Moonlight Gourami - Trichogaster microlepis

Trichogaster microlepis

Trichogaster microlepis - Moonlight Gourami
CarolineCCB/Flickr/CC 2.0

Scientific Name: Trichogaster microlepis
Family: Belontiidae
Origin: Thailand, Cambodia
Adult Size: 6 inches (15 cm)
Social: Peaceful, suitable for community tank
Lifespan: 4 years
Tank Level: Top, Mid dweller
Minimum Tank Size: 20 gallon
Diet: Omnivore, eats most foods
Breeding: Egglayer - bubble nest
Care: Intermediate
pH: 6.0 - 7.0
Hardenss: 2-25 dGH
Temperature: 79-86 F (26-30 C)


The common name describes this peaceful labyrinth fish quite well.

Its body is silverĀ colored with a slightly greenish hue that is not unlike the soft glow of moonlight. The concave slope of the head in the Moonlight Gourami distinguishes it from other Gourami species.

Habitat and Care

Native to still or slowly moving waters in Thailand and central Cambodia, the Moonlight Gourami feels most at home in a heavily planted aquarium. Sturdy vegetation such as Java Fern and Vallisneria are excellent choices. Although it makes a beautiful addition to a community tank don't be surprised if it hides regularly. Even under ideal conditions, this is a fish that tends to be timid. It should be kept only with non-aggressive fish.

Like all labyrinth fish, Trichogaster microlepis has a special organ that allows it to breathe air directly. Because if this labyrinth organ, it is not unusual to see it go to the surface and gulp air. The ability to breathe air allows them to survive in very low oxygen situations.

In fact, if it remains moist it can actually survive out of water for up to several hours.

Although undemanding about water conditions, it does best in soft acidic water. Because it is so tolerant of less than perfect water, it is a good beginner fish. However, the water should be changed regularly to keep to maintain good health.


The Moonlight Gourami will eat flake, frozen, and live foods. Serving a good variety of live and flake foods will help ensure optimum health. If you have a community tank with other large fish, make sure they aren't scaring the Moonlight Gourami away from the food. This is a timid fish who will not fight for it's dinner, even if very hungry.


Males can be identified by the orange to red coloration of the pelvic fins, as well as the long dorsal fins that ends in a point. In females, the pelvic fins are colorless to yellow, and dorsal fins are shorter and rounder.

The Moonlight Gourami is an egg layer that builds a bubble nest as most Labyrinth fish do. Breeding of this fish is both easy and interesting. They should be provided a separate breeding tank, as other fish consider eggs and small babies (fry) a tasty snack. The ideal breeding tank has very soft water that has been reduced to a depth of about six inches. pH should be slightly acidic, and the temperature should be raised to at least 80 degrees over a period of several days to trigger spawning. Use dark gravel and provide plenty of floating plants for building the bubble nest. Feeding the breeding pair live foods before attempting the breed them will increase your chances for success.

The male begins the spawning process by carefully preparing a bubble nest. He then begins to court the female under it. This courtship dance is a fascinating display that should not be missed. Spawning culminates in the male wrapping himself around the female. While in this embrace the male turns the female onto her back, which triggers her to release eggs. Up to 2000 eggs may be laid during the spawning, which the male fertilizes as they float up to the nest. In the safety of the bubble nest, the eggs incubate for two to three days before hatching.

Once the eggs hatch, the fry must be fed very fine foods several times daily. Most losses of fry are due to lack of adequate food or low water temperature. Live foods such as daphnia, artemia, and rotifers, are ideal. However very finely chopped lettuce, banana skins, and finely ground flake food can be used to feed the young (and are usually easier to find).

Keep the water temp in the low to mid 80's while the fry are growing