gourami, tropical freshwater fish of the labyrinth fish family. Like other members of their family, gouramis have a labyrinthine breathing apparatus connected to each gill chamber that enables them to utilize atmospheric oxygen. They can therefore live in oxygen-poor water. Gouramis are native to SE Asia and Africa. The true gourami, Osphronemus goramy, reaches a length of 2 ft (60 cm). It originated in Indonesia, but has been introduced in China and S Asia, where it is cultivated as an important food fish. Certain smaller members of the family, popular as aquarium fishes, are also called gouramis. Best known is the white, 10-in. long (25-cm) kissing gourami (Helostoma temmincki). Other popular gouramis are the moonlight gourami (Trichogaster microlepis) of Thailand, a 6-in. (15-cm) long, silvery-blue fish with long, threadlike ventral fins, and other Trichogaster species. The talking, or croaking, gourami (Trichopsis vittatus), a 2-in. (5-cm) long fish, is noted for the curious sounds produced by the males when they surface for air at night. The labyrinth fishes also include the betta, or fighting fish, and the so-called climbing perch, or walking fish, of SE Asia. They are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Osteichthyes, order Perciformes, family Anabantidae.

The gouramis or gouramies are a family, Osphronemidae, of freshwater perciform fishes. The fish are native to Asia, from Pakistan and India to the Malay Archipelago and north-easterly towards Korea.

Many gouramies have an elongated ray at the front of their pelvic fins. Many species show parental care: some are mouthbrooders, and others, like the Siamese fighting fish (Betta splendens), build bubble nests. Currently, about 90 species are recognised, placed in 4 subfamilies and about 15 genera.

The name Polyacanthidae has also been used for this family. Some fish now classified as gouramies were previously placed in family Anabantidae. The subfamily Belontiinae was recently demoted from the family Belontiidae. As labyrinth fishes, gouramis have a lung-like labyrinth organ that allows them to gulp air and use atmospheric oxygen. This organ is a vital innovation for fishes that often inhabit warm, shallow, oxygen-poor water.


There are about 96 species in 15 genera.

In the Aquarium

Gouramis, particularly blue, gold, opaline and dwarf, are often kept in the home aquarium. Though often considered peaceful, they can kill most other smaller or long finned fish. They shred other fishes' fins to the point that the victim can't swim and dies. The males of many members of this family like to spar, thus caution must be taken when keeping males together.


Male Gouramis are fin nippers and will bother other fish in the tank. When two male gouramis are put in a tank together they will fight constantly. Female Gouramis don't bother other fish and usually sit alone in the corner. With male gouramis they will leave certain species alone like danios,mollies, silver dollars, and plecotimous catfish.They don't like fish with big fins like guppies and beta fish. They are also compatible with Tetras and Rasbora along with other small, fast fish.

See also

The name "gourami" is used of several other related fish that are now placed in different families:


  • Goldstein, Howard (2005). "Searching for the Pygmy Gourami". Tropical Fish Hobbiest 54 (1): 93. 0041-3259.
  • Tan, HH and P Ng (2006). "Six new species of fighting fish (Telestei: Osphronemidae: Betta) from Borneo". Ichthyological Exploration of Freshwaters 17 (2): 97–114.


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