Sparkling Gourami Care Guide

Sparkling Gourami


The Sparkling Gourami (Trichopsis pumila) is a small and fascinating fish species native to Southeast Asia. With its unique characteristics and captivating features, it has become highly sought after in the aquarium hobby.

One of the most remarkable traits of the Sparkling Gourami is its iridescent scales. When light hits their bodies, these scales produce a mesmerizing shimmer, adding an element of elegance and beauty to any aquarium.

Male Sparkling Gouramis have longer fins, which contribute to their graceful appearance. During courtship, these elongated fins create a striking display, showcasing the male’s readiness to breed.

Both male and female Sparkling Gouramis exhibit vertical stripes along their bodies. These stripes become more prominent when they are stressed or during courtship, adding a dynamic and visually interesting element to their appearance.

Another fascinating aspect of the Sparkling Gourami is its ability to breathe atmospheric air. Like other gourami species, it possesses a labyrinth organ that allows it to extract oxygen from the air above the water’s surface. This adaptation enables the fish to survive in oxygen-deprived environments and occasionally breathe directly from the air.

Known for their peaceful and docile nature, Sparkling Gouramis are compatible with other small, non-aggressive fish species. They contribute to a harmonious tank environment, making them an excellent choice for community aquariums.

In summary, the Sparkling Gourami’s unique characteristics, including its shimmering scales, elongated fins, ability to breathe atmospheric air, and peaceful temperament, make it a captivating and sought-after addition to aquariums around the world.

Summary Table

Common NameSparkling Gourami
Scientific NameTrichopsis pumila
Origin / DistributionSoutheast Asia (Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia)
SizeUp to 1.5 inches (3.8 cm)
Aquarium SizeMinimum 10 gallons (38 liters)
Water ParametersTemperature: 76-82°F (24-28°C), pH: 6.0-7.5, Hardness: 5-15 dGH
Feeding FrequencyOnce or twice daily
TemperamentPeaceful and shy
TankmatesCompatible with small, peaceful fish (tetras, rasboras, small catfish), avoid aggressive or larger species
BreedingMales build bubble nests at the water surface, male guards the nest and cares for eggs and fry
Lifespan3-4 years
Care LevelBeginner-friendly
Unique Features / AppearanceIridescent scales, shimmering coloration, longer fins in males, vertical stripes during stress or courtship
Conservation StatusNot evaluated (NE) on the IUCN Red List
Additional NotesLabyrinth fish, appreciate floating plants, calm lighting, best kept in small groups


  • Common Name: Sparkling Gourami
  • Scientific Name: Trichopsis pumila
  • Family: Osphronemidae
  • Order: Perciformes

The Sparkling Gourami, scientifically known as Trichopsis pumila, belongs to the family Osphronemidae within the order Perciformes. Its common name, Sparkling Gourami, reflects its shimmering appearance and is widely used to refer to this captivating fish species.

Natural Habitat & Distribution

The Sparkling Gourami (Trichopsis pumila) is naturally found in Southeast Asia. It has a wide geographical range that includes countries such as Thailand, Indonesia, and Malaysia.

In the wild, Sparkling Gouramis inhabit various types of environments. They are typically found in slow-moving or stagnant waters, including rice paddies, swamps, shallow streams, and still ponds. These habitats often have dense vegetation, submerged plants, and floating vegetation, providing the fish with ample hiding places and shelter.

The Sparkling Gourami is well adapted to its natural habitat, where it can thrive in warm and tropical climates. Its ability to breathe atmospheric air using its labyrinth organ allows it to survive in oxygen-deprived environments, such as shallow waters or areas with low water circulation.

The geographical range and adaptable nature of the Sparkling Gourami reflect its ability to inhabit diverse aquatic environments in Southeast Asia.

Physical Appearance

The Sparkling Gourami (Trichopsis pumila) displays distinctive characteristics that contribute to its captivating beauty.


As adults, Sparkling Gouramis typically reach a size of up to 1.5 inches (3.8 cm) in length, making them a small-sized fish species.

Coloration and Patterns

The Sparkling Gourami exhibits a stunning array of colors and patterns. Its body is typically adorned with a base coloration that ranges from pale blue or greenish to golden or yellowish. The scales have an iridescent quality, creating a shimmering effect when light reflects off them.

