The Honey Gourami, also known as Honeycomb Gourami or Sunset Gourami, is a tropical freshwater species known for its brilliant orange coloring and timid nature.
Trichogaster (Colisa) chuna has been a popular choice among fish keepers since the early 1800s for their color and ability to readily reproduce in captivity.
It is considered a good species for new keepers because of its nature and hardiness in a variety of water conditions.
The Honey Gourami is widely found throughout India and Bangladesh in the lakes, ditches, and rivers of the Ganges River valley in India. The species is a top and middle-level dweller and stays close to thickly vegetated areas with soft water.
Honey Gourami Stats
Listed tank sizes are the minimum
|Size:||Up to 3″ (7.6cm)|
|PH:||6.0 to 8.0|
|Hardness:||Soft to medium. dH range: 5.0 – 19.0|
|Temperature:||72°F to 82°F (22-28°C)|
Appearance and Size
Sometimes called the Gold Honey Gourami, the species can appear almost colorless in commercial aquarium tanks. In home aquariums, the fish will develop the deep, honey coloration for which it is named.
All the Honey Gourami sold in the aquarium trade are bred commercially. The Honey Gourami and Dwarf Gourami have been interbred to produce variants with a brighter red, gold, or orange coloring.
In crowded commercial tanks, their coloration is muted, and it can be difficult to get a sense of the fish’s true hues. It is only when they have become comfortable and established in your aquarium that they begin to show their brighter colors.
Honey Gourami are smaller fish. The Honey Gourami size averages between 1.5 and 3 inches. The body shape is similar to a pointed oval. The dorsal and anal fins are short but run nearly the entire length of the Honey Gourami body. It has two long feelers trailing from under the chin nearly to their tails. They have an average lifespan and will live for 3 to 5 years.
Male and female Honey Gourami can be distinguished by their body shape and fins. Male Honey Gourami have a slim body profile and their fins are not as big. Female Honey Gourami have rounder bodies and more pronounced fins.
Honey Gourami Care Guide
The Honey Gourami is a great choice for new fish keepers. In their native environments, they are subject to frequent monsoons and tidal surges. This changes the water quality frequently and the species has evolved to adapt to those changes.
As a result, fluctuations in water chemistry are tolerable to the species. The ideal Honey Gourami temperature range is between 72°F to 82°F (22-28°C), easily maintained by a standard warm water aquarium heat light or heater.
A good filtration system that creates some water movement will be appreciated by both fish and plant species.
The water pH should be slightly acidic to neutral, a range of 6.5 to 7.0 is acceptable. Water hardness is not critical to Honey Gourami. If the aquarium water stays in the ideal temperature range and avoids extremes, your fish will do very well.
As a smaller species, the Honey Gourami do well in everything from a 12-gallon aquarium on up. In smaller aquariums, you can have groups of up to 6 Honey Gourami cohabitate safely.
Try to balance out males and females. If you have too many males, they can get territorial and will pick at each other.
Honey Gourami like the middle to upper levels and do well in aquariums that are heavily decorated with vegetation and structures. They like rooted species that grow to the top of the tank such as Pothos and will spend much of their time hiding or playing among the roots.
Amazon Sword is also a good choice. A good coral sand substrate is perfect for these rooting plants.
There are a few ways you layout our aquarium for Honey Gourami. Planting vegetation in clumps gives small groups of fish their own territory and is a good strategy for large tanks with several small schools and types of tank mates.
Smaller tanks can be planted thickly, leaving clear space in the center for tank mates that need to swim freely. A variety of vegetation and habitat will keep the Honey Gourami occupied and stress-free.
Honey Gourami like floating plants as well. You can easily mix them in with your fixed vegetation. Floaters such as Water Lettuce and Frogbit are ideal. Floaters have the added benefit of being easy to thin.
The heavily vegetated aquariums that Honey Gourami love do best as well-lit tanks or those that follow a day/night cycle. Timers on your aquarium lights make it easy for you to keep a cycle.
