Sparkling Gourami: Complete Guide to Care, Breeding, Tank Size and Disease

Sparkling Gourami: A Brief Introduction

Sparkling gourami (Trichopsis Pumila) are small, peaceful fish native to Southeast Asia. They are known for their iridescent scales and ability to produce a sparkling effect when they move. They are a popular choice for freshwater aquariums and can be kept with other peaceful fish species.

Sparkling Gourami Overview

Do you often stand there and wish that your home aquarium stands out? Well, there are a few unique and characteristic fishes that can elevate the look and feel of your home tank. The Sparkling Gourami is one of them.

The Pygmy Gourami, also commonly known as the Sparkling Gourami, is a freshwater aquarium fish native to the South East Asia region of the world. The fish is not very common in home aquariums as other gourami species.

The fish is adapted to survivability even in extreme environments, thus making it an excellent option for beginning aquarists in the hobby.

The fish is also referred to as sparkling because its body and eyes exhibit iridescence under even just adequate lighting. The fish can make a great addition to any fish tank that lacks beautifully colored fish.

This guide should answer all your questions regarding the beauty of sparkling gourami and how you can take care of them in captivity.

Information ChartSparkling Gourami
Scientific nameTrichopsis pumila
Care levelEasy
ColorDark-colored with spots
Lifespan4-5 years
SizeUp to 1.5 inches
Minimum tank size20 gallons
Temperature76°F to 82°F
Water ConditionsFreshwater

Sparkling Gourami Appearance

Sparkling Gourami Appearance

The Sparkling Gourami is a small aquarium fish and will only grow to a maximum of 1.6 inches long in maturity. It has a brown body that is characterized by small light blue spots. You look at the fish’s fins, and you will notice they appear light blue, presenting red edges and some sort of red patterns.

The eyes of the fish are blue with a characteristic thin red border. If you compare the fish to betta fish, you will notice that they have got shorter fins. The males of the sparkling gourami show pointed fins with a red stripe that runs along the whole body. The average lifespan of the fish when being kept in captivity is three to four years.

Despite the small size and appearance, the sparkling gourami has an elongated and compressed shape to their body with tapered ends. About 30% of their body is composed of fins. The uniqueness of their appearance is marked by the vertical dorsal fin with the merged anal fin. You will be surprised to hold them in water because the bottom part of their head and abdomen is much lighter than the remaining part of the body.

One unique thing about the appearance of sparkling gourami is that each fish has a unique color and pattern to its body. Some have black lines across their body, while some others have small light blue dots on their body.

All these varying colors with the scale reflect light and give them the “sparkling” effect that they are known for.

Lifespan of Sparkling Gourami

The typical lifespan of a Sparkling Gourami is 4-5 years, depending on their living conditions in captivity.

Since they are quite a rare type of home aquarium fish, you need to be extra careful with their care and the kind of setup that you offer them in captivity. Your breeder or aquarist should be able to guide you about the same.

Sparkling Gourami Size

The typical sparkling gourami grows up to 1 to 1.5 inches in size. This is comparatively a lot smaller than some of the other types of freshwater fish. So, it means that you wouldn’t have to worry about getting a huge tank if you are housing them alone.

The small size with the iridescent appearance on the exterior makes them stand out from the rest of the aquarium fishes that you keep them with.

Natural Habitat and Origin

The Sparkling Gourami is a freshwater fish with its native origins in the South East Asian region, where it can be found in ponds, small streams, and small rivers. The fish is usually found naturally spread out in countries such as Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, and Indonesia.

The fish is known to like warm tropical waters that are heavily vegetated. Proper care needs to be taken when you are getting the fish from the wild to be kept in captivity. The conditions in the wild should be replicated in the tank where the fish will be kept for the fish to be able to adjust to life in captivity.

It is a type of labyrinth fish that belongs to the Osphronemidae family. This means that the sparkling gourami can get their oxygen supply directly from the air instead of being reliant on just the dissolved oxygen that is available in the water.