In addition to the base color, Sparkling Gouramis often display vertical stripes that can vary in intensity and prominence. These stripes become more pronounced during times of stress or courtship.

Body Shape and Fin Structures

The body of the Sparkling Gourami is elongated and slender, with a streamlined shape. It has a somewhat compressed profile, especially towards the rear portion of the body.

The fins of the Sparkling Gourami are relatively small compared to its body size. The dorsal fin, located on the back, is positioned towards the posterior part of the body. The anal fin, located on the ventral side, is relatively long and runs along the belly.

Sexual Dimorphism

Sexual dimorphism, or the physical differences between males and females, is observable in Sparkling Gouramis. Males typically have longer and more elaborate fins compared to females. The dorsal and anal fins of the males are extended, showcasing their elongated and flowing appearance. In contrast, females have shorter and less extravagant fins.

Apart from the differences in fin structures, males may also display more intense coloration and brighter patterns compared to females, especially during breeding or when exhibiting courtship behavior.

The combination of their small size, iridescent scales, intricate color patterns, and distinct sexual dimorphism makes the Sparkling Gourami a visually captivating fish species that adds a touch of elegance to any aquarium.

Behavior & Temperament

The Sparkling Gourami (Trichopsis pumila) exhibits specific behavior and temperament traits that contribute to its compatibility in community aquariums.

General Behavior

Sparkling Gouramis are known for their peaceful and shy nature. They are generally non-aggressive fish that prefer a calm and tranquil environment. These gouramis spend much of their time exploring their surroundings, often seeking shelter among plants or other hiding spots. They are not territorial and rarely display aggressive behavior towards tankmates.

Social Interactions with Other Fish

Sparkling Gouramis are social fish and often prefer the company of their own species. Keeping them in small groups of 4-6 individuals can help reduce stress and promote natural behavior. In the wild, they form loose schools, and having companionship in the aquarium can make them feel more secure. They will often swim and interact peacefully with their conspecifics, creating a harmonious dynamic within the group.

Suitable Tankmates

Sparkling Gouramis are compatible with other small and peaceful fish species. Good tankmates include small tetras (e.g., Neon Tetras, Ember Tetras), peaceful rasboras (e.g., Harlequin Rasboras, Chili Rasboras), small catfish (e.g., Corydoras species), and other non-aggressive gouramis. It’s important to avoid keeping them with larger or aggressive fish that may intimidate or harass them. Fast-moving or nippy fish can also cause stress to the Sparkling Gouramis, so it’s best to select calm and gentle tankmates.

Creating a well-planted aquarium with plenty of hiding places, such as dense vegetation or driftwood, is beneficial for the Sparkling Gouramis. They appreciate the security and feel more at ease when provided with such environments. Additionally, maintaining a calm and subdued lighting setup can further enhance their comfort and well-being.

Understanding the peaceful and social nature of Sparkling Gouramis allows for appropriate tankmate selection, creating a harmonious community aquarium where all inhabitants can thrive.

Aquarium Requirements

Properly meeting the aquarium requirements is crucial for the health and well-being of Sparkling Gouramis (Trichopsis pumila). Here are the key considerations:

Minimum Tank Size

A minimum tank size of 10 gallons (38 liters) is recommended for a small group of Sparkling Gouramis. Providing them with adequate swimming space and territory is essential for their comfort and overall happiness.

Water Parameters

  • Temperature: Maintain the water temperature between 76-82°F (24-28°C) to replicate the warm tropical conditions they are accustomed to in their natural habitat.
  • pH Level: Keep the pH level slightly acidic to slightly alkaline, ideally ranging from 6.0 to 7.5.
  • Hardness: The water hardness should be within the range of 5-15 dGH (degree of general hardness).

Filtration and Aeration Needs

A reliable filtration system is essential to maintain water quality and ensure proper circulation. Sparkling Gouramis appreciate gentle water flow, so choosing a filter with adjustable flow settings is beneficial. Additionally, providing aeration through air stones or gentle surface agitation helps oxygenate the water, supporting the well-being of the fish.

Substrate Preferences

The Sparkling Gourami doesn’t have specific substrate preferences. A fine-grained substrate, such as sand or smooth gravel, is suitable for them. Avoid using rough or sharp-edged substrates to prevent any injuries to their delicate fins or barbels.

