Chocolate Gourami And The Much Needed Care Guide For The Shy Species

Chocolate Gourami In Its Natural Domain
By Garrison Hickles Updated

With an enchanting name to start off with, this fish species requires special demand from the aquarists. Apparently, this is a gentle one, joining the group of  freshwater fish, Bandwagon, with its individualistic requirements including water and tank conditions. The tropical habitat of Chocolate Gourami prompts the soft water to be suitable for the fish. From the fishkeeping point of view, it could be challenging to pet one, but what is life without a few difficulties? Especially when the reward is the stunning and breathtaking Gourami like this one.

We are sure the name has been successful in invoking your interest by now, so without any more delay, look at the following chart. This is full of some basic yet necessary information regarding the Chocolate Gourami care.

Key Information Of Chocolate Gourami

OriginBorneo, Sumatra, and Malaysia
SizeAround 2.5 inches
ColourShades of brown and yellow
Lifespan4-8 years
Tank SizeAround 30 Gallons
Maintenance RequirementHigh


With a scientific recognition as Sphaerichthys osphromenoides, this fish is a member of labyrinth fish groups which enables them to breath from the air. With an average lifespan, this fish is a mouthbrooder in nature and its deportment is quite shy. We recommend advanced fish aquarists to take care of the species because its profile is such that it needs special attention. Otherwise, surviving would be difficult for the beautifully Gourami. The size of the fish is also extremely manageable and you don’t need any big tank for accommodating it.

Origin And Habitat Of Chocolate Gourami

Chocolate Gouramis are from SouthEast Asian countries, like Borneo, Sumatra, and the Malaysian Peninsula. There is a place called Malacca in Malaysia where this fish has a profuse distribution.

The natural domain of Chocolate Gourami is all about blackwater along with some peat swamps that are common in their respective distributions. There are various waterbodies where many many organic decays make the water full of tannins, Chocolate Gouramis are native to such streams as well. Their habitat is both dark and clear water, where there are humic acids, released by all those surrounding ingredients.

Appearance Of Chocolate Gourami

The Chocolate Gourami has a typical feature that you would see in any other Gourami species. The flat body is featured with a pointed mouth. The head is smaller compared to the body and the overall structure of the body is flat.  Sexual dimorphism is present in the species where male and female fishes are different in terms of their overall size and fin patterns. Their caudal fins exhibit a certain forked feature with all the fins having yellow tips.


An average Chocolate Gourami can be around 2.4-2.5 inches. Male fishes are actually bigger in size than female Gouramis. Males are owners of much developed and pointed dorsal fins and these features are missing in female fishes, meaning their dorsal fins are blunt. The throat of the female fish is round while the male fishes have somewhat a straight throat. This is mostly due to the fact that females have round lower jaws due to distensible skin that will eventually expand during their breeding time. Female fishes have rounder heads that is not that applicable for the male Chocolate Gouramis.


The fish showcase diverse shades of brown with some yellow vertical stripes on the body. The darkness of the brown ranges from reddish to greenish ones, depending on the individual. Male fishes are mostly reddish-brown because in females that particular shade is less prominent.

The yellow stripes on their body could vary in numbers like 3 or 5 or something in between. Caudal and anal fins of the male fishes have brighter yellow edges than female Chocolate Gouramis. Though it is not always the same because scientists believe that it could be one of the features that geographical variations usually directly cause. Female fishes have sometimes black spots on their caudal fins.

The eyes of the fish are usually black but the yellow stripes often enter the eye zone and occupy a lower zone of the eyeball, so the eye looks mostly black with some tinges of yellow.

Behaviour Of Chocolate Gourami

The Chocolate Gourami is usually a peaceful fish as long as it gets all of its thriving conditions. It has some aggressive streaks in its nature, and that is visible when the tank mates are not compatible. This fish actually is a slow swimmer and have poor gills so it uses the labyrinth organs for breathing.

If they are often teamed up with some fast swimmers they might stop moving at all and unless they feel secure they will remain in that same position. In any case, if they are disturbed extensively, their quick movement will showcase that they are restless and won’t settle unless the disturbing elements are gone from them.

Labyrinth fishes extract oxygen from the air and that is why it needs to reach the surface of the water body from time to time. In the wild, when the water level decreases and there is a lack of oxygen, many fishes die but such labyrinth fishes always survive because of their breathing organs. Chocolate Gourami is exactly like this, meaning it is also a labyrinth fish.  

