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Differences in the Degree of Aggression Between Honey, Pearl, and Dwarf Gourami?

Home Forums Fresh and Brackish Water Fishes Differences in the Degree of Aggression Between Honey, Pearl, and Dwarf Gourami?

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    I want to get a single Gourami for my community tank. I really want whichever Gourami I get to coexist peacefully with my other fish, and I’m trying to figure out how different the level of peacefulness/aggression is between Honey Gourami (Trichogaster chuna), Pearl Gourami (Trichopodus leerii), and Dwarf Gourami (Trichogaster lalia). 

    I’ve heard there is a difference in their level of peacefulness, with Honey being the most peaceful, Pearls being next, and Dwarfs being more aggressive. But how much of a difference is it? For those who have kept multiple types of Gourami, is the degree of aggression significant? If you are seeing a difference, what kind of behavior is different, and how much and in what ways does it seem to effect the other fish? In addition to how different aggression levels are between the 3 species, is there a big difference between males and females of each species as far as how aggressive they are?

    I’ve kept a female Honey Gourami in this tank in the past, and she was a sweet heart that, besides occasionally swimming up and touching the other fish with her feelers, left them alone, and never acted aggressive toward them. I just want to know if I got another Gourami if they would be similar in temperament, and if not how different they would be.

    Also, my Honey Gourami had an adorable habit of exploring everything around her with her feelers. Do Pearl and Dwarf Gourami share this habit?

    The tank mates would be:
    Cardinal Tetras
    Black Neon Tetras
    Gold Tetras
    Harlequin Rasboras
    Panda Corycats
    Bristlenose Pleco


    Byron Hosking

    Gourami and cichlids have much in common.  The males are territorial, and the level of this defence of “their” space can differ from individual to individual within the same species, and obviously differs from species to species.  However, females sometimes decide to exert aggressive behaviours too.  This aggressiveness (male and female) is obviously strongest toward others of the species, sometimes violently so leading to death, but it can turn against other species.

    Of the three species yo mention, the Honey is by far the most peaceful, but remember that individual fish can for various reasons behave contrary to the norm.  Males and females are easy to tell apart.  The Pearl is the one I would consider next, and the Dwarf last.  Also, the Dwarf is still not “clear” of the iridovirus problem so it is wise not to acquire this species unless it comes from a reputable breeder.

    Gourami are by nature shoaling fish, living in groups.  Behaviours among individuals within the group can be very interesting, and worth providing for by having a group in suitable space tanks.  A single male with two or three females is a good combination; more than one male needs space.  And it is good to have two females so the male is less likely to force his attentions on one to the point of severe distress and death.  I have not personally kept these fish as individuals, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be.

    The “feelers” are actually thread-like pelvic fins, and they have taste cells at the tips, so all gourami will use these to sense their surroundings.




    I think I’m leaning toward the Honeys, then.  I’m a bit hesitant about keeping a male, as I don’t want these to breed and have the male being aggressive guarding the bubble nest.  But it sounds like getting multiple females would be good for them.

    What interactions and aggression have you seen between your females?  Do they pick out territories through the tank and guard those from each other, or do they seek out each other’s company?  Have you ever had any harm done to females by other females when keeping them in groups?  Any other observations you’ve seen with yours would be great.  


    Byron Hosking

    I have not kept the Honey Gourami, so I’ll leave that for other members to comment.  But keep in mind that the male Honey is the colourful one, with females a dull brown.  A single male with no females present should be peaceful, according to species data.  Have a look at the data in our knowledge base here, https://www.seriouslyfish.com/species/trichogaster-chuna/ .  It suggests a small group.

    I have or have had Pearls, pygmy sparkling, licorice, Chocolate (two species of), and Eyespot Gourami.  With my very soft source water it is easy to provide suitable environments for the more delicate species.




    I’m lucky enough to have a very good local fish store that carries the Honey Sunset variety of T. chuna – the females of this color form are a bright yellow – they rival my Cardinal Tetras in color once they’ve settled in.  So I’m not worried about having dully colored females, like the wild forms are. 


    Darrell Ullisch

    I have kept two males and three females of T. chuna in a 4 foot long tank, and both males built nests in the Water Sprite growth at the surface. They did not pursue other tankmates, and their territories were relatively small circles around the nests. Due to the thick plant growth, I frequently saw newly hatched fry at the surface. I did not have any grow to maturity in the tank.

    I would recommend that you be sure the “Sunset” variant is chuna, and not just small labiosa. I have frequently seen the latter at sizes that looked similar to the former, but then they grow out when given adequate space.

    Interesting information: The wild type Honey Gourami used to also be known as the Sunset Gourami due to the color pattern of the male. The black on the lower part of the abdomen looked like a horizon, and the body color above that was very orange. It was most intense when the fish were breeding. What is now called “Sunset” is a burnt orange over the entire body, and, IMO, nowhere near as beautiful as a wild type male chuna in breeding color.

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