Dwarf Gourami: Small Size, Big Personality

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These majestic fish are native to the slow-flowing rivers, ponds, rice fields, and lakes of Southern Asia, but can now be found in aquariums around the world.

Scientifically known as Trichogaster lalius, Dwarf Gourami are part of the Gourami family and are known for their vibrant colors and shy, easygoing nature.

As labyrinth fish, they have a lung-like labyrinth organ that allows them to breathe air from the water’s surface.

In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about caring for Dwarf Gouramis, including their ideal tank setup, compatible tank mates, feeding habits, and breeding behavior.

Whether you’re a beginner or experienced fish keeper, you’ll find valuable information to help you create a happy and healthy home for your Dwarf Gouramis.

So, let’s dive in and explore the fascinating world of these beautiful fish.

Quick Facts

Scientific NameTrichogaster lalius
Origin and HabitatSoutheast Asia: India, Bangladesh, Pakistan
AppearanceElongated body, vibrant colors (red, blue, orange)
SizeApproximately 2 inches (5 centimeters)
TypesPowder Blue, Neon Blue, Flame Dwarf Gouramis
Lifespan4 to 6 years
Temperament & BehaviorPeaceful and docile
Tank SizeMinimum 10 gallons for a single Dwarf Gourami
Water ParametersTemperature: 76°F to 82°F, pH: 6.0 to 7.5
Tank Setup & DecorationsLive plants, floating vegetation, driftwood, rocks
Tank MatesPeaceful, non-aggressive fish species
BreedingBubblenest builders, require suitable nesting sites
Suitable for BeginnersYes

Origin and Habitat

Dwarf Gourami, also known as Trichogaster lalius, is a freshwater fish species that originates from South Asia.

Specifically, they are native to India, Bangladesh, and West Bengal.

In their natural habitat, they are found in slow-moving waters, including rivers, lakes, and swamps.

The Dwarf Gourami’s natural habitat is heavily vegetated, with lots of plants and other aquatic vegetation.

They prefer shallow waters with a lot of hiding places, such as roots and rocks.

They like to have access to areas with open water, where they can swim freely.

In the wild, Dwarf Gourami live in groups, and they are often found alongside other Gourami species.

They are also known to inhabit areas with a lot of algae growth, as they are omnivores and feed on both plants and small aquatic creatures.

Dwarf Gourami tank size

Scientific Name

When it comes to identifying the Dwarf Gourami, its scientific name is Trichogaster lalius.

This species of gourami is also commonly known as Colisa lalia.

The Dwarf Gourami belongs to the family Osphronemidae and is a member of the order Anabantiformes.

The name “Trichogaster” is derived from the Greek words “thrix” meaning hair and “gaster” meaning belly, which refers to the hair-like extensions found on the ventral side of the fish.

These extensions are more prominent in males and are often used to attract females during the breeding season.

The species name “lalius” is Latin for “pale,” which describes the fish’s coloration.

Appearance & Size

One of the most alluring aspects of Dwarf Gouramis is their striking appearance.

These small gems boast elongated and slender bodies, which serve as a canvas for an explosion of colors.

Radiant hues of red, blue, and orange intermingle to create a captivating display of nature’s artistry.

Their fins, often adorned with intricate patterns, further contribute to their charm.

On average, Dwarf Gouramis grow to around 2 inches (approximately 5 centimeters) in length, making them a perfect fit for smaller aquariums and a favorite among aquarists seeking a burst of color.

Male vs Female Dwarf Gourami

Male and female Dwarf Gouramis have some distinct differences in appearance.

Males are typically larger and much more colorful than females, with vibrant hues of blue, red, and orange.

They also have longer dorsal fins and pointed anal fins.

Females, on the other hand, are smaller and less colorful, with a more subdued silver appearance.

They have shorter dorsal fins and rounded anal fins.

Female Dwarf Gourami
Female Dwarf Gourami


Dwarf Gouramis have a relatively long lifespan compared to other fish species.

They can live up to 5 years in captivity with proper care.

