The Colorful Dwarf Gourami 101 (Care Guide)

Colisa lalia, or more commonly known as Dwarf Gourami, hail from Southern Asia’s freshwater lakes and slow-moving streams. Even though this fish is native to Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh, it is widely distributed across the world.

It is one of the most popular Gourami species and makes for a stunning addition to any home aquarium.


Male dwarf gouramis are brightly colored, with vibrant orange and turquoise patterns throughout their bodies. Females are slightly smaller and paler in color. They are mostly gray with a few yellow accents. There are also a few other impressive color variants as well.

You can find them in different color variations of red and blue colors. The most common of these is neon blue with red and bright blue stripes.

Both males and females have the trademark ventral pelvic fins that serve as a method for navigating and detecting various objects in the muddy water that they are used to in the wild. These fish grow to a maximum size of 2-2½ inches.


Don’t let dwarf gouramis’ small size fool you. These fish tend to have big personalities. They are considered peaceful and social creatures.

They thrive well in groups, and you should not keep them alone. Loneliness makes them unhappy and anxious. They are top dwellers, which is why it’s good to keep them with other bottom dwellers.

They get easily scared by the slightest noise and have to be kept in a quiet room. Unlike other gouramis, these fish are shy and hide for hours when they are first introduced in the tank.

These fish have an affectionate, puppy-like nature towards their owner. It is believed that they remember their owner for years to come. They have an interesting personality that makes them a popular choice for aquariums.

Dwarf Gourami Appearance

Unique features

One of the unique features of Dwarf Gourami is that it is a type of labyrinth fish. This means that these fish are able to breathe air. Hence, it is common to see them take the occasional gulp of air from the top of the tank. The labyrinth organ includes lamellae that have lots of blood vessels that enable the absorption of oxygen. This feature allows the gouramis to survive in water with a lower amount of dissolved oxygen.

Another interesting feature common to these fish is their long pelvic fins. Gouramis use these fins to touch things and mingle with other fish. The pelvic fins are also known to have taste cells.

Dwarf Gouramis lay their eggs and place them in bubble nests made by their mature males. This is one of the special nests built by these fish to protect their eggs. It is made from the saliva of the males.


Like other Gouramis, this fish is an omnivore and will eat small insects, larvae, and clumps of algae when in its natural habitat. In the aquarium, these fish will feast on standard flakes in the form of tablets, frozen foods, vegetables in the form of tablets, and occasionally live foods such as worms.

You have to feed these fish once or twice daily. At the time of feeding, you have to give them a pinch. It takes three to five minutes every time for the fish to consume the food. If you notice that your fish is not completing its food, do not feed it the second time. You have to feed the fish twice only if it’s completing its meal.

Tank requirements

As stated above, these fish grow to a maximum size of 2-2½ inches. So, the minimum tank size recommended for Dwarf Gourami is 10 gallons.

However, a bigger tank is always better for the fish. A smaller tank will cause the waste from the fish to accumulate too much. This can possibly disrupt the filter system. Too much waste in a small tank can also result in an ammonia spike. This can be fatal to the fish in the tank. So it’s better not to keep these fish in a tank smaller than 10 gallons.

It is recommended to change 20% of the fish tank’s water weekly to ensure that the water is clean. Many people also prefer adding a water filtration system in their tanks to ensure good water quality.

In the wild, this fish prefers living in acidic water. It prefers similar conditions in the aquarium. But it can tolerate a fair range of water parameters.

Generally, temperatures between 72 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit, pH between six and seven points five, and total water hardness in the range of 3 to 12 will suit this fish best.

You will notice that Dwarf Gourami is the happiest and active at warmer temperatures between 77 and 82 degrees. So, you might require a heater for your tank.

Although it isn’t mandatory, Gouramis like a place to hide out from time to time. They benefit greatly from having high-density live plants, especially floating vegetation. The aquarium should have lots of plants with driftwood or rocks, low lighting, and low flow filtration. These conditions work great for these fish, and they love black water tanks.

Dwarf Gourami Tank requirements

Average Lifespan

They can live as long as 5 years with proper care. With the ideal living conditions, they are known to live slightly longer in aquariums.

Different types of Dwarf Gourami

Some of the most well-known types of Dwarf Gouramis are:

Powder Blue Dwarf Gourami 

These fish are popular for their vibrant blue color. These types of gouramis are often seen with darker color patches on their bodies. We highly recommend the powder blue variation for anyone wanting to buy a Dwarf Gourami.

Powder Blue Dwarf Gourami 

Flame Dwarf Gourami 

These types of gouramis were introduced into this world because of genetic mutations that often happen when different breeds of fish are kept in the same fish tank. Their bodies have color mutations. Due to the interesting color combinations in these fish, people became interested in different mating types of dwarf gouramis.

Flame Dwarf Gouramis are bright orange and red.

