Chocolate Gourami – Care, Tank Mates, Feeding & Full Details!

The Chocolate Gourami, with its scientific name Sphaerichthys osphromenoides, hails from the tropical freshwater ecosystem. Its endearing shy demeanor captivates hobbyists and fish lovers around the globe.

However, it calls for a devoted caregiver who can cater to its unique needs, including suitable tankmates, diet, breeding, and stringent water quality conditions.

The Chocolate Gourami proves to be a fascinating species to rear and observe, despite its demanding requirements.

The Chocolate Gourami belongs to the Osphronemidae family and can grow up to 2.5 inches in size. It has a life expectancy ranging between 5 to 8 years.

This peaceful creature can adapt to every area of the tank and prefers an omnivorous diet. It exhibits a unique maternal mouthbrooding behavior and requires a minimum tank size of 30 gallons for its optimal comfort.

In this article, we will provide you with detailed information on the characteristics, origin, tank setup, feeding habits, and breeding guidelines for chocolate gouramis.

Whether you are a seasoned hobbyist or a beginner, understanding the specific needs of these beautiful fish will help you provide the best care possible.

So let’s dive in and explore the captivating world of chocolate gouramis!

Quick Stats About Chocolate Gourami

Common Name(s) Chocolate Gourami
Scientific Name Sphaerichthys Osphromenoides
Origin Borneo
Temperature 77-84°F (25-29°C)
Size 2.4 inches
Minimum Tank Size 30 gallons
Food & Diet An omnivorous diet with a preference towards protein-rich foods.
Lifespan 4 years
Water pH 4.0-6.0
Tank Mates Potential tank mates include peaceful fish of similar sizes, such as Rasboras, Cyprinids, and some loaches.
Breeding Maternal mouthbrooder
Disease It may be susceptible to fin rot, dropsy, and ich.

Chocolate Gourami Appearance

The Chocolate Gourami also known as Sphaerichthys osphromenoides has a captivating appearance that makes it a standout in any aquarium.

As its name suggests, it boasts a dark chocolate brown hue that can subtly range from reddish-brown to greenish-brown, providing an appealing contrast to the aquarium’s water environment.

The species has a flattened, oval-shaped body structure with a small head and a pointed mouth, typical of most gourami fish.

Additionally, it exhibits a distinctive pattern of three to five vertical stripes, each a striking yellow-white color, providing a stunning contrast to its dark body.

Its fins are a distinguishing feature, elongated, with the edges tinged in yellow, and a mildly forked caudal fin.

These physical traits make the Chocolate Gourami an intriguing addition to any aquarist’s collection.

Natural Habitat of Chocolate Gourami

The Chocolate Gourami thrives in distinctive natural habitats, particularly in blackwater peat swamps and nearby streams.

These ecosystems have a unique feature: the water is typically stained dark brown due to organic materials, creating a “blackwater” environment.

Another fascinating aspect of these gouramis is their labyrinth organ. This remarkable evolutionary adaptation enables them to breathe atmospheric air, allowing them to survive in oxygen-depleted waters that would be lethal to most other species.

This ability also provides them with an advantage in the naturally low-oxygen environment of their home range.

Origin and Distribution

Originating from the tropical freshwater environments of Southeast Asia, the Chocolate Gourami can be found in regions such as Borneo, Malacca, the Malaysian Peninsula, and Sumatra.

Each of these geographical regions provides the perfect conditions for this species, from the dark, tannin-stained waters of the peat swamps to clear streams that offer ample opportunities for foraging and shelter.

These fish are predominantly found in the blackwater environments, a testament to their adaptability and resilience in survival in such challenging habitats.

However, their presence in clear waters indicates their remarkable ability to thrive across a variety of ecosystems.

Growth, Size & Lifespan of Chocolate Gourami

The Chocolate Gourami, under optimal conditions, can reach a size of approximately 2.5 inches as an adult. This size, coupled with their distinctive shape and vibrant color, makes them a striking sight in any aquarium.

One of the most impressive aspects of this species is their lifespan.

With proper care and attention, a Chocolate Gourami can live for 5 to 8 years, offering plenty of time for aquarists to bond with these captivating creatures.

Their growth is typically slow and steady, with juveniles growing at a gradual pace before reaching their full adult size.

During this growth period, it’s essential to provide them with a diet rich in nutrients and a stable, safe environment to ensure their healthy development.

Remember that the size and lifespan of the Chocolate Gourami can vary depending on numerous factors, including diet, water quality, and general care.

But with dedicated care and attention, these graceful and fascinating fish can thrive, offering years of enjoyment for their owners.

