Chocolate Gourami: Care, Size, Tank Size & Tank Mates


Common Name(s)Chocolate Gourami
Scientific NameSphaerichthys Osphromenoides
OriginBorneo
Temperature77-84°F (25-29°C)
Size2.4 inches
Minimum Tank Size30 gallons
Food & DietOmnivorous diet with a preference towards protein rich foods.
Lifespan4 years
Water pH4.0-6.0
Tank MatesPotential tank mates include peaceful fish of similar size such as Rasboras, Cyprinids, and some loaches.
BreedingMaternal mouthbrooder
DiseaseMay be suseptible to fin rot, dropsy, and ich.
Chocolate Gourami
Chocolate Gourami (Sphaerichthys vaillanti)

Chocolate Gourami Facts

  • Chocolate Gourami are mouth brooding fish, and unlike other species of mouthbrooders, it is the female that gathers the eggs in her mouth until they are ready. In other species it is the male that gathers the eggs and cares for them in his mouth.
  • Chocolate Gouramis are aggressive, and it is recommended that they be kept in a breeding pair with its own territory to keep aggression down in the tank.

Chocolate Gourami Care

Chocolate Gouramis (Sphaerichthys osphromenoides) have an oval-shaped body. When you look at them, they even look almost flat. They have small heads in proportion to their bodies, and they have a sharply pointed nose. As its name suggests, its body is a dark chocolate color. It can vary with different hues of brown from reddish to green. They have 5 stripes that run vertical along their bodies. These stripes can range in color from a yellowish gold to an orangish. Their black fins have an accordian fold look to them. The fins are tipped with the same colorations as the vertical stripes. Interestingly enough, the males tend to be a more reddish coloration. Male Chocolate Gouramis are larger at full maturity than the females are. Females tend to have a more rounded jaw. This is because the Chocolate Gourami female will brood her eggs in her mouth.

Chocolate Gourami Tank Setup

Chocolate Gouramis in the wild live in peat swamps in blackwater streams. They can also be found in clearwater streams. The water they inhabit is full of decaying plant matter that releases beneficial tannins into the water. A soft, sandy substrate is appreciated, and so are lots of branches and driftwood to form hiding spots or caves.

When you are planning out your Chocolate Gourami aquarium, you will want to make it as close to their natural habitat as possible. The key to setting up successful decor is to place it in such a way that it divides the tank into territories. They do not require a large amount of lighting, as they are happy in the dim lighting that resembles the tree cover in their natural habitat.

Chocolate Gouramis also benefit from having organic plant matter in their aquarium. It is very beneficial because as it decays it releases tannins in the water that give nutrients to fish, and provide something for their fry to feed on too.

Chocolate Gourami inhabit flowing streams in the wild, and their setup requires a filter that has a waterflow of 4 to 5 times the volume of their tank. This will help keep it clean, and help keep them comfortable by mimicking the waters of their natural environment.

Can You Keep Chocolate Gourami in a 10 Gallon Tank?

Chocolate Gourami should be kept in a minimum of a 30 gallon tank. Since Chocolate Gourami are a social fish that do best when kept with others, it is recommended that they be kept in groups of 6 or more. While they are not large fish, this is one of reasons why they shouldn’t be kept in tanks smaller than 30 gallons.

Chocolate Gourami Habitat & Biotope

It has been suggested that the best setup for Chocolate Gouramis is creating a biotope setup. This means that the setup is structured exactly like their habitat in the wild. By adding all the elements that they would encounter in their natural habitat even other native fish species to their environment. A good example of this, is adding leaf litter to their setup. As the plant matter decays, it will release beneficial tannins into the water. This mimics the brackish water of their natural habitat.

Food & Diet

Chocolate Gouramis are omnivorous fish, but they prefer a more meat based diet. In the wild, they eat insect larvae, and insects on the surface of the water. They have also been known to graze on the algae growth on plants. In captivity, they will readily accept dried, flake foods and frozen foods, and pellets.

Are Chocolate Gourami Hardy?

Chocolate Gouramis are not necessarily a hardy fish as they are very susceptible to changes in their water parameters. They can be a more difficult fish to keep, and if you are planning on keeping Chocolate Gouramis, then you will want to make sure you have done your research and have the proper setup for them.

