Dwarf Gourami: Species Profile

Category: Gourami

Common Names: Dwarf Gourami, Powder Blue Dwarf Gourami, Neon Blue Dwarf Gourami, Red Dwarf Gourami

Scientific Name: Colisa lalia

Family: Belontiidae

Minimum Tank Size: 20 Gallons

Care Level: Easy

Temperament: Peaceful

Max Size: 3 Inches

Temperature: 72-82 F

pH: 6.8-8.0

Tank Level: Middle to Top

Colors: Orange, Blue, Silver

Diet: Omnivore

Breeding: Difficult

Dwarf Gourami Very Close Up

Dwarf Gourami Species Overview

Dwarf gouramis are a popular tropical freshwater fish because they come in an array of brilliant colors and patterns. They also remain small and aren’t as aggressive as other gourami species.

Beginner fish keepers are an excellent match with dwarf gouramis. These fish are hardy, tolerating a range of water conditions.

Nevertheless, setting up a dwarf gourami tank with conditions that’ll allow this fish to thrive is crucial to its longevity.

Distinguishing Features

The name “dwarf gourami” is an umbrella term for different colored and patterned gouramis. Five of the most popular dwarf gouramis are as follows:

  • Blue dwarf gourami
  • Flame dwarf gourami
  • Honey dwarf gourami
  • Neon blue dwarf gourami
  • Powder blue dwarf gourami

Of these varieties, the powder blue is a favorite among aquarium enthusiasts. These fish have a sky blue to teal color with little other markings other than darker blue in certain areas.

In contrast, the standard blue dwarf gourami has larger scales and a more brilliant blue color. They also have red or reddish-orange bands on their bodies and tips on their fins.

Neon blue dwarf gouramis have a similar appearance as blue dwarfs. But the difference is that their stripes don’t stand out as much, and they have smaller scales.

On the other hand, flame dwarf gouramis contain a combination of red, blue, and silver coloring. They may either have a mostly red body with neon blue fins or red stripes alternating with sky blue stripes.

Honey dwarf gouramis are the least flashy but still beautiful. They come in various shades of red or orange, which fades out into a colorless caudal fin.

Blue Dwarf Gourami on Tan Background


The dwarf gourami originates in Asia. They love densely planted, slow-moving shallow freshwater in India, Bangladesh, and West Bengal.

It’s common to encounter dried or powdered dwarf gouramis at markets for consumption in northern India.

Since dwarf gouramis live in rivers and floodplains in the wild, they’re accustomed to sandy and pebbly substrate. They can tolerate murky water conditions, especially since monsoon season kicks up a lot of debris.

Dwarf gouramis seek out areas with dense aquatic plant vegetation as it provides them with food and safety. Java moss, hornwort, and water lettuce are some of their favorite types of plants.


Dwarf gouramis average 3.5 to 4.5 inches long, making them significantly smaller than species like the giant gourami, which can reach two feet long in the wild.

Male dwarf gouramis are typically larger than females, and size is one of the ways that you can determine the gender of your fish.


You can expect dwarf gouramis to live an average of four to five years in captivity.

Ensuring your tank maintains the dwarf gourami’s ideal water parameters without overcrowding will help them maximize their lifespan.

Red Dwarf Gourami with Blue Background


If you have multiple dwarf gouramis living in a tank, you can use size to tell males from females, and the females are almost always smaller.

But color is another excellent way to determine the gender of your fish.

When comparing the same type of dwarf gouramis, the males have brighter colors than the females. Should your dwarf gouramis have stripes, the stripes are more brilliant and stand out better in males than females.


Unlike several other gourami species, dwarf gouramis are peaceful, friendly fish. They often do well in groups with other dwarf gouramis and are typically peaceful towards other non-aggressive fish species of a similar size.

That said, males tend to be more aggressive than females.

Male dwarf gouramis often display aggression towards females, particularly if you introduce a new female dwarf gourami to the aquarium.

Ironically, the purpose of this aggression is to garner attention from the female as a potential mating prospect. In such situations, male dwarf gouramis will also become aggressive towards other male dwarf gouramis in the tank, seeing them as threats to their mating instinct.

Tank Parameters

Creating an inviting and healthy environment for your dwarf gouramis is vital for their health and emotional wellbeing. So, below are the most important details to consider when setting up their tank.

Two Dwarf Gouramis in Front of Grasslike Plants

Minimum Tank Size

You should offer your dwarf gouramis a minimum of ten gallons for the initial three fish.

Should you wish to have more than three fish in your tank, factor in an extra five gallons per fish. For example, if you have five dwarf gouramis, you should purchase a tank that’s at least 20 gallons.

On top of that, you’ll need to factor in additional space for any other fish species you may wish to include in your gourami tank.

Water Parameters

You can’t have healthy dwarf gouramis without the proper water parameters. Therefore, it’s crucial that your tank remains within the following recommendations.


Dwarf gouramis can tolerate a 10-degree temperature range of 72 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit.

However, you shouldn’t quickly raise or lower the temperature within this range, as that can lead to shock and stress.


Dwarf gouramis require a pH of 6.0 to 7.5, which is a smaller range than certain other gourami species.

In the wild, dwarf gouramis tend to live in more acidic environments. So, we encourage you to try to keep the pH below 7.0.


Dwarf gouramis are freshwater fish, so you should never place them in a saltwater tank.

That said, aquarium salt has its place in freshwater tanks on occasion, as it can help dwarf gouramis overcome disease or parasites.

Tank Setup

It’s time to move on to the more fun aspect of preparing your dwarf gourami’s home. We’ll reveal some must-know items that will make a difference in your fish’s health and wellbeing.


