Honey Gourami – Species Profile & Facts

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If you like gouramis but are not fond of their aggressive behavior at times, meet their more peaceful counterpart – the honey gourami.

Honey gouramis are highly popular today thanks to their peaceful personality, energetic behavior, and bright coloring, as if doused in a jar of honey.

Honey gouramis are easy to keep for the most part, but they’re a bit different than other tank fish in terms of environmental requirements and overall care.

So, you can mess up even with such a hardy and resilient species that doesn’t need much to thrive.

To help you prevent that, today’s article will discuss the honey gourami’s profile and care specifics more in-depth than you thought you needed.

What is a Honey Gourami?

The honey gourami is typical dwarf gourami belonging to the Osphronemidae family. They inhabit slow-moving waters in India and Nepal, among other areas, and showcase considerably lower aggression levels compared to other gourami types.

These fish are also called sunset gouramis, among other names, due to their intense coloring, mixing shades of orange, yellow, and red.

Not all honey gouramis showcase the same coloring, as some are full yellow, others are full orange, while many display a color gradient for even more impressive visuals.

Honey Gourami Requirements

Fortunately, the honey gourami is an adaptable and resilient fish with a strong immune system.

That being said, all fish require specific environmental conditions to thrive, including the honey gourami.

There are the primary parameters to consider:

Tank Size & Setup

The minimum tank size for honey gourami is 10 gallons, but this doesn’t say much on its own. In reality, you’ll most likely require a slightly larger tank.

For a more accurate assessment, you should always keep the following in mind:

  • The gourami’s energy – Honey gouramis are small but energetic and they like to swim a lot. They will go up and down the tank, covering the middle-to-top area constantly. This means that they could use the extra space to keep them engaged and active during the day.
  • The gourami’s shyness – Honey gouramis are shy fish that can get easily startled. They might get scared by other tankmates, especially larger fish that may seem menacing or overly energetic. So, the honey gourami could use a plus of aquatic plants and various hiding areas to keep it safe and calm. Such an environment will also mimic the fish’s natural habitat, which is another plus for its mental peace.
  • Creating a shoal – Honey gouramis rely on their brethren’s assistance to keep themselves safe. They will often form shoals when stressed and will also interact with each other constantly, as these are social fish. Consider investing in sufficient space to accommodate at least 5-6 fish for a decent-sized shoal.
  • Creating a community setup – You naturally need a lot more space in case of crafting a community setup with multiple different fish species. In this context, each species comes with different environmental requirements. A larger tank will provide you with more room to accommodate all fish according to their needs.

So, while the 10-gallon minimum recommendation stands, I would go for a 20-gallon setup instead. Such a setup is sufficient for a pair of gouramis.

This is enough to provide your honey gourami with all the necessary space for a healthy and calm lifestyle over the years.

If you plan on establishing a shoal, go for 10 gallons per fish. So, a 50-gallon tank may be necessary to keep a shoal of 5-6 fish.

A community tank should go over 75 gallons, depending on the fish you’re adding to the mix.

Water Requirements

The water requirements for honey gouramis are pretty standard. We’re talking about temperatures around 72-82 °F and a pH of 6.0-7.0. Lighting should remain minimal since these fish inhabit plant-filled environments with moderate lighting conditions at best.

Also, don’t be afraid of decorating the tank with a lot of live plants. Anubias, java fern or water wisteria are good options in this sense, but the selection range is considerably greater than this.

I’m mentioning the ‘afraid’ part because a lot of aquarists avoid adding too many live plants.

These are great for boosting oxygen levels in the water during the day, but they will decrease it during the night when plants produce CO2 instead. This can lead fish to experience breathing difficulties, with overcrowded tanks even registering low-oxygen-related deaths.

This isn’t the case with honey gouramis because these fish are used to living in poorly-oxygenated waters. These are labyrinth fish, just like bettas, capable of breathing atmospheric air.

So, make sure that the gouramis have easy access to the water surface since they like to take occasional gulps of air.

That being said, make sure that the water is properly oxygenated.

There’s no point in making the fish’s life more difficult than it should be, even if the fish can adapt to the poorer conditions.

Feeding and Diet

Honey gouramis are mostly insectivores in the wild, consuming a variety of insects that wander off too close to the water surface.