Lifespan Of Chocolate Gourami

Chocolate Gouramis can live for 4 to 8 years if they get suitable thriving conditions. Poor quality of water, untimely feeding time, and lack of treatments when the fish is actually sick, all shorten the lifespan of any fish, and Chocolate Gourami is no exception. So, in order to optimize its actual life expectancy, owners of the fish should care for the species with proper scrutiny and detail.

Diet Of Chocolate Gourami

While in their natural habitat the fish is omnivorous, their preference is always towards meat or flesh-based diets. They are predator fishes that hunt smaller fishes, crustaceans, and other worms of the water. Chocolate Gouramis readily gorge on algae and other zooplankton. When it comes to feeding them in the home aquarium, they take time to get adjusted to flake or frozen foods. Otherwise, Daphnia, Brine Shrimp, Mosquito Larvae, White Worm(high in fat), Blood Worm, and Grindal Worm are their staple diet.

As a treat you can give them live food every now and then. If you see your fish is not accepting the readymade foods like algae-based flake foods, then try it for a few days because they are choosy and will take time to be habituated, as told earlier.

Each and every fish is different and while some can accept any foods you give, some can be bit challenging to handle, or rather feed. Make sure you are patient enough to deal with them, in this regards. Also, at the same time, make sure you are not overfeeding your Gourami, nor are you underfeeding it. Just remember that this fish has high-protein dietary requirements. Actually, for a home tank set-up a well-balanced diet ensures that the colour of the fish will be in its full form, and so is the health and vivacity.

The Chocolate Gouramis mostly prefer the middle layer of the water to swim, and of course the top level at times, especially when they need to breathe. So, when you are providing food, make sure they are getting it within their preferred swimming range.

Tank Requirements Of Chocolate Gourami

Wishing to get one Chocolate Gourami is easy, but keeping it in the suitable condition is felt when it comes to setting up the tank is concerned. There are a lot of things like lighting, tank size, and most importantly the tank mates and plants options that will help your Chocolate Gourami lead a happy life in your home.

Tank Size

Chocolate Gouramis are not big fishes as far as their size is concerned, but that doesn’t take away their right to stay inside a big aquarium. Mostly because they are at their best when they are hanging out with their own kinds and other social fishes. You have to arrange for a tank that has the capacity to accommodate at least 30 gallons of water at a time and that is the minimum size of a tank for Chocolate Gouramis.  Ideally, a group of around 6 Gouramis is good, but it depends on your capacity.

In other words, for housing similar groups of Gouramis, tanks with a diameter of around 23X11 inches are actually effective.

Tank Lid

The labyrinth fish needs a tightly placed lid for the tank that will leave some space itself and the water level of the tank. This will be helpful for the fish to get the air from the humidity that will be produced in that zone. Also, there are times, when the temperature differences of the water and the outside might be harmful to the fishes labyrinth organs.

Apart from these, any lid will protect the tank water from getting polluted. Many people have four-legged furry friends at home, and they might be extremely curious about those aquatic creatures. So, a lid will prevent any such unlikely encounter from happening that can cause disasters as far as the safety of the fishes is concerned.


The substrate could be soft and smooth, mostly sand-like materials would be good. To make it feel like its natural domain, there must be something additional ornamentations and plantations.


Set up a sponge filter that is capable of producing mild to smooth flow as that will be suitable for the fish. Otherwise, you could opt for peat filtered water that will exactly give the tank


The fish tank accommodating Chocolate Gourami doesn’t need much decoration, apart from driftwoods and some wooden structures. Small but plenty of tree branches would be good options as they will be acting as their hiding options because they need some private moments all the time. If you can’t place any branches, then try to create some cave-like things with a wooden exterior inside the tank.


The fish doesn’t need strong lights at all and in the fish-tank set up at home, aquarists mostly choose smooth lights for this reason. There are many tank lights that are made for such freshwater fishes who love to stay under the natural soft light.

Presence Of Flora

Plants are an integral part of a Chocolate Gourami tank because the wild fishes are accustomed to come across a lot of leaf litter inside their habitat. Moreover, there are vegetations in their natural domain as well, so while you are keeping them inside the tank, make sure it is planted greatly. The aquatic plants will adjust the lights by covering them.

Floating plants will be good for the light adjustment as they will not be fixed anywhere, so lights will be sometimes covered and sometimes released and hence they are perfect for these Gouramis. Check some freshwater organic plants that will make the tank home for the fishes.