Since dwarf gouramis primarily live towards the top of a tank, you’re free to choose the substrate of your preference. But use sand if you want to mimic their natural environment.

Since these fish have such brilliant colors, using a dark brown or black substrate will help their colors pop more than beige or white.


Dwarf gouramis don’t require many decorations. Again, much of this has to do with them living towards the top of the tank rather than the bottom, where most decorations reside.

However, placing a piece or two of driftwood decor is helpful for mimicking their natural environment.


Including plants in your dwarf gourami tank is vital. Dwarf gouramis thrive in a thickly vegetated environment in the wild.

While using some plastic plants is okay, we recommend adding a combination of live rooted and floating plants in their tank.

Some examples of excellent plants for dwarf gouramis include:

  • Hornwort
  • Java moss
  • Java fern

Placing plants in your tank that covers a portion of the water’s surface is ideal. But you’ll need to trim your plants regularly.

Otherwise, your dwarf gouramis won’t have enough room to come up for air, using their labyrinth organ to breathe.

Dwarf Gourami Hiding in Plants


Dwarf gouramis don’t require much aquarium lighting. That’s because these fish live in areas with dense plants in the wild, so they see little sunlight.

Nevertheless, dwarf gouramis rely on daylight to know when to be awake and when they should sleep. Therefore, using a timed aquarium lamp set on dim lighting is essential.


Setting up a high-quality filtration system in your dwarf gourami tank is a must. At the very least, you should purchase a mechanical and biological filter.

However, a chemical filter is helpful for removing wastes before they have time to convert to toxins.

Without the proper filtration system, the food, urine, and fecal wastes in the tank will build up and turn into deadly diseases such as nitrite poisoning.


Setting up a heater in your dwarf gourami’s tank is helpful to ensure the water remains at a consistent temperature.

Since heaters can sometimes malfunction, we encourage you to attach a thermometer to your tank. That way, you can monitor the temperature daily and catch temperature fluctuations before they harm your dwarf gouramis.


Dwarf gouramis are classic omnivores. They enjoy a varied diet of algae, insects, and larvae in their natural habitat.

You should try to mimic such food as much as possible in your gourami tank to keep your fish healthy. So, while it’s fine to feed them fish flakes or pellets, it’s best to supplement their diet with foods such as:

  • Vegetable tablets
  • Bloodworms
  • Brine shrimp

When possible, offering your dwarf gouramis live food is ideal. However, you can also keep these items in your home in frozen and freeze-dried varieties.

It’s important to avoid overfeeding your dwarf gouramis to prevent them from becoming overweight and excess food deteriorating in their tank.

So, let them eat for three to five minutes twice per day. Then, remove any remaining food.

Blue Dwarf Gourami with Green and Pink Plants


Breeding the dwarf gourami isn’t challenging, but you’ll need a separate tank filled with four to six inches of water and plants. You should keep the water temperature between 82.5 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit.

Select one male and one female, choosing fish with the most brilliant colors and patterns.

Then, let the male build a bubble nest in the breeding tank, using the plants you provided. Once the nest appears to be nearing completion, place the female in the tank.

The male will begin courting the female by flaring his fins and swimming in circles around her. Once the female is ready to spawn, she’ll tap the male.

He’ll then turn her upside down. She’ll release her eggs, and the male will fertilize them.

The male will usher the eggs into the nest he built before creating more bubbles at the base to hold them all in.

You should remove the female from the tank after she spawns, but it’s best to leave the male in the tank to tend to the nest. Within a few days, the fry should hatch and leave the nest.

At that point, it’s best to move the male back to his tank. Otherwise, he might eat his babies.

Common Diseases

It’s possible to prevent many dwarf gourami diseases. But no matter how well you take care of your fish, illness can still happen.

Below are some of the most common health conditions that dwarf gouramis encounter.

Dwarf Gourami near Large Rock and Black Background

Dwarf Gourami Disease

Dwarf gourami disease (DGD) is a species-specific viral disease. Fading color and fins that deteriorate or fall off are some of the most common symptoms of DGD.

Unfortunately, there’s no way to cure DGD. But you can prevent this disease by keeping your tank in optimal condition, following the water parameters discussed here.

Dwarf Gourami Iridovirus

Another condition that strikes dwarf gouramis is dwarf gourami iridovirus (DGIV).

Scientists know little about DGIV other than it almost always results in death. As with DGD, it’s often possible to prevent DGIV by keeping their tank clean.

Providing your dwarf gourami with a rich and varied diet is also helpful for preventing DGIV.


Ich is a parasitic infection that often occurs when introducing a new infected tank mate to your aquarium.

Signs of ich include small white spots that gradually cover more of your dwarf gourami’s body. They often scratch themselves against objects in the tank as well.

Treating ich is possible, but it’s a rigorous process, given that ich medication is only effective at killing the parasite during one portion of its life cycle.

Fin Rot

Fin rot is a bacterial infection that attacks your dwarf gourami’s fins. It most commonly occurs from dirty water entering your fish’s fins via a scrape or bites from another fish.

Signs of fin rot include white, stringy fins in the affected area. The fins might also stick together.

You can treat fin rot by performing a water change and putting antibacterial medicine in the tank. Dwarf gouramis can often live a long and happy life after having fin rot.

Dwarf Gourami Hidden Between Plants

Potential Tank Mates

Dwarf gouramis get along with many other fish species of similar size. That said, bottom-dwelling fish and those that form small schools are ideal.

Examples of excellent tank mates for dwarf gouramis include:

  • Plecos
  • Mollies
  • Dwarf cichlids
  • Cardinal tetra
  • Neon tetra

Remember, buying a large enough tank to accommodate your dwarf gouramis and their tank mates is vital to maintaining a healthy and stress-free home for them.