These fish are legitimate snipers, using propelled water as ammunition to snipe insects resting on leaves of branches above the water surface.

This hunting tactic makes the honey gourami perfect for paludariums (tanks with both aquatic and terrestrial areas), providing the fish with plenty of hunting opportunities.

When it comes to aquarium feeding, provide the honey gourami with sufficient animal protein to fulfill their needs.

Honey gouramis rank as omnivorous fish, so you can feed them mixed flakes and pellets as well. But the fish’s main diet should rely more on animal protein than veggies.

Just keep in mind that honey gouramis are shy and peaceful fish that don’t like the idea of competing over their food.

They’re slow eaters, too, despite their otherwise elevated energy levels and swimming speed. So, don’t pair your gouramis with fast or aggressive eaters because you’ll force them to starve.

If you already did, at least make sure that your honey gourami eats well. You can feed the fish separately from the rest to make sure of that.

Do Honey Gouramis Need a Heater?

Yes, honey gouramis need a heater. These fish enjoy tropical waters with stable temperatures, and that’s exactly what the heater brings to the table.

Keep the gouramis’ temperature around 75-77 F, and they’ll remain comfortable, energetic, and well-mannered over the years.

Do Honey Gouramis Need a Filter?

Yes, a filter is necessary when housing honey gouramis. While these fish possess a labyrinth organ, allowing them to breathe well even in poor water conditions, you shouldn’t test them.

Provide your gouramis with adequate filtration because the filtration unit does more than simply oxygenate the water.

It will also remove particles of dead organic matter, fish residues, and food leftovers, preventing the excess accumulation of nitrates or even ammonia.

The aquarium filter will keep the water clean and clearer, allowing for improved visual esthetics and a healthier environment. Just mind the filter’s output power.

The honey gourami loves slow-to-stagnant waters, so keep the outflow minimal if possible.

Or, at least, direct the output to an area where the honey gourami can avoid easily.

How Much do Honey Gouramis Cost?

Honey gouramis are cheap, allowing you to get between 3 and 5 for as low as $15-20. The price depends on several aspects, including the fish’s size, age, health, and coloring.

Either way, you can start your gourami tank with a minimal investment which is great for novices who want to keep their expenditures low at first.

What is the Lifespan of Honey Gouramis?

Honey gouramis live around 5 to 8 years in optimal conditions.

If you want to optimize the fish’s size, lifespan, and overall appearance and health, consider the following:

  • Provide sufficient space – We’re talking about 10 gallons or more per fish. This may seem excessive, given the gourami’s size, but it’s well justified, as we’ve already discussed.
  • Provide sufficient plants – Live plants are absolutely necessary for a gourami tank. These help create a more natural-looking aquatic setup and keep the fish more comfortable in their environment. Honey gouramis rely on their environment to hide when stressed and live plants help with that.
  • Useful tank decorations – Since plants are insufficient as improvised cover elements, consider additional additions like rocks, driftwood, and caves. Honey gouramis love to dart and hide in the environment during their roaming, but also when they’re stressed or bullied by other fish. Make sure that the decorations don’t have any sharp edges or small holes or crevices that could trap the fish.
  • Easy surface access – As labyrinth fish, gouramis require easy access to the water surface for their occasional air gulps. Make sure they can reach the water surface uninhibited by various decorations or floating plants.
  • A balanced diet – Honey gouramis require a protein-rich meal plan for optimal nutrition. You can also add some mixed flakes and pellets in their meals for a plus of green content, but aim for higher protein percentages. You should also occasionally consider some live food treats so the fish can hunt a bit.
  • Craft a stress-free setup – Avoid aggressive or territorial fish that can stress or bully your honey gourami. Remember, a happy gourami is a healthy gourami.

That being said, some gouramis will experience shorter lifespans based on genetic reasons. Just because they live shorter than they theoretically should doesn’t mean that you did anything wrong.

Maybe that was the fish’s biological limitation based on its genetic profile.

How Big do Honey Gouramis Get?

Honey gouramis only grow up to 2-3 inches, which makes them slightly larger than your typical guppy.

This can sound perplexing when thinking that the honey gourami needs 10 gallons of water per fish while a guppy needs 2 gallons. Despite them being of similar size.

The difference between the 2 lies in the fish’s behavior and their environmental needs.

