The dwarf gourami (Trichogaster lalius) is a small fish that is widely distributed through Pakistan, Northern India, and Bangladesh. Apparent occurrences in Nepal and Myanmar are now thought to be a result of misidentification. Feral populations also exist in a handful of countries, including Singapore, the United States, and Colombia. Currently, all fish on sale in the aquarium trade are mass produced for the purpose and it is very unlikely to encounter wild caught specimens for sale. The dwarf gourami inhabits sluggish, heavily vegetated environments including ponds, swamps, ditches, streams, and irrigation canals.
The dwarf gourami grows to an adult size of 2.4 to 3.5 inches long. They are available in several color morphs. Males are larger and much more colorful than females. Males also develop extended dorsal and anal fins as they mature. Females are silvery in color with more modest fins, regardless of color morph.
The dwarf gourami should be maintained in an aquarium of 20 gallons or larger. Dwarf gouramis do not appreciate fast moving or turbulent water. They do best in a heavily planted aquarium with plenty of shade and hiding places. The addition of a dark substrate (CS6631) and floating plants is also recommended to calm these shy fish.
The dwarf gourami prefers a water temperature of 76°F to 82°F, a pH of 6.0 to 7.5, and a hardness of 2 to 18°H.
The dwarf gourami is typically a peaceful fish, though it may be territorial, especially with its own kind. Tank mates should be chosen with care and should not be too large, active, or aggressive enough to intimidate the dwarf gouramis or outcompete them for food. Good tank mates include tetras, rasboras. peaceful dwarf cichlids, peaceful barbs, Corydoras sp. and smaller Loricariids. Fish to avoid are other gouramis, bettas, fancy male guppies, and other flashy fish as these may trigger aggression in dwarf gouramis.
The dwarf gourami is thought to be omnivorous in nature, feeding on small invertebrates, algae and other aufwuchs (German term meaning 'surface growth' that is used to describe the aggregate of plants, animals and detritus adhering to solid surfaces such as rocks or vegetation in aquatic environments). It will accept most foods offered in the aquarium, and a good quality flake food (AL165) is acceptable as the staple diet. Supplement this with regular meals of small live and frozen foods such as bloodworms (SF4792) for the fish to develop the best health and coloration. For maximum color, growth, and health these fish will look their best when given probiotics (AL169) in addition to a balanced diet.