Sparkling gouramis (also known as pygmy gouramis) are easily one of our favorite freshwater fishes to keep in an aquarium. But for some reason, they’re pretty underrated.
Now let’s be clear, these fish are still relatively popular in the freshwater aquarium scene (they’re definitely not obscure).
But for some reason, lots of owners seem to overlook these fish in favor of their cousins like the dwarf gourami. And in our opinion, sparkling gourami should be right up there at the top of the list with them!
Sparking gourami care is super easy and can be handled by anyone. They’re also a beautiful fish that’s compatible with a wide variety of tank mates.
If you’re interested in learning more about this fish (or getting one), read on! By the time you’re done reading this guide, you’ll be an expert in sparking gourami care.
The sparkling gourami (Trichopsis pumila) is from Southeast Asia and thrives in the typical gourami environment. By this, we mean standing water with a lot of vegetation. You can often find them in slow-moving streams or rivers as well as ponds or even rice paddies.
There’s a reason they can thrive in these kinds of water conditions. The sparking gourami possesses a labyrinth organ that functions very similarly to a lung.
This means these fish will swim to the surface of the water to get oxygen periodically. By doing this they’re able to survive in water that’s low in oxygen and quite dirty as well.
Because of their beauty, pygmy gouramis have been a fairly common inclusion in freshwater tanks for some time. This originated in Asia but quickly moved to the United States and Europe as well.
The average sparkling gourami lifespan is 4-5 years. This depends on the quality of care you provide, as well as the care they were in before you bought them. This lifespan is right in line with most of the other common types of gouramis you’ll find in freshwater aquariums all over the world.
Author Note: Genetics also plays a significant role in lifespan as well, so do your research and find a trusted seller before buying one!
The sparkling gourami is without a doubt a beautiful fish. There’s are so many vibrant colors and patterns packed into such a small body that it’s really something to see!
Aside from their ease of care, the stunning looks of this fish are definitely the main draw. True to their name, they look like little sparkling bullets when they swim around the tank!
Their bodies are long, thin, and streamlined. Their thickest point is right where their ventral fins are located, and their body tapers down to their caudal peduncle rather aggressively after that.
Their dorsal fins are thin and tall and can angle back while they swim. In contrast, their anal fin is rather large compared to their body and covers the majority of the space between their ventral and caudal fins.
The caudal fin of sparkling gouramis is shaped kind of like a shell and has a moderate surface area. Its height doesn’t exceed the height of the fish at its tallest point.
Each of their fins is blue with black spots and a thick dark red stripe along the edge. This color and pattern combination can create a very mesmerizing effect when they swim. It’s really doesn’t get old!
The rest of their bodies are typically a mix of blue, brown, and light green. There’s often a darker midline stripe that goes from their pectoral fin to the base of their caudal fin. Above this stripe there are randomly spaced dots and below it’s usually a solid lighter color.
The average sparkling gourami size is about one and a half inches in length when fully grown. These are quite small fish that don’t need large tanks to thrive.
Their size is one of the things we like most about them. It really compliments their “sparkling” appearance and makes for a fun display if you have a few swimming around together!
Sparkling Gourami Care
Sparkling gourami care is quite easy no matter what your experience level is. These fish are rather hardy which means the habitat conditions they need in order to thrive are rather generous.
However, it’s still important to have a thorough understanding of what these fish need so you can guarantee their comfort and health. Even the most durable fish can fall victim to a shift in water parameters or illness, so you should always take it seriously!
The recommended minimum tank size for sparkling gourami is 10 to 15 gallons. We recommend 15 gallons since a little extra space is never a bad thing. Also, the difference in the footprint of a 15-gallon tank compared to a 10 is minimal.
If you want to keep multiple pygmy gouramis in the same tank you’ll need to increase the size (obviously). Tack on 10 extra gallons for each fish you have. This means 25 gallons for two fish, 35 for three, and so on.
One of the benefits of sparkling gourami care is that you have a little breathing room when it comes to water parameters. This allows you to keep them with a wider range of tank mates but also not be as paranoid about levels shifting.
- Water temperature: 76°F to 82°F
- pH levels: 6 to 7
- Water hardness: 4-8 KH
You should always monitor these parameters with a test kit a couple of times throughout the week. This will allow you to address any unwanted changes before they impact the health of your fish.
It’s also important to perform a partial water change once a week, Shoot for changing about a quarter of the water in the tank because changing too much can cause problems!
Author Note: Just because sparkling gouramis have a labyrinth organ it doesn’t mean they’re immune to bad water quality. This organ is mostly useful for waters with low-oxygen, and poor water quality will still negatively impact their health.
What To Put In Their Tank
One of the most important things you should include in their tank is plants. In their natural habitat, the sparkling gourami is used to standing bodies of water with a TON of vegetation.
Not including enough plants can lead to a lack of enrichment and comfort. Both of these factors will increase their stress levels and eventually take a toll on their long-term health.
