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FAQs on Anabantoids/Gouramis & Relatives Behavior

Related Articles: Anabantoids/Gouramis & Relatives, Genera Ctenopoma & Microctenopoma, Betta splendens/Siamese Fighting Fish

Related FAQs:  Gouramis 1, Gouramis 2, Gourami Identification, Gourami Compatibility, Gourami Selection, Gourami Systems, Gourami Feeding, Gourami Disease, Gourami Reproduction, Betta splendens/Siamese Fighting Fish,

Jumpy Gourami     7/24/17
I'm back with another question. Thanks for continuing to help all of us with our aquatic challenges! I have a 3-year established, 15-gal column tank with an AquaClear 20 sponge/carbon/bio, housing one 3-spot Gourami, five cherry barbs, and one panda Cory with 3 bandit corys in a QT almost ready to be added. My ammonia and nitrites are zero. I feed flakes and float pellets most nights, a shrimp pellet at lights out every few days, and swap flakes/pellets with freeze dried bloodworm once a week.
<Ahh; do make sure sufficient high protein food is getting to your new and old Corydoras cats on the bottom>
I change the water and swap out one of the media components regularly.
For the past few weeks, my 3-spot has become very jumpy. This is new behavior since I have had her for three years. Whenever I approach the tank, she cowers in the corner and/or darts to a corner. She swims freely and openly at all strata otherwise and looks perfectly healthy. Last night, she literally jumped out of the water in a frenzy when I walked over. I do shower.
Since the behavior has sustained for a few weeks, I suspect something is up. Any ideas on how I can help her? Thanks in advance! -- Matt
<Perhaps adding another Trichogaster trichopterus... there are quite a few "sports" of the 3-spot, blue, gold/en... can be the same sex... Please read here re: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/ttricself.htm
Bob Fenner>
Re: Jumpy Gourami    7/24/17

My apologies, I did not include a salutation in my last email. How rude!
Hello, crew!
<Hey Matt>
<Cheers, BobF>
Re: Jumpy Gourami     7/25/17

Thanks for the fast response. (1) When you mention high protein for the corys, is the sinking shrimp pellet sufficient?
<Is a good start. I would offer other foods as well weekly>
I may increase to two once I add the others but I don't want to overfeed.
(2) I'm leery of adding another 3-spot... I've done combos in the past and one always takes over... I've had this one (female) drive two other females into the ground and then I added a larger male pearl Gourami which tried to mate with this one and then bullied her until he sustained a physical injury chasing her, and died.
<Mmm; well; how about some ditherfish then? Perhaps a small school, five individuals... of peaceful barbs (golds, checkers...), Danios or Rasboras?>
I attributed the cause of this behavior to the limited horizontal space at the top of this vertical tank. What do you think?
<Of a certainty, you are correct here>
Thank you,
<Welcome. BobF>
Re: Jumpy Gourami     7/25/17

Thanks Bob. I already have five cherry barbs in there and actually now that I think about it, two of the males (there are 3 and two females) have mysteriously "developed" nipped dorsal fins.
<Ahh; maybe from each other; perhaps the Gourami>
I would see one occasionally but never two. Wonder if this is part of the equation? Also, what kind of protein do you recommend?
<Hikari and Spectrum sinking pellets of small size are faves. B>
Re: Jumpy Gourami     7/25/17

Thanks Bob. I'll give them a shot and let you know if things progress. I very much appreciate your ideas and responses!
<Cheers Matt. B>

Fast Moonlight gourami      5/7/16
I was wondering if Moonlight gouramis tend to be feisty.
<Is indeed a characteristic of Trichogaster species generally. Not often aggressive, but a little rambunctious at times, though in turn easily bullied by heavy-hitters like cichlids.>
I have a singleton angelfish and one female moonlight. They ignore each other, but I find the Moonlight to really zip around the tank. Are they calmer with others of their own kind, like another female or female Pearl?
<I'm not sure they're social fish, so don't need the company of their own kind to be settled. Singletons can/will do just fine. If you wanted to though, adding two more females would reduce any risk of the present Gourami picking on a single newcomer, and you might find they interact with each other rather than the Angel.>
Thank you
<Most welcome. Neale.>

large snakeskin Gourami turned black and is jumping- help! Crayfish incomp.   10/7/10
I'm so glad I found your site!
I have a tank that I believe is 30 gallon, it might be bigger but not by too, too much.
Anywho, I have had a Pleco for close to 2 years.
<I take it we mean one of those massive species like Pterygoplichthys multiradiatus. My point being that after two years this fish should be 30-45 cm/12-18 inches long, and far too large for 30 gallons. At least one problem will be this. Even if the fish looks fine, it will be producing so much waste that water quality won't be good, and that can stress this and all the other fish in the tank. Such catfish need 55 gallons, minimum. Replace this catfish with a Bristlenose Plec (Ancistrus sp.) if you want something that eats algae. Bristlenose Plecs only get to about 12 cm/5 inches, and they're ideally suited to community tanks.>
He's now close to 10 inches long.
<Oh, somewhat small for its age, which in itself says something about environmental conditions. In any case, still far too large for this tank.>
He was left over from the last batch of fish I had in there and was alone for over a year. I then bought two large snakeskin gouramis (which from really reading about them I wish I hadn't).
<Actually, Trichogaster pectoralis is rather a nice species, but quite big, and yes, the males are mutually antagonistic.>
They got along fine for a while then one started bullying the other one.
<Two males, more than likely. In a 55 gallon tank they'd divide up the tank between them, but your aquarium is a bit small for that.>
Shortly before they started fighting I had purchased a blue lobster (crayfish'¦).
<Repeat after me: Thou shalt not keep Crayfish and Fish in the same aquarium.>
The lobster was small and not a match for the other fish so he found his little cave and just hung out. Well, one day my daughter started screaming and I ran to the tank. One of the gouramis was having some sort of seizure and was violently flipping about the tank until he finally crashed to the bottom.
Took about 2 minutes for it to stop 'breathing' and perish. I had the water tested, changed it out, cleaned the filter, etc. I did everything I could think of to fix whatever caused that, unless it was the other Gourami.
<Hard to say.>
Well, that was about 2 months ago and now my Gourami is really acting up and I'm not sure why. He used to sit and watch me at the computer for hours while I wrote papers for grad school, and would put his feeler up to my finger on the glass and just sit there watching me.
Now, I'm lucky if he'll even stay on that side of the tank if I come over.
<He sounds scared.>
He has started flipping out of the water (it is sealed with a lid).
<Gouramis are "jumpers" when alarmed.>
I checked the tubes to make sure bubbles were still coming in good and it could use a little more, I need to get a new tube but I don't think that's it. I also just noticed how dark he has turned, I mean he's black!
But, right now when I noticed it, he's by the house that the lobster now lives in. The lobster almost never comes out now, but he's a lot bigger than when we got him. Do you know why my Gourami has turned dark and is jumping?
<Could be one of two things. Firstly, he's being attacked by something. Plecs can be "mucous eaters" that latch onto flat-sided fish and hold them down while they scrape away the mucous. Sounds horrible doesn't it? This isn't a common behaviour, but it does happen, particularly when the Plec is starving. Bear in mind that a 10-inch Plec needs A LOT of food. We're talking constant supplies of cucumber, zucchini and sweet potato, together with chunky seafood like prawns and mussels 3-4 nights per week. Likewise, algae wafers should be regularly offered. These fish are massive eaters. Even if the Plec hasn't been successful at getting to the Gourami, the attempts at nighttime would be terrifying. Likewise the crayfish could be trying to catch the Gourami. Crayfish are primarily herbivores which is why you need to feed them green foods every night, but in the confines of an aquarium they will try to catch fish. That would almost never work in the wild, but a crayfish can catch a sleeping fish in an aquarium so much easier. The second reason your Gourami might be stressed is water quality and/or chemistry. As with all fish, zero levels of ammonia and nitrite are crucial. Given the size if your Plec, I'd be surprised if that's the case here. You're also after a steady pH and moderate hardness, in this case around pH 7 with 5-15 degrees dH general hardness.>
He's not trying to mate b/c the other Gourami isn't in there and I can't see him trying to take on that lobster!
<Quite the reverse'¦>
They've had their run ins and the Gourami does have a battle scar every now and then, but nothing ever bad so I'm just not sure what's going on.
<Again, "battle scar" is very alarming and I'd caution you not to trivialize that observation. If fish look damaged, they ARE damaged, and your job is to establish why. Problems in life rarely go away by themselves!>
If it's going to die like the other one did, I need to transfer him so the kids don't have to see it again. Oh, and he's not going from black to gray and back and forth, just staying black.
I just remembered, the Pleco has been barging in on the lobster's house too. It's literally a little cottage that is his cave. He has rearranged all of the rocks, brought in a ton more and just hangs out in there. But the doors and windows are just open so after 2 months of having it, the Pleco has begun to barge in there and do his business. lol
<What do you mean by "his business"? Defecate? Least of your problems. Bear in mind that once this Crayfish moults it'll be Plec food.>
Do you think maybe the Pleco and Gourami are teaming up and are tired of the lobster snapping them?
Sorry if I sound crazy! But I appreciate your help.
Lisa R.
<Get rid of the crayfish and the catfish. Keep the Gourami, and choose some peaceful tankmates, such as Peppered Corydoras, Rasboras, and Bristlenose Plecs that would be suitable for this size tank. All these problems are caused by poor stocking of the tank on your part, and easily fixed by removing the animals that shouldn't be there. Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: large snakeskin Gourami turned black and is jumping- help!  10/8/10
<Repeat after me: Thou shalt not keep Crayfish and Fish in the same aquarium.>
I wish I had known that when I got it!
Oh [the snakeskin Gourami] is awesome! He's so sweet and has such personality!
<<I would agree; although big and not especially colourful, this species is a very nice one in terms of being a pet. Most of the ones captured end up being eaten though. They're a food fish rather than a pet fish.>>
<Gouramis are "jumpers" when alarmed.>
Is that the only time they jump? He seems to do it all the time! He'll be just hanging out on his little bridge (that he claimed), come out and fly up then just sit on the bottom like nothing happened. The first two days of him jumping we thought he was following suit from the other one and was having some sort of seizure-like thing.
<<Mostly they jump when they're unhappy.>>
I will go and test the waters again.
<<Very good.>>
the bridge that the Gourami has claimed used to be the crayfish's cave when it was smaller, so maybe the lobster is trying to keep both caves???
<<Perhaps. Crayfish dig burrows into river banks. Their instinct is to dig and generally move stuff about. One of many reasons why they aren't good additions to community tanks. Fun animals in their own quarters, though.>>
<What do you mean by "his business"? Defecate? Least of your problems. Bear in mind that once this Crayfish moults it'll be Plec food.>
He goes in there and cleans. He is upside down cleaning the inside of the cottage or sucking on the stones. The lobster usually is in the corner but he's so big- could the Pleco really eat him? I know he's not safe when he molts, but he's pretty big'¦
<<Maybe. But a soft crayfish is a seafood dinner. I have seen very large but recently moulted crustaceans taken apart by hungry fish. It's just not worth the risk.>>
Now, how do I get rid of something that my kids just LOVE? I think they would be alright with the crayfish gone, but what do I do with it?
<<Depends on where you live. Here in England at least there's a chain of aquatics stores called Maidenhead Aquatics that will take back even livestock they haven't sold, and will rehome such animals as best they can. There may well be other similarly ethical retailers in your corner of the planet. In the meantime there's a good summary here:
They can be kept safely without any great expense.>>
He's so big I don't know anyone who would take him or who has a tank that he would flourish in. And I surely don't want to just put him out 'to die'!
<<Indeed not.>>
I know pet stores aren't the best source of information for tank stocking, but I have read on fish sites that the Pleco and gouramis get along fine.
<<Usually do. But at the same time this is a very small aquarium, and SOMETHING is rattling your Gourami, and there are only two other animals in the tank. That kind of narrows down the range of possibilities. As I said before, either someone is scaring him, or something in the water is making him stressed.>>
I figured everyone would be alright with the Cray since they were so much larger than him, but I also didn't anticipate him getting so big! (I know I keep referring to all of them as males, but I'm pretty sure they are all males)
<<Oftentimes females are bigger than males. Humans are quite unusual in being the other way around, and in nature the standard thing is for females to be bigger since their part of the reproductive process is harder work. Usually bigger males only evolve in species where males defend multiple females -- lions, elephants, sperm whales, cows, gorillas, and, it would seem, humans.>>
I do appreciate you getting back to me and apologize for so many questions!
<<Always glad to help, and don't worry about asking questions.>>
<<Cheers, Neale.>>
Re: large snakeskin Gourami turned black and is jumping- help!
Ok, so if I am able to find a new home for Thomas (the Cray) but want to keep the Pleco and Gourami, what type of fish can I put in there?
<The Plec is really much too big for this tank. It *will* cause problems and *must* be rehomed, whether in a 55 gallon tank in your house or such a tank elsewhere. But for what it's worth, the best tankmates for Plecs are either fast-moving tetra-type things that they ignore completely, or boisterous cichlids like Firemouths and Blue Acara that can hold their own. But please let me stress that in a tank this small, a Plec will be a stressful companion, like sharing your home with an elephant.>
do they have to be large or can small fish coexist with them at this point?
<Both can work. But avoid slow-moving things with big, flat sides the Plec can latch onto. Discus, Angels, Oscars and things like that tend to be the ones molested by wayward Plecs. There are some Plec species that never do this, including Bristlenose Plecs at the small end and Royal Plecs at the larger, these two species being almost completely herbivorous. But the Common Plec is an omnivore, and when it's hungry, it samples anything in the tank, whether aquarium plant or slow-moving fish.>
I promise I'll leave you alone after this!
<Not an issue. We're happy to help.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Gouramis (Selection; behaviour)   10/14/08 Hello Crew, Hope things are going well for you. I am in the process of setting up a 75 gallon freshwater tank and was thinking of having a Gourami species tank. <Can look very good. Numerous species to choose from, though as always I warn people not to waste their money on Dwarf Gouramis (Colisa lalia) and to be aware than male Three-spot Gouramis (Trichogaster trichopterus) can be extremely aggressive. Do also remember that both these species occur in regional/artificial forms such as Neon Gouramis, Blue Gouramis, Yellow Gouramis, etc. That's why I recommend you use Latin names for a project like this, so you know precisely what species your talking about.> I would like to know which types would get along best together and what the ratio of male to female should be if that matters. <Yes, it does. Most male gouramis are territorial, so if you want to keep multiple specimens, get six or more of each species to "dilute" any aggression, and preferably keep twice as many females as males.> If it does matter, is it easy to tell the males from the females? <Usually very easy. Depends on the species of course in terms of specifics. Among Three-spot Gouramis (Trichogaster trichopterus) males have longer dorsal fins than the females. Moonlight Gouramis (Trichogaster microlepis) are sexed differently, by the fact males have orange pelvic fins rather than white ones. And so on. There are many excellent books on Gouramis and Labyrinth Fish/Anabantids generally, and I would consider purchasing/borrowing one prior to doing anything else essential. There's much information here at WWM as well.> Thank you for your help. James <Cheers, Neale.>

