If you’re looking for a small-tank, energetic, fun little fish, then you may want to bring some sparkling gourami home. These little fish only grow to be about 1.6 inches long and add a bright splash of pizzazz to whatever space they take up.

They need a fish tank with lots of places to hide, space to swim, and the right tank mates to keep them safe and happy.

These little fish are great for beginners, too.

Quick Intro to Sparkling Gourami

Family: Osphrone midae
Scientific Name: Trichopsis pumila
Other Names: Pygmy gourami
Care Level: Easy

Natural Habitat, Identification, and Where to Buy

These beautiful little fish (they grow up to 1.6 inches) are also known as Pygmy Gourami. They’re a small, tropical freshwater fish that are native to slow-moving rivers, rice fields, and ponds in Southeast Asia, including in Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam. These small fish live to be about 5 years old (when well cared for), and are labyrinth fish.

Labyrinth fish use their unique labyrinth organ as a breathing organ, much the way humans use their lungs. They pull oxygen straight from the air, meaning they often peep up over the water and sit their with their mouths popping open and shut.

They thrive in typical parameters for the gourami, which is standing water, lots of vegetation (i.e. a well-planted tank), low water flow, and clear water. With their labyrinth organ, however, they can do fine in poorly maintained water, which makes them a popular choice for beginner aquarists learning their hobby.

Optimal Water Conditions for Sparkling Gourami

Water Temperature76° F to 82° F
Water Flow Rate: Slow
pH: 6 to 7
Water Hardness: 4-8 KH

Tank Setup

Minimum Tank Size15 gallons
Optimal Tank Size20+ gallon tank
Optimal Tank Shape: Standard rectangular fish tanks are fine for these guys
Recommended Filter Type: Low powered filtration systems that don’t kick up a lot of water flow

Like all fish species, the ideal setup is going to be one that emulates their natural environment. Because sparkling gourami are naturally in stagnant, slow-moving, or “standing” bodies of water (i.e., not rivers), they do well in fish tanks that have low water flow, are heavily planted, and provide them plenty of hiding spots and swimming room.

Because they’re labyrinth fish, they need to have space at the top of their fish tanks for coming to the surface to breathe. They do well in rectangular tanks as long as there’s space above for this surface breathing.

Their natural environment is easy to replicate, with natural-style river rocks, lots of plants, decent (but quiet and low-powered) filtration. They need the water to be kept warm – ideally 77-degrees, though anything between 76 to 82° Fahrenheit degrees works for them – with a hardness of4-8 KH, and pH between 6 and 7.

They do not need super aerated waters, but they do need sufficient tank size. Ideally, they should have a tank of at least 15 gallons, with an additional 10 gallons per each fish after that initial one. We always recommend erring on the side of larger, though, so go for 20+ for the best results every time.

It’s important to perform partial water changes once weekly, as well, to keep their water quality healthy and clean.

Creating the Landscape

While they don’t need it for their health, sparkling gouramis do great with a dark substrate. They appear most brilliantly in this situation, so if you can, you’ll probably appreciate it the most for their homes. The most important thing is that the substrate is safe for small, freshwater fish.

They need heavily planted tanks, which means the lighting needs to suit the needs of the plants. They should also have the lights going for 9 to 10 hours daily. You don’t really need more and don’t want less.

The sparkling gourami is all about hiding places – so provide them plenty of décor in which they can hide. The plants are part of this, but they do well with sunken flower pots (turned on their sides), treated driftwood, PVC pipes, larger rocks with “holes” in them or overhangs, and similar things.

Plants to consider include those that float – offering them additional hiding without hiding them from your point of view – and rooted plants that their tank mates won’t uproot. Some of the best options include hornwort, water wisteria, and larger sword plants. And though they are important, be sure not to overboard on the plants. Too many can cause other problems, like sapping all the nutrients from the water.

