Kissing Gourami Best Care Guide 101: Look, Size, & More 2023

By: Martin McAdam
Updated: March 13, 2023

The Kissing Gourami, also known as the "Giant" or "Two-Spot" Gourami (Helostoma temminckii), is a member of the Family Helostomatidae and is native to swampy river systems and floodplains of South Asia. Kissing Gourami are large, showy fish highly valued in the aquarium due to their bright colors and playful personalities.

Kissing Gourami are often kept with other large loricariids or plecos because they seem to get along well with most species of catfish. They can be pretty territorial, even with their kind, and will fight if kept in too small of a group (this is one reason it's recommended to keep at least 6 Kissing Gourami together).

This article will give you the best information about Kissing Gourami care, lifespan, tankmates, food, diet, etc.

Species Summary

Scientific Name:Helostoma temminckii
Common Names:Kissing Gourami, Giant Gourami
Origin:South Asia
Size:Up to 12 inches
Lifespan:5-7 years
Water pH:6.8-8.5
Water Temperature:72°-82°Fahrenheit
Water Hardness:5-20 dGH
Social Behaviors:Mostly peaceful
Tank Size:Min. 50 gallons

Kissing Gourami colors range from white to light pink, red, and yellow. Males tend to be more colorful than females and develop a dark blue hue during breeding times. They also have two large lips that protrude from their face; these lips help them breathe and grab onto objects for stability.

They are active and entertaining fish but can be a little combative when breeding. At this time, they will not eat and become extremely territorial in their chosen area (typically a cave or other area with fast access to the water's surface).

One behavior that makes them such great aquarium inhabitants is their tendency to rest on top of floating plants at the surface. They will even grab onto floating leaves and stay still as they admire their reflection.

Kissing Gourami can be territorial during breeding times, so it is best to house them with other peaceful fish that are not long and thin-bodied unless the tank is huge (500+ gallons).

Kissing Gourami Appearance

Kissing Gourami (Helostoma temmincki) is a member of the Family Helostomatidae and is native to swampy river systems and floodplains. They are large, showy fish highly valued in the aquarium hobby due to their bright colors and playful personalities.

Kissing Gourami Appearance

Kissing Gourami are somewhat unique in their physical appearance. Like other members of Helostoma, they have a hinged maxilla that allows them to open their mouths very wide. This is an adaptation for feeding on large food items like crustaceans and aquatic insects, but it can make netting these fish somewhat tricky.

Another exciting feature is their "kissing" lips. Unlike other fish with a sucker-like mouth to cling to surfaces, Kissing Gourami have thick, free-floating lips to surround and kiss objects in the aquarium. In captivity, it's not unusual for them to decorate themselves with live or silk plants and small rocks, pebbles, or another aquarium décor.

Kissing Gourami Shedding And Body Patterning

Kissing Gourami have a unique ability to change their body patterns and colors depending on their surroundings. When feeling relaxed, they display a striped pattern that makes them easy to identify in times of stress or when Kissing.

Kissing Gourami is found in flooded forests and swamps of northern India, Pakistan, and a small area around Myanmar. Kissing Gourami is a slow-moving fish that prefers to sit near the surface at night to feed on floating insects.

Kissing Gourami Lifespan

  • It can live for seven years in captivity or more when properly cared for.
  • Ideally, they should live in the wild for twenty-five years.

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Kissing Gourami Behavior

Kissing Gouramis sometimes spit water out of their mouths when startled or excited. The droplets can travel up to 6 feet, which often startles aquarists who are close by.

You must also be aware that the parents may not always get along with their fry in smaller tanks. Sometimes it's best to remove the male and place him in a separate tank.

Many different types of Kissing Gourami fish come from South East Asia. They inhabit shallow waters, often found among thick vegetation. These fish share this environment with other giant lizards and snakes, so they must be able to protect themselves by using their mouths as a weapon.

The bottom and top lips of these fish become enlarged and form a kissing motion when they reach maturity. The males also extend their fins during mating periods to attract prospective mates. Once married, the male stays close to his partner and their eggs until they hatch.

Kissing Gourami care is pretty straightforward, but there are several things to consider when caring for these fish in your aquarium.

Kissing Gourami Social Temperament

Kissing Gouramis are generally social fish that will protect their fry from predators. They're also highly territorial, so it's best to keep them in a school of 6 or more.