Gourami Behavior -- 07/21/08 Hi and thank you in advance for your help! I have a 20 gal tank with 2 blue Gourami and a dwarf Gourami, they share the tank with a couple small tetras. <Likely too small if you have male Trichogaster trichopterus ; notoriously aggressive and territorial.> I believe I have a male and female blue Gourami and a male dwarf. I think I read somewhere you can tell the sex by the dorsal fin one rounded at the end one not? <Male Trichopterus spp have longer dorsal fins than the females.> anyhow, my dwarf spends his time hiding and I noticed he breathes heavy? I think he is getting bullied by my blue male and am thinking of moving him. <Your diagnosis and solution are correct.> As for my blue Gourami's I noticed that they sometimes meet at the top and are side by side just kind of make their bodies; wave\ripple\flutter not sure what to call; it next to each other, is this some sort of mating behavior? <Correct.> and other times he chases her to the bottom, and other times he just goes up and kind of nips at her <Yep. Entirely in keeping for the species. Trichogaster trichopterus is not a gentle species, so keep an eye out for signs of physical damage.> Any help would be appreciate Sincerely, Angela <Good luck, Neale.>

Re: Gourami Behavior -- 07/21/08 WOW Thank you for getting back with me so quickly and for your help... <Most welcome.> I have another question since they are mating, will she lay eggs in my tank or will I have to move her, and what is best conditions or needed for her to have her eggs? <Males build bubble nests in plants or under pieces of polystyrene cup. Spawning takes place under the nest, with the eggs being placed in the nest. After mating the male VIGOUROUSLY drives the female away (she may well need to be isolated) and the male will guard the eggs until they hatch. The fry become free swimming about one week after hatching, and will need very small foods such as finely powdered "baby fish" flake or home-made infusoria. Remove the father at this point, as he offers no further care and may well eat them. Although the fry are small and easily starve, they are otherwise quite easy to rear provided you give them lots of small meals and remember to keep the water clean. It's perhaps easier to spawn the fish in another 10- or 20-gallon tank, and then remove first the female to the community tank and then the male. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Gourami Behavior -- 07/21/08 Thank you again for your advice! I am going to move them to an isolated tank and see what happens! x Angela <Cool. Good luck, Neale.>

Twitching Gourami - 7/1/08 Hi there. I have a question I hope you can help... FW change induces Gourami beh. <Me too> I've had my red dwarf for about 6 months, and have never had a problem with cleaning the tank, and changing out the water. Yesterday I had to break the tank down again, and change everything due to having TONS of baby snails. Anyway, I changed his water, let it filter, and put him and his tank mates back into the tank. Well today I noticed that he twitches REALLY bad. Its really severe! I added "Aqua safe" to the tank thinking that would help... But, he is still twitching.. I don't know what to do for him. I don't have the heart to flush him! What should I do... <Just wait here... likely something re the change has triggered this... may well subside with time> I have another Gourami in another tank that I've had for 3 years, and his owner before me had him 4 years, I've never had this problem with him.. What have I done wrong?? <Not likely you so much as the "times"... water quality, sanitizer use changes...> NOTE: He's in a 10 gal. tank with 1 Pleco and 1 HUGE apple snail. Thank you for your time! <Patience my friend. This fish has nothing that is "catching". Bob Fenner>

Gourami, ID... beh./comp.   3/6/08 I purchased two Gouramis at the same time. These two Gouramis are pale blue with red tipped tails. <... Trichogaster trichopterus hybrids? Hopefully not Colisa lalia... Please see the Net re...> These Gouramis are calm and peaceful, almost always. They are in a 20 gal tank with many guppies. <Mmmm...> Now the two Gouramis have a session where they both turn Purple and look puffed up as they go after each other. At first I thought that it was a mating dance. Then within 30 minutes of bumping heads they go away from each other. <Is likely reproductive, territorial behavior...> This evening, I saw them both purple, swelled and appear to be biting each others mouth. They stop and one chases the other, then they do the mouth biting thing again. After approx. 20minutes of this they turn back to their regular pale color. I think that they are males, their him thing goes forward, then goes down. Are they safe together? <... need to know what species this is...> Presently, I moved the calmest one to another 25gal tank, to be with my angelfish. He won't hurt my angelfish? <Ah, good move, not likely to hurt the Angel> Kathie M Thanks for a response, what is going on? <... Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/anabantoids.htm and the linked files above... Bob Fenner>

Snakeskin Gourami color & conflict    11/16/07 I was delighted to find your site-- you are a fantastic "crew" & I so appreciate your knowledge and efforts to share it. <Thanks.> Now, my question, which is sort of two queries intertwined. One is about my snakeskin Gouramis changing color, getting very dark, very rapidly (in a matter of seconds) and then returning to normal. <Most fish can change colour. Not something to worry about unduly.> I first noticed this several weeks ago and I wasn't even sure it was actually happening because it would happen so fast. Now, I am certain that it happens, very dramatically, and is clearly associated with conflict (this is Question Part II), though this did not seem to be the case the first several times that I saw it. <The reasons can vary. Aggression is certainly one reason, which fish having "look at me!" and "leave me alone!" colour patterns, for example. Colour also changes with mood, environmental stress, other colours in the aquarium, even the time of day.> Here's the background info: I have had a 55 gal. tank for about 9 months with 3 snakeskin Gouramis, 10 Neons, 2 guppies, 2 glass fish, 5 zebras, 2 dwarf Gouramis, & a 5" plecostomus. The three Gouramis have grown a great deal since I got them, from about 3" to 5". <Snakeskin Gouramis -- Trichogaster pectoralis -- are one of the larger Gouramis. They're not really aquarium fish, but food fish. Wild adults are up to 25 cm/500 grammes when fully grown. Should be okay in your 55 gallon tank though, as they rarely get so large in aquaria.> I have no idea about their sex (all the dorsal fins look the same to me). <Hmm... perhaps all one sex?> They seem to have adopted territories, e.g. for sleeping, but until very recently didn't seem to be protective of their turf. <Ah, depends on breeding condition. Mature males become significantly more aggressive than otherwise.> Everything was wonderful & peaceful until about 3 days ago. Territory has suddenly become an issue, and they all go after each other with wide-open mouths, sometimes locking mouths (looks like the "kissing" kissing Gouramis do, but aggressive), sometimes running into each other's sides trying to bite and pushing each other around. Just now I noticed that a spot near the mouth of one of them seems to be injured. They rapidly turn a dark grey during these encounters (which can go on for quite a while, an hour, maybe more?) and appear sort of flushed, with red visible through the skin at the mouth and gills. Two of them in particular are doing this, though the third one will change color and get involved sometimes too. My theory is that they are maturing (I have been unable to find any photos of mature snakeskin Gouramis) and so beginning to exhibit mature, sexual behaviors. <Agree with your hypothesis here.> My questions are 1) about the color change: what is it about? is it always a sign of something bad/stressful? it's so remarkable, I can't believe that I can't find a bunch of info about it... <Means many different things. Don't worry too much about it, except when associated with other behaviours. A fish with odd colours that refuses to swim in the open and shows little interest in food is likely being bullied. A strongly coloured fish that dominates the tank is likely the dominant male. And so on.> and 2) about the behavior: are the days of my peaceful tank at an end? <Yes.> what do you think I should do? Remove one? Which one? <Removing two fish would be the obvious thing to do. Or else add four or five females, to diffuse the aggression.> Everything I read say that Gouramis should be keep in groups, so what's up with this? <Gouramis aren't schooling fish. They don't care whether they are kept singly or in groups, provided each male has sufficient space for its territory. We're all family with the aggression of male Siamese Fighting Fish -- but that is simply the extreme end of a spectrum of aggression levels.> Should I not have given them so much room & food so as to keep them immature, stunted, and nonaggressive? <Doesn't work like this.> (I originally purchased 5 snakeskins, and gave 2 to my daughter's school, where they are kept in a bare 20 gallon tank and fed much less; these 2 look much the same as they did when they were purchased, while my 3 have grown & changed so much they hardly look like the same kind of fish.) <Trichogaster pectoralis definitely gets bigger in bigger tanks, but this doesn't mean stunting them is a good idea. Sooner or later stunted males would be aggressive towards each other, and in a 20 gallon tank the outcome would be even more violent. So you're dealing with something in the genes, not peculiar to your tank. Those fish may be females, in which case colours will be less bright and growth rate less rapid.> Finally, can you please either reply directly to me via email or send me an email letting me know where, exactly, to find your reply on Wet Web? Thank you so much-- (and feel free to edit my wordy text!) Sarah <Cheers, Neale>

