Snakeskin Gourami (Trichopodus Pectoralis): Ultimate Care Guide

Native to Thailand and nearby parts of Southeast Asia, the Snakeskin Gourami can be a large and peaceful addition to a community aquarium. A hardy species, they are suitable for beginners but will need a large tank as they can grow to 8 inches in captivity. When mature they feature a broken black line along their mid-body. Sometimes vertical lines can be seen running down their sides, but these are often hard to make out.

Snakeskin Gourami have a labyrinth organ allowing them to breathe atmospheric oxygen in addition to dissolved oxygen via gills. Even in oxygen rich aquariums, this species will take breaths from the surface. Care should be taken to ensure that room temperature is not substantially different from water temperature to avoid harming this labyrinth organ.

Snakeskins are docile and somewhat timid. Easily bullied by more aggressive or predatory species, tank mates need to be chosen carefully. While Snakeskin Gourami can be safe from attack due to their large size, they are easily harassed by aggressive fish. Even a small predatory fish can make a threatening environment for the much larger Snakeskin.

Snakeskin Gourami Care

Commonly a food fish in Southeast Asia, the Snakeskin is not typical in freshwater aquariums. They lack the outstanding coloration of some other Gouramis but can be a rewarding fish provided their needs are met. Let’s look at some of the facts about this big, easy to care for fish!


Snakeskin Gourami prefer temperatures between 72° and 86° F. This species can breathe atmospheric oxygen via their labyrinth organ. Room temperature should be close to water temperature to avoid injury.

Water pH

Snakeskin Gourami will tolerate water pH between 6.0 and 8.3.

Snakeskin Gourami
Snakeskin Gourami (Trichopodus Pectoralis). Edited. BEDO (Thailand)], CC BY-SA 4.0

Snakeskin Gourami Size

Snakeskin Gourami can reach lengths of 8 inches in captivity. In the wild, they can grow up to 10 inches. Large and well planted aquariums are needed to see this species reach sizes above 6 inches.

Food & Diet

Snakeskin Gourami are not picky eaters. They will eat a range of freshwater fish flake and pellets. Although omnivores, they mostly eat aquatic plants in the wild. If you have a well planted aquarium, be prepared to have your plants nibbled.

If kept in an aquarium with plastic plants or no plants, plant matter should be occasionally provided. Snakeskins will eat lettuce that has been blanched in boiling water and completely cooled.

Being omnivores they will appreciate the occasional snack of meaty foods such as blood worms or brine shrimp. They will not eat fish fry, either their own or from any other species.

Snakeskins eat a lot. Expect to feed twice a day and perform weekly water changes of 25% or more to keep their water in ideal condition.

Snakeskin Gourami Lifespan

Snakeskin Gourami usually live around 4 years in captivity. They can live up to 6 years with expert care. To ensure the longest lifespan possible, provide this species with a large and well planted environment.

Snakeskin Gourami Tank Size

Snakeskin Gourami will need at least a 30 gallon tank for a single specimen or breeding trio. A much larger tank will be required when keeping more.

Snakeskin males will fight, so it is best to keep males and females in a 1 to 2 ratio. This is also when larger tanks can be required because they become territorial when spawning.

Tank Setup

Snakeskin Gourami will need tanks large enough to support their size. 30 gallons or more is recommended for a single specimen or breeding trio. They also appreciate well planted environments. Let’s take a look at how to prepare the best environment for your Snakeskins!

How to setup an ideal habitat for Snakeskin Gourami

Aside from aquariums of at least 30 gallons, Snakeskin Gourami do best in well planted tanks that mimic their natural environment. They are docile fish except when breeding and will not harass tank mates or their fry. In fact, they are so timid that they can be bullied by aggressive fish who are much smaller. Tank mate selection should take this into account.

Snakeskins do best with a large assortment of rooted and floating plants to provide cover and hiding places. A well planted tank will reduce their stress levels which promotes health and longevity. This species prefers mid to low lighting. Plant species in their tank will need to have matching lighting requirements.

Substrate choice should be darker to contrast with the Snakeskin Gourami’s coloration. Also avoid substrates which can push your water pH out of range.

