Gourami fish take pride of place in the list of favorites of aquarists – both experienced and beginners. Beginners love gourami for its relative unpretentiousness and peaceful nature, and experienced aquarists appreciate the unusually attractive color and size that draws attention to aquatic inhabitants.
Origin of the species and description
Literally translated from Javanese, “gourami” means “a fish showing its nose from the water surface.” Yes, the name at first glance is a little strange, but it is precisely this, like no other, that emphasizes the main feature of this type of fish. They really show their nose from under the water! This feature is explained by the fact that gourami has a special respiratory organ – a gill labyrinth.
Once upon a time, ichthyologists believed that this organ makes it possible for gourami to store water and, thanks to this, survive drought. Or overcome the distance between drying up reservoirs, like mud jumpers. But as it was later determined, the labyrinth allows gourami to swallow and breathe oxygen-enriched atmospheric air without harm to health. It is for this reason that they often have to float to the surface of the water and take a life-giving sip.
Interesting fact: In the event that access to the water surface is difficult, the gourami may die.
The second feature of this species of fish is the pelvic fins modified in the process of evolution. In these fish, they have become thin long threads and play the role of an organ of touch. This device allows gourami to navigate in muddy reservoirs that have become their usual habitat. But even in the case of living in aquariums with perfectly clean water, gourami do not stop feeling everything with their modified fins.
It is important to note that the name “gourami” itself is a collective one. It would be correct to name only fish from the genus Trichogaster, but it so happened that aquarists began to call representatives from some similar genera gourami by analogy. So, “true gourami” can be considered 4 types: brown, pearl, moon and spotted. As for all other fish that are mistakenly called gourami, but have become widespread, kissing, grumbling, dwarf, honey and chocolate belong to this category.
Appearance and features
The vast majority of gourami species are medium-sized fish, reaching a size of 10-12 cm in an aquarium, no more. Although, sometimes larger individuals are also found – for example, serpentine gourami (body length 20-25 cm) or commercial gourami (grows even up to 100 cm, but aquarists do not favor this “monster”).
In shape, the body of the fish is slightly flattened laterally and slightly elongated. The ventral fin takes place from the middle of the abdomen and passes into an extension located near the tail. As noted above, in the course of evolution, the pectoral fins were replaced by long thin threads that coincide in length with the body – their functional purpose is to play the role of an organ of touch.
Interesting fact: Latin The name of the genus Trichogaster is formed by the words “trichos” – thread and “gaster” – stomach. The modernized classification provides for the replacement of the word “gaster” with “podus” – foot. Moreover, the tactile fins-whiskers, even if lost, regenerate over time.
Gender is determined by the dorsal fin — in males, it is significantly elongated and pointed, while in the “weaker sex”, on the contrary, it is rounded.
The body color of gourami is quite diverse and is determined by species. A huge number of color varieties of gourami have been bred. But despite all this diversity, one characteristic pattern can be traced – the color of males is much brighter than the color of females. Tarnishing of the scales of gourami fish is often a pathognomonic symptom of dangerous diseases.
Now you know everything about the content of gourami fish. Let's see where they live in their natural environment.
Where do gourami live?
The homeland of all gourami is the tropical waters of Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia. There, these fish can be found even in the most unsuitable places for a comfortable life. Gourami thrive in rain barrels, muddy gutters, sewers, and even flooded rice paddies. It is not surprising that their pelvic fins have become sensory organs – this is the only way to navigate in dirty and muddy water.
Based on this fact, the French scientist Pierre Carbonnier, who was the first European to pay attention to this fish, concluded that gourami is incredibly survivable. But he did not take into account one very important fact – the need of these fish for the supply of fresh atmospheric air. Therefore, all attempts made by the scientist to deliver a couple of specimens to the Old World ended in disaster: all the fish died on the way.
This is not surprising, because the captured “emigrants” were placed in barrels filled to the top and hermetically sealed. Accordingly, there was a mass death of fish – they could not even endure their sea journey. Only after the European ichthyologists talked with the locals and found out the origin of the name of this fish, the barrels began to fill only 2/3, which made it possible to safely deliver the first specimens to European countries. In 1896.
