Dwarf Gourami

Dwarf Gourami

Dwarf Gourami information:

Scientific name: Colisa lalia    
Common name: Dwarf gourami
Max. size: 8.8 cm / 3.5 inches
pH range: 6.0 – 8.0
dH range: 5 - 19
Temperature range: 25 – 28°C / 77 – 82.5°F

The Dwarf Gourami is a popular aquarium fish. It is sturdy and the males display a striking colouration. You can purchase several different colour variations of this fish, including Blue Dwarf Gourami, Neon Dwarf Gourami, Powder Blue Dwarf Gourami, Sunset Dwarf Gourami and Flame Sunset Dwarf Gourami. In its native region the Dwarf Gourami is utilized as food and is sold fresh or dried. It is one of the most common fish species in the river plains of northern India. 

Dwarf Gourami habitat:

The dwarf gourami is a benthopelagic freshwater species that originates from Bangladesh, India and Pakistan. It might also be native to Myanmar and Nepal. The Dwarf Gourami has today been introduced to several other parts of the world, including Singapore, Colombia and the United States. 

The typical Dwarf Gourami habitat is a lake or a slow moving stream or rivulet. The habitat is usually densely grown with aquatic plants and you can find many different members of the genus Colisa living together. 

Dwarf Gourami setup:

The Dwarf Gourami is often kept in small aquarium, but the recommended minimum aquarium size is 60 cm (24 inches). Place the aquarium in a quite spot of your home, since Dwarf Gouramis sometimes become very skittish when subjected to a lot of noise. Dwarf Gouramis inhabit the middle and top region of the aquarium. The aquarium set up should resemble the natural Dwarf Gourami habitat and include a lot of vegetation. Floating plants that cover a part of the surface are highly appreciated.

Dwarf Gourami tank mates:

Dwarf Gouramis are peaceful towards other fish species and is therefore often kept in community aquariums with other non-aggressive fish species. If you place several Dwarf Gourami males together, they can become quite territorial but this can usually be solved by keeping them in a large enough aquarium and including a lot of plants in the set up that creates natural borders. Combining Dwarf gouramis with very large or aggressive fish is not recommended, since the Dwarf gouramis might be bullied. Dwarf gouramis are often kept together with tetras, guppies and swordfish.

Dwarf Gourami care:

Caring for Dwarf Gouramis is not very difficult, and this species is therefore recommended for beginner aquarists.  Keep the pH around 7 and never let it drop below 6 or rise above 8. The recommended dH range is 5 – 19. The recommended water temperature is 25 – 28° C (77 – 82.5° F). If you take good care of your Dwarf Gourami it can live for 3-4 years in captivity.

Dwarf Gourami feeding:

The Dwarf Gourami is an omnivore species that need meaty food as well as plant and/or algae to do well. In the wild, it eats insects and larvae from the water’s surface and clean stones and similar surfaces from algae growth. In captivity, the Dwarf Gouramis will accept most food types, including flake food, frozen food, freeze dried food and live food. Keeping them on nothing but flake food can however cause them to loose their brilliant colouration. You can use a high-quality tropical flake food as a base, but it is strongly recommended to also offer your Dwarf Gouramis plankton and live food, e.g. brine shrimp. Freeze dried blood worms are also known to bring back the colour in Dwarf Gouramis. Leave some algae in the aquarium for the Dwarf Gourami to graze.  

Dwarf Gourami breeding:

dwarf gourmai

The wild Dwarf Gourami has a minimum population doubling time between 1.4 and 4.4 years, and the species is therefore considered medium resilient towards over fishing and other potential threats. It is not included in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

You can breed Dwarf Gourami in captivity if you are prepared to coax your fish a little to induce breeding. Sexing Dwarf Gourami is easy since healthy, mature males are extremely colourful while the females have a much duller colouration. Dwarf Gouramis build bubblenest and currents are therefore not recommended in the aquarium since they may disturb or damage the nest. The nests are very beautiful and elaborate.

To induce breeding, you should lower the water level to no more than 15-20 centimetres (6-8 inches) and increase the water temperature to 28 – 30° C (82.5 – 86° F). This will resemble the dry season in the natural Dwarf Gourami habitat. Feed your Dwarf Gouramis plenty of live food. The aquarium must be planted, since the male Dwarf Gourami includes plant material in his bubblenest. Examples of suitable plant species are Ceratopteris thalictroides, Limnophila aquatica,Riccia fluitans and Vesicularia dubyana. Peat fibre is also known to be popular.

When the bubblenest is ready, the male will start courting the female Dwarf Gourami. This will typically occur during later afternoon or in the evening. The male will swim around near the female while flaring his fins. He will then attempt to draw her to his bubblenest. If the female accepts the male and is ready to spawn, she will swim in circles beneath the bubblenest. When she is ready to release her eggs, she will touch the male on his back or on his tail with her mouth. The male will then embrace her and turn her first on her side, and then onto her back. The female will now release her eggs and the male will fertilize them. There are usually around 60 eggs in one batch. The eggs float and will be placed in the bubblenest by the male Dwarf Gourami.

Once the male has gathered all the eggs and placed them safely in the bubblenest, the pair can spawn again. If you keep the male with several females, he may spawn with a new female at this point. The entire spawning process can therefore take up to four hours and the bubblenest can eventually be filled with up to 800 eggs. When the male is finished, he will cover the eggs with a fine layer of bubbles to make them stay in the nest. When you see him doing this, you know that the spawning is over and you should remove the females from the breeding aquarium. The male will be very aggressive when he is caring for his offspring, so keeping him in his own aquarium without any other fish is recommended.  

Dwarf Gourami eggs will hatch after 12-24 hours but the fry will stay inside the bubblenest for at least three more days. When the fry has left the bubblenest, you can remove the male Dwarf Gourami from the breeding aquarium. The fry is tiny and must be feed small food types, such as rotifers or infusoria. As they grow larger, you can give them newly hatched brine shrimp.

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