Honey Gourami: All You Need To Know About Sunset Honey Gouramis

Honey Gourami All You Need To Know About Sunset Honey Gouramis Banner

The honey gourami is a freshwater fish that’s part of the gourami family. Honey gouramis are found in northern India and Bangladesh, and occasionally in Nepal.

They are ideal fish for inexperienced fishkeepers who are starting for the first time.

Honey gouramis are also known as the sunset honey gourami, the red honey gourami, the red flame gourami, and any combination of the above.

Keep reading to learn all you need to know about caring for this wonderful fish.

Honey Gourami Facts & Overview

Honey Gourami

Care Level:Beginner
Color:Silvery gray for females; honey-orange and black for males
Lifespan:4-8 years
Size:3 inches
Minimum Tank Size:10 gallons
Tank Setup:Lots of vegetation and hiding spaces with very low current
Compatibility:Same species or other peaceful small fish

The honey gourami, Trichogaster chuna, was first described by Hamilton and Buchanan in 1822 where they actually mistook males and females for two different species. Males were known as Trichopodus chuna and females as Trichopodus sota.

Now they all sit under the name Trichogaster.

Trichogaster comes from the ancient Greek, ‘thriks’ meaning ‘hair’, and ‘gaster’ meaning ‘stomach’, which describes their long narrow ventral fins.

The fish available for the aquarium trade are all commercially produced. It is very unlikely to find a wild specimen in your tanks.

In recent years there have been a number of selectively-bred ornamental strains to improve the coloration between dwarf gourami (Colisa lalia) and honey gourami. These two species have often been confused as they look similar.

Typical Behavior

This species is ideal for inexperienced aquarists due to its peaceful nature and hardiness.

Even though they are classified as a benthopelagic fish (meaning that they will swim from the sediment to the surface) it prefers the middle and the surface areas of the tank. They are timid and shy specimens and may take a while to get comfortable in your tank. Only once they are relaxed will the male start to show its typical coloring.

Whilst they are not outgoing, they do enjoy some company of their own kind (4 to 6 individuals).

It is likely that some kind of hierarchy will be established within a group, with the dominant individual chasing away the other fish during mealtime and males becoming aggressive towards females.

Make sure to provide dense vegetation for hiding spaces to prevent bullying.

Its feeding behavior is also very peculiar. This behavior is also observed in the Archer Fish (Toxotes spp.) along with the Trichopodus and Trichogaster species.

It catches prey by squirting water at them. They position themselves diagonally to the water surface to watch for prey. Then, it will squirt water at the prey, so it drops into the water, where it is quickly eaten by the fish.

Interestingly, this species has a labyrinth organ allowing the fish to adopt peculiar behaviors. For example, it allows it to breathe in poorly oxygenated waters.


Honey Gourami Appearance

They are often confused with the Dwarf Gourami as they have similarities in their shape and size. When buying and selecting these fish, knowing their scientific Latin names (mentioned above) can help distinguish between the different varieties.

The body of the Honey Gourami is narrower with smaller dorsal and anal fins. The ventral fins are narrow and thread-like.

Like with most fish, males and females are different colors. Initially, they all display a silvery gray to light yellow coloration with a light brown horizontal stripe in the mid-body extending from behind the eye to the caudal peduncle.

While females stay this color for life, males will develop bright honey-yellow or reddish-orange coloration. The ventral side of the fish (face, throat, and belly) will become dark blue/black, while the main body will display a more honey orange coloration.

The Honey Gourami is the smallest size fish of the Trichogaster genus, usually reaching 1.5″ for males and 2″ the females. On rare occasions, they have been recorded as growing up to 3″.

Dwarf Gourami Confusion

Remember not to confuse this fish with the dwarf gourami, even though the word ‘dwarf’ is sometimes included in their name, they are closely related but are not the same species.

Dwarf gouramis typically come in red and blue colors, honey’s eyes are usually closer to their mouth than dwarf species too.

You also shouldn’t confuse this species with the sunset thick lip gourami – they are typically larger (grow to 4 inches), and are more orange.

Habitat and Tank Conditions

They are native to the freshwaters of South Asia.

