Please visit our Sponsors
FAQs on Colisa lalia "Dwarf" Gouramis of Many Names, Honey, Flames, Neon Blue,  Sunset Fire... Behavior

Related Articles: Anabantoids/Gouramis & Relatives, Genera Ctenopoma & Microctenopoma, Betta splendens/Siamese Fighting Fish

Related FAQs:  Dwarf Gouramis, Dwarf Gourami Identification, Dwarf Gourami Compatibility, Dwarf Gourami Selection, Dwarf Gourami Systems, Dwarf Gourami Feeding, Dwarf Gourami Disease, Dwarf Gourami Reproduction, & FAQs on: Gouramis 1, Gouramis 2, Gourami Identification, Gourami Behavior, Gourami Compatibility, Gourami Selection, Gourami Systems, Gourami Feeding, Gourami Disease, Gourami Reproduction, Betta splendens/Siamese Fighting Fish,

A Neon Blue male.

Dwarf Gourami Behaviour   12/31/11
Hi there!
I have been reading posts from your website for about a month now and I think I can safely say that so far, it has proved to be the most informative, at least for me anyway.
<Glad you're enjoying.>
I have 1 male and 2 female dwarf gourami. I have had them approximately a month or so collectively and thus far none have showed any sign of DGD. In fact all 3 seem very active, happy and confident. Both females I bought online and are smaller than the male. The larger female is approximately two thirds the size of the male. I'm told by the LFS that the males are sold already sexually mature.
<More or less.>
The tank is 36" long by 14" high and 12" deep and medium to heavily planted.
Since I've had the male he has built a bubble nest just once when I dropped the water level, but failed to coax the seemingly adolescent females into breeding.
Since then he has seemed to have lost interest in building any nests and is content to swim with the larger female back and forth and ravage my floating banana lilies (which is completely fine by me).
<Not uncommon. Do check water chemistry (needs to be soft and acidic) and offer live foods regularly, or at least a good substitute, e.g., wet-frozen foods.>
Don't worry, I'm leading up to my question very soon! I feed them flakes, blood worm and frozen brine shrimp alternately, but no live food as of yet.
Now all 3 DG's are very confident and affectionate towards me insomuch that they love it when I have to put my hand in the water for any reason (feeding, trimming, general maintenance). Even the usually shyer smaller female comes out to nibble my fingers and arms.
I know that this is more than likely related to expectations of being fed, but it illustrates how extremely comfortable these fish are with me.
<Yes and yes.>
I don't know if this is bad or not, but I even like to put my hand in the tank and let them swim around me, nibbling and even bumping affectionately against my hand.
<Do consider cross-infections though. Soap, for example, is very toxic to fish, and conversely, open wounds on your skin can allow Mycobacteria infections to become a problem. Dwarf Gouramis are known carriers of Mycobacteria infections, and while not apparently dangerous to humans, at least some of these fish-borne Mycobacteria strains can cause unsightly and uncomfortable rashes.>
My question is this: would putting my hand in the aquarium and encouraging physical contact with the fish discourage or interrupt their desire or impulse to spawn?
<Potentially discourage.>
I just enjoy 'playing' with them so much that it makes me worry that they might lose the urge to reproduce.
<Yes, any disturbance has the potential to disrupt breeding behaviours including nest-building. Breeders tend to put their fish into a quiet aquarium so they can focus on one another and their breeding behaviours.>
And I just want to be clear that I let the fish come to me on their own accord. I never seek them out or torment them.
<Interaction with fish in the way you describe is fine, beneficial even. But do understand the potential risks, problems.>
Your opinion would be greatly appreciated!
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Dwarf Gourami Behaviour    12/31/11

