Banded Gourami – General description and care guide
If you are a beginner then this is a good fish to start with. The banded gourami is hardier than the dwarf gourami that it resembles. This is a larger but less colourful cousin of the dwarf gourami. The males have blue bands on a browney/orange background. The females are similar but much subdued and grey in colour.
They have diagonal stripes along the body so that when they are in the typical nose up posture these bands become vertical to help camouflage them against vertical plants.
The ph should be around 6.7. Water should be low to medium hardness. These fish are quite adaptable to most water conditions. The temperature should be kept between 72-76F. For breeding 82F is recommended. Males can grow to 4 inches in the aquarium with females growing slightly smaller. The male is quite colourful and looks very similar to a dwarf gourami but the colours a little less bright. The banded gourami reaches breeding age at about 10-12 months old (when the males will be 2.75 inches & females 2.5inches) which depends on temperature and feeding regime.
They are generally omnivorous taking a mix of plant matter and small insects. When not breeding them, feed more vegetable matter. When priming them for breeding feed them with more live food or protein micro pellets.
In their native habitat they live amongst bushy plants. So, if you heavily stock your aquarium with plants such as dwarf rotala this will keep them happy. You are more likely to see them when you provide many hiding places and a clear area to the front and centre. Do not use tall plants as you may need to lower the water level in the aquarium when trying to breed them. You could also try floating plants but you must make sure the plants do not crowd out the surface because these fish will take sips of air occasionally to breathe.
Because these fish breathe oxygen from the surface they need a warm layer of air otherwise they can get infections from breathing cold air. This is especially crucial for baby fry when they take their first breath to fill their air bladder.
They are usually a peaceful species but 2 males may quarrel in the breeding season. A large aquarium with many hiding spaces and having at least twice as many females to males should keep them reasonably quiet. They can be kept with other peaceful fish of a similar or smaller size.
Banded Gourami – equipment needed
- Separate breeding tank of about 30 inches or larger.
- 2 x sponge filters powered by an air pump.
- heater thermostat.
- close fitting glass lid with a feeding hatch.
- Plenty of live plants & preferably floating plants.
Banded Gourami – preparation for breeding
These fish breed when they are healthy and they get the right stimulus for breeding. To do this you need to raise the temperature to 82F and increase the amount of live food or protein pellets. They should have a healthy appetite at this time.
After a week or two of feeding them well, the female will plump up and the male should start making a bubble nest.
If the male hasn’t built a nest after 2 weeks then you should try lowering the water level to 7 inches.
Banded Gourami – breeding behaviour
The male wil build a bubble nest by churning water at the surface. He might include plants in the bubble nest. The female will plump up with eggs.
While the male has a bubble nest he will start to bully the female by chasing her and nudging her in the abdomen.
During this time the male will become noticeably darker and the blue in his ventral fin will be brighter.
Eventually the female will become receptive and follow the male to underneath the bubble nest. The female will approach the male’s side and he will turn and wrap himself around her in the famous gourami embrace. He will squeeze her abdomen for a good few seconds which causes her to release about 20-30 eggs which he fertilises.
The eggs float very slowly upwards towards the bubble nest. Sometimes the bubble nest is not very dense but this does not deter the fish from breeding. The male will collect up the floating eggs and spit them into the nest.
This process repeats many times until the female is exhausted of eggs. The male will try to entice her back to the nest. When she is not amenable then he chases her away.
The male then stands guard over the eggs and then the newly hatched fry. It is safest to remove the female from the breeding tank in case he gets spooked and eats the fry. The fry hatch after 1 day. At this point you should also remove the male.Make sure the air above the water is kept warm and moist by using a tightly fitting glass cover.
Banded Gourami – raising the fry
When the eggs have hatched it does not mean the fry are free swimming and ready to fend for themselves. They will still be feeding off their yolk sacs and clinging to plants and objects. After another three days the fry will become free swimming and will start to feed. Just before this, add infusoria to the aquarium. Make sure the infusoria’s water is at the same temperature as the tank water.
After a week of feeding infusoria start feeding with bigger live foods such as brine shrimp and microworms.
When the fish are a month old you can start feeding them ground-up flake food and slowly stop feeding brine shrimp or microworms.