If you dream of owning a fish that stands out amidst the other species, then the kissing gourami (scientific name: Helostoma temminkii) is the perfect addition to your aquarium. This fish has large lips and an emphasis on bright colors that draw attention instantly. While they’re not experts-only fish, they do require some special care, which is why it’s important to understand their temperament and basic needs before taking them home.
This guide will take you through everything you need to know about kissing gourami care, from tank mates and size to food and proper feeding methods. By the time you have finished reading, you should have a better sense of what to expect and how to keep your new pet in its best possible condition.
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The name “kissing gourami” is quite misleading, as these fish are known for their somewhat aggressive tendencies. Although commonly found in the wild in bodies of water in Indonesia, Borneo, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, and Vietnam, the individuals available in the fish trade today are usually commercially bred. If you’re looking to add something extra special to your tank, then the kissing gourami is certainly an intriguing option.
The foremost identifiable feature of the kissing gourami is their mouths, which protrude forward and possess additional joints that let them open extra wide. Meanwhile, their body profile is akin to that of other gouramis – tall, deep, and slender, with pointed dorsal and anal fins.
The natural coloration is silvery green, though some variations may come in mottled green or even a pink hue due to genetic mutation. While there are no significant physical differences between males and females, you can tell them apart when the female plumps up with eggs during the spawning season.
Under ideal conditions, kissing gouramis have the potential to live for 25 years; in comparison, the average lifespan in captivity is about 7 years. To ensure your fish lives to its full potential, keep the water clean and maintain consistent parameters.
Typically, these fish can reach up to 6 inches in length, although wild specimens may grow up to 12 inches. In order to ensure maximum growth, keep them in an aquarium of no less than 50 gallons, although a tank of 75 gallons or more would be preferable.
Ultimately, kissing gourami care is pretty straightforward, as long as you manage their needs and keep the environment stable. As they possess distinct personalities and habits, they may pose a challenge if you’re unaccustomed to their behavior. To help, here are some guidelines to keep in mind.
A tank size of no less than 50 gallons is ideal for kissing gouramis. However, larger tanks of 75 gallons or more should be considered if possible. You can even keep one kisser in a 30-gallon tank, though this would still require a relatively spacious freshwater aquarium.
These carnivorous fish enjoy eating off of rocks, plants, or other surfaces and can consume a variety of options, as long as the food is small enough for them.
Giving them a balanced diet is essential, so mix up plant and animal matter including dried flakes, brine shrimp, mosquito larvae, blood worms, and more. If they seem to be picky, try out some “gut-loaded” live food from the wild.
Just be sure to avoid copper-based medications, as copper is toxic to labyrinth fish.
Behavior & Temperament
When it comes to behavior, the same traits present in other gouramis are also found in kissing fish. They tend to be territorial and can become especially aggressive during the spawning season.
As such, they should be kept only with non-competing species, and if you want to keep two together, you should use a tank of 75 gallons or more. Selecting a male and female pair can further help to prevent any courtship-related aggression.
When picking out tank mates for kissing gouramis, go for similarly-sized fish that aren’t overly active. Too much movement can stress them out and lead to nasty temperaments.
Good tank mates include cherry barbs, danios, and angelfish, however, you should stay away
Kissing gouramis thrive in the same clean and warm water that many other tropical fish prefer: 72 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit, neutral pH (6.5 to 7.5), and moderate hardness (10-18 dGH). Additionally, these fish are sensitive to pollutants, so they should be provided with frequent water changes and plenty of oxygen.
To promote healthy breathing, aim to keep the surface of the water agitated to create oxygen bubbles.
These fish should be provided with ample hiding spots and places to laze around during the day. Adding live plants to the aquarium can help to soften their aggression levels while providing structures to explore. Gravel, driftwood, and rocks should also be included to give them a realistic living environment.
Regular maintenance is essential when it comes to keeping kissing gouramis healthy. Change out approximately 25-50% of the tank’s water every two weeks and use a testing kit to monitor the tank’s parameters.
If ever you notice any changes, work quickly to correct them as soon as possible.
Health & Disease
As long as you keep their environment stable and provide proper care, kissing gouramis should stay healthy and vibrant. If you spot any odd behaviors or physical changes (such as clamped fins or slowness), take a sample of water to a veterinarian for testing to ensure the tank isn’t infected with any parasites or pathogens.
If hospitalized for treatment, the fish should be quarantined until fully recovered.
If you’re looking to breed your kissing gouramis, setting up a separate breeding tank is strongly recommended. Make sure the tank is well-planted and that there are plenty of rocky caves and crevices.
Once the spawning has occurred and the fry has hatched, switch the tank back to its original setup.
When it comes to having success with this species, here are some tips to consider:
• When introducing them to the aquarium, start with one instead of a group as aggression can still occur even when the fish are not competing for mates.
• Consider using an aeration device in their tank to combat low oxygen levels.
• It is important to remember that they do not like fast-moving water, so try to keep the flow of the aquarium to a minimum.
• Avoid placing them with other labyrinth fish, as they tend to be aggressive toward their own kind.
• Feed your fish in small portions, as they may otherwise overeat and become sick.
The kissing gourami is an attractive fish that can make a captivating addition to any freshwater aquarium. With proper care and an understanding of their needs, you can ensure that their vibrant colors shine and that they live a long healthy life.
Just make sure to research their behavior, needs, and tank mates before bringing any home.