Lifespan & Size

Chocolate Gourami can grow up to 2.4 inches. They can live up to 4 years when properly cared for.

Chocolate Gourami Tank Mates

Chocolate Gouramis are better off in a single species setup. They can be aggressive, especially when spawning. If you are planning on adding other fish in with your Chocolate Gouramis, you will want to choose a fish that is roughly the same size, and will not go after your Chocolate Gouramis. Rasboras, Cyprinids, or even some loaches may be good tankmates for them.

Chocolate Gourami Aggression

Chocolate Gourami are an aggressive species of fish, they have been known to be aggressive towards one another, and without the proper setup, issues will be apparent rather quickly. In the wild, Chocolate Gourami are a territorial fish, and if you are planning on keeping a small grouping of these fish, it would be wise to aquascape their aquarium to have different territories for them to inhabit. A grouping of Chocolate Gourami that is raised together will have a greater success of cohabitating.

Chocolate Gouramis can live in a family grouping, but if you are trying to introduce another Chocolate Gourami from a different group, they will not accept it.  It has been said that Chocolate Gourami are peaceful to other fish that are equally peaceful and roughly the same size. Remember to monitor any new fish you add into your Chocolate Gourami aquarium, and make sure you are doing the proper research before you add any other species of fish in with them.

Chocolate Gourami and Shrimp – Are They Compatible?

Owners of Chocolate Gourami have stated that they have had little to no difficulty keeping shrimp in the same setup as their Chocolate Gourami. Make sure your shrimp are big enough that the Chocolate Gourami are not tempted to pick on them, and as always with introducing a new fish into your setup, you will want to monitor them so that there are no problems.

Chocolate Gourami and Betta – Are They Compatible?

It is probably not a good idea to keep your Chocolate Gourami with any Bettas. The males of both species are aggressive, and since the species both look similar to one another, they may simply fight for that reason alone.

Do Chocolate Gourami Need To Be Kept in Pairs?

Chocolate Gourami should be kept in a group of at least 2, and ideally it would be a breeding pair. If you are planning on keeping more than a breeding pair of Chocolate Gourami in your tank, you will want to make sure that you have a tank large enough to house them. They are a territorial fish, and when you are planning on placing the decorations, keep in mind to place the decorations in a way that gives them territories. They will be less likely to fight if they have territories in which they can not see each other.

Chocolate Gourami Breeding

If you are planning on breeding your Chocolate Gourami, you will want to set up a dedicated breeding tank to ensure that you have the most success. When Chocolate Gourami are ready to spawn, the pair will embrace in an almost upright position. The female will release up to 40 eggs, and the male will fertilize them. Once the eggs are released and fertilized, they will settle on the substrate and the female will pick them up in her mouth.

Once the female has gathered her eggs, she will retreat to a more quiet place of the tank, and eat very little as she cares for them. Once the pair are done spawning, you will want to remove the male from the breeding tank.

 This could take anywhere from 1 week to up to 3 weeks before the eggs hatch. Once the eggs hatch, you will notice 10 to 40 individual fry emerge. At this point they are free swimming. It is at this point you will want to remove the female from the tank so that she is not tempted to eat the fry.

Are Chocolate Gourami Mouthbrooders?

Chocolate Gourami are mouthbrooders, unlike other gouramis, which are bubble nesters. They are unique as it is the female Chocolate Gourami that picks up the eggs and cares for them until they become fry. In other species it is usually the male that gathers the eggs and cares for them until they hatch and become free swimming.

Chocolate Gourami Disease

Chocolate Gouramis can be susceptible to disease or infections quite quickly if they are not cared for properly. They require a clean aquarium at all times. It is important to establish a routine for maintenance and monitor the water parameters carefully. It is better to catch any issues as quickly as possible so that they can be fixed before they get out of hand.

Fish Laboratory

With decades of collective fishkeeping experience, we are happy to share the knowledge that we've picked up along the way. Our goal at Fish Laboratory Aquatics is to keep publishing accurate content to help fishkeepers keep their fish healthy.

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