Sparkling Gourami (Trichopsis pumila): Ultimate Care Guide


Sparkling Gourami (Trichopsis pumila) are gorgeous fish that will add a bright splash of color to a freshwater aquarium. They have beautiful scales, a gorgeous golden body with flecks of iridescent red, and fins with blue and green spots.

The Sparkling Gourami belongs to the anabantiformes order which is also known as “labyrinth fish.” This makes them unique. Most fish have to stay underwater and breathe through their gills to get oxygen from the water, but Sparkling Gourami have a special labyrinth breathing organ that allows them to breathe in oxygen straight from the air!

Sparkling Gourami are one of the few fish that are known to make a “croaking” sound when they are mating or happy. This sound comes from modified pectoral-fin tendons and muscles. Once these tendons and muscles are stretched, they can be used to make a croaking sound.

The Sparkling Gourami is native to Southeast Asia. They’re predominantly located in the Mekong River basin in Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand. They are small freshwater fish that prefers to live in ponds, slow rivers, and rice fields.

Sparkling Gourami are small, shy fish that are easy to care for and fun to watch sparkle while they swim around the tank.

Sparkling Gourami (Trichopsis pumila)
Sparkling Gourami (Trichopsis pumila)

Sparkling Gourami Care

Sparkling Gourami fish are durable fish, but even the hardiest, adaptable fish can be taken out by a shift in water parameters or illness, so fish care should always be taken seriously.

The water in the aquarium should be between 72 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit with a pH between 6.0 and 7.0.

Sparkling Gourami are small fish; the largest they will get is an inch and a half in length. These fish may be small, but they like space to swim. You can keep a Sparkling Gourami in a 5-gallon tank, but a 10 or 15-gallon tank is highly recommended.

The more fish you want to keep, the bigger tank you will need. While some websites claim 6 to 8 Sparkling Gourami can be kept in a 10-gallon tank, others recommend starting with a 10-gallon tank and adding 10 gallons to the tank figure for every Sparkling Gourami.

Sparkling Gourami Food & Diet

Sparkling Gourami fish are omnivores and require both meat and algae-based foods. In the wild, they mostly eat insects and zooplankton. In the tank, Sparkling Gourami will feed on live food, dry food, or flakes. Experts say a consistent amount of bloodworms, daphnia, and artemia are great sources of protein for them.

Maintaining a diverse diet is important, as Sparkling Gourami rarely graze on aquarium plants and gain most of their veggie nutrients from combined foods. Some articles say live foods are the best way to help Sparkling Gouramis reach their best size and appearance.

Sparkling Gourami Lifespan

The average lifespan for a Sparkling Gourami is between 3 to 5 years. Factors such as the quality of care they are given and their genetics play a role in how long the fish can live.

Other common types of gouramis living in freshwater aquariums have a similar lifespan to the Sparkling Gourami.

Sparkling Gourami Tank Setup

Sparkling Gourami are shy fish. They want their tank to be full of plants and other objects to hide in and explore. They love plants. Not having enough plants in the tank with Sparkling Gourami can lead to a lack of enrichment and comfort, which can lead to increased stress levels and eventually take a toll on their health.

Sparkling Gourami naturally live in still or slow-moving water such as swamp forests, peat swamps, irrigation canals, and paddy fields. They can live in poorly oxygenated water and have a strong preference for barely moving water and dense vegetation. That being said, there should not be so many plants that they can’t get to the water’s surface.

Other than plants, there is room to be flexible and show personal style with other aquarium decorations. The more places Sparkling Gourami have to hide, the more they will be seen. They love to explore but like to be able to hide quickly.

Regular water changes are crucial. Changing too much of the water at a time can cause problems for the fish. Ideally, about a quarter of the water in the tank should be changed per week. They do not like rapid water flow, so a low-powered filter is recommended.

Sparkling Gouramis will not spend much time near the bottom of the tank. Some aquarists recommend using black or dark colors for the substrate because it makes the colors on the Sparkling Gouramis pop. This is perfectly fine, but if other fish in the tank have different needs, those should be given priority.

Speaking of priorities, a tight-fitting lid for the tank is crucial. These fish are great jumpers. The lid should be firmly secured to the tank with a little air above the waterline so the Sparkling Gourami can come to the surface to breathe. 

