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Family: Osphronemidae, Subfamily Luciocephalinae

Common Names: Honey Gourami, Sunset Honey Gourami, Red Flame Honey Gourami

Origin and Habitat: India and Bangladesh. Found in sluggish waters with thick vegetation, such as ponds, swamps, ditches and flooded fields.

Compatibility/Temperament: Peaceful and suited to a community aquarium of smaller non-aggressive fishes. Can be kept in a small group in a 20g or larger, although males will become territorial when spawning.

Honey 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.


Two inches (5 cm) although some sources give 7 cm. Females are larger than males.

Minimum Tank Suggestion

24 inches in length.

Water parameters for Honey Gourami

Soft to moderately hard (< 20 dGH), acidic to slightly basic (pH 6 to 7.5) water, temperature 22-27C/72-82F. Available fish will normally be commercially raised and suited to the ranges given for hardness and pH, but wild-caught fish must be kept in soft, acidic water.


This is the smallest gourami in this genus and probably the best choice from among the more common gourami for a community tank; as noted above under Compatibility, this species can be kept in a small group in smaller tanks (20g and larger) unlike the other species.

Females are slightly larger than males in this species, and usually exhibit a brown stripe along the side; males are the more colourful, taking on quite spectacular colouration in spawning condition. The photo below shows the male (top fish) in breeding colouration with the female below. This species is a bubblenest spawner, and fairly easy to spawn if the fish are both willing, healthy and conditioned with good foods. The male cares for the nest and fry, and the female should be removed after spawning to avoid injury from the male as he will chase her away. The tank must be tightly covered so that the labyrinth organ will develop properly in the fry.

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. It may live for 5-8 years.

Some colour varieties exist, developed by breeders, including the red flame honey gourami and an albino form. Requirements and maintenance are the same as for the type species.

In 1882, F. Hamilton first described this species as Trichopodus chuna; at the same date Hamilton also described a species as Trichopodus sota which subsequent study [Schaller & Kottelat, 1989] revealed was actually the female of the subject species so the species epithet sota became a synonym. 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 sota] until 2009 when it was 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. Given that this is a very recent reclassification, the subject species will be frequently encountered in the literature as Colisa lalia.

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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