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FAQs on Colisa lalia "Dwarf" Gouramis of Many Names, Honey, Flames, Neon Blue,  Sunset Fire... Stocking/Selection

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

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

Buy locally produced stocks only... the vast majority of what is available are imported from the Far East... and don't live. RMF

Excerpted from: Five Almost Perfect Fishes; Great fish for the community aquarium, except for one little thing by Neale Monks   

2                     Dwarf gourami, Colisa lalia 

The good:            Friendly, colourful, and just the right size for the community tank

The bad:              Peculiarly sensitive to bacterial infections 

Few aquarists haven't tried keeping these fish at some point, and they remain staples of the hobby thanks to their wide availability, bright colours, sweet dispositions, and willingness to take a range of foods including flake and pellets. Numerous artificial forms exist, such as the 'red dwarf gourami' that lacks the blue strips typical of the wild morph. However, being widely sold doesn't mean that are easy to keep, and these fish all too frequently sicken and die within a few months of being purchased. Dwarf gouramis appear to be among the fish most likely to contract bacterial infections if water quality or water chemistry isn't exactly right. The symptoms are bloody sores on the body and a loss of appetite, and short of veterinarian help (i.e., antibiotics), nothing much seems to help. 

Even with antibiotics, the prognosis isn't particularly good, and you should definitely never buy dwarf gouramis from a tank containing specimens showing any signs of this type of infection. But even starting off with healthy fish might not help, as some aquarists believe that virtually all commercially-bred dwarf gouramis (and probably other gouramis as well) carry the bacteria, so the issue isn't keeping the bacteria out of the tank but making sure it doesn't become a problem. The best approach is to quarantine dwarf gouramis for a few weeks before being adding them to a tank that already contains other, hardier, gouramis. 

It is just as important to make sure that water conditions and filtration are optimal. For the dwarf gourami that means soft, acidic water conditions, preferably filtered through peat and zero levels of nitrite and ammonium. Frequent water changes to keep the nitrates down is a good idea, and using a hood or cover glass at the top of the tank to keep the humidity of the air just above the water level high is also to be recommended. Feeding presents few problems, but what you don't want to do is introduce anything that might make the fish sick, such as live Tubifex worms. In short, these are quite demanding fish that need a lot of care if they are to succeed in a community tank.

How many Dwarf Gouramis?     2/14/13
Hi folks, just a quick question today.  I can't locate any female Dwarf Gouramis, so I was wondering how many males could co-exist in a 38-gallon planted tank.  The dimensions are 36l x 12W x 20H.
Thanks,
Scott
<Potentially one or 3-4 males. Don't try two -- the risk is they'll fight all the time, and the weaker will be pecked to death, or at least to an unhappy corner of the tank! Cheers, Neale.>
Re: How many Dwarf Gouramis?     2/14/13

Thanks, Neale.  I already have one male on hand, and I don't have the capacity to quarantine two more separately.  Do you think that two males would do okay in the main tank for a couple of weeks whilst the third is in QT?
<Might be, but can't say for sure. Across the board, male Gouramis (and their relatives) are territorial and can be aggressive, so keeping two males in a small aquarium will invariably be risky.>
My local chain store says they don't know where their stock originates from, but they claim they have not had any "problems" with them, whatever that means.
<Not much. Even the worst Singaporean Dwarf Gouramis last a month or three, so they're perfectly fine in the retailer's tank. They're shipped out nicely juiced with antibiotics and colour enhancers, so they can look lovely. It's not until they've been swimming about in your aquarium a few months that the lustre starts to fade. You can pretty much expect any Dwarf Gourami to last six months; the tricky part is getting your specimen past a year -- if it does, then it's probably a good one.>
I'd like to minimize the chances of a Dwarf Gourami Disease outbreak.
<Wouldn't we all. Basically, choose the healthiest specimen from a retailer you trust, rejecting any from tanks with even one sickly looking specimen.
On the assumption that many instances of "Dwarf Gourami Disease" are bacterial infections rather than the virus, and therefore related to stress as much as anything else, ensure good water quality, the right water chemistry (not too hard, up to around 12 degrees dH) and that the tank is nice and warm (ideally, around 28 C/82 F).>
Thanks again,
Scott
<Welcome, Neale.>