Gouramis weird behavior  8/5/07 My wife came home last week with a surprise birthday present... a 5-gal tank setup, with everything the (supposedly knowledgeable) pet store ppl said she would need, plus 2 Gouramis, which after looking at a lot of online pictures seem like they're blue Gouramis, although they look silver to me. She doesn't know the first thing about fishkeeping, but she knows I am into fish so she spent the 80 bucks on this whole thing, which is an Eclipse hex5 complete aquarium kit, plus gravel, a heater, and a couple of plastic plants. Fine. So I set everything up as carefully as I could, added warm water and conditioner, started the filter going, the temp was in the high 70s, floated the fish in the bag and added them after 45-50 minutes. Temp stays between 77-80 even though heater is only set to 73. Basically, since then they've been exhibiting really weird behavior. First of all, one of them has from the beginning been chasing and nipping at the other one. They alternate between floating at the top, hiding behind the filter intake - or at the bottom behind a plant. When they're not fighting they're usually separate, one in each of the aforementioned locations. They picked-on one looks like its dorsal and tailfins are starting to get ripped. I still have one day left on the return policy. Is the best thing to just let them be; return one (and hope to get some other kind of compatible fish); or return both and start with some other fish? Thanks so much. -Moshe <Hello Moshe, Although the fish you have may well be blue Gouramis -- Trichogaster trichopterus -- this name "blue Gourami" is merely applied to one variety within the species. The natural forms are silvery, brownish, or light blue; the artificial varieties come in bright yellow, lavender, and dark blue. The give-away clue for most varieties is that there are three dark spots on each flank: one spot is the eye, the second is halfway along the body, and the third close to the tail. Right, now, having solved the identity of the fish: heating. Ignore the number of the heater-thermostat. These devices are very simple bi-metallic strips used to cut off the power above a certain temperature. I remember learning about how these worked at school in physics class, and I'm sure you do to. All that happens is above a certain temperature one of the metals in the strip expands further than the other, bending it away from the contacts, breaking the circuit. These devices are very inaccurate. So, if your heater is heating the tank too much, trust the thermometer, and set the heater lower. In summer, I turn my heaters to their minimum settings: the day/night cycle between around 25-18C / 77-64F is absolutely fine for most tropical fish and far closer to the "wild" than the constant temperatures we usually aim for. Second, the fighting: what you describe is 100% normal for Trichogaster trichopterus. Males of this species are mutually antagonistic, and males also tend to be bullies towards any other Gouramis or even Gourami-looking fishes such as small cichlids or Bettas. Males can be identified by their orange (rather than white) pelvic fins (the "feelers") and their dorsal fins (which are longer than those on the females). Thirdly, fin damage should be treated *on sight* with anti-Finrot/fungus medication pre-emptively. Failing to do this often leads to Finrot and fungus, and once you start having sick fish, the hobby becomes a lot less fun. Finally, you have a 5 gallon tank. I assume 5 US gallons, but 5 Imperial gallons would make any difference to this comment either: Your tank is FAR TOO SMALL for anything much, let alone a pair of Gouramis. With respect to your wife who doubtless was trying to buy you a nice, fun present -- there's nothing more difficult in this hobby than trying to make a stable aquarium in 5 gallons. It's too small. Conditions easily slip from safe to dangerous, and very, very few fish are inactive and small enough to be content in such tiny living quarters. Thing about it, 5 gallons is the size of a bucket. Can you imagine many fishes living in such a small "pond" in the wild? At best, you could keep a few gobies and shrimps. Gobies are small (most around an inch) and don't stray far from their chosen cave (like a seashell). Bumblebee gobies (Brachygobius spp.) are the most popular gobies in the hobby, though they will not eat flake and so come under the heading of "fish for semi-experienced hobbyists" in all fairness. On the shrimp front, there are these darling little cherry shrimps (Neocaridina denticulata sinensis) that are bright red and very easy to breed, and kept on their own with a few aquarium plants can make enchanting pets. But other small things like guppies or Neons won't be happy in a 5 gallon tank, whatever your pet store tells you. Now, if you ask me why do pet shops sell tanks for $80 that can't be used to keep fish, the answer is simple -- people buy them as impulse presents or without knowing anything else about the hobby. But 99 times out of a 100, these 5 gallon tanks end up sinking into a morass of dead fish and bad water, and the would-be hobbyist gives up. So, anyway, I hope this helps. Cheers, Neale>

Paradise fish, beh., comp.   2/28/07 Hello Crew, <Jessica> I have a 30gal freshwater tank that's been empty save for a pair of bristle nose Plecos for about two months. Firstly, to insure it was well cycled (I made that mistake with my previous 10gal and it was rather horrible), and also just because I haven't been having much luck getting any other fish. Anyway, I recently (about a week ago) got a Paradise fish who after quarantining is now with the Plecos (introduced two days ago). My first question is that he's kind of... Hyper, I suppose. All he seems to do is pace back and forth along the glass really quickly. I'm not sure that he's eating either, because he's too busy flying around to pay attention when I put food in. I've seen him eating some of the Plecos algae wafer, but that's about it. Is this normal behavior for a Paradise fish? Or is something wrong with him/the tank? <Is likely normal... this fish is probably seeing its reflection... reacting to such... will greatly calm down with the addition of tankmates...> All water levels (ammonia, nitrate, nitrite, etc.) are as they should be. Also, I have a Opaline Gourami and a school of Harlequin Rasboras in quarantine right now, and I've been reading some worrisome stories about Paradise fish consuming smaller fish. <These will all be fine together> The Opaline doesn't bother the Rasboras at all in the QT tank, so I'm not too worried about him being aggressive (until he get's larger anyway) towards the smaller fish, and I feel like he's big enough and 3in right now) to defend himself from the Paradise. Do you think my Rasboras will be ok with the Paradise? <Yes> They're a little on the small side right now as well, I'd say they're about an inch or slightly larger not yet two inches, but it's hard to tell since they're fast and hard to get a good look at. The tank is well planted with plenty of hiding spots, but I'd rather know now before I put them in and find out. Thanks for you help, Jess <I think you will have a very nice display here. Bob Fenner>

My Flame Gourami, beh.    1/27/07 I have a 12 gallon fish tank with 8 fish inside. For the past three days I have been experiencing an unusual behavior of my female and male Gouramis. I got them both at fish man center about a month ago. The male would proudly be in the center of the tank and the female would swim peacefully around. This three days their relationship changed. Now my male is hiding behind the cave and sometimes in the cave. If he comes out the female quickly chases him away. <Somehow this sounds all too familiar...> I do not see any nipping, I just see chasing. He seems to be scared. Than he is behind the cave I do not really see him, but in the cave it seems like he is in a sitting position. I checked all my chemicals in the tank. All looks normal. I do not know what has changed. I need help. Any ideas why this sudden change? <Not atypical behavior for Gouramis period... and if the other fishes aren't too large, not likely to become real trouble here in your twelve gallon system. I'd just keep an eye on them for signs of apparent damage. Bob Fenner>

Gourami  and Angel comp.  11/20/06 Hi, I have a 80 ltr tank with 2 three spotted Gourami, 4 silver tip tetra, 2 angel fish and 2 sucker loaches. I noticed yesterday that one of my Gourami has lost its spots and turned really dark and hiding away behind the plants, at first the other one was fine but now it has changed colour and is hiding away too. I added the 2 angel fish on Thursday night. <Ahh, likely related events. The Gouramis feel "intimidated" by these new fish> I had the water tested by a local pet store it was all fine apart from the Ph level was slightly low so they told me to do a 30% water change which I have but they are still acting the same. Could you help? Thanks, Hayley <Mmm, it may be that you'll have to separate the angels and Gouramis... as long as both are eating, I would leave them as is and hope that they learn to get along, otherwise... Bob Fenner>

Aggressive Gouramis - 10/21/2006 I have a question about my snake skin Gouramis. I have two of them, and for about two months they didn't ever really mess with each other or fight at all. One day I noticed that one of the Gourami's fins wasn't as big as it used to be. At first I thought it was just fin rot so I treated it with some MelaFix. The fins grew back within a week or two and it was fine. Then just recently, I noticed them fighting (biting each others fins off and knocking each other into the wall or onto the bottom of the aquarium. While they are doing this, they turn really dark, blackish colors. Is there anything I can do to prevent this? It seems like they are really hurting each other pretty bad. My nitrate, ammonia, nitrite, pH, temp levels are all right on what they are supposed to be according to my test strips. Any advice would be appreciated. My setup: 10gal tank Live Plants 2 neon tetras 1 Plecostomus 1 red claw crab 2 snake skin Gourami Josh <Sounds like you have two evenly matched males. If so you will probably have to remove one. It's possible more hiding places will help, but doubtful. As to the rest of your stock list, if that Pleco is a Common he will need a much larger tank. They can hit a foot or more. I would also find a new home for the crab. It will need salt water at some point to thrive. Don>

Gourami Needs A Boost  - 10/13/06 Hello there! I've had my 10 gallon tank with two Gouramis for about a month and a half. I made sure to use a water purifier and a Stress Zyme. Both fish were playful and very active. They picked on each other some, but for the most part, they were just happy fish. Four days ago I noticed that the more aggressive fish, Rumpelstilksen, was being lethargic--hanging out in the same spot all day. I thought it was weird, but assumed he was just resting or something. A day later I purchased two new fish, a blue coral Gourami and some kind of dwarf catfish. Everyone seemed to get along fine but I noticed that Rumpy was still acting funny. He's been hiding out and today he didn't move at all! He does come up to eat, but seems to have a hard time actually getting anything--and I've noticed that he'll take something in and spit it back out too. I came home today and caught him leaning against the glass at the bottom of the tank, not moving his fins at all. I tapped on the glass and he perked up, but when right back into position. The catfish came over and gave him a boost, he got right under him and pushed him up to the middle of the tank, almost like making him go for a swim. When Rumpy departed back to his resting place, the catfish head butted him some, and seemed like he was attacking him. It does seem like he's sick or stressed, so I took him out with some of the fish water and put him in another big bowl. I put the live plant he was hiding with in too, and some of the gravel. After reading the other entries, I realize that Rumpy has been pooping long white strings-- but I thought that was normal, because he's done that ever since I got him. But now that I think about it, none of the other fish have done that at all. So anyways, he's having a hard time eating, being anti social, and not moving really at all. Can you help us keep Rumpelstilksen alive? It's the first fish my boyfriend has ever named, and he will be devastated to lose him so soon. Cheers! Rachel <Check the nitrates. You did not mention your water quality parameters so we will assume that they are bad. Start off by doing a 50% water change and check the water temp. Gouramis like it warm so raise the water to 82 F. Feed them once a day and only enough food so that all of it is gone in two minutes. See if this helps.-Chuck>

