Native to the warm, slow rivers, ponds, and rice paddies of Southeast Asia, the Sparkling Gourami (Trichopsis Pumila) is a vegetation-loving little fish with a gorgeous technicolor body.
With their lung-ish labyrinth organ, these little things are just as fascinating on the inside as they are on the outside. It allows them to surface for a gill-full of air in order to survive oxygen-starved waters.
The dancing brilliance of their scales has made them incredibly popular among fish-keeping communities, yet despite their beauty, they’re not quite as widespread as other Gourami variants. So, to put that right, let’s shine a light on this wonderful species.
I’ve got some great news for all you prospective Sparkling Gourami parents out there. These twinkly little so-and-sos are very easy to care for, making them an amazing choice for novice aquarists looking to cut their teeth with a low-maintenance fish friend.
However, that’s no reason to get sloppy with your responsibilities as guardian of another life form, so let’s dig straight in and bring you up to speed with all the Sparkling Gourami care essentials!
You can get away with something as small as a 10-gallon tank for your glitzy new family member, but I’d highly recommend going slightly larger. A 15-gallon tank gives your fish a little more wiggle room, ensuring it lives a long, healthy, and fulfilled life.
Should you like your Sparkling Gourami so much that you want to bring more into the fold, you’ll need to increase tank size by 10 gallons per fish.
This variant of Gourami may be referred to as “Sparkling” because of their shiny scales, but the adjective also happens to be a dead fit for their ebullient personalities too.
These little guys absolutely love hanging out with other fish, so if you really want to keep your Sparkling Gourami happy, introduce them to some scaly siblings.
They’re not judgy, either; they’ll befriend just about any peaceful fish around the same size, including…
- Neon Tetras
- Ember Tetras
- Neon Rainbowfish
- Dwarf Gouramis
- Pearl Gouramis
- Dwarf Pencilfish
- Cory Catfish
Larger fish are to be avoided, as they’ll inevitably end up nibbling on your Sparkling Gourami.
Same Species Tanks
Some fish can be quite aggressive towards their own, even if they get on like a house on fire with other species. Fortunately, that’s not the case with Sparkling Gouramis.
They’re happiest when living together in groups of four or more, which means you can bejewel your tank with as many as you can responsibly fit in there.
Sparkling Gouramis may be beautiful, but they’re also resilient, which means you don’t have to be insanely precise with their water parameters in order to keep them healthy and happy. Let’s take a look at some figures…
- Water Temperature: 76 – 82° F (24.4 – 27.7° C)
- pH: 6 – 7
- Water Hardness: 4 – 8 dKH
Keeping the water in these optimal zones shouldn’t be too difficult. Perform a couple of checks a week, so you can nip any issues in the bud, and try not to let your maintenance schedule slide. Their lung-like organ may help them breathe in low-oxygen conditions, but it won’t help them in poor water conditions.
Sparkling Gouramis also appreciate some fresh water each week, a quarter of the tank to be precise, but be careful not to change too much, as that can be just as problematic as changing too little.
What to Put in Their Tank
I know you want a clear view to appreciate these stunning fish, but there is an insane amount of vegetation in Sparkling Gouramis’ natural habitats, so you’ll need to fill up on plants.
Sparkling Gouramis love playing and exploring their environment, so a detailed plant display will greatly enrich their lives, and make them a joy to observe. Without sufficient vegetation in their habitat, they may become bored or stressed, especially if they’re on their own.
Having said that, there is such a thing as too many plants. They still need some space to stretch their fins and swim, and as they’ll be gulping some fresh air from time to time, they need a clear path to the surface.
Feel free to mix it up a bit with your choice of vegetation, but notable favorites include frogbit
In terms of substrate, it’s the dealer’s choice, really. Sparkling Gouramis won’t typically spend too much time towards the bottom of the tank, so if you have another fish in there, cater to their needs instead.
Sparkling Gouramis also appreciate the odd non-leafy hiding place, so by all means incorporate some driftwood or rock formations. As long as there is still plenty of swimming room, it’s all good.
They prefer slow-moving or still waters, so make sure to choose a low-power filter that won’t cause too much turbulence.
You’ll be over the moon to hear that Sparkling Gouramis aren’t genetically predisposed to any sort of illness. You just need to worry about general infirmity – Ich being the usual suspect – which can be avoided by keeping the water in tip-top shape and feeding your fish a healthy diet made up of quality foods.
Food and Diet
As omnivores, Sparkling Gouramis aren’t particularly picky-eaters — they’re just hungry! In the wild, their menu consists of insects and zooplankton.
You can also treat them to some veggies now and again to make sure they’re receiving all the nutrition they need to grow big (for Gouramis, anyway) and strong. Gourami Gourmets swear by blanched lettuce and spinach.
They eat a small meal twice daily, and the pieces need to be a suitable size for their mouths.
Sparkling Gouramis tend to live for around 4–5 years, but there are a few variables that can reduce their life expectancy. Genetics, quality of breeding, and pre-purchase care can have a huge impact on the length of their life, so always source your fish from a reputable seller.
As I’ve already touched upon a few times, these fish are amazing to look at. Both their fins and bodies are radiant with gleaming spots of color spanning red, green, and blue hues. They’re basically little swimming galaxies twinkling away in a tank.
Their general form is also quite stunning. They boast a large, sparkly dorsal fin that resembles that of a surfboard, and their anal fin runs all the way along their body from their ventral to caudal fins.
The intersecting line between their dorsal and ventral fins marks the thickest part of their body. From then on, they taper quickly towards the small, almost clam-shaped caudal fin.
Their fins have a faintly blue base color, a vivid red fringe, and are strewn with black spots. They often also feature a dark red-brown stripe that travels along the middle of their side from their eye to their tail.
Sparkling Gouramis are relatively small fish and will only reach about 1.6 inches, even in optimal conditions, which is another reason to keep a group of them rather than just the one.
Behavior and Temperament
For the most part, Sparkling Gouramis are incredibly peaceful beings. Sure, you might notice some mild aggression between males, but it’s unlikely to become a serious problem.
Due to that labyrinth organ of theirs, they like to be close to the surface, but as smaller fish, they have a strong hiding instinct, so don’t worry if they’re enjoying some them-time out of sight.
If you want to save some money on buying Sparkling Gouramis, they’re relatively easy to breed in a typical home aquarium setup.
To get the romance going, it’s best to crank the water temperature up just a couple of degrees in order to replicate their natural habitat in breeding season. Some also claim that reducing the water level slightly helps put them in the mood for love.
It all starts with the male crafting a bubble nest. He’ll then court the female, and if he succeeds in seducing her, she’ll lay her eggs, and the pair of them will move them into the bubble nest using their mouths.
Once fertilization is complete, it’s best to place the mother fish and all other tank mates in another aquarium, as the male can become aggressive while defending the bubble nest.
As soon as the fry have spawned, you’re free to remove the male as well. Now it’s just a matter of raising the young on a healthy diet of foods like plankton, infusoria, and artemia.
Gender Differences: Male Vs Female
Sexing Sparkling Gouramis can be difficult, but males are identified by the red spots above the central body line. Failing that, you can tell females apart by their comparatively dull spots.
- Sparkling Gouramis have a specialized pectoral zone that allows them to make audible croaking or clicking noises.
- The males craft bubble nests for the female’s eggs during reproduction.
- They’re also referred to as Pygmy Gouramis due to their diminutive size.
- If the light hits them just right, their eyes appear bright, electric blue.