Sparkling Gourami – Species Profile & Facts
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Sparkling gouramis are awesome freshwater fish that can adapt to both nano and normal aquatic setups.
They are colorful, energetic, and adaptable and can withstand a variety of water conditions, especially thanks to their labyrinth organ.
However, these fish require personalized care to thrive, so let’s get into that!
What is a Sparkling Gourami?
Sparkling gouramis are also known as pygmy gouramis (don’t confuse them with dwarf gouramis). They are tiny, only growing up to 1.5 inches, and are rather underrated without any good reason.
After all, these fish are generally easy to care for and they are beautiful, adaptable, and great for community tanks.
You can easily recognize the sparkling gourami by its spotted transparent fins and neon-colored blue eyes, imbuing the fish with a unique personality and presence.
These fish are calmer and more peaceful than your typical gourami, but this isn’t always the case. We’ll get into that later.
Sparkling Gourami Requirements
Sparkling gouramis look small and vulnerable, but looks can be deceiving. This is one of the hardiest fish species you can get for your nano tank.
This means you don’t need much to accommodate the fish, provided you craft its habitat wisely. So, let’s get into that!
Tank Size & Setup
Regarding tank size, the sparkling gourami is different from your typical nano fish. You need around 10-15 gallons to accommodate one gourami, which is a lot by nano-fish standards.
Can be fitted around 8 Pygmy Corydoras in 10 gallons of water or you can have one sparkling gourami.
You also need to add approximately 10 gallons for each extra sparkling gourami.
All this space is necessary for 2 reasons:
- The need for a personalized setup – These fish are shy and require hiding areas to fall back to when necessary. The same rule applies in community setups where sparkling gouramis need to share space with other fish species.
- The fish’s temperament – Despite its timid nature, the sparkling gourami frequently likes to explore and patrol its habitat. So, it needs a bit more space than your normal nano-tank fish. The need for extra space becomes even more obvious when adding other gouramis to the mix. Gourami males are notoriously violent towards one another, so space and hiding areas are necessary to mitigate their fiery temperaments.
You need a bit more logistics work when it comes to crafting the fish’s layout, though. These fish are pretentious like that. The ideal gourami setup aims for a mix of plants and open swimming areas, and balance is key here.
The fish’s natural habitat is rich in plants which increase the fish’s comfort and peace of mind. Not having sufficient plants can stress out your gourami, leading to lethargic behavior and even violence towards its tankmates.
But the fish also requires plenty of open areas to satisfy its exploratory tendencies.
I also need to remind you of the fish’s labyrinth breathing. Sparkling gouramis use their labyrinth organ for breathing atmospheric air at the water surface.
This behavior is more prevalent in poorly-oxygenated waters, so the fish will display it less in properly oxygenated environments.
Even so, provide your gourami has easy access to the water surface in case it needs to get there fast. Finally, sparkling gouramis are mid-to-top dwellers.
This means that all the plants and decorations should occupy the tank’s lower region, where gouramis like to retreat when stressed or in need of resting.
As I kept mentioning throughout the article, the sparkling gourami is a resilient and adaptable fish. It isn’t as sensitive as other species in terms of water quality and shifting water parameters.
This being said, it still requires specific conditions to remain healthy and calm in the long run.
The ideal water temperature is 76-82 F, but your gourami doesn’t mind some moderate fluctuation occasionally. Aim for pH levels between 6.0 and 7.0 and a water hardness of up to 8 dGH.
In regards to water quality, the sparkling gourami ranks as some of the most tolerant fish.
These fish can withstand degrading water quality thanks to their labyrinth organ, but only moderately. Don’t rely on their amazing biological coping mechanism to thrive in foul waters because they won’t.
The major problem here is that there’s a clear-cut difference between open aquatic setups and closed ones like aquariums. In rivers and lakes, poor water quality means many floating particles, dead matter, and low oxygenation.
In tanks, it means all that, plus an aggressive accumulation of nitrites and ammonia. And nitrites and ammonia are poison to fish.
So, you should always keep your gouramis in pristine water conditions to prevent health problems in the long run.
Feeding and Diet
While sparkling gouramis qualify as omnivorous fish, they much prefer animal protein to anything else. These fish are more adaptable than anything, so they have embraced an omnivorous diet in the wild simply because the environment forced them in that direction.
After all, they don’t always have access to high-quality protein, so they need to work with what they have.
However, if you want your sparkling gouramis to thrive, you should provide them with a lot more animal protein than they would usually consume in the wild.
The fish’s diet should consist of 75-80% animal protein and 20-25% veggies and greens.
Daphnia, brine shrimp, bloodworms, and insect larvae, both live and frozen, are great for your sparkling gourami.
Throw in some spirulina supplements, algae wafers, and even flakes, granules, and pellets for good measure, and your gouramis will remain healthy and happy over the years.
Make sure that your fish get sufficient food to prevent competition and aggression, and don’t overfeed them. It’s easier to overfeed smaller fish because they only require low amounts of food.
Learn your gouramis’ appetite and adapt to their food requirements to prevent overfeeding, which can have devastating consequences for the environment and your fish’s health.
Do Sparkling Gourami Need a Heater?
I would say yes due to the fish’s rather high minimum temperature. You should aim for water temperatures of at least 75-76 F, preferably higher. These values are difficult to obtain and maintain without a heating system in place.
The heater allows you to monitor and control water temperature depending on your fish’s needs.
Do Sparkling Gourami Need a Filter?
Yes, they do. Many aquarists consider that gouramis don’t necessarily need a filtration system thanks to their labyrinth breathing and overall resilience, but that’s false. There isn’t one instance where you could deem the filtration system obsolete.
The filter is necessary in every aquatic system, no matter how stable and self-sustainable it might seem.
