Many fish lovers feel constrained when it comes to owning one. Space, time, and financial constraints are barriers to pursuing their passion. What if you could gift an astounding fish at an affordable price in a small tank to yourself or your family?

Gifting your child a pet fish is a great way to teach them to appreciate all forms of life, nurture them, and find an unusual best friend! Connecting with them, just watching them swim, is very relaxing.

Sparkling Gouramis are your best bet. They are small even when fully grown, easy to care for, and can live in small fish tanks. They are known as bettas of small aquariums.

Their colorful, shining personas, endearing ways of bonding with you, and expressing their joy with a unique sound make them one the best choices for small aquariums.

By the end of this article, you will know everything about caring for the Sparkling Gouramis.

Sparkling Gourami Species Overview

Habitat and Origin

Sparkling Gouramis hail from southeast Asia. They thrive in slow-moving to still river waters, ponds, or paddy fields with thick plantations.

They prefer dense plantations to hide from predators and build bubble nests while breeding. Being tropical freshwater fish, they need warmer water temperatures and soft water.

They breathe oxygen directly from the air (with their labyrinth) and dissolved oxygen from the water (using gills). It helps them survive in less oxygenated waters. Fish that can breathe oxygen using labyrinths are known as anabantoids. They prefer to inhale oxygen both ways, even in captivity.

Sparkling Gourami Lifespan and Size

Their lifespan is 4 to 5 years in captivity. With proper care, they may live longer. They grow up to 1.5 inches long on average. Some may reach 1.6 inches. However, a few had the fish grow 2.0 inches, though nothing confirms these claims.

Physical Appearance

Sparkling gouramis have small, slender bodies with pointed mouths. They have a single dorsal, anal, pelvic, and tail fin each.

The dorsal fin is narrow with a pointy edge. It stands straight.

Their anal fin is horizontally long and narrow. It stretches till the start of the fan-shaped tail fin. The pelvic fin (before the anal fin) is small and ends in a sharp straight thin line/bunch of lines (refer to the picture in section 1.0).

All the fins are transparent with black dots and brownish-red borders. The contouring edges of their bodies are light to dark brownish-red or green. This base color from the edges becomes translucent towards the inner bodies.

The upper portion of the inner body has two lines of random, dense, brown, or black markings with small intermittent electric blue or emerald green dots. These shining dots form a continuous dotted line covering fifty percent of their bodies from the tail starts.

The lower inner (half) body has no markings. Their eyes are black with a surrounding neon blue ring and a third opaque outer ring, which is brown or red.

This beautiful fusion of radiant colors on bodies with contrasting rings around their eyes make sparkling gouramis shimmer in the light. Even during the day, their beauty is ever-alluring. 

Typical Behavior Patterns

  • Sparkling Gouramis are shy, non-aggressive, and active during the day.
  • They are not schooling fish but are happier in groups of their species.
  • Although they are peaceful with other small fishes, male pygmy gouramis get aggressive with other males of the same species. Hence, you should not house more than one male in the same aquarium.
  • They make a typical croaking sound whenever they are happy. Many owners are pleasantly surprised to hear sudden noises in the room, while many eagerly await the first croaking sound.
    Watch the happy sparkling gouramis croak.
  • The sounds often fill the room, making you happy, as if they are thanking you or talking to each other or with you.
  • True to their name, these gouramis sparkle under the right aquarium light due to their luminous colors.
  • Their play includes hiding behind plants and swimming through.
  • Being anabantoids, they swim at all levels in the tank. Their tanks should have some space on the top.
  • Always cover the tank lid to prevent the inside air from cooling.
  • Besides, they are jumpers. Closed aquariums will prevent them from escaping.
  • Being nest breeders, they display parental instincts to some extent. Refer to section 2.2 for more details.
  • They are not fussy about food.
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Sparkling Gourami Male Vs Female

There are many theories about sexing sparkling gourami (like the density of dots on the body, sharper fins v/s rounded fins, longer fins v/s smaller fins, etc.). However, none of them is conclusive and often fails. Many have observed their male and female fish displaying similar finnage and dots.

Hence, we will consider conclusive differences only. Juveniles cannot be differentiated unless they start developing reproductive organs.

Males look larger than females and have more vibrant coloring than their female counterparts.

Once your sparkling gourami is a year old, place the fish in a small water bowl (if needed) and flash a spotlight underneath. The lower portion of its body will light up.

If the space behind the gut area is transparent, it is a male. A female has a triangular ovary (with or without eggs) behind the gut. The accompanying images illustrate the point.

A Male Sparking Gourami
A Female Sparkling Gourami

Besides, the male fish builds a hidden bubble nest before breeding. But it is challenging to capture it during the secret mission!

Adding a group of 4-6 gouramis increases the chances of getting at least a pair (and the risk of having more than one male). Alternatively, start by adding one gourami. After it is a year old, arrange for the missing gender gourami. Or directly buy a matured pair.

Sparkling Gourami Vs Croaking Gourami

Many use croaking gouramis as an alternate name for sparkling gouramis in the aquarium trade and related articles. I beg to differ based on the following facts.

