Last updated: September 6, 2023
Verified by: AZ Animals Staff
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Gourami fishes show parental care for their young


Gourami Scientific Classification


Read our Complete Guide to Classification of Animals.

Gourami Conservation Status

Gourami Locations

Gourami Locations

Gourami Facts

Fish, insects and small invertebrates
Main Prey
Small fish and insects
Group Behavior
  • Solitary
Fun Fact
Gourami fishes show parental care for their young
Most Distinctive Feature
Prominent pelvic fins
Distinctive Feature
A labyrinth organ for breathing air
Incubation Period
24 hours
Average Spawn Size
Common Name
Special Features
Breathing organ that allows the fish to breath air
Number Of Species

Gourami Physical Characteristics

Skin Type
2–20 years
Up to 20 pounds
Age of Sexual Maturity
12–14 weeks

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Gourami fish show parental care for their young.


The name “gourami” refers to fish species in the families Osphronemidae and Helostomatidae. There are more than nine fishes in these families, and they all live in tropical freshwaters. 

Gourami fish are native to Asia. They come in a range of colors and patterns. Although they’re abundant in freshwater habitats throughout Asia, the fish is also a popular aquarium fish due to its attractive appearance. It is also caught and raised as a local delicacy in many Asian countries. 

5 Interesting Gourami Facts

  • Some gouramis have a life expectancy of up to 20 years.
  • Its name, gourami, is Indonesian and has been in use since the 19th century.
  • Gourami females are more social while males tend to be highly aggressive and territorial.
  • Gouramis have an organ that allows them to directly breathe in atmospheric oxygen. 
  • Most species are small-mouthed except the kissing gourami which has a large, protruding mouth. 

Gourami — Classification and Scientific Name

The name “gourami” refers to any of the species of freshwater fishes in the families Osphronemidae and Helostomatidae. They belong to an order of air-breathing freshwater fishes known as the labyrinth fish (Anabantiformes). There are at least 207 species of fish in this order divided into two suborders and five families. 

The common name is of Indonesian origin. There are currently about 133 species in the gourami family placed in four subfamilies and 15 genera. The subfamilies of fishes in this family include:

  • Belontiidae
  • Luciocephinalinae
  • Macropodusinae
  • Trichogastinae

The largest and most popular fish in the gourami family is the giant gourami (Osphronemus goramy) which can attain weights of up to 20 pounds. Other popular species include the kissing gourami, dwarf gourami, and blue gourami. 

Gourami — Appearance and Behavior

Types of White Fish - Dwarf Gourami

The gourami fish comes in a variety of colors, from blue, chocolate, white, gold, neon, and so much more.

©Andrej Jakubik/Shutterstock.com

Since the gourami family is such a large one, appearance, size, and habit tend to vary from one species to the other. Some species, such as the giant gourami, have a compact oval body with a long filamentous ray on their pelvic fin. They are the biggest in the family and can grow to a weight of up to 20 pounds. Other varieties of gourami are significantly smaller and they tend to be deep-bodied and small-mouthed. 

The gourami fish comes in a variety of colors, from blue, chocolate, white, gold, neon, and so much more. The biggest one caught in the wild was an Osphronemus goramy (giant gourami), it was about 18 inches in length. However, this species can grow up to 24 inches when left for a long period of time in the wild. 

One of the most unique features of the gourami fish is the presence of the labyrinth organ, which works like a human lung. This structure allows the gouramis to breathe in air from the water’s surface and survive in a wide range of aquatic habitats, including places where you ordinarily will not find other fish. Another admirable feature they have is their prominent pelvic fins which are long and skinny but instrumental in helping the fish make its way through muddy or murky waters. 

Gourami — Distribution and Habitat

Gouramis are native to the Asian continent. Their range includes the entire Indian subcontinent all the way to Southeast Asia and Korea up north. They are freshwater fishes found in slow-moving rivers across Asia. Humans have also introduced them to other locations, such as the Americas. 

Numerous species, such as the pearl gourami and dwarf gourami, are kept in aquariums worldwide. Their bright color and intelligence are the major reasons they’re so popular as pets. In the wild and in aquariums, gouramis tend to swim to the surface for air. 

Depending on the species, some gourami fishes can stay at depths of up to 60 centimeters. Currently, gourami is not threatened or in danger of being extinct, according to the IUCN and NOAA.

Gourami — Evolution and History

Gourami belongs to the actinopterygian class (ray-finned fishes), whose origin has been traced back to the Silurian Period (over 400 million years ago). Ray-finned fishes are characterized by fins made up of webs of skin supported by a bony spine (rays) against the fleshy fins of the lobe-finned varieties. 

