Samurai Gourami (Sphaerichthys Vaillanti)


Sphaerichthys vaillanti is the most beautiful species of Chocolate Gourami and from the family Osphronemidae. It is also called Samurai Gourami or Samurai Zebra. Sphaerichthys vaillanti is an advanced level and rare fish to acquire and is relatively new for aquarium hobbyists and they require specialized care.

This species is native to the Indonesian part of the Kalimantan River, Borneo. It usually lives in the remnants of peat swamps.

Sphaerichthys Vaillanti is hardly available with most aquarium fish dealers or tropical fish-keeping enthusiasts. They are occasionally offered for sale and of course, at a higher cost online by some global dealers.



The slightly larger size of Sphaerichthys Vaillanti distinguishes it from other Sphaerichthys species. It is easy to differentiate the male and female of this species. Some features help in distinguishing females. Females have vertical green and red stripes. The portion adjacent to the head is predominantly greenish while the tail area is more reddish. They possess a homogeneously straight lower jaw profile and the head is a more edged shape than the males.

The males are usually pale gray and look plainer than the females. A brownish tint is obvious on their skin. They have broad skin around the mouth that expands while mouthbrooding (carrying the eggs in the mouth). The slightly rounded lower jaw looks prominently larger than the females. Moreover, males have an additional vertical stripe between dorsal and anal fins. The colors of males become more intense during courting and spawning. However, females are more colorful all over the year and look different from males.


This species possesses the labyrinth organ which is a breathing organ. It is called the labyrinth organ due to its maze-like structure. This organ enables the fish to breathe atmospheric air for a certain time.

The labyrinth is the modification of the first-gill arch and consists of many highly folded flaps of tissue. The structure of the labyrinth organ differs in complexity between species. It depends on how much the inhabitant is sophisticated or how much oxygen is available for the fish.

Behavior and Compatibility

This species is extremely timid and shy. They move slowly and will easily be intimidated by other more active fish species. If there is a larger boisterous fish, they will beat Sphaerichthys Vaillanti during feeding. That is why it is important to choose tankmates with due care. It is best to keep them in smaller groups rather than in pairs.

It is recommended to place at least 6 individuals of Sphaerichthys Vaillanti together in an aquarium. These fish develop interesting behaviors among themselves. One group builds up strict hierarchies and if there are more individuals in a tank, it would be observed that group that dominates a certain place in the aquarium.

During feeding, one group chases away the other fish that are not in the group or belongs to another species. It is also critical to maintaining the number of fish in a way that they can maintain pairs during mating season.

Water Parameters

Temperature: 21-26°C
pH: 4,0 – 6,0
Hardness: 0 – 3 dGH

Sphaerichthys Vaillanti requires a native water pH level that ranges between 4.0 to 6.0. They also need blackwater conditions to establish their natural environment.

A tank of 80 to 120 liters of water is sufficient for 8 individuals of Sphaerichthys Vaillanti if the community comprises the same species only. A larger tank is needed depending on the types and kind of other tank mates chosen to live alongside.

Proper Tank Conditions

Sphaerichthys Vaillanti needs an environment that is likely to their natural environment to survive successfully. No flow or very limited movement should be maintained in the water because this is a still water fish and loves a calm and silent environment. Regular Water changes should not exceed 10 to 15 percent once a week. A larger amount of water change can alter the chemistry of water which is not proper for the fish and may cause stress on them.

Blackwater conditions which are as their natural environment could be maintained by adding beech, Oak or Ketapang Almond Leaves. These will decompose and provide necessary microorganisms that usually exist in their natural habitat. The decomposed leaves also become a natural food source for the newly released fry. The leaves can either be replaced every few weeks or let fully decompose in the tank. This would release the tannins and other chemicals such as humic and fulvic acids in the water which will help to simulate blackwater conditions as in their natural environment.

Lots of shady places, caves, roots and broken branches should be used in the tank for the fish to hide and feel comfortable. Lighting should be dim and plant species should be chosen among types like Cryptocoryne, Microsorum, Anubias, Taxiphyllum and Anubias because they can survive and grow under conditions created for Sphaerichthys vaillanti.


Primarily, this fish eats small aquatic crustaceans, insect larvae, worms, and other zooplanktons. It does not accept prepared or dried food in an aquarium at the early stages when they are first introduced in the tank environment, however, over time it starts eating that kind of food. In any case, the fish should be fed regularly with dry food at feeding times to make them familiar with such foods. Small-sized live or frozen foods such as grindal worms, Artemia nauplii, Daphnia, micro worm, etc. should also be given to keep them alive during the adaptation period. After the adaptation period, feeding any rate of regular live or frozen fare foods such as Artemia nauplii, Daphnia, grindal worm, micro worm, etc. to will help them grow with brighter colors in ideal coloration and conditioning is highly suggested.


Courting is usually initiated by the females. During the spawning period, the pair remains positioned upright in the water for several hours. The female lays the eggs on any natural object in the tank and the male fertilizes them. Then, the male collects the eggs in his mouth and keeps them for 7 to 21 days. Throughout this period, the male either doesn’t eat at all or eats very little. He mostly stays in a quiet corner of the tank.

When the baby Sphaerichthys Vaillanti is released by the father they can freely swim and their number ranges from 10 to 40. When they are first released they prey on microorganisms that exist in the aquarium. When they are first released they prey on microorganisms that exist in the aquarium. And then, when they get big enough, newly hatched baby brine shrimp and microworms can be fed to them.

After the fry is released, the male should be taken out to another tank until the fry grows adults. Otherwise, he will act as a predator and eat its young. Separate breeding and keeping tanks for the fry is always preferable. The rearing tank should be covered with a fitting lid to keep the inside temperature warm and the atmosphere humid. This helps the labyrinth organ of the young fish to develop properly and keeps them healthier.

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