Kissing Gourami: Species Profile

Category: Gourami

Common Names: Kissing Gourami

Scientific Name: Helostoma temmincki

Family: Helostomatidae

Minimum Tank Size: 55 Gallons

Care Level: Moderate

Temperament: Semi-Aggressive

Max Size: 6 Inches

Temperature: 72-82 F

pH: 6.0-8.0

Tank Level: Middle to Top

Colors: Red, Orange, White

Diet: Omnivore

Breeding: Difficult

Kissing Gourami in Front of Plants

Kissing Gourami Species Overview

Kissing gouramis are a paradox, given that they have puckered lips that make them look like they’re kissing each other when their mouths touch. But the reality is that scientists believe these fish are being territorial and aggressive with each other when they do so.

Aside from their lips which are in a permanent kiss-like state, aquarium enthusiasts love the bright colors of this gourami variety, making them a popular choice.

Kissing gouramis are suitable for intermediate and advanced fish owners, although beginners can also successfully care for them with the guidance of a knowledgeable fish keeper.

Distinguishing Features

The kissing gourami’s puckered lips are their most notable feature, making them stand out from other gourami varieties. These fish can live with such protruding mouths because they have extra jaw joints, allowing them to open their lips wide to take in food.

That said, a kissing gourami’s lips usually only appear the most puckered when they’re eating or fighting.

Kissing gouramis come in three color varieties, including:

  • Silver-green
  • Pinkish-white
  • Molted silver-green

While it’s common to encounter the pinkish-white kissing gourami in captivity, these fish have a genetic mutation through selective breeding that makes it uncommon to see them in the wild.

Only the molted kissing gourami has patterns on its body, with flecks of dark black and green sprinkled attractively throughout.

Regardless of the color of your kissing gourami, they’ll have short dorsal and anal fins. That said, their pectoral fins are slightly longer and have a more rounded appearance.

Because kissing gouramis have slender bodies, they’re efficient swimmers, making them a joy to watch darting around their tank.

Daniel Ahlqvist [CC BY-SA 3.0]


Kissing gouramis hail from Java, Indonesia. Because these fish grow so large, many locals eat them.

You can also find kissing gouramis in other Southeast Asian countries like Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, and Malaysia.

In the wild, kissing gouramis live in slow-moving freshwater like ponds and marshes. They enjoy areas with thick vegetation, especially those covered in java moss and benthic algae.

They thrive in cloudy water and don’t need much sunlight, given that they live beneath plants that block out much of it.

Kissing gouramis live in areas with muddy and sandy substrates in the wild and enjoy picking through them. But they also spend much of their time towards the surface of the water, catching insects that land on floating aquatic plants.


Adult kissing gouramis can grow up to 12 inches if they have proper nutrition and space.

Unlike many tropical fish species, size isn’t a distinguishing factor between male and female kissing gouramis. Instead, you can determine whether you have females by watching to see if her stomach expands with eggs when she’s preparing to spawn.


Kissing gouramis have extraordinary lifespans in captivity. Their average lifespan is seven years old.

But if you take exceptional care of your kissing gouramis, they could live as long as 25 years. Offering your gouramis high-quality food and the proper tank parameters is crucial for helping them to live their longest life possible.


Telling the difference between male and female kissing gouramis is tricky when the females aren’t growing eggs. There’s often no size difference between the two genders.

However, when females are preparing to spawn, their otherwise slender stomachs enlarge with eggs.

Another way to potentially tell males and females apart is that male kissing gouramis are often more aggressive than females.

Kissing Gourami between Two Rocks


There’s no way to sugarcoat this, kissing gouramis are an aggressive fish specie.

These territorial fish don’t like spending time with other fish or even fish within their species (except during mating).

The good news is that kissing gouramis often lose some of their territorial and aggressive ways as they age. At that point, they feel confident that they’ve established their mating territory and no longer have to fight to maintain it.

Of the two genders, males kissing gouramis are more aggressive than females. Nevertheless, both fish can wreak havoc on other tankmates, particularly those with long fins and of the same or smaller size.

Because kissing gouramis are such territorial fish, they’d be happy with having a tank to themselves. But if you place them with other fish, as many people do, you’ll want to ensure you purchase a large enough tank to offer them enough space.

Tank Parameters

Kissing gouramis have an exceptionally high tolerance for a range of tank conditions, except for the aquarium’s size. But it’s essential to ensure your tank meets this fish’s preferred needs to help them maximize their quality of life.

