Kissing Gourami: A Quick Guide to Care and Behavior

Kissing Gouramis are unique and eye-catching freshwater fish that can bring a pop of color and interesting behavior to your aquarium. With their distinct large lips and vibrant hues, these fish are sure to become the stars of your tank. However, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with their temperament and care requirements to ensure they thrive in their new home.

Originating from Southeast Asia, Kissing Gouramis boast a lifespan of 7 to 25 years, making them a long-term commitment for any fish enthusiast. These semi-aggressive, omnivorous fish can grow up to 10-12 inches in length, requiring adequate space and optimal water conditions to flourish.

As you learn more about these captivating fish, you’ll discover how to create the perfect environment for them while understanding more about their fascinating behaviors. By understanding their needs and meeting their requirements, you’ll enjoy a thriving aquarium filled with happy, healthy Kissing Gouramis.

Species Profile

Scientific NameHelostoma temminckii
Common NamesKissing Gourami, Pink Kissing Gourami, Kissing Fish, Kissers
DistributionSoutheast Asia
Size12 inches
LifespanUp to 7 years
Minimum Tank Size50 gallons
Temperature75-84°F (25-28°C)
Water Hardness5-20 dGH
Care LevelModerate
Filtration/Water FlowModerate
Water TypeFreshwater
Breeding DifficultyModerate to difficult
CompatibilityCommunity tank with similarly-sized, non-aggressive fish

In your Kissing Gourami tank, it’s important to provide a variety of hiding spots, using plants, rocks, and driftwood. These fish are known for grazing on algae, so ensure their diet is supplemented accordingly, along with the regular diet of quality flakes, pellets, and live or frozen foods.

Keep in mind that although they’re called Kissing Gouramis, their “kissing” behavior is actually a form of aggression or territorial display. Although they’re not extremely aggressive, it’s best to avoid keeping them with very small or timid tank mates. Regularly monitoring and maintaining water conditions is crucial to achieving a healthy and happy environment for your Kissing Gourami.

Kissing Gourami Basics

Origins and Natural Habitat

Kissing Gourami (Helostoma temminckii) has its origins in Southeast Asia, where it thrives in slow-moving or stagnant water, such as ponds, swamps, and canals. These fish enjoy tropical temperatures and a variety of aquatic vegetation in their natural habitat.

Size and Shape

Kissing gouramis typically reach a size of approximately 6 inches in length, and it is uncommon for them to exceed this size when kept in captivity. This unique fish can grow quite large in the wild, reaching up to 10 to 12 inches. Its body is relatively thick and broad, with a distinct compressed shape. Their large, rounded caudal fins enhance their swimming abilities, allowing them to navigate through their watery environment.

Color and Markings

Kissing Gourami comes in various colors and patterns. Some have a greyish-green hue, while others sport pinkish or even silver shades. Markings can include a black vertical bar at the base of their caudal fin, dark horizontal stripes, or a mottled appearance, depending on the individual fish. It’s important to note that the wild mottled form is not frequently available in the aquarium trade.


In captivity, the average lifespan of kissing gouramis is approximately 7 years. However, these fish have the potential to live up to 25 years. This lifespan depends on factors such as the quality of their environment, diet, and overall health. Be prepared to give your fish the best possible care to ensure they lead a long and healthy life.

Diet and Feeding

Kissing Gouramis are omnivorous, which means they eat both plant and animal-based foods. To maintain their health and well-being, it’s essential to provide them with a balanced diet.

In the wild, Kissing Gouramis mainly consume algae, small insects, and aquatic vegetation. To replicate this in your aquarium, you should offer them a variety of high-quality fish flakes or pellets, along with live or frozen foods like brine shrimp, daphnia, and bloodworms. Remember to include plant-based options like spirulina flakes or blanched vegetables such as cucumber, lettuce, and spinach.

It’s essential to feed your Kissing Gouramis small portions, two to three times a day. Remove any leftover food after 5 minutes to prevent water pollution.

By offering a diverse diet and feeding your Kissing Gouramis the right portions, you’ll ensure they remain healthy and active, showcasing their captivating behavior.

Behavior and Temperament

Kissing Gouramis exhibit quite interesting and unique behavior. They are known for their “kissing” action, which is not an act of affection but rather a display of dominance or a form of territorial behavior.

These fish are quite active and tend to be semi-aggressive. They usually reside at the top to middle of the water column in the aquarium, and you might occasionally find them coming up to the surface. Keep in mind that their temperament might result in conflicts with other fish in your aquarium, especially smaller or more peaceful species.

When planning the tank setup for your Kissing Gouramis, it’s essential to provide plenty of hiding spots and ample swimming space to help reduce stress and aggression. This way, you’ll allow them to display their natural behavior while maintaining a peaceful environment for the other tank mates.

Care and Tank Requirements

Tank Size

Caring for your kissing gourami is essential, and providing them with an appropriate tank size will ensure their comfort and well-being. A minimum tank size of 75 gallons is recommended for a single kissing gourami, as these fish can grow up to 12 inches in length, and they need ample space to swim and explore.

Water Parameters

It is crucial to maintain suitable water parameters for your kissing gourami. They thrive in tropical conditions, so maintain a water temperature range between 72° and 82° Fahrenheit. As for the water pH, aim to keep it in the range of 6.0 to 8.0. Maintaining these parameters will help keep your fish healthy and happy.

Temperature72° to 82°F
pH6.0 to 8.0
Hardness5-20 dGH

Tank Setup and Decorations

A well-decorated tank provides both stimulation and hiding places for your kissing gourami. Incorporate a variety of plants, rocks, and driftwood to create a natural environment for them to explore. Keep in mind that kissing gouramis are known to nibble on plants, so choose durable plant species or opt for artificial plants. Ensure there is enough open space for your fish to swim freely, and avoid overcrowding the tank with decorations.

