Honey gourami care guide

Honey gourami (Trichogaster chuna) is a bright, colorful fish that is perfect for small nano tanks and it is very easy to keep. However, the fish is not as spread as its close relative dwarf gourami (Trichogaster lalius), but it quickly gains popularity among aquarists.

Habitat in the wild

The honey gourami inhabits in Northeast India and Bangladesh in river Gang and Brahmaputra basins, in thickly planted waters. The fish is often encountered in lakes, ponds, small rivers, flooded fields and even drains. A lot of habitats are prone to seasonal droughts, that last from June to October.

As a rule the honey gourami dwells in waters with lots of plants and soft, low mineralized water. Honey gourami feeds on insects, their larvae and various zooplankton.

First was described in 1822 by Francis Hamilton and was considered to belong to Colisa genus, however today is quite often treated as one from Trichogaster genus. Female was mistakenly thought to belong to Colisa soto genus.

Scientific NameTrichogaster chuna; Colisa chuna
Common NamesHoney gourami; lemon gourami
Range and habitatBrazil, Colombia, Peru
Size 5.5 cm (2.2 in)
Lifespan3-4 years
Ease of keepingEasy
Minimum tank size5 gallons (22 liters)
Temperature71-82 °F (22 – 28 °C)
Water hardness5-20 dGH


Size is up to 5.5 cm (2.2 in). Usually in a tank the honey gourami is 1.5 inches long (3,5—4 cm), but some species grow to be 6 and even 7 cm long. The lifespan is about 3-4 years.

Ends of dorsal and anal fins of the male are sharpened and females have them rounded. Filamentary abdominal fins are located in front of pectoral fins. The males are thinner and brighter colored than females.

Honey gourami males coloring varies from olive brown to orange-red. During spawning period the coloring becomes very bright and the body becomes rich red colored. There is a dark brown stripe that starts near the eye and goes along the body side, the abdomen is silvery and lighter colored.

Dorsal fin edge is lemon-yellow; filamentary abdominal fins are bright-orange or red. Females coloring is the same as that of males, but a bit paler.

Difficulties in keeping

Honey gourami is a good choice for beginners. The fish is not aggressive, brightly colored, adapts to various tank water parameters and temperature. Besides above mentioned, this fish is the smallest in its genus.

Very seldom it grows up to 7 cm (2.8 in), since as a rule males are 1.5 in long, females are larger – 2 in. Once again, the fish is peaceful and, therefore, it is quite welcome in any community tank, though the fish is a bit timid. It can also dwell in very small tanks.

Keeping in a tank

Honey gourami is rather not demanding and it’ll easily get used to your tank conditions. Preferable water temperature is 71-82 °F (22 – 28 °C) and aeration is required as well, because the fish takes air from the water surface.

Though the organ all climbing perches have allows the fish to survive in oxygen-deficient water, quite often it is mistakenly considered that due to this the fish doesn’t require water renews.

In this case the honey gourami may suffer from toxic poisoning with nitrates and ammonia and die as a result. Weekly 20-25% water renew is recommended.

It is especially important in small tanks, where all processes occur several times faster.

The honey gourami likes when there is a lot of plants in a tank, so it’ll be perfect to make the back side of the tank thickly planted and leave a space to swim in the middle. Also you can create lots of shelters in a tank, in case if some conflicts arise among the tank dwellers.

The honey gourami fancies dense tank plants and some floating plants. Fish can live even is small nano tanks. Recommended minimal tank volume for the fish couple is 5 gallons (22 liters). The fish prefers swimming mainly in medium and upper water layers.


Is an omnivorous fish, it feeds on insects and their larvae. In a tank the fish eats all types of live, frozen and artificial food. The diet can be based on any food flakes with supplementary components such as corethra, bloodworm, brine shrimp.

Gender differences: male vs female

It is easy to tell between honey gourami male and female. Reproductive male has brighter coloring and dark-blue abdomen. The female is larger than the male and its coloring is paler. Male has sharpened ends of dorsal and anal fin, the females have them rounded.

Honey gourami male and female

Tank mates

Honey gourami is timid, slow and fearful. The fish needs time to get used to new environment and you should keep an eye on its tank mates, so that it gets enough food.

Thickly put tank plants will help the fish to become more confident and decrease the stress. Fish is active mainly during a day. It prefers swimming in upper and medium water layers.

Small and peaceful fishes such as guppy, swordtail, molly, neon tetra, betta fish will be good tank mates.

Dwarf gourami is not recommend as a tank mate, since it is aggressive towards its kind as well as fishes like tiger barb. Dwarf gourami may nip their long pectoral fins.


Honey gourami just like all other fishes of Anabantidae genus make their nests from foam near the water surface. When they are ready for spawning, the male builds a nest from bubbles on water surface and then dances and swings around the female.

The male looks after the eggs and the nest cleanness. Spawning process may be repeated several times during several hours and hundreds of eggs can be fertilized.

After spawning is finished, you should put the female fish away. This fish doesn’t use any plants in its nest, like dwarf gourami does, but likes to have its nest under leaves of floating plants.

We should mention that the honey gourami males are more tolerant and calm towards females and respect if they are temporally not ready for spawning. While Trichogaster chuna can even kill its females in this case, if the latter don’t have enough of shelters.

The honey gourami male stands vertically in front of the female, slowly gets to the nest and makes her get there. This will last till the female gets inside the nest and they start spawning. After spawning is over the male will carefully collect the eggs that missed the nest and put them into it.

The male guards the nest and the juveniles. But when juveniles start swimming, you should put away the male, too. The juveniles should be fed with infusorians and encapsulated brine shrimp.