Guppies don’t have much preference with regards to their habitat, but honey gouramis do, as we’ve already discussed.

You need all that extra space for live plants and rocky hiding areas to keep your gouramis comfortable and safe.

Are Honey Gouramis Aggressive?

No, they’re not. Honey gouramis are peaceful and friendly, which makes them almost unworthy of the gourami name, given how gouramis act in general.

This is, naturally, good news for gourami lovers who are after more docile and friendly fish.

Honey gouramis make for ideal additions to any community tank, provided you choose their tankmates carefully.

Honey Gourami Tankmates

Some of the best tankmates for honey gouramis include ember tetras, kuhli loaches, cory catfish, cherry barb, zebra danios, etc.

You can also pair the gourami with various snails or even shrimp, so long as you can accommodate all species.

Avoid the following types of fish:

  • Fish that look similar to the gourami – Avoid dwarf and pearl gourami as these are too similar in appearance to the honey gourami. This can trigger the fish’s territorial behavior, leading to unnecessary tensions. You should also avoid the betta for the same reasons.
  • Avoid fin nippers – A variety of fish display fin-nipping behavior, making them unfit for tankmates for your honey gourami. These include most algae eaters, guppies, or tiger barbs, to name a few. Zebra danios also fall into this category, but you can mitigate their behavior by changing the tank’s layout. In short – more plants, more hiding spots, and more decorations.
  • Avoid large or aggressive fish – You should skip fish larger than 6 inches, as you run into the risk of them attacking your small gouramis. You should, naturally, avoid aggressive or territorial species for the same reasons.

We’ve already discussed why you should stay away from fast or aggressive eaters too.

Are Honey Gouramis Good for Beginners?

Yes, honey gouramis are great for beginners, so long as you consider the following:

  • Keep gouramis at least in pairs, preferably in larger schools of 5-6 fish
  • Make sure there’s enough swimming space for all fish for a plus of comfort and more peaceful gourami dynamics
  • Decorate the gourami tank with plenty of live plants and rocky elements
  • Offer the gourami 2-3 small meals per day, preferably with more protein; consider 2-3 live food treats per week
  • Go for a paludarium if you can to turn your fish-keeping hobby to the next level
  • Choose peaceful, similarly-sized fish as tankmates

Other than that, honey gouramis are resilient and hardy and won’t pose many problems in terms of long-term care. They don’t have any species-specific disease to worry about and will even thrive in suboptimal water conditions.

These 2 points alone make them great for novice fish-keepers who are bound to make a lot of mistakes along the way.

How to Tell if Honey Gourami is Male or Female?

The gourami male is smaller than the female and has a pointier dorsal fin. The male also gets more brightly colored during the breeding season, presumably to attract the female’s attention.

Females are larger and bulkier, with a rounder belly and an equally round dorsal fin. The female’s belly will naturally grow even larger when the spawning time comes.

How do Honey Gouramis Breed?

Honey gouramis rank as bubble nesters due to the male’s nest-building behavior. The gourami male will produce a bubble nest using air and a sticky substance that it will eliminate orally.

The nest will float on top of the water surface, and its goal is to trap the eggs that the female will produce.

The breeding process begins with the male first producing the bubble nest and then inviting the female to lay its eggs. It will do so by gently rubbing and poking at the female to clarify its intentions.

Once the eggs are placed, the male fertilizes and guards them until the fry hatch.

The gourami female can produce upwards of 300 eggs during the spawning session in batches of 20.

The gourami fry are tiny, share the same color, and require specialized care to survive. Consider having the gourami adults breed in a nursing tank and removing them once the eggs have been fertilized.

This will allow the fry to grow in a safe and comfortable environment, separate from the main tank where the other fish can eat them.

Gourami fry will grow fast, provided you feed them properly. Liquid food and infusoria are necessary at first, but they won’t need food for the first 2-3 days. The fry will consume the yolk sacs first.

Conclusion

Honey gouramis are small, beautiful, and peaceful fish that are great for aquarists of all levels of experience.

Keep them in a peaceful and clean setup, and they will remain healthy and happy for years to come.

avatar I’m Fabian, aquarium fish breeder and founder of this website. I’ve been keeping fish, since I was a kid. On this blog, I share a lot of information about the aquarium hobby and various fish species that I like. Please leave a comment if you have any question.

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