So, when grown in captivity, you will often find these fishes swimming to the surface of the water to meet their oxygen requirements from time to time. Although the fish initially originate in different parts of Asia, it was then abundantly found in areas in the United States and Europe too.

Sparkling Gourami Care and Tank Setup

Sparkling Gouramis Tank Size and Specifications

Sparkling Gouramis are the easiest aquarium fish to keep in the hobby because they are very tolerant to several water parameters. Their highly tolerant nature makes them well suited for keeping even small tanks. Just ensure that the tank is well planted with aquarium plants to help replicate the natural habitat that the fish lives in.

Sparkling Gouramis Tank Size and Specifications

Besides that, you need to be mindful of the water parameters and the tank size and living environment to mimic their natural habitat.

This section of the guide should give you all the inputs about the care and tank setup that you need to know.

Optimum Tank Size for Sparkling Gourami

The minimum tank size required for keeping the fish should be at least 5 gallons, but more is better. Lots of shelters need to be provided for the fish. This usually helps the fish find places to hide when it is feeling shy or suffering from aggressive tank mates.

Although the minimum tank size is relatively less, we’d recommend sticking to a tank size of 10-15 gallons to provide these small fishes with some extra space to move around in the tank.

It is not mandatory, but you can keep multiple sparkling gouramis in the same tank. They aren’t necessarily alone, but they don’t mind being in schools too. However, if you keep multiple fishes in the same tank, you need to up your tank size conveniently.

Filter type

Unlike the other types of gouramis, the sparkling gourami prefers slow water flow without a high stream and water flow. Since they are part of the labyrinth fish species, they can thrive in low oxygen saturation in the water since they get their oxygen needs from the air.

They don’t require a rapid water flow in their tank, which means that you can make do with the low-powered filters in the tank. So, stick to a low aeration system in the tank.


Since the sparkling gourami has a glowing appearance, you want to keep them against a dark backdrop to enjoy watching them around in the tank. However, since they are pretty shy, they enjoy hiding in the tank. So, if possible, include a darker bed of sand and gravels on the bottom along with living plants to enable them to feel at home.

How many Sparkling Gourami should you keep in a 20-gallon tank?

If you are considering buying a 20-gallon tank, we’d recommend putting 2-3 sparkling gouramis in it and nothing more.

Water Parameters for Sparkling Gourami

Even though the pygmy gourami is a hardy fish, it requires a freshwater setting in captivity with weekly water changes.

Leaving the tank unclean will result in a consistent rise in the ammonia and nitrite levels in the water, which can prove fatal to their health and well-being. Besides the basic setup, you need to leave enough room on the top of the tank to allow them to breathe in oxygen from the surroundings.

Here are some of the ideal water settings that will help you take care of the sparkling gourami in captivity:

Water Temperature

The ideal water temperature for Sparkling Gourami is 76°F to 82°F. You should maintain the water temperature somewhere in the middle of that range to offer the fishes a comfortable living environment to spend their time in.

pH Level

The perfect water pH for Sparkling Gourami is 6 to 7, which is slightly acidic to neutral.

Water Hardness

The water hardness level for sparkling gourami in captivity is between 4-8 KH.

Since sparkling gouramis aren’t typically grown in captivity, you need to be extra cautious about these water parameters. Check them using a kit every other week to ensure there aren’t any drastic changes.

Professional aquarists also suggest changing the tank water partially every week and cleaning out any food remnants now and then to ensure a comfortable life in the tank. Also, don’t mistake their labyrinth organ for extra durability. Just because they have a labyrinth organ doesn’t mean they are immune to bad water conditions.

Sparkling Gourami Tank Landscape

Besides the water and the filter requirements, you also need to be extra careful with the items you put up in the tank. From the plants to the decorations and lighting, there are a few essential factors that you should be wary of.

Sparkling Gourami Tank Landscape

Plants for Sparkling Gourami Tanks

In their natural habitat, Sparkling gouramis are very attuned to living in conditions with a lot of vegetation around them. Not having enough plants, hiding spots, and shelter around them can eventually lead to stress in these small fishes.

