Kissing Gourami (Helostoma Temminckii): Ultimate Care Guide


The Kissing Gourami is a medium-sized tropical freshwater fish that belongs to the Helostomatidae family. These fish can be found in Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Borneo, and other parts of Southeast Asia.

The Kissing Gourami, most known for its signature mouth that protrudes outward, has outwardly pointing lips that allow it to suck food from smooth surfaces. This particular species of gourami has a long and slim laterally compressed body, with rounded anal and dorsal fins that extend along the length of its body.

The Kissing Gourami comes in three color variations: Silver-green, pink, and mottled greenish-black. Although silver-green kissing gouramis are most common, pink kissing gouramis are the most sought after. Another kissing gourami variation is the balloon kissing gourami, which is smaller and rounder with a plump balloon-like appearance.

Kissing gouramis are named after an interesting behavior they exhibit that looks like kissing. To “kiss,” the gouramis will lock lips with each other in what appears to be a show of affection.  However, the real reason kissing gouramis “kiss” is to challenge each other and display dominance over the other.

Kissing Gourami Care

Temperature

Kissing gouramis are tropical fish that will need to live in water that is around 72°-82°F.

Water pH

Kissing gouramis’ water pH should be between 6 and 8.

Water Hardness

Because kissing gouramis are relatively hardy fish, their water hardness can stay within the broad range of 5-20 dH. However, their water should contain zero traces of ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates, which could negatively affect their health.

Kissing Gourami (Helostoma Temminckii)
Kissing Gourami (Helostoma Temminckii)

Kissing Gourami Size

Kissing gouramis are medium-sized fish that can grow up to 10-12 inches in length.

Kissing Gourami Tank Size

Because of their size and temperament, kissing gouramis require a tank that is at least 50 gallons, although a 75-gallon tank would be an even better option for these boisterous fish.

Kissing Gourami Food & Diet

Kissing gouramis are omnivores and opportunistic feeders that accept a range of plants and live foods. They can be fed a diet of high-quality fish flakes or small pellets supplemented with spirulina algae wafers to provide them with enough nutrients. Kissing gouramis will also accept live, frozen, or freeze-dried foods (e.g., bloodworms, tubifex worms, and brine shrimp.) This species of fish has a row of fine teeth that enables them to graze on algae and plant matter, so they can even be fed lettuce, peas, and cooked zucchini. It’s important not to overfeed kissing gouramis, however, as excess food in their tank can accumulate into waste buildup and drastically decrease their water quality.

Kissing Gourami Lifespan

Kissing gouramis have an average life expectancy of 7 years and have been known to live for as long as 20+ years.

Kissing Gourami Tank Setup

Because kissing gouramis live in heavily vegetated waters in the wild, they’ll enjoy the addition of live plants to their tank. When choosing live plants to put in kissing gouramis’ tank, it’s important to remember that they like to eat soft plants, so the plants will need to be durable to withstand their nibbling; a java fern is a good option.

Tank Lid

Kissing gouramis may occasionally swim up to the surface of the tank to consume more oxygen by using their labyrinth organs that act like a pair of lungs. Because of this, a secure lid should always be placed on top of the tank to keep the area humid and warm and prevent them from falling out.

Aquarium Substrate

Although kissing gouramis usually occupy the top and middle levels of the tank, they may occasionally dive around at the bottom in search of food. Because of this, rough gravel should be avoided when creating the substrate, as it could potentially harm the kissing gouramis when they begin rummaging around the bottom of the tank. Round rocks or large gravel are the best options of substrate material for the kissing gouramis’ tank; sand would not be good as the gouramis could accidentally ingest it.

Aquarium Filtration

The tank will need a decent filter to keep the water clean and filtrated. When choosing a filter for the tank, it’s important to remember that kissing gouramis like slow-moving water, so the filter shouldn’t be one that creates a strong current – a canister filter is a good option.

Aquarium Decor

For additional décor, rocks and driftwood are great additions to the tank, and kissing gouramis would most likely suck away any of the algae that grow on them.

Tank Maintenance

Because kissing gouramis can produce a lot of waste, 35% – 45% of their water should be replaced weekly.

Breeding Kissing Gourami

To facilitate the breeding process, kissing gouramis will need to be moved to a breeding tank with the water at a warm temperature of around 80°F. The water in the separate breeding tank will need to be soft during this process. To condition the kissing gouramis for spawning, they will need to be fed a diet of live food weeks leading up to the mating process. The female gourami will become noticeably plumper during this time, and the male may appear darker as they prepare to mate. When the mating begins, the kissing gouramis will circle, nudge, and dance around each other. The male kissing gourami will eventually wrap around the female, who will then release her eggs for the male to fertilize. During this process, kissing gouramis can spawn hundreds (even thousands) of eggs.

After the eggs are fertilized, they will rise to the surface of the water. Lettuce leaves will come in handy at this stage, as they can be placed at the surface of the water for the eggs to adhere to. The eggs will need to be collected and removed from the breeding tank immediately to prevent them from being eaten by their parents.  

