Can Apistogramma and Gourami Coexist in the Same Aquarium? is supported by our readers. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn a commission.

Apistogramma and Gouramis are every aquarist’s favorite community fish species. Both have vibrant colors and bold personalities, making them entertaining to watch. So, it’s not uncommon for aquarium enthusiasts to get a pair or trio of Apistos and consider pairing them with Gouramis simply because, why not?

Well, Apistogramma and Gouramis can live together harmoniously, but not all species of Gouramis are compatible. Some species grow large and can be aggressive toward others, whereas some may require specific water conditions.

Read on to find out why these two fish species are compatible tankmates, as well as the preparations you need to carry out to ensure a safe and comfortable environment for them.

Reasons Why Apistogramma and Gouramis Make Good Tank Mates

a male apistogramma cacatuoides and  gourami
Photo: salymon/reddit

With so many species and types of fish available, choosing one that gets along with Apistogramma is always a challenge every owner faces.

While certain roommates, such as many dither fish, are known to work well in most instances, there are countless other species that can go either way, depending on several important factors.

Gouramis, however, are among the few species that can generally be trusted to get along with Apistogramma, especially those dwarf gouramis.

Gouramis are Top and Mid Dwellers

A good rule of thumb to follow when mixing Apistogramma with other fish species is to select those that mainly reside in the surface or middle levels of the aquarium since Apistogrammas typically stay close to the bottom.

This ensures that their territories do not overlap and eliminates any potential aggression. Moreover, it prevents them from fighting over food.

Most Gouramis fit this requirement perfectly since they prefer swimming in open water from mid-level up towards the top of a tank. The rare Chocolate gourami (Sphaerichthys osphromenoides) is an exception, as it will likely move within the full tank column.

Gouramis are Hardy Fish

Despite their eye-catching colors and gentle personalities, many Gouramis are actually quite hardy fish. They can withstand a range of water parameters and environmental changes as long as the changes are gradual.

Apistogramma species originate from the clear water and blackwater rivers and streams of South America. Their natural habitats are typically characterized by soft and acidic water.

Although Gouramis are native to Southeast Asia and prefer hard water, the most wildly-available species in the aquarium trade are commercially bred on fish farms. They tend to be hardier than wild-caught species, so they can acclimatize to softer and slightly acidic water in a community setup.

Gouramis Enjoy the Floating Plants

Similar to the natural living environments of Apistogramma, Gouramis are used to plenty of thick vegetation, including a good amount of floating plants to maintain subdued light.

Floating plants provide them with ample coverage and shelter while they swim around looking for food. Plus, any Gourami species that likes to build bubble nests will find the plants useful in creating their courtship structures.

Gouramis are Slow Moving Fish

In the wild, both Apistogramma dwarf cichlids and Gouramis are mainly found in slow-moving waterways, so they appreciate the slow water movement in the home aquarium.

To provide low water flow for the two fish, you are best off with a low-flow filter, such as the powerful yet gentle sponge filter. Alternatively, you can also use decorations such as plants and rocks to create obstacles that break up the water flow and provide areas of calm for your fish. 

Some Gouramis Are Small Fish

Due to their compact size, Apistos are often kept in medium-sized tanks – those in the 20- to 40-gallon range. Therefore, it is important to choose tankmates that will not outgrow them.

Fortunately, small Gouramis, such as Honey Gourami (T. chuna), Dwarf Gourami (T. lalius), and Sparkling gourami (T. pumila), remain a few inches in length when fully grown. They are enough to fit comfortably in the tank while being large enough to coexist peacefully with Apistogramma.

Best Gourami Species for Apistogramma

Gourami is a large family of fish. In fact, there are 133 described species within 15 genera. With that many species to choose from, it can be quite overwhelming when picking the right one for your setup.

