The honey gourami is without a doubt one of the most beautiful freshwater fishes out there. But they’re more than a great looking fish, they’re also a fantastic species to own for other reasons as well!
Honey gourami care is quite easy and can be managed by aquarists of all experience levels. There’s really not a whole lot you need to worry about because of their hardy nature.
They also have a peaceful temperament and can get along with a wide range of different tank mates. This means you have a lot of flexibility if you’re set no getting one.
But even though the honey gourami is a fairly popular and easy fish to care for, you still hear of owners messing up from time to time. That’s why we put together this resource.
In this guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know about honey gourami care (plus some extra info that might be interesting). If you stick to the recommendations we make your fish will be happy, healthy, and around for a long time!
Table of Contents
The honey gourami (Trichogaster chuna) goes by a number of different common names. You’ll often hear these fish referred to as the sunset gourami, red flame gourami, or red honey gourami.
All of these names exist for the same obvious reason, their bright orangeish red coloring (we’ll get into their appearance in the following section).
These fish originate from Bangladesh and India and can often be found in slow-moving water that’s rich with plants and vegetation. Most of the time these waters will have a very low amount of oxygen in them too.
Honey gouramis get around this problem by having a labyrinth organ. This works much like a lung and means they have to visit the surface to get their oxygen. This allows them to survive in poorly oxygenated waters where many other fish could not.
Because of their bright coloration, these fish quickly became a popular fixture in the freshwater aquarium community. The interest in sunset gouramis started in Asia before quickly spreading to Europe and eventually the United States.
These days most of the honey gouramis that are sold are bred in captivity.
The average honey gourami lifespan is 5-8 years. This can be impacted by the quality of care they receive as well as genetic factors.
This range exists to illustrate how easily you can influence their lifespan. While these fish are extremely hardy and durable, it doesn’t mean they’re invincible.
Luckily, if you follow the instructions we provide in this guide they’ll probably be around for a long time!
Color is the first and most obvious thing to mention when it comes to the appearance of honey gouramis. The entire body of adult males is primarily a light orangeish yellow. The exceptions to this are on their throats and fins.
Their throat area is a blueish silver and disappears quite quickly once it reaches their head or belly. On their fins, the main portion is a lighter yellow with the rims being a deep orange.
Females are primarily silver with a very light gray on their fins. Males are this color at birth as well but eventually develop the colors for mating purposes as they mature.
Both males and females have a very similar body shape. These fish are slim and streamlined with a slight upward tilt to their faces.
The fins on the sunset gourami are right from the standard gourami mold. Their dorsal and anal fins start about one-third of the way back from their mouths and extend to the caudal peduncle.
They have tiny little pectoral fins that are quite hard to notice (especially on the females). Their ventral fins dangle and are long and thin.
The average honey gourami size is around 2 inches in length. Males and females are typically similar in size initially, but females often end up being a little bit larger when fully grown.
Honey Gourami Care
Honey gourami care is really quite easy. These fish are extremely hardy and can handle a variety of tank and water conditions.
With that being said, you should always aim to provide your fish with the best possible care and habitat. Even though they might be hardy it doesn’t mean they’re bulletproof!
Author Note: We like to think of hardiness as more of a flexibility indicator than anything else. Fish that can handle different parameters are great because that means you can mix and match them with a wider selection of tank mates!
The recommended tank size for the honey gouramis is 10 gallons for one fish. If you want to add more of the same species then you’ll need to increase the tank size a bit.
The formula to follow is 10 gallons for one fish, 20 for two, and then 5 extra gallons for each fish after that. This will minimize the potential for scuffles over territory (something we’ll explore more in the tank mates and behavior section) and keep everyone happy.
When it comes to the actual water parameters that honey gouramis can handle, you have quite a bit of wiggle room. This makes care even easier and makes them compatible with plenty of other species.
- Water temperature: 72°F to 82°F
- pH levels: 6 to 7.5
- Water hardness: 4-10 KH
Establish a consistent schedule of testing so you can make sure these levels don’t shift outside of the acceptable range. Also, a weekly partial water change is required to maintain high water quality.
Author Note: Something that many honey gourami owners don’t think about is the difference between room and water temperature. If your room is a lot cooler than the water in their tank it can damage their labyrinth organ when they breathe due to the drastic temperature difference. Try to keep them as close as possible!
What To Put In Their Tank
There isn’t much you need to think about when setting up their tank. These fish are hardy and relatively low-maintenance.
However, no honey gourami tank is complete without a fair number of plants. In their natural habitat these fish are surrounded by vegetation, so you’ll want to replicate that in their tank as well.
Sunset gouramis are likely to feel unsafe and stressed in aquariums without plants. This can have an impact on their overall health and lifespan.
Plants like hornwort and water wisteria are both solid options that we recommend. They can be planted in various ways to fit your tank setup.
Author Note: Make sure you don’t overplant your tank though, especially on the surface. These fish need access to the surface to get oxygen, so don’t make it hard for them!
You can also include other hiding places and decorations to add some variety to their tank as well. There’s no rule when it comes to the miscellaneous inclusions, so just use your best judgment!