Thanks for the prompt reply.
<Most welcome.>
Yep, the water is soft and acidic. I have an external canister filter with active carbon and I recently bought a bag of Chemsorb (mostly because I had green water beginning to develop) to remove as much of the harmful toxins as I possibly could and soften the heck out of the water.
<Not familiar with this product but Google suggests it's largely activated carbon. That's fine for removing toxins, if you think there are some in the water, but needn't be used all the time. For a start, carbon won't affect hardness or pH. Secondly, carbon removes good chemicals such as medications. Thirdly, carbon has no affect on things in tap water, like ammonia and chlorine. Fourthly, all these chemical media need replacing every 2-3 weeks, so if used to do the job you want, they're expensive to use. After about a month they're so covered in dirt and bacteria they're simply wasting space in the filter.>
Worked like a charm, too.
<In what way? To be honest, I don't see any use for these sorts of chemical media in most freshwater tanks.>
Regarding the matter of my hands in the aquarium, whenever I need to use soap to remove anything more harmful from my hands, I always keep my hands under running water and scrubbing them for a further 10 seconds or so to remove as much residual soap as I can and then completely dry my hands before immersing in the tank. Hope this makes a difference.
<Yes, it will. Good approach.>
At present, it is summer here in Australia and although the dwarf gourami are enjoying the warmer water (I've switched off the heater), I'm concerned that my 'false julli' Corydoras and my cherry shrimp will suffer. I understand that cherry shrimp eggs prefer to hatch in cooler water. Are my concerns founded?
<They're valid concerns, but for a few months, no harm should be done. If you're worried, float a litre-sized ice cream tub filled with water in the tank to cool things down. But so long as the temperature doesn't go above 28 C, you shouldn't have any serious problems.>
Thanks, heaps
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Dwarf Gourami Behaviour   12/31/11

The Chemsorb from what I've been told by my LFS contains more than just carbon. It has various types of absorbable rocks, stones and media ground into a sand-like mixture.
<Quite so. But it's basically carbon and zeolite, and small amounts of other chemical adsorbents. Not essential by any means.>
And yes I am aware that both carbon and this other product don't need to be used constantly and do need to be replaced.
And I always remove them when I need to medicate the aquarium.
For example, I had to treat the tank for some kind of cottony fungal growth that was effecting my cardinal tetras with tri-sulpha and removed the carbon and whatnot in that instance.
I treat the water with a chlorine-removing solution and I adjust my ph with a proper test and adjusting kit.
<Ah, now you're worrying me again. Changing the pH directly is bad. If you have soft water fish, lower the hardness by mixing tap water with RO or rainwater, then stabilise the pH as necessary, e.g., with Discus Buffer.
But if you're adding a pH-down product to your water without mixing new water with RO/rainwater, then you're creating unstable pH conditions that can easily affect your fish.>
I cycled my tank with existing bacteria from other filter media for about 11 days. The Chemsorb worked like a charm in that it eliminated my green water and my male dwarf gourami started building his bubble nest a short while after (Although the latter could have more to do with a water change, but the green water disappearing was definitely due to the Chemsorb)
<Good luck, Neale.>
Re: Dwarf Gourami Behaviour  1/3/12

Thanks for all your help, Neale.
<My pleasure.>
I just thought of something else I had previously forgotten...
About 10 years ago when I was keeping Tropic-fresh water fish I had a bottle of liquid peat extract.
Would this serve the purpose of softening my water sufficiently?
<Nope. That's blackwater extract. It's for colouring the water. It does little/nothing of any value. Fairly pointless product though some fish do look prettier in tea-coloured water than plain water. Unfortunately, there's no easy way to soften water. If there was an alternative to using an RO (reverse-osmosis) filter or collecting rainwater, we'd all be doing that! But there isn't an alternative. If you have hard water but want to keep soft water fish, you need to either buy an RO filter (costs 100s of dollars up front, and 100s of dollars to run per year) or else collect rainwater (what I do here in the UK where rainwater is more plentiful than money). Domestic water softeners, by the way, don't soften water at all, merely replace carbonate hardness with sodium salts, so can't be used.>
<Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Dwarf Gourami Behaviour  1/3/12