However, their lifespan can be affected by a variety of factors, including water quality, diet, and stress levels.

It is important to provide your Dwarf Gourami with a healthy environment and a balanced diet to ensure they live a long and healthy life.

Types of Dwarf Gourami

The Dwarf Gourami is an excellent choice if you are looking for a centerpiece fish.

They come in various colors and patterns, and each type has its unique personality and traits.

In this section, we will discuss the different types of Dwarf Gourami in detail.

Dwarf Gourami

The standard Dwarf Gourami displays a stunning and vibrant color palette.

Its body is adorned with an exquisite blend of radiant hues, including captivating reds, iridescent blues, and luscious oranges.

Dwarf Gourami Care

These colors beautifully intertwine to create a mesmerizing and kaleidoscopic display that catches the eye and leaves a lasting impression.

The fins of the Dwarf Gourami also share in this enchanting coloration, accentuating its elegance and allure.

Powder Blue Dwarf Gourami

The Powder Blue Dwarf Gourami is characterized by its serene and captivating coloration.

As the name suggests, this variant showcases a delicate and tranquil powder blue hue that gracefully envelops its entire body.

Powder Blue Dwarf Gourami

The ethereal blue shade creates a calming and soothing ambiance.

The Powder Blue Dwarf Gourami’s fins also share in this enchanting coloration, with the same soft and peaceful powder blue tones extending to these delicate appendages.

This seamless continuity of color adds to the fish’s overall charm and elegance.

Neon Blue Dwarf Gourami

The Neon Blue Dwarf Gourami boasts an electrifying and captivating coloration that instantly catches the eye.

True to its name, this variant exhibits an intense and vibrant neon blue hue that electrifies its entire body.

Neon Blue Dwarf Gourami

The luminous blue shade radiates an energy and liveliness that adds an exciting splash of color to any aquarium setting.

The neon blue color extends to the fins of the Dwarf Gourami, creating a seamless and dynamic display of color throughout its slender and elegant body.

This vivid coloration further enhances the fish’s striking appearance, making it a standout centerpiece in any aquatic landscape.

Flame Dwarf Gourami

The Flame Dwarf Gourami is a captivating sight, showcasing a fiery and intense coloration that commands attention.

Its body is adorned with a striking blend of vivid reddish-orange hues that resemble the warm and flickering flames of a fire.

Flame Dwarf Gourami

This vibrant coloration extends throughout its slender form, creating an aura of energy and excitement that instantly draws the eye.

The fins of the Flame Dwarf Gourami also share in this fiery coloration with an added splash of vibrant blue, enhancing its overall charm and allure.

The combination of its radiant body and vibrant fins creates a captivating contrast that further intensifies its striking appearance.

Temperament & Behavior

The behavior and temperament of the Dwarf Gourami are key reasons for their popularity among aquarium enthusiasts.

These charming freshwater fish are known for their peaceful and docile nature, making them ideal additions to community aquariums.

Dwarf Gouramis are generally well-mannered and non-aggressive towards other fish.

They prefer a calm and harmonious environment, where they can peacefully coexist with compatible tank mates.

Their serene demeanor creates a tranquil and stress-free atmosphere within the aquarium, contributing to a positive and enjoyable fishkeeping experience.

When kept in groups, Dwarf Gouramis exhibit social behavior, engaging in playful interactions and forming a cohesive community.

They often display fascinating courtship rituals, with males showing off their vibrant colors and building bubble nests at the water’s surface to attract females.

Despite their gentle nature, it is essential to provide them with adequate hiding spots and plants to create a sense of security in their habitat.

Dense vegetation and floating plants can also encourage natural behaviors and exploration, making them feel more at ease.

While Dwarf Gouramis are generally peaceful, it is essential to avoid keeping multiple male Gouramis together in the same tank, as this can lead to territorial disputes and aggression.

Breeding Dwarf Gourami

Tank Size and Setup

Tank Size

When it comes to Dwarf Gourami, the minimum tank size should be 10 gallons.

It is recommended to have a larger tank, preferably 20 gallons or more as it allows for more stable water parameters and swimming space.

