Dwarf Gourami | A to Z Guide – Care, Tank Mates, Size, and Diet

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One of the most popular aquarium fishes is the small and beautiful gouramis— a must-have for you! But what stands out the most are the dwarf gouramis that come in different striking colors of blue, red, and all.


Dwarf gouramis (Trichogaster lalius) came from the slow-moving rivers of Bangladesh and India. Originating from the Osphronemidae family, they are the most purchased among all gourami. Now, gouramis also roam in rivers and lakes of other Asian countries, and others such as the USA and Colombia.

The gouramis (old name: Colisa lalia) are easy to care for and can live in varied water conditions. They also belong among the labyrinth fishes— which can breathe directly from the air with no effort. Their lung structure is very much able to get oxygen by only reaching the water surface.

As peaceful fishes, they are perfect to look in groups or pairs as they look good together in a community tank. They do well with other freshwater species and do not bother with other fishes smaller than them. No doubt, gourami fishes are popular with both beginners and pro aquarists alike. 


As its name implies, dwarf gourami is one of the smallest members of all the types of its kind. They vary in colors and markings, with the males more vibrant in appearance than female ones.

A distinct red-orange body serves as the external skin of the gourami; its beautiful vertical markings also add up to the display. The females have more bluish-gray and silvery colors and are not as bright as the male ones. They are also smaller in size than the males, who have a more prominent size and color. 

You can buy gourami in different vivid colors. Neons are gouramis that have tinted blue color, displaying a good visual effect in dim-lit tanks. Rainbow-colored are those who have bold orange-red bodies that complement their blue stripes. There are also the powder blues and blushing reds– named after the predominant colors.

More variant colors have sprung up in years of color mutations among gouramis. Some of these are the flame dwarf gouramis, who have brilliant orange and red gradients. With aquarists getting into more interest in gourami breeding, colors can vary a lot. 

Behaviour & Temperament

Are Dwarf Gouramis Aggressive?

The dwarf gouramis are great fishes to have because of their calm nature. With that, there is no such problem in blending them with other small fish species. They are barely aggressive to other community tank fishes; that is why you will surely love them!

Gourami pairs in your tank are not only a pleasant sight to behold but are also best to have in community tanks. They get well along with other peaceful fishes or even the smaller ones. Dwarf gouramis do have very tame behaviors but have a few exceptions to the rule.

Gouramis are easy to care for their temperament but watch out for the elements that can trigger them. These fishes are sensitive if the populace in the tank is more of males. They tend to be aggressive to each other in such cases. If you own gourami, including larger fishes in the tank can be a threat to them too. 

Aquarium fishes such as the Anabantoids are not compatible with your gouramis. This case is especially true with the male bettas. While this is also unique with other male fishes in the tank, you can still opt for the female ones instead.


How long does dwarf gourami live?

When it comes to the average lifespan, gouramis can take up to 5-7 years. Though some would claim that it is only up to 4 years the most, the actual lifespan of gourami can even reach up to 10 years. Given the appropriate water condition, diet, and maintenance, they can achieve longer lives.

Common diseases 

Of course, gouramis are still vulnerable to diseases if not cared for well. A few of the known ailments that you should watch out for are:

Dwarf Gourami Disease

Also called DGD, this illness on gouramis may be detrimental for them. There are no known effective medications for DGD’s ailments. It is well-known that this species-specific disease is still in the works for a cure. 

This viral infection causes some fading of color and disintegration of their fins. The fish might be more slow-moving, and its fins may even look more breakable too.

Caring for your pet fish, you need to look forward to having the tank’s water changed on a regular schedule. It will help if you watch over the food they eat, serve only the ones that can boost their immunity against DGD.

Dwarf Gourami Iridovirus 

Dwarf Gourami Iridovirus or DGIV is an acute infectious disease that is incurable. As an early intervention for your gourami, their habitat should be in good maintenance. Do this by frequently assessing the water parameters where the gouramis are regularly.

A complex diet is also superb for the gourami as this aids in their health a great deal. It always narrows down to the owner’s monitoring of the fish tank, or else a disease can wipe out all your tank fishes. 

Always consider a water-changing schedule with your tank. Also, make sure that you have adjusted a level of 6.0 to 7.5 of water pH as part of water maintenance. This way, gouramis can also prevent common illnesses (e.g., ich, flukes, and bacterial infection) and at the same time prolong their lives.


How big do dwarf gourami get?

The average size for adult gourami is 2 inches. But this fish species can still grow into at least 3 inches the most. Even more, given that the gourami lives in its natural habitat, it can even reach up to 4.5 inches in length.

How many dwarf gouramis can be kept together?

Dwarf gouramis are peaceful fishes, but the male ones can also be territorial. That is why it is crucial to balance the number of male gouramis in your tank.