gouramis (advice)   4/25/10
Hi I just have a quick question.
I have recently bought a 70L tank, about a week later (as per store person instructions) I decided to buy some fish, namely: 2x dwarf gouramis (both males 90% sure one flame coloured and the other blue and red stripes) and 5
neon tetras.
<Neons and Dwarf Gouramis make poor companions. Neons need fairly cool water, 22-24 C/72-75 F. Dwarf Gouramis must be kept warm, around 28-30 C/82-86 F. Any conditions good for one will be stressful for the other. This is clearly stated in any aquarium book, so as always, read up on the needs of your fish prior to purchase.>
All the water was tested beforehand and was fine, my PH however was a little bit on the high side- 7.2 /7.4
<This pH is fine. More aquarists cause problems by adding those often-lethal pH up and pH down potions they convince themselves they need. Both these species will be fine at 5-15 degrees dH, pH 6-7.5.>
I have noticed that males can get a bit territorial , and do nip and chase each other a little bit. As well as- they do funny swimming up and down ( looking over previous articles, I see this almost a normal behaviour....)
<Yes, your aquarium is too small for two male Colisa lalia.>
My question is , can I add a 3rd fish - another Gourami ?
<Nope.>
And if I can, should I the fish be a male? or should I get female?
<A male and a female might be okay in this tank, possibly a male and two females. Two males is risky, and two males and one female would end up with some poor female pestered to death by the aggressive males.>
Or should I get a 3rd different kind of Gourami, I'm not sure if this make any difference?
<Your aquarium is too small for any more Gouramis. Males of all species are territorial.>
Or perhaps another different species altogether?
<Read:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/dwfgdis.htm
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/anabantoids.htm
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_5/volume_5_3/stocking.htm
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwlivestk.htm
Your aquarium is already badly stocked and badly overstocked. Instead of randomly adding fish and hoping for the best, choose livestock that will be compatible in the long term.>
Thanks
Alex N
<Cheers, Neale.>

