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September 13, 2013

Nice to see you again, folks! I’ve been asked to occasionally “guest star” as the writer of the newsletter about once a month. I’d like to thank you all for your appreciative words before I get down to it: Thank you!

Now, I’ve spent some time each day over the past few weeks archiving all our old newsletters, from mid-2011 through to last week’s. Soon these will be organized and posted on our webpage in blog format.  Of course, in this immense grind of getting about one hundred newsletters uploaded, edited, tagged, and inlaid with our fabulous photography, I’ve gotten a feel for the sort of species that have been spoken on repeatedly, once, and not at all. For example, we’ve never featured any of the larger gourami species! The only group of gouramis to have been mentioned in any detail is the chocolate gouramis (Sphaerichthys and Parasphaerichthys genera).   With my great love of anabantoids, I strongly feel that this cannot go unrectified! While some of these species may seem ‘common’, they also need some newsletter love (and besides, Anthony dedicated a whole newsletter to zebra danios and another to neon tetras, so I think I’m okay writing on Pearl gouramis).

Sphaerichthys acrostoma

Before I head into the large gouramis we have, I feel it is important to note and explain the relatively recent genus changes for the sake of knowledge and clarity – you know I’m a fan of learning new things! The change is rather simple while the reason is not – The genus known as Trichogaster before 1995 has been renamed to Trichopodus, while the genus Colisa has been ‘promoted’ to Trichogaster. A fairly detailed write-up of this development can be found here: Those species that have been renamed Trichopodus as of ca. 1995 will be referred to as such in this newsletter.

As a general rule, gouramis naturally inhabit shallow, sedate to stagnant blackwater pools. The dynamics of shallow pools filled with tannins lend themselves to dense plant growth, warm temperatures and soft, mildly to highly acidic water. The easiest gourami genera to house and care for are, by far, Trichopodus and Trichogaster followed by Trichopsis, Sphaerichthys/Parasphaerichthys and, lastly, Parosphromenus.

I’ve encountered many customers admiring Trichopodus trichopteruscolor morphs; however, most new hobbyists don’t know of their tendency towards aggression.  Because of this, I rarely recommend them to beginning fish keepers despite their beauty.  Thankfully, there are a few wonderful alternatives to the semi-aggressive T. trichopterus. Trichopodus species prefer warm water in the range of 77-84F and fairly neutral pH values from 6 to 7.5. Trichopodus microlepis “Moonlight Gourami” is a big and beautiful species of fish, with each of our specimens over two inches from pointed snout to tail. They are nearly halfway to their full-grown size of six inches.  This is a shining silver gourami with a dramatic dished face and the longest filamentous ventral fins, compared to their body size, of any other gourami species.  They sport the diminutive dorsal and subtly lobed caudal fins of other Trichopodus species such as T. leerii and T. trichopterus.  They seem to take on the colors of their surroundings with their reflective scales, appearing blue toned or even slightly reddish, based on the temperature of overhead light used.  Their eyes are marked in the top rear third with orange-red.  Adult males’ ventral fins take on beautiful orange-red coloration, while adult females develop a subtler yellow color.  As with most anabantoids, T. microlepis prefers sedate waters and is unconcerned with dissolved oxygen content.  Aside from some slight territorial possibilities between males and other gouramis, Moonlights are quite peaceful with tank mates.

Trichopodus microlepis

Trichopodus leeri “Pearl Gourami” is an aquarium favorite with very good reason. These 5 inch fish are incredibly colorful and showy as well as hardy and peaceful. Males present ruddy brown body coloration with deep red chins fading into brilliant pumpkin orange along the back of the belly and fore edge of the anal fin. Their lateral line is marked in black from lip to caudal peduncle and the entirety of their body, with the exception of their red and orange chin and belly, is covered in beautiful, shimmering pearlescent spots. The dorsal and anal fins of the male show multiple graceful extensions, ticked with dark and iridescent light spots, as is the caudal fin. The female is just as beautiful, though her coloration tends to be muted to the yellows and oranges, with a more brown-silver base body color and slightly shorter fins, lacking extensions. The extended ventrals of this species are not quite as lengthy as those of the Moonlight gourami, yet they still frequently grow to a length beyond the end of the caudal fin. Occasionally, a specimen will feature multiple ventral rays – I’ve met a grown female with five total ventral rays.

Trichopodus leeri

While we have several Trichogaster species, I’ve chosen to focus only on Trichogaster chuna “Honey Dwarf Gourami” – While T. lalius is incredibly popular in the hobby, the species, and its color morphs would warrant their own newsletter and I’m sure the length of this newsletter has already boggled your mind. The Honey Gourami is an amazing 2.5 inch fish.  It is incredibly peaceful and curious, often startling other fish with a gentle touch from its modified ventral fins.  These fish are best kept in groups of mixed genders – while not a gregarious species, their social behavior is incredibly fascinating.  Each fish will pick a favorite spot in the aquarium, males will display to each other in shows of dominance as well as to females, by tapping each other with their ventral fins, which can be incredibly amusing.  The female of the species is a silvery-brown color with a bolder brown midlateral stripe and gentle orange edges to their dorsal and anal fins.  The males’ resting colors are similar, though slightly orange and featuring yellow fin edges.  When displaying, the males take on an absolutely amazing brick red coloration and a blue-black coloration over their face and chin, which extends along their ventral sides and over their anal fins.

Trichogaster chuna

The Honey gourami has a manmade color morph more readily available in the hobby – this is most often referred to as the “Sunset Honey Gourami”. These are brilliant golden yellow fish with bright orange to red anal fins. Be careful, however – many less reputable aquarium hobby stores mislabel Trichogaster labiosa “Sunset Thicklip Gourami” as “Sunset Honey Gourami”. These two color morphs are quite easy to tell apart: The Sunset Thicklip is distinctly brassy orange with a slightly more elongate and less round body. Mind you, T. labiosa is also a wonderful fish, but it’s nice to know exactly what fish you are keeping.

Trichogaster chuna "Sunset"

With concern for the immense size of this newsletter, causing your eyes to bleed from fatigue, I’ll call this a wrap. If you enjoyed hearing about these beautiful fish or if you’d like another newsletter special on the wonderful world of Parosphromenus species, known as the Licorice Gouramis, or a write up on Trichogaster lalius “Dwarf Gourami”, let us know! Thank you so much for reading and I’m fairly certain Anthony will be back to writing next week.


Jessica Supalla