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Sweeten Up Your Freshwater Tank With The Honey Gourami

Are you a novice fishkeeper looking for an easy new species to raise in your freshwater tank? Even if you have several years of experience raising fish, it can be a daunting task to introduce a new species of fish. After all, you have to consider the temperatures and other water conditions preferred by this new fish, as well as what you will feed it. Even more important is how this new fish will interact with the other creatures in your tank.

Fortunately, the Honey Gourami is a species of fish that erases many of the concerns of aquarium hobbyists by offering an easy-going demeanor and spirited personality. This fish is a great introduction into the world of fishkeeping and is a fantastic choice for novice and expert fishkeepers alike.

Honey Gourami Background

Honey Gourami 1

The Honey Gourami is known by many names, including the Red Honey Gourami, the Sunset Honey Gourami, and the Red Flame Gourami. Known scientifically as Trichogaster chuna, this fish was first discovered in 1822 when males and females of the species were confused for two different species.

Luckily, the initial confusion about this fish species has long since cleared up. The name of Trichogaster is derived from the Greek words for hair and stomach. The name helps to describe the long, thin ventral fins that these fish possess.

When you purchase a Honey Gourami, you can rest at ease knowing that your fish was not harvested from the wild. Most Honey Gouramis are bred commercially, as they have been selectively bred to improve coloration.

In the wild, Honey Gouramis are found in the freshwaters of South Asia. they prefer to live in areas that have dense vegetation, as well as those with slow-moving waters and poor mineral content. They are usually found in lakes, ponds, and rivers, but can even be found in flooded fields or ditches. They are highest in population in countries such as India and Bangladesh.

These fish develop full color only when their natural conditions are met. Therefore, if you are hoping to keep Honey Gourami in captivity and want your fish to express the brightest possible colors, you should do your best to provide these same conditions in your tank as well. Minimize stress and make sure you house your gourami in an appropriately sized tank.

Honey Gouramis are usually found in low altitude areas. They are highly susceptible to swings in temperature or other water conditions, as their behaviors are impacted by seasonal monsoons between June and October in the wild.

Honey Gourami Appearance And Behavior

Honey Gourami 2
Photo by Elizabeth Follow

Honey Gourami are easy going fish that are peaceful in most situations. They are also extremely hardy and can tolerate a wide range of conditions.

These fish are known as benthopelagic. They can inhibit any area of the water column in your tank, but they prefer to swim in the surface and middle portions of the tank. They are somewhat shy and may take a while to adapt to your tank. When you first introduce them, you don’t need to do much to acquaint them with your tank surroundings. Instead, allow them to relax and adapt on their own.

Once your fish have calmed down, the males will begin to show their coloring. They will become incredibly bright and vibrant, and will also become more outgoing as they get used to their fellow tank companions and surroundings.

Honey Gouramis aren’t the most energetic or outgoing fish species you will find, but you can encourage friendly, social behaviors by housing them with several individuals of their own kind. Generally, keeping four to six Honey Gouramis together at a time is recommended.

When kept in a group, Honey Gouramis are interesting fish in that they will establish a hierarchy among the group. The dominant individual will often chase away the other fish during feeding times. Males can even become aggressive toward females, so don’t assume that bullying will only occur among the separate genders.

Providing lots of vegetation can help reduce bullying behavior, and at the very least can provide lots of hiding spaces for those that are being harassed. You can use just about any kind of plant life in your Honey Gourami tank, which we will cover in the next couple of sections.

Otherwise, Honey Gouramis are pretty straightforward in their behaviors. They are unique hunters and feeders because instead of waiting for food to come to them, they will squirt water at their prey. To do this, Honey Gouramis remain close to the surface of the water. They watch closely for prey, and then squirt water at their targets so that they will fall into the water. Once they have landed in the water, the Honey Gourami will gobble up the prey.

Honey Gouramis have unique labyrinth organs that allow them to breathe in waters with poor oxygen content. They are narrow fish with small anal and dorsal fins. Their ventral fins are also narrow, but similar in appearance to threads. These fish are often confused with dwarf gouramis as they have similar names, shapes, and sizes. Familiarizing yourself with the particular characteristic as well as the Latin nomenclature of both separate fish species can help you determine the exact kind of fish you end up bringing home.

Males and females are different colors. When they are born, they are all a silver gray to light yellow, with each possessing a pale brown stripe that moves from beneath the eye all the way to the caudal peduncle.

Although females will keep this same coloration for life, males change as they age and become comfortable in their surroundings. The males will become a bright yellow color (hence the name of the “honey” gourami) or can also become red or orange. The side of the fish with the throat, face, and belly will become a dark blue or even black color, while the main body will remain an orangish shade.

