You can make out a Honey Gourami’s presence in the tank if you see the tiny glittering bubbles concentrating over the plant leaves or water surface.

It is one of the small, calm, and traditional fish easily found in the Ganga-river basin. The fish keepers prefer to have them in the aquarium since they are hardy with a strong survival rate.

These fishes possess a vascularized respiratory epithelial structure called a labyrinth to fetch oxygen from the air and absorb it in the veins.

The male Honey Gouramis are more popular as they are seen in multiple color transitions, creating a self-centered aura among other fishes. And on the contrary to any other breeding couples, it is these male gouramis that protect the spawns.

Lets’ find out more about this Indian beauty and ways to keep them alive longer in a fish tank.

Species Analysis

Quick Details
Scientific Name Trichogaster Chuna
General Names Sunset Gourami, Red Flame Gourami, Honey Dwarf Gourami, Gold Honey Gourami
Family Osphronemidae
Origination Indian Bangladesh, Nepal
Approximate Life 6 years
Length (Size) 5 – 7.5 cm
Fish Type Freshwater
Color Honey, Orange, Red, Greyish-Silver, Black
Price in Dollars $12

Habitats and Dwelling

Honey Gourami is a South-Asian tropical breed, majorly found in the Gangetic wetlands. The whole area covers the north to the North-eastern belt of India, Nepal, and Bangladesh, leading up to Assam, where they exist in the Brahmaputra river. 

These are typical fish habitats in this vast catchment area of North Indian plains and can be seen on the water surface or top-middle zones of rivers, lakes, and ponds, usually in freshwater with thick vegetation.

It has been almost two centuries since their identification, i.e., in 2009 few researchers redesigned the taxonomical structure of the fish and found out that all other similar species known as Colisa for the last hundred years belong to the same Trichogasterchuna.

After several studies made by concerned departments over compelling risks to this species, they have concluded that it falls under minimal threat with widespread fish habitation.

Fact: Hamilton, who was one of the two scientists to describe the Honey Gourami in 1822, mistakenly classified the males and females as two separate species due to their color variations.

Length: How Big do Honey Gouramis get?

One of the reasons these fishes are bred artificially is their small size, making them a comfortable fit for aquarium lovers.

It is the smallest Trichogaster in its family. The average size of Honey Gourami is close to 2.2 inches and can reach up to the maximum length of 2.7 – 3 inches.

Both the genders are almost identical in length, but towards reaching the maturity level, the females are observed to grow slightly longer than the males.

They are at times mistaken for honey dwarf gouramis. But the latter is slightly longer in size, besides different shades of blue and red, which is why they are accordingly called blue honey dwarf Gourami or Red HoneyGourami.

Looks and Features of the Fish

The Honey Gourami is attractive little creature, usually yellowish-orange or honey color, and shines brightly. These are a group of fishes with a minimal difference in their shape and shade but are kept under the same genus.

It has a slender-shaped body structure, broader at the center and thinner towards the corner. Unlike its dwarf competitor, these have smaller fins, and eyes are placed next to the mouth opening.

They are born with a silvery-brown shade on the body, and the actual body color is usually formed when it reaches maturity. A noticeable feature in this fish is the two thin cord-like ventral fins hanging on the lower side of the fish.

Anal fins are similar to the dorsal and run underside of the stomach. They have short feathery dorsal fins that begin from the head and reach close to the caudal fin, which is of regular shape. Pectoral fins are fanned perpendicular next to the mouth.

Author Note: The ventral or pelvic fins of Honey Gourami is about half the size of the fish and are believed to work as a sensory antenna that helps the fish to analyze the surroundings.

The Honey Gourami possess a distinctive identity regarding shape, size, color, and behavior. But due to ignorance of the slight difference among its family members, they are often misidentified. So let us also deduce the fundamental distinction among these common fishes.

Honey Gourami Vs. Thick Lipped Gourami

The Thick Lipped Gourami has an average length of 3.5 inches, while Honey Gourami only reaches 2.5 – 3 inches as its max size. Another noticeable difference is that the Thick Lipped presents a barbed look.

