Honey Gourami Care, Diseases & Tank Mates

Sunset Gourami

The Honey Gourami is a species of freshwater fish that has its origins in coastal areas that are rich in vegetation, with shallow water such as rivers, lakes, and slums in the southeast of the Asian continent, especially in Borneo, Malaysia, Sumatra, and Thailand. Scientifically, it is also known as Trichogaster chuna.

The fish are often found in lakes, ponds, small rivers, flooded fields, and even drains. Many gourami habitats are prone to seasonal droughts.

The fish normally dwell in waters with plenty of plants and soft, low mineralized water. Honey Gourami feed on insects, larvae and different zooplankton.

General Information

They are often confused with the Dwarf Gourami because their shape and size are very similar. Knowing their scientific latin names (mentioned above) can help to distinguish between the different varieties when buying and selecting these fish. With smaller dorsal and anal fins, the Honey Gourami’s body is narrower.

The ventral fins are narrow, like thread. Like most fish, there are different colors for males and females. They all initially display a silvery gray/light yellow color with a light brown horizontal stripe in the middle of the body stretching from behind the eye to the caudal peduncle.

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

The Honey Gourami is Trichogaster’s smallest fish, typically reaching 1.5′′ for males and 2′′ for females, although they have been recorded as growing up to 3′′ on rare occasions.

Being a peaceful fish makes them a good addition to a community tank, but they can be somewhat timid, especially if they are housed with fish that won’t leave them alone. These fish suit a smaller aquarium.

The minimum size tank if you are keeping a single fish is 5 gallons, but for a pair of fish, you will need at least a 20-gallon tank. Make sure they have plenty of plant cover so they have plenty of hiding places. Ideally, place plants in the back of the aquarium, have some floating plants and leave open spaces to swim in the front

Keeping Honey Gouramies

To properly look after a pair of fish of this species, you need an aquarium with a minimum volume of about 20 gallons, with a water whose hardness is between 2 and 30GH (preferably 8), with a water temperature of 24°-30°C and a pH between 5.5–8 (preferably 7).

The overall shade of the aquarium must be dark in color to better bring out the spectacular color of this fish.

Place floating plants on the surface of the aquarium and underwater plants at the sides and back. Leave the central area free for swimming. Make sure they have plenty of places to hide from other fish in the aquarium.

Like all the fish in this family, they prefer very low water levels. Soil does not matter much because it prefers the aquarium’s upper waters, but the substrate should be dark to suit their bright colors.

The honey gourami is a good choice for beginners. The fish is not aggressive, is brightly colored and adapts easily to different water parameters.

This fish is the smallest in its genus, and only rarely grows up to 7 cm (2.8 inches). As a rule, males are 1.5 inches in length and females are 2 inches in length.

The fish is peaceful and is therefore very welcome in any community tank, although they might be a bit timid. It can also live happily in tiny tanks.

Best Tank Mates for Honey Gouramis

If this species of fish is harassed, or placed in the same tank as aggressive fish such as cichlids, it will cease eating and lose its color. It is a peaceful fish and is ideal for a quiet fish community.

Although they are generally peaceful, males can harass females during mating. If this happens, it is good to separate them, as there is a risk that the male will seriously injure the female or even kill it. It is recommended to have more females than males in the same aquarium.

Males are territorial to other males of their species so you should only ever have one male in the aquarium. Suitable companions for these fish are those in the families: Danio, Trichogaster, Corydora, Botia, Pisces, Barb, Loricarides and other peaceful species that are happy in neutral water.

Dwarf Gourami, Gold Gourami, Pearl Gourami, and Blue Gouramis are other types of Gouramis that make good tank mates. We wouldn’t recommend keeping Honey Gouramis with big, aggressive fish such as the Kissing Gouramis, Samurai Gouramis or Paradise Gouramis.

Honey Gouramis are a very peaceful fish, but more females than males would still be recommended. Like most fish, during spawning, male Honey Gouramis may sometimes become more aggressive towards other males.

