Blue Gourami is referred to the various color morphs & patterns of captive bred Three Spot Gourami fish; other names include Opaline Blue Gourami, Marble Gourami, Blue Morph Gourami etc. There are other color morphs like silver, yellow or gold, the yellow or golden morph is called the Golden Gourami which is also popular in the fish keeping hobby. The naturally occurring Three Spot Gourami is Native to south eastern parts of Asia which includes South China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Cambodia & has been introduced to other parts of the world.
Their natural habitat includes slow moving waters which are vegetated, flooded areas in forest, ponds, ditches, canals, swamps etc. In their natural habitat these fish feed on small insects & insect larvae, crustaceans, zooplankton. These fish are known to grow up to 6 inches in length, in an aquarium their average size is between 4 to 5 inches approx.
Blue Gourami fall under the category of Anabantoidei & also called "Labyrinths" (labyrinth is an organ which allows fish to breathe Atmospheric air). The Pelvic fins of this fish are modified into Antenna-like, this antenna's have touch sensitive cells; Blue Gourami's use this to feel their surroundings; however, not all labyrinth fish have these antenna-like modified fins, a good example of this is the Betta Fish.
Visual differences between Male & Female Blue/Golden Gourami Fish
Male Blue Gourami has a dorsal fin which is pointed like you can see in the picture above; Male Gourami's can be territorial & aggressive when fully grown. They build bubble nest when breeding, they would place the eggs in this bubble nest for them to hatch; the male also protects the new born fry for few days.
Blue Gourami Aquarium Care
Blue Gourami fish is a good option to get into the hobby, they are hardy fish & make good compatible tank mates for various similar sized & temperament freshwater fish. They can be housed in a 20 to 30 gallon aquarium; maintenance is easy, they are not picky eaters, you can house a single Blue Gourami with other fish, I have housed them in planted tanks & aquarium with artificial plants, they seemed at home on either type of step up; however, I would recommend a planted aquarium as it impacts their health & does they greater good than aquarium with artificial plants. They can be included in community aquariums with other live-bearers, few types of tetra's & barbs. Group of Male & Female Blue Gourami can be housed in the same aquarium, best ratio is 1 male for every 3 to 4 females. They can be housed in 30 gallon or bigger tank, they are usually well-behaved & non-aggressive to other tank mates. Ensure the aquarium is well decorated imitating their natural habitat. Monitor aggression once they are fully grown they may harass slower or weaker fish. Below information will help understand their requirements in an aquarium.
Aquarium Size : 20 to 30 gallon or bigger (80 to 120 liters approx)
In case you house a single Blue Gourami with other tank mates then a 20 gallon aquarium should suffice. In case you want a Blue Gourami community then the tank should be 30 gallon or bigger. Ideal tank size is highly recommended, so that you can create a replica of their natural environment for them to have enough place to swim, hide or simply rest. Aggression needs to be monitored in case you have a group of fully grown Blue Gouramis in the same aquarium; best ratio is 1 male with 2 to 3 females.
Temperature range : 73 to 82° F (22.8 to 27.8° C)
Three Spot Gourami is a tropical fish ,they like warm water. If the temperature in aquarium is not steady or drops below the ideal temperature it might affect their health. Temperature should be stable & never drop or increase by 2 degrees in a day.
pH range : 6.5 to 8
Most Aquarist's advice pH range to be around 6.5 to 8.0 for Blue Gourami; a stable pH level of 7 is easily achievable in a planted aquarium. Its important to have a stable water parameters as this effects the Osmoregulation in fish.
Water hardness : under 180 ppm (soft to hard)
Filtration : Blue Gouramis prefer low to moderate water movement in the aquarium; HOB (hang on back filters) or sponge filter would do the job. Strong water movement would stress this fish; remember the Three Spot Gourami is a Labyrinth, they would reach to the surface to breathe air & fully grown Blue Gouramis build bubble nest; hence a strong current would disrupt the nest & discourage them to move to surface & breathe air.
Food : These fish are Omnivores; flakes, pellets, freeze dried worms, Live & Frozen food can be fed. Spirulina based food should be their stable food & meaty food can be fed twice in a weak.
