Thick-Lipped Gourami Care: Complete Guide for Beginners

The Thick-Lipped Gourami is an excellent choice for any fish enthusiast! This complete guide for beginners will cover everything you need to know about this fascinating fish species. Dive in and discover the essentials of their tank setup, diet, and maintenance to provide your Thick-Lipped Gourami with a happy, healthy aquatic environment.

banded gourami

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Thick-Lipped Gourami Species Profile and Identification

The Thick-Lipped Gourami (Trichogaster labiosa), also known as the Banded Gourami, originates from Southeast Asia. They are known for their distinctively thick, fleshy lips, which help them explore their surroundings and locate food.

  • Size: Adult Thick-Lipped Gouramis can reach up to 3.5-4 inches (9-10 cm) in length, making them a medium-sized fish suitable for most community aquariums.
  • Color: Their base color is usually pale silver to light brown, with a prominent lateral dark stripe running from the snout, through the eye, and along the body to the caudal fin. Males typically have a more vibrant coloration, with hints of blue and red along their fins.
  • Lifespan: The average lifespan of thick-lipped gouramis is 4-5 years, but with a good care routine these fish can live up to 7 years.

A few other features to help identify Thick-Lipped Gouramis include:

  • Dorsal fin: They have a pointed dorsal fin with the first few rays extending longer than the rest.
  • Anal fin: This fin is narrow at the base and broadens towards the end, making it appear rounded or fan-shaped.
  • Labyrinth organ: Like other Gouramis, they have a specialized breathing organ called a labyrinth organ. This allows them to breathe atmospheric oxygen, making them more adapted to low-oxygen environments.

Knowing these key characteristics will help you correctly identify your Thick-Lipped Gourami and ensure proper care. In the upcoming sections, we will be discussing the ideal tank setup, water requirements, diet, and other factors essential for keeping your Thick-Lipped Gourami healthy and stress-free.

Thick-Lipped Gourami Supplies

To ensure your Thick-Lipped Gourami thrives in its new environment, you need to gather essential supplies. Let’s discuss the important items required to set up a perfect habitat for this fish species:

  • Aquarium: You’ll need a tank of at least 20 gallons to house your Thick-Lipped Gourami comfortably. Ensure the aquarium is sturdy and well-constructed, as this fish is known to jump.
  • Filtration system: A good filtration system is crucial for maintaining water quality. Choose an efficient filter that provides ample biological and mechanical filtration.
  • Heater: Thick-Lipped Gouramis require a stable water temperature of 75-82°F (24-28°C). Invest in a reliable and adjustable aquarium heater to maintain the water temperature within this range.
  • Thermometer: Regularly monitoring water temperature is crucial. An aquarium thermometer lets you easily check the water temperature, ensuring it remains within the preferred range for your fish.
  • Substrate: A soft, sandy substrate is appropriate for Thick-Lipped Gouramis. Avoid using sharp gravel, as it can injure the delicate fins and ventral area of the fish.
  • Decorations: Thick-Lipped Gouramis enjoy having plenty of hiding spots and shelter. Incorporate live or artificial plants, caves, and driftwood in the tank setup to create a suitable environment for them.
  • Lighting: Moderate lighting is suitable for this species. Select LED or fluorescent lights that mimic a natural day-night cycle and do not emit excessive heat.
  • Water test kit: Ensuring water quality in your aquarium is vital. Use a water test kit to monitor and maintain the right water conditions, including pH, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels.
  • Fishnet: A fishnet for handling your Thick-Lipped Gourami safely during water changes or tank cleaning is an essential tool to have on hand.

banded gourami infographic

Once you have gathered all the necessary supplies, you can proceed with setting up the tank and creating a comfortable home for your Thick-Lipped Gourami.

Thick-Lipped Gourami Tank Setup

Setting up a suitable tank for your Thick-Lipped Gourami is essential to providing a comfortable and stress-free environment. Let’s discuss the important aspects of a proper tank setup for these unique fish.

  • Tank size: A minimum tank size of 20 gallons (76 liters) is recommended for the Thick-Lipped Gourami. They need adequate space to swim and explore without feeling cramped. It’s better to opt for a larger tank, especially if you plan to keep more than one Gourami or other tank mates.
  • Substrate and decorations: Ideally, use a dark sand or small-sized gravel substrate in your tank setup. This not only enhances the Gourami’s coloration, but also eases the cleaning process. Adding live plants like Java moss and floating types like Water Sprite or Hornwort creates a more natural habitat and provides hiding spaces. Also, don’t forget to include rocks, driftwood, and ceramic decorations to help your fish feel secure.
  • Filtration and aeration: Thick-Lipped Gouramis appreciate still or slow-moving water, so choose a gentle filter with adjustable circulation rate. They also require well-oxygenated water, which can be achieved through the use of an air stone connected to an air pump.
  • Heating and lighting: Gouramis thrive in water temperatures ranging from 72-82°F (22-28°C). Make sure to have a reliable heater and a thermometer to maintain a stable temperature. As for lighting, they can adapt to various levels, but a standard aquarium light on a timer simulating a natural day-night cycle works best.