Honey Gourami

Feeding

These fish feed on tubifex worms, insects, larvae and crustaceans but are also happy with prepared food in the form of flakes and tablets, as well as vegetal food made of finely chopped spinach and milk. It is a robust and resistant fish species that is suitable for beginner aquarists.

As we have shown, males are far more intensely colored than females and they also have a much higher backbone. The average life of these fish is somewhere around 8 years. Like all Gourami fish and Gourami Pearlfish, they have tasting cells at the tips of the ventral swimmers.

The Honey Gourami is a wild omnivore that feeds on everything from small invertebrates and insects to any zooplankton that they can find. Occasionally, they will also graze the surrounding vegetation and plants.

Keep this in mind when selecting your aquarium plants as they need to be resilient! This fish is not a fussy eater, and they love both fresh or flake foods in the aquarium.

Try to maintain a well-balanced diet with flakes or pellets as the core diet, then add live foods like bloodworms or brine shrimps.

Also, vegetable tablets are a good way to vary their diet. To give them a good variety, make sure you add both vegetables and meat sources. You should feed them once or twice a day and only feed them enough food so that it’s all consumed within 2-3 minutes.

Breeding

Reproduction of this fish in captivity is relatively difficult because it is hard to find and form a suitable and viable pair. Once this problem is overcome, the rest comes by itself.

For breeding, the water in the prepared aquarium needs to be reduced to a depth of 10-15 cm, with is no current. Offer the selected breeding pair live food consisting of insect larvae, Artemia nauplii, and Daphnia.

The male will build a sphere-shaped nest (nearly 20 cm in diameter) at the surface of the water in the floating plants. After an active courting, the female deposits between 200 and 300 transparent eggs. Mating can take up to a few weeks.

These eggs float on the surface of the water and are taken over by the male, who puts them in the nest. He’s also in charge of keeping them safe.

At this point, it is time to remove any other fish that might be present in the aquarium, including the female. The juveniles hatch within 20-30 hours of the eggs being laid.

The juveniles will stay in the nest for 4 to 5 days. You can start feeding them with parsley. The male can be removed once the juveniles begin to swim on their own. The fry tend to grow very slowly, unlike other fish.

This fish, like dwarf gourami, does not use any plants in its nest, but instead likes to have its nest under floating plant leaves. Please remember that the male can kill his females, if the latter lacks sufficient shelters. The male will stand vertically in front of the female until the female enters the nest and begins to spawn. The male will then carefully collect any eggs that missed the nest after spawning and return them to safety in the nest.

Is light important to honey gouramis?

Like humans, fish use their senses to see and to interact with the environment. The sense of vision is one of the most important senses for most fish, and the eye is the means by which visual information is retrieved and transmitted to the brain.

It is important to mention from the very beginning that this discussion refers to most fish species and not all of them. The variety of forms that fish present when it comes to the sense of vision makes absolute generalization impossible.

The fish eye

The fish’s eye resembles the human eye. Starting from the premise that the human eye is a known subject, we will now talk about the differences. The fish’s crystal is spherical and rigid, making distance viewing impossible.

Since water has a low light transmittance, it is easy to understand why fish have not developed a visual system for remote viewing.

Focusing the image and adapting to different luminous intensities is done by moving the lens horizontally. The visual range of fish is approaching 360 degrees.

The luminous intensity

When the light is weak, the lens will be wider open, to allow a larger amount of light to enter, and when the light intensity is high, the lens retracts to reduce the excess light. Unlike a human whose pupil can expand or contract in a few seconds, this can be quite slow in fish.

It can take as long as half an hour for the fish to adapt to intense light and about an hour for the reverse process. Turning off the light, or suddenly turning it on (especially if it is a bright light) is similar to a night-vision driver being dazzled by headlights, or like moving into a dark room on a bright day.

It is easy to understand why such changes represent true optical shock for fish. We have all noticed that fish hit the glass of the aquarium or hide for a while in the darker areas.

While a fish is in optical shock, it is advisable not to feed the fish or perform any routine maintenance work that may add to the level of stress in the tank.

The sudden start of the lighting system at maximum intensity can lead to retinal damage, sometimes with permanent effects. The intensity of the light should be gradually increased or decreased.