Description Sparkling Gourami Croaking Gourami
Scientific Name TrichopsisPumila TrichopsisVittata
Popular Names Pygmy Gourami None
Number of horizontal lines on bodies Two 3 to 4
Origin Southeast Asia Southeast Asia
Make Croaking Sound Yes Yes
Tank and Water Parameters Differ slightly Differ slightly
Size Up to 1.6 inches Up to 1.96 inches

Names like croaking dwarf gourami, dwarf croaking gourami, dwarf sparkling gourami, sparkling dwarf gourami, etc., do not represent pygmy gouramis specifically. Mixed names like these may be confused with dwarf gourami, which is a totally different species.

Avoid terms like pygmy sparkling gourami or pygmy pumilus sparkling gourami. Use pygmy/sparkling gourami or the full scientific name instead. You earn respect as an expert by using correct names for different fish species.

Availability and Price

They are available in most fish stores. Price varies from $3 onwards according to size, quality, availability, and offers. Avoid buying from freshly arrived stocks or small sizes, as you may face unknown issues while they grow up in captivity.

Use the correct name and check its appearance/photo to buy the correct one.

Verify physically (for coloring, wounds, white dots, etc.) while purchasing or upon receipt.

Sparkling Gourami Care

Diet

They eat insect larvae, microorganisms (like zooplanktons), and anything else that can fit into their mouths, making them apt for beginners.

How and What to Feed

Use high-quality food to prevent infection. Feed twice a day for 2-3 minutes each time and avoid overfeeding. Remove the leftover food from the tank bottom unless you have scavenging tank mates.

Protein-rich diets in the rotation will keep them healthy and their colors vibrant. They eat directly or feed from your fingers if you love to pamper them.

Ensure the portion size fits into their mouths. They accept:

  • Live foods – like bloodworms, insect larvae, shrimp meat, etc.
  • Defrost frozen foods before feeding.
  • Dried Foods like fish flakes, shrimp pellets, etc.
  • Veggies like spinach, zucchini, lettuce, boiled carrots/potatoes, etc.
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Breeding Sparkling Gouramis

They breed in summer in their natural habitat. That’s when the water becomes warmer, and the water level reduces. We can induce these spawning triggers in the aquarium anytime to breed them in captivity.

How to breed

Once you have a pair of matured sparkling gouramis, you can breed them in the same aquarium or in a separate breeding/spawning tank.

Advantages of using a separate breeding tank:

  • Higher focus on the breeding pair(s) and their specialized needs.
  • Separating the parents in a phased manner is better than separating each fry. You might even lose fry(s) to the tank mates/parents before separating them.
  • Better care of newborn frys. A higher survival rate of fish babies.
  • You cannot increase the temperature of the main aquarium as it might impact other non-breeding fish (es).

Use a separate tank unless the breeding pair(s) are all you have in the aquarium.

Preparing to Breed them

You will need a matured breeding tank with plants and minimum decor. Once the nitrogen cycle completes, you can use it. It should have the same water parameters as the main aquarium.

Move the sparkling gourami pair(s) in a 1:1 male: female ratio to the spawning tank after acclimating. Feed rich nutritional food and allow them to bond.

Increase the water temperature gradually by 3 to 5 degrees F. Simultaneously reduce the water level by 6 to 8 inches, replicating the summer season.

When the male sparkling gourami is ready to breed, he will build a hidden bubble nest using his saliva and air. Keep looking out for the nest in the plants/decor.

Avoid water changes after the bubble nest is ready, as it will break it. The pair might not breed under stress in an unsafe environment.

When you move the pair, start culturing DIY fish fry foods like in fusoria and green water. Set up a brine shrimp hatchery to feed the newborn frys and save on expensive fry foods from the market.

Mating behavior

During mating, the male sparkling gourami gets possessive about his female counterpart. He chases the female sparkling gourami. They swim together for a while and intertwine multiple times as if hugging each other. Every intertwining causes pressure on the mother fish’s ovary, and she releases an egg.

The father fish fertilizes each egg. Then carries it in his mouth to the nest and deposits it. This process continues for a few hours to a few days. They consume a lot of energy while breeding, so feed them well.

Female gourami releases about 15 to 40 eggs per spawn. It varies according to size, age, and weight.

If the male fish is too aggressive and the female feels harassed, introduce another female gourami in the tank. It is common to mate 1:2 male:female.

After all the eggs are released, move the mother gourami back to the main tank before she feasts on her own eggs. Father gourami continues to guard the eggs, as seen in the following image.

Watch the sparkling gouramis mating. Key moment – The father fish catching the fertilized egg in his mouth and heading to deposit it in the nest.

Watch this mating pair with its bubble nest.

Sparkling Gourami Eggs

Eggs in the nest hatch in 1-2 days. You will see small dark frys wriggle inside the bubbles.

They survive on the egg yolk in the shell for 2-3 days and swim freely afterward.

At this stage, move the male sparkling gourami to the main tank, as he may eat the free swimming fry(s).

Sparkling Gourami Fry Care

Now the spawning tank becomes a grow-out tank for the sparkling gourami fry(s). Their care in the first two weeks is crucial to their survival.