Flame Dwarf Gourami 

Neon Blue Dwarf Gourami 

The difference between this fish and other blue-colored dwarf gouramis is that Neon Blue Dwarf Gourami’s blue color is darker. These fish have bodies that naturally shine. And just like other blue-colored variations, this fish also has rust stripes.

Neon Blue Dwarf Gourami

The Honey Dwarf

One of the most peaceful gouramis is the Honey Dwarf. However, these fish are not very popular due to their monochrome coloring. They are the same color from the head to the rest of their body. Their dorsal and caudal fins are transparent. It is very rare to find these fish with dark patches on their bodies.

The Honey Dwarf

Red Dwarf Gourami 

Unlike their names, these fish are more orangish-brown rather than red. They are similar to Flame Dwarf Gouramis; however, the latter is more reddish.

Male Red Dwarf Gouramis tend to become quite aggressive with each other and can nip fins too.

Red Dwarf Gourami 

Other types of Gourami fishes

  • Kissing Gourami: These are one of the biggest Gouramis out there. The average size of these fish in aquariums is about 8 inches, though they can grow longer in the wild. They aren’t ideally kept with Dwarf Gouramis. Instead, it’s good to keep them with fish that are similar to their size.
  • Snakeskin Gourami: These fish have skin that is similar in texture and color to that of a python, hence their name. They are in the larger category of Gouramis and are considered good tank mates due to their peaceful nature.
  • Three Spot Gourami: These are some of the most common Gouramis found in pet stores. They are easy to take care of and come in different colors such as opaline, blue, and golden.


Dwarf Gourami is a peaceful fish that gets along nicely with other fishes. If you want to add other fishes to your aquarium with the Dwarf Gouramis, you need to consider several factors such as:

  • The size of the tank mates: They have to be similar in size or smaller than your Dwarf Gourami. Large fish scare dwarf gouramis and cause them to be inactive and anxious. It also affects their health, as Dwarf Gouramis cannot swim to the top of the tank to breathe in air.
  • The general nature of the tankmates: The tank mate should be of a similar peace-loving temperament like the gouramis.
  • Some fish like the Cherry Shrimp get along well with these fish. However, if you plan to breed Cherry Shrimps, keeping them with these fish won’t be good. This is because the Dwarf Gouramis feed on the larvae of the Cherry Shrimps.
  • Other colorful fish species often cause the male gouramis to become anxious and aggressive. They mistake them for rivals, so it’s preferable not to keep very brightly colored fishes with dwarf gouramis.
  • Bottom dwellers are good tank mates for Dwarf Gouramis. This is because Gouramis tend to swim at the top of the fish tank to breathe in air.

Some fish considered ideal tank mates for Dwarf Gouramis are:

  • Plecos
  • Tetras
  • Mollies
  • Scavenger Catfish
  • Platies
  • Danios
  • Rasboras
  • Loaches
  • Swordtail Fish
  • Barbs

The following fishes do not get along well with dwarf gouramis and are not suitable as their tank mates:

  • Multiple male Dwarf Gouramis often don’t get along well with each other. They consider each other rivals. Even if they are of different species, do not keep two male gouramis together.
  • Betta fish have territorial nature like Gouramis, and the two do not get along well with each other.
  • Small fishes should not be kept with the Dwarf Gouramis as the latter may eat them.
  • Tiger Barbs are known to kill and tear Gouramis to pieces!
  • Some fish like Cichlids eat gouramis.

Diseases & Treatments

The following are the reasons for the spread of diseases in these fish:

  • Contamination of parasites and bacteria
  • Uneven pH of the water
  • Unhygienic living conditions in the fish tank, such as waste accumulating in the tank

Dwarf Gourami Disease

The Dwarf Gourami Disease (DGD) is a viral disease known to infect gouramis. The disease is caused by low levels of hygiene in the aquariums.

The symptoms of DGD include:

  • Loss of body color
  • Sores on the body
  • Loss of appetite
  • Swollen body

This disease is contagious. Sometimes, there are no external symptoms which can be dangerous as there is no way to know if your fish is infected with the disease and you continue to keep them with the other fishes. A biomedical examination of the fish is required to verify the DGD disease.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for the Dwarf Gourami Disease. Your once healthy fish will die within a month.

Other common treatable diseases in Dwarf Gouramis are:

  • Dropsy: Dropsy in fish happens due to fluid accumulation in the body’s tissues. A medicine, Marcin, is introduced to the aquarium to let the fish’s body absorb it to treat dropsy.
  • Popeye: The main cause of the popeye is an overcrowded fish tank. Popeye is treatable. The infected fish has to be treated with antibiotic food to cure it.
  • Fin and tail rot: The fin and tail rot symptom is that the fish’s fin turns white or rots away completely. This bacterial infection in fish can be difficult to cure and often leads to death.
  • Ich: This is one of the most common infections in aquariums with tropical fish. The fish will have white spots on its body and will frequently scrape its body against objects in the tank. Ich is treatable and requires you to set the aquarium’s temperature to 82 degrees Fahrenheit.