Sparkling Gourami Breeding

Sparkling Gourami breeding is a fairly straightforward process that can be done at home. There should be only one male with at least two females per breeding tank. Raising the water temperature by a few degrees can encourage the breeding process since it mimics the time of year when they naturally spawn.

The male will make a bubble nest somewhere he feels safe. He will probably keep the female away from the nest until it is finished, but will not be aggressive about it. When the nest is finished, he will try to entice the female by swimming back and forth, flaring his fins, and raising his tail. Some aquarists say to lower the water level in the tank to 6 inches at this point in the process.

If the male is successful, the pair of Sparkling Gourami will embrace. She will release her eggs and he will retrieve them and place them in the nest to fertilize. The female can release anywhere from 30 to 200 eggs with 180 eggs being the average. Once this process is finished, the female will need to be taken out of the tank. The male fish will guard the nest aggressively and will attack the female if she gets too close.

Raising Sparkling Gourami fry

The male Sparkling Gourami will take care of the eggs until they hatch. Once they have hatched the male needs to be removed and the fry will need to be fed. The standard food choices like plankton and artemia work great.

The water will need to be changed frequently for the fry. Water changes are especially important during the labyrinth organ development during the third week of life.

Sparkling Gourami Male or Female

Some reports say the male fish are slightly more vibrant in color than the female fish, but the only sure way to tell the difference between a male and female Sparkling Gourami is by shining a light on the fish and looking for ovaries.

Sparkling Gourami Disease

Sparkling Gourami don’t have any species-specific diseases to worry about, but they are subject to the same conditions that affect other freshwater fish. Ich is probably the main disease these fish contract, but there are other potential infections and parasites as well.

Bloat, Ich, Fin and Tail Rot, and Cottonmouth Disease are all known to be other issues to look out for with Sparkling Gourami fish. It should also be said that Sparkling Gourami are anabantoids and are known to overeat.

Bloat can be caused by intestinal blockage, constipation, internal bacterial infection, or internal growths/tumors. Bloating is not the same as overeating. A fish that has overeaten will act semi-normal while a bloated fish will not.

Ich, or white spot disease, is caused by a parasite. It looks like tiny white pimples on the fish that can attach to the mouth, fins, and gills. It is probably itchy because fish can usually be seen scraping themselves against objects before the white spots show up.

Fin rot and tail rot are caused by gram-negative bacteria that eat away at fish’s fins leaving them ragged. This bacteria could lead to other fungal infections or turn into body rot. Fin and tail rot are caused by stress, poor water quality, and prior untreated injury in combination with poor water quality.

Columnaris, or Cotton Mouth Disease, is also caused by a gram-negative bacterium. This one is called flavobacterium columnare. It is often confused with fungal infections and can cause discolored scales, gray spots, lesions on the back, and lesions around the mouth.

Sparkling Gourami Tank Mates

Sparkling Gourami can live alone but prefers to live in groups. They are super social creatures and seem to do best in groups of 4 or more.

Sparkling Gourami are not overly aggressive creatures. They can be competitive over territory and are reported to be very protective of their fry. Otherwise, Sparkling Gourami are known to be peaceful fish and are reported to be timid around other, more aggressive, fish.

Compatible Tank Mates

Sparkling Gourami are small, nonaggressive fish and should be kept with fish of similar size and temperament. They will not defend themselves, so any aggressive fish with them can cause problems. In order to live happily with other tank mates, the Sparkling Gouramis will need a lot of plants and other objects to hide around.

The Dwarf and Pearl Gouramis make good tank mates for the Sparkling Gourami.

Peaceful schooling fish such as Danios, Guppies, Rainbowfish, Rasboras, and Tetras are also a good choice.

Corydoras Catfish, Otocinclus, and Bristlenose Plecos are helpful if you’re looking for a clean-up crew for the tank.

Aquarium snails and shrimp can make good tank mates for Sparkling Gourami too. The same rules apply: they must be peaceful and small in size. Some options to consider are the nerite snail and ghost shrimp.

Sparkling Gourami will get along with schooling species or independent fish. They will get along best with other fish who prefer warm waters, heavy vegetation, and a slow current.

Incompatible Tank Mates

Sparkling Gourami fish will not compete for meals against aggressive tank mates. The harassment stresses them out and they do not cope well, so notoriously nippy fish are also a bad idea. Male Bettas, Black Tetras, and Tiger Barbs should be avoided.

