Sparkling Gourami Care Guide: Size, Tank Mates, Breeding

Lack space but want a showstopper? Meet the Sparkling Gourami: beautiful, talented, and low-maintenance. Space is not an issue for these tiny Gouramis, and they can even forgive a couple of beginner mistakes. 

So if you’re on the market for a splendid fish in a tiny package, look no further and read on!

The table below gives a quick overview of the Sparkling Gourami profile:

Profile AttributeValue
Care DifficultyEasy
Lifespan4-5 years
DietOmnivorous
Color(s)Gold, red, blue, green (can be iridescent)
TemperamentTimid/peaceful
Maximum SizeUp to 1.5 inches
Minimum Tank Size15 gallons
Tank SetupHeavily planted/slow-moving freshwater
FamilyOsphronemidae
CompatibilityMay be community fish/best as a single-species community

Below is our Sparkling Gourami care guide, keep reading to find out more about its Appearance, Tank Mates, Breeding and more.

Overview

The Sparkling Gourami (Trichopsis pumila) is a small freshwater fish that also goes by Dwarf Croaking Gourami, and Pygmy Gourami. Part of the Osphronemidae family, the Pygmy was originally found distributed throughout Southeast Asia. In the wild, Sparkling Gouramis are known to inhabit slow-moving or stagnant bodies of water like rice paddies, ditches, swamps, ponds, and even canals. 

Sparkling Gouramis come in various colors, often seeming iridescent in the light. They are timid little beauties as well, preferring to hide under plant covers and cave-like structures. 

This Gourami species is a popular aquarium fish, with breeding mainly done for commercial purposes. That comes as no surprise however, because Sparkling Gouramis are not only beautiful to look at, but also a breeze to care for!

Appearance

What’s in a name? That which we call a Sparkling Gourami would be just as beautiful as any Rose. Despite its minuscule size, this aquatic species is definitely what Shakespeare would deem a beauty. Sparkling Gouramis typically have an arrowhead or torpedo-shaped body with a dark midlateral streak. One unique feature of Sparkling Gouramis is that above their midlateral streak lies irregular blotches that form a secondary stripe.

Pygmy colors can range from gold, blue, green, and even purple, depending on your particular fish and how the light hits them. For some, the Sparkling Gourami can even be described as iridescent. 

Pygmy caudal fins look mostly translucent, with dark dots all over. However, in certain situations these fins will appear like a variety of glowing colors flipping around. 

As icing on the cake, Sparkling Gouramis are the proud owners of bright blue eyes! Although the shade may change every now and then, most Pygmies possess piercing blue peepers. 

Both male and female Sparkling Gouramis have almost the same striking appearance. Because of this, sexing these fishes might prove to be more than a little difficult. The only perceptible difference you may watch out for are the blotches atop the midlateral stripe; these are darker in males and fainter on females. 

Average Size

Pygmy Gouramis are incredibly small fishes. In fact, the pygmy in its name implies a small stature. These aquatic beauties are only able to grow up to 1.5 inches (4.0 cm), with an average size of around 1-1.5 inches. 

This tiny size can be a plus however, because these fishes don’t require a large tank. Smaller fishes can fit in smaller tanks, which might be perfect for people with a limited home space.

Lifespan

Sadly, the Sparkling or Pygmy Gourami only has a lifespan of around 4-5 years. Ultimately, the length of time they have would depend on the time and care you provide. So don’t worry, you’ll learn all about the care they need in this guide (*wink). 

Sparkling Gourami Care Advice

Wondering where to start with owning a Sparkling Gourami? What’s the proper tank size, what to feed them, and how to breed them? Relax and keep reading. We’ve got all you need to know.

Tank Setup

In nature, you can find Sparkling Gouramis in dark forest swamps, rice paddies, or stagnant bodies of water with plenty of plant life and dissolved organic matter. While the habitats may vary, there are common factors you should take into consideration when setting up your tank.

These tiny Gouramis are used to slow-moving freshwater environments with an abundance of plant cover. Generously plant your aquarium, with both rooted and floating plants like Hornworts, Amazon frogbits, Water lettuce, and Java Ferns. This is important for Sparkling Gouramis, as they often hide around vegetation. You can even add leaf litter, such as Indian Almond and Guava leaves, which are all beneficial to Pygmies. 

After vegetation, it would also do your Gouramis good to add some driftwood, rocks, and cave-like structures to your tank. This doesn’t have to be fancy caves, as an old camera film canister can do the trick. 

