Licorice Gourami Care: Complete Guide for Beginners

The Licorice Gourami is a petite freshwater fish hailing from the labyrinth fish family. These species require specific care due to their unique habitat needs. These beautiful, peaceful fish are an ideal choice for those new to aquarium keeping. In this guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know to set up and maintain the perfect environment for your Licorice Gouramis.

licorice gourami

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Licorice Gourami Species Profile and Identification

The Licorice Gourami (Parosphromenus deissneri) is a small, exotic freshwater fish that is native to Southeast Asia, particularly Malaysia and Indonesia. They are strikingly beautiful, with their unique color patterns and, due to their gentle nature and ease of care, make an excellent choice for beginner aquarists looking for unique additions to their tank.

Physical Features

  • Size: Typically grows up to 1.5 inches (3.8 cm)
  • Coloration: Dark black base color with horizontal yellow stripes, iridescent blue or green markings on their fins. Males display brighter colors and longer fins.
  • Fins: Dorsal and anal fins are elongated, especially in males.
  • Lifespan: Approximately 3-4 years in well-maintained aquariums.

Habitat and Environment

These fascinating fish are typically found in slow-moving streams, swamps, and peat forests. Licorice Gouramis thrive in slightly acidic, soft water with plenty of plant life, which is essential to mimic their natural environment. Keep in mind that they are sensitive to water changes, and require regular monitoring of water parameters.

To ensure that you can correctly identify Licorice Gouramis, pay attention to their size, color, and fins, which are the key distinguishing features. Males will have more vibrant colors and elongated fins, while both sexes will have a distinct black base color with iridescent markings. 

Licorice Gourami Supplies

Before diving into the world of Licorice Gourami care, it’s essential for you to acquire the appropriate supplies to ensure a healthy and comfortable environment for your aquatic pets. These supplies include the necessary equipment for maintaining a stable aquatic environment, proper nutrition, and a suitable range of tank-mates for a thriving community.

Essential Equipment

  • Aquarium: A minimum of 10 gallons (38 liters) is required for a pair of Licorice Gouramis, with larger tanks recommended for accommodating more fish.
  • Filtration System: Opt for a gentle sponge filter to prevent water disturbance and maintain favorable water conditions.
  • Heater: An adjustable aquarium heater will help maintain water temperature between 72-84°F (22-29°C) for optimal fish health.
  • Lighting: Low to moderate intensity lighting is ideal for replicating Licorice Gourami’s natural habitat.
  • Thermometer: A reliable thermometer ensures precise temperature monitoring and adjustments if needed.
  • Test kits: Regular water monitoring is a must; consider purchasing test kits for pH, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels.

Food and Nutrition

Licorice Gouramis are omnivores and mainly feed on small invertebrates, algae, and other microorganisms in their natural habitat. For a balanced diet, consider providing:

  • Frozen or live food such as brine shrimp, Daphnia, and mosquito larvae
  • Vegetable-based pellets or flakes
  • Algae wafers

Tank Decorations

Recreating a natural environment is essential to keep your Licorice Gouramis stress-free and comfortable. Consider incorporating:

  • Floating plants like Frogbit, Water Lettuce, or Salvinia which provide shade and resting places
  • Submerged plants such as Java Fern, Cryptocoryne, or Anubias for hiding spots
  • Driftwood, rocks, and leaf litter to mimic their natural habitat and provide additional shelter

With the proper supplies and appropriate aquarium setup, you’re well on your way to creating a perfect environment for your Licorice Gouramis to thrive. Remember to take the time to research and invest in quality equipment, as it plays a vital role in the overall health and happiness of your aquatic pets.

Licorice Gourami Tank Setup

When setting up a tank for your Licorice Gourami, it’s essential to recreate their natural habitat as closely as possible. For this, you’ll need a smaller tank, ideally a 10-gallon capacity with a heavily planted environment.

First, choose a quality substrate to support your plants, such as aquarium soil, fine gravel or sand. Aquatic plants commonly found in the gourami’s native habitat include Java moss, Java fern, and Cryptocoryne. Ensure these plants are well-rooted, to provide ample hiding spots for your fish.

To help maintain water quality, opt for a gentle sponge filter as Licorice Gouramis prefer calm water. Strong currents can make it difficult for them to swim, and could stress them. Also, keep in mind that a heater is necessary to maintain a stable water temperature between 72-82°F (22-28°C).

Next, make the tank visually appealing by including some driftwood and leaf litter, which will mimic their natural surroundings. These will provide additional hiding places, giving the Licorice Gourami a sense of security.

Create a balance of light and shade in the tank by using floating plants such as duckweed or Amazon frogbit. Licorice Gouramis thrive in dimly-lit spaces. So, control the light with timed lighting, around 10-12 hours per day.