These fish are relatively small, particularly among the other fish in the Trichogaster category. Females will be larger than males, growing up to two inches in size, while the males will only grow up to 1.5 inches. These measurements are merely averages, however – your fish might be much larger or much smaller. The largest recorded Honey Gourami was three inches.

Honey Gourami Tank And Water Requirements

Honey Gourami 3
Photo by Elizabeth

In their natural environment, Honey Gouramis will live in rivers and lakes that have beds comprised mostly of sandy substrate. There may be some rocks and other debris, but since your fish will usually occupy their time in the middle or upper portions of the water column, the substrate is not a top priority when you are setting up your tank.

Instead, you should make sure that your tank is densely planted. Honey Gouramis like lots of vegetation, so you must include lots of live plants so that your fish have a source of food as well as a place to hide.

Otherwise, these fish are extremely hardy and don’t need a lot to be happy. They like warm water and can tolerate minor changes in the conditions of the water. That being said, because Honey Gouramis have labyrinth organs, you need to be careful about changing the temperature too much.

To minimize any shock created by fluctuations in temperature, try to keep the tank in a room that has a temperature that is similar to that of the tank water. Rooms with drafts or those that experience drastic swings in temperature should be avoided at all costs.

If you must place your tank in a drafty room – or in a room that experiences temperature fluctuations – you should install a water heater. The temperature should be held steady between 71 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit. Waters should be slow moving and slightly hard and acidic.

Ideally, your tank should have a pH of around 6.0 to 7.5. Lighting should be moderate, and the water hardness should be maintained between 4 and 15 dGH. Because Honey Gouramis are shy, adding plenty of vegetation and plants can help make your fish feel safe. Plants can also help remove toxins and nitrates from the water.

Floating plants are an ideal option for Honey Gourami tanks, but you will need to keep in mind that some surface co the water should be left uncovered so that your fish are allowed to breathe. These fish will often swim to the surface of the water to gulp air, and you need to give them plenty of room to do so.

In addition, you should not rely on the Honey Gourami to adapt to an unclean tank. Although these fish are resilient and can tolerate just about any kind of water, reducing stress on your Honey Gourami by cleaning the tank and removing toxins will minimize the amount of adoption at your fish needs to do. This, in turn, will reduce the likelihood of it becoming stressed and sick.

Conduct water changes every week, changing out at least 25 percent of the water. You should also install a good method of filtration to prevent toxins from accumulating.

Providing the proper tank size can also help to reduce the likelihood of or eliminate problems. Honey Gouramis should be housed in a tank that is no smaller than ten gallons in volume. Twenty-gallon tanks are recommended for pairs, and whenever you add additional gouramis, you should add an additional five to ten gallons tank space. Remember, these fish are shy and can become stressed when frightened – the more space you can give your fish, the better.

What Do Honey Gouramis Eat?

Honey Gourami 4
Photo by Phil Hayward

In the wild, Honey Gouramis are omnivores. This means that they will eat just about anything they can fit into their mouths! Usually, they will prefer to eat small invertebrates, zooplankton, and insects, by they’ll also chow down on vegetation and plants as well.

When selecting plants for your aquarium, keep this detail in mind – you don’t want to include tons of plants in your freshwater aquarium just to have them munched on by your Honey Gouramis!

Otherwise, there isn’t much you need to consider when deciding how to feed your Honey Gouramis. The best diets will have a core component of a flake or pellet. You can add in other fresh or flake foods. You might consider adding bloodworms, brine shrimp, oven vegetable tables. You can also feed them frozen or fresh bits of vegetables – just make sure they are broken up into small pieces.

As with most other freshwater fish species, you should only feed your Honey Gourami about once or twice per day, only feed enough food that can be eaten with two or three minutes of you putting it in the tank. This will provide you with a good idea of how much your Honey Gouramis need to eat, and will reduce the amount of leftover waste that sinks down to the bottom of your tank and rots.

Honey Gourami Tank Mates

Honey Gourami 5
Photo by Brooke

Honey Gouramis are peaceful, but they are shy. You must think very carefully about the kinds of fish you decide to house with your gouramis in order to minimize any potential stress. Aggressive Or overly active fish, like cichlids of any kind, should be avoided. These fish will compete with your gouramis for food, and can also be an intimidating presence in the tank. The same rule applies for fish like Silver Dollars, large catfish, Oscars, and Pacus.

Because Honey Gouramis will occupy any area of your tank and don’t tend to stick to one particular portion of the water column, finding compatible tank mates that don’t occupy the same areas of the tank can be a bit of a challenge. That being said, you can easily house your Honey Gouramis with peaceful fish like Harlequin Rasboras and Danios. Barbs are usually acceptable matches as well, but you should avoid aggressive fin nippers like Clown Barbs and Tiger Barbs.

