Gourami are beautiful, brightly colored fish that are popular in tropical freshwater tanks. Many people are drawn to the larger gourami species, like the pearl gourami, thanks to their commanding presence in the tank. However, we’d be remiss to skip out on sharing the sparkling gourami with the world. This small gourami species may be timid, but it brings plenty of brightness and shimmer to its environment.
|Size:||1.5–2 inches long|
|Similar Breeds:||Dwarf gourami, honey gourami|
|Suitable for:||First-time fishkeepers|
Gourami come in a variety of shapes, colors, and sizes, but the sparkling gourami is one of the smallest gourami species, if not the smallest, in the aquatic trade. Although small, the sparkling gourami isn’t one to be overlooked, thanks to its flashy markings and bright colors. This fish is also known as the pygmy gourami, sparkling dwarf gourami, and dwarf croaking gourami.
Sparkling Gourami Breed Characteristics
Sparkling Gourami Cost
The sparkling gourami is native to Southeast Asia, and it thrives in slow-moving rivers and streams, ponds, and even standing water in rice paddies and large puddles. Although not the most popular gourami species you’ll come across, the sparkling gourami is by no means an uncommon aquarium fish. You shouldn’t have any trouble finding these lovely fish to add to your aquarium.
Because of their wide availability, you likely aren’t going to break the bank on this fish. You can expect to spend around $4–$8 for a sparkling gourami. This fish is happiest in small groups, so plan to purchase four to six fish. If possible, aim to only have one male in a group of females to reduce territorial behaviors..
Sociability of the Sparkling Gourami
Do These Fish Make Good Pets?
Yes, the sparkling gourami is a great pet. This is a hardy fish that is excellent for beginners, and because of its beauty, it creates a ton of interest in any tank that it’s in. This isn’t an overly social fish, and you can expect this to not be the type of fish that approaches the glass when it sees you coming, but its hardy nature makes it a good pick.
Does This Fish Make a Good Tank Mate?
Yes, this is a great fish to add to a community tank, thanks to its peaceful temperament. It’s best to avoid keeping sparkling gourami with rambunctious fish or fin-nippers, though. This is a timid fish that will do best in a calm environment with other peaceful fish. As timid as the sparkling gourami is, males do display territorial behaviors, so aim to only have one male per tank. If you have multiple males, ensure they have plenty of space and multiple females.
Care Guide & Tank Set Up
Water Quality, pH & Temperature
As a tropical fish, the sparkling gourami needs a heated tank that stays between 75–82°F, with 78°F seeming to be the “sweet spot.” It prefers a pH level between 6.0–7.0, but this fish isn’t picky about pH. It can thrive in pH levels exceeding 8.0 and falling below 6.0. Although the sparkling gourami can tolerate diminished water quality, it’s ideal to aim for water with no ammonia or nitrites and nitrate levels below 20 PPM.
There isn’t a specific substrate that is recommended for the sparkling gourami, but most keepers prefer a dark substrate to help the colors of the fish pop. Sand, aquatic soil, gravel, and river rocks are all suitable substrates for this fish.
While you should aim to provide plenty of live plants for your sparkling gourami, you also need to provide lots of open swimming space. Water wisteria, hornwort, Java fern, Java moss, and Anubias are all great options. You can also try floating plants with long roots, like dwarf water lettuce and red root floaters.
Low to moderate light is preferred by sparkling gourami, but your light should also be able to support the plant life in the tank. Tall and floating plants can help filter light, decreasing the amount that reaches your fish.
Since they thrive in standing water in the wild, the sparkling gourami is happiest in a tank with low water flow. A filtration system is needed to maintain water quality but avoid strong filter outputs. If needed, use buffers to decrease the water flow throughout the tank.
Things to Know When Owning a Sparkling Gourami:
Food & Diet Requirements
While the sparkling gourami is technically omnivorous, in the wild, their diet tends to lean toward carnivorous. They primarily consume insects, small crustaceans, and zooplankton. In your tank, high-quality community food is a great option. These foods provide all the nutrients necessary to maintain the health of omnivorous fish. You should also offer your sparkling gourami meaty foods, including frozen or live bloodworms, artemia, brine shrimp, and daphnia, along with chopped shrimp and fish.
Size & Growth Rate
As its pygmy gourami name implies, this is a small fish. Although it can reach up to 2 inches in length, the sparkling gourami rarely exceeds 1.5 inches. Its growth rate is moderate, often reaching its full adult size by around a year of age.
Lifespan and Health Conditions
This is a hardy, healthy species of fish that isn’t prone to any specific health conditions. It is susceptible to all of the conditions that freshwater fish encounter in aquarium environments, though, including ich, fin rot, and parasites. Poor water quality is usually the cause of poor health in fish, so by maintaining high water quality, you’ll keep your fish healthy and help them live a long life.
Male vs Female
It can be tough to tell the difference between male and female sparkling gourami. Males tend to have more vibrant colors than females, but if you’re just now bringing home fish, their colors may be dulled by being in the stressful environment of a fish shop or pet store. Males tend to have slightly longer fins than females, but this can be hard to pin down due to the overall small size of these fish.
Spotlighting, which involves placing your sparkling gourami in a small container of water and shining a bright light through it, can be used to determine the sex of your fish because the bright light will cause the ovaries of the female to become visible. They appear as a yellow triangle on the side of the body that points toward the tail.
3 Little-Known Facts About Sparkling Gourami
1. They Can Breathe Air
Like all gourami, the sparkling gourami is a labyrinth fish, meaning they have a labyrinth organ. The labyrinth organ functions in a similar manner to the lungs in a human, allowing the fish to breathe air for oxygen. They also have gills that allow them to pull oxygen from the water like all other fish species.
2. They’re Designed by Nature to Be Hardy
In the wild, sparkling gourami can live in some tough environments! Because they live in areas with seasons of heavy rains and drought, they may end up in shallow, standing water for extended periods. They can thrive in peat swamps, which are acidic and dark, as well as roadside puddles and ditches, which have extremely poor water quality.
3. They’re Found All Over Southeast Asia
While we’ve already mentioned this, we feel it’s worth mentioning again. You can find sparkling gourami practically all over. They are often found in ponds, rivers, and even rice fields. As long as there is slow-flowing water with lots of plants, these hardy fish are happy.
The sparkling gourami is a beautiful fish that is often overlooked in the world of gourami, thanks to its larger, eye-catching cousins. This fish shouldn’t be underestimated, though. The sparkling gourami is a gorgeous fish that really shimmers and shines in the right tank environment. The happier and healthier your fish are, the more likely you are to see their brilliant colors. They are also more likely to be active and spend less time hiding if they are happy and feel safe.
Featured Image Credit: Roberto Dani, Shutterstock