Regarding the natural distribution zone of gourami – now these fish inhabit Southeast Asia and almost all the islands adjacent to the mainland zone. The spotted gourami boasts the widest range – it inhabits vast territories stretching from India to the Malay Archipelago. Moreover, there are countless of its color variations – depending on the area. On about. Sumatra and Borneo are ubiquitous pearl gourami. Thailand and Cambodia are the birthplace of the moon gourami.
Because of their unpretentiousness, gouramis have been successfully introduced in places where they have never been found before: on about. Java, in the lakes and rivers of the Antilles.
Interesting fact: Most often, the appearance of gourami in those waters where they should not be associated with aquarists releasing aquarium fish into nature.
What do gourami eat?
In their natural habitat, gouramis consume a variety of aquatic invertebrates and larvae of the malarial mosquito. Do not disdain fish and plant foods & # 8212; tender parts of living plants occupy a worthy place in their menu. So in food, these fish are also picky, as in choosing a place of residence.
When keeping gourami in an aquarium, it is important to take care of a varied and balanced diet. With systematic feeding with dry food (the same daphnia), it is necessary to make allowances for the fact that the mouth of the gourami is small. Accordingly, the food should correspond to it “by caliber”.
You need to feed them 3-4 times a day, but strictly control the amount of food poured – you need to give exactly as much as the fish can eat in a few minutes. Otherwise, uneaten daphnia will begin to decompose, causing contamination of the aquarium and deterioration of water quality. Gourami will undoubtedly survive, but the aesthetics will be broken.
Another important point regarding the nutrition of gourami is that these fish can easily endure long-term hunger strikes (lasting up to 5-10 days), and without any health consequences. This once again speaks of the amazing adaptability and survival of the gourami.
Peculiarities of character and lifestyle
Amazing stamina and the presence of a unique the respiratory organ makes it possible to adapt to almost any water parameters and endure the absence of artificial aeration without problems (although other fish for beginner aquarists – the same barbs, swordtails and zebrafish, quickly die in the absence of a filter and aerator).
It is worth confirming the unique endurance of gourami with facts. So, these fish can live without problems in a wide range of hardness and acidity.
At the same time, the most suitable parameters for them will be:
- slightly acidic water (with pH = 6.0-6.8);
- hardness not exceeding 10 ° dH;
- water temperature at the level of 25-27 ° С, and during spawning, warmer water is required, up to 28-30 ° С .
Moreover, the temperature regime is considered a much more significant parameter, because tropical fish do not tolerate it very well, they start to get sick. Accordingly, in gourami aquariums, the thermostat is more important than the filter and aerator. In principle, everything corresponds to the real living conditions.
A few more important features that are important for artificial living conditions. It is very important to place live algae in the gourami aquarium, placing them in groups so that there is room for swimming. And one more thing – it is important to ensure the presence of not only algae, but also floating plants (Riccia, Pistii).
The value of such plants is that they will soften the bright light, which will enable males to create nests for fry from bubbles (gourami, like an ideal family man, takes care of his descendants). It is important to remember that the plants should not cover the surface of the water by 100% — the gourami will float up from time to time to swallow air.
The most important point when keeping gourami in an aquarium is the presence of cover glasses. With the help of this simple device, 2 tasks can be solved. Firstly, you will ensure a stable temperature of the air layer by the surface of the water – by swallowing such air, the gouramis will not damage their special respiratory labyrinth, which is sensitive to temperature contrast. Secondly, glass will prevent the death of overly jumping individuals.
Social Structure and Reproduction
Sexual maturity of gourami fish occurs at 8-12 months. As a rule, the female spawns 4-5 times with time intervals of 10-12 days, after which the breeding process is completed. The number of eggs is about 50-200 pieces per litter. Sexual dimorphism is clearly expressed in almost all representatives of the gourami genus. In addition to differences in the structure and shape of the fin (which was mentioned above), during spawning, the scales of males acquire a brighter color.