Lastly, ensure a tightly-fitted lid to cover the tank as these fish can jump. Keep an air gap between the water surface and the lid as Licorice Gouramis rely on atmospheric air.

  • Use a 10-gallon capacity tank with a heater and gentle sponge filter.
  • Recreate their natural habitat with substrate, native plants, driftwood, and leaf litter.
  • Maintain a balance of light and shade with floating plants and timed lighting.
  • Provide a tightly-fitted lid with an air gap for safety and breathing.

Licorice Gourami Water Requirements

When it comes to water requirements for Licorice Gourami, it’s essential to ensure that they’re provided with the best environment that mimics their natural habitat. It’s key to remember that they originate from soft water areas and prefer acidic water conditions.

The pH range for a Licorice Gourami tank should be around 4.0 to 6.5. It’s crucial to maintain a stable pH level, as fluctuations can be harmful or even fatal for these delicate fish. To maintain this preferred pH range, peat or almond leaves can be added to the tank to help naturally lower the water’s pH.

Some important water parameters to consider for your Licorice Gourami tank are:

  • Temperature: Maintain a tank temperature between 72°F to 82°F (22°C to 28°C). Keep the temperature stable and avoid fluctuations.
  • Water hardness: Soft water is preferred, with a range of 1 to 5 dGH.
  • Ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels: Ensure that ammonia and nitrite levels stay at 0 ppm, while maintaining nitrate levels as low as possible, preferably below 20 ppm. It’s essential to regularly monitor the water parameters and make necessary adjustments.

Here are some tips to help maintain correct water conditions for your Licorice Gourami:

  1. Regularly measure the water parameters to ensure they are within the necessary range for optimal health.
  2. Conduct regular water changes to keep the tank clean and maintain optimal water quality. A 20-30% water change is recommended weekly.
  3. Use a quality aquarium heater to maintain constant and stable water temperatures.
  4. Equip your tank with an efficient filtration system to manage waste and unwanted particles. This will ensure the water remains clean and your fish stays healthy.

Providing the right water conditions for your Licorice Gourami is extremely important to ensure their health and well-being. Remember, consistency and regular monitoring is key to successfully caring for these beautiful fish.

Licorice Gourami Diet and Feeding

Providing a proper diet for your Licorice Gourami is essential to keep them in good health and maintain their vibrant colors. These lively fish are omnivorous, which means they require a mixture of both plant and animal-based foods in their diet.

  • High-quality pellets or flakes are an excellent option to provide a well-balanced diet for your fish. Ensure the food is made specifically for small tropical fish and contains essential nutrients like vitamins, minerals, and proteins.
  • Live and frozen foods such as daphnia, brine shrimp, mosquito larvae, and bloodworms should be regularly included as a source of protein. Feeding them live foods encourages their natural hunting instincts, keeping them active and engaged.
  • Plant-based foods such as blanched spinach or zucchini can also be added to their diet. Not only do these vegetables have nutritional value, but they also help mimic the natural environment of the Licorice Gourami.

When feeding your Licorice Gourami, consider these guidelines:

  • Feed them small amounts, twice a day. You should only give them as much as they can consume within a few minutes, to avoid polluting the water with excess food.
  • Be aware of overfeeding, as this can cause health issues like obesity and bloating. Observe their feeding habits and adjust accordingly, to maintain a healthy diet.
  • To keep a balanced diet, alternate between different types of food so that your fish receive all the nutrition they need.

By offering a balanced and varied diet, you are ensuring your Licorice Gourami will thrive and display their bright, beautiful colors.

Licorice Gourami Care Schedule

To ensure the well-being of your Licorice Gourami, it’s essential to establish and maintain a care schedule. By diligently following your schedule, you can prevent potential health problems and keep your fish healthy and happy in their tank environment.

  • Daily tasks: Each day, check the tank’s water temperature, making sure it stays consistent within the acceptable range (72 to 82 °F). Feed your Licorice Gourami once or twice a day, providing small portions of high-quality food.
  • Weekly tasks: Once a week, carefully examine the fish for any signs of illness or stress. Take note of their body shape, color, and overall level of activity.
  • Bi-weekly tasks: Every two weeks, perform a partial water change (approximately 20% of the tank’s volume). This helps maintain optimal water quality by removing any built-up waste or chemicals.
  • Monthly tasks: Thoroughly inspect the aquarium’s plants, decorations, and equipment for any issues. Clean or replace the filtration components as needed.

Proper commitment to this care schedule will go a long way in maintaining a healthy environment for your Licorice Gourami. Ultimately, it will also make the entire aquarium-keeping experience a more enjoyable one for you.

