Chocolate gourami (Sphaerichthys Osphormenoides) is one of the most beautiful labyrinth fish, but it has not received proper distribution among aquarists. This is due to the specific conditions and parameters of the water for their content.
This type of gourami originates from India, although in our time it is widely distributed and water bodies of Southeast Asia. The main biotope for chocolate gourami is peat bogs and small rivers flowing through them, as well as flooded forest communities. A large amount of decomposing organic matter in such reservoirs turns the water brown, it becomes very soft and acidic.
The body of chocolate gourami is slightly elongated and laterally compressed. The front part of the body is pointed. The anal and caudal fins are elongated. Body coloration ranges from chocolate brown to reddish-brown, often with a greenish tint. Each scale has a dark border. On the body, there are transverse light yellow, white or gold stripes, up to 4-5 in total. A narrow yellow border adorns the anal fin. During spawning, the color undergoes changes: the males turn black, and the female’s throat becomes reddish. The size of the fish in the aquarium does not exceed 5-6 cm.
Care and maintenance
For the good health and longevity of chocolate gourami, it is necessary to create conditions as close as possible to natural ones. The aquarium should be spacious (at least 70 liters), well-established, with a properly functioning nitrogen cycle. The recommended water level in the aquarium is up to 30 cm. In order to prevent problems with the labyrinth organ (which allows you to swallow and use the atmospheric air for breathing) due to the temperature difference between the water and air above the water, it is recommended to cover the aquarium with a lid or cover glass. Lighting should not be bright: chocolate gourami is a very shy fish that prefer diffused light.
The main thing that you should first of all pay attention to when maintaining is the parameters of the water. This tropical fish prefers water heated to 26-30 ° C. The water should be soft (no more than 10 dGH) and acidic (pH = 4.0 – 6.0). Ideally, you want to give the water a tea shade. To do this, you can add peat extract to the water, for example, the drug Tetra ToruMin. Water needs to be changed often, but little by little: preferably no more than 10% at a time.
The aquarium should be densely planted with plants, including species that float on the surface – they allow the bright light from light sources to diffuse.
Gourami chocolate fish is peaceful but rather timid. Therefore, the best neighbors for her will be calm small schooling species, for example, zebrafish, rasbora, various types of tetras. The most important thing is that quite specific water parameters are suitable for the neighboring fish. A group of chocolate gourami can also be kept in the aquarium. It is advisable to purchase them in an amount of at least 6 pieces: in such a flock, a clear hierarchy is established and interesting relationships between individuals are observed. Males periodically arrange squabbles and measure their strength.
The natural menu of chocolate gourami consists of small crustaceans, worms, insects, and their larvae. Thus, keeping this micro-predator in an aquarium requires food that would fully satisfy the fish’s need for high-quality protein. Tetra dry food is easy to handle. In the manufacture of feed, high-quality raw materials, various sources of complete proteins, and gentle processing technologies are used. This allows you to create a highly nutritious feed with maximum digestibility. Chocolate gourami prefer the upper and middle layers of the aquarium, and also have a small mouth, so food must be selected taking into account this specificity. A good choice for fish is TetraMin Granules – the granular form of the world-famous TetraMin fish food. Once in the aquarium, the granules gradually soften and slowly sink to the bottom. More than 40 types of selected raw materials are used for the production of feed. A large amount of protein, all essential vitamins, probiotics to improve digestion is the key features of TetraMin. Good digestibility of feed allows reducing the number of metabolic products released by fish into the water. The food ensures the healthy growth and vitality of the fish.
It is important not to overfeed your fish. Several times a day, at each feeding, it is necessary to give as much food as the fish can eat in a few minutes
To determine the sex of chocolate gourami, they usually look at the throat: in males it is straight, and in females it is rounded. This is due to the fact that females carry eggs in their mouths – one of the key differences between chocolate gourami and other labyrinths. Sexual maturity in fish begins by 6-8 months.
Reproduction is paired, it is best to do it in a separate spawning aquarium. It is usually not difficult to choose a pair that is ready to create offspring: the male changes his color to that characteristic of the mating season – his body darkens and a gray pattern appears, the females become brighter, and their stripes acquire a golden hue. Two weeks before the expected spawning, the couple is seated separately and begin to actively feed.
Male chocolate gourami doesn’t build nests from air bubbles – and this is the second major difference between the fish and its closest relatives in the family. The female spawns eggs up to 1.5 mm in size at the bottom of the aquarium, the male fertilizes it, after which the newly-made mother collects eggs in her mouth. Eggs are large, yellowish, heavier than water. Usually, no more than 40 pieces fit into the mouth of the female.
Upon completion of spawning, the female finds a suitable shelter for herself, stops feeding, and incubates eggs. The male at this time protects the female. Within two weeks, the fry mature and the female spits them out into the water, after which it is recommended to remove the female from the aquarium. The fry is large enough to feed on Cyclops, microforms, or brine shrimp nauplii. After hatching, it is necessary to strictly control the water parameters in the aquarium, since the juveniles are sensitive to water changes and abrupt changes in parameters. It is also necessary to reduce the water level to 5-10 cm. It is better not to make water changes in fry until they have a labyrinth.