Lighting Requirements

Sparkling Gouramis prefer subdued or dim lighting conditions. Utilizing floating plants or adding floating decorations can help diffuse the light and create shaded areas in the aquarium. The presence of plants and hiding spots also helps reduce stress and provides a more natural environment for the fish.

Decorations and Hiding Places

Providing ample hiding places and decorations is essential for the well-being of Sparkling Gouramis. Dense vegetation, such as live or artificial plants, floating plants, and driftwood, offers them security and shelter. Adding caves, small caves, or tunnels created from decorations or rock formations also gives them hiding spots to retreat to when needed.

Meeting these aquarium requirements ensures a suitable and comfortable habitat for Sparkling Gouramis, promoting their overall health and allowing them to exhibit their natural behaviors.

Diet & Feeding

Proper nutrition is vital for the health and vitality of Sparkling Gouramis (Trichopsis pumila). Here’s what you need to know about their diet and feeding requirements:

Type of Diet

Sparkling Gouramis are omnivores, meaning they consume a combination of plant matter and small aquatic organisms. In the wild, they primarily feed on small insects, zooplankton, and microorganisms found in their natural habitat. In the aquarium, they can thrive on a varied diet that includes both live and prepared foods.

Their diet should consist of high-quality flake or pellet food designed for small tropical fish. Additionally, supplementing their diet with small live or frozen foods like brine shrimp, daphnia, bloodworms, or microworms provides essential nutrients and helps replicate their natural feeding behavior.

Feeding Frequency

Feed Sparkling Gouramis small amounts of food two to three times a day. This feeding schedule allows them to consume their meal within a few minutes while preventing overfeeding and maintaining good water quality in the aquarium.

Tips for Providing a Balanced and Varied Diet

To ensure a balanced and varied diet for Sparkling Gouramis, consider the following tips:

  1. Offer a mix of dry and live/frozen foods to provide essential nutrients and stimulate their natural foraging instincts.
  2. Rotate between different types of prepared foods, such as flakes, pellets, and granules, to provide dietary variety.
  3. Supplement their diet with small live or frozen foods to offer enrichment and mimic their natural feeding behavior.
  4. Incorporate high-quality vegetable matter, such as spirulina-based flakes or blanched vegetables like spinach or lettuce, to meet their plant-based nutritional needs.
  5. Consider occasional treats like small pieces of fruit (e.g., mashed banana) or small live insects (e.g., fruit flies) to provide additional dietary stimulation.

Remember to monitor their feeding habits and adjust the amount of food accordingly. Overfeeding can lead to poor water quality and health issues, so it’s essential to provide them with appropriate portion sizes.

Tank Mates

When selecting tank mates for Sparkling Gouramis (Trichopsis pumila), it’s important to consider their peaceful nature and specific compatibility requirements. Here are some guidelines for choosing suitable tank mates and creating a harmonious community tank:

Compatible Species

  • Small Tetras: Neon Tetras, Ember Tetras, Glowlight Tetras
  • Peaceful Rasboras: Harlequin Rasboras, Chili Rasboras, Lambchop Rasboras
  • Small Catfish: Corydoras species, Otocinclus catfish
  • Other Non-Aggressive Gouramis: Dwarf Gouramis, Honey Gouramis, Sparkling Gourami (conspecifics)

These species share similar peaceful temperaments and can coexist comfortably with Sparkling Gouramis. They generally occupy different areas of the tank and do not pose a threat to each other.

Incompatible or Potentially Problematic Species

  • Aggressive or Nippy Fish: Avoid aggressive or fin-nipping species, as they can stress or harm the Sparkling Gouramis. Examples include Cichlids, larger Barbs, and aggressive Danio species.
  • Fast-Moving or Boisterous Fish: Highly active and fast-moving species may intimidate or outcompete the Sparkling Gouramis for food and resources. Avoid species such as larger Danios or some Rainbowfish species.

Recommendations for Creating a Harmonious Community Tank

To promote harmony in the community tank, consider the following recommendations:

  • Provide Sufficient Space: Ensure the tank is large enough to accommodate the needs of all the fish. Overcrowding can lead to stress and territorial behavior.
  • Create Hiding Places: Include plenty of hiding spots, such as plants, driftwood, or decorations. These hiding places offer security and retreats for the Sparkling Gouramis and other tank mates.
  • Consider Schooling Species: Adding small schooling fish can help distribute aggression and provide a more natural environment for the Sparkling Gouramis.
  • Monitor Tank Dynamics: Observe the interactions between tank mates and be prepared to make adjustments if any aggression or compatibility issues arise. Provide extra hiding spots or consider rehoming problematic fish if necessary.


