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Sparkling Gourami: A Complete Care Guide

Sparkling Gourami: A Complete Care Guide

Sparkling gouramis are beautiful and unique fish that make fabulous additions to freshwater aquariums if you follow some essential care guidelines. 

Sparkling gourami care is fairly easy, as these hardy fish tolerate a wide range of water parameters. They tend to be peaceful and generally do well in community tanks. For optimal health and appearance, sparkling gouramis need a varied diet and ample space to explore and hide.

This post covers everything you need to know about caring for sparkling gourami. Keep reading to learn more about this extraordinary fish and whether it’s right for your tank. 

Sparkling Gourami Overview & Natural Habitat

  • Common name: Sparkling Gourami
  • Scientific name: Trichopsis pumila
  • Care level: Easy
  • Size: 3 to 4 cm (1.3 to 1.6 in)
  • Life Span: 3-5 years
  • Temperament: Peaceful 
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Group size: 5 or 6
  • Minimum tank size: 10 gallon
  • Water temperature: 71.5–82°F (22–28°C)
  • Water pH: 5.0–8.0
  • Water hardness: 5–16 dKH

Sparkling gourami (scientific name Trichopsis pumila) is a small, freshwater fish native to Southeast Asia. Mostly found in the Mekong River basin in Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam, they prefer living in rice fields, ponds, and other calm waters.  

Also known as the pygmy gourami and sparkling pygmy gourami, these beautiful fish have distinctive color patterns with iridescent scales that add an outstanding sparkle to any freshwater aquarium. They’re also uncommon, making them ideal for creating a more original setup. 

This species belongs to the Anabantiformes order, otherwise called “labyrinth fish.” Fish of this order develop a special breathing organ that allows them to breathe oxygen from the water’s surface.

Sparkling Gourami Appearance & Size

Sparkling gouramis grow to a maximum of 3 to 4 centimeters (1.3 to 1.6 inches), with their fins accounting for about 30% of their total body length. This size may vary slightly based on habitat and diet. 

No two fish appear the same, as each has a unique look. They typically have golden-brown bodies with colorful, iridescent spots, creating particular patterns of green, grey, black, blue, and occasionally white. Their fins often have a dark orange or brown edging. 

All the colors and scales reflect light wonderfully, giving these fish a sparkling appearance as they swim around the tank.

Difference Between Males and Females

It can be tricky at first to distinguish the sex of these fish. Normally, sexually mature males have a more profound color pattern and develop longer fins than females. Sexually mature females are more easily identified by shining a light on them, making the ovaries clearly visible. 

Sparkling Gourami Personality & Behavior

Sparkling gouramis aren’t schooling but prefer small groups of around 5 or 6. They’re mostly peaceful and can be shy at times, especially when first introduced to a new aquarium or if they don’t feel safe. 

Timid behaviors are observed around bigger, aggressive tank mates. However, owners have also noticed hunting and micro-predatorial behaviors aimed at certain smaller species, particularly shrimp. 

Additionally, males are more aggressive with one another as they compete for territory and female attention. For this reason, it’s recommended to keep upwards of 3-4 females for every male

These fish don’t seem to favor any tank layer and can be seen swimming high, low, and all around their habitats. Adults often are seen near the top level using their labyrinth organs to take breaths from the surface. 

Overall, these fish are most active during the day. They typically enjoy swimming through plants and exploring the decor for hiding spots.   

Another fascinating behavior of sparkling gouramis is their ability to make sounds! Croaking noises occur when the fish are mating or happy. Often, you can hear these noises from outside the aquarium. 

Sparkling Gourami Expected Lifespan

Sparkling gouramis have an average lifespan of 3 to 5 years. Yet, they can live even longer in an optimal environment and ideal nutrition. 

Specifically, the tank size, water temperature, and overall diet are the most crucial controllable factors. However, genetics also play a big part in lifespan.

Sparkling Gourami Care & Tank Set Up

Sparkling gouramis are excellent jumpers, so a tight-fitting lid is a top priority. It should leave some space between the waterline so fish can access the water’s surface for oxygen. 

Beyond that, their natural environment is easily replicated. Here are some essential guidelines for optimal sparkling gourami tank setup and care. 

Tank Size

Sparkling gouramis may be small, but they appreciate lots of swimming space. In this case, the bigger the tank, the happier the fish. 

Ideally, sparkling gourami should be kept in tanks of no less than 10 or 15 gallons. Though, they’re tolerant of smaller tanks. 

Keep in mind if you plan to keep larger groups or breed your fish, the tank should be even larger. 

How Many Sparkling Gourami Are Suitable For a 10-Gallon Tank?

One to two sparkling gourami are suitable for a 10-gallon tank. Many fish keepers recommend 10 gallons per fish. So, groups of 3 fish should be kept in a 30-gallon tank, groups of 4 in a 40-gallon tank, and so on. Also, be sure to consider any other species in the tank. 

Water Parameters

With their labyrinth organ, sparkling gourami can live in various environments, including waters with low oxygen levels. They’re hardy and relatively forgiving of water parameters. 

Regardless, proper care is still essential, as sudden changes can result in disease or death. 

