Dwarf Gourami

Dwarf Gouramis are captivating freshwater fish, bearing similarities to their larger Gourami relatives. Their vivid colors and patterns have earned them a special place among aquarium aficionados. These amicable fish require moderate care, making them a commendable pick for community aquariums.

An icon to represent level of difficulty to care for a fish type.

Care DIfficulty


An icon to represent temperament.



An icon to represent origin.


South Asia

An icon to represent size.


2 inches (5 cm)

An icon to represent a fish's lifespan.


5 years

List icon.

Table of contents

Origin, Appearance, Size, and Lifespan

The Dwarf Gourami, or Trichogaster lalius, also known as the Flame Gourami, is a beloved freshwater fish that originates from the paddy fields and slow-moving waters of South Asia. You'll typically find them in the lush, water-laden areas of India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.

In their natural habitat, Dwarf Gouramis inhabit stagnant or slow-moving waters rich with vegetation. These aquatic plants serve not only as refuge but also as a source of nutrition, while the murky water intensifies their bright colors. These fish are largely solitary but can coexist peacefully with other calm species.

Their wild habitat features warm, slightly acidic to neutral water. The temperature usually ranges from 77 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit (25 to 28 degrees Celsius), with a pH level of 6.0 to 7.5, and water hardness between 4 to 10 dGH. To replicate a similar environment in your aquarium, ensure a stable water temperature, employ a high-quality filtration system, and integrate live plants and hiding spaces.

By replicating the Dwarf Gourami's natural setting and securing the correct water conditions, you'll be setting up your fish for a healthy and enjoyable life in your aquarium.

Dwarf Gouramis are acclaimed for their vibrant colors and intricate patterns, which can vary from bright blues to fiery reds. These dazzling hues make them an irresistible centerpiece in aquariums. Despite their small stature, attaining a maximum size of around 2 inches (5 cm), their unique colors and tranquil disposition make them an excellent choice for those desiring a serene, vibrant aquatic display. These captivating fish bring delight to observers as they calmly traverse the tank, securing their status as a cherished favorite among hobbyists of all experience levels.

With diligent care, Dwarf Gouramis can live up to five years. As solitary creatures, they thrive best when provided with enough space to claim their own territory. To encourage their well-being and ensure a long life in captivity, it's vital to provide an aquarium abundant with plants and hiding spots, as well as a varied diet comprising of high-quality flakes, pellets, and live foods.

Fun Facts

Having delved into the appearance and lifespan of Dwarf Gouramis, let's illuminate some intriguing facts about these exquisite fish that make them unique in the aquarium hobby. From their vibrant hues to their solitary nature, Dwarf Gouramis are brimming with peculiarities that are sure to bewitch any aquarist.

  • Labyrinth organ: In their natural habitat, Dwarf Gouramis inhabit slow-moving or stagnant waters that are often low in oxygen. To survive in such conditions, they've developed a unique organ called the labyrinth, which allows them to breathe atmospheric air directly. This unique adaptation is what makes the Dwarf Gourami's gulping at the water surface normal and not a sign of distress.
  • Color-changing abilities: Dwarf Gouramis possess an interesting ability to change their color according to their mood, surroundings, or health. In stressful situations or poor health, their colors might appear dull. On the other hand, when they are content and healthy, their colors become more vibrant, making them a spectacle to behold in an aquarium setting.
  • Bubble-nest builders: Dwarf Gouramis are renowned for their peculiar breeding behavior. Male gouramis construct bubble nests at the water surface by blowing bubbles and sticking them together with saliva. This fascinating behavior makes them stand out among other freshwater aquarium species.
  • Territorial demeanor: Unlike many other aquarium fish, Dwarf Gouramis are known for their solitary and territorial nature. They prefer to have their own space and can become aggressive if their territory is encroached upon. This makes providing ample space in the aquarium a crucial aspect of their care.
  • Sexual dimorphism: Dwarf Gouramis exhibit pronounced sexual dimorphism, meaning males and females can be distinguished easily. Males are typically more vibrant and larger, while females are smaller and have more subdued colors. This distinctive trait is an interesting aspect of their biology.

With these fascinating facts in hand, you can now appreciate the complexities and peculiarities of Dwarf Gouramis. In the upcoming section, we'll present recommendations on tank setups, ensuring your Dwarf Gouramis have an ideal environment to prosper and exhibit their stunning traits.

