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Kissing Gourami

Scientific Name: Helostoma temminkii
Family: Helostomatidae

About the Kissing Gourami

Species Type: Freshwater Fish
Category: Anabantids

Care Level: Very Easy. Will tolerate a wide range of water parameters including pH, temperature and hardness. Can tolerate higher nitrate levels than other fish and is hardy enough to withstand the cycling process. Will readily eat prepared foods and has no special care requirements.

Origin: From Thailand through Cambodia, Malaysia and into Indonesia. Inhabits lakes and rivers, preferring slow-moving water with thick vegetation.

Compatibility/Temperament: Not a good general community fish. It may be kept in large aquaria with some of the larger barbs, non-aggressive cichlids, catfish such are the loricariids, etc. It should be kept in small groups to confine the aggression to conspecifics. As it grows it will eat fish smaller than itself, and consume the softer aquarium plants.


Although it is commonly available, it is in fact not a good home aquarium fish unless it has a spacious tank. It interestingly shares features with some of the larger cichlids: the jaw-locking (the inappropriately-named "kissing") aggressive behaviour, and the extendable mouthparts with teeth designed to rasp algae from rocks. The jaw-locking between fish may often lead to jaw damage, and fish with jaw damage may be unable to eat; if persistent, one of the fish usually dies after a few weeks. This aggressive behaviour is not only related to breeding and male territory, but also occurs to defend feeding areas. The fish may also decide to take out this aggression on other species in the aquarium.

Females are rounder than males, but otherwise there are no discernible external indicators of sex. Breeding is not easy, and requires a very large tank. The fish keeps to the middle and upper levels in the aquarium. It will grow large within three years, and has a five-year lifespan.

The pinkish-white fish seen in the hobby is actually a selectively-bred leucistic [reduced pigmentation] form; the natural fish is a dark greenish colour, and is a popular food fish in SE Asia. The first (left) photo above is the green original.

The species was described in 1829 by G. Cuvier and named H. temminkii in honour of a Dutch doctor, Temminck. From 1831 the species name was often (and still is today) spelled as temminckii, but following the rules of the ICZN the name is valid as H. temminkii. In 1931, B. Machan described the species Helostoma rudolfi which some texts use for the aquarium pink form, but this name is a synonym (invalid) for the species.

This fish is scientifically a loner; it is the only species in the genus, and the only genus in the family.

Kissing Gourami Diet

In its habit it feeds on a variety of plants and animals including zooplankton, insects, green algae. Accepts most prepared foods; frozen and live foods and vegetable matter (blanched spinach, cucumber, peas) should be offered for variety.


Attains 12 inches (30 cm).

Minimum Tank Suggestion

48 inches in length but preferably larger.

Ideal water parameters for Kissing Gourami

Soft to moderately hard (< 30 dGH), acidic to basic (pH 6 to 8) water, temperature 22-28C/72-82F. This fish is hardy and not particular respecting water parameters though extremes should be avoided.

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Kissing Gourami 1
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Kissing Gourami 2

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