Dwarf Gourami beh.   9/21/06 Hi there, I have am fairly new to the fish keeping hobby so bear with me. I have a 90l Aqua one (620) fish tank that has been set up for about a month now. I have planted this fairly heavily but haven't yet upgraded the lighting (currently 2 18 watt light units) <Low intensity> currently I have in it 3 Zebra Danios, 3 leopard Corydoras and... the problem: I also have 2 dwarf honey Gouramis they are both bright orange so I assume they are males, the smaller of the two keeps chasing the other around the tank although I cant actually see any damage to either fish yet. <Yes, typical> Is there some way of stopping this and is it going to stress the chased fish?   <Mmm, in this sized system... either to remove one, or add females> I would really like to keep them both but if its going to be detrimental to the fishes health I would rather take one back to the shop, assuming they will take it back. I have read somewhere on the net that if I were to get something like tetras it may calm them down is this likely and how many would fit with my other fish? <Possibly... though the Danios serve the same "ditherfish" function> Thanks in advance of your assistance. <Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Strange Gourami color   8/19/06 Hi to all from sunny and hot central Florida!  I have a strange situation here that I would like to ask a question about, if I may.  I have a 75 gallon tank that the occupants have played well and thrived for quite some time now.  The newest fish in the tank are about 6 months old.  The tank is heavily "planted" with silk plants and 2 beautiful pieces of driftwood (which is well cured and doesn't stain the water or affect the pH) <This is well-cured!> and a sand substrate.  The tank has a mixture of Gouramis, rainbowfish, angels, assorted cleaning crew and others, in other words, a peaceful community tank.  Recently, one of our Blue Paradise Gouramis disappeared, <Mmm, may have jumped out...> and at the same time, the other male has gone strange in his color. <Could be "psychological"... would be more colorful with another male present>   It literally looks like he was picked up by the tail and dunked into a container of bleach. The front half of the fish is light and the back half is darker than normal with a very sharp line dividing the colors.  The tank parameters are 0ppm ammonia, 0ppm nitrItes and 10ppm nitrAtes.  PH is 8 <Mmm, a bit high...> and Alk is 12dkh.  We have been set at this pH and Alk since February when we bought our RO/DI system and started making our own water.  We also keep African cichlids so we use the same water for our 2 cichlid tanks <Ahh... would be better to add more RO, less tap to set the pH and alkalinity a bit lower in the first tank> and the community tank as we have limited space to store water.  The Gourami is swimming normally, has no growths of any kind visible and eats more like a piranha than a Gourami.  He has raised welts on my arm when I have cleaned the tank in the past, thinking I am a food source instead of a source of food <g>.  We have checked on the internet and spoke to our LFS, where there are actually people who know about fish, <Heeee! Sometimes hide there...> and the best response is that if the fish is swimming and eating normally, don't worry about it. I was wondering if anyone could shed some light on this perplexing situation.  Have a great day and keep up the good work! Michelle <I would lower the pH down to about 7.5... maybe add another male Macropodus... Bob Fenner>

Gourami Odd Behavior Question   8/4/06 I have read the FAQ on Gouramis and did not see this on there.  I have a 20g tank.      2 Gold Gouramis (1m, 1f)   1 Festivum   1 Bristlenose   1 Cory   1 Chinese Algae Eater <Keep your eye on this fish... for signs of overt aggression>   3 Serpae Tetras   2 Dalmatian Mollies      The tank is established and has been running for just over a year.  The newest fish being the algae eater which was added about 3 months ago.  The Ph is low <"How low can you go?"> and I have been working to increase this. <How?>   I had a water flea problem <...? from?> which the LFS had given me a product containing copper (No inverts in the tank so they gave me the ok). <Not safe, practical... look to a/the root cause/s here and solve them>   This corrected the problem about 3+ weeks ago.  Maybe 4 days after putting this into the tank Gouramis began their odd behavior (Do not know if this is a coincidence and if this medication lowered the Ph and if the Ph triggered the behavior)      THE BEHAVIOR      The female Gourami has always been larger than the male.  The first few months in the tank she always chased him. <Typical>   The last few months they have left each other alone.  The behavior had changed when the Gouramis now line up across the tank and charged one another.  Their mouths would be open and hit each other and they seem to swim into each other but I can not tell if they are nipping each others mouths or what.  Seems like they are aggressively kissing each other.  I had left one day only to return to find the female stuck in some decor and I had to injure her to get her out.  I had separated the two with a mesh net in the tank. they would swim next to each other on opposites sides of the net.  I removed the net after about 15 days because she seemed to really want to get out.  He began chasing her immediately  nipping her fins and that has subsided and they are back to charging each other head on.  This may go on for only a couple times and actually last night they continuously did this for about 30minutes.       What does the charging mean? <Behavior... aggression, territoriality, trying/testing each other out for "reproductive fitness">   Are they just attacking each other?  Every other fish is acting normal and never cause any problems.  I appreciate any insight you may have on this.  Thank you.      Samson <Could be that the copper, pH, other environmental changes have acted synergistically to bring on, enhance this agonistic behavior. You did the right thing by separating the two with the mesh netting... May have to be permanently moved... Would be better off, less behavioral anomaly in a larger setting. Bob Fenner>

Pink Kisser, Damaging Lips?  7/22/06 <Hi Matt, it's Pufferpunk again> Hey, sorry I email you guys and gals so much but I seem to have unique tank problems from time to time.  First I would like to say I am only 14 (I did not see any relevance before, however I do now) yet I am the caretaker of my families fish tank, therefore I have little control of what goes in/what comes out simply because my parents pay for everything.  It even took me some time to get them to get the Bio-Spira.   <You're doing a fine job!> Anyway, as I stated previously our Pink Kissing Gourami was aggressive, he/she had become considerably less mean.  Lately though, I have seen him/her repeatedly "kissing" my Striped Peacock Eel, the kisser is fed PLENTY so he/she isn't going hungry.  So I guess I'm asking, are a Pink Kisser's lips damaging to eels like a plecostomus might be?  I don't want anything happening to Gonzo (my eel) as he is my obvious favorite--he even eats from my hands now :-).  The kisser is about 2.5 - 3 inches if it matters. <When a kisser "kisses" it is actually a sign of aggression, not affection.  Any fish that stresses out another fish is bad.  You could try telling your parents they grow to a foot long, maybe they'll return it.  ~PP> Thanks in advance again, Matt  

Gourami Gender Mix & Match   7/12/06 Good day, sir and/or madam - <BobF this go> I apologize if this question has already been answered. I browsed through your FAQ's on Gouramis, and used the Google tool, but the sheer volume of information there and my own lack of familiarity with aquarium parlance foiled my efforts at finding any previous answer. <No worries> I am in the process of stocking a fifty gallon aquarium, and have never kept Gouramis before. I already have two young Trichogaster trichopterus (Gold variant) females, since females seems to be all that are available in the area, <Interesting... likely males just sold out for the time being... they're a bit "prettier"...> but I was hoping to add at least four more Gouramis. Namely, two Trichogaster leeri, Pearl Gouramis, one of each gender, and two Trichogaster microlepis, Moonlight Gouramis, one of each gender. I don't plan on breeding, but I like the aesthetic differences between the males and females. If I can find one, I'm also tempted to get a third Three-Spot Gold, a male. <A good idea> I am given to understand that keeping multiple male Gouramis together with that few females would be a problem, but all of the references I've seen indicate numbers for a single type; for example, three male Three-Spots is a good number to seven females. <Yes... a general rule...> Does this hold true for different Gourami species, and if not, would one of each gender be advisable? <Does hold... given sufficient room/space, which you have here. There may be the occasional chase, nipping, but all these Trichogaster spp. should get along> Also in the tank currently are a young three-inch 'Glyptoperichthys gibbiceps L083, Sailfin Pleco' (There's already a pond lined up for her to go live in when she gets too big for the tank), and a female 'Crowntail Betta Splendens'. I was a bit concerned about how the Gouramis would get along with the Betta, but as soon as she went into the tank she stood up to them, and since then they've gotten along quite well. I am considering adding two more female Bettas, and when my Gibby outgrows the tank, getting a 'Baryancistrus sp. L018, Gold Nugget Pleco' <Neat> . I've found conflicting information on the maximum size of the Gold Nuggets, but know another lonely Koi pond that would be perfect for it if it outgrows my tank. Would that number and size of fish overload the tank? <Should be fine... make sure the pond is warm enough for these species of Loricariids... during winter> I was a bit concerned the first time I saw the more passive (to my surprise, the larger) of the two Gouramis do a headstand and hold it at the top of the tank, thinking it was getting sick. However, after close observation I've concluded that this must be a form of submissive behavior. The dominant Gourami circles, the passive turns vertical nose-down and holds in place while the dominant nibbles at her - not biting, and without any damage. <Yes, good observation> I've also seen the passive Gourami do this headstand when the Betta was feeling pressured and flared at her, after which the Betta promptly subsided, circled a few times, and they were friends again. I mention this because when I first saw her standing on her head, I spent two hours searching the internet for an explanation, and came up empty. I must say, these Three-Spot Golds have certainly endeared Gouramis to me. After just a few days of being shy and hiding when I first got them, they now come to the front of the tank, even when they don't want food, whenever I walk up to it. I was surprised to read that some people consider them timid - mine are very social, and will happily nibble my fingers after less than a month in my home. <Mostly a matter of a decent-sized world...> However, now I've rambled on when I only meant to ask that one question, so I'll draw this to a close. Thank you for taking the time to read, and, if you can, respond. Please have a delightful day. ~ Cassandra <Thank you for writing, sharing. Bob Fenner>

Gouramis... sys., beh. Hey crew! First&give advice. My tank 10 gallon Ph 7.2 ammonia 0 Fish 4 Cory cats 4 zebra Danios 3 paradise Gouramis 1m 2f 2 blue 3 spot 1m 1f 2 golden 2m <Your tank is too small for these...> 1 Pleco <And most species of this> lots of plants and hidey holes  My <You will> Ally <Mmm, hopefully this is just a temporary behavior anomaly. Trichogaster Gouramis do have a tendency toward such when young. You're going to need at least a thirty or so gallon system for the fish species you list. Bob Fenner>

Gourami Complaints - Escape Behaviour - 04/11/2006 Ok here goes nothing. <Mm, more like something, really.> My 2 powder blue Gouramis just died. <So sorry to hear this!  Have you determined why as yet?> Now I have a gold Gourami trying to jump out of the aquarium and a moonlight who darts all over the place and then swims straight down to the bottom with his nose first and then darts right back to the top. The moonlight is showing signs of Ick <You must treat this, and quickly....   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwich.htm > but she also has a black spot near her tail fin. What could this possibly be? <The black spot may also be from the ich; fish will sometimes get darker spots near wounds or where parasites are.  It may also be an ammonia burn, or something else entirely.  Impossible to say without seeing the fish or having a much more in-depth description.> Just to let you know my new live plants are all brown and shredded at the bottom of the tank if this can give you a clue to what is going on. <Some insight, yes.  The behaviour your Gourami are exhibiting is an "escape" behaviour - trying to get out to "better" water.  You really, really need to test for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate immediately.  Ammonia and nitrite must be ZERO, nitrate less than 20ppm.  If any of these values are "off", it can cause the behaviours you are seeing and ultimately kill your fish.  If these values are all correct, then it may be possible that some toxin has entered the tank.  In either case, bad water quality or toxins in the water, to fix this, do large water changes right away to try to get the water back to normal.  Good water quality is urgent, here, and may fix all of your problems (aside from the ich).> Please help, thanks. <All the best to you,  -Sabrina>

