Sparkling Gourami – Little Gem

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Sparkling gourami are freshwater fish that can make a super addition to your tank.

They are fairly underrated and are not a fish that you will come across too often which makes them ideal to add some originality to your setup.

Sparkling gourami lives up to their name with unique color patterns of iridescent spots covering their bodies.

But perhaps one of their biggest positive attributes is their ability to live in community fish tanks.

If you want to find out whether the sparkling gourami is for you, keep reading!

Sparkling Gourami Origin

The sparkling gourami (scientific name: Trichopsis pumila) is also known as the pygmy gourami (not to be confused with the dwarf gourami).

They are native to the ponds and rice fields of Southeast Asia and enjoy the typical gourami environment of slow-moving streams and calm water.

Like betta fish, sparkling gourami possesses a labyrinth organ.

This means they can breathe air from the surface to get oxygen when the oxygen in the water is inadequate.

The species was first described back in 1936 after they were found in the Mekong River basin which runs in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand.

They can also be called Dwarf Croaking Gourami and Sparkling Pygmy Gourami.

If you ever see those names used, they are referring to the same species.

Appearance and Size

Sparkling gourami have an elongated body that narrows before a full spade-shaped tail.

They are small fish, hence the name pygmy gourami, with their fins making up 30% of their length.

Speaking of their fins, they are a stand-out feature of these gouramis.

They have a prominent standing dorsal fin and a short thread line coming from their small pelvic fin.

Sparkling gouramis have large eyes with a blue edge that surrounds them.

Their base color is fairly plain, with most being a shade of brown.

The sparkle comes in with colorful spots and speckles that cover their sides and fins. These create a blue, green, or gray shimmer across the body.

Each individual sparkling gourami has a unique pattern, no two are alike.

Some have prominent blue spots while others have uniform black stripes.

Male sparkling gourami have a more pointed fin than females and have a red stripe that runs along their entire body.


The average lifespan for a sparkling gourami is between 4 and 5 years.

Of course, this is significantly impacted by the level of care you give your fish.

It is important to buy the healthiest fish possible so you get off to a good start and keep in mind that genetics also play a big role in the fish’s lifespan.

Tank Size and Setup

Sparkling gourami are hardy fish and tolerant of smaller tanks.

They can live in a 5-gallon tank but 10 – 15 gallons is recommended.

Sparkling gourami love plants and thrive in a setup that mimics their natural environment.

Keeping that in mind, the other important thing to consider is water flow. Like betta fish, sparkling gourami enjoys calm slow moving water.

When selecting a filter, ensure that it does not cause too much flow in your tank.

Lots of shelter is also important to make your sparkling gourami feel safe in their environment.

These fish don’t like feeling overly exposed and having hiding spots will allow your fish to escape potential conflicts with other tank mates.

Sparkling gourami are not schooling fish, per se, but they are happy to live with a few others of their kind.

Remember that the more fish you want to keep, the bigger tank you will need.

Four or more sparkling gouramis can live together happily in a 20-gallon tank.

TIP: If you want to make your sparkling gourami ‘pop’, use a dark backdrop and substrate to enhance their colors.

Water Parameters

Just because they are hardy fish, doesn’t mean they do well in bad water conditions.

Dirty water leads to a rise in ammonia and nitrite levels which can greatly impact your fish’s health and even prove fatal.

To avoid this, ensure you perform weekly water changes.

Sparkling gourami enjoy a water pH of 6 to 7 (but can also live with a pH of 8) and a temperature of 76°F to 82°F (24.5°C to 27.5C°).

Since they are labyrinth breathers, make sure your tank has enough surface area open for them to get oxygen from the air if they please.

Temperament and Behavior

Sparkling gouramis are peaceful fish but males can become aggressive when competing for territory or females.

To avoid this, keep 2 to 3 females per male in your tank.

They enjoy exploring planted sections and finding spots to hide in your decor.

Something unique about sparkling gouramis is their ability to make sounds.

If they are happy, or during the mating season, you may hear loud chirp-like noises coming from your tank.

Don’t be alarmed, it is completely normal for them!

The ‘Trichopsis’ in their scientific name is given to fish that can “talk”.

Sparkling gourami can make these noises by using their special pectoral fin muscles to beat the fins and push out a short burst of sound.

This ability is not possessed by one gender, both females and males are able to make noises.

Sparling Gourami Tank Mates

Due to their small size (only reaching 1.5 inches when fully grown), it is advisable to choose other smaller tank mates.

Even though sparkling gourami are peaceful and usually non-aggressive, that doesn’t mean that they can be kept with more dominant fish.

Tank mates that are significantly larger or aggressive than your sparkling gourami will cause stress and issues in the tank hierarchy.

With that in mind, there are still some fantastic options to choose from for tank mates.

