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

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 Selection, 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,

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.

Dwarf Gourami, sys., comp.     12/21/08 Hey all. I have 2 well established tanks. One a 50 gallon tank with several species, including Fire Dwarf Gouramis (3) and Dwarf Gouramis (4). They've lived well together in this tank with 3 types of tetras and an albino bristlenose Pleco. I also have a 120 gallon tank with 4 powder blue dwarf gouramis, 2 types of Corys, 4 clown loaches, some neon tetras and 6 Glofish. I wanted to introduce the 7 from the smaller tank into the much larger tank. They seem cramped in the 50 gallon. I have about 20 bunch plants and 3 large pieces of driftwood in the larger tank, so there's plenty of cover, but I want to make sure I won't have any problems between the gouramis before I do this. So far, as they sit, I haven't had any aggressive behavior from any of them. Can you help me? Thanks. Sorry for not including the scientific names of the fish. I hope this doesn't hinder your ability to answer the question. <Greetings. Powder Blue, Fire Dwarf and regular Dwarf gouramis are all the same species, Colisa lalia. Males are mutually aggressive, so when combined, there's always a risk of fighting. In cramped spaces it may be impossible for males to define territories, and because of this, aggression between individuals is relatively low. This is standard practise when certain types of fish such as Mbuna cichlids are being kept. In the big 120 gallon tank things might change. So while I would expect your plan to work, there is a small risk that some of the males may become territory holders. The four already in the 120 gallon may have territories already, but because the tank is comparatively big, those territories don't overlap, and fighting is minimal. Add the seven other specimens, and tempers may get frayed. Certainly, I'd consider moving the rocks and plants about in the 120 gallon tank so that any existing territories are broken up. Then introduced the seven other gouramis, and let them all settle in at the same time. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Dwarf Gourami   12/21/08 Thank you. I'd forgotten to mention that was my plan, to move things around. I also have a couple of slate caves I made that I'll be putting in. I appreciate your feedback. I'll let you know how it turned out. Have a great holiday. <Happy to help. Sounds like you know what you're doing. Good luck, and Merry Christmas! Neale.>

Red flaming Gourami, no reading Hi crew, i have a ten gallon tank with a filter that said it can filter up to 20 gallons. It is an AquaClear filter. Also, I have a box filter and both filters have the sponges to trap debris and my AquaClear filter has carbon and the BioMax filter material. It is a fully cycled tank for up to 2 months now and i had Danios before which all died. I tested all my water parameters and this is what it said. The nitrites were below 40 ppm <... Nitrates... and this is too high...> in the safe zone and the nitrates were below .5 ppm i believe and it was in the safe zone. <... Nitrites... and no, toxic... and you didn't read before writing us...> The ammonia was o. The hardness was in the very soft-soft zone and the alkalinity and pH was a bit low. I do water changes weekly and sometimes more. However, i recently purchased a dwarf flaming Gourami <Nor read about Colisa lalia... and it just sits in the bottom of the tank. My tank parameters were fine though. I knew the Gourami would adapt to the low pH and i kept the alkalinity up by doing frequent water changes. What else did i do wrong? Is the hardness fine for my Gourami? I haven't tried feeding it yet because i didn't want to spoil the tank too fast. He is the only fish i have right now. Please help me figure out why he is so lethargic. Is he just stressed because of his new home? Please help. Thanks. ps. I have another big tank with the same water parameters and none of my fishes died in there. Please help. Thanks so much. <Have just skipped down. Read: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/dwfgdis.htm Follow directions... Bob Fenner>