Dwarf Gourami Pacing? Behavior    3/31/06 Hi, I hope you can help with my odd Gourami. <Me too> I purchased a male powder blue dwarf Gourami a few days ago.  My tank is new, but I am not new to freshwater tanks.  The Gourami is behaving in a way I've never seen a fish behave.  I guess you could call it pacing.  He swims left and right or up and down almost constantly.  He isn't swimming at top speed, but pretty close.  Is this normal for his species? <Can be under certain circumstances... is a social species, genus (Lalia)... and is often mal-affected by being in "too-new" circumstances> The Gourami is the only fish in the tank, but I do have a handful of grass shrimp (Palaemonetes spp.) which I have been keeping for a behavioral research project.  My tank has almost finished cycling, so I though it would be safe to add him. <Not... needs to be completely cycled> At first he hid in the plants, which is normal for a new fish, but then he started pacing.  I figured he would stop, but it has been a few days and it has continued.   I chose him because he's supposed to be mild tempered and would spend most of his time near the top and middle of the tank away from the shrimp.  Unfortunately, his neurotic behavior has not been limited to those levels and he has been pacing at the bottom of the tank in addition to the top and middle.  This spooks the smaller shrimp and sometimes he even knocks over the more tenacious shrimp.  Most of the shrimp have resolved to avoid him and hid, but they still meet at feeding time. I isolated the Gourami in a smaller tank with better water conditions a few hours ago to see if the little bit of nitrite left in my tank was the problem.  He seemed happy for about half an hour, then he went back to racing around the tank. <Blood chemistry is opted... takes weeks to re-adjust, make new hemocytes> He has a manly apatite <Appetite, the other's a mineral> and looks totally healthy aside from the manic pacing.  I put his bag in a little cooler for warmth on the way home and went through the acclimation process, so I don't think it could be shock stress.  I didn't notice this behavior at the LFS when I bought him, so I was wondering if his problem is that he needs another dwarf Gourami as a companion?   <This would help... when the system they're to be in is cycled> I've read the material on your website about Gourami behavior, but I'm still worried.  Ideally, the second fish would settle the first one down a little, but I don't know of any local store that carries females. <Ask around... they are available>   I'm worried that the addition of another male dwarf Gourami might result in aggression toward one another or teamed aggression toward the shrimp. <Might, but doubtful... if all one sex, not generally a worry> Thanks so much for your help, Sarah <Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Gourami beh., rhizomous plants, asteroid nutrition...  - 03/11/2006 Hello!  I've got just a few questions for you that I've been collecting for a while now. <Okay> How do I get a plant with a rhizome, like Anubias nana, to attach and grow on a piece of bogwood? <Best to find a bit of a notched area, tie the rhizome firmly to this with a bit of thread or light fishing line... it will adhere in time> How do I test for water hardness? <Mmm, most easily with a "aquarium" type colorimetric test kit... these are made... for GH, KH by many companies...> Can you suggest some small plants to put in the front of the tank that will survive in hard water? <Yes... there are members of the genus Sagittaria that are excellent here... and others... posted, labeled for use on WWM> (this is a guess here, I'm just assuming my water is hard) My dwarf (sunset?) Gourami has not been eating and is hiding in the corner behind a piece of wood.  Now that I think of it I don't ever remember him (or her) eating in the month or two that I've had him.  I've tried both flake food and frozen brine shrimp.  Sometimes he comes out, but the other fish aren't picking on him, so I don't know why he hides (he did not hide right after I bought him, it's been recently).  Do you think he's sick, and if so with what and what should I do? <Mmm, likely "just" normal behavior. Is a shy, retiring species... does best in a grouping (in large enough setting) of its species> How do I know if my starfish is eating?  I don't feed him specifically but I've read on this site that I should. <Depends on species. The best indication of health is active behavior... that the animal is moving about daily... Again, some species of Asteroids are predaceous... need to/eat large food items... others lean to being more detritivorous...> I don't know what kind of starfish I have so are there any general foods that can be fed to any starfish? <Unfortunately no> I siphon the gravel in my freshwater tank for dirt, should I do this to the saltwater tank too? <Likely so> I'm thinking no, but is there anything I'm supposed to do to keep it clean besides a water change? <... please see Marine Maintenance on WWM> I've been trying to give my fish a varied diet, but all my snakeskin Gourami will eat is flake foods.  I've tried feeding him peas and brine shrimp but all he touches are flakes!  Is a varied diet strictly necessary? <Not necessarily. There are some complete nutrition prepared foods on the market. The "Spectrum" brand is one of these> Sorry I've got some many questions, but they've been on my mind a while.   The people at my LFS aren't too helpful and books/internet articles don't answer everything.  Thanks for the help! *Kim* <Retain that open, inquisitive mind Kim... is valuable. Bob Fenner>

Gourami Drama   3/3/06 Hi Guys, <And gals...> I added 4 female Gouramis to a 29 gallon tank with 3 existing male Gouramis to try and cut down on the aggression. <Of what species?> Now it seems like 2 of the females are aggressive to everyone and my 2 male powder blues <Oh, Colisa lalia> are always at the bottom of the tank hiding. Does this make sense to you? <Mmm, yep. Happens> Also what should the ph reading be? The ph is about 7.4 now. <This is fine... close enough. Would be better near neutral to slightly acidic, but more likely more trouble/chance than worth changing... Have you read the Gourami/Anabantoid materials archived on WWM? Bob Fenner> Thanks! Jennifer Groenendaal

Inactive Fish, Gourami beh.  - 2/21/2006 Hello!  I have a 20 gal tank with 4 guppies, 2 leopard Corys, 2 Plecos, a snakeskin Gourami, and 3 dwarf Gouramis.  The Corys and guppies swim around happily, but it's a different case with the Gouramis.  It's not that they hide in a corner or lay on the bottom of the tank or anything like that, it's that they don't really do anything.  They swim a little but most of the time they just sit there and float. <Typical behavior for these species... especially where crowded as they are here> My snakeskin Gourami used to swim around a lot right after I would change the water, when he was alone in a 10 gal tank.  This tank is relatively new though, and the water is clean, so why doesn't he swim?  I have a golden Gourami in another tank that is always swimming.  Why is it different for these Gouramis, and is there anything I can do to get them to be a little livelier?  Thanks for the help! ~ Kim <Mmm, you could raise the temperature a bit (to the upper 70's due to the guppies presence), add some (more) live plants... but the best would be to have a larger system. Bob Fenner>

Single Gourami   2/8/06 Good Morning~ Thanks for you response...I have a follow up question. I purchased a dwarf flame honey Gourami and after about a week I put them together in the same tank . I know that this was too soon, but I was getting more worried about the female as she had stopped eating and was spending most of the time on the bottom of the tank. (he's looking very good & is active) They are in a 12 gal.. only them) tested last week with: 0 ammonia 0 nitrite 5.0 nitrate (I did a 1/4  water change yesterday to see if that would make any difference) She does swim around on occasion, but now that they are together she is mainly hiding out behind the filter at the top of the tank. My theory is that before the male Gourami got sick he was almost constantly making bubbles...and I wondering if they were getting ready to mate....would she be left with the eggs & no means to get rid of them without him being there? <Not generally... most times finds this material being resorbed...> Her fins all are moving & scales look okay. Thanks for any ideas/input you can provide, Judy <Allow a bit more time to go by... a few weeks. Bob Fenner> Gourami behaviour  - 1/30/2006 Hi Guys One of my blue Gourami is swimming back and forth as described by Sabrina in her query on your webpage dated 10/26/2005. I have had a good look at him and there doesn't appear to be any physical damage, he has a healthy appetite (feeding as normal i.e. with some gusto) but I have noticed he is not so good at "sparring" with my other three-spot as usual (they like to have a quick scrap after feeding though they are generally peaceful). You suggested to Sabrina to remove her fish to quarantine as you thought it sounded like it had been damaged but do you have any further advice for treating the fish to "cure" its problem? Many thanks in advance for any help you can give me. Steven <Mmm, in almost all cases, unless a system is very large (for this species more than one hundred gallons), there will be "dominance" effects in stocking more than one Gourami... with the alpha fish being more outgoing. Sometimes this escalates to real trouble... and removing or isolating the larger, more aggressive one can aid in reducing damage potential. Bob Fenner>

Re: Gourami behaviour   2/1/06 Thanks for this chaps, Since sending my query I have given the tank a really good clean and carried out a 30% water change (the second in two weeks so altogether a 60% change) as well as ensuring the water quality is as good as it can be. This seems to have cheered the affected fish up and he appears to have stopped the weird movements so perhaps he was feeling a little out of sorts and the water change perked him up. Steven    <Assuredly a factor. Thank you for the follow-up. Bob Fenner>

Gourami Aggression 1/25/2006 Dear WWM Crew, <<Good afternoon, Ron.>> I currently have 2 small gold Gouramis in a 39-gallon hexagon quarantine tank. <<Ahh, it sure is nice to hear that word 'quarantine' ;).>> They are the only 2 fish in the tank.  I am noticing some aggression with the larger one chasing the smaller one on a somewhat frequent basis. <<Common.>> Once the quarantine period is over, I will be moving them to a 75-gallon tank that has 4 large angelfish and a school of giant Danios.  I also plan to add some clown loaches and rainbow fish down the road.  My question is do you think that the Gourami aggression will lessen once they are in the bigger tank with other tank mates? <<Quite possible.  Is it just chasing? Or is it more aggressive, like biting?>> Should I just play it safe and return the aggressive one? <Depends on the level of aggression, but I would be inclined to wait it out.>> Would adding another help any? <<It could, or could make it worse.  I would just keep a close eye on the two you have, and be prepared to separate if necessary.>> I look forward to your thoughts. Thanks as always for your help.  Ron <<Glad to help.  Lisa.>> Mean Dwarf Gouramis  12/24/05 Hello crew I have loved reading the website and it is very helpful for setting up my tank.  My Questions is my dwarf Gouramis are fighting and was wondering what I can do to stop them before they tear each other up.  My tank is 30 gallons with 4 dwarf Gouramis and 3 Otocinclus.  I have lots of rocks and plants. The Gouramis are seem very territorial and one just swims around nipping at the others. < If all you Gouramis are colored up then they are males. Males are usually very territorial because they are looking to set up an area to attract a female to breed. Cool the water temperature down slowly until they no longer are in a breeding mode.-Chuck>

Gourami Males Squaring Off  12/5/05 Thank you for doing a great job answering questions from people! I find most of my questions answered in the FAQ. However, I would like to ask about this behaviour of my two Gouramis.  I have a Red Flame Dwarf Gourami and a Blue Dwarf Gourami. Both are male. At least that is what the pet store label them as. The Blue Gourami started chasing the Red Gourami around for the first few days. Then the red Gourami does that the next few days. Last night, I realized that they started to do some sort of dance with each other. The front of one Gourami to the tail of the other Gourami. They flip their tail onto each other for a few seconds. Then they both release very small bubbles to the surface.  Logic tells me they can't be mating since both are male. What do you think they are up to? It would be interesting to know. Thanks and keep up the good work!  Hsu < Your two male dwarf Gouramis are establishing a pecking order. What you are describing is each fish challenging the other for dominance.-Chuck>

Dwarf Gourami - do they eat hair/green algae 11/4/05 <They will eat some algae.... not all. "Hair" algae are not likely to be eaten by them.> and do they jump out of tanks?  <Any fish can jump out of a tank.> Regards, -Pradeep Chakravarthy <-Sabrina>