Follow up question re: dwarf gouramis, other Gourami sel.  2/5/09 OK...we put our dwarf Gourami down with advice posted on your website, he went peacefully. Then we bought a 55 gallon tank and it took only a few days to cycle thanks to adding bacteria, a Eco Bio Block and old gravel/media from the new tank. It looks pretty empty because we only have: two small silver dollars, one vampire shrimp, six Rummynose tetras, one scissortail in our 55 gallon tank. In our old 10 gallon we have put a few red cherry shrimp, mandarin orange shrimp, mystery snails and our latest our new purchases: 3 silver Hatchetfish in quarantine awaiting transfer to the big tank. I think I will keep the old 10 gallon as either a quarantine tank or a shrimp/snail only tank as I love them both. Anyway, we do miss our dwarf Gourami and are interested in pearl gouramis. We saw some lovely full grown ones in the store today and wondered how hardy they are. Are they prone to this Iridovirus or other maladies? If so, is there a Gourami which is hardy and appropriate for our community tank? Thanks, Melissa <Hello Melissa. Pearl Gouramis, Trichogaster leeri, are essentially hardy fish and do not contract Dwarf Gourami Iridovirus. The only problem they are prone to is Finrot, if kept with nippy fish that attack their long fins. Otherwise they are easy to keep. Quite a peaceful species, too. One of my favourites, and an excellent choice given your tank and its residents. Other good choices are Thick-lipped Gouramis (Colisa labiosus), Banded Gouramis (Colisa fasciata), and Moonlight Gouramis (Trichogaster microlepis). Though not beautiful in terms of colour, the Snakeskin Gourami (Trichogaster pectoralis) is a wonderful gentle giant and extremely hardy. The one Gourami species to approach with caution is the Three-spot Gourami (Trichogaster trichopterus). Although females are peaceful, males can be very aggressive. I don't recommend it as a community tank species, despite being extremely widely sold in lots of colours, including the popular Blue Gourami and Yellow Gourami varieties. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Gouramis (Selection) [RMF, any comments on Marines?] 2/5/09 Hi Neale, Thanks for answering, it's very kind of you guys to donate time to answer what must be hundreds of e-mails. <Happy to help. Besides, questions about Gourami selection make a change of pace from sick Bettas in unheated bowls, sick Bettas in unfiltered bowls, and sick Bettas in unheated, unfiltered bowls.> See, we bought the silver dollar (Silver) and dwarf Gourami in December and put them in a 10 gallon tank together, they bonded from the beginning, swam together, investigated things, ate together, the Gourami defended him from other fish who made the Silver nervous. But when the DG got sick and died, we got him another small SD named Nemo (ok my four year old son "helps" name the fish I know they're not great names but if you've ever had a four year old boy you know how these things go). But Silver and Nemo haven't bonded a whole lot, they both do their own thing. <It's always dangerous to use human behaviours to interpret animal behaviours. If nothing else, my cats would feel very insulted if I took their behaviours down to the level of hairless apes like me! But joking aside, animals don't work the way we do, because each species operates in its own very different world. Silver Dollars and Dwarf Gouramis are not likely to become "friends" as such, though I admit that innate schooling behaviour may cause different species of fishes to group together where choices from their own species are lacking. Some fish will also learn to follow other fish because they benefit in some way. Angelfish often follow livebearers because they know the pregnant females drop little packages of live food (i.e., babies) every once in a while, and I had a Scat that learned to stay close to an Archerfish during feeding time because the Archer would spit down crickets and other bits of food. So it's always best to stay firmly in what we know. In the case of Silver Dollars, they're schooling but hierarchical fish. In groups of six they generally behave properly, but in smaller groups you can get bullying and other aberrant behaviours, precisely like those you're seeing here. Solution? Add more Silver Dollars.> After the death of the DG coupled with the move to the large tank Silver has gotten shy and skittish and seems sad. Nemo who is much younger and smaller swims all over the tank and they sometimes hang out but not like the DG and Silver. The personality of the DG seemed to bring Silver out of his shell and get him swimming around so that's why I was thinking of a pearl Gourami. <I'd get more Silver Dollars first (making sure they're the same species, there are several!). Pearl Gouramis won't bond with Silver Dollars, or at least, I can't think why they would.> The scissortail schools with the much smaller but similar in looks Rummynose tetras and is LOVING all the room to swim. The rummynoses are bright cherry red and happy all the time, very active and playful. The vampire shrimp has been with us a month now but we don't see him much, he is very shy and nocturnal but absolutely beautiful. <Vampire Shrimps are Atyopsis gabonensis, right? Agreed, a lovely animal. But don't forget to feed it. Contrary to what retailers might say, these aren't really scavengers. They do need particulate food of some sort. Liquid fry food is ideal, but finely powdered flake or even hard boiled egg yolk will do. Make a suspension of food in a small container, and squirt a few drops into its "fans" periodically (ideally, daily) using a pipette. Algae wafers, fed at night, should also help.> So, my three questions: given what I've told you is it better to get a pair of pearl gouramis (male/female) or a solo? If solo, is a female or male better? <I think the question of Gouramis is irrelevant to the Silver Dollar situation. In terms of shopping for Pearl Gouramis, a singleton, a pair, or two females/one male will all work out.> Second, even though it's only been three days in the quarantine tank, our silver Hatchetfish all look fine. Is a week in quarantine enough? Are they compatible with our other tank inhabitants as well? <If they're feeding in the quarantine tank, and don't seem stressed, I'd certainly leave them at least another week, but after that move them into the big tank.> Third, I'd like our next tank to be saltwater but am nervous about setting it up and inhabitants. I've heard damselfish are quite hardy, are they good "first fish" to have after the initial cycling is complete before adding other marine fish and invertebrates? If not, which are some hardy, easy to care for, colorful and small sized marine fish we can use for a beginner tank (probably a 20-30 gallon)? <Really a question for Bob F. Would highly recommend buying or borrowing his 'Conscientious Aquarist' book before doing anything else. There is an excellent "cook book" section at the beginning outlining setting up your first tank. Basic marine aquaria (i.e., without corals and the like) are pretty easy to put together and maintain, especially if you understand water quality/chemistry through experience of freshwater fishkeeping. But you absolutely must read up thoroughly before spending a penny on livestock or hardware. In the meantime, have a browse here at WWM; there's a tonne of marine aquarium stuff, perhaps even more than freshwater: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/marsetupindex1.htm> <<A forty gallon is a much better, size, shape to start with... Marine systems differ in a few ways from freshwater... One profound way is their "stability" physically and chemically... as a function of the size/volume of the seas... Starting with "too-little" tanks can be a great hindrance in keeping the water viable, and too-limiting in reducing stocking possibilities. Please read here at your leisure: http://wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/marsetupindex1.htm Bob Fenner>> Thanks, Melissa <Most welcome, Neale.>