Considering the size and water parameter requirements of Apistogramma, our top picks for the best Gourami species to keep with them are:

#1 Honey Gourami (Trichogaster chuna)

Honey Gourami (Trichogaster chuna)

Contrary to what you might think, the honey gourami is smaller than the dwarf gourami and typically measures around 2 inches (5 cm) in length. It comes in several color variants, but the most popular morphs or mutations are the traditional yellow gold, which is sometimes referred to as “sunset honey gourami.”

Honey gouramis are much more easygoing and docile than dwarf gouramis, regardless of whether they are male or female. Additionally, you can keep them singly, in pairs, or a small group; the latter setup would look fantastic against a lush green background of plants.

#2 Dwarf Gourami (Trichogaster lalius)

Dwarf Gourami (Trichogaster lalius)

Dwarf gouramis grow to 3 inches (8 cm), and males are slightly larger than females. As with most gourami species, males are usually more vibrant in coloration than females.

This species is highly prized in the fish trade, with many-colored varieties that have been commercially bred, including Flame Red, Neon Blue, and Powder Blue. Of course, we admit that the wild type is already stunning.

This widespread species is feisty by nature and can clash with other brightly-colored species that are mistaken for rivals. That is why it should always be kept singly as a centerpiece fish with other community tank mates. If you are lucky enough to get a bonded pair, the two fishes will swim together.

An important side note: The dwarf gourami is known to be susceptible to the Dwarf Gourami Iridovirus (DGIV), a deadly virus caused by poor genetics. Be sure to purchase your fish from a reputable dealer.

#3 Sparkling Gourami (Trichogaster pumila)

Sparkling Gourami (Trichogaster pumila)

Given their diminutive size, this species is among the smallest gourami on the market. This 1.5 inches (4 cm) long critter is also known as the pygmy gourami but is less common in the hobby than the other two species.

Unlike other gouramis, this underrated species has a long, streamlined body and slender tail, making it appear more like a rainbow fish. Another common name is the Dwarf Croaking Gourami, which references its croaking sound during courtship.

#4 Pearl Gourami (Trichogaster leerii)

Pearl Gourami (Trichogaster leerii)
Photo: Elena Mazurek / Instagram

Known for its hardness and adaptability, the pearl gourami is an attractive and peaceful fish that can grow up to about 5 inches (13 cm) in size. With such a medium size, this species requires a minimum of 30 gallons for one fish or a pair in tanks of 55 gallons or more.

This species is as readily available as the dwarf gourami because of its beautiful appearance, from which it derives its name. Like the Sparkling Gourami, its modified pectoral fins can vocalize when breeding or fighting.

#5 Chocolate Gourami (Sphaerichthys osphromenoides)

Chocolate Gourami (Sphaerichthys osphromenoides)

These fish can reach up to 2.5 inches (6.4 cm) and have a chocolate brown color and flat, oval-shaped bodies that resemble dead leaves.

The Chocolate Gourami is a blackwater species that requires very acidic and soft water to thrive. It seems like an ideal tank mate for a biotope setup featuring Apistogramma species or discus fish, which require similar water conditions and care.

However, as previously mentioned, it is not as top-level oriented as many other Gouramis. What’s more, this fish is much more demanding than most Apistos. If you’re ready to take on the challenge, you’ll be rewarded with a peaceful and elegant fish that will bring harmony to your tank.

Final Thoughts

As discussed above, gouramis are a diverse, colorful, and adaptable group of fish that can make interesting and attractive additions to Apistogramma aquariums.

When planning your tank setup, be sure to provide plenty of hiding places and floating plants to create an environment that promotes the health and happiness of your fish. Avoid overcrowding the tank with too many fish, and ensure that the Apistogramma receive the necessary food.

With the right care and attention, these fishes can make for long-lasting companions in your freshwater setup. We hope you have enjoyed reading and have learned something new.

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Jeff Colt

Jeff Colt

Hello, I'm Jeff- an aquarium enthusiast with over 25 years of experience caring for a wide array of tropical fish, including koi, goldfish bettas, cichlids and more! For me: Aquariums are like jello - there's always room for more!

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