hmmm, well I don't know if this makes a difference or not,
<Makes no difference at all.>
but all the water I put into the tank has gone through a water purifier filter, although it isn't R/O.
Not even sure how to get R/O water.
<Buy an RO filter, install two or more carbon pre-filters, power up, collect the water in buckets, add appropriate buffers (e.g., Discus Buffer) to each bucket of RO water. And then, every month or two, replace the carbon filter and do whatever other maintenance is required. It's VERY expensive and wastes huge amounts of water, typically 10 gallons of tap water for every 1 gallon of RO water produced.>
I do know that the same people that sold us our water purifier also sell reverse osmosis filters, but that isn't really a financially viable option for me at this point in time.
<Quite so. That's why I collect rainwater instead.>
I'm fairly certain that our purifier is basically just carbon as well,
but it claims to remove most if not all heavy metals etc.
<Which is fine, but not relevant to fishkeeping. In fact many/most medics would argue it's fairly irrelevant as far as drinking water goes, and more about the taste of the water as anything else, and certainly doesn't do much/anything significant to human health. But there are lots of people prepared to pay for the different flavour, so things like Brita water filters sell by the bucketload.>
What can I do if this isn't enough? The fish seem very happy, but I'm aware that like people, fish don't always know they are sick or in a hostile environment at the beginning.
<Not all soft water fish keel over and die in hard water. But some, like Neons and Cardinals, are notably shorter-lived in hard water. Here in the UK, Neons seem to live about a year in hard water, whereas they can live 5 years in soft, acidic water. So it's significant. Do read:
What's a more affordable option?
<Rainwater is cheap and can be used just like RO water, but it does need to be cleaned before use and, in cities, can be polluted. Plus, not everywhere has steady rainfall.>
Thanks in advance, regards Jason.
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Dwarf Gourami Behaviour  1/9/12

Hi, again!
<Hello Jason,>
Thanks again for your insightful info and for helping me to realise how much I truly don't know about keeping freshwater tropical fish.
<Either that or 40 misspent years of my life playing with fish instead of doing more worthwhile stuff>
Since there is naught I can do about the hardness of my water at this stage, I've decided to do nothing about it for now.
<Almost always the best approach.>
I questioned the guy from my LFS about this and he confirmed what you have told me,
<Ah, good!>
although he did suggest that large pieces of driftwood in my tank could help to absorb the dissolved (undesolved?) solids for a time.
<Now here's the thing. Bogwood produces tannins, and yes, these can make water more acidic. But the effect is unreliable, difficult to control, usually slight in hard water (i.e., 20 degrees dH or so), and will be expensive. Mostly bogwood just tints the water tea-coloured, which lots of fish like, and that enhances the colours of things like Neons and Tiger Barbs. It's more cosmetic than anything else. Not worthless to be sure, but more about the look than the substance. A bit like a woman wearing a push-up bra: not a bad thing at all, but not necessarily what you're expecting!>
I was thinking to myself, 'Ah yeah, you just want me to buy lots of expensive wood from your store!', but this same guy has persuaded me against a number of different actions in the past that could have made him and his shop a rather pricey sale, e.g. I enquired about a uv sterilizer once; his response was that he stocked them, but I didn't need one.
<In freshwater tanks, yes, largely true. But they are useful in some situations.>
I also asked him about a chiller once for the hot weather; he replied, 'Yeah we have them in stock, but just face a fan at the surface of the water and that should be enough too keep the temperature stable.'
<True indeed, but only up to a point. Fans will knock a couple degrees C off the water, but if your tank is rising about 30 degrees C in summer, then a chiller may be helpful. Indeed, marine aquarists use them very often because of their hot lighting systems. Freshwater fish are often adapted to warm water, e.g., by being able to breathe air, but marine fish rarely have tricks like these, and much about 25 C and they get very stressed.>
So it seems he actually wants to help.
<I agree.>
The question remains, are his recommendations accurate or is he misled himself?
<See above.>
Anyway, My male dwarf gourami has started building his nest again and proceeded to chase the females around the tank. I know its near impossible for you to say for sure, but when will my larger female be sexually mature if she is 2/3 - 3/4 the size of the male?
<Impossible to say. But there are things you can do to speed things up. Raise the temperature to around 28-30 C if possible. Feed lots of live foods (the availability of mosquitos and other prey is a common spawning trigger). Allow some sunlight to hit the tank. Try doing water changes where you add cooler water than usual (not freezing cold, but enough to simulate rainfall).>
She isn't especially bulgy around her flank, but she does have some minor red colouration around the tips of her bottom fins. Apart from this she has some extremely faint blue lines on her sides and is silver all over apart from that. The smaller female looks to me like she could be from the flame dwarf gourami variation. She is a silvery, bronze with light orange tail and fins.
I'll try and get some pics of them, but my camera isn't the best.
Thanks again for all your help.
<Hope this helps, Neale.>
Re: Dwarf Gourami Behaviour  1/9/12

