Care Guide for Honey Gouramis – Our Favorite Peaceful Gourami
Looking for a beautiful centerpiece fish that is similar to a betta but isn’t as aggressive and plays well with other tank mates? We recommend the honey gourami. Like betta fish, honey gouramis are brightly colored, make bubble nests to house their eggs, and have a special labyrinth organ that allows them to absorb oxygen directly from the air. Learn all about this peaceful nano fish and their easy care requirements.
What are Honey Gouramis?
Trichogaster chuna comes from India and Bangladesh and is found in slow-moving ponds full of vegetation. Because of the seasonal monsoon rains, its habitat experiences sudden fluctuations in water chemistry, making it a hardy pet that is great for beginners. Like many gouramis, the honey gourami has a flat, oblong-shaped body with two modified ventral fins that act like long, trailing whiskers.
Is a honey gourami the same as a dwarf gourami? No, the dwarf gourami is a different species called Trichogaster lalius that grows to 3 inches (8 cm), whereas the honey gourami is smaller in size and stays around 2 inches (5 cm). While dwarf gouramis have a greater number of color varieties to choose from, their feisty nature means that they can be more prone to bullying other fish in the aquarium.
Yellow or gold type honey gouramis are the most common variety found at fish stores.
What are the different types of honey gouramis? The most common kinds are wild type, yellow gold, and red. Sometimes the latter type is called “sunset honey gourami,” but that common name is often confused with the sunset thick-lipped gourami (Trichogaster labiosa). Thick-lipped gouramis grow up to 3.5–4 inches (9–10 cm), so make sure you are buying the correct species.
Why is my honey gourami turning black? They are mostly solid-colored, but the throat and belly of a male gourami can turn dark blue-black when courting a female.
How much do honey gouramis cost? In the United States, they usually range from $5 to $10, depending on your location and the color variety of the gourami.
How to Set Up an Aquarium for Honey Gouramis
As mentioned before, honey gouramis are used to living in a wide range of conditions, such as pH of 6.0–8.0, temperatures between 74–82°F (23–28°C), and soft to hard water hardness (or GH). A single honey gourami can live in a 5- or 10-gallon tank, but a group of three gouramis would do better in a 20-gallon aquarium.
Honey gouramis live in sluggish waters, so use a filter with slower flow.
Are honey gouramis aggressive? No, they are considered to be peaceful community fish that get along with everyone. In fact, if you have a semi-aggressive fish that establishes itself as the “tank boss,” the honey gourami can become quite shy and start hiding all the time. That being said, honey gouramis sometimes squabble amongst themselves, especially if you have a male defending his territory during breeding periods. We have also seen a dominant female chase away another female during mealtimes, so spread out the fish food and provide lots of cover to minimize any minor quarreling.
Can I keep a honey gourami alone? Both sexes are equally good-natured and can live alone or in a group. They are not schooling fish and do not tend to swim together if they are comfortable with their surroundings. If you keep a pair of them, make sure they have plenty of room and that one gourami is not dominating the other.
What fish can live with a honey gourami? Their agreeable personalities mean that they get along with similar-sized community fish. Their classic yellow color really stands out in a lushly planted aquarium with schooling fish of a contrasting color, such as green neon tetras or blue neon rasboras (Sundadanio axelrodi ‘blue’). They also do well with bottom dwellers like cory catfish, rosy loaches, and kuhli loaches. We have kept them with a betta fish before, but it only worked out if the betta was not as aggressive so be prepared to separate them if necessary. Finally, they do not seem to go after adult amano or cherry shrimp but will opportunistically eat any babies they find.
For a gourami, Trichogaster chuna is very peaceful and easy to get along with.
What do Honey Gouramis Eat?
In the wild, they eat small bug larvae, crustaceans, and other invertebrates — similar to betta fish. They are not picky eaters and willingly eat an omnivore diet of flakes, nano pellets, Repashy gel food, freeze-dried foods, frozen foods, and live foods. While many labyrinth fish (or anabantoids) like to hang around the middle to top layers of the aquarium, we find that our honey gouramis swim all over the tank and readily eat both floating and sinking foods.
How to Breed Honey Gouramis
Honey gouramis are fun fish to breed, especially if you have never bred bubble nesters before. (And unlike betta fish breeding projects, there is no need to separate the juveniles into individual jars or containers because of aggression issues.) There are many different ways to breed honey gouramis, but the first step is to ensure you have at least one male and one female. When it comes to sexing gouramis, the male is usually more vibrant in coloration than the female, and his throat turns dark blue-black during courtship.
Male honey gourami in breeding dress
We prepared a 10-gallon aquarium with approximately 6–8 inches (15–20 cm) of water, a heater set to 82°F (28°C), and a gentle sponge filter with minimal surface agitation. Add plenty of floating plants like water sprite and water wisteria so the male has good places to anchor his bubble nest. Also, many hobbyists recommend sealing the aquarium lid with plastic wrap to increase the humidity and ensure proper labyrinth organ development in the babies.
Add a male and female pair of honey gouramis to the breeding tank, and feed lots of frozen foods and live foods like baby brine shrimp to condition them for spawning. After the male makes a suitable bubble nest and courts the female, he will embrace the female multiple times and collect the eggs she drops with his mouth, carefully placing them in the bubble nest. Then he will ferociously guard his clutch and chase away anyone that gets near, including the mother, so you can remove the female at this point.
Depending on the temperature of the tank, the eggs may hatch after 24–36 hours and the fry become free swimming after another 1–2 days. Once the newborns leave the bubble nest, it is safe to remove the father from the tank as well. Honey gouramis can lay hundreds of eggs, but there is usually a high fry mortality rate within the first two weeks. The babies are very tiny and require constant access to miniscule foods like infusoria, vinegar eels, and powdered fry food. Around the 2-week mark, they should be big enough to eat live baby brine shrimp as their primary food, which we highly recommend due to its densely nutritious content. Veteran breeders recommend feeding little meals multiple times a day and doing daily, small water changes to ensure the fry have enough to eat without fouling the water with rotting leftovers.
We hope you get a chance to enjoy this hardy and colorful beginner fish in a planted aquarium. If you are intrigued by the fascinating world of gouramis, check out our article on the Top 5 Peaceful Gouramis for a Community Tank.