Now what about the lighting? Well, these Sparkling Gouramis don’t just enjoy the cover vegetation gives them because they’re shy. They’re also more comfortable in the dark. Make sure to dim your LED lights, cover them, or just place them further away from your tank. 

Fortunately, they’re not fussy when it comes to their substrate. You can have free reign whether it’s sand or gravel. Some prefer a dark-colored substrate, to contrast the Sparkling Gouramis’ iridescence.

Lastly, remember to leave a bit of space on the surface of your tank and don’t fill it completely with water or crowd it with floating plants. These Gouramis are also labyrinth fishes and will sometimes breathe air from the surface.

Water Parameters

From their time in the wild, Pygmy Gouramis developed a resilience and tolerance to a variety of water conditions. They can even tolerate poorly-oxygenated water up to a certain point.

We don’t want to test our aquatic pets’ survival abilities however, and instead provide them with the very best. Sparkling Gouramis favor slightly acidic water, with a pH range of 6.5-7.5, though they may tolerate as low as 5.5. A temperature of about 74°F-80°F is also ideal, along with a 5-10 dKH (soft water).

Make sure the water flow in your tank is very low to nonexistent, similar to their preferences in nature. Monitor these parameters throughout the week with weekly water changes. Once you’ve got those down, your Sparkling Gouramis will be in tip top shape in no time!

Common Diseases

Despite the Sparkling Gouramis’ reported tolerance to less-than-ideal water conditions, this doesn’t mean they won’t succumb to illness. More specifically, they can be vulnerable to freshwater diseases such as the following:

  • Fin rot- caused by gram-negative bacteria that mainly attacks freshwater fishes, this disease destroys the fins as if eaten away or nipped. This disease must be treated immediately before advancing to even fungal complications.
  • Bloat-a distension of the abdomen, and may be caused by bacterial infections, tumors, or constipation.
  • Costiasis- caused by a protozoan, this disease presents itself on the fish body as blurry scales, and mucus coming from the gills. Your poor fishes will also lose their normally hefty appetite.
  • Ich or White spot disease- a parasitic infection that looks like white fuzz on your fish. This can be very itchy, so fish will often try to scratch their bodies on ornaments. 
  • Columnaris (Cotton Mouth disease)- also caused by gram-negative bacteria, this disease presents itself as white fuzzy patches, lesions and deformed scales on the fish. 

Thankfully, most of these diseases can be treated with Praziquantel, aquarium salts, antibiotics and other medications. That being said, most of these ailments can also be easily prevented by doing our due diligence as fishkeepers. Always ensure that Sparkling Gouramis’ surroundings are clean, their water conditions optimal, and their diets balanced.

Regularly observe your Gouramis for indications of sickness as well, and quarantine ill fishes immediately. This will prevent further contamination and more sick fishes in your tank. 

Tank Size

Being small has its benefits, and one of them is definitely not requiring much space. A 5-gallon tank will suit one Pygmy, however these are relatively social fishes and don’t like being alone. Give them some friends and settle for a minimum of 15 gallons to make them more comfortable. Once they start breeding, add 10 gallons more for every new addition!

Diet & Food

Small in size, but big in appetite. Sparkling Gouramis are voracious omnivores. They love eating and are funnily enough, always at risk of overeating and getting sick because of it. In their native habitats, Sparkling Gourami is known to eat zooplankton, insects, and some small invertebrates. The only concern is the size of the food and if it will fit into Sparkling Gouramis’ mouths. 

Sparkling Gourami Preferred food includes:

  • Algae
  • Tubifex
  • Aquatic insects
  • Pellets, flakes
  • Baby brine shrimp
  • Artemia
  • Bloodworms

Although they’re not fussy eaters, they typically need some getting used to when it comes to dried food like flakes and pellets. Make sure their food is of the highest quality, and include plenty of live or frozen meat in their diet. Doing so will bring out the ‘sparkle’ in your Sparkling Gouramis.

Sparkling Gourami Breeding Behavior

Like other species of Gourami, Sparkling Gouramis are also bubble nest builders. When your Pygmies decide it’s time to breed, the males begin building bubble nests right below the water surface. It’s best to place breeding pairs into a separate tank to avoid any chaos; since breeding males can get a bit aggressive with each other. These males will interrupt other breeding pairs, stop females from depositing their eggs, and just be a disruption to other males’ dream of fatherhood.