Honey Gourami Vs. Thick Lipped Gourami

Honey Gourami Vs. Sunset Gourami

The Sunset Thicklip Gourami is a wild type of Thick Lipped Gourami, also known as Sunset Thick Lipped Honey Gourami. The species name is Trichogaster Labiosa. A significant difference to the honey Gourami is the black base that Honey (male) has from the mouth to the abdomen. At the same time, Sunset (both gender) is completely gold or shows a silvery underside. Hence these are also known as Gold Honey Gourami.

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How Long do They Live?

The lifespan of Honey Gourami is usually deduced to be longer, considering its natural ability to survive the extremisms of the surroundings.

But the fact is that they have a short life of about 5 – 7 years. It is inevitable to create a sustainable water condition while petting this fish, or it slowly perishes down, reaching around four years ago.

The fish usually adjusts to the typical environment and lives up to its average life. Still, if extra care is given by following a dedicated guide, it can stay healthily with you for long years.

Differentiating: Male/ Female

It is easy to differentiate between a male and a female Honey Gourami fish as they display multiple striking features regarding shades and shapes that are recognizable at a glance.

 Here are some of the scenarios that will ascertain the determination of the sex of the fish.

  • Color: The males are generally in contrasting shades of yellow and orange, while the females have a base of brown or silvery grey.
  • Body Shape: The male Honey Gourami is observed to have a slim body structure, while females have a curved configuration.
  • Fins: The males have more extended fins than females, and anal & dorsal fins in male fishes are pointed at the end, while in females, it has a curved tip.
  • Length: The adult fishes have a minor difference in size where females are often seen to get longer than the average length, while males generally stay shorter.
  • Markings: The males present a blackish marking down from the mouth towards the stomach, while the females display a brown strip upwards from the eyes towards the caudal.

Price in International Market

The aquarium industry observes a big market for Honey Gourami in aquarium petting because they come with a better chance of surviving the new environment.

The average price of the fish is around $10 – $13 for a young adult fish, but the actual price depends on multiple factors such as fish size, color, health condition, gender, and age.

Though in high demand, the fish has been tagged least concern in terms of extinction by the IUCN Red List. They also show a successful reproductive cycle under captivity. These factors equally work to enhance the sale of Honey Gourami.

Expert Care Guidance

Quick Details
Care Level Simple
Social Interactive
Predators No
Temperament Non-Aggressive
Diet Omnivore
Breeding Easy
Age of Maturity 5 Months

Food Habits

The Honey Gourami naturally prefers to live in flooded rivers or lakes with thick vegetation and being a natural omnivore fish; it easily finds its food in such areas.

These are traditionally wild fishes from the rivers, do not have any specific choice of food habits, and can eat anything that comes to the mouth.

They show a strong ability to catch small insects in water by suddenly firing with thick water jets and making them fall from the leaves in the pool of water. Sometimes they can jump diagonally to catch the prey. Staying around green plants, they are also seen eating green leaves. 

Here is a list of food items you can feed them in the fish tank. A feeding schedule twice a day will pave a sufficient diet for this fish.

  • Vegetable particles
  • Green leaves
  • Fruits
  • Vegetable Tablets
  • Flakes
  • Pellets
  • Alive Bloodworms or White worms
  • Insects
  • Larva
  • Daphnia
  • Crickets
  • Zooplankton
  • Invertebrates
  • Brine Shrimps

Behavior & Temperament

Honey Gourami is considered a peaceful, harmonious, and introverted fish. They usually avoid interaction with other breeds and their species.

They are entirely harmless to humans and their competitors in the tank and instead pose timidness or nervousness in their behavior. Due to this nature, they often compromise with a deficient diet since they feel shy, struggling for food in front of other tank mates.

They feel comfortable in solace & solitude, but males prefer to be in the company of females, and a peculiarity in their living style is that a pair of males & females swim together in the tank. Often during their breeding times, the males show aggression &misbehavior towards each other.

The research has been done over a group of c. 137 species known as anabantoids which possess this special labyrinth apparatus in their respiratory system. One of the reasons behind the sudden aggressiveness with territorial moods is the labyrinth organ, which lets them breath-in oxygen even in polluted water.