Thanks as always for your speedy reply.
When my LFS guy mentioned about the driftwood, I said to him, 'do you mean bogwood?' and he said, 'No, bogwood will just release tannins and make the water darker (the very things you just mentioned!). I'm talking about large pieces of wood that will absorb calcium, manganese ) magnesium?) etc'
<Hmm not sure he's right here. Wood, whatever the kind, decays in the same way, releasing tannins and other organic acids. Some of these acids neutralise alkaline substances like calcium carbonate in the water. Beyond that, there's no real difference between wood types that I'm aware of.>
He said he was having the same problems as me when he first got into the aquarium hobby and discovered that driftwood went partway in softening hard water. I don't know, I may as well try it, I guess. I have nothing to lose, hey? I always thought bogwood and driftwood were more or less the same thing (shrugs).
<Bogwood is wood that has been dug up from bogs. It has only partially decayed in an acidic, oxygen-poor environment, so has a certain sort of chemical composition. Driftwood is wood that has drifted about in rivers or the sea, exposed to oxygen-rich water and eventually to the air when it washes up on shorelines. It's decayed much more because of the exposure to oxygen, and consequently contains less of the organic material that forms tannins and the other organic acids. Other than that, yes, these are much the same thing. Bogwood tends to be denser and more acidic than driftwood. Driftwood tends to float, at least initially, because it contains more air bubbles. Either way, even bogwood will be an unreliable water softener. Honestly, if it was as easy as dumping some wood in an aquarium, we'd all be doing it. Instead people spend hundreds of dollars on RO systems to produce RO water, or else collect rainwater and take the risk of introducing pollution.>
Yeah, I've been feeding the fish live blackworms the past few or so days. I've tried unsuccessfully for many weeks to coax mosquitoes to breed in a bucket of old water outside. I've tried placing the bucket in direct light, then shade. I tried putting it under an outside table that has vines all around it as I know mosquitoes like to rest among plants. I used to have no problems getting mosquitoes to breed, so I don't know why I've lost my touch. Maybe they know my plan...???
Yeah, I did try to move things along. I lowered the water level, slowly raised the temperature and fed live food. The problem is, I'm not sure in what order to do things (if indeed there IS an order!).
<Trial and error.>
So if I begin with my tank at full water level, temperature is approx 26 C and I've only been feeding them dry or frozen foods, what steps in order should I take to encourage the girls to give up their goodies for the boy?
<Isolate them with a divider of some sort. Fatten up the female on the best possible foods. Ensure water chemistry is appropriate to the species in question. Make gradual changes in hardness and temperature as required.>
He keeps repairing his nest each day and I'm not sure if it was just my imagination, but it seemed to me that the larger female was a darker bronze colour when I turned on the lights this morning. Can it take the female a few days to decide to respond to the male's advances?
<Yes. Or at least, it may take a few days/weeks for a female to become ripe with eggs, even if sexually mature. Spawning triggers are important, but not always obvious. Some reading around the web will help, I'm sure.>
Thanks again, and yes it ALL helps.
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Dwarf Gourami Behaviour  1/9/12
Hello there,
Ok, I have observed several things since my last email to you. Several times today my larger female has approached the male under the bubbles nest, poking him in on the anal fin and tail fin region. He displays
himself to her by floating on his side and spinning very slowly. A couple of times he tried to wrap her and they seemed to 'dance' for a few seconds, but she always breaks it off and swims away with no eggs released, the male chasing her relentlessly out of what seems like frustration. Could she be an adolescent acting out adult behaviour or will only sexually mature dwarf gourami females display this behaviour.
<Possibly, but unlikely. If the Gouramis are the right size and displaying sexual characteristics, they're ready to spawn. Diet is often the thing, with females needing conditioning before they will spawn.>
If she IS sexually mature, is it common for female dwarf gourami to tease the male like this prior to spawning?
<No idea. But generally, fish spawn when the female is ready; males aren't so fussy. If spawning hasn't happened, it's usually the female isn't ready and doesn't have a batch of eggs that need laying. In species where the female plays no part in brood care -- as here -- there aren't any pre-spawning behaviours. She either spawns, or she ignores the male (or is driven away by him).>
Thanks heaps, I'm just as frustrated as the male!
<Time, persistence.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Dear Crew,
Is it also okay for a dwarf fire Gourami to sit down?   12/31/09
<They do rest near the substrate, and if there's too much water current or aggressive tankmates, they will become shy. Do also be aware of the symptoms of Dwarf Gourami Iridovirus and Mycobacteria infections, and be
alert to any odd behaviours these might cause.>
Please I need this answer I'm very uneasy for new fish
<Cheers, Neale.>

