If you’re ready for a bright, beautiful, shy fish in your aquarium but don’t want to deal with a betta’s bad attitude, the Dwarf gourami might be the perfect fish for you!
These peaceful tropical fish are fairly easy to take care of, and we have all the information you need to keep your fish happy and healthy.
Dwarf Gourami Overview
|Dwarf Gourami Info|
|Common Names||dwarf gourami, flame gourami, red gourami, sunset gourami, powder blue gourami|
|Scientific Name||Trichogaster Lalius|
|Minimum Tank Size||10 gallons|
|Lifespan||4 to 6 years|
|Water temperature||72° to 82°F|
|pH level||pH 6.0 to 7.5|
|Water hardness||3 to 8 dKH|
All About the Dwarf Gourami
Also known by their scientific name, Trichogaster lalius, Dwarf gourami are some of the most popular fish in the aquarium trade. They are known for their small size and shy, easygoing nature.
Because of their diverse colors, Dwarf gourami may also be referred to as:
- Flame gourami
- Red gourami
- Sunset gourami
- Powder Blue gourami.
Dwarf gourami make wonderful community fish and will pair up if you keep a male and a female together.
Nevertheless, Dwarf gourami are not schooling fish and need plenty of space to establish their territory.
They also don’t like fast-moving water, as they are native to ponds, swamps, ditches, and slow-moving streams in Pakistan, northern India, and Bangladesh.
Dwarf gourami are omnivores, and they usually aren’t picky eaters.
Are Dwarf Gourami Easy to Keep?
Yes. Dwarf gourami are small, hardy fish that do not need too much space. They are also peaceful, and many fish keepers recommend them for beginners with community tanks.
The hardest part of keeping Dwarf gourami is keeping nitrate levels down, which is a challenge with any fish tank.
Cycling your tank before adding Dwarf gourami and adding live aquarium plants are helpful strategies to keep ammonia and nitrites out of your tank — and keep nitrate levels low.
What Size Tank Does a Dwarf Gourami Need?
Each Dwarf gourami needs at least 10 gallons of water to thrive, so if you keep a pair of Dwarf gourami, you should have a 20-gallon tank or bigger.
20 to 30 gallons is the ideal tank size for a pair or group of Dwarf gourami. You can also keep Dwarf gourami in bigger tanks with tank mates from different species.
Tank Mates for Dwarf Gourami
Dwarf gourami are not aggressive fish and will not defend themselves, even if they are being bullied. They need peaceful tank mates, like Cory catfish or Neon tetras.
Can Male and Female Dwarf Gouramis Live Together?
Yes, and male and female Dwarf gouramis actually prefer to live together.
While two male gourami might feel the need to compete for space in your tank, a male and female gourami will pair up and sometimes even mate!
Nothing matches the delight of seeing your male and female Dwarf gourami pair up and swim all over the tank together, so we recommend keeping one male-female Dwarf gourami pair with a small school of peaceful fish.
Can I Keep All Female Dwarf Gouramis Together?
Yes, female Dwarf gouramis usually tolerate each other well and may even pair up or form a group! Who needs a man, right?
You can also keep two female Dwarf gourami with one male. Although Dwarf gouramis are not schooling fish, they are social and will comfortably form a group as long as males do not feel like they are competing for territory or mates.
As a general rule, only keep one male Dwarf gourami in a tank — and try to avoid brightly colored tank mates that could be mistaken for rivals.
How Big Do Female Dwarf Gourami Get?
Female Dwarf gourami are usually a bit smaller than males. While males get to about 3-inches long, most females stop growing at about 2.4-inches long.
Each female Dwarf gourami still needs about 10 gallons of space to feel comfortable, so you should still aim for 20 or 30 gallons for a pair or group of female Dwarf gourami.
How Can You Tell if a Dwarf Gourami Is Male or Female?
As we mentioned, female Dwarf gourami are smaller than the males. Males are usually more colorful, too.
Additionally, male Dwarf gourami have longer dorsal and anal fins, and the fin tips come to a point. In female Dwarf gouramis, dorsal and anal fins are shorter and more rounded.
What Color Are Female Dwarf Gourami?
Female Dwarf gourami are a pleasing silvery color. The females complement all color varieties of the male Dwarf gourami quite well.
As we said, nothing quite matches a male-female Dwarf gourami pair! They’re like the Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds of the fish world!
Water Parameters for Dwarf Gourami
Dwarf gourami like warm, soft, slightly acidic freshwater without much movement. Because they occasionally breathe using their labyrinth organ, they need to be able to access the top of the tank.
If you see your Dwarf gourami gulp air, do not worry! If you see it happening often, it might be time to check your water parameters.
You can do so using aquarium test strips. When you test, make sure that:
- Your pH is between 6.0 and 7.5
- Your water hardness is between 3 and 8 dKH
- Your ammonia and nitrite levels are below 1ppm (be careful, as even trace amounts of ammonia and nitrite can kill your fish)
- Your nitrate levels are between 0 and 10ppm
You should also use an in-tank thermometer (preferably placed across the tank from your heater) to ensure your water temperature is between 72 and 82°F throughout.
