A Happy Home: Creating the Ideal Sparkling Gourami Habitat

Sparkling gourami (lat. 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 sparkling gourami, scientific name Trichopsis pumila, is a species of small, colorful freshwater fish belonging to the gourami family (Osphronemidae). These fish are native to the slow-moving and still waters of Southeast Asia, including countries like Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam. In the wild, they inhabit slow-moving or still waters such as small streams, ponds, marshes, and flooded areas with dense vegetation. Their natural habitat consists of warm, shallow waters with plenty of aquatic plants and submerged vegetation.

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.



Sparkling gouramis are relatively small freshwater fish. They typically grow to a size of about 1.5 to 2 inches (3.8 to 5 centimeters) in length. This small size is one of the reasons why they are popular choices for aquarium enthusiasts, as they can be comfortably kept in smaller tanks and do not require a large amount of swimming space. Their diminutive size also adds to their charm and makes them suitable for nano or planted aquarium setups. However, despite their small size, they are still delightful and beautiful fish to observe and enjoy in an aquarium environment.


The average lifespan of sparkling gouramis in captivity is typically around 3 to 5 years. However, with excellent care, some individuals may live slightly longer, reaching up to 6 years or even more in rare cases. Several factors can influence the lifespan of these fish, including water quality, diet, tank conditions, and overall health.

To maximize the lifespan of sparkling gouramis, it’s essential to provide them with a well-maintained aquarium that closely replicates their natural habitat. Consistent water quality, appropriate tank mates, a balanced diet, and a stress-free environment will all contribute to their well-being and longevity.

Additionally, regular monitoring of water parameters, performing routine water changes, and providing a varied and nutritious diet will help keep them healthy and thriving throughout their lives. Keep in mind that individual fish may have varying health conditions, so attentive care and prompt action in case of any issues will greatly benefit their overall lifespan.


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. 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.

Scientific NameTrichopsis pumila
Common NameSparkling Gourami, pygmy gourami
OriginSoutheast Asia (Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos)
SizeUp to 1.5 to 2 inches (3.8 to 5 cm)
ColorationMales: Vibrant blue or green with iridescence
Females: Less colorful, more subdued appearance
BehaviorPeaceful, non-aggressive, prefer slow-moving waters
DietOmnivorous; small insects, zooplankton, plant matter
HabitatSlow-moving or still waters with dense vegetation
Water ParameterspH: 6.0 to 7.0, Temperature: 75°F to 82°F (24°C to 28°C)
Tank SizeAround 10 gallons (40 liters) or more
SubstrateFine-grain substrate like sand or small pebbles
PlantsLive or artificial plants for hiding and cover
LightingSubdued lighting, use low-intensity or floating plants
FiltrationGood quality filtration with low-flow option
Tank MatesPeaceful and small fish; avoid aggressive species
BreedingBubble nest builders; male guards and protects eggs

Difficulties in keeping

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

Keeping in a tank

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’.

Tank decor

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 desirable that females prevail, since males are more territory dependent.

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, fish feels very uncomfortable and loses all its attractiveness. The fish doesn’t go out into the open space, hides from its tank mates 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.

Water parameters

Here are the recommended water parameters for sparkling gouramis:

  1. Temperature: 75°F to 82°F (24°C to 28°C) – Sparkling gouramis are tropical fish and require a consistent and warm water temperature within this range.
  2. pH: 6.0 to 7.0 – These fish prefer slightly acidic to neutral water conditions. Maintaining the pH within this range helps support their overall health and reduces stress.
  3. Hardness: Soft to moderately hard water – Sparkling gouramis thrive in water with a general hardness (GH) of around 5 to 15 dGH.
  4. Ammonia and Nitrite: 0 ppm – Ammonia and nitrite are toxic to fish. It is essential to keep these levels at zero to ensure the well-being of your gouramis. Regular water changes and proper filtration help achieve this.
  5. Nitrate: Below 20 ppm – While nitrate is less harmful than ammonia and nitrite, elevated levels can still stress the fish. Regular water changes will help keep nitrate levels in check.

It’s essential to monitor the water parameters regularly using reliable test kits and promptly address any issues that arise. Weekly water changes of around 20-30% are recommended to maintain water quality and reduce the accumulation of harmful substances.

Additionally, when introducing new sparkling gouramis to the aquarium, it’s essential to acclimate them slowly to the tank’s water conditions to prevent shock and stress.

Remember that individual fish can have slight variations in their tolerance to water parameters, so observing their behavior and overall health is crucial in providing the best care for these beautiful fish.

Tank size

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 10 gallons (approximately 40 liters) or more. These fish are small in size, reaching up to 1.5 to 2 inches (3.8 to 5 cm) in length, and they do not require an excessively large tank. However, providing them with enough space to swim and explore comfortably is essential for their well-being.

A 10-gallon tank can adequately accommodate a couple of sparkling gouramis, but if you plan to keep multiple fish together, you might consider a larger tank to reduce territorial behavior and stress. As with any aquarium setup, it’s essential to maintain good water quality, provide appropriate hiding spots, and choose suitable tank mates for a successful and harmonious environment for your sparkling gouramis.

Tank mates

You should keep sparkling gourami separately from other fishes for one more reason. Even if they have peaceful and non-aggressive, but active tank mates, 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.

Here are some suitable tank mates for sparkling gouramis:


In the wild sparkling gourami 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.

Gender differences: male vs female

It is not easy to tell between the sparkling gourami male and female. Here are some key differences between the two:

Male Sparkling Gourami:

  1. Coloration: Males have a more vibrant and colorful appearance compared to females. They typically display iridescent blue or green hues on their body, especially on their flanks and fins.
  2. Fins: The fins of male sparkling gouramis are usually more elongated and have a pointed appearance, particularly the dorsal and anal fins.
  3. Stripe Pattern: Males often have vertical stripes that run along their bodies, starting from behind the eye and extending towards the caudal fin.
  4. Behavior: During breeding, males construct bubble nests at the water surface and court the females to lay eggs in the nest. They are also more territorial and may display aggressive behavior towards other males in confined spaces.
  5. Size: Males are generally slightly larger than females, but the size difference is not significant.

Female Sparkling Gourami:

  1. Coloration: Females have a more subdued and less colorful appearance compared to males. Their bodies are typically a paler shade of blue or green with less iridescence.
  2. Fins: Female fins are shorter and more rounded compared to the elongated and pointed fins of males.
  3. Stripe Pattern: Females may also have faint vertical stripes, but they are less prominent compared to those seen in males.
  4. Behavior: Females do not build bubble nests and are less territorial compared to males. They tend to be more peaceful and less likely to exhibit aggressive behavior.
  5. Size: Females are generally slightly smaller than males, but the size difference is not significant.

The color intensity and patterns of sparkling gouramis can vary depending on their mood, environment, and overall health. While the above characteristics are commonly observed, it’s essential to consider multiple factors when determining the sex of your fish. If you plan to keep male and female sparkling gouramis together, make sure to provide them with suitable conditions for breeding and take appropriate steps to care for the fry if breeding is successful.


The sparkling gourami 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 sparkling gourami 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.