Recommended Tank Setups

Each setup includes the essential components—tank, filter, heater, lighting, substrate, and more—guaranteeing that you can cultivate a suitable environment for Dwarf Gouramis and other harmonious freshwater fish species in your aquarium. As you transition from economical to high-end setups, you'll also encounter more options for customization, aesthetics, and sophisticated features. Dwarf Gouramis are generally solitary fish and don't need to be kept in groups like Cardinal Tetras. Typically, Dwarf Gouramis are priced between $4 and $8 per fish, although prices can fluctuate based on factors like size, quality, and availability.

Budget-friendly setup (around $200):

  • Tank: 20-gallon aquarium with a hood or glass canopy‍ ($40 - $70)
  • Filter: Hang-on-back (HOB) or sponge filter rated for 20 gallons ($20 - $40)
  • Heater: 50-100 watt adjustable aquarium heater ($15 - $30)
  • Lighting: Basic LED aquarium light ($20 - $50)
  • Substrate: Budget-friendly aquarium sand or small gravel ($10 - $20)
  • Decor: A few pieces of driftwood and rocks, along with affordable live plants like Java Fern and Anubias ($20 - $40)
  • Fish: One or two Dwarf Gouramis depending on tank size ($8 - $16)
  • Thermometer: $3 - $10
  • Substrate Vacuum: $10 - $25
  • Fish Net: $2 - $10
  • Algae Scraper or Magnetic Cleaner: $5 - $20
  • Siphon and Bucket: $15 - $30
  • Test Kit: $15 - $50
  • Fish Food: $5 - $20
  • Water Conditioner: $5 - $15

Mid-range setup (around $400 - $650):

  • Tank: 20-30 gallon aquarium with a hood or glass canopy ($60 - $120)
  • Filter: Canister filter or high-quality HOB filter rated for the tank size ($60 - $150)
  • Heater: 100-150 watt adjustable aquarium heater ($25 - $50)
  • Lighting: LED aquarium light with adjustable settings for plant growth and color enhancement ($50 - $150)
  • Substrate: Nutrient-rich aquarium substrate designed for planted tanks ($20 - $40)
  • Decor: A mix of driftwood, rocks, and live plants such as Amazon Swords, Java Fern, Anubias, and Cryptocoryne species ($40 - $80)
  • Fish: One or two Dwarf Gouramis depending on tank size ($8 - $16)
  • Thermometer: $3 - $10
  • Substrate Vacuum: $10 - $25
  • Fish Net: $2 - $10
  • Algae Scraper or Magnetic Cleaner: $5 - $20
  • Siphon and Bucket: $15 - $30
  • Test Kit: $15 - $50
  • Fish Food: $5 - $20
  • Water Conditioner: $5 - $15

High-end setup (above $800):

  • Tank: 30-40 gallon rimless aquarium with a glass canopy ($120 - $250)
  • Filter: High-quality canister filter rated for the tank size ($100 - $250)
  • Heater: 150-200 watt adjustable aquarium heater with an external temperature controller ($40 - $80)
  • Lighting: Advanced LED lighting system with customizable settings for plant growth, color enhancement, and day/night cycles ($150 - $300)
  • Substrate: Premium aquarium substrate designed for planted tanks, with added root tabs for extra plant nutrition ($30 - $60)
  • Decor: A combination of driftwood, rocks, and live plants to create a natural aquascape, featuring plant species such as Amazon Swords, Java Fern, Anubias, Cryptocoryne species, and carpeting plants like Dwarf Hairgrass or Monte Carlo ($60 - $150)
  • Fish: One or two Dwarf Gouramis depending on tank size ($8 - $16)
  • Thermometer: $3 - $10
  • Substrate Vacuum: $10 - $25
  • Fish Net: $2 - $10
  • Algae Scraper or Magnetic Cleaner: $5 - $20
  • Siphon and Bucket: $15 - $30
  • Test Kit: $15 - $50
  • Fish Food: $5 - $20
  • Water Conditioner: $5 - $15

Remember, these numbers are just recommendations, and you should consider other factors such as tank mates and the personality of individual Dwarf Gouramis when deciding how many to keep in your aquarium. Prices may vary depending on location, brand, and availability.