Kissing Gourami Social Temperament

If you want to add other species to your aquarium, select species with peaceful temperaments to avoid conflicts.

Cost Of One Kissing Gourami

Kissing Gourami can be found at many fish stores and online resources. A typical price for a captive-bred juvenile is $15-USD 20.

Kissing Gourami Size And Growth Rate

Kissing Gourami is a reasonably large fish growing to a length of 12 inches or more. When they reach adulthood, the males tend to be bigger and more colorful than the females. The Kissing Gourami is somewhat slow-growing but can live for up to seven years in captivity if adequately cared for.

How Kissing Gourami Is Different From Other Gouramis

Kissing Gourami are distinctive but may be confused with the Common or Banded Gourami. Unlike most gouramis, it has no round body or suckermouths for clinging to surfaces.

They also don't produce audible sounds like other gouramis; instead, they make clicking sounds to communicate with each other.

Kissing Gourami Breeding And Reproduction

Kissing Gourami become sexually mature when they reach 2 to 3 inches. This usually occurs when they're between 8 and 10 months old Kissing Gourami are bred by chasing each other around the aquarium.

Kissing Gourami Breeding And Reproduction

The male bumped into the female with his mouth open, showing his pinkish lips. This action stimulates the female to release her eggs, which the male collects in his mouth and fertilizes.

The parents will continue to care for their young until they become too big and aggressive for the adults to tolerate. At this point, it's best to remove them from the aquarium and place them with other adult Kissing Gourami or separate them into a breeding tank.

How Difficult Is It To Breed Kissing Gourami

Kissing Gourami breeding is usually easy to induce but challenging to master. A single spawning may result in success or failure because the parents eat their eggs.

Successful spawnings often produce hundreds of tiny eggs, which can be challenging to remove from the aquarium without them scattering and getting eaten by other fish.

Kissing Gourami Gestation Period And Pregnancy Symptoms

Kissing Gourami breeders often place the female in a breeding tank while the male watches from his hiding place. He'll protect her while she sheds her eggs, and they usually spawn within 24 hours after the female releases her eggs, during which time they should be separated or removed from the aquarium.

Once spawning is complete, parents will guard the eggs for about five days. The eggs are adhesive but somewhat tricky to remove from the glass.

The spawning tank should have reduced light and exposed spawning mops or some other material that will allow the eggs to become stuck to it after the female releases them. Using toothpicks, you can attach a spawning mop or any other material to the aquarium glass, making removing the eggs easier.

The spawning mop must be checked daily, and the eggs must be removed as they are spotted. Once the free-swimming fry appears (nearly microscopic), it's time to remove them from the adult tank because adults may eat their fry.

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How Do You Promote Breeding

Kissing Gourami breeding can be difficult because it often ends when parents eat their offspring. Spawnings that result in the adult fish protecting and caring for their young are more successful than spawnings where the adults show no interest in their eggs.

Kissing Gourami Eggs And Incubation

Kissing Gourami eggs are adhesive but difficult to remove from the glass. They attach themselves to aquatic plants, spawning mops, or any other type of material that they can find in the aquarium. You can also use toothpicks attached to the breeding tank side to hold the spawning mop in place against the glass.

Once removed, eggs should be placed in a separate aquarium or breeding tank that is 5 to 10 gallons. The water should be nearly the same as the spawning tank but with no gravel, few plants, and subdued lighting.

The breeding tank should have its pH adjusted to 5.5-6.8, slightly acidic, using an outside water source. The temperature should be kept at 75° to 78°F. To keep the humidity high in the breeding tank, add a plastic cover or use an aquarium heater to increase the water's temperature and produce steam.

Conditioning The Parents

Kissing Gourami males and females should be conditioned separately before they are placed in the breeding tank. While you can feed them a diet of live and frozen foods, many breeders use high-quality flake food and freeze-dried bloodworms or tubifex worms (blackworms).

Once ready to spawn, the adults should be conditioned with live brine shrimp, daphnia, or mosquito larvae. Conditioning allows the fish to build up body fat and become healthy for reproduction.