The group was highly successful and was a dominant part of the aquatic ecosystem during the Devonian. Groups evolved from the ray-finned fish family, including modern families of bony fishes (teleosts), which first appeared about 200 million years ago. Scientists think the teleosts may have evolved from a now-extinct order of fishes known as Holosteans. 

Teleosts reached the height of their evolutionary diversity about 50 million years ago, evolving into diverse suborders and families. Most gourami fishes such as the giant, dwarf, and kissing gouramis originated from Indonesia and other parts of Asia. As time went on, the aesthetic quality of this fish attracted breeders who raised and bred them for commercial purposes. This intentional breeding gave rise to some new varieties such as the pink variety of the kissing gourami.

Gourami — Predators and Prey 

Since gourami has so many species, it is not surprising that there are so many variations in their dietary preferences. It is not unusual to find gouramis eating small insects like worms especially when they are in the wild. Some gourami fishes are naturally omnivorous; others are carnivorous, and some are entirely herbivorous. Herbivorous varieties eat algae and other plant materials. 

In captivity, gouramis are open to a diverse diet that includes any food they find. However, live food is preferred because it is healthier. It is also advisable to feed them a balanced meat and veggie diet to combat malnutrition. 

What Eats Gouramis?

Humans are the primary predators of gourami fish. The succulent texture and taste make it a common target for humans that catch fish for food. Whenever they feel threatened, many gourami species tend to become aggressive. Oftentimes they would fight for food, territory, and mates. It is also not unusual to find large and aggressive fishes exerting their dominance over the smaller ones in any aquarium or fish tank.

Gourami — Reproduction and Lifespan

The gourami reaches sexual maturity at 12 to 14 weeks. During this period, the male turns light black and is found dancing and wiggling closer to the female. Once the female is ready to release her eggs, the male would fertilize them. Females build bubble nests for spawning and for raising their young. When all the eggs are secure in the nest, the pair will spawn again. Oftentimes a male spawns with more than one female and this goes on for three to four hours. Each clutch of eggs can be between 300 and 800 eggs. 

The eggs hatch in 24 hours and then remain in the bubble for between three and five days under the care of the parents. After a few days, they leave the nest to start life on their own. The lifespan of gourami varies from one species to the other. However, it is usually between two and 20 years. The lifespan is also dependent on factors such as feeding, lifestyle, and habitat.

Gourami — Fishing and Cooking

Gourami is caught and raised as food in Asia. It is a continental favorite due to its succulent and thick flesh, texture, and tasty flavor. Since it is a native fish of Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, and Indonesia, it is mostly eaten in these areas. Their production is not commercialized because of the lack of fingerlings in the Philippines, but large-scale commercialization is done in Thailand and Vietnam. 

They are deep-fried in garlic and pepper or deep-fried alone and served with sweet chilli sauce. Seasoned fishermen fish for gourami the same way they fish for a carp, using fish dog biscuits as bait with a controller on the surface. Peak seasons for catching are typically the breeding season. When caught, the breeders pair the males and females in 500-liter tanks from April to July. They are injected with human chorionic gonadotropin to induce breeding. Fifteen to 20 hours later, the fishes begin to spawn. The eggs hatch 22 to 24 hours later in water temperatures of 28 to 33 degrees Celsius, with anti-fungal treatment. 

After sixty days of rearing, the fry is then sold in the market. Fried snakeskin gourami is a common street food in Bangkok. Oriental deep-fried gourami and Ikan Gurame Terbang Goreng, which are, in reality, flying gourami fish in herbs and sambal are some of the most popular gourami dishes in Asia. There are 97 calories, 17 grams of protein, and three grams of fat in an average gourami dish. Here are links to popular gourami recipes on YouTube. 

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About the Author

Abdulmumin is a pharmacist and a top-rated content writer who can pretty much write on anything that can be researched on the internet. However, he particularly enjoys writing about animals, nature, and health. He loves animals, especially horses, and would love to have one someday.

Gourami FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Where are gourami fishes found?

Gourami fishes are predominantly found in the river systems of Cambodia, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Thailand.


Is gourami an aquarium fish?

Yes. It is possible to breed many gourami varieties in an aquarium. Some of the most popular varieties kept in the home and commercial tanks include sparkling, honey, dwarf, and croaking gouramis. All you need is a tank with as little as 10 gallons of water. However, for larger varieties such as the moonlight, blue, gold, and white pearl gouramis, you’ll need a 30-gallon tank or larger. 


How many species of gourami are there?

The gourami family is a large one with at least 130 species of fish. They’re abundant in the wild and commercial aquariums.

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