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Family: Osphronemidae, Sub-family Macropodusinae

Common Names: Pygmy Gourami, Sparkling Gourami

Origin and Habitat: Relatively widespread in parts of Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and northern Indonesia. Occurs most frequently in standing or stagnant calm water such as ditches, ponds, marshes and peat swamps, in dense forested areas, with thick floating or marginal vegetation and considerable organic debris.

Compatibility/Temperament: Peaceful and somewhat timid, best suited for either a species aquarium or combined with similar small non-aggressive fish sharing identical water parameters such as smaller rasbora species, chocolate gourami, and smaller loach species. Best in small groups of 3, 5 or more. Males can be feisty particularly when guarding a nest of eggs, and prone to nip fish near the surface such as hatchetfish and others approaching the nest.

Sparkling Gourami Diet

By nature a micro-predator feeding on small insects, zoo plankton and invertebrates, it accepts most prepared foods that are small enough for its tiny mouth. Powdered shrimp pellets, mosquito larva, small flakes and brine shrimps are often relished.


Attains 1 inch.

Minimum Tank Suggestion

5 or 10 gallons for a group of 3 fish, but 15 gallons and up for larger groups.

Water parameters for Sparkling Gourami

Soft (hardness below 20 dGH) acidic (pH below 7.0) water, temperature 25-28C/77-82F. In its habitat it is frequently found in water having no hardness and a pH of 3-4.


The pygmy sparkling gourami is an interesting and somewhat delicate fish requiring specific water conditions, but in a suitable aquarium is hardy and a ready spawner. Does best in a small group, six or more, in a spacious well-planted aquarium with very minimal water movement and subdued lighting; stable water parameters are essential, and the fish should only be introduced to a well-established aquarium. Floating plants are mandatory, both to shade the light and to provide feeding and spawning sites; Ceratopteris (Water Sprite) and Hygrophila difformis (Wisteria) allowed to grow along the surface are ideal.

This species is sometimes confused with its cousin, the Croaking Gourami, Trichopsis vittata. Both species make "croaking" sounds, like a rapid series of clicks, when excited and during courtship, and these can easily be heard outside the aquarium. In a 1992 study, Friedrich Ladich determined that this sound is important not only in breeding displays but also in antagonistic displays of males to establish dominance. The "croak" is a series of double pulses generated by rapid beating of the pectoral fins. Another study by Ladich in 1998 established that the sounds vary according to the individual fish and the sound frequency had a role in determining the outcome of the encounter between rival fish.

Like all other gouramis, males are often aggressive toward members of their own species but in a spacious well-planted aquarium no damage is likely to occur; this species is much calmer than its larger gourami relatives.

The male has a longer and more ornate dorsal fin. The male builds a very small bubble-nest in floating vegetation, usually only a few bubbles and thus it goes un-noticed. The male tends the eggs; fry can take only the smallest infusoria, and some will survive in a well-established aquarium where such live food will be available among the floating plants.

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 first described as Ctenops pumilus by J.P. Arnold in 1936, and moved to the genus Trichopsis by K.F. Liem in 1965. The correct spelling of the species epithet is pumila. Major changes to the taxonomy of this and related families have occurred, the last as referenced above by J.S. Nelson in 1994.


Ladich, F., W. Brittinger and & H. Kratochvil, "Significance of Agonistic Vocalization in the Croaking Gourami (Trichopsis vittatus, Teleostei)," Ethology, vol. 90, No. 4 (1992), pp. 307-314.

Ladich, F., "Sound Characteristics and Outcome of Contests in Male Croaking Gouramis (Teleostei)," Ethology Vol. 104 (1998), pp. 517-529.

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