Cleaning Method

The tank is supposed to be clean and for that, you need to opt for a partial water change. The tank water despite the filtration will be filthy because of the fishes’ waste production and leftover foods. So, changing the water is the only water to keep the tank a hygienic adobe for the fishes. Water changing has its own course of grammar because you can’t change the entire tank all at once. That would be a massive shock for the fish because the entire water will be changed. It will be stressful for the fishes to overcome the sudden water chemistry change.

Make sure that you are changing 10% of tank water every time, if you are trying to get more portion of water changed, then make it 20-25% but then the gap between two water changes should be even more, like biweekly.

Water Type For Chocolate Gourami

Chocolate Gouramis are freshwater fishes, and they thrive in tropical water conditions. To set up a fish tank for your Gourami, you have to provide similar parameters for the fishes.


The range for the tank water is 22-31 Degrees Celsius. This is a warm water zone where the fishes can easily swim without feeling any temperature sensitivity.

pH Level

The standard pH range for a Chocolate Gourami fish tank is 4.0-6.5.


The water is generally soft, so its hardness range should be from 0.5-6 dGH.

Compatibility Of Chocolate Gourami

They can tolerate other fishes, as long as the tank mates have similar water requirements and social skill. They usually don’t have any problems with like-minded fellow species but have some aversion towards intimidating fishes. Chocolate Gouramis are content when they have their own groups to hang out with and they won’t mind who else is inside their tank, but there is a catch as well. Sometimes, they are hostile towards other Gouramis and it needs professional observation to prevent any unfortunate encounter amongst fishes.

In their own group, they follow some hierarchy where the leader is seen to be protective of their own group. If there is a big tank that has multiple Chocolate Gourami groups and the leader of their schools can be chasing away each other if they find their territory to be at stake, especially during the feeding time.

Suitable Tank Mates

You can keep gentle and peaceful fish species along with your Chocolate Gourami. The size and nature of the fishes should be in accordance with the Gourami or else there will be temperamental issues. Following fishes are ideal tank mates for the exotic freshwater species

Apart from these, you can put some Cyprinid fishes in the tanks.

Unsuitable Tank Mates

Fighter fishes, aggressive and bigger than the Gouramis are not compatible for them. You should never opt for any fishes that your Gouramis are not comfortable with.

Breeding Of Chocolate Gourami

A breeding pair of Chocolate Gourami will spawn after they embrace each other in a particular position. The male fish will approach the female fish and then there will be mutual courtship.

During the spawning the female fish will eventually release some eggs at any corner or a peaceful place, where it is considered to be safe. The male fish will fertilize the eggs and then the female fish will take all them inside her mouth. The male fish often helps the female to take all the eggs inside the mouth. This is unique for this species because most of the  mouthbrooder species showcase paternal mouthbrooding where the male fish keeps the eggs inside its mouth. But it is the female fishes in this case, who keep the eggs are deposited inside their mouth.

It takes around 2-3 weeks for new fishes to completely come out of their eggshell. There are 30-40 eggs that will develop into little “fry”. The little fishes will need a good diet so that their growth is accelerated. Humid air is important for their labyrinth organ development.  As far as their diet is concerned, they consume brine shrimps, rotifers, and cyclopes.  However, the female fish needs to be moved away right after all the fries are released. Otherwise, it can consume some of the offspring.

If you are going for breeding of Chocolate Gouramis, then you keep a separate tank where the courtship and reproduction will occur. The female fishes should be fed well before they start spawning because, during the brooding period, the fish doesn’t consume anything.

Diseases Of Chocolate Gourami

Lack of proper cleanliness and imbalanced in diet can cause several diseases. Apart from them, there are viral and fungal infections that are common in any Gourami species. Fin rot, Ich, Costia, all are some sort of problems that you face mostly while keeping Chocolate Gouramis. Make sure you are not making any mistakes when it comes to caring for the species. If unnatural signs and symptoms are shown then always better to take help from a professional.


The Chocolate Gourami is a fascinating species with a dark brown body. Appearance wise it is attractive and nature wise too. On one hand it is a mouth brooder fish, on the other hand, it is a labyrinth one. So, overall, this is quite a stunning fish that you should always own, given you are ready to provide for it. This fish is can excellently cohabit with other fishes inside the fish tank.

Other Similar Care Guides

Just like Chocolate Gourami, we have many other Gourami species profiles and they are full of information. Go through some of them to get an idea about these particular types of fishes.