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What is a Dwarf Gourami?

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  • Written By: Laura Evans
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 09 November 2016
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Dwarf gourami, or Colisa lalia, is a freshwater fish that originated from Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan and perhaps Myanmar and Nepal. These fish now inhabit fresh waters in other parts of the world, including the United States. In the wild, dwarf gourami typically live in lakes or slow-moving streams with abundant aquatic plants. These fish are a popular aquarium fish for tropical fish enthusiasts.

Colisa lalia are relatively small, growing to a maximum of 3.5 inches (8.8 cm) although the typical length is 2 inches (5.1 cm). Males have vertical blue-green stripes that stand out against a bright reddish-orange background. Females, which are less colorful than males, have light yellow vertical striping set against a silver-blue background.

Dwarf gourami prefer water temperatures to be between 77 to 82.5 degrees Fahrenheit (25 to 28 degrees C). The recommended pH level is 6.0 to 7.5 and recommended dH is level between 5 to 19. The absolute minimum tank size for two dwarf gourami is 10 gallons (about 38 liters). As with any other fish tank, the larger the water-to-fish ratio is, the healthier and happier the fish are likely to be.

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Colisa lalia are a non-aggressive fish. They can be kept in community aquariums if the other fish are similarly non-aggressive. If a tank has more than one adult male dwarf gourami, the fish can become territorial. In this case, having a large tank that includes many aquatic plants may solve the territorial problem. The gourami typically spend most of their time in the mid to top ranges of the tank.

Dwarf gourami are omnivorous, or will eat both meat and plant foods. While these gourami can live on commercial tropical flake fish food alone, the gourami may lose their bright colors if offered only this food. In order to keep those colors bright, the fish should also eat live food such as brine shrimp as well as plankton.

Colisa lalia will reproduce in captivity under certain circumstances. People who want to breed these gourami should set up a separate aquarium. Water levels in the tank should be between 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 cm) with a water temperature between 82.5 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit (28 to 30 degrees C). The male gourami will use plant material, which should be readily available in the tank, to make a bubble nest. A bubble nest is a combination of plant materials, bubbles and a secretion from the fish's mouth that hold all of the ingredients together.

After the female or females have quit laying eggs, the females should be removed from the tank as the male will be the main caregiver. If all is successful, eggs will hatch within two days. The fry, or baby fish, will stay in the bubble nest for about another three days. At this point, the male should also be put into another tank as the male will consider the fry to be food.

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