  • Plants: Durable species or artificial plants
  • Rocks and Driftwood: For hiding places and stimulation
  • Open Space: For swimming and exploration

Filtration and Aeration

Kissing gouramis need clean and well-oxygenated water. Invest in a high-quality filter that can handle the bioload of your tank and remove impurities effectively. A good filtration system is essential for maintaining a healthy environment for your fish. Additionally, ensure proper aeration through the use of an air stone or other aeration device to provide your fish with an oxygen-rich habitat.

  • Filtration: High-quality filter for a clean tank
  • Aeration: Air stone or other device for a well-oxygenated environment

Suitable Tank Mates

Kissing gouramis are known for their unique lip-locking behavior and can sometimes be a little feisty. When selecting tank mates for your kissing gouramis, it’s essential to choose medium-sized fish that can hold their own. Keep a close eye on their interactions to prevent any bullying or aggression.

Some suitable tank mates for kissing gouramis include:

  • Yoyo Loach
  • Swordtails
  • Tiger Barb
  • Chinese Algae Eaters
  • Angelfish
  • Congo Tetra
  • Rosy Barb
  • Pictus Catfish
  • Archerfish
  • Smaller cichlids

When housing multiple male kissing gouramis together, make sure to provide a spacious, well-planted tank. Though it’s best to avoid other gourami species as tank mates since they might trigger aggression among similar-looking fish.

Remember, never pair your kissing gouramis with small or weak fish, as they need to be able to defend themselves. Be mindful of any signs of aggression such as ramming and slime coat stripping, and take necessary precautions if this occurs. By considering the compatibility of your tank mates, you can create a harmonious aquatic environment for all your fishy friends.

Breeding Process

To start breeding Kissing Gouramis, first, establish a controlled environment and condition the bonded pairs. Prepare a separate breeding tank with higher temperatures around 80°F and softer water to imitate their natural spawning conditions. Before introducing them to the breeding tank, ensure that the adult fish are well-conditioned with live foods.

In the breeding tank, provide a large lettuce leaf floating on the surface to collect the buoyant eggs, as Kissing Gouramis are egg-scatterers. The lettuce leaf will not only gather the eggs but also attract beneficial bacteria and infusoria, serving as food for the hatching fry.

During the mating ritual, observe the female lay her eggs, and the male fertilize them as they ascend to the surface. This process includes circling, nudging, dancing, and the male wrapping his body around the female. Once they finish spawning, promptly remove the adult fish from the breeding tank to prevent them from consuming the eggs.

The eggs will hatch within about a day. As the fry consume the egg sac, they will begin feeding on infusoria near the lettuce leaf. When the fry become free-swimming, provide powdered foods or newly hatched brine shrimp as their main food source. By following these steps, you will successfully breed your Kissing Gouramis while maintaining a friendly and nurturing environment for them.

Common Diseases and Treatments

Kissing Gourami can experience several diseases, but don’t worry, many of them are treatable. One of the most widespread issues in freshwater fish is fungal diseases like mouth rot, mouth fungus, and flesh decay. Treating these diseases involves:

  • Replacing the water in the aquarium
  • Giving your fish a bath
  • Medicate the water with antifungal solutions

Make sure to take action during the early stages of infection to keep your gouramis healthy and comfortable. Ensure that their aquarium maintains ideal water conditions to reduce the risk of disease. Keep the water pH between 6 and 8, and water hardness within 5-20 dH.

Regularly monitor your Kissing Gourami for any signs of illness, so you can take quick action in case any disease occurs. While it may seem daunting, maintaining proper care and diligence will keep your gourami healthy and happy.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do kissing gouramis appear to kiss?

Kissing gouramis, also known as Helostoma temminckii, may appear to be engaging in an affectionate act, but they’re actually not kissing. This unique behavior is a method of establishing dominance among themselves. They lock lips to determine which one is stronger, and the winner asserts its position in the social hierarchy within the tank.

Can kissing gourami live alone?

Yes, kissing gouramis can live alone in a tank. However, they are social creatures, and it’s better to have them in a group of at least 4-5 individuals, as it makes them feel more secure. Make sure to provide a well-maintained, spacious tank environment for them to thrive.

How long does it take for a kissing gourami to reach full size?

Kissing gouramis can grow up to 12 inches, but it takes time for them to reach their full size. Typically, they grow at a rate of about 1 to 1.5 inches per year, so it can take up to 5-8 years for them to reach their maximum size.

What fish can be kept with kissing gourami?

Kissing gouramis can be kept with other fish species as long as they have a similar temperament and water requirements. Some suitable tank mates include medium to large-sized fish, such as tiger barbs, angelfish, guppies, and platies. However, avoid pairing them with overly aggressive or territorial fish, as it may lead to conflicts within the tank.

What size tank does a kissing gourami need?

It’s essential to provide a spacious tank for kissing gouramis, given their potential size and social nature. A minimum tank size of 75 gallons is recommended, with additional space for each additional fish. Ensure the tank has ample hiding spots and plants, maintaining a well-balanced ecosystem for the gourami to thrive.

Can I keep kissing gourami with goldfish?

It’s not recommended to keep kissing gouramis with goldfish, as they have different water requirements and temperature preferences. Goldfish thrive in cooler waters, while kissing gouramis require a tropical environment with a temperature ranging from 72° to 82° Fahrenheit. Mixing these two species might lead to stress and illness for both fish.