Kissing Gourami

Kissing Gouramis are engaging freshwater fish with a peculiar 'kissing' behavior. Their appealing greenish-silver color and low-maintenance needs have made them a popular choice among aquarium enthusiasts. These engaging fish are perfect for community aquariums due to their mild temperament.

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Care DIfficulty


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Southeast Asia

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12 inches (30 cm)

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7 to 10 years

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Table of contents

Origin, Appearance, Size, and Lifespan

The Kissing Gourami, or Helostoma temminckii, often referred to as the Kissing Fish, is a beloved freshwater fish that originates from the warm freshwater bodies of Southeast Asia. Typically, you'll find them in the water bodies across Thailand, Indonesia, and Cambodia.

In their natural habitat, Kissing Gouramis are usually found in stagnant or slow-moving bodies of water with dense vegetation. This plant life serves dual purposes: offering refuge and supplementing their diet, while the murky waters accentuate their pearlescent colors. These social fish enjoy the company of their kind and are often seen in groups.

Their native environment consists of warm, neutral to slightly acidic water. The temperature generally ranges from 72 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit (22 to 28 degrees Celsius), with a pH level of 6.0 to 8.0, and water hardness between 5 to 20 dGH. To replicate this environment in your aquarium, maintain stable water temperature, use a high-quality filtration system, and incorporate live plants and hiding spots.

By closely replicating the Kissing Gourami's natural habitat and ensuring the right water conditions, you'll be setting your fish up for a comfortable and fulfilling life in your aquarium.

Kissing Gouramis are recognized for their distinctive, puckered lips and shimmering greenish-silver body color. This unique characteristic and their iridescent colors make them a mesmerizing addition to aquariums. Despite being a larger species, with a size reaching up to around 12 inches (30 cm), their playful 'kissing' behavior and peaceful temperament make them an appealing choice for those seeking an interactive, vibrant aquatic display. Observing these fascinating fish as they maneuver around the tank is a delight for enthusiasts of all levels.

With attentive care, Kissing Gouramis can live up to 7 to 10 years. As sociable creatures, they thrive in groups and are ideally kept in communities with other peaceful fish. To promote their health and ensure longevity in captivity, it's crucial to provide a densely planted aquarium with numerous hiding places, and a varied diet comprising high-quality flakes, pellets, and vegetable matter.

Fun Facts

Having discussed the appearance and lifespan of Kissing Gouramis, we shall now delve into some fascinating trivia about these unique fish that set them apart in the aquarium hobby. From their peculiar 'kissing' action to their calm demeanor, Kissing Gouramis are full of exciting features bound to enchant any aquarist.

  • 'Kissing' behavior: In the wild and in aquariums, Kissing Gouramis exhibit a unique 'kissing' action. This behavior, which actually represents a form of aggression or a way of determining hierarchy within the group, is a distinctive trait that lends them their common name.
  • Dental adaptability: Kissing Gouramis have developed a special adaptation for their diet. They possess teeth in their throat, which are used to grind up plant matter, making them one of the few fish species to exhibit such a trait.
  • Relation to Betta fish: Despite their peaceful nature, Kissing Gouramis are closely related to Betta fish (family Osphronemidae), which are known for their aggressive behavior. However, Kissing Gouramis have a much more docile temperament, making them suitable for community tanks.
  • Color variation: Kissing Gouramis can vary in color from their natural greenish-silver hue to pink or even golden variants. These color variations are usually the result of selective breeding and can make for a visually diverse aquarium.
  • Social behavior: Kissing Gouramis are social fish and prefer living in small groups. This behavior not only provides them with a sense of security but also results in a fascinating dynamic in the aquarium. Observing their interactions can provide hours of entertainment for fish enthusiasts.

Equipped with these intriguing facts about Kissing Gouramis, you can now better appreciate their unique attributes and behaviors in your aquarium. In the next section, we'll provide advice on tank setups, ensuring your Kissing Gouramis have the perfect environment to prosper and display their captivating features.

