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Family: Osphronemidae, Subfamily Luciocephalinae

Common Names: Noble Gourami, Frail Gourami

Origin and Habitat: India, Nepal and Bangladesh. Found in streams, lakes and ponds that are heavily overgrown with vegetation.
Compatibility/Temperament: Best in a species tank; one or two pairs will manage in a 30-inch aquarium provided there is plenty of cover as males are aggressive.

Noble Gourami Diet

Larvivorous (feeds on insect larvae) by nature, it accepts most prepared foods. Frozen and/or live daphnia, bloodworms, etc. are advisable at least periodically.


In aquaria, usually around 10 cm (4 inches); some sources suggest slightly larger.

Minimum Tank Suggestion

30 inches in length.

Ideal water parameters for Noble Gourami

Soft (< 12 dGH), acidic (pH up to 7.0), temperature 20-24C/68-75F.


This is the largest member of the commonly-called Chocolate Gourami species and may be seen under the common name Frail Gourami as well as Noble Gourami.

The aquarium should be very heavily planted, with floating plants included to shade the light. Minimal water movement from the filter is advisable, and the tank must be well covered as this fish will readily jump. Very sensitive to water conditions and quality (in common with all the "Chocolates"), smaller and more frequent water changes are preferable to larger changes.

Males have longer dorsal fins than females, and when viewed from above the female will appear wider in the head region. Like other Chocolate Gourami species, this one is an internal mouthbreeder; the female picks up the fertilized eggs and carries them in her bucal cavity for 11-14 days; when hatched, the fry are released to fend for themselves. A thick cover of floating plants will aid in their survival.

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 species was described in 1845 by J. McClelland, and is the only species in the genus. The genus name comes from ancient Greek and means "comb-eye," referring to an anatomical structure; the species epithet is Latin for noble.

Scientific study indicates that the four species in the genus Sphaerichthys, the two in Parasphaerichthys, and the single species in Ctenops--all comprising the "Chocolate" gourami species--and the two species in Luciocephalus form a monophyletic group or clade. All share certain characteristics with respect to the surface structure of their eggs, and they are mouthbrooders. Monophyletic means the species are all derived from the same common ancestor.

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