Dwarf Gourami: A Unique Centerpiece For Aquariums
The Dwarf Gourami (a.k.a. Trichogaster lalius) is a freshwater fish that originated from South Asia. It is a tiny species of Gourami normally found in waterways, streams, paddy fields, irrigation channels and other agricultural lands in South Asia, though it has been successfully bred and distributed worldwide. This fish is very popular breed since every variety comes in its own beautiful, iridescent distinctive colour. Some of its varieties are the Powder Blue Dwarf Gourami which is bright blue in colour, Flame Dwarf Gourami which is red in colour, and the Rainbow Dwarf Gourami which has stripes of bright blue and dark red. Its colourful metallic stripes, small size, and generally peaceful demeanour make it one of the best centrepiece community fish even in tanks as small as 10 gallons (45 Litres). Because the Dwarf Gourami likes to take residence in slow moving waters with plenty of vegetation. In the aquarium you should try to replicate this so your little Gourami is a happy camper with plenty of hide outs as the fish is also very shy. With ideal conditions in the aquarium you can expect the Dwarf Gourami to live up to 4+ years. Dwarf Gouramis are also part of a group of fish known as Labyrinth Fish, which means they breath air. You will quite often see these fish rise to the surface of the water to take a gulp of air.
The Dwarf Gourami can grow up to 3.5 inches in the wild. However, in captivity, they usually grow up to 2 inches only. Male Dwarf Gouramis are more colourful, with alternating iridescent turquoise blue and orange-red vertical stripes, while females take on a subtler alternating blue saturated by a harsh metallic grey, with light yellow vertical stripes.
Dwarf Gouramis should be placed in aquariums no smaller than 10 gallons. Otherwise, putting Dwarf Gouramis in tanks smaller than 10 gallons will cause fish waste to accumulate faster than what the biological filtration can allow, therefore possibly causing a fatal ammonia spike. That being said, regular water changes from 10-20% every week should keep the water clean enough for the Dwarf Gouramis to thrive.
Optimal temperature conditions are between 72 – 82°F (22 – 27°C). Dwarf Gouramis like having lots of rooted plants to explore and play with, as well as floating plants that subdue intense lighting and help them create bubble nests when they decide to breed. They can share their tanks well with peaceful fish. However, their peaceful demeanor makes them a bad candidate for aggressive, bigger fish like Cichlids. The Gourami is quite a hardy fish, tolerating soft & hard water (WITHIN REASON) with a PH between 6 & 7.5.
As mentioned before, Dwarf Gouramis need plants so they could create bubble nests. When trying to get Dwarf Gouramis to spawn, you’ll want to reduce the water level to 6-8 inches and get the temperature up to 82°F-86°F. This simulates the dry season in the wild when dwarf gouramis naturally breed. You’ll then want to give your dwarf gouramis lots of live food to give them strength and stamina to breed.
When the bubble nest is finally ready, the male will court the female dwarf gourami and eventually reach the point wherein he embraces the female to help her release her eggs and then fertilize them. The male then places the eggs in the bubble nest, and the process repeats until all the eggs are in the bubble nest. When the male is done, he’ll cover the eggs with more bubbles. At this point, remove the female, as the male will be too aggressive guarding and caring for the babies.
The eggs should hatch within 12-24 hours, but the fry will stay inside their bubble nest for about 3 more days, after which you may now remove the male from the aquarium as well. You’ll want to feed the babies tiny bits of food like rotifers since they have small mouths. As they grow larger, you can give them bigger foods like brine shrimp and then eventually progress to normal flake foods.
In terms of feeding, Dwarf Gouramis are omnivores which means they can eat both meaty and algae-based types of food. In the wild the fish will feed on algae and small invertebrates. In the aquarium, You’ll want to provide them with algae wafers, as well as bloodworms, brine shrimp, and other meaty foods to provide sufficient nutrition.
However, simply tropical fish flakes will suffice if you don’t have access to the other types of food mentioned.
While the fish may have a captivating colour, most of them die from a disease called Dwarf Gourami Disease a viral infection that unfortunately has no known cure. Dwarf Gourami Disease, or DGD as the disease is more popularly known, is a disease which only dwarf gouramis can be infected by. The fish is very sensitive and prone to disease if the water quality deteriorates. It has been a major concern for of all Dwarf Gourami fish lovers. They may notice some symptoms like darkening or lightening of colour on some areas of the fish, streaks on the fin, or slowly dying of scales. Some even notice no symptom at all. But what’s really intriguing is, when your DG catches this disease, other fishes don’t get contaminated, even if they share the same aquarium.
Scientific researchers say that as a breed, Dwarf Gouramis are very strong and tough. While some die, other Gourami’s in the same aquarium survive. It basically tells us that it’s not always the Dwarf Gourami Disease that has to be blamed. People that want to have this type of fish must be much disciplined in taking care of them. The breed requires a strict maintenance schedule because of this deadly disease. Taking care of these fishes should not be taken lightly. If the water quality falls, they will be prone to Dwarf Gourami Disease. Prevention, therefore, is the best treatment for the disease. Like with all other breeds of fish it is essential that you maintain your aquarium and supply sufficient food for the fish.