The Honey Gourami is very peaceful and timid. It will leave other fish alone but has little defense against bullying so non-aggressive fish close in size to them are the ideal tank mates. Selecting Honey Gourami tank mates that are peaceful and live in the lower levels of the tank is another great strategy to avoid conflict.
Some recommendations for Honey Gourami tank mates include:
- Dwarf Gourami: The Dwarf Gourami looks very similar to the Honey Gourami but is slightly smaller and more colorful. These fish favor the same habitats and tend more toward orange and red hues.
- Pearl Gourami: The Pearl Gourami is similar in body shape and size to the Honey Gourami with distinct differences in the fin shape and coloring. Their bodies are covered with white, pearl-like markings. They are of similar temperament and like the same types of vegetative habitat. They are an ideal choice especially when you are kitting out an aquarium of over 30 gallons. Pearl Gourami do best in groups of 6 or so balanced heavily toward female fish.
- Silver Dollars: The Silver Dollar is a species native to South America that can do well with Honey Gourami. They are mostly peaceful, preferring the company of their own schools. They tend to leave other fish alone if they cannot fit them in their mouths.
- Cyprinids: This family of fish contains most of the carp species. Its smaller members tend to live in the bottom layer of tanks and are omnivores.
- Tiger Barb: Hailing from the same general home waters as the Honey Gourami, the Tiger Barb is a similarly sized fish that does well in mixed tank environments. It is peaceful and an omnivore.
- Rosy Tetra: The Rosy Tetra, as well as many other species of Tetra, thrive in the same water conditions as Honey Gourami. They are peaceful although some species may engage in fin nipping when stressed or in overcrowded tanks.
- Guppy: There are many varieties of guppy that make great tank mates for Honey Gourami. What they all have in common is that they are peaceful fish that are not too small and get along well with everything that will not eat them. Some of the more ornamental varieties will look great in your aquarium as long as none of the other tank mates are fin nippers.
- Plecos: Plecos are beautiful little bottom-dwellers that are popular for their ability to help keep an aquarium clean. They are omnivores and will make short work of sinking food. They are peaceful but solitary. Don’t put more than one in standard size aquariums.
- Corydoras: Like Plecos, Corydoras are a variety of bottom-feeding catfish commonly placed in tropical freshwater aquariums. They grow up to 4 inches in size and are peaceful omnivores.
- Cardinal Tetra: Cardinal Tetra make great neighbors with many kinds of similarly gentle species. A small school of Cardinal Tetra adds beauty to any aquarium and does not create any type of significant bioload to the tank. Always a great choice. Add them in groups of 10.
- Neon Tetra: Another great tank mate choice for Honey Gourami. Adding them in groups of 10, same as Cardinal Tetra, per 20-gallon tanks will give you an ever-moving, shimmering display.
- Green Neon Tetra: If you want to keep a brightly colored aquarium, the Green Neon Tetra is another tank mate to consider. Similar in size and appearance to the Neon Tetra, the Green Neon Tetra, as its name implies, has a beautiful streak of neon green along its sides.
- Snails: Snails are slow and peaceful. Honey Gourami will not bother them.
Here are some species best avoided as Honey Gourami tank mates:
- Kissing Gourami: This species of Gourami is often used as a food fish in Asia and is a popular aquarium fish because of the kissing motions it uses to both feed and fight. It grows quite a bit larger than the Honey Gourami, up to 12 inches in length and while quite beautiful, it can be aggressive to smaller fish.
- Paradise Gourami: The Paradise Gourami is a beautifully striped and colored member of the Gourami family that is known both for its appearance and aggressive behavior. They will often fight other fish to the death and should not be placed in aquariums with Honey Gourami.
- Samurai Gourami: The Samurai Gourami is a rare and darkly colored member of the species that has the right, timid nature to do well with Honey Gourami. There are enough differences in their aquarium needs for them to not be a first-choice tank mate. Samurai Gourami do best in darker tanks with heavy vegetation. Like Honey Gourami they are bubble nesters.
- Cichlid: There are many members of the cichlid species but most of them are too aggressive to do well with Honey Gourami. Trying to cohabitate them will lead to bullying of the Honey Gourami, fin nipping, and perhaps worse.