Common Possible Diseases
You don’t need to worry about any species-specific diseases with honey gouramis, but that doesn’t mean they can’t get sick. If you provide them with a poor level of care (usually bad water quality or diet) their chance of getting sick goes up significantly.
Always take some time to monitor them and look for anything out of the ordinary. Lethargic or unusual behavior is a common symptom of an illness. Also, spots and wounds are another sign that something might be wrong.
Fortunately, these fish are so beautiful that you’ll naturally be spending a lot of time looking at them!
Food & Diet
Honey gouramis are omnivores and eat a lot of insects in their natural environment. Because of this, it’s important to include some protein-rich foods in their diet too.
Algae-based flakes are a good consistent source of nutrients that many owners use. They’re convenient and will cover a lot of their baseline dietary requirements.
Some freeze-dried options like bloodworms, tubifex, and brine shrimp are all great. These will give your fish the protein and energy they need to thrive.
Food variety is also a good source of enrichment as well. Just like humans, fish like to mix things up a bit too!
Author Note: Avoid overfeeding them by monitoring how much food is being eaten during feeding time. If it’s taking them a few minutes to scarf everything down, you’re probably feeding them too much.
The general feeding schedule that most honey gourami owners tend to stick with is twice per day. This is convenient because it allows you to feed them once in the morning before you go to work and once in the evening when you get back home.
Behavior & Temperament
The honey gourami is a peaceful yet active community fish. They don’t want to start trouble with other species in your tank but will dart around and investigate what’s going on.
However, these fish can be scaredy-cats. If another fish is getting in their face they’ll likely retreat to the nearest planted hiding spot. Larger fish will also spook them rather easily.
For the most part, these fish will stick to the top half of the aquarium. This is because they’re labyrinth fish that need to visit the surface periodically to get oxygen. It wouldn’t make much sense for them to be stuck at the bottom away from the air!
Honey gouramis are shoaling fish which means they enjoy the company of their own species. This is why we always recommend picking up a few of them if you’re thinking about getting this fish. The company makes them feel happier and safer, which will lead to lower stress levels and a longer lifespan.
In general, the kind of behavior your sunset gourami exhibits will be significantly impacted by their habitat. If you have them alone in a tank with large aggressive fish (not a good idea) then they will be very shy and nervous. However, in a tank where they feel comfortable you’ll witness a lot of activity!
Honey Gourami Tank Mates
The best honey gourami tank mates are non-aggressive fish of a similar size. There are a couple of reasons for this:
The first is that large fish might accidentally view your honey gourami as a snack. Even if they’re not aggressive, big fish tend to eat smaller ones.
Aggression of any type is also not a good trait (no matter the size). Honey gouramis are very gentle and don’t want to fight. If another fish is picking on them they simply won’t defend themselves. This makes species like the betta a bad match.
Here are some examples of great honey gourami tank mates:
- Cory catfish
- Neon or ember tetras
- Sparkling gouramis
- Small barbs
- Zebra danios
There are plenty of other tank mate options out there, this is just to get you started! The most important thing is to stick to the rules of size and aggression we listed earlier. These should always be your guide when planning out compatibility.
It’s also smart to monitor your fish more closely when you first introduce them to each other. Most potential issues will show themselves early on.
For the most part, keeping multiple honey gouramis together is a great idea. They enjoy the company and will feel safer and more enriched in a group of four or more.
However, you’ll want to be very aware of the males you have in your tank. Too many males packed in closely can lead to aggression and potential fights. The safest option is to have only one male in a tank, but if you want multiple there needs to be plenty of space for each of them.
Breeding honey gouramis is definitely possible in a home aquarium setting. You simply have to provide the right conditions and have an understanding of their process!
It’s smart to use a breeding tank because you’ll need to remove the parents at various stages of the cycle. A 15-gallon tank is usually enough, but a larger tank is usable too.
Setting the water temperature slightly higher than normal is a good way to initiate the process. 78°F to 82°F is a good range to aim for.
A more shallow water level can be helpful as well. There are plenty of breeders who’ve made this work without adjusting water levels, but if you want to maximize your chances it’s a smart thing to do.
Since honey gouramis are bubble nesters you’ll need to have plants in the tank as well. The male will create a nest and then start trying to impress the female. You’ll know this is happening because he’ll be very close and bumping into her quite often.
If his attempts are successful she will release her eggs for him to fertilize. Once this process is finished you’ll need to remove the female from the tank. The male will guard the nest very aggressively and might attack the female if she gets too close.
Once the fry have hatched and can swim on their own you’ll want to give them foods like brine shrimp or artemia to encourage growth and development as this crucial stage.
The honey gourami is without a doubt one of our favorite freshwater fish. There’s really nothing quite like watching a few of them swim around like small golden torpedoes!
And for all their beauty, these fish are extremely low-maintenance. Honey gourami care can be handled by pretty much anyone, no matter how experienced you are.
If you’re on the fence about getting these fish we highly recommend taking the leap! You won’t regret it.