Now that you have a basic understanding of the Thick-Lipped Gourami tank setup, you can create a cozy and attractive environment that meets their needs, enhancing their health and well-being.

Thick-Lipped Gourami Water Requirements

One of the most crucial aspects of keeping Thick-Lipped Gouramis healthy and thriving is providing the right water conditions in their aquarium. Paying attention to water temperature, pH levels, hardness, and consistent water quality should be your primary concern as a dedicated aquarium hobbyist.

  • Temperature: Thick-Lipped Gouramis prefer a temperature range of 75 to 82°F (24 to 27.7°C) in their tanks. You can use a high-quality aquarium heater and thermometer to maintain this temperature range, which helps Gouramis stay stress-free, healthy, and comfortable.
  • pH Levels: These fish thrive in slightly acidic to neutral water conditions. It’s essential to maintain a pH level between 6.0 and 7.5 for the optimum health of your Thick-Lipped Gourami. You can easily test these parameters by using a reliable aquarium test kit available in the market.
  • Water Hardness: Soft to moderately hard water is ideal for Thick-Lipped Gouramis. The adequate range of water hardness should be between 4 and 12 dH (70 and 210 ppm) for their well-being.
  • Consistent Water Quality: Regular water changes and maintaining good filtration are crucial in keeping ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels in check. Change 25 to 30% of the water every two weeks and check and clean the filter at regular intervals.

Ensuring the water requirements are met for your Thick-Lipped Gourami, including 75 to 82°F temperature, 6.0 to 7.5 pH levels, 4 to 12 dH water hardness, and maintaining consistent water quality will promote a healthy environment for your fish.

A proper water environment ensures that your Thick-Lipped Gouramis will thrive, exhibit bright colors, and display their unique personality in your fish tank.

Thick-Lipped Gourami Diet and Feeding

Thick-Lipped Gouramis are omnivorous fish, which means their diet consists of a mixture of plant-based food and small aquatic animals. In order to maintain their health and vibrancy, it is crucial to provide a balanced and diverse diet.

  • Live and frozen food: Brine shrimp, daphnia, and bloodworms are perfect for meeting their protein needs.
  • Vegetables: Supplement live and frozen food with blanched vegetables like spinach, lettuce or zucchini to provide necessary nutrients.
  • High-quality flakes and pellets: Choose Gourami-specific food options which cater to their nutritional requirements more effectively.

Feed your Gouramis two to three times a day, ensuring they consume all food within three to five minutes. To avoid overfeeding, give them small portions at a time, and remove any uneaten food from the tank to minimize water contamination.

When it comes to feeding your Thick-Lipped Gouramis, consistency and variety are key. By catering to their omnivorous diet, you can ensure they receive all the necessary nutrients for their growth and overall health.

Thick-Lipped Gourami Care Schedule

A well-planned care schedule is essential for maintaining a happy and healthy Thick-Lipped Gourami environment. By setting up a consistent routine, you’ll ensure the wellbeing of your fish, as well as stay on top of crucial tank maintenance.

  • Daily Care: Make sure to feed your Gourami once or twice a day with a mixture of flakes, pellets, and live or frozen foods. It’s important to not overfeed, as this can result in water pollution and health issues. Regularly observe your fish for any signs of illness or stress.
  • Weekly Care: On a weekly basis, check the water parameters to ensure they remain within the acceptable ranges. Measure ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels and maintain water temperature at around 78°F. Additionally, you should remove any dead or decaying plant matter from the tank to prevent issues with water quality.
  • Biweekly Care: Perform a partial water change (15-20%) every two weeks, using a siphon to remove detritus and uneaten food from the substrate. This will keep the water clean and healthy for your Gouramis, reducing the risk of disease or stress.
  • Monthly Care: Once a month, clean and inspect your filter to ensure it’s working efficiently. Replace the aquarium filter media if needed. Check for any signs of algae growth, as excessive algae can signal an imbalance in your tank.

By sticking to a consistent care schedule like this one, you’ll be able to ensure the health and happiness of your Thick-Lipped Gouramis. In return, you’ll be rewarded with a beautiful and thriving aquatic environment.

Thick-Lipped Gourami Health Problems

Just like any other fish, thick-lipped gouramis can also face health problems, especially if proper care is not taken. In this section, we will discuss the most common health issues your fish may experience and how to prevent or treat them.