Set Up Your Tank

In the prior segment, we outlined the ideal tank environments for your Dwarf Gouramis. Now, with a better understanding of what's required, let's break down the systematic process of assembling your aquarium. These steps will guide you in picking the best location for your tank, sanitizing and readying the tank, installing crucial equipment, and conditioning the water to foster a healthy environment for your fish. We'll also touch on the appropriate acclimation procedure to ensure a seamless transition for your Dwarf Gouramis into their new environment. By adhering to these guidelines, you'll be on the path to creating a flourishing aquatic habitat where your fish can thrive.

  • Step #1: Determine the ideal location for your aquarium, ensuring it's away from direct sunlight, heat sources, and breezy areas. Verify that the surface is flat and sturdy enough to bear the weight of your filled tank. If your tank requires a stand, put it together following the manufacturer's guidelines and position the empty tank on it.
  • Step #2: Begin by cleaning the tank with fresh water (refrain from using soap or chemical cleaners) to remove any dust or debris. Wipe the interior with a clean cloth or paper towel. Rinse the substrate (sand or gravel) thoroughly in a bucket until the water runs clear, then layer it across the bottom of the tank, creating a mild slope towards the back for an added depth of view.
  • Step #3: Prior to filling the tank with water, map out your aquarium's layout, including the placement of equipment like heaters and filters. This foresight will simplify the setup and future maintenance of the tank. Set up the heater and filter as per the manufacturer's instructions. If you're employing a sponge or under-gravel filter, place it beneath the substrate before adding water.
  • Step #4: Embellish the tank with driftwood, rocks, and plants to create hiding spaces and an aesthetically pleasing environment, while also ensuring enough open areas for your fish to swim. When decorating, arrange the driftwood, rocks, and plants in a way that won't obstruct or damage the equipment. You can secure plants to driftwood or rocks to keep them in place.
  • Step #5: Fill the tank with water that's been treated with a water conditioner if your tap water contains chlorine or chloramines. Use a clean plate or plastic bag on the substrate to prevent it from being disturbed while filling. Fill the tank until it's approximately 2/3 full. Affix the aquarium light to the hood or canopy, adhering to the manufacturer's guidelines. Consider a timer for your aquarium light to maintain a regular day and night cycle, which is vital for both fish and plants. Connect the heater, filter, and any additional equipment (air pump, CO2 system) to power sources, and set up the thermometer in a location that's easy to see.
  • Step #6: Top off the water, ensuring some space between the water surface and the top of the tank for oxygen exchange. Activate the filter, heater, and other equipment. Monitor the water temperature and tweak the heater as required. Allow the tank to cycle for 4-6 weeks to allow beneficial bacteria to establish and water parameters to stabilize. During the cycling process, consider adding a bacterial starter culture to accelerate the establishment of beneficial bacteria in the tank. Use an aquarium test kit to keep track of ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels.
  • Step #7: After the tank has cycled and water parameters are stable, slowly acclimate your Dwarf Gouramis to the tank's conditions before introducing them. Initiate by floating the unopened fish bag in the tank for 15-20 minutes to match the temperature. Then, open the bag and introduce a small amount of tank water into it. Continue adding small amounts of tank water to the bag every 5-10 minutes over a period of 30-60 minutes, allowing the fish to slowly adjust to the new water chemistry. Using a net, gently transfer the fish from the bag to the tank, avoiding unnecessary stress or exposure to the water from the bag.
  • Step #8: Once all the fish have been introduced, establish a regular daily feeding schedule, offering high-quality food in amounts suitable for your fish species. Conduct regular water changes (20-30% every 1-2 weeks) and monitor water parameters using a test kit to sustain a healthy environment for your fish. Keep a close eye on your fish for any signs of stress or illness, especially in the first few weeks following their introduction. Be ready to intervene if necessary, such as by adjusting water parameters or consulting with an experienced aquarist.

By following this systematic guide and incorporating the additional setup tips, you'll be well-equipped to create a thriving aquatic environment that will allow your Dwarf Gouramis to thrive in their new home.