If you are lured to the idea that an inch of fish per gallon is okay, then know that this does not work all the time, too. Usually, you can go on from a pair of male and female gourami to a tank of 10 gouramis dedicated to a 55-gallon tank.

In case you would like to work on ten dwarf gouramis, it means you had to consider taking only 3-4 males of their kind. It is because it is not a surprise that the male ones tend to be more aggressive. And they do not only behave this way to each other but also to other male fish species.

The number of female gouramis can somehow help in creating a barrier among the territorial males.

Larger tanks make a more spacious allowance if you are going for these plenty and small fishes. Given the larger space, then there is lesser toxicity of waste products produced by them.

Dwarf Gourami Care

Tank Size

When looking for a tank size for gouramis, take a suitable one that is best for their territorial nature. Most of the time, applying a ratio of 10 gallons per 2-3 gouramis is good enough. If you are into breeding, take a 50- gallon tank instead. 

Remember that it is not advisable to settle on a smaller fish tank all the time. Your aquarium’s filter system will not be able to hold the many waste products of your gouramis.

Tank Setup

You would love how it is easy and enjoying a tank setup will be! Like any fish tanks, equipping yours like in their natural abode is always excellent. Enhance the living experience of the gouramis by focusing on the essentials first. 

  • Substrate. Dwarf gouramis nurture more in slow-moving and dense environments, like paddy fields. A dark-colored substrate with gravels and stones would suffice for a natural abode of this type of fish species. It can also help if you will put plenty of vegetation to create a well-shaded biome for them.
  • Filtration. Take a filter system that can perform well enough to keep the tank water clean. Check the local stores for a recommendable filter system for your gouramis.
  • Lighting. The tropical fish would enjoy being in dense but well-shaded areas. You can provide LED lighting inside the tank for not only the gouramis but also the plants. 
  • Rocks and driftwood. Placing stones or rocks is fundamental for any territorial gouramis. These elements (when present) in the tank can also help in initiating between mates. The same goes for driftwood and similar items that can act as shelving or hiding areas.
  • Floating plants. Best for breeding tanks. Floating plants can aid in hindering too much light exposure in the tank. Gouramis that are mating are best to be in dim-lit areas to perform successful mating. When placing the plants, remain some open areas for the gouramis to receive air on the water surface.

It is on point to place colorful ornaments that can give a background that matches the colors of the fishes. Add also fancy fish aquarium decorations to add some flair to your tank! 

Water conditions

With a few more tweaks, you can deliver a suitable abode for your dwarf gouramis. But most importantly, keep an eye on the water parameters that will help your pet fish live longer. The following will make sure that your gouramis are healthy and comfortable in the water:

  • Water temperature. The gouramis have labyrinth lung organs enabling them to breathe even in low oxygen. Hence, maintaining a consistent water temperature will benefit their lungs well. Daily check the water condition if it ranges under 72 – 82°F for the health of your gouramis. 
  • Water hardness. Gouramis are pretty much hardy fishes. But you still had to take the approximate 5-18 dGH for them to swim in a comfortable state. 
  • pH levels. Relocating tropical fishes from acidic to less acidic water levels can denature their bodies. Ensuring a water pH level ranging from 6.0 to 7.5 (slightly acidic) is the most suitable for dwarf gouramis. Any change in the water chemistry can make an awful reaction to the fish’s health. 

For water replacement, manage to do so by changing 10% to 20% of it all the time. Performing so reduces the possibility of fish disease that can harm or kill the gouramis. Not only that you make the living quarters of the gouramis clean, but you are eliminating the deadly toxins from them as well.

Diet & Feeding

What do dwarf gourami eat?

Dwarf gouramis are okay with any sort of fish food that you give them. In truth, they are the omnivorous type of fish! The idea of mixing live with artificial fish food is still okay to do. In feeding them, only make sure that they are going for the nutritious ones from time to time. Then in effect, this makes them healthy and active all the time. 

In their natural setting, dwarf gouramis hunt for their food by eating algae, bugs, or worms that fall off the water surface.  Dwarf gouramis will naturally approach any small, live objects in the water, and once they sense it as food, then they won’t hesitate to gobble on them. Giving them the right kind of foods will surely satiate their appetites. 

The following are some of the applicable foods to feed the dwarf gouramis:

  • Nutritious fish pellets
  • Live food items (i.e., worms, insects, and larvae)
  • Blanched vegetables (lettuce or spinach)
  • Frozen brine shrimp
  • Algae wafers
  • Flake food

How often should I feed my dwarf gourami?

Even if you have plant-based or pre-made food, a daily schedule of feeding them will benefit the dwarf gouramis a lot. Take your gouramis to 1-2 times daily serving of food. Small amounts of fish food are enough to get their daily fill. Doing so will reduce excessive food from getting to the bottom of the tank that decays over time if not clog filters. 