Keep in mind that Dwarf Gouramis are active swimmers and need plenty of space to thrive.

Water Parameters

Here are the recommended water parameters:

  • Temperature: Tropical 72° to 82° Fahrenheit
  • pH: 6.0 to 8.0
  • Water Hardness: 5-18 dGH

Tank Setup & Decorations

When setting up your tank for Dwarf Gourami, keep in mind that they prefer a heavily planted aquarium with plenty of hiding spaces.

Here are some tips for setting up your tank:

  • Substrate: Use a fine-grain substrate that won’t damage their delicate fins.
  • Plants: Provide plenty of live plants like Java Fern, Amazon Sword, and Anubias to create hiding spaces and provide oxygen.
  • Cover: Dwarf Gouramis like to hide, so provide plenty of cover like caves, rocks, and driftwood.
  • Lighting: Provide moderate lighting to support plant growth.


Dwarf Gourami is an omnivore, which means they eat both plant and animal matter.

In the wild, they feed on small insects, crustaceans, and plankton.

In an aquarium, their diet should consist of a variety of foods to keep them healthy and happy.

When it comes to fish food, you can feed them flakes, pellets, and frozen food.

Make sure that the food you are feeding them is of high quality and specifically designed for dwarf gouramis.

Low-quality food can cause health problems and even death.

Apart from fish food, you can also feed them live foods such as daphnia and brine shrimp.

These foods are a great source of protein and will keep your dwarf gourami healthy and happy.

They also need plant matter in their diet.

You can feed them blanched vegetables such as spinach, zucchini, and peas.

Not only will these foods provide them with the necessary nutrients, but they will also help with their digestion.

Tank Mates

When it comes to selecting tank mates for your Dwarf Gourami, it’s important to choose fish that have a similar temperament and size.

Here are some suitable tank mates that you can consider:

  1. Mollies – These fish are peaceful and easy to care for. They also come in a variety of colors, which can add some vibrancy to your tank.
  2. Neon Tetras – These schooling fish are peaceful and can add some color to your tank.
  3. Rasboras – These fish are small and peaceful, making them suitable tank mates for Dwarf Gouramis. They are also active swimmers, which can add some movement to your tank.
  4. Loaches – These fish are bottom-dwellers and can help keep your tank clean by eating leftover food and debris.
  5. Bristlenose Plecos – These fish are known for their ability to keep tanks clean by eating algae.
  6. Platies – These fish are easy to care for and come in a variety of colors.
  7. Cherry Barbs – These fish are peaceful and can add some color to your tank. They are also active swimmers, which can add some movement to your tank.
  8. Cory Catfish – These fish are peaceful and can help keep your tank clean by eating leftover food and debris. They are also bottom-dwellers, which can add some variety to your tank.
  9. Harlequin Rasboras – These schooling fish are peaceful and can add some color to your tank.
  10. Siamese Algae Eaters – These fish are known for their ability to keep tanks clean by eating algae.

When selecting tank mates for your Dwarf Gourami, avoid aggressive fish such as Bettas.

Iridovirus Dwarf Gourami Disease

If you own a dwarf gourami, you might have heard of Iridovirus Dwarf Gourami Disease.

This disease is caused by a virus that affects the spleen and kidney of infected fish.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for this disease, and it is highly contagious.

Symptoms of Iridovirus Dwarf Gourami Disease include lethargy, loss of appetite, and pale coloration.

You might also notice your fish swimming erratically or experiencing difficulty swimming.

If you observe these symptoms in your dwarf gourami, it is important to act quickly to prevent the spread of the disease.

The cause of Iridovirus Dwarf Gourami Disease is severe inbreeding, which weakens the immune system of the fish and makes them more susceptible to infection.

If you have a dwarf gourami in your tank that is infected with Iridovirus, other fish in the tank are also at risk of infection.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for Iridovirus Dwarf Gourami Disease.

However, you can take steps to prevent the disease from spreading.

Quarantine infected fish and treat them with medication to help alleviate their symptoms.