Recommended Water Parameters

To ensure the well-being of your Dwarf Gouramis, it's crucial to maintain certain water parameters within their preferred ranges. Here's what you should aim for:

  • Temperature: The water should ideally be kept between 77°F and 82.4°F (25°C and 28°C).
  • pH: Dwarf Gouramis prefer slightly acidic to neutral water, so aim for a pH of 6.0 to 7.5.
  • Hardness: They are comfortable in soft to moderately hard water, typically within a range of 4-10 dGH.
  • Ammonia, Nitrite, and Nitrate: Like all fish, Dwarf Gouramis require ammonia and nitrite levels to be at 0 ppm, with nitrate levels preferably under 20 ppm.
  • Lighting: Moderate lighting is best for these fish, complemented with ample areas of shade provided by plants or decorations.
  • Water movement: A moderate water flow is preferred to simulate their natural habitat in slow-moving water bodies.

Testing your aquarium water frequently and conducting the necessary water changes will help maintain a stable environment.

Routine Water Maintenance

Regular water changes are integral to maintaining a healthy Dwarf Gourami tank. They help eliminate excess nutrients, waste, and harmful substances. Consider this routine:

  • Weekly water changes: Substitute 20-25% of the tank water every week.
  • Test water parameters: Regularly check pH, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and hardness levels.
  • Use a gravel vacuum: Employ this tool during water changes to clean the substrate.
  • Dechlorinate the water: Use a water conditioner to treat tap water before introducing it to the aquarium.
  • Match temperature and pH: Ensure the new water matches the tank water in both temperature and pH.
  • Acclimate the fish: Allow your Dwarf Gouramis time to adjust to changes in the water conditions after a water change.

In addition to routine water maintenance, consider the following:

  • Monitor lighting duration: Regulate the amount of light your aquarium receives daily, striving for an 8-10 hour photoperiod. Excessive light may lead to unwanted algae growth.
  • Plant maintenance: Regularly prune live plants and remove any dead plant matter to prevent water quality deterioration.
  • Filter maintenance: Follow the manufacturer's guidelines for cleaning or replacing filter media, typically every 4-6 weeks. Be cautious not to replace all filter media at once to avoid disturbing the beneficial bacteria.

Diet and Feeding Schedule

Dwarf Gouramis are omnivorous and require a varied diet. Here are some feeding recommendations:

  • Flakes and pellets: Provide high-quality flake or pellet food suitable for omnivorous tropical fish.
  • Frozen and live foods: Treat your Dwarf Gouramis with brine shrimp, bloodworms, or daphnia occasionally.
  • Vegetable matter: Occasionally offer blanched peas, spinach, or cucumber for additional nutrients.
  • Feeding frequency: Feed small portions twice a day, and be careful not to overfeed.

Stress and Diseases

Dwarf Gouramis can experience stress due to poor water conditions, aggressive tank mates, or unsuitable tank environments. It's vital to identify and mitigate these stressors for their health:

  • Watch for stress signs: Keep an eye out for abnormal behaviors such as hiding, lethargy, color fading, or rapid breathing, which could indicate stress.
  • Check water quality: Regularly test your aquarium water to ensure it falls within the ideal parameters.
  • Monitor tank mates: Ensure your Dwarf Gouramis aren't subjected to aggression from other fish, and remove any hostile tank mates if necessary.
  • Create a suitable habitat: Provide plenty of hiding spots, appropriate lighting, and an adequately sized tank.

While Dwarf Gouramis are generally resilient, they can fall prey to several common fish diseases, including:

  • Ich (white spot disease): This common parasitic infection causes white spots on the body and fins, lethargy, and loss of appetite. Treat Ich with aquarium salt or anti-parasitic medication and increase the water temperature to around 82°F (28°C).
  • Fin rot: A bacterial infection resulting in frayed or discolored fins and tail. Address fin rot with a partial water change, aquarium salt, and antibacterial medication that includes erythromycin or tetracycline.
  • Velvet disease: A parasitic disease that causes a yellow or brownish velvet-like coating on the fish's body. Treat velvet disease with copper sulfate or formalin-based anti-parasitic medication.
  • Swim bladder disease: This condition affects the fish's ability to swim upright. Treat by fasting the fish, offering blanched peas, and possibly using an antibacterial medication.

Disease prevention in Dwarf Gouramis involves maintaining excellent water quality, avoiding overfeeding, and providing a balanced diet. It's also good practice to quarantine new fish before adding them to the main tank and to address any signs of illness promptly.