Gourami question 06/15/08 Hi, And thanks for your support and very informative web site. I went through a quite to few trouble - try to keep dwarf Gouramis, but never had any luck. I love that fishes and would like to try again. Is any of Gouramis ( smaller size is preferable) easy to keep, will tolerate pH 8.1 -8.2 ? I really would like to have a couple in my 55g. Thanks Larissa <Hello Larissa. Most of the "other" Gouramis will do well in your aquarium. Dwarf Gouramis are uniquely feeble and worth avoiding. If you want something similar to the Dwarf Gourami, both Colisa fasciata (the Banded Gourami) and Colisa labiosus (the Thick-Lipped Gourami) have the same red/blue stripes. Both are in the trade, though not as widely sold as Dwarf Gouramis. The Three-Spot Gourami (Trichogaster trichopterus) is another hardy species, though males can be aggressive. The yellow ("Golden Gourami") and blue ("Blue Gourami") are the two widely traded varieties of this species. Personally I have a great fondness for the Moonlight Gourami (Trichogaster microlepis), a peaceful, all-silver species that looks great in a shady tank with lots of plants. It is very hardy and doesn't become as territorial as the Three-Spot Gourami; on the other hand, it does get a little bigger. All of these would be perfectly at home in a 55 gallon system. I hope this helps, Neale.>

Gourami disease, eggs?  -03/28/08 hi, I have just got 4 dwarf Gouramis and 2 are the opalescent blue and the other 2 are orange with stripes. my one striped one has a dark brown appearance on its head and at the top to,? and appears to be dull and slimy. and the other one appears to have this too along with a dark blue almost navy stripe near the end of its belly. is this normal or a disease. <Not normal, and yes, likely a disease. In particular check your symptoms against 'Dwarf Gourami Disease', an extremely common and contagious problem among Colisa lalia imports from Singapore especially. http://208.112.95.51/FWSubWebIndex/dwfgdis.htm There is no cure. I would simply advise people NEVER to buy these fish unless from a local breeder.> and finally the last question I have is my blue Gourami is larger than the rest of the tank mates and has been hanging out at the top of the tank. but I have noticed very small,? white circular things near my heater and every now and then the swollen fish will go up near that part of the tank. what is wrong with my fish and what are these things, are they eggs? <Impossible to say. Quite possibly eggs, through whether from the Gouramis or something else, e.g., snails, is difficult to say. Gouramis are bubble-nest builders and don't normally stick their eggs to the glass. On the other hand Corydoras catfish and some snails do this all the time. If you think they're eggs, then by all means carefully remove them to a breeding trap and see what happens! Fish eggs tend to be about 1 mm across and small round spheres; snail eggs are usually laid in clumps, often in blobs of jelly about 5 mm or so across.> thank you <Next time, please send messages with proper capitalization of sentences! Makes e-mails easier to read, share. Cheers, Neale.>