Chocolate Gourami Behavior and Temperament

The Chocolate Gourami is a gentle and tranquil species, known for its shy and peaceful nature. Despite their bashful behavior, they are highly social creatures and enjoy living in groups.

They are often seen interacting with their tankmates in a non-aggressive manner, showcasing their peaceful coexistence.

Unlike many other fish species, the Chocolate Gourami prefers a slow-paced life, often seen leisurely swimming around the tank.

Due to their slow movements, they can be outcompeted for food by faster, more aggressive fish, so suitable tankmates are crucial.

Chocolate Gourami Aquarium Setup

Creating an ideal habitat for the Chocolate Gourami involves careful planning and arrangement of various aquarium elements.

This section will provide a comprehensive guideline on setting up a perfect aquarium environment for your Chocolate Gourami, focusing on factors like tank size, substrate, decorations, water parameters, filtration, lighting, tank mates, and feeding.

Tank Size

For the Chocolate Gourami, a minimum tank size of 30 gallons is recommended. This size allows them ample space to move around freely and also provides enough room for groups of Chocolate Gourami to cohabitate comfortably.


In terms of substrate, choose a dark, fine gravel or soft sand that mimics the natural bed of the peat swamps they originate from. This type of substrate can enhance the chocolate brown color of the gouramis, creating a striking visual contrast.

Decorations and Hiding Spots

Decorate the tank with plenty of live plants and floating vegetation to mimic the natural habitat of the Chocolate Gourami. The tank should also have ample hiding spots, like driftwood and caves, as these shy creatures enjoy hiding when they feel threatened or stressed.

Water Parameters

The Chocolate Gourami prefers soft, slightly acidic water. Maintain a pH level between 4.0 and 6.0 and a hardness level between 0.5 to 6 dGH.

The water temperature should be kept between 77 to 84 degrees Fahrenheit, similar to their tropical freshwater habitat.

Filtration and Aeration

Gouramis thrive in calm water with minimal currents, hence a sponge filter is ideal for their aquarium. This type of filter ensures the water is clean without creating strong currents that can stress the fish.

Small, frequent water changes are recommended to maintain water chemistry.


Chocolate Gouramis are not very particular about lighting. However, moderate lighting is recommended to encourage plant growth and mimic natural daylight conditions.

Floating plants can provide shading areas, offering the fish a sense of security.

Tank Mates

Due to their peaceful nature, Chocolate Gouramis do best with similarly sized, non-aggressive species. Some good tankmates include small rasboras, danios, and loaches.

Aggressive or larger species that may bully or outcompete them for food should be avoided.


The Chocolate Gourami is an omnivorous species that enjoys a varied diet. Offer them a balanced mix of algae-based flake foods and meaty treats such as brine shrimp or daphnia.

Keep their meals small and frequent, ensuring they are receiving all the necessary nutrients.

Tank Maintenance for Chocolate Gourami

Proper tank maintenance is key to the wellbeing of your Chocolate Gouramis. Consistent care and attention can help ensure a clean, healthy environment that promotes the longevity and quality of life of your fish.

Let’s delve deeper into the different aspects of tank maintenance, including regular water changes, cleaning the tank and decorations, filter maintenance, and monitoring fish health.

Regular Water Changes

Water changes are a vital part of aquarium maintenance. For Chocolate Gouramis, small and frequent water changes are recommended.

This helps maintain the right water chemistry, as drastic changes can stress the fish. Approximately 10% of the tank water should be changed weekly, with new water having the same temperature and pH as the existing aquarium water to avoid shock.

Cleaning the Tank and Decorations

Aquarium cleanliness plays a significant role in fish health. Over time, leftover food and fish waste can build up, leading to poor water quality.

The tank and decorations should be cleaned regularly but gently, ensuring not to disturb the Chocolate Gouramis or the beneficial bacteria present in the tank.

Use a gravel vacuum to clean the substrate, as it can efficiently remove debris without causing too much disruption.

Decorations should be gently scrubbed to remove algae buildup, but harsh detergents or cleaning solutions should be avoided as they can harm the fish.

Filter Maintenance

The filter plays a vital role in maintaining a clean and healthy aquarium environment. As it removes waste and toxins from the water, regular filter maintenance is essential to ensure its efficient operation.

For Chocolate Gouramis, a sponge filter is recommended, as it provides effective filtration without creating strong water currents.

Clean the filter sponge every few weeks in a bucket of tank water (not tap water, as it can kill the beneficial bacteria), and replace it every few months or when it starts to break down.

Monitoring Fish Health

Keeping a close eye on your Chocolate Gouramis’ health is an essential part of tank maintenance. Regularly observe your fish for any signs of stress or disease, such as changes in color, appetite, or behavior.