Study: Scientists have concluded that the labyrinth plays an essential role in influencing the Honey Gourami’s behavior regarding over-aggressive attitude in general and during mating.

Breeding in the Wild

It begins in the monsoons. The males create foaming nests filled with oxygen that are 30cm wide and 6cm in depth. Their actual purpose is likely to protect the eggs, and a bubble nest may contain up to 20,000 eggs. The pectoral fins play a vital role in protecting the nest and putting away the predators.

Breeding in Captivity

Honey Gourami does not show any problems during the reproduction cycle, even in a captive environment.

They pose a fascinating methodology during the breeding and spawning of eggs. The males fulfill the duty of protecting the eggs in bubble nests, which is a unique feature among other aquatics.

Here is a detailed guide for artificial breeding in fish tanks.

Essential Requirements

This fish reaches its maturity level typically by 5 – 6 months of age are no sooner ready to reproduce with a partner.

For efficient breeding of Honey Gourami, you need to arrange a 15-gallon tank and do not fill it to the top. You can leave some air space about 2 – 3 inches from the water surface. Sponge filters and air pumps help maintain freshness in the water.

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Add fresh water at a warm temperature of about 26 degrees Celsius, and some green bushy plants, which will help these fishes to hide in between and males create bubble nests over it.

Quick Tip: Wrap the top of the tank with a thick cloth sheet to keep the water warm and air moist, which is always beneficial for the labyrinth organ of the fish.

Mating Process

Once you are ready with the setup, it is time to introduce the adult fishes in the tank. You should prefer inducing the couples of ratio one male to 2 – 3 females is best. More males with females should only be added in a bigger tank with plantations to provide separate & secluded space for mating.

You can provide frozen protein-rich food items to help females develop eggs and body fattens.

The males start attracting the females for courting. The males first create the bubble nests and then take the females to that hidden area, usually below the leaves. It is an optimistic view of the male changing body color, which intensifies to a brighter shade.

Author Note: Honey Gourami keeps a higher reputation amongst the other aphrophils fishes that create such bubble formations. It looks similar to beehives from the far, and it wouldn’t be an understatement to call them honey-bees of water.

Spawning

The females start releasing eggs after mating, while the males fertilize them and collect them in the mouth to securely put them inside the bubbles. Each spawn contains about 20 eggs, and in total, the females release 250 – 300 eggs.

You can remove the females from the tank, but the male’s duty remains unended until the eggs hatch.

Pro-tip: It is advised to use natural greens like debris or hornwort, suitable for fish tanks, instead of artificial plants, specifically for breeding purposes, because the leaf surface can easily hold the bubbles sticking to it.

Hatching

The male Honey Gourami protects the eggs to stay stable by spitting water over the bubble surface. The water coating keeps the eggs intact till they hatch.

It takes about 1 – 2 days for eggs to hatch, after which the males should be removed from the tank. The fry comes out of the bubble on their own and starts swimming.

Tip: The fry of Honey Gourami is too small to consume baby shrimps; hence you should feed them with infusoria, or egg yolk (cooked & squeezed).

Diseases & Infections

A prominent factor that attracts aquarists to Honey Gourami is that they do not easily get affected by the infectious environment, and hence, care & maintenance is not too hard.

However, it does not mean that these fishes stay sturdy all the time. Even they are prone to some infections and diseases, some of which can be dangerous to life.

Here are some of the instructions to care for the fish suggested by experts.

  • Keep cleaning the tank water after regular intervals.
  • Do not provide unverified or stale food to them.
  • Make sure not to induce the new tank mates directly without quarantining them as they can be a vital carrier of diseases.
  • Not to overfeed them.
  • Avoid interactions with unfriendly fishes since they create unnecessary stress on the fish.