Only the male gourami takes part in creating the nest. The material for the nest is air and saliva – the fish glues air bubbles with it. The simplest “technology” allows you to create a comfortable nest, the size of which reaches 5 cm and can interfere with all the offspring. As a rule, gourami spends no more than a day to solve the “housing problem”. After that, the “head of the family” invites the female to spawn. The male captures the eggs in his mouth and puts them into the nest himself, where their further development takes place.
Interesting fact: Some types of gourami spawn without equipping nests. In this case, the eggs simply float on the surface of the water. Whatever it is, only the male takes care of the eggs.
Gourami larvae appear from the eggs somewhere in a day or two. Newborn fish are very small in size, with a yolk sac, which serves as a source of food for them in the next 3-4 days. The next “dish” on the gourami menu is ciliates, zooplankton and other protozoa. But in artificial conditions, as soon as the fry leave the nest, the male gourami must be immediately removed from the aquarium: an overly caring father can easily damage the babies by trying to return them to the nest.
The labyrinth organ of newborn gourami is formed only 2-3 weeks after birth, so at first it will be very useful for babies to have clean water with good aeration. It is very important to remove excess food from the aquarium in a timely manner. Under proper conditions, fry grow very quickly, but unevenly, and therefore it is recommended to systematically sort the fish by size.
Natural enemies of gourami
In nature, gourami fish are threatened by all predatory fish, as well as waterfowl and turtles. Another enemies of the gourami are Sumatran barbs or swordtails. These pranksters inflict numerous injuries on the peace-loving gourami, and most of all fall on the fins and sensitive whiskers.
In fact, all the same relationships between fish are preserved in the aquarium as in wildlife. Species that initially conflict with each other in natural reservoirs do not get along in an aquarium, where you do not have to rack your brains about finding food and living territory – the presence of all this is provided by a person.
Based on this, in no case should gourami be settled together with large African and American cichlids, as well as with goldfish. These fish are their sworn enemies in their natural habitat, so in a limited space they will not leave a chance for peace-loving gourami.
And cases of aggression from gourami almost never happen. Such a phenomenon can only be caused by the individual characteristics of the fish or the protection of their own fry (nests during spawning). And then, if fights do occur, then the parties to the conflict are relatives or closely related species.
The presence of a large aquarium with numerous hiding places can reconcile the gourami even with those fish with which misunderstandings are possible in the natural environment (such as neons, minors, rasbors).
Population and status view
Gourami is a very numerous genus of fish – representatives of its numerous species can be found both in the flowing waters of clean rivers and streams, and in stagnant reservoirs, which at first glance, a person far from ichthyology, seem generally unsuitable for life (or in places that cannot even be called water bodies – the same flooded rice fields, for example).
Some species of the genus gourami (for example, spotted and brown) can easily tolerate a slight increase in salinity. Thanks to this feature, they can be found in high-tide zones and at the mouths of rivers that flow into the ocean.
The presence of a specific respiratory organ significantly increases the adaptive potential of gouramis – thanks to this feature, they master places where there is very little oxygen in the water . The available concentration is not enough for any other fish, which gives the gourami a solid form in developing a place under the sun. It turns out that nature itself gives these fish a free niche.
Another distinctive ability of gourami is its resistance to the impact of the anthropogenic factor – they live in water bodies where industrial waste or pesticides are dumped from agricultural fields.
Regarding artificial conditions — when choosing an aquarium, you should first of all consider the size of adult gourami fish. If a dwarf or honey gourami is suitable for an aquarium with a volume of 20 liters or more — for a couple of individuals, then larger species need to provide at least 80-100 liters. For each male, it makes sense to keep 3-4 females in total. To reduce intraspecific aggression. Dark soil should be put on the bottom so that the coloring of the gourami fish looks more contrasting.
Gourami are peaceful fish that perfectly adapt to almost any living conditions. The only condition is that the surface of the water must be in contact with air, because otherwise these fish will not be able to fully breathe and will die. There are no more special requirements for their breeding.