Honey gourami: complete care, size and tank mates- 2020

Honey gourami appearance

The Honey Gourami is a freshwater fish found in northern India and Bangladesh, and in Nepal sometimes. This honey gourami is an ideal for first-time inexperienced fish keepers. 

Also known as the Sunset Honey Gourami, the Red Honey Gourami, The Red Flame Gourami, and any of the above combinations. Hold on reading to learn everything you need to know about caring for this wonderful fish.

The honey gourami (Trichogaster chuna) is a native Indian and Bangladeshi gourami species.

Honey gourami Overview

The Honey Gourami, Trichogaster chuna, was first described in 1822 by Hamilton and Buchanan where mistook males and females for two distinct species. Males were called Trichopodus chuna, and females were known as Trichopodus sota. 

They are all now sitting under the name Trichogaster. 

Trichogaster comes from ancient Greek, meaning ‘thriks’ meaning ‘hair’ and ‘gaster’ meaning ‘stomach’ describing their long, narrow ventral fins. 

The fish that are available for the aquarium trade are all produced commercially. The wild specimen is very unlikely to be found in your tanks.

There have been a number of selectively breeded ornamental strains in recent years to improve coloring between Dwarf Gourami (Colisa lalia) and Honey Gourami. These two species were often confused due to their similar appearance.

Taxonomy

Here is the scientific classification of Honey gourami:

Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Anabantiformes
Family: Osphronemidae
Genus: Trichogaster
Species:
T. chuna
Binomial name
Trichogaster chuna

Typical behavior

Because of its peaceful nature and hardness, this species is ideal for inexperienced aquarists. 

Although classified as a benthopelagic fish (meaning they’ll swim from the sediment to the surface) it prefers the tank’s middle and surface areas. They are a shy and timid specimen and may take some time to get comfortable in your tank. Only when they relax will the male begin to show off his typical colouring. 

Although they are not outgoing, they enjoy their own kind of company (4 to 6 people).

It is likely that there will be some sort of hierarchy within a group, with the dominant individual chasing away the other fish during meal time and males becoming aggressive towards females. 

To prevent bullying, ensure dense vegetation is provided for hiding spaces. 

Its ability to feed is also very peculiar. This behavior is also observed with the Trichopodus and Trichogaster species in the Archer Fish (Toxotes spp.) together. 

Sprinkling water at them, it catches prey. They are diagonally positioning themselves to the surface of the water to watch for prey. Then, at the prey, it will squirt water, so it falls into the water, where the fish eat it quickly.

Appearance of Honey gourami

Honey gourami appearance
Image by Vincent Lim Show Chen from Flickr

They are often confused with the Dwarf Gourami because their shape and size have similarities. Knowing their scientific latin names (mentioned above) can help to distinguish between the different varieties when purchasing and selecting these fish. 

The Honey Gourami ‘s body is narrower and has smaller dorsal and anal fins. The ventral fins are narrow and similar to thread. 

Males and females, like most fish, are different in color. They all initially display a silvery gray to light yellow color with a light brown horizontal stripe in the middle of the body stretching from behind the eye to the caudal peduncle.

Males will develop bright honey-yellow or reddish-orange coloration while the females remain this color for life. The ventral side of the fish (face, throat and belly) becomes dark blue/black while they display a more honey orange coloration on the main body. 

The Honey Gourami is Trichogaster ‘s smallest size fish, usually attaining 1.5′′ for males and 2′′ for females. They were recorded in rare occasions as growing up to 3′′.

They’ve got orange body colors. This species can reach TL 7 centimeters (2.8 in.) long. Male specimens of this fish are generally more colorful than their female counterparts, typical of many gouramis.

They exhibit bright orange coloring around the region of the throat, which becomes much brighter at breeding time and is used for courting the female. The males’ undersides turn black when breeding.

Males also show a bit of an orange tinge in their fins, except for the caudal fin. There are also longer fins for the male, with a pointed dorsal fin and extended anal fin rays. Two other varieties of color were selectively bred — a red-orange variety called sunset or robin red, and a lighter variety called gold. Sometimes this can lead to confusion, in part because the red-orange type may look like the red dwarf gourami variety (Colisa lalia).

Dwarf Gourami Confusion

Remember not to confuse this fish with the dwarf gourami, although sometimes the word ‘dwarf’ is included in their name, they are closely related, but they are not the same. 

Typically, Dwarf gouramis come in red and blue colours, honey ‘s eyes are usually closer to their mouth than dwarf species. 

Also, this species should not be confused with the sunset thick lip gourami – they are typically larger (growing to 4 inches), and are more orange.