Few abnormal symptoms and their causes

  • Inactivity in the fish may be due to stomach infections caused by the virus.
  • Eye discomfort is observed, which may have caused due to polluted water.
  • Fish settles at the base because of bacterial or fungal infection in internal organs.
  • The body usually blackens during spawning, but it may also be due to changed water conditions, precisely due to nitrates & nitrites levels.
  • Bloating in the stomach is caused by overeating, or some other internal issues could be due to tumours or tapeworms in the stomach.
  • The reddening of fins is observed after improper treatment of illness or disturbed nitrogen in the water.
  • The fungal infection may also cause scales damage.
  • Pollution in water will cause breathing issues, and the fish continuously stays over the water surface.
  • Stress is one of the reasons why fish stops eating.

A few common diseases acclaimed by this fish are listed here.

  • Costia Disease is an infection in the intestine caused by parasitic infestation due to protozoa, or worms.
  • White holes with yellow mucus are formed in the fish head, caused due to protozoan infection.
  • Parasitic infections also cause skin Flukes.
  • Bacterial infections cause haemorrhage (reddish skin or fin), necrosis (white or yellow patch on the skin), columnar is (white mouth), and tail rotting.
  • Fish Tuberculosis: These are also caused due to bacterial infection. 
  • Gills infections are caused due to impure water.
  • Dropsy is usually a problematic condition in the abdomen.
  • Velvet Disease: It is caused by a parasite when gold dust is observed on the fins and affects the skin and gills of the fish.

Aquarium Care & Maintenance

Quick Stats
Capacity 40 Litres
Water Temperature 75 to 82 F
Hardness Range 5 to 19 dGH
Tank Lighting Moderate light
Water pH Level 6 to 8
Tank Type Singular Tank
Substrate Soft sand & rocks, driftwood
Brackish No

Aquarium Size

Honey Gourami, a small-sized fish, does not require a high-capacity tank area. Hence a small tank of size 10 Gallons is sufficient if you wish to keep a single fish.

But if you like to have them in a bunch, then probably 2 – 3 males with at least 5 – 6 females can settle down comfortably in a tank of 30 Gallon capacity.

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Experts suggest arranging a depth of about two feet to provide them ample space for mobility in the middle area.

Tank Arrangements

It is not a simple fish in terms of behavior and displays multiple attitudes of shying away from the vegetation or loves to stay hidden for a long time, which helps lowering down the stress levels. You can put a few useful objects in Honey Gourami’s tank to keep them engaged.

Plants

These are one of the essential accessories of a fish tank with Honey Gourami as they naturally love to stay around green plants. You can add many types of natural green plants to the tank.

Floating plants over the surface are a good choice since these fishes love to stay near the surface, covering themselves. These are excellent insect hunters and can find their prey over the leaves.

You may also put a few underwater shrubs where these fishes can hide and feel homely.

Make sure to leave 70% of the concave surface in the tank to let the fish come to the top for open-air breathing. Plants like hornwort and water wisteria are suitable, while you can also use some java ferns and water lettuces.

Lighting

This fish stays active during the daytime, and if left unbothered, it prefers to stay out of the leaves.

So you can install proper lighting into the tank; however, use a medium voltage of LED bulb instead of a bright flash of light. Moderate lighting is enough to enhance visibility in the tank. The light will attract many flies and insects that the fish can comfortably prey on.

You can schedule the lights to turn off at night so the fish can relax.

Substrate

The Honey Gourami usually stays close to the water surface or in the middle portion and loves to spend their time in the vegetation.

But still, you can put soft sand and pebbles to create caves where the fish can confine itself and feel stress-free. Sand is also helpful in planting.

Oxygen & Filtration

These are entirely freshwater preferring fishes, and hence it becomes necessary to have a water filtering system that can help clean the water from minute particles.

A filtration system also enhances the oxygen level in the water since it continuously shuffles the water, which ultimately mixes the oxygen element from the air to the water.

Tank Decorations

Tank décor is always extra items that you may add to the fish tank to keep them engaged in activities or enhance living standards.

For this fish, you can include the driftwood or PVC pipes in which they can move in as a home. Few tank toys may also look good in the tank around which it can swim and play.

Tank Water Specifics

Honey Gourami is an adjustable fish and can sustain most water standards without fuss. However, to some extent, ignorance may lead to ill health and other attitude problems with fish.