Breeding Sparkling Gouramis (Trichopsis pumila) can be a fascinating and rewarding experience. Here’s what you need to know about their breeding behavior, ideal breeding conditions, and caring for the fry (offspring):

Breeding Behavior

Sparkling Gouramis exhibit interesting breeding behaviors. The male constructs a bubble nest at the water’s surface using bubbles created by blowing air. Once the nest is ready, the male entices the female to spawn by displaying vibrant colors, flaring fins, and performing courtship rituals.

During spawning, the male wraps his body around the female, prompting her to release eggs that are then fertilized externally. The male collects the eggs and places them in the bubble nest for protection. After spawning, the female should be removed from the breeding tank to prevent her from eating the eggs.

Ideal Breeding Conditions

To encourage breeding, provide the following ideal conditions:

  • Separate Breeding Tank: Set up a separate breeding tank to isolate the pair and maintain optimal conditions. A smaller tank of around 10-20 gallons (38-76 liters) works well.
  • Warm Water Temperature: Maintain a slightly higher water temperature around 80-82°F (27-28°C) to stimulate breeding behavior.
  • Gentle Water Flow: Keep the water flow gentle to prevent damage to the bubble nest. Adjust the filter or use a sponge filter to minimize water movement.
  • Floating Plants: Include floating plants, such as Indian Almond Leaves, Java Moss, or Salvinia, to provide cover and support the bubble nest.
  • Dim Lighting: Use subdued lighting or provide shaded areas to create a more intimate and secluded environment.

Raising Fry and Specific Care Requirements

After spawning, the male diligently guards the bubble nest and cares for the eggs and fry. The eggs hatch within 24-48 hours, and the fry remain in the bubble nest for several more days until they become free-swimming.

During this period, ensure the following care requirements are met:

  • Maintain Water Quality: Monitor and maintain excellent water quality in the breeding tank to support the health and development of the fry.
  • Provide Infusoria or Fry Food: Initially, feed the fry infusoria or specialized fry food in powdered or liquid form. As they grow, transition to small live foods such as baby brine shrimp or microworms.
  • Gradual Introduction of Other Foods: Introduce finely crushed flakes or pellets once the fry are large enough to consume them.
  • Remove Male after Fry Become Independent: Once the fry become independent and no longer rely on the male’s care, remove him from the tank to prevent any aggression towards the fry.

Raising fry requires attentiveness, careful feeding, and maintaining suitable water conditions. As they grow, the fry will develop their vibrant colors and exhibit behaviors similar to adult Sparkling Gouramis.

Health & Disease

Maintaining the health of Sparkling Gouramis (Trichopsis pumila) is crucial for their well-being. Here are common diseases, their symptoms, and strategies for prevention and treatment:

Common Diseases and Symptoms

  1. Ich (Ichthyophthirius multifiliis): Symptoms include white spots resembling grains of salt on the fish’s body, fins, and gills. The fish may also display signs of itching, flashing, and lethargy.
  2. Fin Rot: Fin rot is characterized by fraying or disintegration of the fins. The affected areas may appear ragged or discolored, and the fins may shrink or become shorter.
  3. Velvet (Oodinium): Velvet disease causes a golden or yellowish dust-like appearance on the fish’s skin. Infected fish may exhibit rapid breathing, scratching against objects, and lethargy.
  4. Dropsy: Dropsy is a condition characterized by swelling of the fish’s body, causing a bloated appearance. Other symptoms include raised scales, protruding eyes, and loss of appetite.

Prevention and Treatment Strategies

  • Maintain Excellent Water Quality: Regularly test the water parameters and ensure appropriate filtration, water changes, and maintenance routines to provide a clean and healthy environment.
  • Quarantine New Fish: Before introducing new fish to the tank, quarantine them in a separate tank for observation and to prevent the spread of diseases.
  • Proper Nutrition: Provide a balanced and varied diet to boost the fish’s immune system and overall health.
  • Stress Reduction: Minimize stress factors such as sudden changes in water parameters, overcrowding, and aggressive tankmates.
  • Medications: Follow appropriate medication protocols to treat specific diseases. Consult with a veterinarian or aquatic specialist for guidance on selecting and administering medications.