Just make sure that the tank’s filtration system is adapted to your fish’s needs. Secure the intake with a sponge or a piece of cloth to prevent the fish from getting in. This is a natural danger with fish as small as the sparkling gourami.
Finally, adjust the filter’s power to accommodate your setup’s needs. You don’t need too much output force in a heavily planted setup.
Especially since sparkling gouramis aren’t fond of excessive water currents.
How Much do Sparkling Gourami Cost?
A typical sparkling gourami costs around $5 per fish. The pricing will vary based on the fish’s age, color pattern, and depending on the seller himself.
What is the Lifespan of Sparkling Gourami?
Sparkling gouramis live between 3 and 5 years, and there are several ways you can prolong the fish’s lifespan.
Water quality and a good diet are key in this sense, but so is keeping the fish comfortable and stress-free.
Stress is actually a killer in the fish world because it lowers the fish’s immune system, leaving them vulnerable to parasites and infections.
To prevent fish stress:
- Pair gouramis with like-minded fish species that are similar in size and personalities
- Keep water parameters stable to avoid frequent or large fluctuations
- Keep your gouramis well-fed
Aquascape the fish’s habitat so that it emulates its natural environment with plenty of plants, open spaces, and several hiding areas, etc.
Also, monitor your fish’s activity daily. This will allow you to track its health status and identify any health problem in time.
Early disease detection and treatment make for a life-saving approach when it comes to long-term fish care.
How Big do Sparkling Gourami Get?
Sparkling gouramis only grow up to 1.5 inches, although many of them remain around 1 inch or smaller.
Their small size isn’t a detriment, given that the fish’s coloring makes up for it quite nicely.
Are Sparkling Gouramis Aggressive?
You will hear a lot of conflictive information on this subject and for good reasons. This is mostly due to the gourami’s dualist nature, and I’ll explain it immediately.
Here are the facts to know about sparkling gourami:
- Overall shy and peaceful – Sparkling gouramis diverge from the typical gourami behavior. They aren’t particularly territorial and don’t mind the presence of other fish around them. These fish are actually shy and will often hide when facing more curious tankmates eager to greet them.
- Potentially violent at times – These tiny gouramis can also showcase signs of violence at times. This is often due to factors like overcrowding, subpar water conditions, insufficient food, improper tank layout, etc. In these situations, their violence relates more to stress than anything else.
- Violent towards each other – This is a weird point, given that sparkling gouramis are social animals that like to live in groups. The problem is that they can also showcase violent behavior towards one another. Their temperament is most likely fueled by hierarchical dominance and shouldn’t aggravate past the point of mild aggressive interactions. Even so, always monitor your gouramis’ interactions to make sure they don’t go out of line.
To close this point out, don’t have more than 1 gourami male per tank. Unless you have a lot of swimming space and a lush and well-decorated habitat with a variety of hiding areas.
Male gouramis are notoriously territorial and aggressive towards one another, and sparkling gouramis only confirm the rule.
Sparkling Gourami Tankmates
The rule here is simple – avoid aggressive and large fish that could attack, bully, or even eat your gouramis. Remember, gouramis are largely peaceful and won’t attack back when being bullied.
They will always look to hide from their aggressors, which can affect their mental health in time.
Large fish species are also unfit for the job because they view sparkling gouramis as food. Some good tankmates include dwarf gourami, ember tetras, small rasboras, Corydoras, otocinclus catfish, ghost and Amano shrimp, and nerite snails, among others.
Even so, always keep in mind that sparkling gouramis are tiny and vulnerable fish that can be easily bullied by their tankmates. Keep an eye on their interactions to prevent that.
Are Sparkling Gourami Good for Beginners?
Yes, these fish are great for beginners, especially due to the fish’s hardiness and adaptability.
Sparkling gouramis are pretty flexible in terms of water requirements, so they’re more likely to be more forgiving of your mistakes.
The only noticeable problem you may be facing as a beginner is that of creating a stable and safe community setup.
Sparkling gouramis are easy-going fish, but, as you’ve seen, a lot can go wrong even in compatible community setups.
How to Tell if Sparkling Gourami is Male or Female?
You have several indicators that differentiate males from females, both physical and behavioral. From a physical perspective, males and females are similar in size but showcase different features.
The most notable one is the dorsal fin. Females have a shorter and rounder dorsal fin, while males have a longer and pointier one.
Females also have rounder bellies which are more visible when seen from above. Finally, males have brighter colors, especially during the mating season.
From a behavioral perspective, males are bolder and more dominant overall, but this characteristic may be more difficult to notice. Especially if you’re not watching your fish 24/7. The next one, though, is a lot more telling.
Sparkling gouramis are bubble nesters, and only the male builds the bubble nest. This is a good way to differentiate between the sexes when the mating season comes, but you should also rely on the previous indicators.
How do Sparkling Gourami Breed?
The breeding process is nester-specific. Like any other bubble nesters, the male will court the female, and then create the bubble nest for the female to lay the eggs.
The process is simple in theory but can get tricky in practice.
If you want to breed your sparkling gourami and keep as many fry as possible, consider the following:
- Invest in a breeding tank for better control of the breeding process as a whole
- Remove the gourami female as soon as the eggs have been fertilized; the male will defend the eggs aggressively, even against the gourami mother
- Remove the gourami male as soon as the fry have hatched to prevent the male from eating them
The last point is especially important because the male’s parental instincts stop as soon as the fry hatch. Yes, fish are weird like that.
Sparkling gouramis are adaptable and interesting nano fish that can easily adapt to a variety of community setups. They’re great for beginners and don’t require much long-term maintenance.
Give them some good food and aquascape their habitat properly, and they will love you unconditionally.