Water Temperature, pH, and Hardness

The acceptable water temperature range for sparkling gourami is 71.5–82°F (22–28°C). Ideally, aim to maintain 76–77°F

pH levels from 5.0–8.0 are tolerated but never over 10 or under 4. Neutral levels between 6.0 and 7.0 are best.

These fish are more forgiving when it comes to water hardness, accepting 5–16 dKH to remain happy and healthy. 

Water Current 

Usually, these fish prefer calm currents and can live in poorly oxygenated waters. Their native habitats are slow-moving waters such as irrigation canals, paddy fields, swamp forests, and peat swamps, so low-powered filters are recommended to mimic these environments. 

However, some owners say their sparkling gourami kept in tanks with high-powered filtration don’t appear too bothered.

What To Put In The Tank

Size and water temperature are the most important aspects of a sparkling gourami tank. Beyond this, a few details will complete the ideal setup for these fish. 


Sparkling gouramis aren’t picky about substrate and spend little time near the tank bottom. Aquarists recommend using black or dark-colored substrates to contrast the bright colors and enhance the sparkle of these gorgeous fish. 

If you’re keeping sparkling gourami in a community tank, you should prioritize any substrate needs of other species. 

Ideal Plants and Decorations

Sparkling gouramis love plants and other objects they can hide in and explore. A lack of plants can fail to provide enough comfort and enrichment for these fish, leading to increased stress levels and eventual decline in health. 

They prefer dense vegetation, but not so thick that they can’t reach the surface for oxygen. Some floating plants are fine, but be sure to provide plenty of places for sparking gourami can hide. 

Adding items like pebbles, driftwood, and leaf litter creates a comfortable environment resembling their natural habitats. 

With enough space to explore, you’ll actually see these fish more often with more hiding spots available. Sparkling gourami will feel more comfortable exploring, knowing they can quickly hide whenever needed. 


The best tank setup for sparkling gourami includes low to moderate lighting for about 9-10 hours daily. Choose plants that prefer these lighting requirements and can provide the fish with shade and cover. Use floating plants to help soften stronger light before it reaches the water. 


Sparkling gourami tanks require regular water changes. Optimally, about a quarter of the water should be changed weekly, as health issues can occur in these fish if too much water is changed at once. 

Typically, these fish don’t like rapid water flow, so low-powered filtration is ideal for replicating their native environments.

Sparkling Gourami Tank Mates

One sparkling gourami can do fine on its own, yet these fish do best in groups of 4 or larger

They also get along with other independent or schooling fish of similar size, temperament, and habitat preferences. Yet, since they don’t seem to defend themselves, they’re timid around bigger, more aggressive fish. 

In general, they can live happily among varied tank mates if provided with plenty of plants and objects for hiding

Aquarists and experienced fish-keepers have successfully kept sparkling gourami with the following peaceful freshwater species:

Generally speaking, crustaceans can also be good tank mates. Some good choices include ghost shrimp and nerite snails.

However, they must be peaceful and similar in size to keep sparkling gourami from mistaking them as snacks. Cherry shrimp, for example, are small enough to be at risk of becoming a meal when cohabiting with sparkling gouramis. 

Tank Mates To Avoid

In general, aggressive tank mates should be avoided. This includes notoriously nippy species, such as black tetras and tiger barbs. Sparkling gourami doesn’t cope well with increased stress caused by harassing or otherwise aggressive fish. 

In particular, Betta fish and sparkling gouramis shouldn’t be kept together. Their personalities are too different, and they’ll compete for territory and food. Additionally, male Bettas resemble sparkling gouramis, which confuses the Bettas and leads to them assaulting the gouramis. 

Regardless of species, keep sparkling gourami away from any fry, as they will eat them. Experienced fish-keepers have also noticed sparkling gouramis kept in groups may attack microsized fish and shrimp (particularly Amano and Red Cherry), similar to how sharks swarm their prey. 

Sparkling Gourami Food & Diet

In the wild, sparkling gourami primarily eat small insects and other small invertebrates supplemented by small amounts of algae. As omnivores, they need a diet comprising meat and algae-based foodstuff for adequate nutrition. 

Captive sparkling gourami usually accepts dried food and flakes once recognized as edible. Experienced fish keepers suggest offering live or frozen foods such as Artemia, Daphnia, bloodworms, and shrimp meat to ensure optimal health and appearance. 

It’s recommended to feed sparkling gourami twice to thrice daily. Crush food into bites they can swallow, if necessary.

These small fish have big appetites, and overfeeding them is easy. So, limit quantities to what they can eat in 3-5 minutes.

Breeding Sparkling Gourami

Successfully breeding sparkling gourami requires at least 2 females with only one male per breeding tank. A separate tank or tank divider is also necessary. 

Sparkling gourami breed in the wild during the summer months. So, to encourage breeding, raise the water temperature a few degrees to mimic summer temperatures. Aquarists also suggest lowering the tank’s water level by as much as 6 inches (15 cm).

The male attempts to impress the females by making a bubble nest in a safe location. During this time, he may attempt to keep females away (unaggressively) until it’s done. When the nest is complete, he will swim about, raising his tail and displaying his fins to entice a female over to it. 

