The Best Friends To Keep Your Gourami Company

Who doesn’t love the colorful gourami? There are many beautiful versions of gouramis out there, with different topics and variants in just about every color you can imagine. A labyrinth fish, this fish is both unique and an aquarium classic. It is very popular, yet is often added to community tanks without thought. Although these fish are relatively friendly, adding a gourami to an inappropriate tank for its needs and behaviors can be a bad choice.

However, there are plenty of fish that you can safely include in a gourami tank – it’s all a matter of knowing which fish will be best-suited to this kind of environment, and to being a tank mate to a gourami.


The best tank mates for your gouramis will be those that offer similar behaviors, feeding requirements, and water parameter. Not sure where to start? Here are our best recommendations for the greatest friend for your new gourami.

What Should I Look For In A Gourami Tank Mate?

Gourami 1
Photo by Graustark

Interested in keeping gouramis in a community tank? Here’s everything you know in order to avoid problems and to provide your gourami with the best possible environment.

First, remember that gouramis, like other labyrinth fish, tend to be quite shy. They may become stressed if you decide to house them with overactive tank mates. In Addition, they aren’t as likely to assert themselves against aggressive fish or those who like to nip at fins. Fish who are hyperactive or overly aggressive, as a result, should be avoided.

Gouramis, on the flip side, do have a tendency to be somewhat predatory. While they might go after small fish, you usually can get by with keeping similar-sized fish the aquarium, as longa s they don’t have long fins. Gouramis will go after any fish that are small enough to fit in their mouths as well as those who have fins that they can nip.

Not all gouramis are built alike, however, and not all offer identical behaviors. There are some variants that are very vicious while others are extremely shy. Make sure you research the specific type of gourami you have before deciding which fish you can combine it within your aquarium.

Most gouramis are very adaptable, largely because they are commercially bred and can adapt to a wide variety of water parameters. In the wild, gouramis are native to soft, acidic waters- as a result, you will need similar values in your aquarium and you will need to raise fish that prefer the same standards.

Finally, considerate appearance of your aquarium. The gourami’s natural habitat will have plenty of gentle streams and ponds, particularly those with minimal water flow, lots of vegetation, and dark water. These fish are adaptable and like a similar environment to their wild habitat in the aquarium.

What Are The Best Tank Mates For Gouramis?

Gourami 2
Photo by Alexio’s pics

Trying to figure out the best new friends for your gourami fish? You’re not in this salon. We’re here to tell you the best tank mates you can find for your gourami.

1 Panda Corydoras

Panda Corydoras
Photo by Sergiu Ciubotariu

Ah, the panda corydoras! This is a fish that is absolutely lovely to raise. One of many species in the order family, this armored catfish is peaceful yet also can defend itself against more aggressive fish. It’s also quite active and fun to observe. This fish won’t interact often with your gouramis, as it will prefer to hang out at the bottom of your tank. It prefers similar water parameters ands should be kept in a tank of around fifteen gallons or so.

Panda corydoras have lovely white and black patterns and remain relatively small. You won’t need a large tank but you will want to include a sandy substrate, as this fish enjoys rooting around in the substrate for food.

2 Kuhli Loach

Kuhli Loach

The kuhli loach is one of the most bizarre fish species you can raise, looking somewhat like an eel instead of a true fish. This creature is elongated and nocturnal – as a result, it will spend most of its time hiding in the nooks and crannies they are able to uncover in your tank. These reclusive fish are far from boring – they are quite social and do well when housed in groups of eight or more of their own kind.

During the day, kuhli loaches will stay holed up in their hiding spots. At night, however, their activity level will rise considerably and they’ll spend time starting all over the tank. As a result, many aquarium hobbyists install moonlights so that they can see them better.

As bottom feeder fish, kuhli loaches love sinking pellets. This will allow them to consume full meals before the hungry, opportunistic gouramis eat all the snacks.

3 Bristlenose Pleco

The Ultimate Guide To Caring For And Keeping Bristlenose Pleco 1
Photo by Jonathan “Howie” Howard

There are dozens of different types of plecostomus catfish out there. One of the most popular is the bristlenose plecos. This fish does well with timid fish, spending very little time swimming around the tank and preferring instead to sit on the bottom or remain attached to the glass

This fish rarely grows larger than five inches, but is still not a good option for a small aquarium. You will want a tank that is at least 30 gallons in size. It produces a lot of waste, and while it is a messy eater, it is nonetheless a great tankmate for most large gourami species.

4 Dwarf Crayfish

Dwarf Crayfish
Photo by janosh

Dwarf crayfish are also popular choices for the gourami tank. These creatures occupy a different level of the water column that gouramis do, so as bottom feeders, they aren’t likely to encounter your dwarf catfish that often. Even if the two species do interact, there’s not much to worry about – both can stand their ground against an attack.

Otherwise, just make sure there are lots of little hiding spots in your aquarium to help your dwarf crayfish feel protected. It’s also not a bad idea to provide some leaf litter, which will help your gourami feel right at home, too.

5 Cherry Barb

Cherry Barb

One of the best barb species for keeping with a gourami is the cherry barb. Whereas some barbs do not get along well with gouramis, since they can be energetic and nippy, cherry barbs are both attractive and easy going, making them a great choice for your gourami tank.

These fish have similar preferences as gouramis when it comes to water values, although they are easily adaptable and can acclimate to a wide variety of conditions. As schooling fish, you will have the best opportunity to see natural behaviors and colors when your cherry barbs are housed in groups of at least eight.

6 Pygmy Corydoras

Pygmy Corydoras
Photo by Antje

Another excellent corydoras on our list is the pygmy corydoras. Also referred to as the pygmy Cory, this fish is much smaller than other corydoras catfish and is an awesome choice if you are looking for a fish to liven up your aquarium.

