A Gourami is any fish in the Osphronemidae family. These fish are known for their bright colors and unique appearance. Researchers recognize over 133 different species, including the popular betta fish. People keep many different species in home aquariums. Read on to learn about the Gourami.

Description of the Gourami

Each of the various species in this family have a slightly different appearance. Many have somewhat elongated bodies and iridescent scales. Some of the different colors that you see in the various species include blue, red, silver, white, and more.

Size varies drastically from species to species. Some measure just a few inches long, while others reach much larger sizes. At their largest, the biggest species reaches a length of over two feet!

Interesting Facts About the Gourami

Each species is slightly different from the next. Learn what makes a few individual species so unique, below.

  • Dwarf Gourami – This species is quite popular in the pet trade for its brightly colored scales. It measures just three or four inches long, but sports bright red, blue, or silver scales. While other species in the family do not pair well with other fish, this species is friendly and placid.
  • Giant Gourami – Where other members of this family have bright scales, this fish’s notoriety arises from its large size. Some people keep this fish in aquariums, but they also use the fish for food. In some areas, people also use this fish to control invasive populations of aquatic plants.
  • Three Spot Gourami – This species might be the most popular pet in the family. Its name comes from the spots along the sides of its body. However, the fish only has two spots, the third “spot” is the dark pupil of its eye!

Habitat of the Gourami

Because they can process oxygen by gulping at the surface of the water, this species often lives in inhospitable habitats with low oxygen levels. In these regions it faces much less competition and predation.

You can find the various species in rivers, lagoons, ponds, streams, and more. They also range into brackish habitats, with a mixture of salt and freshwater.

Distribution of the Gourami

In their natural range, these fish live throughout Asia and portions of Africa. Different species have different distributions. Some live across vast ranges while others live in just a small region.

People have also introduced several species in this group outside of their natural range. These populations have established in the Philippines and the United States.

Diet of the Gourami

With such a wide variety of species, it should come as no surprise that each species has different dietary preferences. Some species feed on both plant and animal matter, and have omnivorous diets. Others have carnivorous diets and eat primarily invertebrates or small fish. Some few have primarily herbivorous diets as well.

Gourami and Human Interaction

Humans interact with the different Gourami species in different fashions. Some species face threat through capture for the pet trade, pollution, and/or habitat destruction. Other species with higher population numbers do not face the same amount of pressure through human interaction.


Humans have not domesticated these fish in any way.

Does the Gourami Make a Good Pet

Yes, some species do make good pets. However, you should always research before purchasing any animal as a pet. Each has its own specific care needs for temperature, tank size, pH, and more.

Gourami Care

Care specifications vary drastically based on the species. Some require large habitats with plenty of space, while others do not. Their diet also changes based on the species, as some feed primarily on plants while others eat insects or invertebrates.

Behavior of the Gourami

This fish is unique in its use of the labyrinthine organ to breathe. This organ works in a similar fashion to a lung. The fish can gulp air from the surface of the water and collect the oxygen it needs. It allows the fish to live in waters in which other fish cannot usually survive.

Many species in this family establish individual territories and guard them aggressively. Some even use sounds or displays to communicate with one another over territorial disputes or mating rights.

Reproduction of the Gourami

Breeding habits vary from species to species. All of the various species reproduce via spawning. This means that the female lays her eggs, and the male fertilizes them outside of her body. Some use nests of bubbles to hold the eggs, and a few even carry the eggs in their mouths to protect them.