Kissing gourami

Kissing gouramis (Helostoma temminkii) are medium-sized, tropical freshwater fish. They belong to the Helostomatidae family and originate from Southeast Asia, where they are mainly bred in pond farms.

In this country the kissing gourami is very popular as an aquarium fish.

  • Latin name: Helostoma temminkii
  • Suborder: Labyrinth fish
  • Family: Helostomatidae
  • Origin: South East Asia (including Thailand, Vietnam, Sumatra, Malaysia)
  • Size: 15 to 30 cm
  • Life expectancy: average 7 years, maximum 25 years

What distinguishes the kissing gourami?

Responsible for the great popularity of this fish is mainly its courtship behavior.

During courtship, it can be observed how it apparently kisses conspecifics and other fish in its habitat. What looks like a kiss from a human perspective is part of a nice looking fight with other superficially male fish. There is no need to worry, as there is no risk of injury to the fish in this behaviour.

Videocredit: © Marion Jendrecki / Kissing Guramis

A special feature of these fishes is the labyrinth organ. It serves them to absorb oxygen from the air and enables them to survive in waters with low oxygen content. They cover part of their oxygen requirement by swimming to the water surface to breathe in. For this reason it is elementary to give them the possibility to breathe at the water surface.

The appearance of Kissing Guramis

The kissing gourami can grow up to 30 centimetres long. Specimens native to aquariums usually remain much smaller. The body is almost oval and strongly squatted at the sides. Along the flanks of the body a multitude of narrow longitudinal stripes can be seen.

The head tapers forward and ends in the full lips. These are equipped with small, movable teeth. It also has large eyes and fins, which are coloured or colourless in its body colour.

There are three colour variants of this fish. The play of colours ranges from pale pink to shimmering silver and green-pink.

The pink variation does not occur regularly in nature and is the result of reduced pigmentation. This characteristic was selectively bred for the trade with ornamental fish due to the colour preference of the owners.

Housing conditions

  • sufficiently large (300 litres) pool, which offers space for swimming
  • Planting the aquarium with robust plants
  • Cover the aquarium to avoid cold draughts on the surface
  • keep in a group of at least five animals
  • suitable for socialization are e.g. barbels and bearblings
  • Keeping is only recommended for experienced aquarists

Gender differences

Both sexes of kissing guramis look almost identical, from their oval shape to their thick lips. It is very difficult to determine the sex of these fish before the time of mating. During the mating season the females can be recognized by their round belly, which indicates pregnancy.

Water values for the kissing Gurami

Temperature: 22.2 to 27.8 °C

pH value: 6.0 – 8.8

Hardness range: 5°-20° dGH

Food and nutrition for the kissing gourami

Food type: Omnivorous

Flake food: yes

Tablets / pellets: yes

vegetable food: green vegetables (cucumber, zucchini, etc.)

animal food: water fleas, mosquito larvae, worms, fish

Frequency of feeding: twice a day or more in smaller amounts

The ideal aquarium for the kissing Gurami

Minimum size: 75 gallons (284 litres)

Substrate type: coarse gravel

Lighting requirements: moderate lighting

Temperature: 22.2 to 27.8 °C

Brackish water aquarium: no

Water movement: moderate – no strong current in the pool

Water region: mainly inhabit the upper and middle parts of the aquarium

When keeping labyrinth fish, it should be noted that the air above the water surface is ideally 1 to 2 °C higher than the water temperature. In order to keep the water in the aquarium clear and clean, good filtration and a periodic partial water change is essential.

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