In general, Dwarf gourami prefer stability over perfection. Stick to partial water changes every couple of weeks, and don’t obsess if pH, hardness, or temperature are 1 or 2 degrees off.
Do Dwarf Gourami Need a Filter?
Yes. To keep high-quality water in your tank, you should use an aquarium filter. Of course, Dwarf gourami do not like filters with a high flow rate, so you will need a low-flow or adjustable-flow filter.
Unlike other fish, Dwarf gourami can survive without a filter, but having a low-flow filter will help you keep your water soft, clean, and oxygenated.
Do Gouramis Like Light?
Not particularly. Dwarf gourami perform well in a low-light tank. If you need an aquarium light, make sure it isn’t too bright and offer your gouramis shade with floating aquarium plants.
With too much light, Dwarf gourami can become shy and withdrawn. Also, you must use the night to mimic day and night, so never leave the light on for longer than 8 to 10 hours per day.
You probably can’t sleep with the light on, and your fishy friend won’t be able to, either.
The more your tank looks like the bottom of a pond, the happier your fish will be. Shade at the top of their tank also helps them feel comfortable — just make sure they have room to use their labyrinth organ if needed
What Do I Feed a Dwarf Gourami?
As omnivorous fish, Dwarf gourami can thrive with high-quality dried food. Tropical fish food flakes or pellets work especially well.
For best results, however, add some variety to your gourami’s diet with live or frozen insects. Dwarf gourami love bloodworms.
In the wild, Dwarf gourami eat insects and larvae at the top of their ponds and algae and algae-dwelling creatures at the bottom.
To mirror this diet, keep live plants (and moss balls) in the tank and feed your fish floating flakes, pellets, or insect treats daily.
Remember that Dwarf gourami can be pigs, and they will try to eat your other fish’s food, as well as their own.
One fishkeeper described frustration because his gourami kept eating the veggie wafer he put in the tank for his bottom feeders.
If you need to feed other fish, consider distracting your gourami with live food at the top of the tank.
Also, when it comes to these indulgent creatures, always be careful with overfeeding. It’s better for them to skip a meal than overeat and get bloated.
Will My Dwarf Gourami Mate?
If you have a male-female Dwarf gourami pair who are happy and healthy in your tank, breeding is likely.
Dwarf gourami are bubble nesters, so the males will combine their spit with plant matter in your tank to build a sturdy nest of bubbles at the top of the tank in a community fish aquarium.
Then, he will begin courting the female, squeeze some eggs out of her, and fertilize them immediately. The male will place fertilized eggs in his carefully-crafted bubble nest.
Once the male starts nesting, remove the female from the tank, as she will only stress him out. Once the eggs hatch and become fry, remove the male from the tank, as well, as he may get stressed and eat them.
If you have a community tank, we strongly recommend having a separate breeding tank, as your fish need privacy to raise their young, and fry are extremely vulnerable when dad stops defending the nest.
The female Dwarf gourami can be returned to the community tank as soon as she releases eggs, and the male can be returned to the community tank once the eggs hatch.
Then, you can raise your fry to be big and strong and sell baby Dwarf gourami to interested parties.
Dwarf Gourami Health Problems
Sadly, Dwarf gourami are extremely susceptible to disease. You must keep your water extremely clean to keep them happy and healthy.
Many breeders have stopped selling Dwarf gourami because they are vulnerable to the fatal, highly contagious, and untreatable Dwarf gourami iridovirus (DGIV).
Poor breeding conditions have resulted in as many as 22% of dwarf gouramis being infected with DGIV.
Dwarf gourami can also get swim bladder infections, parasites, and other health problems, so water quality is crucial.
Also, never introduce a new fish to your aquarium without first quarantining it and watching for signs of disease. Always keep a careful eye on your fish’s health and happiness.
Maintaining high-quality water and preventing stress is the best way to prevent Dwarf gourami health problems.
How Long Do Dwarf Gourami Live?
With proper care, most Dwarf gourami live for 4 to 6 years. With perfect care, they can live even longer.
Sadly, DGIV has reduced life expectancy for Dwarf gourami overall. Approximately 9 out of 10 Dwarf gourami don’t make it past 6 months due to poor conditions on fish farms.
The best way to ensure your Dwarf gourami has a full, happy life is to purchase your fish from a trusted breeder and take excellent care of it.
Final Thoughts: Adding a Dwarf Gourami to Your Tank
Dwarf gourami are delightful tropical fish, and a pair of these fish is perfect for a community tank.
Taking care of Dwarf gouramis is easy, as long as you buy from a trusted breeder to avoid problems with DGIV and pair them correctly — a male and female with peaceful, schooling tank mates is a match made in heaven.
Keep your water soft, still, and semi-acidic and maintain warm tropical temperatures to suit your Dwarf gourami best.
Accommodate their shy nature with a low-flow filter, a well-planted tank, a dark substrate, and low lighting.
Most importantly, keep your water clean and free of ammonia and nitrites, and keep nitrate-levels low.
Dwarf gourami are hardy but susceptible to disease, so keeping a clean, stable tank with plenty of hiding spaces is the best way to go.
If you’ve been thinking about getting into fishkeeping, why not start with a pair of Dwarf gourami today? Choose a 20- or 30-gallon tank, so you can expand your underwater environment over time.