Minimum Tank Size

Each kissing gourami requires a minimum tank size of 50 gallons, but 75 gallons of water per fish is ideal.

Remember, these gouramis can grow up to 12 inches long. So, it’s common for people to purchase still-growing kissing gouramis, purchasing a tank fit for their current size instead of what they’ll become.

Therefore, before you make kissing gouramis your next aquatic pet, we encourage you to consider the space their aquarium will require in your home.

Water Parameters

Kissing gouramis are a beloved species among fish owners because they have a labyrinth organ, meaning they can process oxygen from both the water and air.

As a result, this is a hardy species that can adapt to a range of water conditions. Nevertheless, to maximize your kissing gourami’s lifespan and growth, we recommend setting up your tank so that the water stays within its ideal conditions.

Two Light Colored Kissing Gouramis Near Gravel


Kissing gouramis prefer water temperatures between 72 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit.

Unlike some fish, they tolerate fluctuations within this temperature range well. Nevertheless, we recommend using a heater for consistency.


As long as you keep the pH of your aquarium’s water between 6.0 to 8.0, your kissing gouramis will thrive.

That means that these fish can handle neutral water and water that teeters on the side of acidic and alkaline.


Kissing gouramis don’t need salt since they are freshwater fish. But adding salt to a freshwater tropical fish tank on occasion can help boost your fish’s immunity.

Furthermore, you may need to add salt to your gourami’s water if they fall ill with a parasite, fungal, or bacterial infection.

Should you choose to add salt to your kissing gourami tank, it’s crucial to use store-bought aquarium salt. Table salt has a high concentration of iodine that could spark health issues.

Tank Setup

Now that you understand the essentials for keeping your kissing gourami’s water in tip-top condition, let’s move on to the more visible (and fun!) aspects of setting up their tank.


Kissing gouramis enjoy poking around the bottom of their tank, so choosing a substrate that’s conducive for them is essential.

Sand is typically ideal for kissing gouramis, as you don’t have to worry about it scraping their adorable lips as they explore. But the downside to sand is that your gourami may ingest some of it.

For this reason, some kissing gourami owners prefer using gravel. Should you choose this route, select gravel that has smooth slides to prevent your fish from getting scraped.


Decorations aren’t essential for kissing gouramis; they prefer plants over the colorful ceramic castles you see at pet stores.

But if you want to adorn your tank with non-plant decorations, there’s nothing wrong with that. Just be sure to do so in moderation so that your kissing gouramis have enough space to swim.

And never sacrifice adding extra decorations instead of plants, which is the kissing gourami’s preferred form of decor.

Kissing Gourami Near Rock


Kissing gouramis live in highly vegetative areas in the wild. They enjoy aquatic plants for both food and a place to hide, making them feel safe.

Because plants are a food source for gouramis, don’t be surprised if they devour delicate plants. For this reason, it’s best to choose hardy plant species, such as:

  • Anubias
  • Java moss
  • Java fern
  • Amazon sword

You can also add plastic plants to your kissing gouramis’ aquarium if you can’t seem to stop them from munching on their vegetative decor.

Regardless of your chosen plants, striking a balance between offering them enough plants for hiding in and enough open space to swim in is crucial.


Kissing gouramis don’t require anything fancy in terms of lighting. Like most fish, they use light to know when they should be awake and when to sleep.

Therefore, you should never leave their aquarium light on 24/7, as it can throw off their circadian rhythm, causing stress.

Instead, we recommend purchasing a standard aquarium light with an automatic timer and setting it to a medium level. That way, the timer will ensure the light shuts off and turns on at an appropriate time for your fish.


All kissing gouramis need at least two filters. The first is a biological filter, which prevents nitrifying bacteria from building up. The second is a mechanical filter, which removes larger material suspended in the water.

You can also add a chemical filter to help keep your kissing gourami tank as clean as possible. Chemical filters use activated carbon to eliminate organic waste before it has time to convert into toxins.

One of the most common reasons kissing gouramis fall ill is that they have a malfunctioning or incorrect combination of filtration systems.

Kissing Gourami between Two Rocks


We recommend using a heater for your kissing gouramis, given that they prefer a water temperature between 72 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit.

Keeping your gourami’s water set at a consistent temperature will reduce their stress, helping to thwart the possibility of disease.

In addition to purchasing a heater, you should keep a thermometer permanently attached to the side of your tank. That way, you can make it a habit to check the temperature whenever you feed your fish to ensure the heater is functioning properly.