Recommended Tank Setups

Each setup incorporates essential elements—tank, filter, heater, lighting, substrate, and more—making certain that you can establish a suitable environment for Kissing Gouramis and other harmonious freshwater fish species in your aquarium. As you transition from economical to luxury setups, you will also have more opportunities for personalization, aesthetics, and sophisticated features. Kissing Gouramis are relatively large and peaceful fish that require ample space for swimming. Typically, Kissing Gouramis are priced between $3 and $8 per fish, although prices can vary based on factors such as size, quality, and availability.

Budget-friendly setup (around $200):

  • Tank: 30-gallon aquarium with a hood or glass canopy ($50 - $100)
  • Filter: Hang-on-back (HOB) or sponge filter rated for 30 gallons ($30 - $60)
  • Heater: 100-150 watt adjustable aquarium heater ($20 - $40)
  • Lighting: Basic LED aquarium light ($25 - $60)
  • Substrate: Economical aquarium sand or small gravel ($15 - $30)
  • Decor: A few pieces of driftwood and rocks, along with low-cost live plants like Java Fern and Anubias ($25 - $50)
  • Fish: 1 or 2 Kissing Gouramis ($6 - $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: 40-50 gallon aquarium with a hood or glass canopy ($80 - $150)
  • Filter: Canister filter or superior HOB filter rated for the tank size ($80 - $200)
  • Heater: 150-200 watt adjustable aquarium heater ($30 - $60)
  • Lighting: LED aquarium light with adjustable settings for plant growth and color enhancement ($60 - $200)
  • Substrate: Nutrient-rich aquarium substrate designed for planted tanks ($30 - $60)
  • Decor: An assortment of driftwood, rocks, and live plants such as Amazon Swords, Java Fern, Anubias, and Cryptocoryne species ($50 - $100)
  • Fish: 2 or 3 Kissing Gouramis ($6 - $24)
  • 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: 50-60 gallon rimless aquarium with a glass canopy ($150 - $300)
  • Filter: High-quality canister filter rated for the tank size ($150 - $300)
  • Heater: 200-300 watt adjustable aquarium heater with an external temperature controller ($50 - $100)
  • Lighting: Advanced LED lighting system with customizable settings for plant growth, color enhancement, and day/night cycles ($200 - $400)
  • Substrate: Premium aquarium substrate designed for planted tanks, with added root tabs for extra plant nutrition ($40 - $80)
  • Decor: A blend of driftwood, rocks, and live plants to construct a natural aquascape, featuring plant species such as Amazon Swords, Java Fern, Anubias, Cryptocoryne species, and carpeting plants like Dwarf Hairgrass or Monte Carlo ($80 - $200)
  • Fish: 2 to 4 Kissing Gouramis ($6 - $32)
  • 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

Keep in mind that these figures are just suggestions, and you should take into account other factors such as tank mates and individual fish personalities when deciding how many Kissing Gouramis to keep in your aquarium. Prices may fluctuate depending on location, brand, and availability.

Set Up Your Tank

This section will guide you through the necessary steps to establish a well-maintained environment for your Kissing Gouramis. We'll explore everything from picking the right location for your aquarium to ensuring a safe transition for your fish into their new surroundings. Following these steps will assist you in creating a prosperous aquatic habitat for your Kissing Gouramis to thrive in.

