Blue Gourami Feeding, Breeding and Care

Trichogaster trichopterus - Blue Gourami
3 Spot Gourami. Adrian Afonso

Blue Gourami: Basics

  • Scientific Name: Trichogaster trichopterus
  • Other Names: Three Spot Gourami, Opaline Gourami, Cosby Gourami, Golden Gourami, Silver Gourami
  • Family: Belontiidae
  • Origin: Malaysia, Thailand, Burma, Vietnam
  • Adult Size: 4 inches (10 cm)
  • Social: Peaceful
  • Lifespan: 4 years
  • Tank Level: Top, Mid dweller
  • Minimum Tank Size: 20 gallon
  • Diet: Omnivore, eats most foods
  • Breeding: Egglayer - bubble nest builder
  • Care: Easy
  • pH: 6.0 - 8.8
  • Hardness: 5-35 dGH
  • Temperature: 72-82 F (22-28 C)

Description

Blue Gourami is just one of the names given to this extremely popular species of gourami. Traditionally silvery blue, their colors change considerably with their moods. During spawning, they acquire a much deeper blue hue.

The Opaline or Cosby Hybrid variation lacks spots and has a darker blue marbling, however, they are not often seen for sale. If you find one, grab it!

The Three Spot Gourami sports only two spots -- one in the center of the body and a second at the caudal pentacle (beginning of the tail). Where is the third spot? It's the eye!

Adult males reach up to five inches in length and females are slightly larger. The scientific name trichopterus is derived from the Greek words trichiasis (hairy) and pteron (wing) - referring to their long, hair-like pelvic fins.

Blue Gouramis are among the fish that possess a labyrinth organ which allows them to breathe air directly.

Other popular labyrinth fish include the Siamese Fighting fish (Betta).

Habitat/Care

Hailing from the tropical waters of the Far East, Blue Gouramis are one of the hardiest of the Gourami family. Their preference is for thickly vegetated waters of any type, and they can be found in ditches, canals, ponds, swamps, rivers and lakes.



Blue Gouramis tolerate a wide range of temperatures and are not demanding in terms of water conditions. However, they prefer soft, slightly acidic water during the breeding season.

You can keep them in a home aquarium with a variety of fish, although it's usually best for tank mates to be a similar size.

In general, keep only one male per tank as they are highly territorial. However, if the tank is large enough or there areĀ other fish present, their natural tendency will diminish.

Diet

Blue Gouramis are exceptionally easy to feed as they will accept virtually any foods, from flake to freeze-dried to live foods. They will consume hydra voraciously and are prized for their ability to eliminate this pest from the home aquarium.

Breeding

Sexes are primarily differentiated by the shape of the dorsal fin, which is long and pointed in males compared to the females' shorter rounded dorsal. Females that are prepared for spawning will show a pronounced swelling in the breast area, while the male will have a far more slender girth. Both sexes display a much deeper blue color during breeding periods.

Because the male can be rather aggressive during spawning, the aquarium habitat should provide ample places for the female to take refuge.

Failure to do so can result in injury to the female.

Spawning begins with the building of the bubble nest by the male, which usually occurs early in the day. After a suitable nest has been prepared, the male will attempt to entice the female under it by swimming back and forth, flaring his fins and raising his tail. The female signals her readiness by biting his back; he responds by repeatedly brushing his back against her belly before taking her into a spawning embrace.

During spawning, the male wraps his body tightly around the female, turning her on her side or back so the eggs will rise unimpeded to the surface. This close embrace is also important because it brings the reproductive elements as close together as possible. Because sperm cells survive only a matter of minutes in the water, the timing of their release and proximity to the eggs is critical.



Just before the sperm is released, the pair may be observed quivering -- a sure sign that spawning is near completion. The eggs are released immediately thereafter and are fertilized by the time they reach the bubble nest. The pair may repeat the process a number of times over the course of several hours. It is not unusual for the number of eggs produced to reach into the thousands.

Once spawning is complete, the female's involvement is over; remove her to prevent an attack by the male. From this point forward until they hatch, the male will tend the eggs, carefully rearranging them and returning any errant eggs back to the nest. The male Gourami may spit streams of water, an interesting phenomenon often seen during breeding. It is believed the purpose of this behavior is to keep the eggs positioned within the bubble nest.

The eggs hatch in approximately 30 hours. Feed the fry should infusoria and nauplii. Perform frequent water changes as the fry grow, especially during the third week which is when the labyrinth organ develops.