Breeding Dwarf Gouramis can be a challenging but rewarding task for seasoned aquarists. Here are the steps to breed Dwarf Gouramis:

  • Step #1: Create an appropriate breeding environment with a separate 10-gallon or larger breeding tank. Aim for a pH level of about 7.0 and a temperature around 80°F (27°C). Keep the water soft (4-10 dGH) and add hiding spots such as plants and spawning mops.
  • Step #2: Choose healthy, mature Dwarf Gouramis for breeding, ideally in a ratio of two females to one male to prevent aggression. You can identify the genders by observing their physical traits and behavior.
  • Step #3: Feed the breeding pair a high-protein diet of live or frozen foods for several weeks to build their strength and energy.
  • Step #4: Encourage spawning by introducing the pair to the breeding tank, gradually increasing the water temperature, and dimming the lights. Simulate a natural day-night cycle by gradually increasing and decreasing the light duration. Provide a spawning mop or fine-leaved plants for the female to deposit her eggs.
  • Step #5: After spawning, remove the breeding pair to protect the eggs. Keep the breeding tank dimly lit as the eggs and fry are light-sensitive. Eggs usually hatch within 24-48 hours, and the fry will start swimming freely after a few days. Feed them infusoria or liquid fry food initially, then introduce crushed flake food as they grow.
  • Step #6: Monitor the fry's growth and development, separating them by size if needed to prevent larger fry from preying on smaller ones.

Breeding Dwarf Gouramis can be a rewarding experience. Patience and the right conditions are key to success.

Recommended Tank Mates

Here are the top 10 suggested tank mates for Dwarf Gouramis:

Make sure to steer clear of large, aggressive fish like cichlids, angelfish, and predatory species, as they may pose a threat to Dwarf Gouramis. Always monitor the behavior of new fish and ensure they don't cause stress or aggression towards the Dwarf Gouramis.


In summary, Dwarf Gouramis are a captivating freshwater fish species known for their beautiful colors and relatively easy care requirements. These fish need specific water parameters, a balanced diet, and a suitable environment to flourish in captivity. With proper care, they can live up to four years and make an excellent addition to any aquarium. When selecting tank mates, it's crucial to choose peaceful and non-aggressive species to ensure a harmonious community. Breeding Dwarf Gouramis can be a challenging but rewarding experience for experienced hobbyists, with patience and ideal conditions being key to success. Overall, Dwarf Gouramis are a stunning and lively species that can enhance any aquatic display with their vibrant hues and engaging behavior.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the ideal tank size for Dwarf Gouramis?

A 10-gallon tank is the minimum recommended size for a single Dwarf Gourami, but a larger tank is always better, as it helps maintain stable water conditions and offers more space for your fish to swim.

How many Dwarf Gouramis should be kept together?

Dwarf Gouramis can be kept individually or in pairs. If keeping multiple Dwarf Gouramis, make sure to provide enough space and hiding spots to minimize potential territorial disputes.

What water parameters do Dwarf Gouramis require?

Dwarf Gouramis thrive in water temperatures between 72°F and 82°F (22°C and 28°C), a pH between 6.0 and 8.0, and soft to moderately hard water with a hardness between 4 and 12 dGH.

What do Dwarf Gouramis eat?

Dwarf Gouramis are omnivorous and require a diverse diet. Feed them a mix of high-quality flake or pellet food, along with live or frozen foods such as daphnia, brine shrimp, and bloodworms.

Are Dwarf Gouramis compatible with other fish?

Yes, Dwarf Gouramis are generally peaceful and can coexist with other similarly sized, non-aggressive fish species. Ideal tank mates include small tetras, rasboras, and corydoras catfish.

How long do Dwarf Gouramis live?

With proper care and optimal tank conditions, Dwarf Gouramis can live for 4 to 6 years.

How do I breed Dwarf Gouramis?

Breeding Dwarf Gouramis can be challenging, as they require specific water conditions and a separate breeding tank. Encourage spawning by providing a high-protein diet, and separate males and females before introducing them for spawning.

Do Dwarf Gouramis require a planted tank?

While not strictly necessary, a planted tank is highly recommended for Dwarf Gouramis. Live plants provide hiding spots, improve water quality, and create a more natural environment that closely resembles their native habitat.

Can Dwarf Gouramis change color?

Yes, Dwarf Gouramis can undergo color changes due to various factors, such as stress, illness, or changes in water conditions. If you notice your Dwarf Gouramis experiencing a loss of color, it's important to examine the water parameters and keep a close eye on their health.