Tank Mates for Blue Gourami & Golden Gourami
Blue Gourami or Golden Gourami fish is a great option for beginners in the hobby, they are hardy & they make great compatible tank mates for various similar sized & temperament freshwater fish. These fish have wider pH range, temperature range than most freshwater. This makes Blue Gourami or Golden Gourami fish a good option in a community aquarium. You may see aggression once they are fully grown.
Male Gouramis may get aggressive as they mature, keeping the right male to female ratio of one male for every 3 to 4 females will avoid any unwanted aggression; tank size & tank decoration also matters hugely.
In case you want to set up a community tank with single Gourami & other types of fish in it, make sure the aquarium is at least 20 gallon or bigger. With the right tank mates there will not be much aggression.
Compatible tank mates for Blue Gourami & Golden Gourami includes Molly Fish, Swordtail Fish, Dwarf Gourami, Platy Fish, L. Guntea Loach, Clown Loach, Yoyo Loach, Serpae Tetra, Black Neon Tetra, Glowlight Tetra, Cherry Barbs, Pearl Gourami, Moonlight Gourami, Siamese algae eater, Garra Rufa, Giant Danios, Western Rainbow fish, Apple snails etc. Any non- aggressive & similar sized fish can be kept with Blue Gourami or Golden Gourami, avoid smaller docile fish as Gouramis maybe semi-aggressive at times hence monitoring aggression is really important.
Tank Decoration for Blue & Golden Gourami
When you have somewhat a semi-aggressive fish your best bet would be on the right tank decoration, tank size, male to female ratio & compatible tank mates to subdue unwanted aggression. Three Spot Gourami is semi-aggressive when they are fully grown especially the males; females may also be aggressive at times, so decorating your tank with plants, rocks, driftwood etc, will help. In a planted tank colors on Gouramis are vibrant, hence a planted aquarium is highly recommended for all Three Spot Gourami variants, types or morphs. Floating plants & plants which grow from bottom of the tank to surface is recommended, some of the plants I use in Gourami tank set-ups are Cabomba, Water lily, Vallisneria, Dollar Banana Plant etc. These plants grow to the surface & Gouramis like hanging around them. Blue Gourami are middle & surface dwellers, they spend lot of time in this area of the aquarium. Another factor to keep in mind is they build bubble nest usually under floating plants or vegetation close to to surface so ensure even the water movement is not on the higher side as this may stress Gouramis. Driftwood adds great cover & helps with maintaining lower pH; you can use rocks or pots to decorate the aquarium bottom, this would also help provide a cover to lesser dominant fish.
Breeding Blue Gourami & Golden Gourami
In case you want to breed Blue Gouramis, the aquarium should be at least 20 gallon or bigger; introduce healthy Male & Female Gourami into the tank. Use a sponge filter in the tank as this would be safe for the fry; condition them well with food & do your regular water changes; increase the temperature by 2 degrees until you hit 78 to 82° F (25.5 to 27.8° C) wait until the male darkens his colors & see him building a bubble nest, males use plant material in the nest, so you can add some floating plants. Once the nest is built he would approach the female & start to flare fins swimming around the female & chasing her until she accepts to spawn; once the female is ready to spawn the male would wrap his body around the female & turns her almost upside down embracing her, this is how most Labyrinths spawn, when the eggs are released by the female, same time the male fertilizes those eggs & secures them in the nest by building bubbles under them. The embrace is repeated until the female has released all the eggs; at this point the female has to be removed as the male would be aggressive after this. Blue Gourami fry hatch in 12 to 24 hours, Females may lay up to 500 or more eggs. Male protects the eggs & later the fry once they are hatched for 4 to 5 days (Fry are free swimming in 2 to 3 days of time) he would not feed during this time. The Female needs to be removed from the nest after spawning & the male has to be removed once the fry are free swimming to avoid the fry being eaten by the male. Gourami Fry can be fed baby brine shrimp & crushed flakes. The fry mature in about 4 to 6 months of time.