What Spawning Methods Can Be Used

Kissing Gourami breeders who raise and breed their fish in small tanks often use a breeding trap (also called a spawning trap) to capture the adults during a spawn. A plastic bottle with both ends cut out is a good alternative.

The male is introduced into the breeding trap, placed in the tank, and removed after 10-15 minutes. Once captured in the trap, the female is added, and mating occurs in captivity. The pair can then be removed and placed back in the aquarium.

The breeding trap is handy for aquarists who don't want to worry about removing fertilized eggs from their adult tanks. The adults can also be conditioned at the same time they're being bred, which saves valuable space in your main tank.

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Creating A Healthy Habitat

Maintaining a clean tank is the best way to keep a healthy habitat. Regularly perform partial water changes and vacuum the substrate. Water tests should be performed weekly, especially if adding new fish to your aquarium.

Water temperature also plays a vital role in Kissing Gourami breeding, requiring consistent conditions.

Kissing Gourami Care Guide

Here, we will share all steps to give the best care.

Kissing Gourami Care Guide

Kissing Gourami Food & Diet

Kissing Gourami fish are mainly vegetarians that feed on algae, plants, and vegetables. They are fussy eaters, so it's essential to have a healthy diet of appropriate foods for them. Providing supplements with regular meals can help keep them healthy.

Tank conditions must be kept clean at all times. Gourami fish are sensitive to nitrate levels, so it's essential to be diligent about water changes and test the water regularly.

Kissing Gourami Tankmates

It's best not to keep with aggressive species. They are also territorial, so it's best to keep them in a group of 6 or more of their kind. If you want to house different species of fish together, select species that are

Suitable tankmates for Kissing Gourami are:

While Kissing Gourami is peaceful fish, they may not get along with other species in your tank.

Again, Kissing Gourami fish are generally social fish that will protect their fry from predators.

If you want to add other species to your aquarium, select species with peaceful temperaments to avoid conflicts with the Kissing Gouramis.

Kissing Gourami Tank Size

Because these fish are very active, they need a larger tank to swim around in. The recommended minimum is at least 50 gallons for one pair. If you plan on keeping them in a school, they'll require at least 75 gallons or more for six or more Kissing Gouramis.

Kissing Gourami Tank Region

Kissing Gourami are very active fish that require plenty of room to swim. Ensure they have enough space to explore their environment without bumping into other tank mates. They should also have an open water region to get oxygen from the surface.


Kissing Gourami fish are tropical and require a heater in your aquarium. They must be kept in water between 72° to 82°Fahrenheit (although the lower end of the range is ideal).


Kissing Gourami fish are sensitive to water conditions and require a filter in your aquarium. Make sure you have a filter powerful enough for your tank size.

Suggested Filters:

  • Aquaclear Power Filter
  • Fluval External Canister Filter


Kissing Gouramis requires an average level of lighting in your aquarium. You can use fluorescent or LED lighting, and ensure it's on for at least 8 hours daily.


Kissing Gourami fish are very active and require plenty of room to swim. Ensure they have enough space to explore their environment without bumping into other tank mates. If you keep them in a school, ensure they also have an open water region to get oxygen from the surface.

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Aquarium Plants

Kissing Gourami fish are herbivores that will eat soft aquarium plants. Include some live plants if you want to keep your tank looking natural.

Decorations/Hiding Places

Kissing Gourami fish like to hide and aren't very social, so it's best not to overcrowd the aquarium with decorations. Providing hiding places will make your fish feel more secure and comfortable in their environment.


Driftwood is a natural way to decorate the aquarium and provide a place for Kissing Gourami fish to hide. Driftwood can also help improve water quality by acting as a breeding ground for "good" bacteria.

Water changes

Water changes and daily testing/monitoring of the water are essential for keeping Kissing Gourami fish healthy. They are sensitive to nitrate levels, so ensure you're diligent about water changes and monitoring nitrates in your aquarium.

Gravel Vacuuming

It's best to do a partial water change at least once weekly. You can vacuum up to 25-30% of the tank instantly by carefully vacuuming the gravel, but be careful not to suck up any Kissing Gourami fish with your siphon

Water Conditioner

The fish are susceptible to water conditions and need a water conditioner that removes chlorine. You must also add a de-chlorinator when you begin the aquarium cycling process.

