Giant Gourami

Giant Gourami

Osphronemus exodon - Giant Gourami, Elephant Ear Gourami

Giant Gourami information:

Four different gourami species are commonly referred to as Giant gourami, since they grow really large and can exceed 0.5 metre (1.6 feet). This article will deal primarily with the Osphronemus goramy, since the other three species have similar requirements in the aquarium.

Scientific name: Osphronemus goramy
Common name: Giant Gourami, True goramy
Max. size: 70.0 cm / 28 inches
pH range: 6.5 – 8.0
dH range: 25
Temperature range: 20 – 30°C / 68 – 86°F

Scientific name: Osphronemus exodon
Common name: Giant Gourami, Elephant Ear Gourami
Max. size: 60.0 cm;

Scientific name: Osphronemus laticlavius    
Common name: Giant Gourami, Giant Red Tail Gourami
Max. size: 50.0 cm

Scientific name: Osphronemus  septemfasciatus
Common name:  Giant Gourami
Max. size: 50.0 cm

Giant Gourami habitat and range - Osphronemus goramy

The natural habitat for this Giant Gourami is rivers, lakes and freshwater swamps. The Giant Gourami lives in Southeast Asia, including Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Java, Laos, Peninsular Malaysia, Myanmar, Pakistan, the Seychelles, Sumatra, Thailand and Vietnam. Since it is a popular food fish, it has been introduced to several other countries, including Colombia, Japan, India, Madagascar, Mauritius, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Singapore and Sri Lanka. 

Giant Gourami habitat and range - Osphronemus exodon

This Giant Gourami is native to Cambodia, Laos and Thailand. Its habitat consists of pools of large rivers. During the wet season, you can also found it in flooded forests. During the rainy season, the Giant Gourami migrates from the Mekong mainstream into flooded regions and does not return until the rainy season is over. The migration is triggered by changed water levels. The Giant Gouramis breed in stagnant water near the shore of the river during the period when the water is at its lowest.    

Giant Gourami habitat and range – Osphronemus laticlavius    

This Giant Gourami is native to Indonesia and Malaysia in Southeast Asia. The fish seem to be rare in Malaysia and is only known from Sabah and the Danum Valley.

Giant Gourami habitat and range – Osphronemus septemfasciatus

This Giant Gourami originates from Indonesia and Malaysia. In Malaysia, it has been recorded from Sarawak. In Indonesia, the species is known to inhabit the Kapuas basin, Kalimantan Barat and Mahakam basin, Kalimantan Timur.

Giant Gourami set up:

The Giant Gourami is beyond the scope of most hobby aquarists, since it grows really large and will require a huge aquarium to thrive. Do not purchase a young Giant Gourami unless you are prepared to take care for it when it grows large and needs plenty of food and a bigger aquarium.

Try to mimic the natural Giant Gourami habitat when you set up the aquarium. A densely planted aquarium that contains floating plants will be appreciated. The Giant Gourami lives in lakes, rivers and swamps in Southeast Asia and can survive in stagnant water with low oxygen levels by breathing oxygen directly from the air above the water’s surface. You should therefore always leave some space between the water’s surface and the aquarium lid.  

Provided that the aquarium is large enough, the Giant Gourami can be housed with other fish species. You can for instance house it with Bala Sharks, Danios, Angelfish, Rainbowfish and/or Clown Loaches. 

Giant Gourami description:

The Giant Gourami have a wide and extremely narrow body shape with large and rounded anal fins, and the elongated pelvic fins that you can see on all gourami species. Young Giant Gouramis have a golden colouration and are decorated with banding. When they reach an age of 3 or 4 years, they colouration will become darker until it is gray or nearly black. The forehead will develop a characteristic swelling, a so called nuchal hump. The male Giant Gourami can be distinguished from the female on his pointy dorsal fin. During spawning, his colouration will turn darker than normal and his lips will become thicker.  

Giant Gourami care:

Since the Giant Gourami is native to tropical parts of Southeast Asia, you should ideally keep the water temperature in the 20 – 30° C (68 – 86° F) range in the aquarium. The recommended dH range is 25 and the pH should be between 6.5 and 8.0.

Giant Gourami feeding:

Giant Gouramis are omnivore and the wild Giant Gourami will feed on plants as well as on animals. It will for instance eat frogs, fish, earthworms and aquatic plants. If given the opportunity, it will gladly feed on dead animals. It important to keep it on a varied diet in the aquarium and make sure that it obtains carnivore as well herbivore food types.

Giant Gourami breeding:

Outside the breeding period, the easiest way of sexing Giant Gourami is to look at the dorsal fin. The male will have a pointier ending of the dorsal fin compared to the female. As the breeding period commence, the male Giant Gourami will develop darker colours and his lips will become really thick. He will also start building a bubblenest using saliva and air.

You can coax Giant Gouramis into spawning by drastically decreasing the water depth in the aquarium to mimic the dry season in the natural Giant Gourami habitat. The water temperature should be kept in the upper part of the normal range.

When the eggs have been released and fertilized, they will be placed in the bubble nest. You should ideally remove the female at this point, since a male Giant Gourami is highly aggressive when he has offspring to guard and care for. This is why it is recommended to let Giant Gouramis breed in a separate breeding aquarium. If the Giant Gouramis breed in an aquarium where other fish are present, it will typically result in a lot of violence since the male Giant Gourami perceive every fish as a potential threat.

Giant Gourami eggs will hatch after approximately 24 hours. The fry is very small and should be fed infusoria or newly hatched brine shrimp. As the fry grows older, you can gradually increase the size of the brine shrimp. 

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