hardness isn’t at an extreme level on either end of the spectrum, your fish will be fine. Water pH should be kept between 6.5 and 7.
Dwarf gourami are accustomed to a slow water flow. This will help your schooling fish stay in motion and stick together.
You should monitor your water’s temperature and pH levels on a regular basis. Change out around 10-20% of your tank’s water on a weekly basis.
How Should I Set Up My Tank?
Dwarf gourami prefer living in low-light environments. Any aquarium light you have should be dim and only left on for 8-10 hours a day.
The substrate you use in your tank doesn’t matter too much for dwarf gourami. They spend most of their time in the middle and upper level of your tank.
A darker color substrate is a popular choice for aesthetic reasons. This creates a color contrast between the substrate and your dwarf gourami. Dark substrate is also common in low-light aquariums.
You should surround your dwarf gourami with plenty of plants. Floating and drifting plants will help recreate their native environments.
Choose plants that will thrive in your tank’s low light like java moss and bladderwort. These will provide coverage from your aquarium light and create places for your dwarf gourami to hide.
Other decorations like driftwood or ceramic caves can add more interest to your tank. These will also create more places for your fish to hide and build nests.
Dwarf Gourami Behavior
Dwarf gourami are peaceful schooling fish. They can be kept with a lot of different freshwater fish. Dwarf gourami should also be kept together.
Can Dwarf Gourami Be Kept with Other Fish?
Dwarf gourami should be housed with fish that won’t create any conflicts. Nonaggressive fish will prevent any fights from happening.
Tank mates should also be a similar size to your dwarf gourami. Tetras and catfish are excellent options.
Dwarf gourami are omnivores, but they will not eat some non-fish tank mate options. Mystery snails and several shrimp varieties will live happily with your dwarf gourami.
The tank mates you choose should generally stay in the lower and middle layers of your tank. This will prevent any territory problems with your fish, as dwarf gourami stay in the upper and middle levels of their environment.
Avoid aggressive carnivorous fish that will target your dwarf gourami because of their small size. You should also keep active, fast fish out of your dwarf gourami tank.
Can Dwarf Gourami Be Kept Together?
Dwarf gourami should be kept together because they are schooling fish. These fish are happier when kept together.
Schools will often have one or two fish that are bigger than the others and lead the pack. This is normal for dwarf gourami.
You can also prevent fighting between your dwarf gourami by making sure you have a good ratio between male and female fish. Keep two or three female dwarf gourami for every one male.
The best school size for these fish is four or five fish. Remember to size up your tank if you keep this many dwarf gourami together.
Feeding Your Dwarf Gourami
Dwarf gourami are omnivores, which means that they will eat both plant-based and meaty foods. This gives you lots of options for food you can feed your fish.
In the wild, dwarf gourami are hunters. They spend time at the water’s surface looking for insects and will spray their prey with water to trap them.
Dwarf gourami will also eat algae in nature. Algae and other plant particles balance their diet to provide them with all of the nutrients they need to stay healthy.
You don’t need to worry about dwarf gourami eating other fish in your tank because they are peaceful. However, they will still happily eat meaty foods.
Live options like brine shrimp and bloodworms are popular choices, but they can be difficult to handle. Fresh and frozen varieties are easier to store at home.
Dwarf gourami can also eat dried and artificial foods. These can be meat-based or plant-based. Flakes provide your fish with the nutrition they need to stay helpful.
Flakes are also a better option than pellets for dwarf gourami. These fish feed at the top of the tank, so you need a food that does not sink quickly.
Dwarf gourami do not have very large stomachs, so they cannot eat very much food at a time. Feed your fish a small amount of food two or three times a day. Give them a pinch of food slightly larger than its eye.
Take care to avoid overfeeding your fish. This can raise the ammonia and nitrate levels in your tank and make your dwarf gourami sick.
Breeding Dwarf Gourami
Dwarf gourami are some of the easiest fish to breed. Still, you need to research how to breed them effectively and safely in order to be successful.
You can breed dwarf gourami in either a shared tank or a separate tank. These choices both come with benefits and drawbacks.
If you use a shared tank to breed, you won’t need to worry about the space or tank maintenance of a breeding tank. However, you’ll need to make sure that the other fish in the tank won’t disrupt the breeding process.
A separate breeding tank will ensure that your fish are kept in the best conditions for breeding where they won’t be disturbed. You will need to duplicate your main tank’s water conditions, though.
Another benefit of using a separate tank is that you can keep the breeding pair away from the fry after they’ve spawned eggs. The parents can attack or eat the fry, so keeping the nest away from your other fish will protect them.
Dwarf gourami are ready to breed at around six months old. Males will begin building nests out of foam and saliva as an indicator that they want to start mating.
These nests are fragile, and your tank’s water flow might destroy them accidentally. A weak water flow is less likely to disturb the nests.
If you want to breed your dwarf gourami in a separate tank, move your breeding pair before they begin the mating process. Raise the water temperature to 82-85° Fahrenheit to stimulate the fish.
The female fish will start spawning after the nest is finished. The male will catch the eggs and place them in the nest. Separate the female fish from the nest after she’s done spawning eggs.
The eggs will hatch into larvae in a little over 24 hours. Once the fry begins hatching, separate the male fish from them.
Make sure to feed the fry food that they can eat without any problems. Start by feeding them infusoria and introduce foods like daphnia and artemia after a few weeks.
Once the fry are between 0.6-0.8 inches, they can be kept with the rest of your fish. You can raise them alongside the rest of your fish or sell them after they’re 8-10 weeks old.
Common Dwarf Gourami Care Problems
Even the most prepared and experienced fishkeepers can run into problems with their fish. Here are a few frequent questions about caring for your dwarf gourami.
Is My Dwarf Gourami Sick?
Dwarf gourami are sensitive to the water levels they’re kept in. Keep your water chemistry consistent to keep your fish healthy.
Dwarf Gourami Disease is a sickness that only affects these fish. You can identify this illness by the way your fish’s coloring will fade and its fins deteriorate. There’s currently no known cure for this sickness.
There are other less severe sicknesses that could be affecting your fish. If you think your dwarf gourami are getting sick, check your water temperature and chemistry and make any adjustments you need to.
Take your dwarf gourami to a veterinarian if you’re concerned about its wellbeing. They can make more specific recommendations and diagnoses.
My Dwarf Gourami Isn’t Eating
Dwarf gourami aren’t picky eaters. They will eat both meaty and plant-based foods, so you don’t need to worry about that.
Your fish might not be eating because the food is sinking to the bottom of the tank. Only feed your dwarf gourami food that will sink slowly or float at the top of the tank.
Another possibility is that you’re overfeeding your fish. This is easy to do because dwarf gourami need to be fed two or three times a day. Give your fish a lower amount of food if you suspect overfeeding is the problem.
Is A Dwarf Gourami Right for You?
Dwarf gourami are beautiful, vibrant fish that make excellent additions to freshwater tanks. They are great for beginners because they can tolerate a wide range of water chemistry levels and will eat nearly anything you feed them.
If you’re considering adding dwarf gourami to your tank, make sure you keep you only house them with nonaggressive fish. Monitor your water chemistry regularly, and your fish will be happy and healthy.