It can be found in rivers, lakes, ponds, ditches, and occasionally in flooded fields of India and Bangladesh. These areas are thick in vegetation with poorly mineralized and slow-moving waters.

Replicating a good natural habitat is important for the well-being of the fish. It is easier to keep fish stress levels down and to promote full-color development if natural conditions are met.

River and lake beds in this area have a sandy substrate with occasional rocks and other debris.

However, Gourami tends to swim in the mid or upper part of the water column making vegetation the most important thing to consider. This species uses the densely planted environment for both a hideout and for food.

This fish spreads out in low altitude areas, often affected by a high seasonal variation due to monsoons between June and October.

Tank Conditions

Honey Gourami are small, hardy fish. They prefer warm waters and can tolerate small changes in water chemistry.

Their labyrinth organ is fairly sensitive to changes in temperature. Therefore it’s best to keep the tank in a room with a temperature similar to the tank water. If you can’t do this, you can use a heater to keep the temperature of the water consistent.

It prefers slow-moving, acidic and hard waters, with water parameters set at:

  • Hardiness: 4-15 dGH
  • pH: 6.0-7.5
  • Lighting: Moderate
  • Temperature:71-82°F

They are shy and like to feel safe and secure within the tank. Try to provide plenty of hiding spaces when setting up the tank with thick vegetation and floating plants.

Try to leave some surface areas uncovered so that the fish can breathe air. They will often try to reach the surface to breathe.

It is very important to have regular water changes with at least 25% of the tank waters changed weekly. A good filtration system and regular water changes will prevent toxins from building up.

What Size Aquarium do they need?

Honey Gouramis need at least a 10-gallon tank. A 20-gallon tank is recommended if you are keeping a pair.

How Many Can Be Kept Per Gallon?

For each Gourami added, allow 5 to 10 gallons of tank space.

Tank Mates

Sunset Honey Gourami

The Honey Gourami is a peaceful shy fish. Therefore, picking the right tank mates is very important for the well-being of your Gourami. For example, other active and aggressive fish such as cichlids are to be avoided as they will intimidate the Gourami and out-compete them for food.

Fish to avoid include oscars, silver dollars, pacus, and large catfish.

The ideal tank mates are other peaceful fish such as cyprinids (harlequin rasbora and danios), and smaller pethia and puntius species.

Peaceful barbs could also get along well but avoid fin nippers such as tiger barbs and clown barbs.

Other good tank mates could be smaller loaches such as the coolie loach and relatives, smaller catfish such as corydoras and otocinclus, and smaller rainbowfish.

Snails are also good tank mates, but avoid keeping shrimps with them as they may get eaten.

Always keep in mind that weaker individuals can be bullied, so provide plenty of hiding places.

Keeping Honey Gouramis Together

Honey gouramis are very easy-going fish that can be kept as a single, pair or a group. They are not a schooling species however they enjoy each other’s company and will display better in groups of 4-6 individuals.

Generally, a formed pair will swim together.


The honey gourami is an omnivore in the wild, feeding on everything that they can find from small invertebrates and insects to zooplankton. Occasionally, they will also graze on the surrounding vegetation and plants.

Keep this in mind when choosing the type of plants for your aquarium; you need a resilient species!

This fish is not a fussy eater. In the aquarium, they will love, fresh or flake foods. Try to keep a well-balanced diet with flakes or pellets as their core diet and then add live food such as bloodworms or brine shrimps.

Vegetable tablets are also a good way to vary their diet. Make sure you add both vegetables and meat sources to give them a good variety.

You should feed them once or twice a day, and only feed them enough food so that they will have finished it in 2-3 minutes of you putting it in the tank.


Honey Gourami Care

Even though these are quite resilient fish, weekly water changes of at least 25% are recommended to avoid tissue damage.

Usually, fish diseases are not a problem provided you keep a well-maintained aquarium.

However, they are prone to Velvet disease if kept in a poorly maintained tank. This is a parasite, Oodinium pilularis, which lives in the fish gills, skin, and mouth making golden or brownish dust over the fins and body.

Other diseases that can occur with poor water quality are bacterial infections, constipation, and hole in the head.