An ideal tank for Snakeskins will have low flow levels. This species is bothered by strong currents and won’t appreciate excessive water movement.

Remember, Snakeskins have a labyrinth organ giving them the ability to breathe atmospheric oxygen. Even in a well oxygenated tank they will often be seen at the water’s surface gulping air. Try to make sure room and water temperature are similar to avoid damage to their labyrinth organ.

Can Snakeskin Gourami be kept with plants?

In the wild, Snakeskin Gourami mainly eat aquatic plants so you can probably expect them to take the occasional nibble out of your tank plants. This species is not active enough to destroy plants as is the case with some Cichlids. It is best to choose hardy, fast growing plants with optional Co2 injection. This will ensure enough growth that your Snakeskins can nibble on.

Snakeskin Gourami Breeding

Snakeskin Gourami are an easy to breed, bubble nest species. Extremely prolific, they can produce up to 5000 fry during a single breeding period!

How do Snakeskin Gourami breed?

Snakeskin Gourami breed best when kept as a pair or trio, with 1 male and 2 females. Tank current should be as low and possible and water temperature should be about 82° F. A sponge filter is a good way to provide filtration while reducing tank currents.

They will build a bubble nest under floating plant matter, so make sure your tank has appropriate foliage including stem plants to  keep the nest in place.

When the nest is built, the male will begin a courtship dance directly under the nest to attract a female. The male will wrap his body around the female and eggs will be expelled. He will immediately fertilize and place the eggs in the bubble nest. After spawning the male may harass the female. Separate them to avoid problems.

The eggs will hatch in around 36 hours. Eventually the fry can take newly hatched brine shrimp but at first you’ll need to feed with infusoria. You can grow infusoria or purchase a prepared product like Liquifry. Snakeskin Gourami can lay up to 5000 eggs in a single spawning period. You will likely need a large quantity of infusoria. Whatever your source, plan ahead.

Some aquarists recommend separating male and female with a clear divider and feeding with live foods to increase the chances of spawning. This species is known for being easy to breed and may not require much coaxing beyond increased water temperatures.

Snakeskin Gourami Male or Female

Snakeskin Gourami males develop a fringe of reddish orange along the edge of their pelvic fins, the female is less colorful. Males are also slimmer than females.


A hardy species, Snakeskin Gourami are resistant to diseases. High quality food and good water quality will go a long way to keeping them disease free. An appropriately planted tank will reduce their stress levels and support good health.

Snakeskins can develop bacterial infections and Hole in the Head. Make sure all aquarium additions are cleaned or quarantined as needed.

Snakeskin Gourami Tank Mates

Snakeskin Gourami are a docile species and will get along with any fish who won’t attack them. Predatory fish, even those much smaller, can harass and intimidate Snakeskins. When planning a community aquarium that will include Snakeskins, avoid predatory or aggressive fish.

Are Snakeskin Gourami Aggressive?

Aside from male on male fights over mates, Snakeskin Gourami are docile and usually leave other fish alone. Keep a ratio of 1 male to 2 females to reduce the chance of problems.

Examples of Compatible and Incompatible Tank Mates

Snakeskin Gouramis can be kept with other peaceful Gouramis such as Honey Gourami or Pearl Gourami. Snakeskins are one of the most peaceful Gourami. Males Gouramis tend to fight, even between species, so be cautious when adding other Gouramis to a tank with male Snakeskins. Male Snakeskins should be paired with female Gourmis in a mixed community tank.

Aggressive fish such as Cichlids should be avoided. Smaller fish such as barbs, danios and loaches should get along well in a community tank.

Should Snakeskin Gourami be kept in groups?

Snakeskin Gourami can be kept in groups. Aim for a ratio of 1 male to 2 females to avoid fights. This species can grow quite large. A very large tank will be required if you are planning to keep more than a couple of specimens.

Where can I find Snakeskin Gourami for sale?

Snakeskin Gourami is an unusual choice for aquarium hobbyists and can be challenging to source. Unlikely to be available in stores, you’re best bet is searching online. Prices range up to $25 USD.

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