Dwarf Gourami problem -- 03/18/08 Hi. I have 3 dwarf Gourami's, I took one of them out and put it in a small 1.5 gallon tank as it had a swollen upper body and seems to spend a lot of time at the bottom <Dwarf Gourami Disease; caused by a virus. Incurable. See here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/dwfgdis.htm I cannot state this more clearly: People, stop buying these fish!> The other tank is all out of whack chemically .75ppm No2, 20 ppm No3, 1.00 ammonia and 7.5 PH. I am really new at this and can't figure out what to do. <Buy a book, read about fishkeeping. Obviously you've added a bunch of fish to an immature aquarium. Nitrite and ammonia at these levels will quickly kill your fish. Start here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwlivestk.htm > The small tank I set up is 00ppm No2, 5 No3, .15 Ammonia and 7.6 PH. The temp in both is 78. I tried putting in Rid·Ich+ which is supposed to help with a variety of problems. <Yes, but doesn't "cure" bad fishkeeping. Nor does it help deal with viral infections. The ammonia in here will kill this Gourami even before the virus. Go here to see how to painlessly destroy this fish: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/euthanasiafaqs.htm > I hope I'm not to late as he looks worse and is staying at the bottom. I noticed while in the other tank he did not eat anytime I was watching. <Doomed.> Sorry for the anxiety. I just hope to be able to be better at this whole thing. <You can be, but you have to read. You also need to make sensible decisions. For beginners, buying tanks smaller than 20 gallons is stupid. They're too difficult to maintain and choose stock for. So I'm hoping you have a tank 20 gallons or larger. Next up, you choose hardy fish, not "pretty" fish you pick without research. Dwarf Gouramis for example are among the WORST choices for beginners because they are plagued with disease and weren't even all that hardy in the first place. Danios and peppered Corydoras for example would make much better choices.> Please help. <Have done so.> Thanks. Tina <Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Dwarf Gourami problem 03/19/2008 Thank you Neale <You're welcome.> I really was not properly informed when I was given the tank (70 gallon) I should never have taken it without doing more reading. The people who had it wanted it gone. I have however been reading instead of taking anymore advice from the tank donors. <Very good!> The fish that were in it were not my choice. <I see.> I am very thankful for the information that you have given. I am glad I came to you for help. I hope that no more fish die because of my lack of knowledge. <So do I!> Thanks again and I'm hoping the readings on the tank will clear up soon as I do more water changes. Tina <Good luck, and happy fishkeeping! Neale.>

No question, just a thank you... and Colisa lalia sel.  -- 10/28/07 Dear Crew, I am very new to the hobby, starting a 30 gal FW tank about 2 months ago. In doing research before putting the tank together, I stumbled upon your web site and have found it to be extremely informative and helpful. I believe that the reason my fish are happy and healthy can be directly attributed to finding the answers to any questions I had by searching for them and reading your site. I find myself coming here everyday and reading the Daily FAQ's, even if the question doesn't pertain to my particular situation. I have also found many of the articles you have posted very interesting. I can't begin to tell you how much I have learned about keeping fish since I've started visiting your web site. <Thanks for the kind words, and I'm glad you're enjoying the site.> So, while I have no question for you today, I would like to extend a huge THANK YOU to all you do for us that love our "wet pets". I have complete confidence that if I ever have a question that can't be answered by a search , I can ask and know that you will offer your knowledge and expert opinion, which I trust emphatically. <We appreciate you taking the time to pass on these thoughts.> My little community tank: 7 Red Eye Tetras 2 Dwarf Gouramis 3 Zebra Danios 3 Julii Corys 1 Banjo Catfish ammonia-0 ppm nitrite-0 ppm nitrate-20 ppm Respectfully yours, Jennifer <A nice collection of fish. The only possible problems are the Dwarf Gouramis and the Banjo cat. The Dwarf Gouramis are a fine species if healthy, but the quality of stock is very poor, and a high proportion of specimens from Southeast Asian fish farms are infected with an incurable viral disease. Keep an eye out for this. Optimising water quality and providing a healthy, balanced diet will go some way to ensuring success, but if things do go wrong, don't blame yourself. I personally recommend against Dwarf Gouramis *unless* sourced from a local breeder. Banded Gouramis and Thick-lipped Gouramis are, in my opinion, better bets. Banjo cats are lovely animals, but resolutely nocturnal and often starve to death in home aquaria. So do feed at night time, and do provide a mixed diet not just catfish pellets. Frozen bloodworms and frozen Tubifex are probably the ideal, but small bits of chopped seafood would be useful too. Good luck, Neale>

