Dwarf Gourami Care & Tank Set Up Guide For Beginners

The Dwarf Gourami (Trichogaster lalius) is a popular exotic fish found in freshwater. Part of the Gourami family, Trichogaster lalius, known for its peaceful temperament, small size, and rainbow-like colors. They are a popular aquarium choice due to the low maintenance and color variants, adding vibrancy to any tank. 

A few things are needed to take care of to keep the Dwarf Gourami healthy. Follow The guidance given below to get the best out of these little beauties.

Quick Care Overview

  • Care Level: Dwarf Gouramis require low to intermediate levels of care. 
  • Life Span: These fish live to about 4-5 years of age. 
  • Size: These fish grow to about 2 to 3.5 inches at their maximum in size. 
  • Diet: Dwarf Gourami fish tend to be omnivores, flexible with eating both veggies and protein-rich foods.
  • Family: Part of the Gourami family that comprises a variety of small to larger fish. The Dwarf Gourami has an immediate family of colorful cousins. You will find them ranging in colors of blues, reds, and rainbow shades. 
  • Minimum Tank Size: These fish should be in tanks of no less than 10 gallons. 
  • Compatibility: These are peaceful fish and small in size. They’re compatible with species of the same calm, relaxed temperament and around the same or only slightly larger size.

Appearance & Origins

close up of dwarf gourami (Trichogaster lalius) swimming in aquarium

The Dwarf Gourami is a fish characterized by its several color variants, ranging from neons, blues, rainbow tones, and reddish-orange. They come with distinctive color combinations, where the blue pairs with neon colors and the rainbow varieties pair with a reddish-orange body and a greenish-gold metallic sheen. 

They tend to grow up to about 3.5 inches and boast a narrow body. Their fins stick out quite a lot as they are large compared to their body and slightly rounded. As labyrinth fish, they breathe by taking in air at the top of the fish tank.

In a community aquarium, these fish will add a drop of paint to your tank and be found in the middle to top areas of the aquarium. Though small, they stand out and carry an adorable shyness about them. They also love to go around in pairs.

As exotic fish, they originate in India, West Bengal, and Bangladesh. They’re also found in streams, paddy fields, and through the water channels across the South Asian agricultural lands. They love to be around heavily vegetated waters and are well known as native to these areas, as they are commonly sold fresh and dried in many fish markets around north India.

Dwarf Gouramis require some essential things for them to thrive. Below are the factors for your general knowledge about this unique Gourami variety!

Scientific Classification 

It’s interesting to know the biology of this fish. Being exotic, it has some interesting scientific facts that make them unique. 

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Actinopterygii
  • Order: Anabantiformes
  • Family: Osphronemidae
  • Genus: Trichogaster
  • Species: T. lalius
  • Binomial Name: Trichogaster lalius

Color Variations

The Dwarf Gouramis are named according to the colors they display. Hence you will find them named as: 

  • Blue Dwarf Gourami: This variety carries a glowing blue tone with reddish-brown lines that run across their sides and reach up to their fins.
  • Flame Dwarf Gourami: This variety carries a vibrant reddish-orange ombre coloring that makes it stand out from the shoal. 
  • Neon Blue Dwarf Gourami: A more vibrant play compared to the Blue Dwarf Gourami. The neon blue variety carries an even more visually stunning blue. They also sport red stripes across their bodies. 
  • Honey Dwarf Gourami: Less shocking than the other Dwarf Gourami in its color but a beautiful shade nonetheless. This variety has a sweet orange-red hue, with their caudal fins being translucent and colorless.

In each of the color varieties, the male Dwarf Gouramis are the more colorful ones and sport the blues and orangey-red tones with stripes and patterns. The females have a more modest coat of less vivid colors, lighter lines, and a general metallic grey undertone, which create an overall subtle shade.

Dwarf Gourami Care & Tank Set Up

dwarf gourami swimming in planted aquarium

Follow these essential steps to get your tank in perfect conditions to help your Dwarf Gourami feel right at home. 

Tank Size 

A 10-gallon tank is a minimum size required to keep the Dwarf Gourami in a healthy state. Two or three Gouramis can fit well in a 10-gallon tank. Keep in mind that you’ll need to add 5 gallons for every extra one added. 

Water Parameters 

The Dwarf Gourami requires the water to be under certain conditions to thrive. It can help them stay healthy and avoid diseases. 

  • Temperature Range: 77-78.5°F
  • Water Hardness: 10-20 dGH
  • pH: 6-8 

Equipment, Substrate, Plants & Decoration

Though these fishes don’t require exact conditions, there are some ways to create a pleasant environment. 

Their natural river habitats comprise free-floating plants, so opt for floating aquarium plants with delicate leaves. These Gouramis, which tend to be shy, will enjoy having these around to hide behind and build nests. Additionally, you can pair your plants up with ceramic figures to give them more hide-outs.

Choose a substrate of sand and gravel, consisting of large grains of sand or small dark gravel. Dwarf Gouramis also don’t like light, so purchase a dimmed aquarium light and have it switched on for 8-10 hours. As these fish prefer slow water flow, choose a medium-powered filter, though this isn’t vital.

Diet & Feeding

Dwarf Gouramis are omnivores, so they eat anything between flakey, freeze-dried, frozen, and live foods. All of which could be veggie or protein-based. 

These fish will munch on algae plants and larvae in their natural habitat, so try to mimic their natural diet by combining some tropical fish flakes, freeze-dried foods, vegetable tablets, and occasional feedings of live worms. Moreover, protein-rich foods can help give them the nourishment required for breeding. 