As for the kind of plants you should put in the tank, we’d recommend looking into the freshwater aquatic plants. Avoid stuffing the tank with fake plants because these fishes don’t respond well to those.

Water wisteria and hornwort are two of the best plants you can place in the tank for comfortable growth for these freshwater fishes.

Decorations for Sparkling Gourami Tanks

As we said before, sparkling gourami loves hiding spots and shelters around the tank. They are primarily upper- and middle-layer feeders, so you don’t have to be particular about the substrate that you put in the bottom of the tank.

Besides that, you can put a few homes and hiding spots in the tank to enable them to relax and have some alone time when they need it. Whatever decorations you add to the tank, make sure that you leave enough space to allow them to move freely without obstructions.

Lighting for Sparkling Gourami Tanks

Although not quintessential, you can keep the aquarium light switched on for 9-10 hours a day to keep them comfortable in the tank.

Feeding Sparkling Gourami

The fish is so easy to feed because they are known to feed on small insects in the wild, which can still be offered to them even when they are in captivity. The fish can still quickly be acclimated to life in the tank and be offered artificial or live food. You can as well start feeding the fish flakes, fish pellet, and frozen fish food.

The Sparkling Gouramis are omnivores in the wild. Besides insects, they also vigorously feed on zooplanktons. As their caregiver, you need to supply enough protein in their diet to keep them healthy, and their immune system is boosted. Bloodworms, artemia, and daphnia are considered the ideal protein sources for these small fishes.

However, you can’t just rely on protein and non-vegetarian sources of food for their excellent health. Include some pieces of vegetables now and then. This keeps their diet balanced and ensures that they get all the nutrients they would in their natural habitat.

As for snacks, you can get a range of protein-rich fish snacks in the pet stores to feed your sparkling gouramis. However, since they are such small fishes, you always have a risk of overfeeding them. So, try to limit the feeding up to three times a day.

Sparkling Gourami Behavior and Temperament

Sparkling gouramis aren’t schooling fishes, but they like to stay in groups of five to six, both in the wild and in the home tanks. Although they are pretty peaceful and want to keep to themselves, you can find the female ones becoming aggressive towards the males if they feel territorial.

Sparkling Gouramis Tank Environment

So, come what way, you need to either keep a few sparkling gouramis in a small tank or get a larger tank, so everyone has their space to explore around. They rarely engage in conflicts. So, if you notice some kind of unrest in the tank, know that something is either bothering them or they aren’t well physically.

Also, their labyrinth organ makes them come to the surface to breathe in some oxygen, leaving you fascinated to watch. They are pretty active in the tank, so you can have a good time watching them move around in flair.

Besides all this, their small size plays a crucial role in their social life. If you place them in a community tank, you will often find them hiding away in the plants you have kept in the tank because they become nervous at times.

Are Sparkling Gouramis Lone or Societal in Nature?

Sparkling gouramis aren’t necessarily lone, but they like to live with their kind but enjoy hiding away from time to time.

Sparkling Gourami Tank Mates

Never put the fish with other more aggressive fish that will make it hide most of the time. This will make it lose its coloration and will work even to shorten its lifespan.

When choosing tank mates for sparkling gouramis, you need to focus on adding them to a tank with smaller and peaceful fish species. If you put them with more extensive or aggressive fishes, they won’t defend themselves and stay under constant stress, eventually experiencing premature death.

Some of the ideal tank mates for them include:

You need to pair the sparkling gouramis with small, non-conflicting, and friendly fish. If you want to avoid some fish species to keep in your fish tank, keep out male bettas, black tetras, and tiger barbs.

Breeding Sparkling Gourami

If you are considering breeding your sparkling gouramis at home, it isn’t as complicated as many might make it out to be.

However, it is a time-consuming process. As an aquarist, you want the process to happen naturally. So, start by placing at least 5-6 fishes in the tank instead of introducing a foreign fish for breeding. Having 5-6 sparkling gouramis in the tank enables them to form their pairs so you can take them out in pairs for future breeding.