Testing Kits

Daily testing of your fish tank keeps them healthy. The API Master Freshwater Test Kit is our top choice. It has all the tests you'll need, making it very easy and convenient to test your aquarium.

Kissing Gourami Water Temperature

Kissing Gourami Fish require a water temperature between 72° to 82°Fahrenheit (although the lower end of the range is ideal). Make sure you have a heater powerful enough for your tank size.


They are sensitive to water quality, so it's best not to use an acceptable substrate. The Caution should be adequate for most tanks.


Snails are great tank companions for Kissing Gouramis because they help keep the aquarium clean by removing waste and extra food from the tank. They are also very active, which makes them fun to watch.

Water pH level

This fish will do best in slightly acidic water with a pH level of 6.8 to 8.5

Water Hardness

Kissing Gourami fish are sensitive to water conditions, so it's important not to have very soft or hard water in the tank. Ensure you have a KH level below 20 degrees and a GH level below 12 for best results.

Ammonia Levels

Kissing Gouramis are very sensitive to ammonia levels and cannot tolerate them. Ensure you have an ammonia test kit and check the levels daily until they drop to zero. Any reading of .25 or higher is lethal.

Nitrite Levels

They are also susceptible to nitrite levels, so keeping your tank free of any added medication is essential. If the levels rise, use an ammonia test kit to see if you need a water change.

Oxygen Levels

These fish need high oxygen levels, so an air pump or a bubbling stone in the aquarium should be running. They can't breathe from the water's surface like other fish and will become sick if they don't get enough oxygen.

Protein Skimmers

Protein skimmers can help eliminate organic waste in your tank. They remove these waste particles before they break down, so it's easier on the water quality and your fish.

What About Freshwater Aquarium Plants

Freshwater aquarium plants are unnecessary for Kissing Gourami fish, but they will benefit from having some in the tank. The best options for freshwater plants are Amazon Swordplants, Echinodorus tenellus (Dwarf Hairgrass), and Cryptocorynes (Candycane Plant).

Kissing Gourami Potential Fish Diseases

  • Fish Tuberculosis: They are susceptible to fish tuberculosis. Symptoms can include a loss of appetite, abnormal swimming, swelling of the body and fins, and open lesions on the skin.
  • Fish Lice  (Argulus): Fish lice are tiny crustaceans that attack and suck their blood. Symptoms include tiny parasites visible on the skin, abnormal swimming, scratching against decorations, and clamped fins. Fish lice can be treated with an anti-parasite medication safe for invertebrates.
  • Cloudy Eye: A cloudy eye is a common problem. Symptoms include cloudy eyes that are easily visible on the skin of Kissing Gourami fish. It's usually caused by trauma or injury to the eye, but it can also be a symptom of an infection.
  • Internal Bacterial Disease: They are susceptible to internal bacterial diseases. If your Kissing Gourami fish starts swimming strangely or scratching, it may have an internal bacterial disease.
  • Internal Parasites: They can get internal parasites if they eat another fish with parasites. Symptoms include a loss of appetite and white spots on the body. Treating these Kissing Gourami fish for internal parasites immediately before the illness spreads is essential.
  • Swim Bladder Problems: Kissing Gourami fish are very sensitive to swim bladder problems. Symptoms include bloating, abnormal swimming, and staying near the water's surface.
  • Dropsy: Fish can also get dropsy if they have a bacterial or fungal infection that causes their scales to stick outwards from their bodies. It's widespread but usually only affects the fish if they already have an underlying infection or illness.
  • Ich  (Ichthyophthirius multifiliis): They are sensitive to ick, so it can be a problem if you don't take care of it. Symptoms include white spots on the body, clamped fins, cloudiness of the eyes, and loss of appetite.
  • Lymphocystis: They are susceptible to lymphocystis. Symptoms include small wart-like lumps around the mouth or on the fins that look similar to ick. It can also cause the gills to turn red and become infected.
  • Fungal Infections: Fungal infections are more common in Kissing Gourami fish that don't get enough oxygen or get too hot, so you should ensure that your tank has both of these things before adding Kissing Gourami fish. Symptoms include white, cottony growths on the body of Kissing Gourami fish.
  • Fin Rot: This fish can get fin rot because they are sensitive to bacterial infections, so you'll need to take care of it if your fish contract it. Symptoms include rotting or discolored fins that aren't transparent, and your fish might become lethargic.
  • Ichthyosporidium  (Ichthyosporidium): Kissing Gourami fish can get ichthyosporidium if their immune system is weak, such as stress or an underlying illness. Symptoms include white spots on the skin, and your Kissing Gourami fish might scratch against decorations or try to jump out of the tank.