About my Dwarf Gouramis -- 10/18/07 Heya, How are you? <Tolerably well.> I recently bought 2 Dwarf Gouramis, 1 female and 1 male. When introducing the Gouramis into the tank they seemed happy enough, the male swimming with current of the filter and the female happy swimming around. <Good.> About 3 days ago i found the male sitting in his "spot" in the upper corner of the tank, hovering near the plants for most of the day, coming out now and then for a swim or when female came near him he'd chase her off. Seems normal enough. <Indeed. Simple territoriality. Quite normal.> The Gouramis share their tank with 4 Blue guppies (all males), 5 sunset (comet) platy (2 Male, 3 female),1 Bristlenose catfish. <All should be fine together.> I then discovered the male when swimming in the middle of the tank the one female platy would nibble at his side and the male would just lean over as if to show he was surrendering. <Hmm... what plant material are you giving the Platies? They are algae-eaters, and part of what they do is graze flat objects to remove the algae. It is not uncommon for algae-eaters to develop a taste for fish mucous: sucking loaches do this, Otocinclus do this, and I'd not be surprised to hear that a rogue Platy might do it too.> I found this very odd, the Male has no marks on him from the nibbles. <Still, keep an eye on things, and provide the Platies with some proper algae. Algae flakes and wafers are easy to use, but strips of Sushi Nori are just as good and often cheaper. Platies also like slices of cucumber.> Today i have discovered the male and female have both started turning bronze / brown on their heads (from the dorsal fin to the mouth), I took a sample of my water to the fish store to be tested. I discovered my ph was 7.4 (normal), ammonia was I think it was about 0.5 - 1 and my Nitrate was above the 40 mark, i know it's bad :(. I did feed my fish twice a day, flakes in the morning and brine shrimp in the evening and the Bristlenose catfish gets algae tables (which the platy and Gouramis enjoy eating too). <40 mg/l Nitrate isn't serious. Here in Southern England it's around 50 mg/l out the tap because of agriculture and dense cities. People keep fish just fine. Still, the Ammonia is much more critical: anything above ZERO is dangerous, potentially lethal. This varies from fish to fish, but really it should be zero at all times. Either your tank is new, and your filter isn't mature, or your tank is inadequately filtered.> I was told by the guys testing my water to only start feeding my fish every other day to cut down on these levels and to carry out a water change today (20%) to get those levels down. Which i have now done. <A properly filtered tank should be okay being fed daily. So while the advice you were given is excellent, in the long term, you need to figure out why your ammonia stays so high. One common mistake people make is to wash the filter media. You must never do this, because it clears out the bacteria, "re-setting" the cycling process. At most, you rinse the media gently in a bucket of aquarium (not tap) water, and if you need to replace some of the media, change no more than 50% every 3 months. (One caveat here: certain things need to be changed more often, but these are special purpose chemical filtration media.)> I usually do water change every 7 days, and maintain daily inspections of the tanks health. Last Saturday the water change I tested the levels of ph, ammonia and nitrate were normal. My tank is a 20 gallon and the temperature is at 27.3 C / 80.3 F. I have live plants and bogwood in the tank as well. <Water a little on the warm side for me; 25 C is usually good enough for tropical fish. The warmer the water, the less oxygen it contains, and that causes problems. Certain fish also suffer from simple heat exhaustion.> All the other fish seem happy enough. I'm really concerned about my Dwarf Gourami's colour change. Is it my water conditions or is there a more serious issue with my fish? <Dwarf Gouramis are difficult fish because of a serious (apparently viral) problem widespread among farmed fish from Southeast Asia. See here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/almosperffshmonks.htm .> I'm attaching a photo of them to show you the problem. <Looks basically OK to me. But do get on top of water quality if you want long term success.> Any help would be greatly appreciated. Your site is an invaluable source of information thank you guys and gals so much for your effort. <Hope this helps, Neale>

Dwarf Gouramis in Brackish   6/18/07 Hey there!! <Is this what young people say these days? When I was young, "hey there" was something teachers said to naughty children...><<Heeeee! "Oh, why can't the English learn to speak" (paraphrasing here), "The Darters have their creekies, the cichlids have their meek(i)... RMF>> Now, I want to add dwarf gouramis in my low salinity brackish water tank, will they tolerate salt? <No.> If they are not suitable, can you suggest me a peaceful brackish fish with my mollies, except for livebearer.. lol..oh, the tank has a capacity of 10.70 gallons. <Well, a 10 gallon tank is too small for mollies. So you can't keep them in there. At least not without some degree of cruelty. Guppies yes, mollies no. Too big, too aggressive (the males), and too sensitive to poor water quality. You could also keep gobies in there. There are some nice brackish water invertebrates, too. Amano and red-nose shrimp for example, and Nerite snails.> thanks! <Cheers, Neale.>

Dwarf gouramis sys.  - 04/14/07 hi <Hail.>   I was just wondering wondering.   Can dwarf gouramis survive without an air pump like fighting fishes/Bettas do? <Do you mean without extra air, or without a filter? Yes, they can survive fine without extra aeration. No, they cannot survive with filtration.>   I was thinking that since they are labyrinth fishes, like fighting fishes/Bettas,  they can survive in an aquarium without the air pump. <They are indeed labyrinth fish, and in the wild inhabit similar conditions to Betta spp. But that said, there are also labyrinth fish (Sandelia spp.) that come from cool, fast-flowing "trout stream" conditions in Southern Africa, so one has to acknowledge there is a fair amount of variation within this interesting group of fish.>   thanks a lot!   JA <Cheers, Neale>

Crowded aquarium? Good morning, <Good afternoon, Sabrina here> I am writing about my six gallon Eclipse aquarium I have had up and running for 6 months.  I initially cycled the tank with a flame dwarf Gourami, and after the appropriate time added another blue dwarf Gourami and two very small albino Cory cats.  At the beginning, I noticed the flame dwarf ( which was slightly larger than the blue) seemed to be the tank bully, which I chalked up his being the first in the tank.  Recently I have noticed the roles have reversed and the blue is now larger, the flame having lost weight.  At the same time, I have observed the sizable growth of the two Cory cats, who are now probably at least  1.5 inches each.  So my questions are these: first, it is necessary, as I suspect based on the typical rules for fish keeping, to remove one or more of the fish because of the size of the tank? <I do not feel that two Gourami and two Corydoras is too much for your system.> second, should it be one of the dwarf gouramis because they seem to have such an antagonistic relationship? <I do believe that you should remove one of the Gourami, but not due to crowding issues - this aggression will continue, probably worsen significantly, over time.  Chances are that you have two males, and tensions will always be rather nasty between them.  It could conceivably get bad enough that one is continuously injured, or worse.  Wishing you well,  -Sabrina> Thanks,  Matt

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