How long can dwarf gourami go without food?

Most of the time, healthy fishes can thrive for up to 3 days of no food. But in case you are to leave your dwarf gouramis for long, ensure that they are well-fed with food before the day of your absence. 

Usually, the gouramis can endure a length of one week without food. As omnivores, gouramis can live on plants for food. You can also consider buying an automatic feeder if you want them fed on time. 

Light can also affect the dwarf gourami’s activity, meaning they tend to not look for food when it is dim time. Adjusting a light timer to a shorter duration of wake time can set the fishes to be less active in seeking food.

Tank Mates

What fish can live with dwarf gourami?

Dwarf gouramis can get along immediately with other peaceful fishes. Placing them along with others that frequent in the bottom of the tank is a good choice.

You can opt for fishes that are also as slow-moving as the gouramis to prevent competition during food time. Another tip that goes along these lines is that minimizing male species in the community tank makes the gouramis less aggressive. Aim for that peaceful environment that your fishes long to have!

The most suitable tank mates for your gouramis are:

  • Tetras
  • Loaches
  • Catfish
  • Rasboras
  • Mollies

Other small, peaceful fishes are also fine as long as they do not pose a threat to the male gouramis. Only beware of purchasing fishes such as the bettas or the others that almost mimic the same properties of male gourami. 

What fish don’t do well with dwarf gourami?

Gouramis are not alright to be in the companions of larger fishes. When you buy a fish for the aquarium, you can usually purchase a younger form of the particular species. If you are interested in having another fish species for the tank, equip yourself first with enough information on how big their sizes can get. 

There are also particular larger fishes that you need to avoid having in the tank of dwarf gouramis. The following are fishes that may bully or see them as food:

  • Bettas (fancy-looking and has similar features as the gourami)
  • Angelfish 
  • Goldfish
  • Male guppies
  • Goldfish


Are you looking forward to breeding your gouramis? Well, it is easy to do given the right tank conditions! First, you have to decide if the breeding will happen in the main tank or if you have to transfer the pair of gouramis to an isolated one. 

We will advise you to take the latter as the better option so that you can manage closer attention to the breeding process. The benefit of having a separate breeding tank is that you can also prevent other tank fishes from charging to the spawned eggs. 

In setting the temperature inside the tank, always consider the offspring beforehand rather than the adult pair. The young ones are more sensitive, and you need to safeguard them from extremities of light or water conditions. 

A pair must be able to reproduce after six months, and that the males can effortlessly build the egg’s nest. In preparing the gouramis for the process, you can serve them with live food such as worms in the breeding tank. 

When conditioning of the gouramis is over, bring an 82.5-86°F temperature to the water tank. Once you relocate the gouramis, you will notice that the male will not be eager to create an egg nest, but this is normal. Males, when ready, build a foam-like nest where it places the eggs.

As the female gourami is spawning, the male will be there to catch the eggs, then places them in the foam-like nest. The nest may look formed by saliva and is vulnerable to forces of water flow. That is why the breeding tank must also be in a low frequency of water flow to prevent the destruction of the nest and the process itself. 

In less than 30 hours, you can expect the male gourami to have already placed all the eggs in the nest. You will soon observe that larvae will grow from these eggs. If the activity is already completed, remember that you had to immediately return the pair of gouramis to the main tank to prevent them from eating on the eggs. 

You will soon find out that breeding this kind of gouramis is rewarding to do! Within several days you can observe the fry swimming on the water tank. Try providing infusoria or daphnia as their food until they are old enough to be placed in the main tank. When finally reaching the size of 0.6-0.8 inches, the young gouramis are then ready to be taken out of the breeding tank.


Are dwarf gourami good beginner fish?

Dwarf gouramis play a good role in any beautiful aquarium. They are even available in different types and colors! Indeed, owning dwarf gourami even as a beginner is a prime choice to brighten up a dull aquarium.

It is perfect to have them if you want to put many small peaceful fishes inside the tank– as they are tame fishes, too. Although the male gouramis are territorial, it is always best to consider what fishes will you let join the company. 

Having fishes that dwell more at the bottom of the tank is a good option. Plus, providing the gouramis food to eat is not bothersome, as they munch on almost any food you give them.

As brief, dwarf gouramis are best for:

  • Those who are into aesthetic aquarium-building
  • Those who are into community-type of fishes
  • Those who have an interest in breeding dwarf gouramis

Buying a group of gouramis will liven up your tank. Once you have them, you will realize why they are a favorite to all aquarium enthusiasts. 

If you are only starting to have an aquarium, then you can tick the dwarf gouramis as a member of your tank. Taking care of this hardy fish is not over-burdening at all!