Kissing Gourami Treatment And Medications For Diseases

If you want to treat your Kissing Gourami fish for any of these diseases, you should use an anti-parasitic medication safe for invertebrates. Because some medications can be harmful to invertebrates, such as shrimp and snails, it's essential that the medication only affects parasites and not all living creatures in the tank.

  • To properly medicate your fish, you'll need to do a water change with a saltwater solution of 1 tablespoon salt for every 5 gallons of water in your aquarium. This will prevent chemicals from getting into your filter and hurting your invertebrates.
  • You should also remove activated carbon from your filter because carbon traps medications and can prevent them medication from getting into the water.
  • You should always check with a veterinarian before administering your Kissing Gourami fish. It would be best never to use home remedies or double up on medications without talking to a veterinarian first.
  • When in doubt, it's best to treat for too much rather than not enough, and you should always add medication to your aquarium when it's out of the light.
  • Be sure to follow any instructions on the packaging when adding medication to your kisser gourami tank. Never use a product designed for cold-water fish in a tropical Kissing Gourami tank, such as koi fish.
  • Koi fish medications usually include copper, which can be lethal to your Kissing Gourami fish because it will poison them over time. If your kisser gourami fish has popeye, use eye drops sold at pet stores to help the eye repair itself.
  • You should also feed your fish foods high in Vitamin C and glucose, such as frozen bloodworms and live black worms. If your Kissing Gourami fish has swim bladder problems, add one tablespoon of salt for every 5 gallons of water to help it feel better and recover more quickly.

Advantages Of Having Kissing Gourami In Your Tank

  • They are peaceful fish that will get along with other bottom-dwelling, non-aggressive tank mates.
  • They are easy to feed and won't eat your invertebrates or plants.
  • They make great parents because the male will work to protect the eggs after they hatch.
  • Adult Kissing Gourami fish will not bother younger Kissing Gourami fish.
  • They are inexpensive and readily available at pet stores, making them excellent starter fish for new hobbyists.
  • They are comfortable in tanks with live plants, gravel, rocks, and driftwood.
  • After adapting to captivity, some Kissing Gourami fish will learn to eat pellets or flake food directly from the tank's surface.
  • They grow up to 6 inches long, so they aren't likely to be eaten by large fish or other predators in your tank.

Disadvantages Of Having Kissing Gourami In Your Tank

  • They can sometimes be territorial with their species if kept in too small of an aquarium or tank with other Kissing Gourami fish.
  • They can be sensitive to medications and saltwater, so you should use a quarantine tank before adding any new Kissing Gourami fish to your tank.
  • They can be challenging to breed in captivity because they need brackish conditions of at least 20 gallons for the male and female kisser gourami fish together. They also need live foods like brine shrimp to produce healthy eggs.
  • If you have any nippy fish with long, flowing fins, they can tear up the fins of your Kissing Gourami fish before they become full-grown.
  • They might be territorial with their species if kept in too small an aquarium or tank with other fish.
  • If your fish is stressed out, they might stop eating.
  • They can sometimes be challenging to breed in captivity because they need brackish conditions of at least 20 gallons for the male and female kisser gourami fish together. They also need live foods like brine shrimp to produce healthy eggs.


Ultimately, it would be best always to be cautious when adding new fish to your freshwater tank; Kissing Gourami fish is no exception.

Because they can be challenging to breed in captivity and need special conditions to thrive, you might want to avoid keeping them altogether unless you have a large aquarium or enough experience with their care.

When it comes to freshwater fish, the Kissing Gourami is an excellent beginner species because they are colorful, inexpensive, and straightforward to care for. The biggest challenge you may encounter with these fish is their ability to produce hundreds of tiny babies occasionally, which can overwhelm a small aquarium.

Disclaimer does not intend to provide veterinary advice. We go to great lengths to help users better understand their aquatic friends. However, the content on this blog is not a substitute for veterinary guidance. For more information, please read our disclaimer.

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