  • Step #1: Begin by finding a suitable location for your aquarium. Make sure it's away from direct sunlight to avoid excessive algae growth and temperature fluctuations. The location should also be free from drafts and heat sources. Ensure the surface is flat and sturdy enough to hold the weight of the fully filled tank. If you're using an aquarium stand, assemble it as per the manufacturer's guidelines and set your empty tank on top.
  • Step #2: Clean your aquarium without the use of soap or chemicals. Rinse it with clean water to clear out dust or debris, and then wipe the interior with a clean, dry cloth or paper towel. Rinse your chosen substrate, be it sand or gravel, under running water until the water becomes clear, then distribute it evenly across the bottom of your tank, sloping slightly towards the back for a sense of depth.
  • Step #3: Before you start filling your tank with water, plan out your aquarium layout, including where you want to position equipment like heaters and filters. Installing these at this stage can make maintenance easier in the long run. Position the heater and filter as instructed by the manufacturer. If you're using an under-gravel or sponge filter, place it beneath the substrate prior to adding water.
  • Step #4: Decorate your tank with elements such as rocks, driftwood, and plants. This provides your Kissing Gouramis with spots to hide and makes the aquarium visually appealing. Ensure you leave plenty of open swimming space for your fish. Also, arrange the decorations in a way that they won't interfere with your equipment's operation. If you're using live plants, you can anchor them to rocks or driftwood to keep them secure.
  • Step #5: Fill your tank with water that has been treated with a water conditioner to neutralize harmful chlorine or chloramines. To prevent the substrate from getting disturbed, place a clean dish or a plastic bag on it and pour the water over it. Fill your tank until it's about 2/3 full. Attach the aquarium light to the tank's hood or canopy as per the manufacturer's instructions. Regular light cycles are crucial for both fish and plants, so consider using a timer for your aquarium light. Connect the heater, filter, and any other equipment to the power supply and fix the thermometer at a spot where it's easy to see.
  • Step #6: Fill the tank up to the top, but leave some space for oxygen exchange. Switch on your filter, heater, and other equipment. Keep an eye on the water temperature and adjust the heater as required. Allow your tank to cycle for a month to six weeks to help beneficial bacteria to grow and stabilize the water conditions. During this period, you can use a bacterial starter culture to quicken the establishment of beneficial bacteria in your tank. Regularly check the levels of ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate with an aquarium test kit.
  • Step #7: Once the tank has cycled and the water parameters are stable, you can start introducing your Kissing Gouramis. To acclimate them, first float the unopened bag in the tank for about 15 to 20 minutes so that the water temperature in the bag equals that of the tank. Open the bag and gradually add small amounts of tank water to it every 5 to 10 minutes over a period of 30 to 60 minutes. This gradual process helps your Kissing Gouramis to adjust to the new water conditions. Using a net, gently transfer the fish from the bag to the tank, taking care not to cause unnecessary stress or introduce water from the bag into the tank.
  • Step #8: After all the fish have been transferred, establish a regular feeding schedule. Kissing Gouramis thrive on a varied diet, so make sure to provide them with a mix of high-quality flake foods, frozen foods, and occasional live foods. Conduct regular water changes (20-30% every 1-2 weeks) and monitor water parameters using a test kit to ensure the aquarium conditions remain healthy. Keep a close eye on your fish for any signs of stress or illness, especially during the first few weeks after their introduction. Be ready to take necessary steps if required, such as adjusting the water parameters or consulting with an experienced aquarist.

By following this step-by-step guide and considering the additional setup tips, you'll be able to create a thriving aquatic environment that will allow your Kissing Gouramis to prosper and live a healthy life in their new home.

Recommended Water Parameters

Keeping your Kissing Gouramis in good health requires maintaining specific water conditions within your tank. These parameters should provide a good starting point:

  • Temperature: Aim to maintain a water temperature between 72°F and 82°F (22°C and 28°C) to mimic their natural tropical environment.
  • pH: Kissing Gouramis prefer slightly acidic to neutral pH, typically between 6.0 and 7.5.
  • Hardness: These fish are adaptable to a wide range of water hardness, but generally, they prefer moderately hard water (5-20 dGH).
  • Ammonia, Nitrite, and Nitrate: It's essential to keep ammonia and nitrite levels at 0 ppm, with nitrate levels below 50 ppm for optimal health.
  • Lighting: Moderate to high lighting conditions are suitable for Kissing Gouramis, especially if you have live plants in the tank.
  • Water movement: They prefer slow to moderate water flow that mimics their natural habitat in slow-moving or stagnant waters.

