Buy Tropical Fish Online - Tropical Fish Shop - info@tropicalfishfinder.co.uk

  • Source: Copyright www.jjphoto.dk

    Species: Blue Dwarf Gourami

  • Source: Copyright www.jjphoto.dk

    Species: Red Dwarf Gourami

  • Source: Copyright www.jjphoto.dk

    Species: Red Dwarf Gourami

  • Source: Copyright www.jjphoto.dk

    Species: Rainbow Dwarf Gourami

  • Source: Copyright www.jjphoto.dk

    Species: Rainbow Dwarf Gourami

The Dwarf Gourami

The Dwarf Gourami (Colisa lalia)

Order Perciformes , Family Belontiidae

Common names Dwarf gourami, sunset gourami

Synonyms Trichopodus lalius, Colisa unicolor

Description
The male dwarf gourami is one of the most beautiful aquarium fish. The natural form of the fish is a metallic pale blue, with bright red vertical stripes. Aquarium variations have now been bred in which either the blue or the red is dominant, with only faint traces of the other colour. The females are not nearly as attractive as the males, being a plain grey with a faint trace of stripes. Since the females of all the varieties look exactly the same, it is important to buy a male and a female at the same time if you want to breed fry that look like their parents. At just over two inches, the dwarf gourami is of a size that can be accommodated by most aquarists.

Behaviour
Dwarf gouramis are peaceful fish with other aquarium inhabitants, but can be extremely aggressive with their own kind. In a crowded aquarium, such as in a shop, the males have not got enough room to establish territories of their own, and bad behaviour is minimised. If there are only a few, however, they will divide up the aquarium and weaker males may be bullied. They are also wife-beaters, and the females need room to escape the males when they are not ready for spawning and as soon as spawning has taken place.

Aquarium requirements
A single male can be kept in a small aquarium, but if you would like to keep more then they must be given ample room to establish territories. Two males would fit into a three foot aquarium, but a third would find himself squashed between the other two and a victim of aggression from both sides. Females do not establish territories, but need lots of cover – plants, caves, and other hiding places. Although the gourami prefers soft water, these are adaptable fish. They will adjust to harder water easily, and will even spawn. In the wild they are found in still waters. They are air breathers, like other gouramis, and can live in waters where other fish would suffocate. In the aquarium they should not be subjected to fast flowing currents, and need areas with little water movement to build their bubble nests.

Feeding
Gouramis are not fussy feeders, and will enjoy flake food. Live or frozen foods are a good idea, at least occasionally. They feed from the water surface or midwater, and will also nibble at algae.

Breeding
Once a male has established a corner of the tank to call his own, he will build a bubble nest by taking in air at the surface and blowing it out as mucous coated bubbles, Often the nest is augmented by bits of vegetation, and can reach several inches square. Bubbles are not known for the solidity of their construction, and the male has a full-time job keeping his nest replenished and in one piece. When a female approaches the male assumes she is ready to spawn, and will become aggressive if this is not the case. If the female is ready, the two curl around one another beneath the nest. As the eggs are laid they float up into the bubbles. As soon as the spawning embrace is finished, the male chases away the female and rounds up any eggs that have gone adrift, carefully placing them into the nest. This procedure is repeated until the female has laid all her eggs. The male continues to guard the nest and eggs, and after twenty-four hours tiny tails can be seen hanging down from the bubbles – up to six hundred of them! Once the fry become free swimming, both parents will happily eat them, so you will need to move either the parents or the bubble-nest. The latter can be done by scooping out the whole thing in a bowl, being careful not to break it up. The fry should be raised in shallow water, with a very tiny current; an airstone with a valve to cut the flow down to a minimum is suitable. The tiny fry will need to breathe air as soon as they are free-swimming, so this small current is necessary to break the surface tension for them. The air above the water should be kept warm and moist; cling film covering the tank with a space for the airline is ideal. The fry are very small, and will need infusoria for their first few meals.

Diseases and disorders
Although gouramis are designed to live in stagnant waters, in the aquarium some fish are very prone to ulcers. These open wounds rapidly become infected with opportunistic bacteria and fungus, and prevention is better than cure. Clean water, and an unstressed environment, will help to keep the fish fit. As they are shy with all fishes apart from other dwarf gouramis, their tank mates should be gentle and sedate. Some fishes exhibit a marked disinclination to breed, which may be due to hormone treatments and inbreeding. Unfortunately such fish cannot be identified by sight; if you want to breed them and yours show no sign of doing so, it is best to try another pair. Given the right aquarium conditions it is difficult to prevent a good pair from spawning.

Notes
These beautiful fish are relatively easy to keep, and have a lot to offer the aquarist. A single male will enhance any small quiet aquarium, and for the more advanced aquarist the fish are easy and interesting to spawn. Unfortunately many aquarium shops do not stock the small grey females, since they do not sell as well, so you may have to look around for a while before finding a pair. If you would like to try spawning them, though, it is well worth the effort.

This article has been published with the kind permission of Kathy Jinkings and cannot be reproduced without her permission.


Other fish articles:

Other fish articles you may be interested in are listed below, click an article for full details.