Dear Crew,
Is it normal for a dwarf Gourami to swim from side to side in the front of the tank? 01/03/10
<No. As we've mentioned earlier on, review Dwarf Gourami Iridovirus and Mycobacteria infections, and be aware that Colisa lalia needs very specific conditions to do well: gentle water current, relatively high temperatures,
and water hardness that is towards the soft rather than hard end of the range. They aren't good companions for hard water fish (Guppies, Mollies, etc.) or fish that need relatively cool water (Danios, Corydoras, Platies, Neons, etc.).>
Also, I have very active fish that gobble all of the food before my dwarf Gourami can get any. How can I make sure the dwarf Gourami gets any?
<You really can't. If the midwater fish feed exclusively from the surface, as with Danios, you could use a plastic tube of some sort to direct food halfway down the tank, so the Danios couldn't get at it. You could alternatively take a turkey baster and pipette food onto the substrate. But in general it is best to select fish that won't compete with one another, and then to offer sinking and floating foods that are useful for feeding fish at different levels.>
Thank you for the answer its a new fish
<Cheers, Neale.>

Dwarf Gouramis 5/17/08 are dwarf Gouramis air breathers? thanks <Yes. Cheers, Neale.>

Dwarf Gourami Behavioral Commentary 2-12-08 Hello, <Hannah> Firstly, this is a great site, it's been a lot of help in setting up our freshwater tropical aquarium. :) We've had the tank since just after Christmas, although we didn't start putting fish in until a few weeks ago because of the cycling. It's a 54 litre tank (14 US gallons?), <About this> fairly heavily planted - 5 plants that are the full height of the tank, 6 that are about half the height and 5 smaller than that, plus some weird moss ball things. In terms of livestock we have one very small orange shrimp, 2 dwarf gouramis (I think the variety is flame), <Mmm, could be Colisa lalia or Trichogaster chuna...> 5 ember tetras and 6 neon tetras (we had ten, lost four, but it's now been 2 weeks since the last casualty so we intend to add another five or so.) I hope this all sounds alright? <Thus far, yes> My question in re: the behavior of the two Gouramis, I've had a look around on the site (obviously) but had a bit of trouble separating material on 'Gourami's' and 'Dwarf Gourami's" - it seems like behaviorally they are different (is that correct?). <The dwarfs... particularly the two species mentioned above... are toward the spectrum of smaller size, easier-going temperament relative to all Gourami species> Unfortunately I am not sure what sex our fish are, their Dorsal fin's seem around the same shape, although the smaller one is overall less brightly coloured than the larger one, so maybe we have one of each. <The sexes are very easy to distinguish... see WWM, the Net...> The bigger fish seems to think so cause he built a bubble nest a week after we got them, but then it disappeared... <Will come and go> They both spend a fair amount of time lurking around the bottom of the tank in the various plants and hiding places, which I understand is normal behavior, the smaller one particularly likes it in our coconut shell cave. In between times, they alternate between chasing each other around (normally big one chases small one, but sometimes it's the other way), or at other times they hang out together and stroke the long feeler things they have across each other. Does this behavior seem normal, or do our Gouramis have some sort of personality disorder! <Mmm, normal> I was wondering if you might be able to deduce their sex from the way they were acting. <Yes, likely so> I'm sorry not to attach a photo but I don't know how to make it small enough. Thanks for your help, Hannah <And you for sharing. Bob Fenner>