To prevent these diseases, you have to make sure that the living conditions in the fish tank are favorable. One way to determine if the water conditions are ideal is by using water test kits.

Signs of a healthy dwarf gourami Signs of a stressed/anxious dwarf gourami
Healthy appetite Loss of appetite
Clear eyes Blurry eyes
Swim actively Hide all the time
Fish will swim actively near the surface but won’t gasp for oxygen by touching its face to the surface. Fish will gasp its mouth on the surface of the tank. This is usually because of poor water conditions or less oxygen.
Bright body color The body’s color will change and become dull.

How to care for a Dwarf Gourami

It is fairly easy to care for a Dwarf Gourami. They are a hardy species and can survive even with average water quality. They are easy-going with other peaceful species of fish. Dwarf Gouramis are social, so it is advisable to keep at least 3 or 4 of them together. These fish are happier living in bigger groups.

You can easily keep these fish happy by fulfilling their basic needs. These include:

  • Sufficient space to swim
  • Healthy food
  • Ideal water conditions
  • Cleaning their tank regularly
  • These fish like decorations and floating plants in the aquarium as they help them to hide and play


Before you buy these fish, observe them and ask the shopkeeper to ensure that they are healthy and swimming. Also, determine any signs of ulcers on the fish’s bodies and observe whether the fins, including the long feelers, are intact as they should be.

It is easy to identify males and females. The latter has pale colors and is smaller and bulgy than males. So, selecting a male and female pair is not at all difficult.

However, it is quite difficult to breed these kinds of Gouramis.

Dwarf Gourami Breeding

How to breed

To breed a Dwarf Gourami, you will require another tank to separate the breeding fish from the community tank.

In this separate tank, place plants such as Cabomba caroliniana or any other fast-growing plant. Plants will require substrate to grow well, so you can keep some sand. These plants allow male fish to anchor their bubble nests there. Place a fluorescent tube in the aquarium hood to provide light.

Make sure the water temperature is within a range (80-82 Fahrenheit) suitable for these fish. Female fish are more likely to release eggs when the water temperature is lowered to 82 Fahrenheit.

A lower water level of up to 6-8 inches is required to trigger spawning. 20% water change is required every fortnight to maintain good water quality.

To initiate the breeding procedure, it is advised to feed the breeding pair with worms or other live food. It takes six months for the females to be able to reproduce. When the females have bulgy tummies and red stripes on their bodies, it means they have eggs and are ready to breed. The males’ body color will darken, indicating that they are ready to mate.

The males will be ready to begin building their egg nests. These nests look like a foam of saliva. They provide an oxygen-rich atmosphere that is suitable for the eggs and hatchlings.

Once the male completes the nest, the female releases its eggs. Now is a good time to place the female fish back in the community tank. This is because there are chances of females eating their eggs. It is the mature males who take complete responsibility for the eggs. They protect the eggs in the nest that start to hatch the next day onwards. The male keeps protecting the fry until they are ready to swim freely.

By day three, you will start to notice the little fry swimming freely in the water. This is a good time to place the male gourami back in the community tank.

You have to make sure that you provide food to the fry constantly. It is advised to feed them infusoria during the initial weeks as their food source. Later, you can start giving them liquid fish food and rotifers. The fry has to be fed as much as 6 times daily. You can feed them baby brine shrimp seven days after they hatch.

It can be a gratifying experience to breed a Dwarf Gourami if you ensure that the breeding conditions are right and your fish are healthy and ready to breed.

Frequently Asked Questions

How big do dwarf gouramis get?

On average, Dwarf Gouramis grow up to 3.5 inches long in the fish tank. However, it is not unique to find these fishes as long as 4.5 inches in the wild.

How many dwarf gouramis should be kept together? 

If your fish tank is not big enough, you can keep just a pair of dwarf gouramis. However, it’s recommended to keep a minimum of four dwarf gouramis together. This is because these fish are social and like living in groups.

Are dwarf gouramis easy to keep?

Dwarf gouramis get along well with other fishes, so they are easy to keep in a community tank. Moreover, it is very easy to care for these fish. They can survive even in average water quality as they are a hardy species.

How can you tell if dwarf gourami is happy?

Dwarf gouramis will exhibit the following signs when they are happy:

  • They will swim actively
  • Happy fishes will eat the recommended amount of food
  • The body color will remain bright and won’t show any dullness or changes
  • Happy dwarf gouramis like to socialize and swim in the tank. They won’t be hiding all the time
  • Happy and healthy fishes will have clear eyes
  • They won’t be suffering from any injuries


Dwarf gouramis are beautiful fish that are a great option to add color to your aquarium. They are easy to take care of and are peaceful creatures, so they are a favorite of many.

We hope this guide gave you information and insight into everything there is to know about Dwarf Gourami.