Tank Mates 

Dwarf Gouramis can be perfect additions to any tank, pairing well with other small fish and standing out with their colorful bodies. Due to their peaceful temperament, they’re tolerant with their tank mates, as long as they are also relatively small and share a similar attitude. 

As Dwarf Gouramis prefer the top of the tank, ideally, choosing tank mates that are mid and bottom-dwellers would help give all the fish their space and also give your tank diversity in space. It’ll also help during breeding periods, as tank mates who swim at the bottom wouldn’t disturb the process and affect their nests. 

If you decide to have more than one Dwarf Gourami, remember to pair one male to two or three females as this will ensure harmony and prevent territorial aggression. 

Dwarf Gouramis like to have company, and some ideal tank mates would be:

  • Rasboras (Peaceful temperament & require little space)
  • Loaches (Usually nocturnal, peaceful & bottom-dwellers)
  • Glowlight Tetras (Peaceful temperament & mid to bottom-dwellers)
  • Catfish or Otocinclus Catfish (Peaceful temperament & bottom-dwellers)
  • Plecos (Bottom-dwellers)
  • Pygmy Cories (Small in size & bottom-dwellers)
  • Mollies (Small in size & require the same tank conditions)
  • Platies (Small in size & peaceful temperament)

Incompatible tank mates would be the ones that are large in size since Dwarf Gouramis tend to be shy and may get scared. Also, fish that are energetic, fast-swimmers would cause competition for space and food. So always check before purchasing any new additions for your tank.

Tankmates to avoid would be Tiger Barbs, Oscars, and Large Cichlids; they’re fast, overactive, and could cause unnecessary competition. Goldfish wouldn’t be compatible either due to their size and temperament. Not to mention, it requires certain tank conditions different from that of Dwarf Gouramis.

Common Diseases 

Dwarf Gouramis are tough fish and can adapt to different environments. But just like other aquarium fish, they can also contract diseases. 

Dwarf Gourami Disease

Dwarf Gourami may be prone to developing some diseases. The most common disease connected with this Gourami species is dwarf gourami disease, or DGD. This one is unique to only the Dwarf Gourami. 

This is a viral infection that sadly doesn’t have a cure. So far, it’s stated that the virus comes about when water quality deteriorates. Common symptoms to watch out for are darkening or lightening of color or scales that gradually die. 

To prevent this disease, it’s important to change water frequently, have a good filter installed, and keep an eye on the tank conditions in general. 

Dwarf Gourami Iridovirus

This virus tends to affect Dwarf Gouramis but also other species of the Gourami family. Unlike the DGD virus, this one is highly contagious, so it can spread quickly from one fish to another. It’s essential, therefore, to capture it early. 

Symptoms to watch out for are color loss, sores on the body, loss of appetite, sudden death, abdominal swelling, and weakness or lethargy. 

Like the DGD virus, this one also has no treatment, and unfortunately, many Gouramis that develop the symptoms eventually die.

For both diseases, it’s crucial to have a good water-changing schedule to keep potential parasites and bacteria away. Combining this with good nutrition can help keep your Dwarf Gourami healthy.  

A Word on Loud Noises 

Dwarf Gouramis can get scared by loud noises and will turn to hide urgently. They can sometimes get stuck or trapped in hard-to-reach places, so it’s essential to keep an eye on them and keep noise levels to a minimum. Also, make sure to use a filter that doesn’t give out a loud noise. 


Begin the breeding process by lowering the water level to around 7 inches and increasing the water temperature to 82F. Ensure there’s plenty of floaty greens to create a subdued environment.

It’s also necessary for the male Gourami to use the vegetation to put together the bubble nest. Male Gouramis make these bubble nests out of bubbles and vegetation to be sturdy. 

After the nest is constructed, the male will court the female, and when she accepts, the pair will swim beside the bubble nest. After engaging in embracing and touch, the female will release approximately five dozen eggs that’ll be fertilized by the male and then put into the nest. Once the eggs are secured in the nest, the pair will spawn again. 

The male takes responsibility for defending the eggs. After about 24 hours, the fry will hatch and develop within the bubble nest, and after three days, the new fry will be swimming. At this point, remove the male from the tank to protect the new fry, as he may mistake them for food. 

Feed the new fry tiny morsels, such as infusoria. You can purchase special fry food from pet stores. After a week, they can then be fed finely ground flakey foods. 

Are Dwarf Gourami Right for You?

There are many varieties of Dwarf Gouramis to choose from, all of which can add vibrancy to your tank with their vivid rainbow-like colors. So there’s always a Dwarf Gourami out there that’s right for you! 

Their sweet size, unique breeding methods, and colors make them the perfect choice for most of us. When deciding if you want to add dwarf gouramis to your tank, check that they’re healthy and paired with tank mates compatible with their temperament and size.

If you choose to breed them, it can come with benefits as there is a market demand for Dwarf Gouramis that are locally bred and healthy. So breeding would be an experimental and rewarding project to try. 

Even if you decide to have one Dwarf Gourami and don’t wish to breed, they’re a pleasure to have in the tank, and giving them some TLC through frequent water changes and good nutrition can keep them happy and healthy for a long time.

Christopher Adams
Christopher Adams

Hey there, my name is Christopher, and I've successfully ran freshwater aquariums for the past few decades. The mission of this site is to make it simple for anyone to run their own freshwater aquarium.

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