There are a number of plants you can choose that will pair well with these fish. Hornwort and water wisteria are two of our favorites.
Outside of plants, you have the room to be a bit more flexible. Sparkling gouramis will appreciate a few different hiding places other than plants, but you want to make sure they have enough room to swim as well.
Since these fish won’t spend a lot of time near the bottom of the tank you can be a bit flexible with your choice of substrate as well. Some aquarists recommend darker colors to help their colors pop, but we think that’s a bit exaggerated. If you need a certain substrate for the other life in your tank you should make that the priority.
Author Note: Don’t go overboard with the plants. While they do like a heavily planted tank, there is such a thing as including too many plants. Remember that these fish need to access the surface to get air, so you don’t want to make it difficult for them to do so!
Common Possible Diseases
Fortunately, sparkling gouramis don’t have any species-specific diseases that you need to worry about. This makes care a little less complicated and allows you to think about general health instead of obscure illnesses.
Most of the possible health conditions that can affect sparkling gouramis are the same conditions that affect other freshwater fish. Ich is the number one disease you need to worry about, but other forms of infection or parasites are always possible as well.
If you want to reduce the chances of your fish getting these illnesses then the main thing to monitor is water quality. Poor water quality (even among labyrinth fish) significantly increases the chance that your fish will get sick.
It’s always smart to monitor your fish and look for anything out of the ordinary as well. That shouldn’t be a problem with the sparkling gourami because it’s such a beautiful and fun fish to observe!
Food & Diet
Sparkling gouramis are omnivores but in the wild, they mostly eat insects and zooplankton.
Because of this, you’ll need to make sure they get enough protein in their diet to fuel their little bodies and ensure their health. A consistent amount of bloodworms, daphnia, and artemia are great sources of protein that you can give them.
It’s also good to mix in some veggies from time to time as well. This will help them get a balanced diet and cover their broad nutritional requirements that they need in order to thrive.
A lot of owners simply give their sparkline gourami flake food with a mix of protein-rich snacks from time to time. This can work well too, you just need to be sure that the quality is top-notch.
With small fish, there’s always the potential to overfeed them. Keep an eye on their size and the amount of food they’re consuming especially when you first get them. Overfeeding can lead to numerous health problems.
Behavior & Temperament
The sparkling gourami is a peaceful and gentle fish. They don’t want to cause trouble and always look to avoid conflict whenever necessary.
These fish are rather active and enjoyable to watch as well. Since they need to frequently visit the surface of the water to get air, there’s always at least some movement for you to witness if you watch long enough!
Because of this, sparkling gouramis will spend a lot of their time in the top half of your aquarium.
Depending on their comfort level with the tank and their tank mates, you’ll often see sparkling gouramis hiding out in whatever plants they can find. These are small fish, so it’s understandable that they might be a little nervous from time to time!
Shoaling is something that makes them far more comfortable as well. Keeping a few of them together gives them a sense of safety and some social enrichment that will improve their quality of life.
Author Note: The only situation where you might see some aggression from these fish is when you have multiple males in the same tank.
Sparkling Gourami Tank Mates
Because of their peaceful nature, there are plenty of options when it comes to sparkling gourami tank mates.
Some great choices are:
The biggest thing to look for is a peaceful nature and similar size. Any aggressive fish can cause problems with sparkling gouramis because they won’t defend themselves.
Also, since these fish are quite small you don’t want to keep them with very large tank mates. This can sometimes lead to the larger fish viewing your poor pygmy gourami as a snack!
Aquarium snails and shrimp can also make good tank mates for the sparkling gourami. Some common options are the nerite snail, ghost shrimp, and Amano shrimp.
Unlike some of the species we’ve covered recently, breeding sparkling gouramis is something that anyone can do at home.
These fish make bubble nests which is why you’ll need to have plants in their tanks for starters. Also, you’ll want to have more females than males in the tank as well.
If you want to encourage the breeding process it’s smart to raise the water temperature by a few degrees to mimic the time of year when they naturally spawn. Some breeders recommend lowering the water level a bit as well, but we’ve heard from plenty of people that have had success without doing this.
You’ll know that things are about to happen when you see the male make his bubble nest. He’ll then try to impress the female and you’ll witness a lot of close interactions between the two.
If he’s successful the female will release her eggs for the male to fertilize in the bubble nest. Once this process is complete you’ll need to take the female out of the breeding tank. The reason for this is that males guard their nest extremely aggressively, and will even attack the female if she gets too close.
Once the fry have hatched and are moving around you’ll want to remove the male as well and begin feeding them. The standard food choices like plankton and artemia work great.
The sparkling gourami is one of our absolute favorite freshwater fishes. Despite a fairly steady interest over the years, we think they deserve even more attention from the aquarist community.
Caring for them is a breeze and they look amazing. What’s not to like?
If you have any lingering questions that we didn’t cover in this guide you’re more than welcome to ask us. We want to help as many people as possible and love hearing from aquarists of all experience levels!