- Oscars: Members of the Oscar family tend to grow too large, too quickly, and will consider a smaller, timid Honey Gourami more of a meal than a neighbor. Small Oscars will badger them and large Oscars will eat them.
Honey Gourami do breed well in captivity. Breeding is relatively easy to induce in adult fish. One of the most fascinating things about Honey Gourami is how they breed. They are bubble nest builders.
If you want to successfully encourage your Honey Gourami to breed you should isolate a male and a few females in a separate aquarium with plenty of rooted and floating vegetation. You want to keep the tank free from tank mates so they will not eat the fry.
There are a couple of ways to encourage Honey Gourami to go into breeding. One is to lower the water level in the aquarium to less than a foot. The other is to raise the water temperature to approximately 82°F (28°C). Keep an eye on your fish to see if you can spot the changes in behavior that lead to their breeding.
Prior to courtship, the male Honey Gourami will go through color changes with his fins gaining contrast and brighter hues. When their courtship begins, the male Honey Gourami rises to the surface of the water and starts making tiny bubbles, usually close to floating plants. The plants provide an anchor for the bubbles. These bubbles stick together to form a sort of raft or nest.
The male Honey Gourami courts the female under the bubble nest. In a kind of dance, the male will curl around the female and her over, so her eggs are released towards the surface. Honey Gourami eggs float. The male fertilizes the eggs and guides them to the underside of the bubble nest where they adhere.
Once the female has spawned, the male will chase her away and will guard the nest against all intruders. At times eggs may dislodge and begin to sink towards the bottom. The male collects these eggs with his mouth and moves them back up to the nest. He will attend to and repair the nest as needed.
Honey gourami eggs take anywhere from one to three days to hatch. Once the fry have hatched the adult fish should be removed from the tank so they do not accidentally consume their young.
The fry become free swimming in a couple of days and should be fed very fine flake food. They will grow quickly. After a week you can start feeding with flake food or live foods such as brine shrimp.
If you keep the rearing aquarium at the same temperature for a few weeks, it will help the fry grow strong. In a month you can introduce them into your main aquarium or start a new habitat.
Honey Gourami are omnivores and will accept a wider variety of food than carnivore species of fish. In their native environment, Honey Gourami will feed on small insects and similar fare. Most brands of tropical fish food flakes or pellets make a good feeding staple.
To keep your Honey Gourami from turning off on a particular food, try alternating occasionally with these foods:
- Live or freeze-dried brine shrimp
- Live or freeze-dried blood worms
- Shredded vegetables such as squash or zucchini
- Chopped earthworms
See how your Honey Gourami do with foods that sink faster. Because of their shy nature, they may not compete for food with mid or lower tank mates. If this is the case, focus their food variety on floating or slow-sinking foods so they have time to consume it. Feeding two small meals a day is a good schedule that will also help them stay entertained. Keep their diet varied and you will continue to have happy, lively Honey Gourami.
- Honey Gourami grow to 3 inches and will live for 3 to 5 years.
- They are adaptable to a wide variety of water conditions and are considered easy to care for.
- In commercial aquariums, the Honey Gourami will appear almost colorless.
- Once acclimated to an aquarium their true golden, sunset, and red hue will emerge.
- The species is timid and makes a good tank mate for the most friendly fish species.
- The Honey Gourami is a good choice for aquariums 10 gallons and larger.
- It is best to keep one male Honey Gourami to 3 or 4 females.
- Trichogaster (Colisa) chuna is a curious species and needs lots of structure to explore.
- The ideal Honey Gourami habitat is well vegetated with rooted and floating plants.
- Honey Gourami are bubble nesters. The male creates floating rafts of bubbles to hold eggs until they hatch.
- Their fry will grow quickly but should be housed in a separate aquarium until they are large enough to fend for themselves.
- Honey Gourami are omnivores and do well with a variety of flaked and fresh floating or slow sinking foods.
For new and experienced aquarists, the Honey Gourami is a rewarding species to keep and breed. You will appreciate their exploring antics and subtle, beautiful colors. They are a great addition to any peaceful tropical freshwater aquarium.