The Ultimate Care Guide to Honey Gourami

Honey gourami is a popular freshwater fish that most aquarists, both beginners and experienced ones, swear by. Even though it might not be as popular as its closely related dwarf gourami, it’s still popular by any measurable standards.

The fish is an ideal addition for a tank owner looking for vibrant colors and ease of care. It can survive in a wide range of conditions without contracting infections. It’s also peaceful and can stay in a community.

Still, for the fish to thrive, you must provide it with the optimum conditions. Here’s the ultimate guide to keeping a healthy sunset gourami in your tank.

Scientific Classification

Scientific name: Trichogaster chuna
Common names: red flame gourami, sunset gourami, and red honey gourami
Genus: Trichogaster
Family: Osphronemidae

History and First Sighting

Francis Hamilton first discovered the honey gourami in 1822. Due to the distinct features between the males and females of the fish, they were first mistaken to be two different species. The females were initially classified as Trichopodus sota and the male as Trichopodus chuna. However, they started breeding together, leading to confirmation of them being the same species.

The sunset gourami was introduced to home aquariums in the 1880s, where they were successfully embraced due to their stunning colors. The keepers, however, had to contend with the confusion that came with introducing it and dwarf gourami within the same period. Most keepers needed help spotting the species they were looking for. It took some time before they could find distinct features of the honey gourami.

The species has, over the years, grown to become beloved by most aquarists. The interest grew from the lows in Asia before spreading to Europe and the United States. Gourami enthusiasts have since become a thing, with most swearing by the species. It’s an ideal beginner species that can work perfectly as an alternative to the Betta.

Species Overview

The honey gourami is historically found in stagnant ponds and slow-moving rivers in Bangladesh and India. While there have been sightings in some parts of South-East Asia and Nepal, the major population of wild honey gourami remains in India.

The species is drawn to heavy foliage, mostly found near fallen trees, and tends to occupy spaces with more leaf litter. The waters in these areas have a low oxygen supply; hence, the fish relies on a labyrinth organ to work as the lungs. They get their oxygen from the water’s surface and survive in less oxygenated waters that other fish cannot manage.

Honey gourami is ideal for any expertise level and has some of the most stunning appearance and color morphs. It is known to knock down insects in the streams of water for food and can survive environmental changes.

Honey gouramis are available at specialty aquarium supply stores and online retail stores, where they come in different color morphs.

Honey Gourami Lifespan

Honey gourami has an average lifespan of 5 to 8 years, depending on the quality of care and other genetic factors.

While the fish might be hardy and durable, that does not mean it’s indestructible. Various environmental factors can impact it. Therefore, you must follow this guide strictly to keep it around for the longest time.

The Appearance of Honey Gourami

The male and female honey gourami have distinct features. In the early stages of life, they all have a silvery gray to light yellow coloration on the body. A light brown horizontal stripe behind the eye complements the body coloration.

The females keep this color for life, while the males transition to a reddish-orange or a bright honey-yellow coloration. The fish’s face, throat, and belly (ventral side) become dark or dark blue, while the other body part has brighter coloration. The difference in color between males and females is crucial in mating.

Both females and males have similar body shapes. They are slim and streamlined and slightly tilted toward the face.

The dorsal and anal fins of the honey gourami are in line with the gourami standards. They run some distance from the mouth and extend up to the caudal peduncle. The gouramis also have long, thin ventral fins that dangle and tiny pectoral fins that might be hard to notice.


The honey gourami is one of the smallest in its genus. Upon maturity, the female measures 2″, and the males can grow to 1.5″. Still, there have been a few cases of the fish growing to 3″.

What are the Different Types of Honey Gouramis?


Honey Gourami comes in different types, so you can always choose the one you like the most based on color patterns. They include;

  • Sunset Honey Gourami

This is one of the most popular types of honey gourami. It’s known for its vibrant yellow tones while doing away with the black and chocolate belly of the wild honey gourami.

They are predominantly yellow and orange, with some slight red undertones. The males have a higher concentration of color, with traces of silver on their bellies and, at times, a blue dorsal fin.

  • Gold Honey Gourami

It is almost identical to the sunset honey gourami and requires similar care patterns. It, however, has a deep orange color scheme that looks like a Goldfish or koi.

  • Red Honey Gourami

The red honey gourami is the most unique of the species. Unlike the wild honey gourami, it does not have the golden butterscotch tones or the black band in males. Instead, it has a fiery scarlet color from the belly to the back.