Male Sparkling Gourami will compete with other males for territory and attention, so it is recommended that 3-4 females are kept with each male.

Are Sparkling Gourami and Cherry Shrimp compatible as tank mates?

The TLDR version of whether or not Sparkling Gourami and Cherry Shrimp are good tank mates is: Sure.

The longer answer is a little more complicated. Cherry Shrimp are small enough that a Sparkling Gourami could see it as a snack. However, there are plenty of articles that say if the shrimp are given plenty of room to hide, they can do okay for themselves. The articles add that fish have individual personalities. So, while some Sparkling Gouramis don’t bother shrimp, others do. This can be compared to how some dogs like cats and others chase them away.

Are Sparkling Gourami and Guppies compatible as tank mates?

Yes, Guppies and Sparkling Gourami are compatible tank mates. Guppies are great fish to add to a freshwater aquarium, but they can only live with smaller gourami fish and other non-aggressive fish lest they become an easy meal.

Sparkling Gouramis and Guppies have similar diets and tank requirements, so adding one or the other into an established tank will not add too much work. 

Are Sparkling Gourami and Betta fish compatible as tank mates?

No, Sparkling Gourami and Betta fish are not compatible tank mates. Bettas are beautiful fish, but they will not cohabitate well with Sparkling Gourami. They have very different personalities. They will compete for food, space, territory, the heater – everything. If you want a peaceful tank, these two fish do not belong together.

Male Bettas and Sparkling Gouramis look similar. This can confuse the Bettas and they can assault the Gouramis.

Where can I find Sparkling Gourami for sale?

Sparkling Gourami are a pretty common fish, so they can be found on a myriad of websites as well as places like Petsmart and Petco. Local fish supply companies may also carry them, which would save the hassle (and possible trauma) of trying to get a fish sent through the mail.

Looking at the wallet aspect of the Sparkling Gourami, they range anywhere from $3 to $5 each depending on where you get them. Buying them in bulk (6 or more) may help you save a few cents per fish.

Sparkling Gourami vs Croaking Gourami

Sparkling Gourami (Trichopsis pumila) and Croaking Gourami (Trichopsis vittata) prefer a similar habitat of slow-moving water with a lot of plants and rocks to swim around. They are native to the same area in Asia and both prefer warm water temperatures and have a similar diet.

The Croaking Gourami is bigger than the Sparkling Gourami, but they are both peaceful fish who avoid confrontation. Both fish are capable of producing a “croaking” or chirping noise using their pectoral fins. These noises are produced by both sexes during mating.

These sounds can also be heard during a showdown between males fighting for dominance. During these displays, the male fish circle each other, flaring fins, aggressively darting at each other and producing croaking noises. Well-matched individuals may continue this song and dance for several hours at a time. As mentioned before, they are usually peaceful fish, so even when they are aggressively darting at each other, they rarely ever touch each other.

Both fish have a labyrinth organ that allows them to take in oxygen straight from the air. Croaking Gourami will be targeted by male Bettas, just like the Sparkling Gourami.

Croaking Gourami have a similar breeding process to the Sparkling Gourami. The males will build a bubble nest and take care of the eggs until they are hatched.

Croaking Gourami fish will become stressed out in bare tanks. They like to be able to hide quickly and easily. Regular water changes are a must. These fish, like most gouramis, are susceptible to diseases and infections. They are tolerant of fairly high water temperatures, which is helpful when trying to fight off some fish diseases from the aquarium.

Unless otherwise necessary for the other fish in the aquarium, a dark substrate is suggested for both fish. It will help the colors on both fish pop and sparkle.

On the surface, not much about these two fish are different except the Croaking Gouramis are bigger and have more color variations than the Sparkling Gouramis.

Croaking Gouramis reach an average size of about 5 centimeters, though some can grow as large as 7 centimeters. Their coloration is highly variable and ranges from pale brown and green to dark purple with black or red spots on the fins. Median fins have a thin iridescent blue coloration on their edges and 2 to 4 dark stripes or rows of spots are present on their sides. The iris of the eye is bright blue or purple.

Females Croaking Gouramis are easier to tell apart from the males than a Sparkling Gourami is. Female Croaking Gouramis tend to be paler than males, have a slightly rounded dorsal fin, and a shorter anal fin.

Most Croaking Gouramis live for about 2 years in the wild, but with proper care can live as long as 5 years in an aquarium setting.

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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