Ich disease or white spot disease has been recognized as one of the most common infections caused by the parasite Ichthyophthirius multifiliis, due to poor water conditions and inadequate tank settings.

Nobody wants to see their fish developing the hole in the head disease or Hexamitiasis. This is caused by parasitic protozoans known as Hexamita, affecting both freshwater and marine fish.

Maintaining good water quality and a balanced diet is the key to preventing any kind of disease outbreak in your aquarium.

When selecting a new addition to your tank keep always in mind that any new substrate is a potential risk of introducing disease.

Lately, many gouramis commercially bred in the far east have exhibited health problems in relation to dyed, hormone-treated, and virus-carrying specimens. Therefore quarantine is advisable before adding the fish or the substrate to a well-established community.


Breeding is quite straightforward if you can provide the right conditions. They are bubble nest builders, nesting under a leaf if available. Pairs will form a temporary bond.

We suggest using a breeding tank of between 10-20 gallons. Keep the water at about 6-8 inches in height with the temperature between 79-84°F, pH 7.0, and 8°dGH. Also, try to add a gentle air-powered filtration such as a sponge filter.

Including lots of vegetation helps. The leaves help to keep the nest stable as it tends to break if built on the bare water surface.

Remember to keep the air above the water warm and humid to avoid damaging the labyrinth organ.

Once well-fed, the females will start filling out with eggs.

The male will build the bubble nest, and once it is built, he will show his courting colors by swimming toward a female and flashing his blue-black. Then he will swim back to the nest to encourage her to follow. He will repeat these courting rituals of displaying and swimming until the nest is reached and they begin spawning.

The female releases about 20 eggs per spawn and the male will immediately fertilize them. The male picks up the eggs in its mouth and puts them in the bubble nest. The same pair will keep spawning again until about 300 eggs are fertilized.

Here, again, water spitting comes in handy. The male keeps the eggs in place by spitting water droplets above the nest forcing them down where they can be rearranged back in the nest.

After spawning, the female should be removed as the male tends to become aggressive chasing her away. The eggs and nest are therefore guarded and cared for by the males.

The eggs hatch after 24-36 hours depending on water temperature. All adults must be removed at this stage. The fry will take 3 days to leave the nest and free swim. Liquid fry food or infusoria can be fed to the free-swimming fry until they grow large enough to eat baby brine shrimp.

Are Honey Gouramis Suitable For Your Aquarium?

The honey gourami is a peaceful and colorful addition to your aquarium. This species is ideal for inexperienced keepers as they can withstand many typical beginner mistakes.

They prefer tanks with dense vegetation and plenty of hiding places where they can feel safe and secure.

The honey gourami adopts peculiar behaviors in the wild while spawning and feeding such as bubble nesting, and water spitting when catching prey.

About Robert 468 Articles
Robert Woods is the creator of FishKeeping World, a third-generation fish keeper, and a graduate in animal welfare and behavior. He is also a proud member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the Marine Aquarium Societies of North America, and the Nature Conservancy.


  1. Ari says:

    If your fish have babys then what do you do with them? Keep buying aquariums? Sell them on eBay, lol? Wouldn’t want to kill them.

    • Fishkeeping World says:

      Hi Ari, many local pet stores will take your babies if you end up with too many. The responsible thing to do is not to have a breeding couple if you’re worried about what to do with the babies. If you just want to keep Honey Gouramis because they’re beautiful fish, rather than to breed them, then most people choose to keep males because of their brighter coloration. Thanks, Robert

  2. Aviella says:

    Would this pair well with a BABY Cumberland slider? I have a female beta paired with it now and they are fine.

    • Fishkeeping World says:

      Hi Aviella, whilst I’ve never heard of this being done, they do both like tank with lots of plants and require the same water parameters. Turtles are omnivores though, so they are very likely to try and eat your gourami. You’ll need to consider the size of both of them but personally I wouldn’t. Thanks, Robert

  3. Karen Young says:

    I’m fixing to get a ten year old red slider. I have a twenty gallon aquarium and I need to know the best way to set it up. Could you please help me. I have I have never had a turtle before.