The successfully courted female is embraced by the male, and she releases her eggs into the nest. The male then fertilizes the eggs. At this point, remove the female from the tank or use a tank divider to separate her from the eggs. The male guards and cares for the eggs until they hatch and will aggressively attack the female if she approaches the nest. 

Once the eggs hatch, the male must be removed to keep him from eating the fry. The newly hatched babies will be hungry and should be immediately fed. Traditional foods given to the adults like Artemia and plankton are good choices. 

Increase water changes for about a month after the fry hatch. Frequent water changes are crucial for the healthy development of the labyrinth organ, which occurs in the third week of sparkling gourami life.

Sparkling Gourami Common Health Issues

Sparkling gouramis seem to be a bit more resistant to species-specific diseases. When stressed, their immune systems can weaken. Still, they generally remain healthy with a proper diet and comfortable living conditions. 

Still, they’re subject to some common problems affecting most freshwater fish. While typically preventable when water parameters are maintained, sometimes, these diseases are inevitable. Be on the lookout for the following issues, as early detection is the key to successful treatments


Ich, also called white spot disease, is a common parasite affecting many freshwater fish. It appears as small white bumps on the fish’s body, including places like the gills, fins, and mouth. 

Other symptoms include:

  • Rapid breathing
  • Frequent surface breathing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargic behavior
  • Drooping fins
  • Clenched fins
  • Scratching and rubbing against tank glass or decor

The best way to treat ich is to quarantine all fish and use an ich treatment to dose the aquarium water once daily for 3-5 days.  

Fin or Tail Rot

Fin and tail rot are caused by specific bacteria that target and eat fish fins and tails, leaving them shredded and frayed. These are caused by stress, significant water issues, and untreated injuries infected by poor water conditions. 

In addition to torn and jagged fins, affected fish may also display the following symptoms:

  • Weak or lethargic behavior
  • Faded body color
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Loss of appetite

Effective treatment can be as simple as correcting water parameters or adjusting the environment. This includes stress-causing factors such as wrong water temperature, sharp decor, or high-powered filtration. Take any corrective measures necessary.

Medication can also be used to treat fin or tail rot. Make sure to clean the tank as thoroughly as possible before starting medication, as water changes are often discouraged during treatment. 

An effective broad-spectrum antibiotic frequently recommended is erythromycin, though if unavailable, aquarium salt will also work.


Also known as cottonmouth or cotton wool disease, Columnaris is a highly infectious disease caused by bacteria. It often appears in tanks when affected fish are introduced without quarantine or develop in poor water conditions. 

Noticeable symptoms in affected fish include:

  • White or grey fluffy-looking patches of skin
  • Cuts on body, fins, and mouth
  • Lethargic behavior
  • Pale gills
  • Loss of appetite
  • Difficulty swimming

Any fish showing these symptoms should be removed from the aquarium and isolated in a hospital tank. Visit a veterinarian to confirm the diagnosis. The doctor can then prescribe an appropriate antibiotic for the water or, if needed, provide an injectable treatment for your fish.

Are Sparkling Gourami Right For You?

Sparkling gourami is right for larger, heavily planted tanks, with decor providing plenty of hiding places. This fish is rare to see and gets along with a range of tank mates, making it a great choice for those desiring unique aquariums and communities. They also add sparkle and color to the tank.

Thankfully, sparkling gouramis are easily incorporated into many freshwater tanks thanks to their ability to live in a wide range of water parameters. 

Sparkling Gourami FAQs

Are Sparkling Gourami and Shrimp Good Tank Mates?

Sparkling gourami and shrimp generally make good tank mates. However, many have observed issues with these fish and small shrimp, specifically Amano and cherry. Some have noticed chasing and nipping at the shrimp, while others had shrimp disappear, presumably eaten by the fish.

Still, this isn’t seen consistently in every sparkling gourami. Many aquarists believe such behaviors are related to the layout of the tank, the availability of hiding spots, and individual fish personality. 

How Do Sparkling Gouramis Make Noise?

Sparkling gouramis make noise with muscles and tendons in their pectoral fins. As an anabantoid, these fish can stretch their modified tendons and muscles and use them to produce a croaking sound when mating or happy.  

How Many Eggs Does a Female Sparkling Gourami Lay?

A female sparkling gourami lays 10-40 eggs per breeding session. The exact amount tends to vary between individuals, with diet, water conditions, and overall habitat as the most impacting factors. Notably, some varieties of gouramis can lay thousands of eggs at a time.  

Wrapping Up

Sparkling gourami are hardy and beautiful fish that make an excellent addition to a freshwater aquarium. With their vibrant colors and quirky personalities, they will bring life and charm to your aquarium. 

Keeping them happy and healthy is relatively simple, as they are adaptable and easy to care for. Providing a well-planted tank with plenty of hiding spots, space to swim and gentle filtration is key to their happiness and well-being. Remember to offer a varied diet and maintain suitable water parameters.

I’m Elle, the founder of FishHQ. I created this website to share knowledge, tips, and inspiration for beginner hobbyists to help them create a healthy, happy, and vibrant environment for their fish to thrive. Read more...