Cover the filter opening with a mesh to avoid fry(s) from getting sucked and dying. Water flow should be the slowest. Fry(s) do not have labyrinths yet. Hence, they cannot breathe oxygen from the air. Keep the aquarium water well-oxygenated and clean.

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Feed them fish fry foods six times a day from the moment they swim free. Avoid overfeeding, as it will contaminate the water every time. Feed slowly, directing them to the food. The fry will take time to understand what is edible.

As they grow in size, you can feed them adult fish foods gradually (in smaller portions), and the feeding frequency will reduce.

Once they attain a size to NOT fit into adult fish mouths, you can move them to the main aquarium. Remember, big fry(s) eat small fry(s). Use your discretion if they have different growth rates.

Diseases

Sparkling gouramis are sturdy and can survive in less oxygenated water. However, you need to ensure efficient aquarium management to keep them healthy.

The most common diseases they are prone to are:

  • Ich, Ick, or White Spot disease.
  • Fin Rot.
  • Cotton Wool, Columnaris, CottonMouth, Mouth Fungus, Saddleback, Guppy Disease, Flexibacter, False Neon Disease.

Read more about these diseases, their symptoms, cure, and prevention.

Acclimating

De-worm and quarantine your newly added sparkling gouramis to ensure they are infection/parasite-free.

Acclimate them to your aquarium water to minimize stress due to water change.

Sparkling Gourami Tank Size and Water Parameters

Tank Size

While a 10-gallon tank is enough, a 15-gallon tank is advisable to provide free space to swim. Two-three sparkling gouramis can even live in a 5-gallon tank. However, you will need frequent water changes and extra efforts to keep the tank water clean.

Besides, you might have little/no space for plants in a small tank. It is advisable to have them in a 1:2 or 1:3 male- female ratio. Many have successfully kept a single sparkling gourami with other small fish.

Choose whatever works best for you and your fish.

Tank Setup

Replicate their natural habitat to keep them healthy, happy, and safe.

Nothing in the tank should have pointed/rough surfaces or edges. Sterilize everything entering the tank. Any hole/open spaces should be wide enough for sparkling gouramis to swim through.

Plants

The tank should have a thick plantation. Live plants will oxygenate the water and provide hiding places. Ensure your plants get a firm hold in the substrate. Plant them in small pots or along the aquarium walls.

You can add artificial/live and floating/ other plants. Floating plants will subdue the lighting in the tank, just like river beds. Choose plants like Anubias, Java Fern, Java Moss, Lettuce, Hornwort, etc.

Substrate

Select a dark substrate to enhance the beauty of their iridescent colors. You can use small colorful stones, soft black sand granules, or both.

Decoration and Lighting

Simple, minimal decor provides more free space. Caves, bridges, rocks, etc., provide hiding spaces. You can use half coconut shells after smoothening the surface and edges. Use clay and PVC creatively to make colorful DIY decors.

Use subtle lighting with a day-night cycle.

Oxygen and Filtration

A standard filter suiting the tank size should be fine. Sponge filters are best to keep the small fish from getting stuck/sucked.

Since the tank lid has to be closed, you will need a small air pump to keep the water oxygenated. Sparkling gouramis prefer slow water flow.

Use biological and mechanical filters. Maintain your filtration system as per the product manual.

Sparkling Gourami Tank Mates

Sparkling gouramis are non-aggressive, omnivorous, and small in size. Hence, their tank mates should not be smaller to fall prey to them or larger to eat or harass them.

Peaceful, nano/small fishes like Honey gouramis, Dwarf gouramis, Rasboras, Cory catfish, Yoyo loach, Ember tetras, Scarlet Badis, etc., make good tank mates.

It is common to have a dedicated sparkling gourami aquarium.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can I keep sparkling gouramis and shrimp in the same fish tank?

The size and temperament of other fish species and predator relationships decide compatibility. Smaller shrimps (like cherry/dwarf shrimp) might fall prey to the pygmy gouramis.

However, Amano shrimp can be kept in the same fish tank.

Conclusion

Beginners and experts love owning sparkling gouramis for their outstanding, shining, and colorful personalities. Their croaking sounds fill the room with good vibes of mutual gratitude and joy.

Your family, friends, and guests will enjoy meeting these tiny-miny sparkling beauties again and again. You will enjoy being in a social spotlight as their proud owner.

When are you adding it? We wish you a happy fish parenting time with sparkling smiles.

About the Author

Victoria Lamb

Victoria is a freshwater aquatics specialist, fish keeper, and amphibian enthusiast. She has had more than 6 years of experience caring for aquariums and keeping several fish species, and her home boasts of 3 aquariums and a garden pond. Her goal is to educate fish owners on raising healthy and happy aquatic pets.

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:

Bachelor of Science in Animal Behavior and Welfare

  • University of Lincoln, Lincoln, UK (2014-2018)

Writing Experience

Victoria has done ghostwriting for many aquarium and pet websites in the past. She has also worked for Canada's largest natural health magazine- ALIVE, with 300,000 monthly circulations as a freelancer. She had six published articles on animal behavior and welfare during her graduation for her thesis.

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