Additionally, make sure your tank is clean and well-maintained to prevent the spread of the disease to other fish in the tank.

Tank Mates Dwarf Gourami


To successfully breed these charming fish, it’s essential to provide the right conditions and carefully observe their behaviors.

Here’s a detailed guide on how to breed Dwarf Gouramis:

  1. Tank Setup: Prepare a separate breeding tank to encourage the spawning process. A tank size of around 10 gallons (approximately 38 liters) should be sufficient. Ensure the tank is well-planted with soft and fine-leaved vegetation, as well as plenty of floating plants These plants create suitable hiding spots and provide a sense of security for the Gouramis during the breeding process.
  2. Pairing: Introduce a compatible male and female Dwarf Gourami into the breeding tank. When selecting breeding pairs, ensure they are healthy, mature, and free from any signs of illness or aggression. Avoid housing multiple males together, as they may become territorial and aggressive towards one another.
  3. Conditioning: Before attempting to breed, condition the breeding pair with a nutritious and varied diet. Offer them high-quality live or frozen foods, such as bloodworms, brine shrimp, and daphnia, to enhance their reproductive readiness.
  4. Courtship and Spawning: Once the Gouramis are adequately conditioned, the male will begin to display his vibrant colors and build a bubblenest at the water’s surface. The bubblenest serves as a safe place for the female to deposit her eggs. The courtship ritual involves the male enticing the female to the bubblenest with elaborate displays of colors and fin flaring. When the female is ready to spawn, she releases her eggs, and the male fertilizes them by wrapping his body around her.
  5. Egg Care: After spawning, the male carefully collects the eggs in his mouth and transfers them to the bubblenest. This process may take some time, and it’s essential to monitor the tank during this period to ensure the eggs are protected.
  6. Female Removal: Once spawning is complete, it’s crucial to remove the female from the breeding tank to prevent aggression from the male. The male will take sole responsibility for caring for the eggs and fry.
  7. Fry Care: The male will diligently guard the bubblenest and care for the developing eggs. After hatching, the fry will remain in the bubblenest for several days until they are free-swimming. At this point, the male may continue to protect the fry, or you can choose to remove him to a separate tank to ensure the safety of the fry.
  8. Feeding the Fry: The newly hatched fry can be fed infusoria or liquid fry food initially, gradually transitioning to powdered or crushed flake food as they grow.

Should You Consider This Fish?

As someone who has kept fish for years and is deeply passionate about aquariums, I wholeheartedly recommend the Dwarf Gourami to any enthusiast.

Their vibrant colors, peaceful temperament, and ease of care make them a delightful addition to any aquarium, especially for beginners embarking on their aquatic journey.

Whether you are a seasoned aquarist or just beginning your journey into the world of fishkeeping, the Dwarf Gourami is undoubtedly a fish worth considering.


Are Dwarf Gouramis suitable for a beginner’s aquarium?

Yes, Dwarf Gouramis are beginner-friendly due to their calm nature and ease of care. Just ensure proper tank setup and compatible tank mates.

How can I tell the gender of Dwarf Gouramis?

Males often display more vibrant colors and have pointed dorsal fins, while females are generally smaller, are a more muted silver color and have rounded dorsal fins.

Can I keep multiple male Dwarf Gouramis in one tank?

It’s not recommended to house multiple male Dwarf Gouramis together, as they may become territorial and aggressive towards each other.

How can I encourage Dwarf Gourami breeding?

Providing a well-planted tank with floating vegetation and maintaining stable water conditions can encourage breeding behavior.

Can Dwarf Gouramis jump out of the aquarium?

Yes, they are capable of jumping, so it’s essential to have a secure lid to prevent any accidental escapes.

Photo of author


Irma Bense is the founder of BetterFishkeeping.com. She has over 42 years of experience in keeping fish.She has kept both freshwater and saltwater fish through the years.She has extensive knowledge in breeding numerous species of fish from Show Guppies, Cory Catfish, German Blue Rams to Apistogrammas.You can learn more about Irma on the 'About' page.

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