The Colors

The presence of cone and baston cells is evidence that fish can perceive colors, but only when the light intensity is high enough.

Cone cells are responsible for diurnal vision. They can also perceive colors. Sticks with night clubs or night lights or low light intensity cannot perceive colors, only tones, and contours.

The light of the Aquarium

Before introducing a fish into the aquarium, each aquarist should study the natural environment of the species to be introduced and adjust the light intensity and the illumination period accordingly.

In the case of fish that prefer low light intensity, or nocturnal fish, places where they can stay hidden and can be shielded from strong light should be provided. When the lighting system is composed of several light sources, it is a good idea to turn it on and off gradually.

Failure to do this can result in stress, decreased immunity, fish disease, reduced coloration, abnormal behavior, lack of reproduction, inappropriate feeding, etc.

Common Diseases that can affect Honey Gouramis

Due to lack of information, poor care, inappropriate feeding or other causes, many fish suffer from disease and die prematurely in the aquarium.

Maintaining excellent fish health should be a priority for every aquarist, so that the fish can multiply, have stronger colors and live longer lives. Below I will briefly present some of the most common diseases suffered by freshwater aquarium fish.

Columnaris

This fish disease can be detected in the early stages by observing gray-whitish areas on the body or around the mouth. These areas occur in the form of filaments especially in the mouth, which is why it is very often confused with another disease, Saprolegnia.

In the late stages of this disease, the swimmers can also be affected, then the gills and finally the body of the fish. At this stage, the fish will keep the swimmers close to the body and will not expand them.

This disease is caused by a bacterium and is generally caused by poor water quality. The disease can be treated with antibiotics such as penicillin, which will be given in an amount of 10,000 units per liter of water, the treatment will then be repeated two days later.

Another treatment is chloromycetin, 10-20 mg / l, repeated after 2 days or with methyl blue, in which case the instructions on the packaging are followed. This disease especially attacks vivipary species such as the guppy, molly, xipho, platy etc.

Disease Gills

These diseases attack gills and can be detected by strange fish behavior. This behavior can be described as suffocating fish, as they try to breathe especially on the surface of the water. They may well also become lethargic and stay at the bottom of the aquarium.

Gills will become swollen and discolored. Gill diseases can be caused by bacteria, fungi or parasites in the water, so take action immediately to improve water quality by partial water changes and by improving the filtration system.

In cases where the disease is caused by bacteria, antibacterial agents may be used.

While Spot Disease

This disease is caused by Ichthyophthirius multifilis, which is a ciliate. It is one of the most common fish diseases in the aquarium. The disease can be detected relatively easily by the presence of small white spots on the surface of the fish. Affected fish will stay close to the surface of the water or the oxygenated areas of the aquarium.

The parasites are fixed to the surface of the body, eyes, gills, and as the fish swim and twist they burst the epithelium and enter the tissue where they will feed during the growing period.

When they reach 1 mm (after about 15 days), they break out of the fish and fall into the water where they hang and they will stick to plants, stones and decorations.

In the next 48 hours, the cyst can divide up to twelve times, resulting in terons. They swim freely in the water, and when they meet a fish they attach themselves.

Fish death occurs after asphyxiation or exhaustion. If the terons do not find a fish to fix onto within a range of 10 to 96 hours, depending on the water temperature, they will die.

This can be treated relatively easily using salt dissolved in water and then introduced into the aquarium. The salt is given as 1 teaspoon to 1.5 liters of water, dissolved in a container and then added gradually to the water. After a week, some water changes are necessary, in order to restore salinity to normal.

Dropsy

This disease can be detected by the presence of an abnormally inflamed abdomen, the scales being spaced apart and raised. Often dropsy females are considered pregnant and are not treated, but a pregnant female will not have spaced, raised scales.

The fish will become apathetic and will not feed. Dropsy is caused by both bacteria and viruses, and poor water quality or infected food can cause this disease. In advanced stages, that is after the kidneys have been affected, the disease becomes incurable.

After the death of the fish, it must be immediately removed from the aquarium so that the other fish do not feed on it and become affected by the disease. Fortunately, this is not very contagious, but it is good for fatalities to be removed quickly.