These include Dwarf Gourami (another member of the gourami family that are also native to Southeast Asia), Ember Tetras (tried and true small favorites of the fish-keeping hobby), Cory Catfish (peaceful bottom dwellers that stay between 1 and 4 inches in size), and Harlequin Rasboras (good small community fish that are easy keepers and have a beautiful shimmer when kept in a school).


Wild sparkling gouramis mainly eat small insects that sit on the water’s surface (and a small amount of algae).

Captive sparkling gouramis are quite content to live on both dry and live foods with flakes also being an acceptable option.

If you want to feed live or frozen foods, look at blood worms, artemia, and shrimp meat.

Live foods are particularly helpful in growing your sparkling gouramis out well and having the best-looking fish.

But, as with all fish, everything in moderation is the key.

Sparkling gourami are small and do not require a lot of food. To have the healthiest fish possible, buy the best quality food you can afford.

Aim for something with high protein content, that is what is most important to your fish.


Despite being a relatively hardy fish species, there are some common diseases that sparkling gouramis are susceptible to.

A clean environment and good food will help avoid these but sometimes, it is inevitable.

The three most common issues are fin rot, white spot disease, and cotton wool disease.

Fin Rot: This is a common disease caused by specific bacteria that target the fish’s fins. It is easy to identify by torn or jagged fins.

Their fins are not the only part of the fish that will suffer.

Fish can also appear weak and lethargic. Some even lose their color.

Keep a look out for any of those symptoms, as well as loss of appetite and abdominal swelling.

The good thing about fin rot is it’s easy to treat.

If you catch it early, pop some antibiotics (you can get these at your pet store) into the water and make sure all water parameters are correct to avoid re-infection.

White Spot Disease: this disease is caused by a parasite and will cause fish to rub their bodies along surfaces in the tank to get rid of the irritation.

As the parasite ages, tiny white spots will pop up over the fish’s body.

Appetite loss, lethargy, and increased respiration are all symptoms of White Spot Disease.

As with fin rot, it is easy to treat with an antiparasitic treatment that can be placed in the tank water.

Cotton Wool Disease: This disease is highly infectious and can quickly spread through your tank, affecting all of your fish.

It is caused by bacteria and fungi.

It often pops up in fish that are already ill or living in bad water conditions.

White or gray growths will appear on your fish’s mouth, body, and fins.

This disease can progress quickly with ulcers developing in the body.

Luckily, antibacterial medications can help treat this condition.

As with the other diseases mentioned, early detection is highly important.

TIP: When adding a new fish to your setup, place them in a quarantine tank for a minimum of 2 weeks before you place them with your other fish.

This will allow any potential diseases to present themself and be treated or show you that the fish is healthy enough to be placed with the others.

All new objects must be thoroughly washed (but with aquarium-safe products, not regular soap) before being placed into your tank.

This will help get rid of bacteria and parasites that may be hiding.

Sexing and Breeding

Breeding fish is something that needs to be done with some thought and caution.

If you would like to breed your sparkling gourami, this is what you can do.

Make sure that you have a separate spawning tank available that is away from the other fish.

After you have placed a healthy male and female together in a breeding tank, the male will begin to build a bubble nest for the eggs.

Broad-leafed plants that sit at the surface make the perfect vessel for these nests.

Once the pair has mated, the male will transfer the fertilized eggs to the nest.

You can leave both parents in the tank but the female plays no role in guarding the eggs.

Once the fry are born and can swim freely, the male no longer has a job and he can be removed with the female.

With sparkling gouramis, there usually isn’t much concern about them eating their fry so you could leave the parents in the tank if necessary.

Fry need to be fed specific food that is small enough for them to eat.

As they grow, keep their water as clean as possible by doing small regular water changes.

Once they are large enough, you can introduce them into your community tank or sell them at your local pet store.

Should You Add Sparkling Gourami To Your Tank?

Sparkling gourami are bright little freshwater fish that can make a super addition to your aquarium.

They are hardy, peaceful, and love a well planted tank.

If you are looking for a fish that is easy to look after, gets on well with other small species, and offers a unique look (and ‘voice’), then the sparkling gourami is for you.


Are sparkling gouramis aggressive?

Female sparkling gourami are peaceful little fish. Male sparkling gourami can become aggressive when searching for a mate or when establishing their territory.

How many sparkling gourami should you keep?

Sparkling Gourami prefer to live in groups of at least 4 members. It is advisable to keep one male with several females.

Can I keep one sparkling gourami?

Yes, you can as long as the tank is well planted and there are other fish as companions.

Can a sparkling gourami live in a 10-gallon tank?

Yes, they can. These fish are small so they can easily be housed in a 10-gallon tank.

Are sparkling gouramis territorial?

Males can be territorial against each other. Sparkling gourami are quite timid fish.

Can I keep honey gourami with Sparkling Gourami?

Yes, you can because honey gourami are also peaceful community fish.

Check out all these different types of freshwater fish.

Photo of author


Irma Bense is the founder of 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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