Gourami Behaviour - Injury? - 10/26/2005 Dear WWM, <Sabrina with you, today.> Can you tell me what is happening with my Gourami? <We can try.> It started swimming like this this afternoon. It stays in a spot and then starts swimming back and forth in a kind of static motion (I've attached a small video of it to this email). <I see.... If an image is worth a thousand words, a video is worth 10,000. Thank you for this.> Do you think it might be trying to attract the attention of one of the other Gouramis (have got three of them)? <Mm, I don't think so. If this behaviour is constant, I fear there may be something wrong.> Do you think it may be sick?  <Perhaps injured.> I've checked the pH of the tank and it's around 7.5 and the temperature 27c.  <Ammonia? Nitrite? Nitrate? Test, and maintain ammonia and nitrite at ZERO, nitrate less than 20ppm, with water changes.> I've also go two Angel fish, 3 red tailed sharks, 3 Neons, 4 black widows, I think 3 bleeding heart tetras (look like peach coloured black widows) and a black tetra and they all seem to get along fine.  <I could not tell from the video how large the system is, but it seems to me to be too heavily stocked. My suspicion is that one of the other fish (likely another Gourami) injured this one.> Do you think it may be pregnant? <No.... I don't believe so. I would remove this fish to a separate quarantine system for observation for right now.> Thanks, -Chris Skjoedt. <Wishing you well, -Sabrina>

Gourami Sexing? 10/25/05 Hi WWM Crew, <Jim> I have read a lot on the Gourami fish. I have found sites that say the female 3-spot or blue Gourami has a small rounded dorsal fin. <Mmm, well, "usually", or generally more so than most males of the species, sub-species> I believe a picture is worth a thousand words. <I'm using that catch-phrase from now on ;>)> I currently have 2 blue Gouramis, I believe them to be males. <Mmm, one... the "3-Spot" looks like a female to me> 1 does have a smaller dorsal fin with lighter coloring and no swelling, but they act like kissing Gourami constantly kissing. I am going to provide pictures of both fish, hopefully you can tell me what is going on in my 40gl tank. I have had the Gourami for about 4 months and the coloring has become very vivid. They are beautiful fish. I originally thought with the coloring that I had a male and female, but now I am starting to question what I originally thought. (It is very hard to take a picture of a fish, made mistake with having flash on. I figured out that was a no-no, <A comment re: You can use flash/strobe/s... at an angle, overhead, with polarized filter on your lens...> I hope you will be able to tell with the pictures I have taken.) I asked at 1 LFS, but was told that the fish needed to a lot older then the ones I had. (guessing person really did not know.) I have looked at other LFS but can not tell any difference in most the Gourami that they stock. Please help me in sexing these two. If I do happen to have 2 male, I am going to try and find a couple females for the guys then. 40gl 2 blue Gourami 3 white clouds 3 long finned blue Danios 2 neon tetra 1 black neon tetra 1 Cory cat 2 S.A.E. nitrate 20ppm (20% water change is today/not done yet) nitrite 0ppm GH 150ppm KH 80ppm ph 7.0 Thank you Jim <The behavior you mention could go one twixt fish of the same sex, but I do suspect the less-colorful, rounder, shorter dorsal finned individual with the more prominent body spots is a female, the other a male. Cheers, Bob Fenner> 
Re: Gourami Sexing? 10/25/05 Thank you so much for helping out with sexing on my 2 blue Gourami. <Bob says you're welcome>  I was not sure when they started the kissing behavior. They started showing more vivid color a couple days before starting that behavior. <that's good!> I noticed a website that put a cut Styrofoam cup floating for the male to use to make his air bubble nest.  <have done this in the past...works like a charm> I copied their design with the cup, currently he has a huge nest with a lot of bubbles. Hopefully, I can get everything right for them to breed. <yes, do make sure you feed them good foods with Selcon...blood worms, good flake foods, etc> The WWM Crew is the Best. <thanks> Again Thank you  <IanB> 

Dwarf Gouramis - 10/24/05 I have a pair of male dwarf Gourami and they have been fighting a lot recently.  <Quite common, especially in smaller tanks.> They are about the same size and the aggression goes both ways.  <It is possible they could eventually fight to the death.>  I recently added two tetra to the aquarium, and both Gourami have been chasing them constantly.  <Sometimes adding more fish quells aggression but as you can clearly see it's not always a guarantee.>  I added some extra hiding places when I put the new fish in, but none of the fish seem to have found them yet.  <Another anti-aggression tactic that can help tremendously or not, really depends on the personality of the fish.>  None of the fish have any signs of trauma, no ripped fins or anything, they just get chased and nipped very often.  <This can be damaging in the long run though.>  Do I need to remove one or both of the Gourami?  <Yes, at the least one needs to be removed.>  Thanks. <You are welcome, Adam J.> 

Dwarf Gourami Discoloration - 10/14/2005 Hi, I have a 2 month old 150L tank (see below for details) to which I added 4 dwarf Gouramis 5 days ago. I have since discovered that, contrary to the advice of the shop assistant at my LFS, they are likely to be aggressive especially because I have a feeling that they might all be males. <Entirely possible.> Three of them are 100% <As opposed to, say, 50%? And if they were 50%, would you prefer the front half, or the balk half? I imagine you mean they appear to be in perfect health.> and doing really well but one of them started making a bubble nest a couple of days ago and got quite territorial about his patch of water lettuce, chasing the others away and trying to nip them. <This is normal behaviour.> This wasn't a huge problem per se because he failed to catch any of them and none of them are showing any signs of injury or even stress. The thing is that the aggressor has got patches of discolouration on him that seem to have got worse over the last 24 hours. The patches are white in colour and vary from one to three mm in area. They are mostly around his head and shoulders and one on the end of his dorsal fin which is transparent.  He is swimming, behaving and eating fine (menu this week was Monday: Tetra Pro flakes, Wednesday: frozen defrosted bloodworm, tomorrow: blanched shelled peas. All supplemented with plenty of my plants!). The patches aren't raised or cotton woolly and don't match the descriptions that I can find on your site or any others so far. If anything they look like scarring (no scales are hanging off and I haven't seen any fall off) but I can't find any pictures of what Gouramis look like when they have scales missing. A Google search on "Gourami scales missing" gives a couple of hits for forums where people describe red patches where scales have been lost but the patches on my fish certainly aren't red.  Yesterday I tried to catch him to give him a time-out for a week or two in my old 10G tank (empty but for two very reclusive Kuhli loaches) but he totally eluded my efforts and I didn't want to stress him, however I did mangle his beautiful nest in the process. Since then he hasn't tried to rebuild it and his aggressive behaviour has ceased but, as I said, I'm still concerned because the discoloured patches seem to have gotten worse. I suppose it is possible that I am being obsessive because a couple of them were a bit patchy looking when I got them home and under my lights. The others have all flourished though. <Hmm.... Without actually seeing the fish, I'm not sure I can advise you well on this.... Were it me/my fish, I would probably be waffling between removing the animal to a separate system for observation, or leaving in the main system and just watching him closely.... I am uncomfortable advising you to do either of these; leaving the fish in the main system is a risk if he has anything communicable, but removing him is an unnecessary stress if he just happens to be a slightly discoloured fish by nature.... I would be really torn, here. If in doubt, I suppose my "default" is to remove the animal to a quarantine system to be on the safe side.> Any ideas? I don't want to medicate until I have a better idea of what's up <VERY good.> with him and also medication would mean that the 10G would be converted to a QT tank and I'd have to catch the Kuhlis (not easy, they're like greased lightening) <True enough!> and transfer them. In the absence of any other clues it seems to me that the patches are where the other fish have retaliated to his aggression but I only have a year's experience so am certainly no expert and would really appreciate your thoughts. <You could be entirely correct, here.> TANK SPECS: 150L Tropiquarium Fluval 4 Plus filter Nutrafin CO2 Layer of JBL Aquabasics complete substrate covered by layer of Aquagrit 1 x LifeGlow and 1 x PowerGlow bulbs on from 9am-12am. Plants: Red Water Rose, Hygro polysperma, Pygmy Chain Sword, Bacopa monnieri, Ech Tenellus, Vallisneria Corkscrew, Red Ludwigia, Rotala macrandra, Ambulia aquatica, Hair Grass, Cabomba Aquatica, Vallisneria Torta, Elodea Densa, Floating Water Lettuce, Red-stem Milfoil. 2 x cardinal tetras, 3 x rummy-nosed tetras, 3 x black Neons, 2 x dwarf bristle nosed Plec, 4 x dwarf Gouramis. Nitrite: 0 Nitrate: 25mg/l pH: 7.6 <Ammonia? If not zero, bring it to zero with water changes. I imagine you knew that already, though.> 20-30% water change every 10-14 days, last done yesterday. <honestly, all sounds good to me..... aside from the discoloration. Weigh the pros and cons, and consider whether or not to remove the fish for observation at this point.... There are many possibilities of what this might be, ranging from the fish's own personal coloration to minor damage to bacterial disease; I would treat this as a "watch and see" situation, either in the main tank or in quarantine. Wishing you well, -Sabrina>

Blue Dwarf Gourami  9/28/05 Hello I have a healthy 37 gal tank well established - current inhabitants same for 9-10 mos. Of late - into the fourth week - one blue dwarf Gourami has been laying on his(?) side in the front corner of the tank appearing dead.  He has piled rocks into the corner - whether by design or incidental to laying there moving fins I don't know - but a good sized pile has accumulated.  He interacts with other fish, swims around apparently healthy throughout the day - perhaps 25-30% of the time and eats well.   No chemical changes, but about 4-6 weeks ago I lost a b.d.g. for unknown reasons and with no precedent behavior - was it his mate? < Probably not.> Is this grief?   < No> He has had no physical changes with the exception that he MIGHT be missing one whisker - I can't honestly tell but I believe both are intact.  Thanks very much. < These little guys come from slow moving water with lots of plants in which to hide. Fast moving tankmates quickly intimidate these little guys into hiding. Add some floating plants and see if that makes a difference. Stress may lead to disease.-Chuck>

Dwarf Gourami Looking Blue  9/19/05 Hi, I'm worried about my male dwarf Gourami.  I set the 20 gallon take up 7 months ago with 2 Gourami.  I am a new tank owner so when I went to the pet store and bought the tank they told me to put 2 fish (the Gouramis) in and not do the fishless cycle.  I lost one about 2 months or so into the tank and the other has been great ever since.  He has been alone until 8 days ago.  Ever since I added the 4 new fish, 3 white mollies and one black lyre tail (I don't know if it matters but have had 2 sets of fry since), my Gourami has been acting different.  He has never been extremely active, mostly sitting by the top (looking bored by himself).  But now he sits on the bottom behind a plant.  His light blue breast looks now a medium purple and has been breathing heavier but is eating well. There are no signs of illness such as sores, fuzz, tears or anything.  The only change is his breast color.  Is he sick?  Should I seclude him?  I'm worried, he's the sole survivor the 2 originals and it would be sad to lose him. Thanks! Casey < In the wild, these little guys are often alone in stagnant ponds or little streams looking for mosquito larvae or other insects to fall into the water where they will be quickly eaten. When you added all these other fish your little Gourami was intimidated by these other fish and all the new activity. They probably nip at his ventral fins thinking that they are little worms. So his natural reaction is to play it low key and stay out of the way while all the other live bearers bounce all over the tank. He would do better in a tank with clean warm water, lots of floating plants and not too much activity.-Chuck>