Habitat and Tank Conditions

Honey gourami tank setup

They are native to the South Asian freshwaters. 

It can be found in the Indian and Bangladesh rivers, lakes, ponds, ditches and occasionally in flooded fields. These areas are thick in vegetation, with water that is poorly mineralized and slow to move. 

It is important to replicate a good natural habitat for the wellbeing of fish. Holding down levels of fish stress and promoting full-color development is easier if the natural conditions are met. 

In this area, the beds of rivers and lakes have sandy substrates with occasional rocks and other debris. Gourami’s, however, tend to swim in the middle or upper portion of the water column making vegetation the most important thing to consider.

This species makes use of the densely planted environment both for a hideout and food. This fish spreads out between June and October in low altitude areas, often affected by a high seasonal variation due to monsoon.

Tank conditions

Water Parameters
Image from Pexels

Honey Gourami is a hardy little fish. They prefer warm waters and can tolerate minor water chemistry changes. 

Their labyrinth organ is pretty sensible to temperature changes. Hence it is best to keep the tank in a room with similar temperature to tank water. If this is not possible you can use a heater to keep the water temperature consistent. 

It prefers slow, acidic and hard waters, with parameters for water set at:

  • Hardiness: 4-15 dGH
  • pH: 6.0-7.5
  • Lighting: Moderate
  • Temperature:71-82°F

They are shy and like feeling safe and secure inside the tank. Try to provide plenty of hiding spaces when installing thick vegetation and floating plants in the tank. 

Try leaving some areas of the surface uncovered so the fish can breathe air. They will often try to reach the breathable surface. 

Regular water changes with at least 25 percent of the tank waters changing weekly are very important. A good filtration system and the regular changes in water will prevent toxins from forming.

Honey Gourami Tank Mates

The Honey Gourami is a shy, quiet fish. Hence, it is very important to pick the right tank mates for your Gourami ‘s wellbeing. For example, other active and aggressive fish like cichlids should be avoided as they intimidate and out-compete the Gourami for food. 

These include Oscars, Silver Dollars, Pacus and big catfish

Ideal Honey gourami tank mates and peaceful fish like:

  • Cyprinids 
  • Pethia
  • Puntius

These are the ideal tank mates. Also, peaceful barbs might get along well, but avoid fin nippers like Tiger and Clown Barbs.

Other good tank mates could include smaller loaches like the Coolie Loach and relatives, smaller catfish like Corydoras and Otocinclus, and smaller rainbowfish

Snails are good mates at the tank as well, but avoid keeping shrimps with them as they may be eaten. Always bear in mind that weaker people can be bullied, so provide plenty of hiding spots.

Keeping Honey Gouramis Together

Honey Gouramis are very easy to fish to keep as a single, pair or group. They are not a species of schooling but they enjoy the company of each other and will display better in groups of 4-6 people. 

A formed pair generally swims together.

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Honey gourami Feeding

The Honey Gourami is an omnivore in the wild, feeding on everything from small invertebrates and insects to zooplankton they may find. Occasionally they will also graze on the vegetation and plants that surround them. 

Keep that in mind when selecting your aquarium plant type; you need a resilient species! 

This fish isn’t a cuddly eater. They’ll love, fresh or flake foods in the aquarium. Try to maintain a well-balanced diet with flakes or pellets as their core diet and then add live foods such as bloodworms or shrimp brine. 

Vegetable tablets are a good way to vary your diet, too. Assure that both vegetables and meat sources are added to give them a good variety.

You should feed them once or twice a day and only feed them enough food to put it in the tank within 2-3 minutes.

Caring for Honey gourami

Honey_gourami_red_variant

Although these are quite resilient fish, it is recommended to make weekly water changes of at least 25 percent to avoid tissue damage. Fish diseases are usually not an issue provided you maintain a well-maintained aquarium. 

However, if kept in a tank that is poorly maintained, they are prone to Velvet disease. This is a parasite, Oodinium pilularis, that lives in the gills of fish, making the skin and mouth over the fins and body golden or brownish dust. 

Bacterial infections, constipation, and a hole in the head are other diseases that may occur with poor quality of the water.

Due to poor water conditions and inadequate tank settings, ich disease or White Spot disease was recognized as one of the most common infections caused by the Ichthyophthirius multifiliis parasite. 

No one wants to see their fish in the head disease or hexamitiasis developing the hole. This is caused by parasite protozoa known as Hexamita, which affects both freshwater and sea fish. 