To get started, Gourami pairs perform their ‘mating dance’. They ‘embrace’ during this time, near the bubble nest. Soon, the female releases relatively big white eggs. The male excitedly fertilizes this, puts the eggs into his mouth, and then delivers them safely to his bubble nest. This cycle lasts for some time until there are no more eggs to give. Immediately remove the female from the breeding tank. Her job is done here.

Male Sparkling Gouramis are excellent fathers, fortunately. These excited dads are constantly on guard and swimming near the eggs on their bubble nests, ensuring their safety. Like a doting dad, he continues his guard duty even after the eggs hatch and become fry. He only stops parenting as soon as his children become free-swimming. After that you should also remove daddy from the breeding tank.

Now that you have baby Sparkling Gouramis, it’s up to you to care for them. Keep your tank covered with warm air on the surface, and feed them infusoria for a couple of weeks. 

Tip: While generally great parents, male Sparkling Gouramis can sometimes eat their fry (Oh no!). Don’t be alarmed as this usually happens with first time parents or fishes not used to mating. This gets better over time, and as they say, practice makes perfect!

Sparkling Gourami Tank Mates

While sociable and peaceful, some prefer keeping the Sparkling Gourami in tanks where they are the stars of the show. This is because these small fishes can get a bit timid when it comes to other tank mates. Whereas when they are alone, they might grow more comfortable and be more likely to go forth and multiply. This way, you could also keep them in a relatively small tank (perfect for those with no space at  home!).

If you are set on giving them friends however, worry not-you’ve got plenty of potential tank mates to choose from. The important things to keep in mind are the nature of your tank mates. Sparkling Gouramis are really small and slightly reclusive. Naturally, they would get along best with equally amiable small fishes who would leave them to their own devices. 

As a matter of fact, boisterous or active fish have a tendency to stress out Sparkling Gouramis. And unless you want your little friends harmed, larger fish or those with aggressive, fin-nipping natures are a no too. Dwarf Croaking Gouramis don’t appreciate fast-swimmers zooming about either, and would much prefer calmer neighbors.

Tank Mates suitable for the Sparkling Gourami are:

  • Small loaches
  • Cyprinids (microdevario, boraras)
  • Celestial Danios
  • Smaller Rasboras
  • Neon Tetras
  • Bristlenose Plecos
  • Mystery snails
Tip: If you are a person with a busy lifestyle, it is probably best to focus on a small tank showcasing just Sparkling Gouramis. You could better observe them, and their state. Without a doubt life will not only be easier on you, but for these nano fishes as well.

Sparkling Gourami Temperament 

Overall, the Sparkling Gourami can be classified as a peaceful species. Sometimes even shy, Sparkling Gouramis prefer shaded areas and enjoy hiding as an activity. They can be reclusive and will be more comfy if you give them their caves and other hidey-holes. Interestingly, they can be somewhat hostile to their own kind and yet, they still want their own kind around them. That’s right-much like our relationship with siblings, these guys become lonely when there are no other Sparkling Gouramis in the tank. Find a middle ground and house a small school of Sparkling Gouramis. 

During spawning or when sparring, Sparkling Gouramis also have a unique behavior where they ‘croak’ at one another. Technically the alias, ‘Croaking Gourami’ is the name of a different fish species. However, Sparkling Gouramis are sometimes also called by this name due to the sound they generate. 

When it comes to other fish neighbors, they have a sociable enough demeanor. This is of course, also dependent on their tank mates’ temperament. Small but aggressive fishes will make these Sparkling Gouramis ready to fight as well, and that can’t be good. If everybody is peaceful, Pygmies are also peaceful and won’t be any problem.

Tip: Keep one male with multiple females, or even an all female Sparkling Gourami community to avoid breeding battles. Breeding males can get pretty over-the-top when it comes to mating, and get aggressive with other males. Chill out, casanova!

Conclusion

Sparkling Gouramis are undoubtedly one of the most beautiful tiny fishes you will ever see in an aquarium. They have an ethereal quality that’s hard to find anywhere else. 

They’re diplomatic (unless they’re breeding), great for beginners, and perfect for those of us with not much free time or space. 

Aquascaping their tanks is a joy in itself, and they might even entertain you with their croaking ballads! Truly, the Sparkling Gourami can be all you’ve ever wanted in a fish.

Note: Please consider the environment before printing this Sparkling Gourami care sheet.

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