My New Pink Kissing Gouramis... not eating, crowded behavior 8/20/05 Hello,  I'd like to start out thanking you for taking time to read this.  I have read through the questions about Gouramis and haven't found any answers to my own questions.  Please keep in mind that I am new and my knowledge on fish is limited to what I've read on the internet.  Anyway, getting to the point, I have a two pink kissing Gouramis in a 10 gallon tank. They are still relatively small, so I wasn't too worried about getting a bigger tank yet.  However, I have had them for almost a week and have yet to see them eat the tropical fish food flakes I feed them.  I have some live plants that I occasionally see them "kiss," along with the gravel and sides of the tank (They have never kissed each other, and I have no idea what they're little fishy genders are) <Not able to discern externally> and I thought maybe they were eating the algae and just weren't hungry when I fed them.  Is this normal? <Mmm, not normal in terms of health> If not, what would you suggest? <Try other foods...> I also noticed that, when I first brought them home, they were very close, and I never saw them apart.  My bigger one (affectionately named "Valentine" by my mom) seemed the be the protector of the little one (affectionately named "Kawaii" by me!) but now I notice Valentine chasing Kawaii around the tank quite a bit, especially when the aquarium light is off.  Hawaii will still follow Valentine occasionally when allowed, but I don't know if I should be worried.  Has Valentine acquired a "bully trait" that can cause Hawaii to become stressed? <Yes... you, they need larger quarters...> I have one more question.  I wanted to buy another fish, probably another Kisser, but I don't know if this will help the situation.  Is this a good idea?   <No> Would adding another Kisser make for more competition?  Or would it make for a happy little family?  Should I add another kind of fish?  I was thinking of a Rosy Barb or some Zebra Danios. <These are very good choices... but sooner... you will need a bigger tank...> Sorry for all the questions, but they've become my little babies overnight and I'm slightly overprotective.  Any answers would be greatly appreciated. Thank you again for your time, Kelly <Try some sinking wafers, algae-based, some pelleted (sinking) food... maybe Omega-Sea, HBH, Spectrum... Bob Fenner>

Odd Gourami behavior 8/9/05 Tank stats: 29 gallon, planted pH 7.4 ammonia=nitrites=0 nitrates=25 <A little high> Occupants: 1 2.5 inch female blue three spot Gourami 1 3 inch male blue three spot Gourami 1 2 inch female lace Gourami 1 3.5 inch Chinese algae eater who leaves the fish alone <Good> 1 (new) bamboo shrimp Question: My Gouramis spend a lot of time hiding (either by themselves or in groups) in the corners of the tank. Sometimes the bottom, sometimes behind the heater, sometimes behind a plant or a rock. <This is "what they do" mostly> They occasionally (each one does this at least once a day) appear to "flip out" and dive to the bottom, hit the gravel, fly up, jump out of the water (occasionally hitting the hood), and then either go back to the bottom or to a top corner (usually hitting at least one wall on the way). Sometimes walking toward the tank provokes this reaction. The stand does jiggle a bit and make some noise if you hit it. <Yikes... you should shim this up so it does not jiggle... dangerous> The cat also likes playing hit the sides of the tank to scare the fish, but rarely succeeds in provoking a response. <They've learned not to respond> This is a relatively new tank; a few months old. The blue Gouramis did this a month or so ago for several weeks; until I added a pair of lace Gouramis. Their terrified behavior stopped. Everything seemed fine; all eating, no signs of aggression until one day the male lace Gourami was dead. Now, they've been acting scared for about 2.5 weeks again. I've been thinking about adding a few zebra Danios (the kind without the trailing fins) to see if this helps. <A good idea> I haven't done a water change larger than 20%, but I do 10-15% changes each week. <Good percentage, frequency> I know there are panic chemicals/hormones that can be secreted, but there is carbon in the filter; I even changed the carbon to absorb any "bad vibes." Any idea what is going on? Catherine <Mostly natural behavior... though having a few more of the same or similar Gourami species should/would make them all more outgoing. Do fix that wobbly stand, consider/add the ditherfish... Bob Fenner>

Gouramis strange behavior I have six Opaline Gouramis in a 55 gal. tank with 10 Zebra Danios, 6 Black Skirt Tetras, 2 medium Plecos, 1 Apple Snail and 1 Baby Whale, my water parameters are fine, I check them once a week. My question is the Gourami's are displaying a behavior I have not seen before, they will gather in the middle of the tank at the top and move back and forth, then one or two will turn themselves straight up and down in the middle of the tank and the others will swim over and nip at them. They will then all swim around together for awhile, then they'll do the same thing, I was wondering if this is normal or do I have something to worry about. <Is normal, but rarely observed... as most folks keep just one, perhaps two specimens> They get along with everybody in the tank in fact they just ignore everybody else and do their own thing. One thing I just noticed  there is one blowing bubbles at the top of the tank,  am I looking at the possibility that they trying to breed? <Yes indeed> Any help with these questions is greatly appreciated and you guys have a wonderful and helpful site Thanks Jim <Welcome. Thank you for writing. Bob Fenner>

Gourami Well Hi! I have a couple questions. We just bought a 10 gallon tank. We have 2 Gouramis, 5 neon tetras, 2 guppies, and 2 platies. My female platy sits at the bottom of the tank inside the little rock thing and wiggles back and forth. <Mmm, not all the time I hope... should be out and about> If any other fish try to come in there she makes sure they don't come in (except for the tetras). I don't understand why she is doing this and was hoping you could help. <Strange behavior> My second question is about my Gouramis. They are the same kind (don't ask me which one... only been doing this for 4 days now). <Good idea to write all down... save in a sort of "log"> One is bigger than the other. The larger one was in there for the first 3 days and then I added the smaller one today. The larger one is CONSTANTLY chasing the other one. It will stop for maybe, maybe, a minute or two and then starts back in. I figured this would stress them out. <You are correct... a ten gallon isn't big enough to afford them rest> Do you know why it does that or what I should do about it? <Natural behavior... ensures there is adequate food, habitat... Short answer... I would remove one of them or get a larger tank> The people at the pet store said I should add the 2nd one because the 1st one was chasing my guppies all over. Now it has no problem with the guppies and is after the other Gourami. If you could help that would be GREAT! Thank you, Tonya <Choices up to you... all these fish are not compatible... in your size system. Bob Fenner>

Aggressive Gourami 7/14/05 Hi Crew, The troubles started last week with the addition of the new male robin Gourami <Mmm, am unfamiliar with this common name> to our 40 gal tank. It housed 2 golden zebra loaches, 8 neon tetras, and a female robin Gourami for almost a year. Thinking that she needs some companionship (her original partner has died a few month ago) we bought this male robin. Initially, she started picking on him, chasing off food, and off good spots, etc., which can be explained as she is almost two times bigger than him. In two days the situation has changed, actually, it has not changed much, but mirrored. Now it is our old Gourami that is being chased, she does not eat much, hides in the corners, and looks fairly depressed. To add to the confusion, yesterday I noticed a strange behaviour from them, which seems to me sexual in nature. They stay together side by side; the female curls around the male and they stay for a minute or two, and then slowly swim in different direction looking slightly disoriented. After this the usual pecking continues. I am in a bit of a loss: whether I should bring the male back to the fish store, as female would not survive under such stress, or it is just the way their courtship is, or there is something I can do to make it work? Thank you, Kostya. <Mmm, you might try adding more plant or other hiding material, temporarily sequestering one or the other in a floating breeding trap, specimen container... even plastic colander... to see if they "calm down", otherwise I'd return the newest one. Bob Fenner> Territoriality in small tank Hi Bob and crew, <David> Four days ago I added a pair of Colisa dwarf Gouramis to my 12g, well-planted tank, which is also home to a male Betta and an SAE. Betta doesn't even seem to notice the SAE, and was very tolerant of some Rasboras I had in there before. However (as I might have expected had I read your FAQs before buying the Gouramis) the Betta is being quite aggressive towards the Gouramis.  <Happens> For the first 2 days this was just occasional displaying behavior, but over the past couple of days, as the Gouramis have started swimming around more, Betta has been hounding them regularly. No outright fighting yet-- in fact, if the Gourami is resting in the brush and refuses to budge when the Betta approaches, the Betta will simply park himself very close and keep an eye on the Gourami. If Gourami is in open water, Betta will display, flick his tail, give chase. <I see> So this is just intimidation so far, but I am concerned it will escalate, plus it is obviously stressful to all parties. Gouramis are starting to peck at each other now too. <Also typical behavior> Before I return the Gouramis, or (sigh) get another tank to isolate the Betta, I am wondering... if Betta's behavior is likely to mellow over time, or to escalate? <Good question... have seen both... But I am inclined to suggest you wait/see here... If the animals are not actually physically damaging each other... likely no real problem> ... if controlled overcrowding might help (prevent Betta from trying to establish territory)? <Good question too... I would not do this... overcrowd that is... as too likely your Betta will retreat into oblivion... look to getting some small "ditherfish" though... Maybe some Endler's or Platies (livebearers) or small Danios or my three fave tiny barbs (Oligolepsis, Golds, Cherries)... a trio of any of these ought to do the trick. Bob Fenner> 
Re: Territoriality in small tank
"Ditherfish"... I like that.  <Not original... don't know if anything I know is...> You say that barring physical damage this aggression isn't overly harmful, but isn't this stressful, for the Betta as well as his victims?  <Mmm, not really... stress up to a point is natural, desirable...> One of the Gouramis seems to have a mild case of HLLD-- probably came with it, though I didn't notice, but seems like stress isn't going to help him heal... thoughts? <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/hllefaqs.htm  and beyond... Bob Fenner> 

Gouramis Cleaning Clown Loaches Hi, two of my clown loaches have Whitespot. They are still very active, feeding ok. Treated the tank and the Whitespot is slowly going. When I fed my fish tonight I noticed that my Gouramis and mollies were nibbling on the flanks of the clowns, and the clowns were letting them do it.  I have never seen this before, are the other fish feeding on the Whitespot and will they get it?  200 litre community tank. Thank You. Ade <Think the Gouramis are just "nibbling" period. Will "get it". Have you read our pitch on ich?: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwich.htm Bob Fenner> 

Kissing Gourami behavior I have three Kissing Gouramis and one of them continues to lay sort of side ways.  It will swim, however when it is still it looks like it is laying on it's side.  Do you know what the problem is. Thank You Cassandra <Mmm, some individual Kissers do "sit on the bottom" a great deal. If the fish is eating, appears fine otherwise, I would not be concerned. Bob Fenner>

Shy Gold Gouramis Hi there: I recently purchased 2 Gold Gouramis, both of which I believe are female, to cycle my new 20 gallon hexagonal aquarium. I heard that they were a hardy fish and I enjoy their colors. Before I even bought my tank, I read 3 aquarium books cover to cover to make sure I would have the best chances of success. None of these books, though, contain sufficient information on the "shyness" of certain fish. After combing your site, I was wondering why my Gouramis are hiding from me! It's only been a few days, but I know they are healthy (at least externally) and the water quality is good. Are they just stressed from the big move? <Likely a factor... as well as their general retiring nature> Will they come out from behind the plants/rocks when I add more fish in the future? <Likely much more so> One seems to be fairly stationary at the bottom and is occasionally followed by the other, who stays near the top. They sometimes come out in the open when they think I'm not looking, but retreat as soon as they see me. Thanks for your time..... Ben <Thank you for writing. Bob Fenner>

