Are you ready to add some sparkle to your aquarium? Look no further than the sparkling gourami, also known as the pygmy gourami.
Despite its small size, this fish packs a big punch with its vibrant coloring and distinctive sounds.
Not only is the sparkling gourami (Trichopsis pumila) a visual and auditory delight, but it’s also a low-maintenance addition to your tank.
While they do need clean, warm water and a gentle current, they’re otherwise hardy and compatible with a variety of other fish in a community setting.
So why settle for a dull tank when you can have the dazzling sparkling gourami as the star of the show?
At a glance
|Min tank size:
|15 gal (60 l)
|groups of 5
|from 2 to 5 years
|up to 2 inches (5 cm)
|< 5 ppm
|< 5 ppm
|< 5 ppm
In this article
Basic Facts About the Sparkling Gourami
As the name suggests, these gouramis do sparkle— but are (unfortunately) not sparkly all over. Instead, they’re primarily brown with colorful spots in green, blue, white, and more colors dispersed over their body, even on their fins!
Their fins are also edged with a light brown or dark orange stripe.
These fish max out at 2 inches and have an elongated, compressed body with rounded but full fins that make up a significant portion of their body length. Their dorsal and anal fins are the largest, and their pelvic fin has a long growth that resembles a thread.
This gourami, like others of its species, is an anabantoid.
Anabantoids are fish that have a special breathing organ called a labyrinth organ in their gill chamber, which allows them to take the air directly from the water’s surface instead of through the water itself.
This gives rise to one of the sparkling gourami’s most notable trait: its regular forays to the top of your tank for air.
They can live anywhere from 2 to 5 years, with four and five years being the average most owners report.
Sparkling gouramis tend to be fairly peaceful, although males have been known to become aggressive and compete for territory and mates. This is why it’s recommended to keep several females for each male.
These gouramis have no preferences as far as tank level goes; they will travel from the lower regions to the surface and back again without fuss.
They enjoy exploring planted areas in particular, however, as well as discovering new hiding spots and décor you may place in the tank.
Another unique trait of the sparkling gourami is that it makes sounds when they’re happy or during the mating season. These sounds vary but have been most closely compared to a loud croak or chirp that can be heard even outside of the tank.
This fish hails from Southeast Asia and inhabits quiet, warm waters with heavy vegetation and minimal to medium flows.
The lower Mekong River basin is particularly flush with sparkling gourami, as there’re canals, rice fields, and river tributaries.
The simplicity of their natural habitat is easily replicated in an aquarium, as we’ll discuss in the next section.
Their reliance on plants for much of their behavior- hiding, playing, mating, and childrearing- is the most complex part of keeping these gouramis in the home.
Basic Aquarium Setup
Though sparkling gouramis are small, they require a decent amount of room to swim in and explore, which means that the minimum tank size is 15 gallons.
You should add an additional 10 gallons for every new fish you want to incorporate in order to avoid undue aggression.
- Heating: Because of their tropical nature, a heater and thermometer are basic equipment necessities for these gouramis.
- Filtration: Even though they have a labyrinth organ they will still need a filter. Like every other fish, they benefit from oxygenated water and the filter’s cleaning functions.
- Water Flow: Using a low-level wavemaker or strategically-placed bubblers to create a weak current is not required, but can be beneficial.
However, take care to check the reviews on your equipment before purchase.
Loud noises and strong water flow discourage their normal activity and may cause them to hide for the majority of the day.
Plants and Related Tank Elements
For this fish, plants are a must. Though artificial and silk plants could suffice, this fish is happiest with live plants. Larger forms of swords and anubias plants are recommended, as their broad leaves provide ample space to play, mate, and hide in.
If you decide to use live plants, a plant substrate is required in order to sustain healthy growth.
A darker substrate is recommended in order for the sparkling gourami’s color to really pop. Sand is also an option, but the plants will need to be consistently supplemented with nutrient root tabs.
Similarly, a planted aquarium light is also necessary. Full-spectrum LED lights of at least 4500K are preferable because of their longevity and effectiveness.
The sparkling gourami is known for being a hardy freshwater fish, but should still be kept in a clean tank that undergoes weekly water changes.
In addition to basic cleaning, regularly check your water parameters to make sure they meet the requirements below:
- pH Range: The pH level should be kept as close to neutral as possible, around 6 – 8 pH but never under 4 or above 10.
- Hardness: Unlike pH, these fish are a bit more forgiving when it comes to hardness; a range of 5 – 16 dKH is acceptable and healthy.
- Temperature: sparkling gouramis can handle warmer temperatures anywhere from 70 – 80 °F, but thrive best when the water is kept around 75 – 77°F.
Ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels should all be kept below 5 ppm, which is easily attainable with regular maintenance and careful attention to debris and food buildup.
If you keep your tank within these parameters, your gourami will live a long and happy life.
Tank Mates and Compatibility
As long as the other tank inhabits are peaceful the majority of the time, sparkling gourami will get along with them.
Though gouramis can show aggression over territory or mating, they are on the whole a tranquil breed that is happiest when paired with like-minded species.
Some acceptable tank mates include:
- Other gouramis, such as the dwarf gourami and pearl gouramis
- Peaceful schooling fish, such as danios, guppies, rainbowfish, rasboras, and tetras
- “Clean-up crew” fish such as Corydoras Catfish, Otocinclus, and Bristlenose Plecos
- Species with low-flow water preferences, such as the dwarf pencilfish and cherry barbs
- Small crustaceans such as shrimp and snails
This gourami will get along with other schooling species or independent fish, but will most thrive with other fish that also prefer warm waters, heavy vegetation, and a slow current.
Food and Diet
The sparkling gourami is not a picky eater and will accept a variety of foods, such as:
- Flakes and/or pellets
However, they much prefer meaty live, frozen, or freeze-dried foods. Daphnia, artemia, bloodworms, and shrimp meat are all favorites and guaranteed to make even the pickiest specimen hungry for more.
But be warned: like many other species, these fish are prone to overeating. Watch their food intake and be sure no one gourami is hoarding food. Their stomachs should be slightly rounded, but not obscenely bulging.
Diet is also a good indicator of health for this species.
If your gouramis appear dull in color or are silent for extended periods of time, check their food to make sure it is appropriate and enticing for the fish.
Is the Sparkling Gourami the Right Fish For You?
Sparkling gouramis combine the best of both worlds: show-stopping looks and easy maintenance.
These fish are suitable for both species-only tanks and community environments and are peaceful enough to get along with a variety of other types of similarly-tempered fish.
For beginners and advanced aquarists looking for an aquarium centerpiece fish, the sparkling gourami is an excellent choice.
It is widely commercially available, affordable, and beautiful. Its unique habits and sounds only serve to further endear onlookers to its many charms.