Dwarf Gourami    1/5/07 Hey Crew, <Jessica> I'm sorry if this has already been asked, but I couldn't find the answer to my question. I have a 29 gallon well planted (plenty of hiding places) aquarium with no fish yet. I want to get some Dwarf Gouramis (Colisa lalia), Dwarf Loaches (Botia sidthimunki), and a school Harlequin Rasbora (Trigonostigma heteromorpha). <A nice mix> I would like to have as many of the male Gourami as possible because they're the most colorful. How many of these Dwarf Gourami could I have in my aquarium without increased fighting due to lack of territory space? <Mmm, likely six... perhaps two males, four females...> Or if necessary, how many females would I need to keep also to decrease fighting? <A few more than the males> Also, will the smaller Rasboras be eaten?? <Not unless they were much smaller, no> Or are they ok to go with Dwarf Gouramis? <Highly unlikely> Thank you, Erin <Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Neon Blue Dwarf Gourami I will setting up a 15 gal tank and plan on having neon blue dwarf Gouramis in it and was wondering how many I should have.  I know that the Gouramis are very territorial in nature and should I plan to put only 5 or 6 in them.  I will have a lot of hiding places and will solve the problem of them beginning territorial. <These are called "Dwarf Gouramis" but they can still get 2-3 inches long so even 5 or 6 is probably too many. The blues do tend to be one of the least aggressive but in a 15 gallon tank, no more than 3 or 4 is recommended. Ronni>

Gouramis In A Group Dear Anthony (just a wild guess here), <Oops- Anthony's cheerful(?) colleague- Scott F. here> My 30 gallon freshwater tank finished cycling almost 3 weeks ago.  It now houses 3 platys, 1 balloon molly, and one female Betta.  pH is 7.8, temp is 79 F, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate are 0.  By choice I have only artificial plants.  I would like to add two male dwarf Gouramis - are the Gouramis a good choice? <Dwarf Gouramis are among the most peaceful of all fishes-great choice for a mellow community aquarium.> Will two males live together peacefully (I want two males because they are prettier than the females and I'm not interested in having the Gouramis reproduce)? <Well, in my experience, it's better to keep these fishes in small groups, like 2 females and 1 male, or 3 females and two males. Keeping two males together seems to result in one harassing the other into submission, in my experience. There also might be some occasional aggression between the Betta and your Gouramis.> I've read they like plants floating on the surface - I'd rather not have this (even artificial ones).  Will they be miserable without that? <No- they should be fine. In nature (and in the aquarium), they often rely on floating plants to provide an area for building their nests and depositing eggs. They appreciate the cover, but it is certainly not necessary to have floating plants for these fishes.> Should I add some aquarium salt to the water?  How much?  What brand? <Personally, I'd skip the salt> I thought I'd also get 2 or 3 Corydoras sterbai as scavengers -  are they suitable tankmates for this group? <sure- these are great fish in their own right!> I would not plan to get the new additions all at once. <Good plan-build up your population slowly> Thought I'd start with the Gouramis if you give me the go ahead.  Any thoughts would be appreciated. <With the above caveats, I'd say that they would make great additions to your tank! Good luck! Regards, Scott F> Judy

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