Maintaining good water quality and a balanced diet is the key to preventing outbreaks of any disease in your aquarium. When selecting a new addition to your tank always keep in mind that any new substrate is a potential risk of a disease being introduced.

Lately, many commercially bred gouramis in the Far East have been experiencing health problems with dyed, hormone-treated and specimen-carrying viruses. Hence quarantine is recommended before adding the fish or substratum to a well-established community.

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Breeding of Honey gourami

Breeding is fairly straightforward if the right conditions can be provided. They are builders of bubble nests, nesting beneath a leaf where available. Pairs are set to form a temporary bond. 

We suggest using a 10-20 gallon tank for breeding. Keep the water at an altitude of about 6-8 inches with a temperature between 79-84 ° F, pH 7.0 and 8 ° dGH. Try adding a gentle air-powered filtration like a sponge filter, too. 

Helps even lots of vegetation. The leaves help to stabilize the nest, as it tends to break if it is built on the surface of bare water. 

Remember to keep the air warm and humid above the water so as not to damage the labyrinth organ. 

The females will start filling out with eggs once they have been well fed.

The male is going to build the bubble nest, and once it’s built, by swimming towards a female and flashing its blue-black, he’ll show off his courting colors. He’ll then swim back to her nest to encourage her to follow. He will repeat those courting displays and swimming rituals until the nest is reached and they start spawning. 

The female releases about 20 eggs per spawn, and they are fertilized immediately by the male. The male grabs the eggs in his mouth and puts them in the nest of the bubble. The same pair will spawn again until it fertilizes around 300 eggs. 

Again here the spitting of water comes in handy. By spitting water droplets over the nest, the male keeps the eggs in place forcing them down where they can be rearranged back into the nest. 

The female should be removed after spawning, as the male tends to become aggressive to chase her away. Thus the male’s guard and care for the eggs and nest. 

Depending on the temperature of the water the eggs will hatch after 24-36 hours. At this stage, all adults need to be removed. The fry will take 3 days to get out of the nest and swim free. The free-swimming fry may be fed with liquid fry food or infusoria until they grow large enough to eat baby brine shrimp.

The honey gourami is a builder of bubble nests that use plants to help bind the bubbles together. During spawning, the water level should be reduced to 8 in, and the temperature should be about 28 ° C (82 ° F) and a pH of around 7.

It’s always recommended to keep your Gouramis in a separate tank for easier breeding. Make sure the tank is cloaked. You’ll find the male building a small bubble nest in one end of your tank when they’re ready to spawn. It displays its color to catch your partner ‘s attention.

It marks the beginning of the spawning process, after the female approaches the male, which sees the male wrapping itself around the female.

As the eggs slowly sink to the bottom of the tank, they are gathered by the male to put them into the nest. Unlike most other species, where the female assumes the dominant role of parenting, here the male Honey Gourami assumes the role of the guardian at an early stage.

The male continues to guard the nest, and if necessary reconstructs and repairs it, while the female leaves the area. After two days the eggs hatch, and three days later the fry becomes free to swim (Ter Morshuizen 2007). When they start swimming freely, infusoria and brine shrimp should be fed to the fry and finely ground flakes a week later. Older fry can also be fed with freeze-dried tablets.

Distribution and habitat

The honey gourami is typically found in its native Indian and Bangladesh range in rivers and lakes. In soft and poorly mineralized waters it habits areas of thick vegetation. This fish prefers the higher and middle water levels.

In the aquarium

The honey gourami is generally regarded as a non-aggressive community fish, ideal for small aquariums (up to 10 gallons). Like other gouramis though, male honey gouramis may be aggressive to each other.

They are best kept apart for this reason, unless the tank is large enough to allow the males to establish territories. To provide adequate cover a tank that includes this fish should be planted and decorated.

It is necessary to provide cover, because this species, like the similarly sized dwarf gourami, can be rather timid, and it is best to avoid aggressive tankmates. Good tankmates for honey gourami include tetras, non-fin nipping barbs, corydoras, platys, and other gouramis. Water temperature should be kept at approximately 22-28 ° C (71-82 ° F). Water chemistry is not critical but it is important to avoid extremes. 

A honey gourami color variant is the red honey gourami, which is a bit redder in color. The male becomes even darker red/orange in color when in breeding condition.

Conclusion

Conclusion

The Honey Gourami adds peace and color to your aquarium. This species is ideal for inexperienced maintainers as they are able to withstand many typical beginner errors. 

They prefer densely vegetated tanks and plenty of hiding places where they can feel safe and secure. 

The Honey Gourami adopts peculiar wild behaviors while spawning and feeding like bubble nesting, and spitting water when catching prey.

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