  4. anthony says:

    Would Cory catfish stress them when they dart to the surface? I am worried The cories would be to active.

    • Fishkeeping World says:

      Hi Anthony, Cory’s and Gourami’s usually make ideal tank mates and should be fine. Thanks, Robert

  5. Arthur says:

    I was planning on adding one to a tall 15g tank with a few pygmy Gouramies, they both seem to have the same temperament so should that be okay?

    • Fishkeeping World says:

      Hi Arthur, yes they should be fine. Just made sure you have plenty of plants in your tank. Thanks, Robert

  6. Peggy Harmon says:

    My honey gourami keep frantically swimming across the tank, jumping up into the air and ten “playing dead” and floating near the bottom of the tank. When playing dead breathing does seem to be off. How do I help her?

    • Fishkeeping World says:

      Hi Peggy, are all your water parameters within the normal range? Thanks, Robert

  7. Terri Martin says:

    My honey gourami was a beautiful copper color and happily swimming around. I added a black skirt tetra and since then he’s been hiding and lost his color! Is he stressed or sick? I have a 36 gallon with cories, rasboras, Otto’s and 2 white skirt tetras.

    • Fishkeeping World says:

      Hi Terri, the fact that he has lost color and hiding does indicate he is sick or stressed. Have you noticed any bullying going on? I would recommend putting your honey gourami into a seperate tank for a few weeks to see if he improves. Many thanks, Robert

  8. Percy says:

    I have a 20 gallon long tank and I want to get:
    2 honey gourami
    6 panda corydoras
    6 zebra danios
    I have 2 20 gallon sponge filters. Would they be compatible? Thanks

    • Fishkeeping World says:

      Hi Percy, these fish are all compatible and the tank size for them is fine. Thanks, Robert

  9. Colleen says:

    Would honey Gouramis and dwarf chain loaches do ok together? Tank is a 40 b and currently has 8 dwarf chain loaches and 12 brilliant rasboras (rasbora borapetensis).
    Was thinking of adding 4 honey Gouramis.

    • Fishkeeping World says:

      Hi Colleen, yes these fish will be fine together. You tank will be almost fully stocked with that amount of fish too. Thanks, Robert

      • Shay says:

        Can honey gouramis and a sunset thicklipped gourami interbreed?

        • Fishkeeping World says:

          Hi Shay, it is possible, but the chances of actually getting it to work are slim. Let me know if you have any success. Thanks, Robert

  10. Cher Brewer says:

    Would honey gouramis and pearl gouramis be acceptable tank mates? I would like to stock my 40 gallon with 6 honeys and 2 pearls. It currently has 5 panda corys and 2 male honeys. It has been fully cycled for 3 weeks and I have kept it with just 5 guppies until this week to make certain it’s cycled before adding my 2 honeys from another tank and purchasing my pandas at lfs. I moved the guppies back to their original tank.

  11. Ireland says:

    My honey gourami is very uninterested in everything! I dont know what he/she *dont know gender* will play with or like. He/she always hides at the bottom of the tank. He/she had another honey gourami friend that died, and so there is no more gouramis in the tank. But there is 2 plecos and 3 other tiny fish that are very active. Could you please help? Thank you! —-Ireland

  12. Joe kalmanowitz says:

    Having comparability problems when adding fish to my 36 gallon tank. I currently have 4 beautiful silver dollars. I’ve tried adding tetras and a guarami They bullied the silver dollars constantly. What would be a peaceful fish to add with them. Thanks

  13. KCJ says:

    My ten gallon tank is about lose its powder blue gourami and I was thinking of a honey, but the filter is really strong do you think the honey will be okay?

  14. Grace says:

    Hi, I’ve been looking into honeys for a while and was wondering if a honey gourami sorority would work? I like the light brown females and don’t want to deal with any bullying that happens when a male female pair have a nest.
    (Not sure if this post is still active or not Haha)
    If not I’ll probably keep a single honey gourami ?

  15. Laney says:

    Is it okay to keep a honey gourami with a rubber lipped pleco?

  16. Ryn says:

    Can 1 honey gourami live with endlers? Also do they eat endler eggs?

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