Hence it is advisable to scale the water at different parameters and maintain it for as long as possible. Here are some of the critical factors you must account for while petting the fish.

  • Bring in the best quality of filters.
  • The water temperature should be in the range of 22 – 26 degrees Celsius.
  • The optimum pH value for the tank water is 7pH.
  • The suitable water hardness level is around 10dGH.

Compatible Tank Mates

It is a well-proven fact that the Honey Gourami are non-aggressive and very shy-natured fish types. Although they indulge in fights with their species’ family members during the mating period, they try to avoid any grudges with their co-mates, even if it is for food.

So putting them in a community tank can be risky, especially if some of the other fishes in the aquarium are proactive & hostile.

Choose small & friendly fishes in the tank, while you can avoid large & aggressive ones like catfish, Oscars, pacus, or silver dollars.

Few ideal tank mates of Honey Gourami are listed here.

  • Harlequin Rasbora
  • Danios (Zebra, Celestial Pearl)
  • Pethis
  • Puntis
  • Coolie Loach
  • Sparkling Gourami
  • Catfish (Cory, Oto)
  • Barbs (Cherry, Rosy, Dwarf) (Avoid Tiger Barb and Clown Barb)
  • Tetra (Neon, Ember, Black Phantom, Glowlight)
  • Fancy Guppies
  • Glass Fish
  • Snail (Mystery, Rabbit)

Frequently Asked Questions

How many Honey Gouramis to keep in a 10-gallon tank?

Honey Gouramirarely shows interest in schooling but loves to swim in a large area. So, experts suggest keeping only one of it in a 10-gallon tank, and at the most, one pair.

Should they be kept alone or in pairs?

These fishes are easy to pet in an aquarium and adjust singly or in groups. However, it is observed that they feel uncomfortable if kept all alone, and hence it is advised to put them in pairs of two males with four females.

Can Honey Gourami and Cherry Shrimp be kept together?

Gouramis are omnivores and eat shrimps, but Cherry Shrimps are capable of escaping these slow-moving fishes. So, you can keep them together, provided there is enough space to hide.

Do they eat snails?

Yes, they eat snails occasionally, but it is not the food of their choice. So, if you regularly feed your Gourami with other favorite items, they tend to avoid consuming snails.

Can different types of Gouramis stay together in a tank?

Yes, it is possible to keep different types of these species in a tank, provided the tank size also increases accordingly. The males often show combative moods towards each other; hence you can introduce more females than males, who do not mind having companions.

Popular gouramis that can live together with Honey are Sunset Honey Gourami, Dwarf Gourami, Kissing Gourami, Pearl Gourami, etc.

Final Thoughts

Honey Gourami is popular among fish lovers due to its adaptable tendencies. They are less demanding and friendly towards many peaceful fishes. For commercial breeders, it can be a good selection.

Though they are majorly found in South Asian countries, they are in regular demand from all over the World. These fishes look attractive and beautify the room with their unavoidable view.

About the Author

Shelby Crosby

Shelby is a passionate fishkeeper who has been writing about fish for over 5 years. She is a pro aquarist and holds a BSc Honors Degree in Wildlife and Fisheries. She creates her own beautiful aquarium layouts and loves to share her knowledge of tropical fish with other hobbyists.

Career Highlights:

  • Has worked with several aquarium manufacturers as a consultant
  • Organized and hosted workshops on freshwater fish keeping at retail stores, educational facilities, and libraries
  • Released content for the amphibian community through her writings

Educational Highlights:

  • BSc Honors in Wildlife and Fisheries in 2011 (University of Northern British Columbia)
  • Completed her undergraduate thesis on the effects of zoochlorella supplementation on the growth and health of fish.

Writing Experience

Miss Crosby is a Freelance blogger; many of her articles are posted online on various blogs. She has also written a few short articles for "Tropical Fish Hobbyist Magazine" in the past. She is a regular contributor to FishParenting.com. Her education, first-hand experience with fishkeeping, and in-depth knowledge in aquaculture make her one of the most competent writers in the industry.

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