The pygmy corydoras has active behaviors that add movement and entertainment to your tank. Your gouramis won’t mind having them around, either, as they are bottom feeders who will mostly stay out of your gourami’s way.

Pygmy corydoras should be kept in large groups – no smaller than ten individuals. Otherwise, these shy fish will stick to their hiding spots and will rarely come out. You will want to include plenty of cover such as driftwood, caves, and rock formations, too.

7 Ember Tetra

Ember Tetra 2
Photo by Peter Maguire

The ember tetra is an awesome choice if you are looking for the perfect spices to liven up your aquarium and to add a pop of vibrant color. Gouramis don’t mind this schooling fish, as long as you pick individuals that are not overly active. Ember tetras like waters that are soft, dark, and filled with plants.

You should keep your ember tetra with at least eight of its own kind – ideally, even more than this. A large group of ember tetras will exhibit some of the most interesting and exquisite natural behaviors – you may even see some spawning without you having to do anything at all! Just keep an eye on the fry and provide them with lots of cover so that they aren’t eaten by your gouramis.

8 Otocinclus Catfish

Otocinclus Catfish

Otocinclus catfish, also known as oto catfish, are favorite species among aquarium hobbyists because they are not only easy going, but they also do a fantastic job at eating algae. These fish combine well with the shy gourami, and while they can be fragile, it’s not too difficult for novice fishkeepers to get the hang of raising these fish.

As excellent algae eaters, the fish are often overlooked at feeding time by some novice fishkeepers because they think they won’t need extra food with all the algae they eat. However, most aquariums are kept too clean for an oto catfish to live off a diet of algae alone, so you will want to add algae wafers and blanched vegetables like zucchini. Keep your oto catfish in a tank of at least 10 gallons in volume.

9 Mystery Snail

Photo by Bret Salmons

There’s nothing mysterious about keeping the mystery snail with the gourami – in fact, it’s a fantastic idea! These snails are far from boring and they are awesome choices for your gourami tank. Mystery snails will remain small and will usually leave your plants alone.

A peaceful species, they are large enough to withstand aggression on the part of your gourami and they’ll even help keep your aquarium clean by eating up leftover foods. They can be found in a variety of colors, including blue, white, purple, and yellow.

10 Amano Shrimp

Amano Shrimp 6

Amano shrimp are also easy to keep species. These creatures are invertebrates that are large enough to be kept with gouramis because their size prevents them from being nipped or nibbled at. These shrimp are not terribly assertive but have a major appetite for algae.

You can feed these creatures almost entirely on algae alone, but it’s a good idea to include other foods, too, particularly if you have a crowded tank. You might want to include lots of vegetable-based foods like algae wafers, actual algae, or even blanched spinach. These invertebrates don’t generally reproduce unless they are in a brackish environment.

11 Harlequin Rasbora

Harlequin Rasboras

Harlequin rasboras are also excellent choices for community aquariums with gouramis. These fish don’t need large aquariums despite being quite active and social. As colorful schooling fish, harlequin rasboras like to be kept with others of their own kind.

Otherwise, these fish are not complicate to raise. Attempt to replicate the natural habitat by including low lighting, lots of live plants, and a mild water current. You Might want to consider using low-light plants such as java fern, which is not only easy to grow but also requires minimal lighting.

12 Glowlight Tetra

Glowlight Tetra
Photo by H080

The glowlight tetra is one of the most vividly colored fish species you can keep in your aquarium. It is a peaceful schooling fish that offers gorgeous colors and while it’s less vibrant than the neon tetra, it still is lovely to look at. Your gourami is not likely to see it as a rival and it also likes similar water conditions, preferring some vegetation and mildly acidic waters. These fish don’t lose a ton of light and do well when raised in a tank with lots of floating plants.

Glowlight tetras should be kept in a school. Schooling fish like these will have more active behaviors and gorgeous colors when housed with others of their own kind. Shoot for a group of at least eight fish (ideally more) to give you the best shot at observing some of these natural behaviors. Glowlight tetras won’t crowd your gouramis, even when in a school, because they occupy another water layer.


Photo by Geoff Holden

In most cases, you can keep guppies with your gouramis – however you need to keep size in mind. If you are raising dwarf gouramis, you should have no problem keeping guppies in your tank. However, if you have a larger gourami, proceed with caution and make sure you don’t have a gourami that will eat your fragile, tiny guppies.

Otherwise, you’re goo dot go – most guppies are best kept in pairs. They have long, flowing tails, though -so keep an eye on your gouramis to make sure no fin-nipping occurs.

Other Gouramis

Gourami 4
Photo by WabbyTwaxx

Your final option when selecting tank mates for your gouramis? Other gouramis! There are tons of different gourami species out there, meaning you’ll have a lot to choose from. Some types of gouramis actually prefer to be housed in small groups instead of in pairs or by themselves. Just make sure there are several females for every male to prevent fighting and territorial issues

If you choose to keep multiple types of gouramis, keep this in mind – most will need at least 10 to 20 gallons in order to be happy. While sparkling gouramis, dwarf gouramis, and pearl gouramis tend to hang out at the top of the water column, other fish might occupy separate areas of the tank. Make sure you pay attention to the potential size and preferred swimming area of your individual gourami to make sure it has enough room in your tank.

Is a Gourami Right for Me?

Those aren’t the only tank mates that can peacefully coexist with your gourami! Some other options to consider include mollies, swordtails, platies, danios, and more. Which one will you choose?

If you already have an established fish tank with some of the species we mentioned, then raising a gourami might be a good choice for you. These fish are great companions for your shy gourami, offering friendly demeanor, active behaviors, and the most gorgeous appearances of them all.

So what are you waiting for? Give your gourami some friends by adding some of these lovely fish to your gourami aquarium.

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