Best Plants: Hornwort, water wisteria, Amazon swords, anubias, Red Root Floater, Vallisneria
Best Lighting: Moderate lighting for 9 to 10 hours
Best Decorations: Plants, driftwood, overturned pots, PVC pipes, rocks, dark substrate
Decorations to Avoid: Anything with jagged edges

Physiological Considerations for Sparkling Gourami

Size: 1.6 inches
Lifespan4-5 years
Temperament: Mostly peaceful
Preferred Tank Region: Any region
Scale Thickness: Nothing to note
Gill Considerations:Standard concerns
Swimbladder Considerations: Avoid overfeeding them to help prevent swim bladder issues.
Fin Shape Considerations: Nothing of note

These fish, on average, live for four to five years, if well cared for. This lifespan is fairly common among gourami species. Of course, specific genetics of the given fish will impact their lifespan as well, as well as things like disease infestations or injuries.

Sparkling gourami are beautiful little fish with vibrant coloration and patterns on their tiny bodies. They’re easy to care for, thankfully, too, so they make excellent pets for beginner aquarists. They’re speedy little fish that fly around the aquarium a bit like glittering bullets.

They have long, thin, streamlined bodies, thickest at their ventral fins, with their bodies tapering down to the caudal peduncle quickly from there. Their dorsal fins are tall and thin, angling backward while they swim, while their anal fins are large proportionately to their bodies, and shaped like a shell.

The average sparkling gourami reaches 1.6 inches or slightly less, so they do well in smaller fish tanks.

The fish have elongated bodies, compressed on the sides and towards the tail. Their fins make up about 30% of their body length. They have standing dorsal fins, a small pelvic fin with a threadlike outgrowth, and merged wide anal fins. They have large blue eyes with unique rims.

The fish are typically brown in color, with colorful, iridescent or “sparkling” spots, which gives them their names. Each one has its own unique color pattern, too, so they’re lovely and unique, each one.


Image by Zikamoi on Wikimedia Commons

Despite being non-schooling fish, sparkling gourami do best in small groups of five or six in their aquarium. These fish are fairly peaceful so have compatibility with a number of other species, though they can sometimes be aggressive towards other males. They’re territorial.

These labyrinth fish need to have water surface for breathing, so they tend to surface often to breathe. They don’t actually have a preferred tank region, though, which is surprising with this type of breather.

This species is also sometimes called a croaking gourami because they make croaking or chirping noises, which can be heard from outside the tank, when they’re happy or in the middle of mating.

They need to be kept with only non-aggressive fish, despite being a little aggressive themselves – else they’ll turn into a snack for another fish or wind up extremely stressed. Sparkling gourami tank mates should be about the same size, as well.

They’re very active fish, can be a little bit nippy (they will go after fish with fancy, long fins), so bettas aren’t a good fit for multiple reasons. You should also avoid black tetras and tiger barbs.

Some good tank mates for sparkling gourami include:

Gender, Breeding, and Reproductive Considerations

It is not a secret that breeding fish is far from easy. However, when it comes to breeding sparkling gouramis (like opaline gouramis) at home, it is surprisingly easy compared to other fish. It is important to remember that breeding fish can be hit or miss and a lot of success are determined by planning and proper tank setup.

Part of getting ready for the fish to breed is to adjust the tank so that it like the waters in nature when the fish typically spawn. This will mean increasing the water by 3-5 degrees F and lowering the water level by several inches.

Another way in which you can help your fish be in a more natural setting is by getting several females and a single male to allow the fish to create natural pairs.

Keep in mind when setting up the tank for breeding, if you plan on having more than one male in the tank it is important for there to be more females than males. At a minimum, there needs to be a two-to-one ratio of female to male fish.

In the lead-up to breeding, it is important to provide both fish with plenty of protein. This protein should come in the form of fresh and live food.

When the female fish develops a slightly around abdomen then you know that she is ready for mating.

To breed this fish, the breeding tank must have plants. The plants are important because this fish creates bubble nests as part of the process the bubble nests need plants to hang off. It’s recommended to use a big leafy plant such as Anubias.

The big clue that a pair of fish are close to mating is that the male fish will start to build a bubble nest. The nest itself is constructed from saliva and foam.

After the nest is constructed, the male will do what he can to impress the female. This will lead to a lot of close interaction between the two fish.

Assuming that the male is successful in courting the female, she will release her eggs into the nest. After the eggs are in place the male will fertilize the eggs.