Chocolate Gouramis are susceptible to parasites and bacterial infections, so prompt action is necessary at the first sign of illness.

Regularly checking water parameters and maintaining a clean environment can prevent many health issues. Remember, healthy fish are active, brightly colored, and have a good appetite. Always keep an eye out for anything that deviates from these norms.

Acclimating Chocolate Gourami

The process of introducing a Chocolate Gourami to a new tank environment, also known as acclimation, is of utmost importance.

It helps the fish adapt to new water parameters, preventing the shock that can occur from a sudden change in water temperature, pH, or hardness. Acclimation should be done slowly and methodically over a period of 1-2 hours.

Begin by floating the bag containing the fish in the tank to equalize the temperature. Then, gradually introduce small amounts of tank water into the bag every 15 minutes.

This step allows the Gourami to gradually adjust to the water parameters of the new tank. After this period, the fish can be gently released into the tank. Avoid using the water from the bag as it may contain waste or contaminants.

Chocolate Gourami Diet and Feeding

When it comes to diet, Chocolate Gouramis have specific requirements to stay healthy and vibrant. As omnivores, they require a mix of both plant-based and meaty foods.

Below, we delve into detail about their dietary needs and feeding methods.

Balanced Diet

A balanced diet is crucial to the health of your Chocolate Gourami.

Here’s what it should include:

  • Algae-based foods: Algae-based flakes or pellets should form the core of the diet, providing necessary plant nutrients.

  • Live or frozen foods: Supplement the diet with meaty foods like brine shrimp, daphnia, and mosquito larvae. These can be offered live, freeze-dried, or frozen.

  • Vegetables: Occasionally, you can offer blanched vegetables like spinach or peas.

Feeding Frequency and Quantity

Feed your Chocolate Gouramis small quantities of food 2-3 times a day, providing only as much food as they can consume in 2-3 minutes.

Overfeeding can lead to water pollution and health issues, so any uneaten food should be removed from the tank.

Breeding Considerations

When breeding Chocolate Gouramis, special attention must be given to the diet of the female. Since she will go without food while she holds the eggs in her mouth, it is important to feed her well before breeding.

Offering high-quality, algae-based flakes or pellets and live foods can help condition her for the breeding process.

Tank Mates for Chocolate Gourami

The Chocolate Gourami is a peaceful species, but its timid nature and specific water requirements limit its options for tank mates.

Choosing compatible tank mates requires careful consideration of the size, temperament, and water needs of the other species. Below is a guide to help you make the right choices.

  • Harlequin Rasboras: They are peaceful fish and their hardy nature helps them adjust to the acidic water parameters that the Chocolate Gourami prefers.

  • Neon Tetras: Their calm nature and similar size make them a safe choice for cohabitation with the Chocolate Gourami.

  • Pygmy Corydoras: These bottom-dwellers are peaceful and can live in similar water conditions as Chocolate Gouramis.

  • Glass Catfish: Their peaceful temperament and unique appearance add a distinct character to your tank without posing a threat to the Gourami.

  • Zebra Loach: With their peaceful nature and adaptability to a similar water pH, they make good tank mates.

  • Kuhli Loach: Their nocturnal, bottom-dwelling lifestyle makes them an unobtrusive tank mate.

Tank Mates to Avoid

Avoid any species that are known for their aggressive behavior or require drastically different water conditions.

Some of the species to avoid include:

  • Oscar Fish: These are large, aggressive fish and can pose a threat to the peaceful Chocolate Gourami.

  • Cichlids: Most species of Cichlids are territorial and aggressive, making them unsuitable tank mates.

  • Goldfish: Their preference for cooler water makes them incompatible with Chocolate Gouramis.

  • Tiger Barbs: Known for their fin-nipping behavior, they can stress or injure the Gourami.

  • Common Plecos: These fish can grow quite large and may overwhelm the timid Gourami.

Breeding Chocolate Gourami and Fry Care

Breeding Chocolate Gouramis can be a fascinating but challenging endeavor. It requires specific conditions and meticulous care.

Here’s a detailed guide to help you through the process.

Preparing for Breeding

Before initiating the breeding process, ensure the following:

  • Water Parameters: The breeding tank should have soft, acidic water with pH values around 4.0-5.0.

  • Tank Setup: The tank should be densely planted, with broad leaves or flat stones providing surfaces for egg laying.

  • Feeding: Both male and female Gouramis should be conditioned with a high-quality diet, including live foods.

Breeding Process

Chocolate Gouramis are mouthbrooders, which means the female carries the eggs in her mouth until they hatch.