If you suspect a disease in your Sparkling Gouramis, it is recommended to promptly isolate the affected fish and seek appropriate treatment. It’s important to note that prevention is key, and maintaining a healthy and stress-free environment goes a long way in keeping your fish disease-free.

Care Level

The care level for Sparkling Gouramis (Trichopsis pumila) can be classified as beginner-friendly. Here’s an overview of their care requirements and any special considerations:

Difficulty of Care

Sparkling Gouramis are well-suited for beginners in the aquarium hobby. They are generally hardy fish and can adapt to a range of water conditions. Their peaceful nature and compatibility with a variety of tankmates make them relatively easy to care for.

Special Considerations or Requirements

While Sparkling Gouramis are beginner-friendly, there are a few special considerations to keep in mind:

  1. Water Parameters: Although they are adaptable, it’s important to maintain stable water parameters within the recommended range. Regular monitoring of temperature, pH, and hardness is essential to ensure optimal health and well-being.
  2. Floating Plants and Hiding Spots: Providing floating plants and ample hiding places, such as live or artificial vegetation, driftwood, or caves, is beneficial for Sparkling Gouramis. These features offer them security and comfort.
  3. Peaceful Tankmates: Selecting compatible and peaceful tankmates is crucial for the well-being of Sparkling Gouramis. Avoid aggressive or larger fish that may intimidate or harass them. Opt for small, non-aggressive species that share similar water parameter requirements.

By meeting these considerations, beginner aquarists can successfully care for Sparkling Gouramis and create an aesthetically pleasing and harmonious aquarium environment.

Conservation Status

The conservation status of Sparkling Gouramis (Trichopsis pumila) according to the IUCN Red List or other sources is not evaluated (NE). This means that there is currently no specific assessment available regarding their conservation status in the wild.

However, it is important to note that habitat destruction and water pollution, which are common threats to many aquatic species, can impact the populations of Sparkling Gouramis and other fish in their native range. Preserving their natural habitats and maintaining water quality are essential for their long-term survival.

Legal Restrictions on Keeping the Species in Captivity

The legality of keeping Sparkling Gouramis in captivity may vary depending on local regulations and the source of the fish. It is advisable to research and comply with any relevant laws or restrictions in your specific location before acquiring and keeping Sparkling Gouramis or any other fish species.

Ensure that the fish are obtained from reputable sources that follow ethical and sustainable practices, such as captive breeding programs, to support conservation efforts and reduce the impact on wild populations.

By staying informed about legal restrictions and supporting responsible practices, aquarium enthusiasts can contribute to the conservation of fish species like the Sparkling Gourami and promote sustainable practices within the hobby.

Additional Information & Fun Facts

Here are some interesting facts and trivia about Sparkling Gouramis (Trichopsis pumila) and anecdotes from aquarium hobbyists:

  • Labyrinth Organ: Sparkling Gouramis, like other gourami species, possess a specialized labyrinth organ. This unique adaptation allows them to breathe atmospheric air, enabling them to survive in oxygen-deprived environments or even take occasional breaths directly from the water’s surface.
  • Bubble Nest Builders: Male Sparkling Gouramis are known for their bubble nest building behavior. Using bubbles created by blowing air, they construct intricate nests at the water’s surface to protect and incubate their eggs. This fascinating behavior showcases their dedication to reproduction.
  • Shimmering Colors: The iridescent scales of Sparkling Gouramis give them a stunning appearance. When light hits their bodies, they exhibit a shimmering effect, creating a visually captivating display in the aquarium.
  • Shy and Peaceful Nature: Sparkling Gouramis are generally shy and peaceful fish. They may prefer calm and tranquil environments, appreciating the presence of hiding places and vegetation to feel secure.
  • Community Tank Charmers: Many aquarium hobbyists find Sparkling Gouramis to be charming additions to community tanks. Their peaceful nature and compatibility with various fish species make them excellent choices for aquarists seeking a harmonious and visually appealing setup.
  • Personal Experiences: Hobbyists often share anecdotes about the charming behaviors of Sparkling Gouramis. Some describe how the males diligently care for their bubble nests, while others note their peaceful interactions with other tank mates, creating a serene and tranquil atmosphere in the aquarium.

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