- Scientific Name: Trichogaster lalius
- Synonym: Colisa lalia, Colisa lalius, Colisa unicolor, Polyacanthus lalius, Trichopodus lalius
- Common Names: Dwarf Gourami, Flame Gourami, Powder Blue Gourami, Red Gourami, Sunset Goruami
- Family: Belontiidae
- Origin: Ganges, Jumna, Bramaputra
- Adult Size: 2 inches (5 cm)
- Social: Peaceful
- Lifespan: 4 years
- Tank Level: Top, Mid dweller
- Minimum Tank Size: 5 gallon
- Diet: Omnivore, eats algae
- Breeding: Egglayer - bubblenest
- Care: Intermediate
- pH: 6.0 - 7.5
- Hardness: 4-10°dGH
- Temperature: 72-82°F (22-28°C)
Origin and Distribution
Originating from India, West Bengal, Assam, and Bangladesh, the Dwarf Gourami are native to thickly vegetated waters. They are often found together with other Colisa species. In the river plains of northern India they are one of the most common food fish, and are sold dried or as fish meal in many of the markets.
The common name fits this fish well, as it grows to a size of only two inches at best. Males are slightly larger than the females and have a bright orange-red body with turquoise blue vertical stripes that extend into the fins. The dorsal fin of the male is pointed in contrast to the rounded dorsal of the female. Females remain a duller silvery blue-gray color, never achieving the brilliant colors of the male. Several color hybrids exist, including Blue/Powder Blue), Neon, Rainbow, and Red/Blushing.
Powder Blues are predominately blue with only a little red showing on the body. Neons display a brighter blue pattern than the standard variety. Rainbows have especially brilliant orange-red bodies and blue stripes, in addition to a green-gold metallic sheen. Reds are almost solid red throughout the body, with solid blue dorsal fins.
This species is usually peaceful and can be kept with other peaceful species that are not too large. Brightly colored fish can sometimes cause males to become agressive, as they are percieved as rivals. Peaceful, small schooling fish are suitable, as well as most bottom dwelling fish. Avoid keeping with large and agressive fish.
Dwarf Gouramis are well suited to smaller aquariums, as well as community aquariums due to their peaceful nature. They should not be kept with very large or aggressive fish. Provide plenty of vegetation, including floating plants that cover part of the surface of the water. The optimum pH is in the neutral range, and water hardness should be 4-10 dGH.. The ideal water temperature is 77 F (25 C). Dwarf Gouramis can be skittish when subjected to noise, and should be kept in a quiet location.
In nature Gouramis eat small insects and larvae from the surface of the water, and graze on algae growth on plants. In captivity they will eat flake food, freeze-dried food, frozen foods, and vegetable tablets. To maintain good health, their diet should be supplemented with periodic feedings of live foods such as worms. Live foods should also be used to condition breeder pairs.
Males are generally larger than the females, and more vividly colored. As males reach maturity they develop elongated dorsal and anal fins that come to a point. In females these fins are shorter and rounded.
Lowering the water level to 6-8 inches and raising the water temperature to 28-30 C will trigger spawning. Vegetation is essential, as males build their bubble nest using plant material, which it binds together with bubbles. Nests are very elaborate and sturdy, reaching several inches across and an inch deep. Limnophila aquatica, Riccia fluitans , Ceratopteris thalictroides, and Vesicularia dubyana, are good choices for the breeding tank. Peat fiber may also be offered as building material.
Once the nest had been built the male will begin courting the female, usually in the afternoon or evening. He signals his intentions by swimming around the female with flared fins, attempting to draw her to the nest where he will continue his courting display. If the female accepts the male she will begin swimming in circles with the male beneath the bubblenest. When she is ready to spawn she touches the male on either the back or the tail with her mouth.
Upon this signal the male will embrace the female, turning her first on her side and finally on her back. At this point the female will release approximately five dozen clear eggs, which are immediately fertilized by the male. Most of the eggs will float up into the bubblenest. Eggs that stray are collected by the male and placed in the nest. Once all the eggs are secured in the nest, the pair will spawn again.
If more than one female is present in the breeding tank, the male may spawn with all of them. The spawning sessions will continue for two to four hours, and produce between 300 and 800 eggs. Upon completion, the male will place a fine layer of bubbles beneath the eggs, assuring that they remain in the bubblenest. At this point the female(s) should be removed from the tank.
The male will now take sole responsibility for the eggs, aggressively defending the nest and surrounding territory. In twelve to twenty-four hours the fry will hatch, and continue developing within the protection of the bubblenest. After three days they are sufficiently developed to be free swimming.
The male should be removed from the tank once the fry have left the bubblenest or he may consume the young. Fry should be fed micro-food such as infusoria, rotifers, or commercial fry food for the first week. They can then be fed freshly hatched brine shrimp, and finely ground dry foods.