You might consider housing your Honey Gourami with small loaches, like the Kuhli Loach or small catfish like Corydoras. You can also raise rainbowfish and snails with your Honey Gouramis. The only other creatures to avoid are shrimp, as these are often considered prey by Honey Gouramis.

As with all other fish species, small individuals are more likely to be bullied. Providing plenty of hiding places and room to swim in the tank – as well as appropriate amounts of food – can help reduce aggression among your fish.

When in doubt, remember that you can always safely keep Honey Gouramis with groups of their own kind. In fact, this is highly recommended. Although Honey Gouramis are not schooling or shoaling species, they like to be with each other and will create a gorgeous pop of color and activity in groups that are larger than four individuals. Try to keep Honey Gouramis in pairs, so that they have someone to swim with.

Common Honey Gourami Diseases

Honey Gouramis are resilient fish, but that does not mean that they are totally immune to all diseases. On the contrary, you need to make sure you take extra steps to ensure that your fish remains healthy in the long term. Fish diseases that normally affect a freshwater tank are also common among Honey Gouramis.

Prevention is the best way of reducing the likelihood of an outbreak of disease. As long as you keep your fish tank clean and tidy, you are less likely to have to worry about different diseases. Try to conduct weekly water changes of at least 25 percent. This will avoid any potential diseases.

One of the most common diseases to affect Honey Gouramis is Velvet disease. This disease is a parasite, Oodinium pilularis, which is common in poorly maintained tanks. This parasite takes up residence in the gills, mouth, and skin of your fish, creating a gold or brown dust over the body and fins of your fish.

You might also discover that your Honey Gourami is infected white spot disease, also known as ich. This is one of the most common issues to affect freshwater fish in general, and Honey Gouramis are no exception. This disease is caused by a parasite and is most common in tanks that do not have good water quality, or otherwise are lacking in some aspect of the tank setup.

Hole in the head disease is another common issue. This disease causes your fish to essentially waste away, and it is caused by invisible parasites that can affect both freshwater and saltwater fish. Providing your fish with a clean tank and a balanced, nutritious diet can help reduce the likelihood of an outbreak of disease.

Remember that any new addition to your tank could be a potential source of contamination. Make sure you clean any materials you add to your tank, like substrate, decorations, or other fish, before introducing them. A lengthy quarantine will be the most effective in reducing problems.

Honey Gouramis are particularly in need of a good quarantine before introducing them to the rest of your tank inhabitants. This is because many gouramis that are bred in the eastern portions of the world have had certain health problems related to hormone treatment and artificial dyeing. You should always quarantine these fish before adding them to an established community as a result.

Breeding And Life Spans Of Honey Gourami

Many people choose to breed Honey Gouramis because doing so is much easier than breeding fish of other species. These fish are unique in that they are bubble nest builders. They will nest under a leaf whenever possible, mating in pairs that are temporarily bonded together.

You should breed your Honey Gouramis in a breeding tank that is roughly 1 to 20 gallons in size. The weather should only be about seven inches in height, and you should maintain a tank temperature of just around 80 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. The pH should be 7.0 and the water hardness should be 8 dGH. You will also want to include a gentler filtration system, like a sponge filter.

Add plenty of vegetation to help stabilize the nest and breeding conditions. The air above the water should be warm, and you should provide food in ample quantities for your breeding fish. Well-fed females will fill out with eggs very quickly.

While the female is developing the eggs, the males will set to work building the bubble nest. He will show his courting colors by swimming around the female and showing off his colors. He will try to convince her to swim back to the nest, and will court her until they have reached the nest and begun to spawn.

The female will release about 20 eggs per spawn, with the male fertilizing them immediately. The male will scoop up the eggs, using his mouth to do so, before depositing them in the nest. Usually, the male and female will engage repeatedly in these behaviors until about 300 eggs are fertilized.

Once spawning has been completed, the female should be taken out of the tank. The male will become too aggressive toward the female, and will care for the eggs and nest in her absence. Eggs hatch within about 36 hours. This depends on water temperature. Once the eggs hatch, you must remove the male from the tank, too.

Fry will take about three days to become free swimming and to leave the nest. You can feed them infusion or other liquid fry food until they are big enough to eat small brine shrimp.

Is A Honey Gourami For You?

Do you like raising fish that are peaceful, colorful, and easygoing? If so, the Honey Gourami could be the perfect choice for you. This fish is an ideal species for beginning fish keepers, as it is resilient to most minor mistakes in fishkeeping and can get by quite well with minimal tank modifications.

Preferring tanks with warm waters and plenty of vegetation, the Honey Gourami is a gorgeous fish that can adapt easily to any setting. If you are looking for a sweet, mild-mannered fish that is also easy to care for, the Honey Gourami is the perfect choice for you and your freshwater tank.

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