Croaking Gourami (Trichopsis vittata)
Croaking Gourami is a labyrinth fish species belonging to the Osphronemidae family. It is native to Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, and Indonesian islands of Borneo, Sumatra, and Java; where it lives in shallow, slow-moving, or still water bodies like ponds, canals, and paddy fields. It is named so because of the croaking or grunting noise that it produces with the fins while courting or settling conflicts.
Croaking Gourami usually grows up to 5 cm, though its maximum size is 7.5 cm. It can be in various colors ranging from combinations of brown, green to dark purple with black or red spots over the body. The eyes have a bluish-violet coloration, and there are 3-4 black/brown horizontal lines on its body. Croaking Gourami typically lives up to 2 years. But it can live up to 5 years with proper care.
Like all members of the Osphronemidae family, it has a labyrinth organ that enables it to breathe atmospheric oxygen from the water surface. Thus, the environmental temperature should be equal to or close to water temperature. Also, the humidity of the air surrounding the tank is necessary for labyrinth organ’s health.
The male specimens are slightly larger and display more intense coloration than the female ones. Their dorsal fins are also more pointed than the female specimens.
Behavior and Compatibility
Croaking Gourami is a peaceful species, but the male members can display territorial aggression towards each other. The male fishes can feel comfortable and peacefully coexist in a spacious aquarium. A typical conflict doesn’t lead to any physical injury and involves the males flaring their fins and darting aggressively towards each other. Each specimen needs at least 24 inches of aquarium space to feel comfortable.
Croaking Gourami is good for community aquariums and compatible with other non-aggressive fish like Cories (Corydoras family), Zebrafish (Danio rerio), Plecos (loricariid catfish), Rainbowfish (Melanotaeniidae family), Harlequin Rasboras (Trigonostigma heteromorpha), and other Gouramis. It is not compatible with Cichlids (members of the Cichlidae family) due to its small size and the aggressive behavior of the cichlid species.
Temperature: 21 – 29° C
pH: 5.5 – 8.0
Hardness: 5-18 dGH
Although Croaking gourami can exist in a wide range of water conditions, it does best in softer and slightly acidic waters. It is fairly timid and needs a well-planted tank with plenty of hiding spots. The ideal setup is an aquarium with plants having broad leaves and structures made from driftwood, clay pots, PVC pipes, or coconut shells. Leaf litter and floating plants are also good additions to setups. A warm air column above the water surface is necessary for the good condition of its labyrinth organ.
The water should not have much flow as the natural habitat of these fish is sluggish water bodies. This fish is an excellent jumper, so covering the aquarium with a proper lid is a good habit while keeping these fish.
The natural diet of Croaking gourami consists of crustaceans, insect larvae, and zooplankton. In aquariums, it accepts all kinds of dried foods such as flakes, pellets, or wafers. A varied diet with plenty of frozen or live foods like bloodworms, tubifex, brine shrimp, daphnia, etc. is necessary for the good long-term health of this fish. It also accepts dried live foods very well.
Croaking gourami is a bubble-nest building species. For spawning, the temperature must be higher than usual (around 28°C), the water level around 10 cm, and the circulation minimal. The fish need to be fed with live foods to get into breeding conditions for 1-2 weeks.
The male makes a bubble nest usually under a broad leaf or structure. Spawning occurs under the nest and the female releases up to 200 eggs in packets of 5-10. The male embeds the eggs into the bubble nest and is responsible for brood care. The male will collect any fallen eggs during the incubation period re-embed them into the nest. Also, it repairs the bubble nest periodically.
After spawning, the eggs hatch in 2-3 days, depending on the water temperature. Within the following 3-4 days, the fry finishes their egg sacs and becomes free-swimming. At this point, they should be moved to a separate tank and need infusoria or rotifer to feed on. In the following 7-9 days, they can consume larger foods like nauplii of brine shrimp. The fry reaches sexual maturity after 3-4 months.
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