  • Parasite Infections: Thick-lipped gouramis can be prone to parasite infections such as ich, a common freshwater fish parasite. To prevent this, ensure that your tank is clean and well-maintained. If your fish show signs of infection, treat the water with a parasite-specific medication.
  • Fungal Infections: A poor water quality can increase the risk of fungal infections in thick-lipped gouramis. Signs of infection include white cotton-like spots on their skin or fins. To treat this, change the water regularly and use a specialized anti-fungal medication designed for fish.
  • Bacterial Infections: Bacterial infections can occur if the tank is dirty or overcrowded. Symptoms may include swollen eyes, bloating, and open sores. To prevent this, ensure proper tank maintenance and a stable, clean environment. If your fish show signs of bacterial infection, treat the water with a broad-spectrum antibiotic.
  • Stress: Stress can weaken your thick-lipped gourami’s immune system, making them more susceptible to disease. Causes of stress include sudden changes in water temperature, poor water quality, and aggressive tank mates. To reduce stress, maintain a stable environment, provide hiding places, and monitor tank conditions regularly.

Monitoring your fish’s health and maintaining a clean and stable environment can prevent most health problems. As a beginner, make sure you familiarize yourself with the signs and symptoms of common health issues. This will help you act fast and avoid losing your precious thick-lipped gouramis to preventable diseases.

Thick-Lipped Gourami Tank Mates

Choosing the right tank mates for your Thick-Lipped Gourami is an important factor in maintaining a harmonious and stress-free environment. These fish are generally peaceful and can coexist with other non-aggressive species of a similar size. However, you should avoid putting them with bigger or more aggressive fish which can stress them out or even cause physical harm.

Some suitable tank mates for your Thick-Lipped Gourami include:

  • Tetras: Cardinal Tetras, Neon Tetras, and Rummy Nose Tetras are some examples of peaceful and colorful companions.
  • Corydoras: These bottom dwellers are great for keeping your tank clean and adding variety to your aquarium.
  • Rasboras: Harlequin Rasboras, Lambchop Rasboras or Chili Rasboras are all well-suited for a community tank with Thick-Lipped Gourami.
  • Dwarf Gouramis: As long as you allow sufficient space and hiding spots, different Gourami species can also share a tank.

However, there are certain species that should not be kept with Thick-Lipped Gouramis:

  • Bigger Cichlids: Avoid aggressive or large species like Oscars, African Cichlids, and Jack Dempsey Cichlids.
  • Fin-Nippers: Fish like Tiger Barbs and Serpae Tetras can harass and harm the Gourami by nipping their fins.
  • Large Catfish: Species such as Plecos or Redtail Catfish can grow much larger and can be hazardous to your Gourami.

When selecting tank mates, be aware of the bioload (the amount of waste produced by the fish) and adjust the tank size accordingly. A overcrowded tank can lead to poor water quality and increased stress for your fish. Always research the compatibility, temperament, and environmental needs of each species before adding them to your aquarium.

Thick-Lipped Gourami Breeding

Breeding the Thick-Lipped Gourami is quite fascinating and fulfilling when properly understood. This species is a bubble nest builder, which means they create nests out of bubbles and plant material to breed.

Select potential breeders by observing their age and color: males are generally brighter and slimmer, while females have a rounder body shape. Provide a separate breeding tank for the gouramis, considering a 10-15 gallon capacity, soft water, and a temperature of 80°F to encourage mating.

Here are 8 steps to help you successfully breed Thick-Lipped Gouramis:

  1. Introduce the male and female into the breeding tank, placing a divider to separate them for a couple of days. This allows them to get accustomed to each other’s presence before breeding.
  2. During this time, feed them high-quality live or frozen foods, such as bloodworms or brine shrimp, to condition them for breeding.
  3. Remove the divider and ensure the tank has floating plants, as they provide cover and support for the bubble nest.
  4. Observe the male as he begins creating a bubble nest by releasing bubbles, which then accumulate at the water surface.
  5. Once the nest is built, the male will actively pursue the female, wrapping himself around her to breed. The female will release her eggs into the nest, which the male will fertilize.
  6. After spawning, remove the female from the tank to avoid potential aggression from the male.
  7. The male will guard the nest and take care of the eggs, which will hatch within 24-36 hours. Remove the male after the eggs hatch to prevent him from eating the fry.
  8. Feed the fry infusoria or freshly hatched brine shrimp until they are large enough to eat crushed flakes or pellets.

Breeding Thick-Lipped Gouramis can be a rewarding experience, adding new life to your aquarium. With proper care and attention, you’ll witness the fascinating process of these incredible fish reproducing and thriving.


With proper care and attention to detail, your thick-lipped gourami will thrive in a well-maintained and suitable environment. As a beginner, following this guide will provide you with a solid foundation of knowledge to foster a healthy and enjoyable pet experience. Feel free to leave a comment below, sharing your experience or any additional tips for fellow gourami enthusiasts.

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