Dwarf Gourami Care: Tank Mates, Size, Temperature & Disease


Common Name(s)Dwarf Gourami
Scientific NameColisa lalia, Trichogaster lalius
OriginPakistan, India, and Bangladesh
Temperature Range72 – 82°F (22 – 27°C)
Water pH6.0 – 7.5
Water KH4-10
Adult SizeFemale 2.5 inches
Male 3 inches
Minimum Tank Size10 gallons
DietOmnivorous

Dwarf Gourami Facts:

  • Dwarf Gourami build bubble nests and require surface plants to create them.
  • Generally peaceful, but will fight each other for territory. Will sometimes swim in pairs.
  • These gourami are easily spooked, so keep the tank well planted and place it in a quiet area.
Dwarf Gourami (Colisa lalia)
Dwarf Gourami (Colisa lalia)

Dwarf Gourami Care

Dwarf gouramis are quite hardy and adaptable to a wide range of water conditions. This makes them an ideal species for the beginner to keep. They are also a good choice for the experiences fishkeepers as well. Their colorful appearance makes them a great center-piece fish in a small aquarium. They come in red, powder blue, and turquoise variations. This is one of the many reasons they are an irresistible choice for many fishkeepers. However, they do have some special requirements.

Tank Setup

Dwarf Gourami require a tanks setup with slow water flow and lots of plants. The do not require a large tank. A tank size of 10 gallons and above is ideal.

Slow Water Flow

Dwarf Gourami prefer slow moving waters, where they can slowly swim and graze in peace. Like many anabantoids, they live in swampy areas with shallow waters. In fact, some of these water are near stagnant, resulting in low levels of oxygen. However, these fish are able to survive these low oxygen waters because they are labyrinth fish, which means they are capable of breathing air directly from the surface of the water.

A tank setup should mimic these environments with slow waters that the Dwarf Gourami thrives in. An aquarium filter with gentle outflow is necessary. This is especially true if the fish is housed in a small tank.

If the current is too strong, the fish would become tired and stressed. In order to avoid the strong currents, the fish would probably find an area with the least amount of water flow, and stay in that particular confined space. This would lead to additional stress for the fish. In order to reduce the outflow on an aquarium filter, an aquarium filter baffle or filter spout can be installed. Some aquarium power filters come with an outflow adjustment as well.

Heavily Planted Tank

Dwarf Gourami are shy fish and they need places to hide throughout the tank. Therefore, a heavily planted tank would be ideal. Various types of aquarium plants can be used for cover, but the variation is key. By planting a combination of foreground, mid-ground, and background plants, the fish will feel comfortable exploring all levels of the tank.

Tank Size

The ideal tank size for Dwarf Gourami is 10 gallons and above. This would give the fish enough space to swim and explore. This would also give enough space to grow a variety of plants in the tank.

Some fishkeepers house Dwarf Gourami in tanks as small as 5 gallons. While this may be possible, keep in mind that the smaller the tank, the larger the challenge. A smaller tank will require more regular maintenance and monitoring. Slight changes in a small tank can result in significant changes in the water parameter. If this is your first time keeping fish, a 5 gallon tank is not recommended.

If you wish to keep multiple fish, or want to add lots of plants for your fish, get a 10 gallon tank or larger.

Temperature

Dwarf Gourami prefer a temperature range of 72 – 82°F (22 – 27°C). Dwarf Gourami are able to handle a wider range temperature temperatures than many other tropical fish. This is because they naturally live in shallow bodies of water, where the water is prone to frequent temperature fluctuations. However, they do require a range of temperature, and they should be kept in the range mentioned above. Abrupt changes in the temperature can stress or kill these fish as well. Therefore, for fishkeepers living in most parts of the world, a reliable aquarium heater would be necessary.

Dwarf Gourami and Aquarium Heater

Dwarf Gourami Size

The average size for a Dwarf Gourami is approximately 3 inches for males and 2.5 inches for females. While some may grow larger than this average range, most Dwarf Gourami will remain under 4 inches. Many fish from the Gourami family are relatively small in size, and the Dwarf Gourami is no exception.

While Dwarf Gourami are small fish, they can still be a great center-piece fish in a small aquarium. This is because they have a good amount of vertical height in relation to their length. Therefore, when observing the fish from the side, as you would in an aquarium, they can be quite eye-catching. Their colorful body definitely helps as well.

In contrast, if the Dwarf Gourami was observed from above, their slim body would make them look like a very small fish. Therefore, it would be difficult to appreciate the true beauty of this fish in pond.

Lifespan

The average lifespan for Dwarf Gourami is 3 – 4 years. There are Dwarf Gourami that will live longer than this, as well as ones that does not reach this age. A proper tank setup and regular maintenance is important to ensure that the fish lives as long as it can.

They are known to be sensitive to nitrites. High levels can nitrites in the water can significantly shorten their lifespan.