Dwarf Gourami beh.   9/21/06 Hi there, I have am fairly new to the fish keeping hobby so bear with me. I have a 90l Aqua one (620) fish tank that has been set up for about a month now. I have planted this fairly heavily but haven't yet upgraded the lighting (currently 2 18 watt light units) <Low intensity> currently I have in it 3 Zebra danios, 3 leopard Corydoras and... the problem: I also have 2 dwarf honey Gouramis they are both bright orange so I assume they are males, the smaller of the two keeps chasing the other around the tank although I cant actually see any damage to either fish yet. <Yes, typical> Is there some way of stopping this and is it going to stress the chased fish?   <Mmm, in this sized system... either to remove one, or add females> I would really like to keep them both but if its going to be detrimental to the fishes health I would rather take one back to the shop, assuming they will take it back. I have read somewhere on the net that if I were to get something like tetras it may calm them down is this likely and how many would fit with my other fish? <Possibly... though the Danios serve the same "ditherfish" function> Thanks in advance of your assistance. <Welcome. Bob Fenner>

My Flame Gourami, beh.    1/27/07 I have a 12 gallon fish tank with 8 fish inside. For the past three days I have been experiencing an unusual behavior of my female and male Gouramis. I got them both at fish man center about a month ago. The male would proudly be in the center of the tank and the female would swim peacefully around. This three days their relationship changed. Now my male is hiding behind the cave and sometimes in the cave. If he comes out the female quickly chases him away. <Somehow this sounds all too familiar...> I do not see any nipping, I just see chasing. He seems to be scared. Than he is behind the cave I do not really see him, but in the cave it seems like he is in a sitting position. I checked all my chemicals in the tank. All looks normal. I do not know what has changed. I need help. Any ideas why this sudden change? <Not atypical behavior for Gouramis period... and if the other fishes aren't too large, not likely to become real trouble here in your twelve gallon system. I'd just keep an eye on them for signs of apparent damage. Bob Fenner>

Dwarf Gourami fins turning black - 02/09/2007 Hi, <Melissa> Love your site.  I have 2 pair of dwarf gouramis in a 37 gal tank.  Two of them (one male, one female) have fins that are turning black. They are not torn or frayed, just "ink stained".  This is not normal, but I don't know what to treat for. Any suggestions? Thank you, Nalo Meli <Mmm... likely nothing amiss here... particularly if your other livestock appear fine... This is likely a behavioral change, expression... the two may well be engaged in a bit of breeding... Bob Fenner>

Flame Gourami Help! My very 1st fish (purchased in May) was a Flame Gourami who lived happily until I got a 2nd Gourami (a Blue one). They lived together for about 2 months but the Blue Gourami was too aggressive and nipped at the fins of the Flame. Fearing this would be too stressful I have recently moved the Blue into another tank. This 10 gallon tank also contains 3 Tetras,  3 small Ghost Catfish, and now 2 new Black Mollies. The Flame Gourami appeared to be getting stressed from the other Gourami and began hiding and evading most of his day. Now ever though the Blue Gourami was removed, the Flame Gourami continues to spend most of his day hiding and rather than coming to the surface at feeding time as he used to, now "runs" and hides as fast as he can when I approach the tank, sometimes running into the side of the tank in his hurry to get away. Yesterday I found this Gourami laying on his side, seemingly gasping for air and I assumed he was dying. However he has moved around but now he is swimming around, but in odd ways, as if he is disoriented. He seems unable to stay right side up and even swims in corkscrews patterns to get around the tank. Looking at all your information about fish disease the only thing I can attribute this to is stress but other than staying away from the tank as much as possible so as not to care him, I do not know what else to do. He has no growths on his body nor are there any oddities about his general shape/appearance. He has some fins nips on his tail fin, which were from the other Gourami, but they have never affected his swimming before. His other fins appear fine. The blue stripe on his dorsal fin varies in brightness from day to day--but always has. The Ph level to the tank was a little acidic so I have fixed that and I increased the output to the filter to increase airflow into the water. None of the other fish appear to be bothered if it were a general tank condition issue. How can I de-stress my fish before it is too late or is there another explanation? <The stress may have weakened you fish and caused an internal bacterial infection. Do a 30% water change and clean the filter. I would treat with Metronidazole and leave the light off for most of the day unless you have live plants.-Chuck> Thanks for any help you can provide. KMR

Become a Sponsor Features:
Daily FAQs FW Daily FAQs SW Pix of the Day FW Pix of the Day New On WWM
Helpful Links Hobbyist Forum Calendars Admin Index Cover Images
Featured Sponsors: