Dwarf Gourami Quick Care Guide

by Kevin

Dwarf Gourami in a planted tank.

Dwarf Gouramis (Trichogaster lalius) are known for their brilliant colors and curious personalities. Originating from the slow-moving waters of South Asia, these fish add both beauty and tranquility to a tank.

Properly caring for dwarf gouramis means understanding their natural habitat, behavior, and dietary needs.

The goal of this guide is to provide you with a quick overview of what it takes to care for dwarf gouramis. If you decide that dwarf gouramis are the right fish for you, I highly recommend doing some additional research on YouTube to see how other aquarists care for and keep these fish.

Let’s get into it.

1. Tank Setup

Dwarf Gourami in a planted tank.

Minimum Tank Size: A 10-gallon tank is the absolute minimum, but a 20-gallon tank or larger is recommended to provide ample swimming space and to accommodate a small group.

Water Temperature: Maintain a temperature between 77°F and 82°F (25°C to 28°C).

pH Levels: The ideal pH level should range from 6.0 to 7.5.

Water Hardness: Aim for a water hardness between 4 to 10 dGH.

Filtration and Aeration: Use a gentle filtration system to avoid strong currents, as Dwarf Gouramis prefer calm waters.

Aquascaping: Mimic their natural habitat by providing plenty of hiding spots with plants (both live and artificial), driftwood, and caves. Floating plants are particularly appreciated, as they provide shelter and dim the lighting, which helps mimic their natural environment.

2. Diet and Feeding

Dwarf Gouramis are omnivores and require a balanced diet of both plant and animal matter.

Diet:

Offer high-quality flake or pellet food formulated for tropical fish as the base of their diet.

Enhance their diet with frozen or live foods such as brine shrimp, daphnia, and bloodworms. Vegetables like boiled peas (shelled) can also be offered occasionally.

Feeding Schedule:

Feed them small amounts twice a day, only as much as they can consume in 1-2 minutes to avoid overfeeding and water quality issues.

3. Social Behavior and Tank Mates

Dwarf Gouramis are generally peaceful fish but can be territorial, especially males.

Tank Mates:

They do well with other peaceful and small fish species. Good companions include tetras, rasboras, and corydoras. Avoid aggressive species or fin-nippers that could stress or harm them.

Group Dynamics:

Keeping a group can be rewarding, but monitor for aggression between males. A single male with one or two females usually works best in a community setting.

4. Health and Maintenance

Regular Maintenance:

Perform weekly water changes of about 20-30% to maintain water quality.

Test water parameters regularly to ensure they remain within the ideal ranges.

Dwarf Gourami Diseases:

Dwarf gouramis produced through rampant inbreeding are prone to a specific virus called Iridovirus. The virus can be spread to other healthy gouramis in the tank. Watch for signs of illness such as fading colors, lethargy, or loss of appetite and isolate the sick fish in a quarantine tank as soon as possible.

Good tank maintenance and water quality are crucial for prevention.

5. Breeding

Dwarf Gouramis can be bred in captivity if you take the time to learn what they need.

Breeding Tank:

Set up a separate, smaller tank (10-20 gallons) with softer water, a lower water level (about 6 inches), and a temperature slightly higher than the main tank.

Breeding Process:

The male builds a bubble nest at the water surface. After courtship, the female lays eggs, which the male fertilizes and places in the bubble nest.

Post-Spawn Care:

Remove the female immediately after spawning. The male will care for the eggs until they hatch, after which he should also be removed to prevent predation on the fry.

Advanced Care Tips

Surface Access:

Ensure there’s always access to the water surface. Dwarf Gouramis are labyrinth fish, meaning they breathe atmospheric air to supplement their oxygen intake. Unobstructed access to the surface is crucial for their health.

Observation and Behavior:

Spend time observing your Dwarf Gouramis daily. Getting a sense of the normal behavior of your fish will help you quickly identify any changes in behavior or appearance that might indicate stress or health issues.

Pay attention to interactions with tank mates as well, and adjust if you see signs of bullying or stress, which can manifest as hiding, loss of color, or refusal to eat.

Water Quality Management:

Beyond regular water changes, consider using natural methods to improve water quality. Live plants not only enrich the environment for your Gouramis but also help absorb nitrates and other waste products, contributing to a healthier tank.

Use activated carbon in your filter to help remove toxins and odors, but remember to replace it according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Tank Mate Considerations

When choosing tank mates for Dwarf Gouramis, consider not just aggression levels but also water parameter preferences and swimming levels. Fish that occupy different levels of the tank can help prevent territory disputes.

Observing your tank’s dynamics over time allows you to make informed adjustments.

Conclusion

Dwarf Gouramis are full of personality and incredibly fun to keep. If you want a fish that has a similar personality to a betta, impressive colors, and the ability to live peacefully with other community fish, consider getting a dwarf gourami.

Check out my best fish for a 10-gallon tank article for ideas on which fish to keep with a dwarf gourami.

As always, stay zen.

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