Gourami question Hi all, <Hello Mark> Can't say enough good things about the amount of help you've given us fish lovers. <You would, perhaps will do the same> I've got a 10 gallon freshwater tank.  Some fish have come and gone, but the mainstays in the tank are a 2 1/2 inch Gold Gourami and a 2 1/2 inch Iridescent shark. My problem is that I've recently begun to add fish to the tank...I added a 2 inch silvertip shark who gets along great with everyone one, but the Gold Gourami seems to be attacking a 1 1/2 inch Blue Gourami that I added. <Mmm, really, the root of the difficulty here... the size of the tank... too small> The Gold Gourami has always been aggressive to smaller fish (small leopard puffers and mollies).  I figured that adding a larger sized fish (the Blue Gourami) would help to calm the Gold Gourami down, but he just cant seem to break the habit of chasing all of the other fish around the tank. <It might work... to isolate the original... gold Gourami... in a breeding trap, or even just a good sized net, hung on the corner of the tank... for a few days... This often re-sets the "dynamics" in a system> Barring total isolation of one, is there anyway that I can keep the Gourami's together?  The attacking never goes beyond chasing and the occasional nip, but I'm just afraid that the stress will do him/her in. Thanks for the help, Mark <You are likely right... try the isolation trick... and if this doesn't work? Perhaps a larger system? Or a trade-in. Bob Fenner> Killer Kisser? Hey Bob, <Walt> Thanks for your quick response. Unfortunately, I believe that my one Kissing Gourami may be heading into the "unholy terror" camp (especially at meal time). He is particularly fond of chasing one of my female sunburst mollies... but he does this only during feeding and the molly goes right back to eating after the chase. <Mmm, keep your eyes on that fish... and your others... for "hickeys"> However, he is being downright aggressive to his fellow Gourami at all times. As soon as he sees him he'll continue to chase him until his "victim" takes refuge among my plants. I am starting to get worried because for past two days I have noticed the "victim" sulking with clamped fins among my plants or hiding near my filter intake. This morning he refused to compete at all for the peas I fed them. I am not a big fan of exchanging fish once I bought them (I kind of feel like I'm bringing them to the pound) but I feel like I may have no choice. Any suggestions? Thanks again. Sincerely, Walt <There is some value in trying temporary isolation, floating the mean fish in a plastic "colander" (spaghetti strainer) or large-enough breeding trap/net in the tank... for a few to several days... This sometimes "takes the spit" out of the offender... Bob Fenner> 

Helostoma kissingmaximusi I was planning on buying a breeding net anyway considering most of my females appear to be gravid. I'll run out and buy one and isolate the "killer kisser" and see what happens. I'll let you know in a week or so if there was any curb in his aggression. Thanks again! Sincerely, Walt <Real good. Bob Fenner>

Deceased Kisser Hello! Thank you for all your previous help. As you might have guessed, I have another question. I'll give you some background before I ask it.  <Okay> Tank: 44 gal. pentagon, well planted with 20 small community fish (4 platies, 3 pairs of differing mollies, 2 beacon tetras, 2 diamond tetras, 2 serpae tetras, 2 Botia dario, and 2 kissing Gouramis.  Water: ammonia-0; nitrite-0; nitrate-20ppm; pH-between 7.7-7.9; total hardness 170ppm CaCO3; All tested regularly (including this morning).  I woke up this morning to a dreadful sight. One of my kissers was deceased and wrapped around my external power filter's intake. Because he looked perfectly healthy before I went to bed, I cannot figure out what happened. I do, however, have some possibilities I would like to run by you.  <Go ahead> I e-mailed you before about an aggressive kisser that was relentlessly chasing the now deceased kisser. I isolated the aggressive fish in a breeding net for five days. During that time the now deceased fish began to act much healthier... no more clamped fins, no more hiding, eating better, etc. Then I let the aggressive kisser out of jail and I honestly think his aggression got worse! <Unghhh> Naturally he took most of it out on his brother kisser. I read that adding a third kisser might calm down the aggressor so I went to my LFS and purchased one. No luck. So, I returned the bad fish to the LFS. This all took place in the last two days. Is that enough stress to have killed an otherwise healthy looking fish? <Yes... I wish I would have encourage you, in advance, that if the aggressive fish didn't "behave" on being re-introduced to trade it back in...> I feel I must add that I am not that adept at catching fish in my net. <Use two, take my advice, much, MUCH easier> When I was trying to catch the aggressive kisser, first to put him in jail, then to return him to the LFS, I may have caused far too much commotion for the fishes well being. Could this have been a factor? <Yes> Also, I recently added my monthly replenishment of Tetra Flora Pride to the tank. I only used half of the recommended dosage. Could this have stressed the fish? None of the others seemed to mind. <I don't think this would be much of a stressor, no> I mentioned that the fish was stuck to the filter intake. I have a Whisper Advanced Power Filter 30-60 with the extra sponge for increased bio-filtration. It supposedly filters up to 300 gallons per hour. I read that a proper unit will filter the entire volume of a tank four times in an hour, so I leave it on at full power. Could the fish have gotten stuck on the filter and unable to escape? Or is it more likely that the fish died and then got stuck to it? <Not likely at all... freshwater fishes are smart/er than folks give them credit for... and strong... think of how hard they are to catch!> Finally, I must mention (in case you haven't guessed) I am quite obsessive about my new hobby. I check the water regularly, reach in a couple of times a week to remove dead plant leaves and the occasional snail. Is it possible that I am overly involved and causing undue stress on my livestock?  <Mmm, I would limit your in-tank sojourns to once weekly> Any help you can provide, as always, is greatly appreciated. Sincerely, Walt <Likely just a "bully" fish at play here. Bob Fenner>
Re: Deceased Kisser
Thanks again for the advice. I am sorry about all the questions. I honestly thought that I had everything figured out before I set up my tank. I took about eight books on freshwater aquaria out of the library and read them over like I was preparing for an exam. But, once again, I have found that real life does not mimic text, and I have a seemingly limitless number of questions. <This is so.> Anyway, I have permanently solved the "killer kisser" problem. I brought the original aggressor back only to find my other kissers becoming aggressive after he was gone. I brought them all back and I have decided never to invest in them again! I honestly do not know why they are listed as "peaceful" community fishes in so many books. <As with most bold statements, a few qualifiers should go along...> With the store credit I received from the kissers I have added to my collection of mollies, which brings me to my next question. How much salt is necessary in the water to keep mollies at optimal health? <A level teaspoon or so per ten gallons> In my 44 gallon, I have about 5 teaspoons, far below the recommended dosage for use as a "general tonic". I would increase it, but I am worried about the effect of aquarium salt on my live plants. How much salt is healthy for mollies, but not dangerous to plants? Thanks again! <I would not put anymore than the above in here. Bob Fenner> 

Please help fast!!!!!!!! (overly aggressive Honey Dwarf Gourami?) hi I have a honey dwarf Gourami that I have had for about a year and a half. I just moved it a couple days ago to a ten gallon tank a much larger one than before. I put some tetras in the tank with him and he did nothing. he began attacking the glass and I noticed that he could see himself. I went to the pet store and they said I needed another Gourami in the tank.  <Whoa... what was the reason given for "needing another Gourami"?> I put another Gourami even a little larger and now all it does is attack the larger Gourami. I also have a Bala shark in there he is small however and my Gourami attacks that one to. I don't know what to do. I want it to not be lonely and stop attacking the walls but I cant put any other fish with it. <Really... a Honey Dwarf Gourami, Trichogaster chuna? Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/anabantoids.htm I was also wondering if you could tell me how to tell the males from the females. maybe I have two males. <Perhaps... but if two or one they shouldn't cause much damage if this species...> I really need help please write me back as soon as you can so I can fix this problem and all my fish can be happy. thank you my e-mail address is XXX <I see it above in the address tray> thanks <Don't worry if the species is what you mention... the agonistic behavior should/will settle down soon. Perhaps consider adding something in the way of "dither-fish"... like small Danios, Rasboras, the easier going barb like cherry, checkerboard, gold... see the WetWebMedia.com site re these choices. Bob Fenner>

Cowardly Gourami I have two questions: 1) Tiny black flying insects have shown up in the house and around the fish tank.  How do I eliminate them? <It's hard to say without knowing exactly what they are.> 2) A Golden Gourami in a 15 gallon tank with 5 small Corys and 3 Otos has started hiding a lot in the past 2 weeks.  He seems easily startled now as well.  He comes out to eat.  I test for ammonia and nitrite and its at zero ppm. I do weekly to bi-weekly water changes because its a small tank.  Our water here is alkaline testing at 7.6 -7.8.  I add a small amount of aquarium salt (1tbs per 5 gal). I have coconut shells driftwood and a big fake Bacopa for shelter. what do you think he is scared of? <Have there been any changes in or around the tank recently? A change in lighting (in or out of the tank), tank position, tank decorations, new fish, etc? Even something as simple as moving where the filtered water flows back into the tank can cause this. I think that if the problem is due to a recent change he should be back to normal once he adjusts a bit. Ronni>
Re: Cowardly Gourami
Hi Ronni! Of Course I don't know what the insects are. I was hoping you might have experienced this and have some idea. <Unfortunately, I have never had this problem so don't know for sure. One thing to check might be your food. The possibility of this being the cause is pretty slim but it is something to consider. If you are feeding a live larval type food there is the possibility of the food actually maturing or just the scent of the food attracting the insects. I remember once when I was a kid I left an apple core in my bedroom. Within a few days I had a huge amount of tiny black insects flying around all over the place.> About the Gourami: I didn't think to mention that a few weeks back I put a second power filter on the tank because I read that the Penguin bio wheel mini I had on it was a little weak. When I did the last water change I switched the position of the filters around because the tank is slightly tilted. This is exactly when he started hiding! The outlet of the filters reach the top of the water better now but it occurs to me that I possibly now have created too much current for the Gourami. Could this be a problem too? <It is possible that there's too much current but more likely is that he just plain doesn't like it. By adding to and moving the current you disrupted his territory and probably ticked him off. For the fish you have, a total turnover of 2-3 times the tank volume every hour should be sufficient. A little higher is better but probably not more than about 5 times per hour max. Ronni>
Re: Cowardly Gourami
Hi! Thank you for the advice, it seems logical. I took the extra filter off of the tank and added a floating plant. It's been almost a month and the Gourami is more skittish than ever. In fact, all the fish in the tank have started to go nuts every time I move near or walk by the tank! They are all still eating. <Hmm'¦ something is definitely bothering them but I'm at a loss as to what it could be.> I think the Gourami hurt himself; I noticed a white spot on his head that I hope is just a scrape. <Do keep an eye on that spot and make sure it doesn't grow or begin to look cottony. It may be a fungus if it does.> Could it be that the tank is too close to the door? It's funny, I have a larger tank with some of the same fish in the living room were there's constant traffic and the fish are not scared at all. <The door shouldn't be a problem unless it's causing the tank temperature to fluctuate. Are you absolutely positive that none of the fish in the tank are harassing the others and causing this? Occasionally a fish will all of a sudden start picking on others in the tank. Do you have a Pleco in the tank?> I read something about using dither fish. A fish that is real friendly like barbs. I don't have room for a school of barbs in a 15 gallon tank. <Dither fish sometimes work but you definitely don't have room to add a school of any that would work.> I am running out of ideas, could you please help? <Unfortunately, so am I! Keep a close watch on your water quality, make sure that spot isn't a fungus, and make sure that he's not getting picked on by anyone else, especially when the lights are off. Ronni>
Re: Cowardly Gourami
Ronni, Thanks. The spot on his head is gone thanks to Melafix. No Pleco just 1 Gourami, 3 Otos and 5 Corys. <Has he started acting any better since you got the spot cleared up? If not, I'm really at a loss on what could be causing this! Ronni>  

Dwarf Gouramis, Small Fish, Big Attitude II Thanks for the reply Gage--I double checked this morning and it definitely is not Ich, since there are no salt like particles on the his fins or flanks. <Rad> It looks more like some scales or color is missing on one side, half the size of a pencil eraser.  After some research yesterday I thought it might be some form of fungus, but there does not appear to be any sort of cottony substance on him so that doesn't appear to the case. <This is a wait and see situation if you ask me, could be a wound from the aggression that will heal on its own, or it could get infected. Lets hope for the first situation.> The addition of the plants seem to have halted the most aggressive fin-nipping going on, so I am going to hold off and see how things progress. <Good Plan> I would really like to upgrade my tank to a larger one, but really don't have any room for it in my apartment. <Get rid of the TV?  Maybe the Couch? Do you really need that bed? HA HA HA. -Gage> Thanks Matt

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