Sparkling gourami (Trichopsis pumila)

Sparkling gourami or pygmy gourami (Trichopsis pumila) is very seldom seen in home aquariums, especially if compared to other representatives of this kind. The fish is small, not very bright and even its Latin name says that it is small – pumila, which means a dwarf.

Habitat in the wild

The fish inhabits in South-East Asia from Indonesia, Thailand, Laos to Vietnam. The fish dwells in small, thickly planted waters and basins with warm water.

Since sparkling gourami belongs to climbing perches they can survive in very tough conditions by breathing the atmospheric air.

The fish feeds on various small insects that fall on water surface or inhabit in it. Shallow forest ponds with slow flow or lentic water are typical biotops of the fish.

When these ponds get filled with water during raining season they join into one hydrological net.


Pygmy gourami body length is about 4 centimeters (1.6 in). Its body is brown with small light blue spots. The fins are light blue with red edges and red patterns on them. Its eyes are blue with thin red border.

Pygmy gourami body shape is a bit similar to that of betta fish, however, pygmy gourami has shorter fins. Males have pointed fins and a red stripe that goes along the whole body. The lifespan in a tank is about 4 years.

Difficulties in keeping

The fish is not demanding and may successfully dwell in small tanks.

Keeping in a tank

Scientific NameTrichopsis pumila
Common NameSparkling gourami, pygmy gourami
Tank size5 gallons and more
Temperature25 °C to 28 °C (77 °F to 83 °F)
Size4 centimeters (1.6 in)

Considering the fact that sparkling gourami has quite wide natural habitat, it is clear that its unpretentiousness to environmental conditions is a biological consistency. It is better to keep the fish in small, thickly planted tanks in a school of 4-8 species and more.

It is important to create slow water flow in a tank as well as to have a lot of shelters in it. Thickly planted tank with dim lighting or floating plants on the water surface will be a perfect one for the fish.

If a tank has too bright lighting and large aggressive dwellers, sparkling gourami feels very uncomfortable and loses all its attractiveness. The fish doesn’t go out into the open space, hides from its tankmates and excessive light.

It is also important to keep in mind that sparkling gourami breathes with atmospheric air from the water surface and the fish must have an access to it.

Tank water temperature should be from 25 °C to 28 °C (77 °F to 83 °F), pH of 6.0 – 7.5, dH of 5 – 19. A small tank is enough to keep a couple of fish, however, since it is recommended to keep them in a school, it will require a larger tank. It can be quite small, but not less than 50 liters or 10 US gallons capacity.

Though this is not a schooling fish, still it is better to keep the fish in a small group of about 5-6 species. It is desirable that females prevail, since males are more territory dependent.

From time to time you may hear some soft sounds from the tank. They are like field-cricket sound or the groan of the door. During their mating game excited sparkling gourami make this specific growl sound.

The fish that live in my tank more often ‘sing’ in the evening, when the tank lighting is off, but the light in the room is on. At this time they start their mating games and swim together, spread their fins and ‘growl’.


You should keep sparkling gourami separately from other fishes for one more reason. Even if they have peaceful and non-aggressive, but active tankmates, the fish becomes the last one to get the food.

Another thing is, that while breeding sparkling gourami unlike other tank fishes looks after their eggs, larvae and juveniles. At that they don’t even try to eat their juveniles, even though there was no food in a tank for a long time.

Any peaceful small fishes like guppy, platy, honey gourami, pygmy cory will be a good tankmate for sparkling gourami.

The fish looks good against small leaved tank plants and snags. It can be kept together with shrimps, though sometimes sparkling gourami may nip red cherry barbels or body, but it never does any serious harm.


In the wild feeds on insects and in a tank it eats both artificial and live food. If they get used to, they will eat flakes, pellets and other food like this, but still it is better to feed the fish with live and frozen food.

Anyway, you should try to make the fish diet diversified at all stages of its life, even by including artificial food in it. In its habitat the fish swims in all water layers, however it definitely prefers middle and near-surface water layers.


It is not easy to tell between the male and female. More or less reliable characteristic of the female is its abdomen filled with eggs.

Only after taking a closer look at the male and female and thoroughly comparing their fins, you may see that males have a bit longer fins.


The fish builds a small nest near the water surface or under the water. Later the male invites the female one to the nest and they lay eggs.

From the moment when the first eggs appear in the nest till the moment when the larvae starts swimming, the male takes care of the offspring and the nest, that can be carried away by the water flow.

The male doesn’t let the bubbles flow away and keeps them together all the time by gluing them with sticky secreting produced by special epithelial cells that cover its oral cavity.

As a rule during the first spawning the fish doesn’t lay a lot of eggs (about 40-80 eggs). During the next spawning this number grows a bit.

Depending on the tank water temperature the time during which the eggs develop till they hatch and larvae appears varies from 36 to 48 hours.

From the moment when larvae appears in a tank it is time to think about how to feed it. Larvae is very small (about 1.5 mm) and it requires fine grained food.

About Sergey

Sergey is a founder and author of He’s been fond of aquarium husbandry since his early childhood.

His favorite aquariums are biotopes (Amazon River), Echinodorus and Angelfish. However, through the years he’s had experience of keeping almost all types of freshwater fish and shrimps.