Fin-rot

Fin-rot is a disease that is manifested by damage to the fins. In advanced cases, when the swimmers deteriorate completely, the fish will die. It is a disease that only affects fish with low immunity, and healthy ones are unaffected by it.

It is caused by bacteria and affects especially stressed fish, such as those that have been attacked by other fish. This is particularly the case where wounds become infected and necrotic. In order to treat it, perform a partial water change, pH adjustment, antibiotics, or adding salt to aquarium water.

Fungal infections

Spores of fungi are always present in any aquarium, but they will only affect wounded fish or those with low immunity, especially attacking wounds and gills or skin. Generally, these are secondary infections, taking advantage of the poor health of fish.

They can be identified by the presence of white, filamentous spots, similar to some pieces of cotton wool on the body of the fish. Fungicide can be successfully used as a treatment.c

Holes in the head

As the name says, this disease manifests as holes in the head of the fish. Usually, the holes are white and have a yellow mucus inside. The fish will become apathetic, lose its color and will stop feeding.

This disease is caused by protozoa and is usually a secondary infection. Generally, protozoa live inside the fish body but become dangerous only when water is dirty and food is inadequate.

Affected fish must be isolated and treated in a quarantine aquarium. Perform a water change and wash the substrate, then the wounds can be treated with antibiotics.

Pop-eye

Pop-eye is manifested by increasing the size of the fish’s eyes until they seem to jump from their orbits. This disease is caused by bacteria and is generally found in aquariums with low oxygen saturation and poor water quality.

Affected fish must be isolated and the aquarium must be better maintained. There is no exact cure but the disease can be stopped from getting worse.

Some Faq’s about Honey Gourami

Do aquarium plants affect how Honey Gourami grow?

Aquatic plants are more than simple aquarium decorations – they keep aquarium water fresh and provide oxygen to animals and other plants.

Plants absorb ammonia and nitrate from fish excrements and thus cleanse the water. At the same time, carbon dioxide is transformed by photosynthesis into oxygen – processes that make life possible in the aquarium. With the help of aquatic plants, these small aquarium ecosystems can operate with minimal human intervention!

Fish also need aquatic plants to hide from larger, more aggressive fish. This is very important for young fish, who, without proper cover, can feed the bigger fish!

What factors should be considered in order to have lush aquatic plants and a stable ecosystem in the aquarium?

Because in order to achieve photosynthesis, plants need light, most are “starved” afterwards. Direct sunlight should be avoided. Artificial light sources with a suitable spectrum and indirect sunlight are better options.

Even in optimum conditions, aquarium plants need time to grow. Thus, after replanting, it can take up to 4-5 weeks to reach a biological balance. Then the little aquatic world stabilizes so that there is no need for major interventions besides regular water purification.

Some aquatic plants can be easily propagated by taking cuttings and replanting them.

Are Honey Gouramis good at keeping tanks free from algae?

They eat algae as much as any other fish, but it’s not a fish that will actively clean your aquarium like the Siamese Algae Eater or like shrimps. It does occasionally feed on algae, but only when it doesn’t receive enough food.

Does the honey gourami require a lot of water changes?

The most common error made by beginner aquarists is to change all the water in the aquarium and super-clean all the accessories.

Fish are taken out, the water discarded and replaced with fresh sand and all decorations are ultra-sterilized while the container is washed thoroughly with chemicals. The tank looks good and everything is beautiful. But, after a while, the fish will die and the aquarist will have no idea why!

Quality water is the key to aquarium success. A great way to maintain optimal water conditions is to only perform partial water exchanges. Every water change interferes with the nitrogen cycle.

In the artificial aquatic environment that we create, the water parameters need external intervention to balance themselves. Breathing and excretion from fish, food debris, plant decomposition all result in an increase in the concentration of nitrates and nitrites in the water.

In nature, this growth is neutralized by the continuous flow of fresh water. In the aquarium toxic residues can only be addressed by partial water exchanges.

Saurabh Kumar

I am a passionate fish keeper, with years of experience. You will find some really useful tips and information on this blog about Freshwater Aquariums.

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