The red honey gourami tends to be the most intensely colored fish in any aquarium. The females have a bright body with silver on the back and belly, while the males have a bright blue dorsal fin.

Is Honey Gourami the Same as Dwarf Gourami?

Most aquariums cannot distinguish honey gourami from dwarf gourami. While the name “dwarf” can sometimes be part of the name of the honey gourami, they are not the same species. They tend to be closely related and almost look identical.

The honey gourami’s eyes are closer to the mouth than the dwarf gourami’s. Also, dwarf gouramis are mostly red and blue, while honey gouramis have various color options.

How to Take Care of Honey Gourami

The honey gourami is a resilient and adaptable fish that can withstand many conditions. It also has a strong immune system, which means it is not fragile in various environments.

Still, for the fish to thrive, it has some specific needs you have to provide. Some of these include:

Food and Diet

The sunset gourami is an active insectivore in the wild that consumes insects that get closer to the water’s surface. They are snipers who use propelled water to kill insects. Its hunter nature means it can survive in a tank with aquatic and terrestrial components.

Feed the honey gourami a lot of animal protein. Even though it’s an omnivore that can feed on small insects and plant parts, animal proteins work best for its system. It can also feed on flakes and mixed pellets.

Some of the live foods to consider for the fish include brine shrimp, blood worms, and corethra. You can also have some frozen or artificial foods, but at minimal levels. For the fish to thrive, make sure they have a well-balanced diet.

Avoid keeping the fish in an environment where it has to compete for food. It’s a shy and slow eater and would end up starving when paired with fast and aggressive eaters. Even though you can keep a honey gourami with other species, consider separating it during meals. Also, avoid overfeeding it by feeding it once or twice a day. Only serve small portions at a time, typically what they can consume within 2 to 3 minutes.

The Right Tank Size

Honey gourami needs ample tank space with a minimum of 10 gallons; double the space when keeping a pair.

The bigger tank size offers the fish enough space to explore and stay engaged as it likes to swim. It can also use the area for hiding, as it tends to be shy and can get distracted easily or scared by other larger fish and tankmates.

The space also allows the fish to create a shoal and a community setup where they can interact with each other when grouped. The more room you provide the fish, the more you are assured of a calm and healthy life.

Recommended Water Parameters

The honey gourami’s high resilience levels mean it can handle warmer waters and slight changes in water chemistry. However, its labyrinth organ can be a little sensitive to temperature changes; hence, you need to keep the water at a consistent room temperature. It can also get stressed out or catch diseases if you don’t provide optimum conditions.

The standard water parameters for the fish are:

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

Ensure regular water changes, with at least a weekly change of 25% of the water to keep the environment fresh and hygienic. Also, set up a sound filtration system to prevent toxins, chemicals, and other impurities from building up in the water.

Honey gouramis cannot survive in brackish water.

What Does Honey Gourami Need in Their Tank?

There’s not so much pressure when it comes to what to include in the tank for the honey gourami. It’s a hardy and relatively low-maintenance species that won’t need much to survive. However, no complete habitat should miss plants.

The fish is shy and can use many hiding spaces to feel more secure. In its natural habitat, the fish uses the cover provided by floating plants and dense vegetation; if you can find a way to replicate that, the better. Some of the best water plant options to place in the aquarium include water wisteria and hornwort. Add some rocks and driftwood for additional hiding places.

At the same time, consider providing a lot of easily accessible open water surfaces to allow the labyrinth to breathe. Keeping the lighting moderate to normal also ensures the fish and plants in the tank thrive.

Common Potential Diseases

Even though the honey gourami is known to be a hardy species, it is not immune to diseases. Poor care, mostly with inadequate water quality and diet, increases their chances of getting sick.

Some of the common diseases to watch out for include:

Velvet disease

This is one of the most prevalent diseases among honey gouramis. It appears as brown or golden dust over the fish’s body or fins.

The velvet disease is caused by the parasite Oodinium pilularis and can damage the fish’s skin, gills, and mouth.

You can use various over-the-counter antibacterial treatment options to manage velvet disease. Add the treatment to the water depending on the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Fungal Infections

Fungal infections manifest in the fish through a fluffy white growth around the head, mouth, and body.

Manage a fungal infection by quarantining the affected fish away from the others. You can then use over-the-counter medication for treatment.

Ich (white spot infection)

White spot infection is another common disease that affects honey gouramis. It’s caused by an aquatic protozoan parasite and is characterized by several white spots on the fins, gill covers, and the body.

Fish that contract the ich tend to crash against the substrate and other objects like plants in the tank. Treat the disease by raising the water temperature in the tank for three days, followed by over-the-counter medication.

Disease Prevention

Keeping your honey gourami safe comes down to what you include in the tank. Every component that comes into the tank has the potential to introduce parasites, bacteria, and diseases to the environment. Before introducing new fish into the main tank, quarantine them separately for two weeks. Also, use clean water to rinse any plants, decorations, or new substrate before placing them in the aquarium.

Stay wary of honey gourami bred in the Far East, as they are mostly treated with hormones and colored dyes. They might also be harboring a virus. Pay close attention to them during the quarantine period before deciding if they are healthy enough for the community.

Behavior and Temperament


Honey gourami is a peaceful and friendly species, making it ideal for any level of expertise. Even a beginner can ace it with the species.

While the fish can swim from the sediment to the surface, it prefers the middle and top areas of the tank. It’s also timid and might take time to embrace the new tank environment. However, once comfortable, the males can start showing their natural coloring.

The fish prefer some company of their kind, preferably 4–6 individuals. They also tend to form some sort of hierarchy, with the dominant ones pushing away the weaker ones during mealtime. The males can also be more aggressive toward the females.

When left alone, the fish will become more timid and tend to hide behind rocks and plants.

Best Tank Mates

Being a shy and peaceful fish, you must be careful when choosing the tankmates of honey gourami. You need an equally friendly and less aggressive species for its well-being in the tank. Large and aggressive fish can bully them; hence, they are bad options for tankmates.

Avoid fish that look too similar to the gourami, as it can lead to unnecessary tension from their territorial behavior. Also, avoid fin nippers like guppies and tiger barbs. Instead, you can have more plants for hiding spaces.

Some of the best tankmates for the honey gourami include mollies, platys, swordtails, corydoras, catfish, loaches, and rasboras.

Same Species Compatibility

Honey gourami is a friendly fish that gets along with its species. It makes an ideal part of the community where they can form communal boundaries. You only have to watch out for having several of them in the same place. As much as they can get along, you only need a few together. When crammed together, they will become aggressive as they feel more threatened.

The fish is also more compatible with those of the opposite nature. Therefore, if you are keeping a pair, consider a male and female, not a single gender.

Generally, the species are comfortable living alone or in groups.

Honey Gourami Breeding

Breeding the honey gourami is simple if the proper conditions are met. They are bubble nesters, which means the male creates a bubble nest out of air and sticky substances. The nest floats on the upper water surface and traps the eggs the female produces.

Once the male honey gourami builds the nest, it invites the female to lay her eggs. It shows its courting colors when it swims toward the female while flashing its blue back. He will then turn toward the nest to encourage the female to come along. He performs this ritual until they both reach the nest, and then they start spawning.

The female produces around 20 eggs per spawn, which the male fertilizes immediately. The male then places the eggs on the bubble before they can spawn again until they have about 300 eggs fertilized.

The male is the caretaker of the fertilized eggs. He rearranges them by spitting water droplets over the nest until they are at the back of the nest. He removes the female from the nest as he becomes aggressive in guarding and caring for the eggs.

The fertilized eggs take 24-36 hours to hatch, depending on water conditions. At this point, the other adults should stay away. The young ones take around three days to outgrow the nest and start swimming. The gourami fry is tiny and needs all the protection they can get in a safe and comfortable environment.

Feed the free-swimming fry liquid food until they have grown enough to eat other foods, like baby brine shrimp.

Final Thoughts

Finding the perfect fish to keep as a beginner aquarist can take time and resources as you grapple with finding the perfect species and setting the ideal environment. However, you don’t have to struggle so much when you look the way of the honey gourami. Besides being one of the most colorful fish in your aquarium, the fish is easy to care for.

You only have to provide a constant, clean water supply and a healthy environment for the fish to thrive. Include plants and rocks to give the fish the needed hiding space due to their shy and peaceful nature.

You don’t have to struggle with persistent diseases and infections, as the fish tend to be hardy. However, ensure you introduce healthy plants and other species if you want a community.

Due to its popularity, honey gourami is readily available in several online stores and at affordable costs. Buy it today to brighten up your tank!