How long does it take for kissing gourami eggs to hatch?

Kissing gourami eggs usually hatch within a day or so. 

Kissing Gourami Fry

Kissing gourami fry will eat their egg sacs and become free swimmers within a couple of days of hatching. Once the fry begin free swimming, they will need to be fed infusoria until they grow large enough to eat baby brine shrimp.

Kissing Gourami Male and Female

It’s very tricky to tell the difference between male and female kissing gouramis, as they look nearly identical. However, one way to differentiate male and female kissing gouramis is by paying close attention to which of them engage in “kissing.” The “kissing” behavior is mostly exhibited by the males of the species as a way of challenging each other.

Another clue to look out for when attempting to determine a kissing gourami’s gender is the female kissing gourami being slightly bigger and rounder than her male counterpart.  

Kissing Gourami Disease

Although there are a few diseases that can affect kissing gouramis to watch out for, the most common are hole-in-the-head disease and white spot disease.

Hole-in-the-head disease

Kissing gouramis that contract this disease begin to develop hole-like lesions on their head. As this disease progresses, the holes will become larger and spread to the rest of their body. The holes pose a serious threat to the health of the infected fish, as they can further expose them to bacteria and pathogens. While the cause of hole-in-the-head disease is unknown, poor water quality and high-stress levels in fish are closely linked to this disease.

White Spot Disease

White spot disease (Ich) is a parasitic disease that causes white spots to form over the infected kissing gourami’s body. The white spots are caused by a parasite attaching itself to the body of the fish. This disease is commonly caused by not quarantining a new fish before adding it to the community tank.

Kissing Gourami Tank Mates

Kissing gouramis are categorized as semi-aggressive fish and are known to sometimes bully fish that look similar to them. The kissing gouramis may ram into the sides of other fish and even chase them around the tank. These fish usually exhibit this kind of hostile behavior to claim their territory amongst other fish, which is why it’s important to give kissing gouramis a spacious tank that limits the chances of them behaving territorially. A good idea is to make sure that the tank is well-planted to provide the other fish with adequate hiding spaces.

Another behavior to look out for is kissing gouramis “kissing” the bodies of other fish. At first glance, this behavior could look like they’re simply pestering the other fish, but they could actually be sucking the slime off of their skin. Kissing gouramis sucking the mucus off other fish is especially damaging, as it can leave other fish susceptible to illness; this behavior should be stopped by placing the fish in separate tanks.

Do Kissing Gourami need to be in pairs?

Kissing gouramis do not need to be kept in a pair, although recruiting a male and a female is the best way to pair them. Male and female kissing gourami pairs are much easier to manage than pairs of male kissing gouramis, as two males belonging to this species would likely result in constant acts of aggression and confrontation. It’s also not recommended to keep kissing gouramis in groups, as they can become hostile and territorial when sharing a tank.

Compatible Tank Mates for Kissing Gourami

Kissing gouramis are compatible with tiger barbs, rosy barbs, congo tetras, pictus catfish, clown loaches, and smaller cichlids.

Kissing gourami and mollies

Kissing gouramis and mollies are compatible as tank mates; mollies are peaceful fish that even thrive in the same tank environment as kissing gouramis. However, although mollies are usually mild-tempered, male mollies may show aggression towards other males. A good way to make sure these two fish get along is by not housing too many male kissing gouramis with male mollies.

Incompatible Tank Mates for Kissing Gourami

Although it may come as a surprise, kissing gouramis are incompatible with most gouramis. Kissing gouramis are likely to view other species of gouramis as a threat to their territory, and act aggressively towards them. As a general rule, kissing gouramis should not share a tank with fish that look similar to them, as this could trigger their territorial instincts. Kissing gouramis should also be kept away from smaller fish, as their semi-aggressive behavior would stress out smaller tank mates. Invertebrates like shrimp or snails are also incompatible with kissing gouramis, as they are likely to be eaten by them.

Kissing gourami and goldfish

Kissing gouramis and goldfish are not compatible as tank mates. Goldfish – unlike kissing gouramis – are not tropical fish and require much cooler water temperatures than kissing gouramis.

Kissing gourami and blood parrot fish

It’s not recommended for kissing gouramis and blood parrotfish to share a tank, as they share a semi-aggressive nature that could result in them engaging in constant brawls.

Kissing gourami and Oscar fish

Kissing gouramis and Oscar fish are not compatible. Oscar fish are aggressive fish that could physically overpower and potentially eat kissing gouramis. Oscar fish also have larger mouths, which could make it difficult for kissing gouramis to compete with them for food.

Kissing gourami and guppies

Kissing gouramis and guppies are not compatible. Although guppies are compatible with other species of gouramis, they should not be kept in a tank with kissing gouramis. Because guppies are smaller-sized fish, the kissing gouramis could potentially eat them.

Where can I find kissing gouramis for sale?

Kissing gouramis are very popular fish that can be purchased online and found in local pet shops throughout the country.

Kissing gourami price

Kissing gouramis usually cost around $5-8 (USD) per fish.

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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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