Most of the time, you can do the breeding in the same tank or have a separate breeding tank for the pair. Ensure that the water temperature in the breeding tank is warmer by 3-5 degrees Fahrenheit. Also, lower the water levels by 6-8 inches in the breeding tank.

One good thing about the breeding process of sparkling gourami is that they aren’t free spawning species. This means that the male will look after the laid eggs till they hatch into fry. During the initial breeding days, feed both the female and the male fishes with a protein-rich diet for healthy babies.

The breeding starts with the male sparkling gourami building a nest around the safe spaces in the tank using their foam and saliva. Place an Anubias plant in the breeding tank to help them make a nest. The completion of the nest is followed by the courting process among the male and the female sparkling gourami.

Following the spawning, the male fish catches the eggs and places them in the nest for safety till they are ready to hatch. Once the spawning is completed successfully, make sure you immediately remove the female fish from the tank. The eggs take up to a week to hatch, following which you can remove the male fish from the tank.

Sparkling Gourami Sexual Dimorphism

Differentiating between males and females is not easy, but a keen look at females near spawning will show you a somewhat swollen abdomen. The abdomen is usually filled with eggs. Another keen eye at the two sexes will prove that the males tend to have slightly longer fins.

Sparkling Common Diseases and their Treatment

Sparkling gouramis are a lot hardy as compared to the other types of gouramis. However, just because they don’t suffer from species-specific diseases doesn’t mean that there are no complications with the fish. Taking care of them is easy and won’t require your close vigilance 24×7.

However, if you notice any of them behaving aggressively or being too quiet and not moving around the tank, you must isolate them from the tank and check them for issues.

Light Colored Sparkling Gourami

One of the most common diseases noticed in them is Ich. Other common types of bacterial and parasitic infections are also visible.

The best way to prevent such diseases is by monitoring the water condition. If the water quality is bad and you haven’t changed it in a while, it can lead to enhanced risks of infections. So, keep an eye out on them from time to time and cleanse the tank every week for better health.

Are Sparkling Gouramis Right for You?

If you are particularly drawn to freshwater fishes and want beautiful ones to stare at with high energy levels, sparkling gourami is likely the best choice. Not only are they stunning in terms of appearance, but they are also sociable fishes that come up to the surface of the tank now and then, making them fascinating to look at.

They are also effortless to maintain and take care of, so you wouldn’t have to put in a lot of extra time or expenses. If all of these sound doable for you, we’d recommend you go for these small sparkly fishes.


Can Sparkling Gourami Live Alone?

Although they can stay alone in a tank, we’d not recommend keeping them alone. They aren’t schooling fishes, but you should keep at least 5-6 fishes in the same tank to keep them in good health and not depressed throughout.

Are Sparkling Gouramis Hardy?

Yes, they are pretty hardy and don’t usually struggle with life-threatening diseases. Just ensure that you maintain the water parameters, ideal tank landscape and clean the tank now and then.

Can Sparkling Gourami Live with Shrimp?

Smaller aquarium shrimps like cherry shrimps are a good choice. However, we’d not recommend the more giant shrimps because they can prove intimidating to them.

Can Sparkling Gourami Live with a Betta?

Male bettas don’t make for good tank mates for sparkling gouramis because of their aggressive and dominating nature.

Will Sparkling Gourami Eat Their Babies?

After successful spawning, the male sparkling gourami guards the nest and waits till the eggs hatch and the babies are strong enough to swim around.

Do Sparkling Gouramis Jump?

Although these small fishes don’t necessarily jump out of the tank, they will float to the surface of the water to breathe through their labyrinth organ.

Which Gouramis Eat Snail?

Most types of gouramis will snack on the snails, especially the smaller aquarium or assassin snails.


It is without a doubt that the pygmy pumilus sparkling gourami is one of the most beautiful fishes that you can add to your aquarium. Not only do they enhance the beauty of your tank, but they are also pretty fun to just look at, given how fun and joyous they are in the tank. Despite their small size, they can zoom around the tank and even hide when they reach their limit. If you want to take care of a fish species that is easy to maintain and pretty easily accessible, the sparkling gouramis are one of the best picks.


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