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Family: Osphronemidae, Subfamily Luciocephalinae

Common Names: Banded Gourami

Origin and Habitat: Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bangladesh and upper Myanmar. Inhabits sluggish waters with thick surface vegetation such as swamps, ponds, ditches, and larger rivers; prefers a weedy environment.

Compatibility/Temperament: Peaceful, but males will be aggressive with each other in small tanks. Suitable for a community of similar-sized non-aggressive fish such as rasbora, loaches, smaller and quieter barbs, larger peaceful tetras; if the tank is large enough (48 inches and over), other peaceful gourami.

Banded Gourami Diet

Omnivorous by nature (feeding on insects, small invertebrates, aufwuchs [algae growing on rocks, etc]), it accepts most prepared foods. Supplemental feedings with frozen daphnia and bloodworms, or live foods like artemia (brine shrimp), worms and insects will bring out the best colouration.


Males attain 4 inches, females slightly less.

Minimum Tank Suggestion

30 inches in length for a pair; larger tanks for a group.

Water parameters for Banded Gourami

Soft to moderately hard (4 to 15 dGH), acidic to slightly basic (pH 6 to 7.5) water, temperature 21-28C/70-82F.


A peaceful and colourful gourami, suitable for beginner aquarists if kept as a pair. Males can be feisty with each other, especially in too small a tank. Males are more colourful, and have pointed dorsal and anal fins as they mature; in the photo above of a pair, the male is the upper fish and the female the lower.

This species is a bubblenest spawner, and moderately easy to spawn if the fish are both willing [the female may be injured if she is not ready], healthy and conditioned with good foods. Up to 1000 eggs may be produced, which the male spits into the bubblenest; the male cares for the nest and fry, and the female should be removed after spawning to avoid injury from the male. The tank must be well covered so that the air above the surface remains very warm; otherwise the labyrinth of the fry may not develop properly.

In common with all the species in the suborder Anabantoidei, this fish possesses an auxiliary breathing organ called the labyrinth, named because of the maze-like arrangement of passages that allow the fish to extract oxygen from air taken in at the surface. The fish must use this accessory method, and it allows the fish to live in oxygen-poor muddy waters. To accommodate this, the aquarium must be kept covered to maintain warm moist air above the surface.

The tank should be well-planted, and floating plants are important as the species, like all gourami, spends much time near the surface, browsing plant leaves and dangling roots for food. Floating plants also provide support for the bubblenest. Subdued lighting, partly achieved with floating plants, will calm the fish. Water movement must be minimal, as the fish does not like currents.

In 1801, M.E. Bloch and J.G. Schneider first described this species and named it Trichogaster fasciatus. It was transferred into the genus Colisa [erected by Cuvier in 1821] and remained there [apart from a 1999 reference by A.G.K. Menon to the species as Polyacanthus fasciatus] until 2009 when it was re-assigned to Trichogaster [see summary explanation below]. This genus name comes from the Greek thrix (hair) and gaster (belly), a reference to the thread-like pelvic fins that contain taste cells at the tips. The species epithet was corrected to fasciata, the feminine form of the adjective to agree in gender with the genus, in accordance with Article 34.2 of the ICZN [International Code of Zoological Nomenclature]. Given that this is a very recent reclassification, the subject species will be frequently encountered as Colisa and/or fasciatus.

Until 1923, Trichogaster was used as the genus for the small gourami species and Trichopodus for the larger species. When the genus Trichopodus was established by Lacepede in 1801, it was not usual to designate a type species (as it is now), and later ichthyologists frequently designated one. A "type species" is the species that exhibits all the scientific characteristics for that genus, normally today the first such species to be described, and all species assigned to that genus will also share those characteristics. Topfer & Schindler (2009) detail the matter of the type species designations and errors respecting Trichogaster and Trichopodus; the end result was that in 1923, Dr. George S. Meyers incorrectly assumed the type species earlier assigned for Trichogaster and consequently established Trichogaster as the true genus in place of Trichopodus (which name became a synonym for Trichogaster) for the larger gourami species. Colisa was then selected as the genus for the small (dwarf) species previously assigned to Trichogaster.

This state remained (although in the literature there was frequent confusion) until 1997 when E. Derijst pointed out the error of the assumed type species by Meyers [see Topfer 2008]. R. Britz (2004) obsoleted the name Colisa, but its popularity continued in the literature. In 2008, J. Topfer thoroughly investigated the issue and recommended renaming of the species and K.-H. Rossmann (2008) followed. In 2009, Topfer & Schindler established Trichopodus as a currently valid genus of Osphronemidae, which includes the four large gourami species, Trichopodus trichopterus, T. leerii, T. microlepis and T. cantoris. The Colisa species reverted back to the genus Trichogaster as Trichogaster chuna, T. fasciata, T. labiosa, T. lalius, and T. bejeus. The species names of this genus were also corrected grammatically in accordance with the rules of the ICZN [Schindler 2009]. The California Academy of Sciences--Ichthyology [W.N. Eschmeyer] has adopted the afore-mentioned revisions.


Britz, R. (2004), "Why Colisa has become Trichogaster and Trichogaster is now Trichopodus," AAGB Labyrinth 136, pp. 8-9.

Derijst, E. (1997), "Nota over de geldigheid van de genusnamen: Trichogaster Bloch & Schneider, 1801; Trichopodus Lacepede, 1801; Polyacanthus Cuvier, 1829 en Colisa Cuvier, 1831 (Perciformes: Belontiidae)...," Aquarium Wereld 60 (9), pp. 217-236.

Rossmann, K.-H. (2008), "Neue Namen fur die Fadenfische?" Der Makropode [Zeitschrift der Internationale Gemeinschaft fur Labyrinthefische] 30(3), pp. 79-80.

Schindler, I. (2009), "On the spelling of the Species name of the genus Trichogaster (formerly Colisa) and Trichopodus," Der Makropode 1/09.

Topfer, J. (2008), "Lacepede-2. Teil: Seine Labyrinthfischgattungen Osphronemus, Trichopodus und Macropodus sowie die Gultigkeit der Namen," Der Maropode 30(2), pp. 41-52.

Topfer, J. & Schindler, I. (2009), "On the type species of Trichopodus (Teleostei: Perciformes: Osphronemidae)," Vertebrate Zoology 59(1), pp. 49-51.

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