Food & Feeding

Feeding Dwarf Gourami is fairly easy. They’re omnivorous and will eat algae based food, as well as freeze dried meaty food, like blood worms and brine shrimp. To keep them well-fed, be sure to provide them with a varied enough diet.

Keep in mind that Dwarf Gourami are slow eaters. Other aggressive feeders may outcompete them for food in a community tank. Therefore, it is important to make sure they are getting enough to eat.

Dwarf Gourami Feeding

Breeding

Dwarf Gourami build bubble nests to breed. By using floating plants and other floating objects as an anchor, they will slowly build their bubble next. This is often done when they’re ready to mate. So if there is a nest, monitor the tank closely but be sure not to overly disturb the fish. They have an interesting breeding ritual, where the female swims in circles beneath the nest. Eventually the eggs will float up to the nest, and the male will collect any that haven’t. After several hours, he’ll add a protective layer to the nest and within three days, the eggs will have developed into free-swimming fry. Many of their breeding habits are similar to betta fish.

Dwarf Gourami Disease

Dwarf Gourami Disease (DGD), or Dwarf Gourami Iridovirus, is a disease that almost exclusively affects Dwarf Gouramis. This disease was discovered over a decade ago, and it was observed by many fishkeepers, retailers, and breeders. Some have estimated an infection rate of 22% at some point.

This disease is known to cause necrosis of kidney and spleen in the fish.

Unfortunately, it is difficult to treat fish with this iridovirus. Without a cure, the mortality rate of affected fish can be as high as 50%. This usually occurs 24-48 hours after the onset of symptoms.

A good way to prevent this disease is to maintain a health population of fish. Since Dwarf Gourami can be sensitive to nitrites and poor water quality, it is important not to skip on regular maintenance.

However, healthy fish are not always immune to this disease. Therefore, the best way to prevent this disease is to avoid buying fish that has symptoms of the disease from the fish store. Acquiring an infected fish could affect the healthy existing population.

Symptoms of Dwarf Gourami Disease

Symptoms of Dwarf Gourami Disease include pale coloration, abnormally dark coloration, loss of appetite, distended abdomen, lesions on the body, and a high mortality rate. Some fish with this disease will display no visually recognizable symptoms.

Internal symptoms may include enlarged spleen, reddened intestine, and clear fluid building up in body cavity.

Laboratory examination of often found that affected fish have iridoviral particles in their spleen and intestines. However, signs of bacterial, fungal, and parasitic infection is often not present.

Tank Mates

Dwarf Gourami are peaceful fish that will usually not bother other fish. With the right setup, they can be great additions to a community tank. A single species tank can be a great setup as well. However, whether it’s a community tank or a single species tank, there are a few things to consider.

Multiple Male Dwarf Gourami

Stocking multiple male Dwarf Gourami can be a challenge, and it should only be done with careful consideration. While Dwarf Gourami are peaceful fish, the males are territorial. When multiple males are placed in a single tank, they may fight. Therefore, if multiple males are being placed in a single tank, there should enough space for each male to claim their own territory. An abundance of vegetation can help break the line of sight as well.

In a 20 gallon tank or less, it is usually best to keep only one male Dwarf Gourami. Keeping only one male and adding multiple female companions would work well.  In fact, a pair of Dwarf Gourami with one male and one female can work in a tank as small as 10 gallon.

Dwarf Gourami and Betta

Keeping Dwarf Gourami and Bettas is possible, but it should be done with caution. As with keeping multiple male Dwarf Gourami, keeping male specimen of both species can result in aggressive behavior. As anabantoids, both fish exhibit many similar behavior and temperaments. If there are more than one male in a single tank, there should be an abundance of space and plants. Keeping only one male, and adding female specimen of either species should not be a problem.

Dwarf Gourami and Guppies

Dwarf Gourami and Guppy fish can be kept together in the same tank, usually without any compatibility issues. Both fish are great community fish thrive in similar conditions.

However, male Fancy Guppies can be very colorful. This may place the Dwarf Gourami in alert, since they are territorial. On the other hand, male guppies are not territorial fish so this potential tension usually not escalate into a fight.

If there is signs of high tension between Dwarf Gouramis and Guppies, this is usually not because of compatibility issues. More often than not, this is due to overcrowding and insufficient space.

Lastly, keep in mind that each fish has their own characteristic and temperament. Regardless of the species or gender, tensions may rise.

Other Compatible Tank Mates for Dwarf Gourami

  • Swordtails
  • Mollies
  • Platies
  • Chili Rasboras
  • Harlequin Rasboras
  • Otoclinus Catfish
  • Panda Corydoras
  • Pygmy Corydoras
  • Zebra Danio
  • Neon Tetra
  • Cardinal Tetra
  • Cherry Shrimp
  • Amano Shrimp
  • Mystery Snails

Fish Laboratory

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

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