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Family: Osphronemidae, Subfamily Luciocephalinae

Common Names: Thick Lip Gourami

Origin and Habitat: Southern Myanmar (Burma); some texts include India but the species may be introduced. Inhabits shaded slow-moving or still waters such as streams and ponds with thick vegetation.

Compatibility/Temperament: Quite peaceful; a good gourami for a community aquarium. Should be kept in a small group with similar non-aggressive fishes such as rasbora, loaches, other smaller and peaceful gourami.

Thick Lip Gourami Diet

Omnivorous, it accepts most prepared foods; feed a variety including frozen and live foods if available.


Attains 3.5 to 4 inches (9-10 cm).

Minimum Tank Suggestion

30 inches in length.

Water parameters for Thick Lip Gourami

Soft to moderately hard (< 15 dGH), acidic to slightly basic (pH 6 to 7.5) water, temperature 22-28C/72-82F.


A peaceful and attractive gourami that does well in a community aquarium; its peaceful and fairly hardy nature make it good for beginning aquarists. In addition to the original colour form (shown in the first photo below) there is also a selectively-bred [non-natural] variety that is more of a uniform red or gold colouration [second photo below].

The male has more pointed dorsal and anal fins. This species is a bubblenest spawner; the male builds the nest while alternately displaying to the female. Up to 1000 eggs may be produced; these sink but the male spits them into the nest and guards it. Although the male tends not to be aggressive toward the female after spawning, she may still be removed. The tank must be well covered to ensure the air above the water is warm and moist or the labyrinth will not properly develop in the fry.

This fish occurs in still plant-thick waters and should only be housed in well-planted aquaria with absolute minimal water movement from the filter as this species is particularly sensitive to water flow. 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 generally remains in the upper half of the aquarium.

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.

This species was described in 1877 by F. Day and given the species name Trichogaster labiosus. It was transferred into the genus Colisa [erected by Cuvier in 1821] as Colisa labiosa and remained there until 2009 when it was reassigned 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 changed from labiosus back to labiosa [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 either Colisa and/or labiosus.

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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