It's important to test your aquarium water regularly and adjust as needed to keep these parameters stable.

Routine Water Maintenance

Maintaining a healthy water environment is key to the wellbeing of your Kissing Gouramis. Here's a basic water maintenance routine:

  • Weekly water changes: Aim to replace 25-30% of the tank water every week.
  • Test water parameters: Regularly monitor pH, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and hardness levels.
  • Use a gravel vacuum: This helps clean the substrate during water changes, reducing waste buildup.
  • Dechlorinate the water: Always treat tap water with a water conditioner before introducing it to your tank.
  • Match temperature and pH: Ensure the new water matches the temperature and pH of your tank to avoid shocking your fish.
  • Acclimate the fish: Allow your fish time to adjust to new conditions after water changes.

In addition to routine water changes, you should:

  • Monitor lighting duration: Try to maintain a consistent daily light cycle, ideally 10-12 hours, to support your fish and plants' health.
  • Plant maintenance: Regularly trim and care for any live plants in your tank. Remove any dead or dying plant matter promptly.
  • Filter maintenance: Regularly clean or replace your filter media as per the manufacturer's instructions, typically every 4-6 weeks. Be careful not to disrupt beneficial bacteria in the process.

Diet and Feeding Schedule

Kissing Gouramis are omnivores with a preference for plant-based foods. Here's a suggested feeding guide:

  • Flakes and pellets: Provide high-quality, plant-based flake or pellet foods as the staple diet.
  • Frozen and live foods: Treat your fish with occasional servings of live or frozen foods, such as brine shrimp or bloodworms.
  • Vegetable matter: Offer blanched vegetables like spinach, peas, or zucchini for extra nutrition.
  • Feeding frequency: Feed small portions once or twice a day to avoid overfeeding.

Stress and Diseases

Kissing Gouramis can become stressed due to poor water conditions, aggressive tank mates, or an unsuitable environment. Recognizing these stressors is key:

  • Watch for stress signs: Look out for unusual behaviors such as erratic swimming, loss of color, or increased hiding, which may indicate stress.
  • Check water quality: Regularly test your aquarium water to ensure it meets the necessary parameters for your Kissing Gouramis.
  • Monitor tank mates: Ensure your Gouramis are not being bullied by other fish. If necessary, remove aggressive tank mates to ensure a peaceful environment.
  • Create a suitable habitat: Provide plenty of space, hiding spots, and plants to mimic their natural habitat.

Like all fish, Kissing Gouramis can be susceptible to common aquarium diseases. Here are a few to be aware of:

  • Ich (white spot disease): This is a common parasitic infection that causes white spots, lethargy, and loss of appetite. Treating Ich involves using an anti-parasitic medication and slightly increasing the water temperature.
  • Fin rot: This bacterial disease results in discolored or frayed fins. Treatment often involves partial water changes, aquarium salt, and antibacterial medications.
  • Velvet disease: This parasitic infection creates a yellow or gold dust-like coating on the fish's body. Treatment requires an anti-parasitic medication.
  • Swim bladder disease: This can affect the fish's ability to swim properly. If you suspect swim bladder disease, fast your fish, and then offer a diet of blanched peas.

Preventing disease involves maintaining high water quality, feeding a balanced diet, and quarantining new fish before introducing them to your main tank. Always watch for signs of illness and treat promptly to prevent spread.


Breeding Kissing Gouramis is a challenging yet rewarding experience. Here's a step-by-step guide:

  • Step #1: Set up a suitable breeding tank of at least 20 gallons, with a pH level around 7.0 and a temperature near 80°F (27°C). Include plants or spawning mops for egg attachment.
  • Step #2: Select healthy, mature males and females for breeding. Males tend to be slimmer and have a more pointed dorsal fin, while females are rounder.
  • Step #3: Feed the breeding pair a high-protein diet of live or frozen foods to induce spawning.
  • Step #4: Create a conducive breeding environment by dimming the lights and slowly raising the water temperature. The male will initiate the spawning process by "kissing," which is actually a form of testing strength.
  • Step #5: After spawning, remove the parents from the tank to prevent them from eating the eggs. The eggs will hatch in 24-30 hours, and the fry will start to swim after about three days. Initially feed them infusoria or commercially available fry food.
  • Step #6: Monitor the fry's growth and development, separating them by size if necessary to prevent cannibalism.