Here’s how the process unfolds:

  • Spawning: The female lays a few eggs, which the male fertilizes. The female then collects the fertilized eggs in her mouth.

  • Incubation: The female holds the eggs in her mouth for about two weeks. During this period, she doesn’t eat.

  • Release of Fry: Once the eggs hatch, the female releases the fry. At this point, they should be free swimming.

Caring for Fry

Raising the fry involves their feeding and ensuring the water conditions are maintained.

  • Feeding: Initially, the fry should be fed infusoria (tiny aquatic organisms), progressing to freshly hatched brine shrimp and micro worms as they grow.

  • Water Conditions: Maintain stable water conditions to ensure the survival of the fry. Regular but small water changes are essential.

Remember, breeding Chocolate Gouramis requires patience and careful monitoring, but with time and effort, the experience can be immensely rewarding.

Stress Signs in Chocolate Gourami

Detecting signs of stress early in Chocolate Gouramis can make a significant difference in maintaining their health.

Some of the most common stress indicators include:

  • Color Changes: Chocolate Gouramis may fade in color or display irregular color patches when stressed.

  • Erratic Swimming: A stressed Gourami might swim erratically or hide more than usual.

  • Reduced Appetite: Refusing to eat or a noticeable reduction in food intake can be a sign of stress.

  • Clamped Fins: The fish may hold its fins close to its body, an indication of discomfort.

Common Health Issues and Treatments for Chocolate Gourami

Just like any other fish, Chocolate Gouramis may face certain health issues.

Common ones and their treatments include:

  • Ich (White Spot Disease): This is a parasitic infection causing white spots on the fish’s body. Treatment usually involves raising the tank’s temperature and administering an appropriate over-the-counter medication.

  • Fin Rot: Bacterial or fungal infections can lead to fin rot. Treatment includes improving water conditions and administering antibiotics or antifungal medications.

  • Dropsy: This is often caused by bacterial infections, resulting in a bloated body and raised scales. Antibiotics can help treat the condition, but early detection is crucial.

Additional Tips for a Healthy Aquarium

To keep your aquarium healthy, consider these extra tips:

  • Monitor Water Parameters Regularly: Regular testing of pH levels, temperature, and nitrate concentrations can help maintain the perfect environment for your fish.

  • Avoid Overcrowding: Overcrowding can lead to stress and increased disease spread. Make sure each fish has enough room.

  • Quarantine New Fish: Always quarantine new fish before introducing them to the main tank to prevent disease spread.

Should You Get a Chocolate Gourami for Your Aquarium?

The Chocolate Gourami is a beautiful, peaceful fish that can make a lovely addition to your aquarium. However, their specific care needs mean they’re better suited for experienced aquarists.

If you’re willing to invest the time and effort in maintaining their ideal environment, you’ll be rewarded with a unique, engaging species that adds color and character to your aquarium.

Always remember that the best fishkeeping experiences come from understanding and respecting each species’ unique needs and natural behaviors.

Conservation Status

The Chocolate Gourami is not currently listed on the IUCN Red List, which is a global inventory of the conservation status of biological species.

However, habitat degradation due to human activities in their native regions can potentially affect their population. Responsible fishkeeping and sourcing can help conserve this species.

Availability and Pricing Chocolate Gourami

Chocolate Gouramis are quite widely available in the aquarium trade due to their unique appeal. Prices may vary depending on the size, age, and overall health of the fish.

As of now, you can expect to pay around $10 to $15 for a single fish, but this might change with location and availability.

Frequently Asked Questions About Chocolate Gouramis

Q – How big do Chocolate Gouramis get?

Ans – Chocolate Gouramis usually grow up to 2.5 inches in length.

Q – How long do Chocolate Gouramis live?

Ans – With optimal care and a balanced diet, they can live for up to 5 years.

Q – Are Chocolate Gouramis aggressive?

Ans – Chocolate Gouramis are generally peaceful but may become territorial during breeding.

Q – Can Chocolate Gouramis live with other fish?

Ans – Yes, they can live with other peaceful fish of similar size. Avoid keeping them with aggressive or larger fish species.

Q – What do Chocolate Gouramis eat?

Ans – They are omnivores and prefer a diet of small live or frozen foods, but will also accept high-quality flake or pellet foods.


The Chocolate Gourami is a striking and unique addition to any aquarium. With their captivating coloration and peaceful demeanor, they add a special charm to your underwater world.

However, they require specific care to thrive. If you are up for the challenge and ready to meet their needs, they will certainly reward you with their captivating presence.

Remember, a healthy fish is a happy fish. Always prioritize their well-being, and you will have a thriving aquatic ecosystem to enjoy.