Sparkling Gourami (Trichopsis pumilus)


Sparkling gourami is a small labyrinth fish species belonging to the Gourami family (Osphronemidae). It is also known as Pygmy gourami or Dwarf croaking gourami. It is native to Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam. It lives in still or slow-moving fresh water bodies in its natural habitat.

Sparkling gourami makes croaking noises with its fins when courting or settling conflicts. So, it is often mistaken in the aquarium trade with its cousin: The Croaking gourami (Trichopsis vittata). Croaking gourami is larger and grows up to 8 cm while sparkling gourami grows only up to 4 cm.


Sparkling gourami is shaped like an arrowhead and has a dark horizontal band across its body. Its body lacks depth like other gourami species. Trichopsis pumilus has a thread-like pelvic fin which is typical to Gouramis. On the fins, there are iridescent blue and green spots. Sparkling gourami has an average size of 3 cm and lives up to 3 years.

The physical differences between the two genders are not very prominent. Female specimens have a slightly duller appearance while sexually mature males develop longer ventral, dorsal, caudal, and anal fins.

Since fishes have translucent bodies, placing a bright light behind them shows their internal organs. The ovaries, which are present under the swim bladder of female Sparkling gourami are one of the key indicators to determine the gender of a specimen.

Behavior and Compatibility

Sparkling gourami is a peaceful species that can be kept as a pair, or in larger groups. It does well with other similarly-sized peaceful fish. However, it becomes stressed in the presence of larger or more aggressive fish. Many aquarists report Sparkling gourami predating on freshwater shrimp, so it is best to avoid shrimps in the same tank. The male specimens are aggressive when they defend their territory, but they do not cause any physical harm to each other. Mostly they use their croaking noises to solve any kind of conflicts.

Water Parameters

Temperature: 23 – 28° C
pH: 5.5 – 7.5
Hardness: 5-15 dGH

Sparkling gourami needs a well-planted aquarium with plenty of hiding spots to feel comfortable. The aquarium having structures made from PVC pipes, ceramic tiles, driftwood, or rocks is best for it. Dry leaves of Indian Almond or Oak trees are also good additions to the aquarium.

Trichopsis pumilus is sensitive to temperature fluctuations, so a constant temperature between 25 °C and 28 °C is necessary to keep it healthy. The aquarium must have minimal flow since this fish hails from stagnant waters. Since, it surfaces frequently to inhale atmospheric oxygen, the air above the water surface must be warm and humid to prevent harm to the labyrinth organ.


Sparkling gourami is an omnivore. In the wild, it feeds on small insects and other invertebrates. In the aquarium, it can learn to accept dried foods of all kinds. It also needs live/frozen foods like Daphnia, Brine shrimp, or bloodworms regularly to gain conditions for breeding.


Raising the water temperature (by 2-3° C) and reducing the water column to 15 cm induces sparkling gourami to spawn. The male builds a bubble nest under leaves when it is ready to breed and tries to attract the female fish by flaring its fins and swimming around.

During spawning, the female releases up to 100 eggs in batches of 10-15. The male embeds the eggs into the bubble nests and is responsible for brood care. It can be quite aggressive towards other members of the aquarium until the fry becomes free swimming.

The eggs hatch in 2-3 days and the fry need a diet of infusoria as the first food. They also need too clean waters which means regular water changes are necessary. After 10-11 days, they can accept larger foods like the nauplii of Brine shrimp or microworms. The parent fish do not predate on their offspring and can live in the same tank. When the fry becomes 21 days old, their labyrinth organs start developing. During this phase, there must be a warm and humid air column above the aquarium. It can be ensured by covering the tank with a lid or plastic film.

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