Kissing gouramis are entertaining because they’re always scrounging around their tank looking for food. Unfortunately, this can lead some owners to overfeed their fish, believing they didn’t feed them enough.

As omnivores, kissing gouramis eat a combination of plants and animals.

They appreciate blanched vegetables and fresh or frozen protein such as:

  • Spinach
  • Zucchini
  • Bloodworms
  • Brine shrimp

Feeding your kissing gouramis whole food sources is essential for keeping them in optimal health. However, you can use them as an occasional supplement to fish pellets or flakes when you’re in a hurry.

You should feed your kissing gouramis twice per day.

To prevent overfeeding and a dirty tank, let them eat for three to five minutes. Then remove any remaining food.

After a while, you’ll get the hang of how much they eat without waiting for this three to five-minute period.


It’s easy to breed kissing gouramis as long as you have a male and female and set up a breeding tank that involves warmer 80 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit water.

It’s also important to prepare your gouramis for breeding by feeding them live, protein-rich food and blanched vegetables.

Once your fish are ready to spawn, the male and female fish will beat their tails against each other while making circles. The male will then turn the female belly up by wrapping his body around her.

At this time, the female will release her eggs, and the male will simultaneously fertilize them.

You might not be present to watch this happen, but you’ll be able to see the eggs floating at the top of the tank. It’s crucial to remove the male and female fish as soon after spawning as possible.

If not, either party might begin eating the fertilized eggs.

It only takes one day for the fry (baby kissing gourami fish) to spawn, and you’ll see them swimming around the tank two days after that.

Kissing Gourami in Front of Dark Blue Background

Common Diseases

Luckily, it’s possible to prevent many common diseases in kissing gouramis by keeping their tank clean, maintaining the correct tank parameters, and quarantining new fish.

Nevertheless, sick kissing gouramis can happen to even the most attentive fish owners. Below are some of the most common conditions.


Ich, also known as white spot disease, is a common parasite in tropical fish like kissing gouramis.

Identifying ich in your gourami is easy, given that they’ll have small salt-like white spots on their body. They also often rub themselves against hard objects in the tank.

Curing ich is time-consuming, given that the parasite only dies at specific points in its life cycle. However, raising the water’s temperature to four degrees, adding aquarium salt, and treating your tank with ich medication can all help eliminate the problem.

Hole in the Head Disease

Hole-in-the-head disease looks terrible but often isn’t as dire as it sounds. It involves small hole-like dents in a kissing gourami’s body, usually exclusively around its head.

The holes come from Hexamita, which is a parasite. Because this parasite has such a slow infection rate, your kissing gourami can often live a long life with it.

Nevertheless, it’s best to treat your fish by using medicine with metronidazole. If you catch this disease in its early stage, your kissing gourami should be able to go on to live a long and healthy life.

Velvet Disease

Velvet disease is another parasitic infection in kissing gouramis caused by the dinoflagellate Amyloodinium. It also goes by the name gold-dust or rust disease, given that it’ll turn your gourami a gold speckled color.

Like all the parasites we’ve covered, kissing gouramis most commonly come down with velvet disease from new, infected tank mates.

You can get rid of it by increasing the water temperature and turning off your aquarium’s light. Treating the water with salt is also effective, and some pet stores sell copper-based medicine, although that can sometimes negatively change the water’s pH.

Fin Rot

Fin rot is a bacterial or fungal infection that most commonly occurs in kissing gouramis living in a dirty tank.

Signs that your gourami has fin rot include frayed, white fins. Their fins might also stick together.

The good news is that fin rot is a curable disease, and if you catch it early, your kissing gourami’s fins will grow back.

If the fin rot on your gourami has a jagged appearance, apply fin rot antibiotics to their water. Otherwise, a fungal medication will do the trick if their fins have holes evenly spread across their flesh.

Kissing Gourami with Dark Blue Background

Potential Tank Mates

Kissing gouramis don’t need tank mates. They don’t even need a companion within their species, although if you want to have two or more kissing gouramis, it’s best to pair only one male with one female.

If you want to spruce up your tank with other fish species, it’s vital to choose fish that are large and can hold their own.

Some of the best tank mates for kissing gouramis include:

Keep in mind that you’ll need to purchase a tank size according to the type and number of fish you want to keep together. The larger the space you offer your kissing gouramis and their tankmates, the smaller the chance you’ll encounter injured fish.