Trichopsis pumila

Articles by Bob Hargis, Ryan McDuffee

Sparkling Gourami, Trichopsis pumila by Bob Hargis

I have always enjoyed the anabantids, for the most part they are small and do well in my predominately 10 gallon tanked fish room. The Sparkling Gourami considers the 10 gallon spacious. Adult size is about 1.5″. The fish originates from Southeast Asia inhabiting slow moving and sometimes stagnate waters and in the wild feeds mainly on small aquatic insects. The Sparkling Gourami, (sometimes referred to as the Pygmy Gourami), is closely related to the Croaking Gourami and will put off a low croaking sound in courtship. I have spawned the Croaking Gourami and the sound they put off was heard in the next room. I didn’t hear this from the Sparkling Gourami.

I picked up three of them from my local pet shop. Sexing them is very difficult with the males being a little more colorful. I could not distinguish the difference in the three I had so I placed them in a five gallon tank with a little floating water sprite. The water temperature was in the upper 70’s with a hardness of about 70ppm. I fed them mostly baby brine shrimp and my small strain of daphnia. I got lucky, only having three of them as I noticed a small nest in the water sprite. One fish was guarding the nest, so I removed the other two. Supposedly, Sparkling Gourami will not eat their fry, but I took no chances. After a couple of days, I saw tails hanging from the nest and three days later the fry were free swimming and I removed the last adult. The first food was green water from another tank but after a week they were eating baby brine shrimp.

All in all they are a good small fish suitable for a planted tank or nano tank. From my research they are very predacious on shrimp so I wouldn’t keep them with your prized dwarf shrimp.


Sparkling Gourami by Ryan McDuffee

Nano planted tanks have become very trendy in the aquarium hobby.  Probably due to the affordability and beauty they provide.  With that being said, there are limited fish options when it comes to nano fish.  In my opinion there is none prettier than the sparkling gourami (Trichopsis pumila).

I was first introduced to the sparkling gourami while researching fish to put into my wife’s 5 gallon hex tank she wanted on the kitchen counter.  As with all of us, she wanted a pretty fish but I wanted to make sure that it was relatively easy to care for as this would make the 8th tank in the house.  Bettas would have been an easy choice but something new to us is always more exciting.  One look at the sparkling gourami and I easily gained approval.

We (she) decorated the tank with black eco complete substrate, pygmy chain sword, 2 small red wentii, crypt parva, pennywort and a ceramic Easter Island head.  The tank was filled with about 4 gallons of RO/DI water from an established aquarium and 1 gallon of tap.  There was about 10 ppm of nitrate so I felt that we would be safe from experiencing a cycle.  After the temperature stabilized at 78 it was off to the LFS to purchase our latest friend.

A little info that was found about the Trichopsis pumila while researching: The Sparkling Gourami is a petite gem of freshwater aquariums.  In the right light, its eyes appear bright blue, and its arrowhead-shaped body and fins reflect a rainbow of red, blue and green as it swims.  Native to the shallow rice patties of Thailand and Cambodia, the Sparkling Gourami can survive in the low water level conditions with diminished oxygen levels.  Because it is adapted to close quarters, the Sparkling Gourami only reaches a total length of about 1-1/2″.  The pygmy gourami is hardy and tolerant of a wide variety of water conditions in the tank. It is important to avoid any strong currents in the aquarium and provide plenty of hiding places; a heavily planted tank with subdued lighting would be ideal. They require some space between the top of the water and the tank cover from which to gulp air. Preferred water conditions include a temperature of 76°F or above, and a pH of less than 7.  While these are not schooling fish, they can usually be kept peacefully in small groups. Keep in mind that they will not compete well for food with aggressive tankmates, nor will it cope well with constant harassment.

They are not finicky about food, and will readily accept flake foods, live foods, or frozen foods.

The male builds his bubble nest under a leaf or amongst floating leaves. The nest is very loosely constructed and inconspicuous, often consisting of only a few bubbles. Spawning takes place under the nest in the usual anabantid embrace. During the embrace the fish emit croaking noises. Each embrace produces a small number of eggs and spawning continues until 70-180 eggs are produced. The female can be removed at this point as the male tends the eggs. The eggs hatch after 24-48 hours with the fry becoming free swimming after another 2 days. The fry are absolutely miniscule so first food must be infusoria. After 10 days or so the fry are large enough to accept brine shrimp nauplii or microworm but continue to grow slowly.

Over a year later we still have our original sparkling gourami.  We liked him or her so much that he is now in a 55 gallon with 8 other sparkling gourami, 3 peacock gudgeon, an albino LF bristlenose and a mess of cherry shrimp.  It is very densely planted and I hope to have success breeding them.  I am currently lowering the pH in hopes of being more successful.  I highly recommend looking into this species if you have a very peaceful community tank or an empty 10 gallon that beckons for beauty.