Once this part of the process is done it is important to remove the female fish immediately. This is because this species is not free spawning. The male is known for violently attacking any fish that gets near the nest, including the female he just courted.

After the fry has hatched, the male fish needs to be removed. This is also when feeding the fry needs to begin. The two most common food choices are artemia and plankton.

Nutritional Needs

When in the wild, this fish species mostly targets small insects that either lives in the water or fall into the water along with zooplankton. When kept in a tank, this fish will be happy to eat live and dry food. The fish also likes to eat dry flake foods.

To keep this fish healthy, it is important to have a diverse diet. They can be fed a mix of frozen and live foods such as bloodworms, artemia, daphnia, and shrimp. Very rarely will these fish decide to graze on the plants in the aquarium.

In addition to the frozen and live foods, they are happy to eat freeze-dried foods like daphnia and brine shrimp.

No matter what type of food you choose to feed your Sparkling Gouramis, the important thing is to focus on making sure they get plenty of quality food that is high in protein.

Along with a varied diet, consistent feeding patterns are important for keeping your fish healthy.

Live foods are important for helping the Gourami reach their optimum appearance and size.

One way to tell if your fish is unwell is if it is quiet and not regularly active. This is a good indicator that they need better nutrition. If this is a consistent problem, there are several supplements available that you buy and mix in with the food to help your fish.

Best Sustenance Food Type:A pellet or dry food to act as a base.
Additional Food For Optimal Health: Food with plenty of protein such as bloodworms, daphnia, and artemia. If your fish still seems sluggish you can add supplements to their food.
Special Foods and Considerations for Best Color and Growth:High protein foods
When and How Often to Feed Fish Based on Life Cycle: Feed them twice a day with a moderate amount of food that they can eat within a five-minute window.

Common Diseases and How to Avoid and Treat Them

Sparkling Gouramis are known to be hardy fish that do not need a lot of care. The Gourami do not have any species-specific diseases. This lack of specific diseases makes the fish care less complicated and allows you to focus more on general health instead of ailments.

The typical illness that will affect Gouramis is the ones that affect other freshwater fish. Infections and parasites are the most common illness with Ich being the number one disease.

If your fish has Ich it is important to treat the illness with antibiotics along with doing a complete water change. The way to tell if your fish is developing Ich is that the fish will have white spots all over its body.

The number one way to reduce the odds of your fish coming down with an illness is to monitor the water quality of your tank. Having low-quality water in an aquarium is all but guaranteed to make your fish sick, even among labyrinth fish.

It is important to monitor the water parameter closely. The water needs to be checked at least once a week as well as having at least 25% of the water changed.

This fish is known to be startled by fast-moving water and loud noises. So to help protect their long-term health it is important to place the aquarium in a quiet place.

This fish has needs to have plenty of places to hide to feel safe. Part of this comes from making sure that your aquarium has a lot of plants.  Not having enough plants means that your fish will experience a lot of stress and this stress can lead to your fish jumping out of the aquarium.

Another way to help reduce your fish’s stress is to include decorations. Besides helping to further customize the tank, having the right kind of decorations will help give the fish plenty of places to explore.

Best Antibiotics: Over-the-counter antibiotics.
Treatments to Avoid:There are no treatments to avoid.
Food Recommendations When Sick:A healthy diet with fresh food.
Hospital Tank or Isolation Withing the Community Tank: When these fish become ill, they should be kept in an isolation tank.

5 Facts About Sparkling Gourami

  1. Yes, these fish do sparkle! Though, the sparkle is limited to certain portions of their bodies, not the entirety. They’re a bit like mallard ducks, actually, with primarily brown bodies and colorful spots of iridescent, sparkling shades of green, white, and blue, with other touches of color across their bodies and fins.
  2. Their fins are also a unique aspect of their looks, with light brown of dark orange stripes on the edge.
  3. These gourami are an anabantoid, which a labyrinth fish – meaning they have a labyrinth organ they use for breathing much like we use our lungs.
  4. Sparkling gourami like to rise to the surface for breathing in some fresh air. They do this because of their labyrinth organs.
  5. These fish typically live between two and five years, all depending on the quality of their care.

About The Author

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *