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This profile was written by Mary an active contributor to the site.  



Colisa lalia

Colisa lalia


A general note about Gourami common naming conventions:

I can not in good conscience begin on the subject of Colisa lalia, the Dwarf Gourami, without stressing the importance of scientific names. Gouramis are one of the fish that should always be addressed and sold by scientific names to curb the confusion of both the fishkeeper and the retailer. Currently, the common naming convention of these fish is virtually non-existent. I have seen Colisa lalia labeled, and sold, as honey, dwarf honey, sunset dwarf honey, fire red dwarf honey, flame gourami, blue sunset dwarf honey, blue flame honey, neon blue gourami, coral blue dwarf gourami, powder blue gourami, blue dwarf, blue gourami, and probably 100 other iterations of names. How in the world is the average fish keeper going to know what they have?

So, let me talk briefly about other gouramis, as well. The relevance of this will become aparent.

Colisa chuna, or Colisa sota (the scientific designation was changed at some point, but sota is still being used) is a very small gourami often maxing out at 1 - 1.5 inches in size, these gouramis are often sold by the name honey gourami, sometimes red honey gourami or golden honey gourami. Colisa chuna is the true Honey Gourami. Colisa chuna pictured.

Colisa chuna

Colisa labiosa a mid-range size gourami similar in size and color with Colisa lalia, and is commonly known as Thick Lipped Gourami. Colisa labiosa pictured below.

Colisa labiosa

Trichogaster trichopterus is a larger gourami, often growing to 5 inches. And can be distinguished from other gouramis by it's spotty appearance. They are also known as 3 Spot Gouramis. You will see variants of these with the common names of three spot gourami, blue gourami, opaline gourami and golden gourami. Trichogaster trichopterus, opaline variant pictured.

Trichogaster trichopterus

Now for Colisa lalia. Colisa lalia in it's wild form has come to us from Asia and India. The males are bright blue with marvelous red to orange striping, with the females being quite paler in color. Colisa lalia is similar in size, shape and color with Colisa labiosa and Colisa fasciata. However, both labiosa and fasciata are rarely seen for sale. Colisa lalia has been manipulated through selective breeding to bring out certain color variations. But also, cross-bred with other similar sized gouramis, as well. This, I imagine, is where all of the various names have come from, trying to discern the various colorations of the fish. Baensch Aquarium Atlas seems to have felt that this was important enough to have Colisa lalia profiled twice, using the synonym "bred form" under the Atlas 2 profile of the fish.

Colisa lalia


    Colisa lalia is a beautiful, brightly colored gourami readily available in fish stores. Because of it's bright, sometimes flourescent appearing colors they are the most common gourami sold. They stay relatively small. Maximum size topping out at about 3 inches. Given a lush cover of plants and hiding places this is a suitable fish for the community aquarium, but do so with caution. It is a gourami, and by nature gouramis have an aggressive and territorial side to them. So, give this fish enough space and plant growth to keep them well covered, safe and secure, and pre-occupied. Also, use caution in having more than one of these in the average sized tank, 55 gallons or less. Two males will easily be territorial and aggressive with each other, and if you are lucky enough to get a female (they are paler in color and harder to obtain), you will not want a pair of labyrinth fishes spawning in your community tank because they can and will do physical harm, if not kill, the other fish in the tank.

Quick stats:

    Listed tank sizes are the minimum
    Size: 3.5 inches (5.7cm)
    Tank: 24 inches (20 gallon)
    Strata: Middle, Top
    PH: 6.0 to 8.0
    Hardness: Soft to medium hard. dh Range 5.0-19.0
    Temperature: 77°F to 82°F (25°-28° C)
    Lifespan: 2 - 3 years


    Order: Perciformes (perch-likes)
    Family: Osphronemidae (Gouramies)
    Genera: Colisa
    Species: lalia


Common name:

    Dwarf Gourami

Image gallery:
    Additional species photographs


    Badmans' Forum


    Asia: Pakistan, India and Bangladesh

General Body Form:

    Wild type coloring will have a blue and red diagonally striped body including the fins. Color variants have been selectively bred from powder blue to bright red, with many variations in between. The body is oblong-round, with a rounded face. This fish like most other gouramis, sport the distinguished whispy, hair-like, pelvic fins.

    Colisa lalia

    Although this is a very popular fish in the aquarium fish trade, it is not necessarily easy to keep and should not be recommended to beginners. It is imperitive that this fish has immaculate water conditions because, sadly, it is prone to bacterial diseases and will fall ill very easily, even in a well kept aquarium. These fish feel most comfortable within a thick plant cover and will often choose to retreat within the plants, rarely to come out. In my opinion, a gourami living and moving about within a thick wall of plants is a happy gourami.

    This fish is an omnivore, readily accepting flake, frozen, dried and live foods. They will also spend the days happily picking at scraps of algae and other edible bits off of plant leaves and decorations within the tank.

    Slow moving water and Floodplains full of vegetation along its home range.

    The dwarf gourami is a bubblenest egglayer. The male constructs the bubblenest from bits of plants, algae and bubbles he produces with his mouth. The nest is thicker and higher reaching than many other gouramis. When the bubblenest is complete, he will wait for a gravid female to pass by and lure her under the nest. Gouramis have a rather beautiful mating display, where the female when ready will approach the male and nestle up to him, and he in turn will embrace her by wrapping himself around her. People that keep gouramis often refer to it as the mating dance. Up to 600 eggs can be produced and the male will gingerly tend to the nest, blowing new bubbles, inhaling eggs, wrigglers or fry and moving them to a more protected or stronger area of the nest and releasing them. The female has no place in rearing the young and should be removed from the tank to avoid the male from creating undue stress to her by protecting the nest against her. A male will protect against other labyrinth fish in the tank before he starts in on other fish. When the fry are free swimming, the male should also be removed because he himself will begin to eat the young that he has so skillfully tended to and protected.

dwarf gourami
dwarf gourami
dwarf gourami
dwarf gourami
Kim's spawining powder Blue Dwarfs

    Unfortunately this beautiful fish is especially prone to many diseases. And it seems that there has been a further problem with the stock coming from the Asian fish farms for the last few years. They seem to be even more susceptible to disease. Giving these fish a pristine envrironment does not always keep them healthy as many experienced aquarists have found out. Here is the list of diseases they are especially susceptible to. Fin-rot Disease (late stage), Bacterial diseases; Costia Disease, Parasitic infestations (protozoa, worms, etc.); Skin Flukes, Parasitic infestations (protozoa, worms, etc.); Fin Rot (early stage), Bacterial diseases; False Fungal Infection (Apiosoma sp.), Parasitic infestations (protozoa, worms, etc.); False Fungal Infection (Epistylis sp.), Parasitic infestations (protozoa, worms, etc.); Bacterial Infections (general), Bacterial diseases; Tetrahymena Disease, Parasitic infestations (protozoa, worms, etc.); Fish tuberculosis (FishMB), Bacterial diseases; Egg Bound Disease, Others

    Dwarf Gourami- wet web media
    Dwarf Gourami- Fise base
    Baensch Aquarium Atlas 1, Fifth English Edition 1996
    Baensch Aquarium Atlas 2, Fifth English Edition 1998

Your comments:


Please remember that the following comments are personal experiences and may or may not apply to your setup. Use them as guide to help better understand your fish, like us all individuals will behave differently under different circumstances.


From: Rich Foster
I have kept many pairs and trios of dwarf gouramis over the years I've been keeping fish, both the royal red and normal varieties. To me they seem to be great community fish, hardly ever chasing others, even other gouramis such as honeys and laces. They are great fish when kept well - a balanced diet including live and frozen foods reaps rewards in terms of colour. They also prefer heavily planted tanks, and especially like plants that reach to the surface, or floating plants. Definately one of my favourite fish :)






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