Breeding Kissing Gouramis requires patience and attention to detail, but the experience can be highly rewarding for dedicated aquarists.

Recommended Tank Mates

Here are the top 10 recommended tank mates for Kissing Gouramis:

  • Bala Sharks
  • Angelfish
  • Giant Danios
  • Clown Loaches
  • Swordtails
  • Rainbowfish
  • Catfish
  • Plecos
  • Gouramis
  • Tiger Barbs

It's crucial to avoid keeping Kissing Gouramis with much smaller, timid fish or those with long, flowing fins as they can become targets of their kissing behavior. Continually monitor the behavior of new fish to ensure they don't cause stress or aggression towards your Kissing Gouramis.


To conclude, Kissing Gouramis are fascinating freshwater fish famous for their unique "kissing" behavior and their adaptability. These fish require specific water parameters, a diverse diet, and an appropriate environment to prosper in captivity. Given the right conditions, they can live up to 7 years and make a remarkable addition to suitable aquariums. When picking tank mates, it's essential to choose species that can coexist peacefully with these somewhat territorial fish to maintain a harmonious aquarium community. Breeding Kissing Gouramis can be an exciting venture for aquarists, and an appropriate environment and patient observation are key to success. Overall, Kissing Gouramis are an intriguing and lively species that can bring a unique dynamic to your aquatic display.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the ideal tank size for Kissing Gouramis?

Kissing Gouramis can grow quite large, reaching up to 12 inches in length, so they require a spacious environment. A 50-gallon tank is the minimum recommended size for these fish. The larger the tank, the better, as it will provide them with plenty of space to swim and explore.

How many Kissing Gouramis should be kept together?

Kissing Gouramis are not schooling fish, and due to their territorial nature, it's best to keep them singly or in pairs. A larger tank may accommodate more individuals, but make sure to provide ample space and hiding spots to reduce potential conflicts.

What water parameters do Kissing Gouramis require?

Kissing Gouramis are relatively hardy and adaptable, but they do best in water temperatures between 72°F and 82°F (22°C and 28°C), a pH between 6.0 and 8.0, and moderate water hardness.

What do Kissing Gouramis eat?

Kissing Gouramis are omnivorous, with a preference for vegetable matter. They benefit from a varied diet including high-quality flakes or pellets, supplemented with fresh or blanched vegetables, and occasional protein-rich live or frozen foods.

Are Kissing Gouramis compatible with other fish?

Yes, Kissing Gouramis can coexist with other medium to large, non-aggressive fish species. Ideal tank mates include similar-sized gouramis, barbs, and catfish. However, smaller or slower fish may be stressed by the gourami's active nature.

How long do Kissing Gouramis live?

With proper care and optimal tank conditions, Kissing Gouramis can live for 5 to 7 years.

How do I breed Kissing Gouramis?

Breeding Kissing Gouramis is not typically accomplished in the home aquarium due to their size and specific breeding behaviors. In nature, they are bubble nest builders and require plenty of space and the right conditions to spawn.

Do Kissing Gouramis require a planted tank?

While it's not strictly necessary, a planted tank is highly recommended for Kissing Gouramis. Live plants not only provide hiding spots but also contribute to the overall health of the tank by improving water quality and simulating a natural environment.

Can Kissing Gouramis change color?

Indeed, Kissing Gouramis can undergo color changes as a result of various factors, such as stress, illness, or changes in water conditions. If you notice your Kissing Gouramis experiencing a loss of color, it's crucial to check the water parameters and closely monitor their health.