Licorice Gourami Health Problems

Like any other fish, Licorice Gourami can face a few health problems, but with proper care and attention, you can keep them healthy and happy. Two common health problems and their solutions are listed below:

Fungal Infections: Licorice Gouramis might suffer from fungal infections on their fins or body, appearing as white or grayish cotton-like patches. To prevent fungal infections, always maintain the water quality and temperature in your tank. If you notice such symptoms, treat the fish with a proper anti-fungal medication, following the guidelines provided on the product.

Parasitic Infections: Theses infections are often caused by poor water quality or contamination due to dead fish or plants in the tank. Examples include ich and velvet. To prevent parasitic infections, keep the water clean with regular water changes and check for any dead organisms.

If your fish shows signs of a parasitic infection, such as a salt-like dusting on the fish’s body or rapid breathing, treat the tank with a suitable medication available at pet stores.

A few tips to keep your Licorice Gourami healthy are:

  • Test the water regularly for ammonia, nitrites, and pH to ensure an optimal living environment.
  • Perform water changes on a weekly basis, replacing 20-30% of the water in the tank.
  • Remove uneaten food and dead plants from the tank, as they can lead to poor water quality and illness.
  • Observe your fish daily for any signs of abnormal behavior or appearance, taking prompt action if needed.

By keeping an eye on your Licorice Gourami’s overall health and maintaining proper water conditions, you can ensure your fish live a long, healthy life.

Licorice Gourami Tank Mates

Choosing compatible tank mates for your Licorice Gourami is vital for their overall well-being and stress-free environment. Keep in mind that these fish are best suited for species-specific tanks or those with other small and peaceful inhabitants.

Some compatible tank mates for Licorice Gouramis include:

  • Boraras species: Small and colorful, they make excellent tank mates, coexisting peacefully with Licorice Gourami.
  • Small rasboras: Another peaceful and colorful fish that won’t bother your Licorice Gourami.
  • Dwarf shrimp: They can coexist well, adding variety to the aquarium and helping with tank maintenance.
  • Microdevario and Microrasbora species: Their small size and calm demeanor make them good tank mates for the Licorice Gourami.
  • Small snails: They won’t disturb your Gourami, but some Licorice Gourami might occasionally try to eat the snails.

It is essential to avoid keeping Licorice Gouramis with large, aggressive fish like cichlids or aggressive barbs. These fish might bully or even eat your Licorice Gourami.

To enhance the living conditions for your Licorice Gourami and their tank mates:

  • Provide ample hiding places, such as rocks, driftwood, and live plants.
  • Maintain a consistent water temperature and pH level.
  • Keep the aquarium clean and free of excessive debris.

By doing your research and carefully selecting compatible tank mates, you’ll ensure a harmonious environment for your Licorice Gourami and its companions. Remember to introduce new tank mates gradually and monitor their interactions to ensure a stress-free and healthy environment for all.

Licorice Gourami Breeding

Breeding Licorice Gouramis can be a fascinating and rewarding experience, but it is important to create the right conditions for them to thrive. Here, you will learn the essentials of breeding Licorice Gouramis and what you can do to increase your chances of success.

Approaching the Breeding Period

  • Start by raising the temperature in the tank to 80-82°F (27-28°C) which will help stimulate the breeding process.
  • Increase live food in their diet, like brine shrimp and daphnia, as it will provide them with the necessary nutrients to breed.
  • Introduce an area for the male to build its bubble nest, such as a floating plant or coconut shells.

Breeding Behavior

Once the breeding conditions are set, observe the following behaviors among your Licorice Gouramis.

  • The male will be more vibrant in color and will engage in smaller territorial skirmishes with other males.
  • The female may show a rounded belly which is a sign that she’s carrying eggs.
  • The breeding pair will perform courtship rituals around the bubble nest area, such as circling each other or chasing one another.

Bubble Nest and Fertilization

  • Once the male constructs a bubble nest, the pair will engage in a side-by-side embrace beneath it during which eggs will be released and fertilized.
  • It is common for the female to help retrieving the eggs and bring them to the bubble nest.
  • After the mating is over, the male becomes responsible for the eggs and tending to the nest while the female must be removed to avoid aggression.

Caring for the Fry

  • After around 24-48 hours, the Licorice Gourami eggs will hatch, and the fry will appear.
  • Once the fry become free-swimming (usually within 5-7 days), you can start feeding them with microworms or infusoria.

By following these steps and carefully observing your fish’s behavior, you should be able to successfully breed your Licorice Gouramis.


Providing proper care for your Licorice Gourami is essential for their health and well-being. With the right tank setup, diet, and maintenance, you can ensure a thriving environment for these unique and beautiful fish. Feel free to leave a comment below and share your experiences with caring for Licorice Gouramis.

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