Kissing Gourami: Facts, Care Tips, and More (2024)

Kissing Gourami is sometimes called kissing fish or kisser fish
Dr. Mollie Newton
Published by Dr. Mollie Newton PHD| Senior Editor
Last updated: July 14, 2024
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Struggling to care for your beloved kissing gourami? We empathize with your situation. This article offers essential tips for providing the best care and creating a thriving aquatic environment for your fish. Say goodbye to common health issues and welcome healthy, strong gouramis. Learn the precise methods and pitfalls to avoid when it comes to feeding, tank setup, and choosing compatible tank mates. Quickly become an expert fish caretaker! Dive into the world of kissing gourami care and transform your aquatic haven into a ‘kiss’-ing delight. Continue reading for all the crucial insights you need.

Article Summary

  • Kissing gouramis come in three color variations: pink, silver-green, and mottled or piebald.
  • Their diet is omnivorous, and their primary food source should be a high-quality flake or pellet food with a high vegetable content.
  • These kissing fish are susceptible to common freshwater diseases such as Ich, fungal problems, and parasitic algae.

Species Summary

The kissing gourami, scientifically known as Helostoma temminkii, is a fascinating species with various common names, such as kissing fish, pink kissing gourami, and green kisser fish.

Originally from the Indonesian island of Java, they can now be found in regions including Borneo, Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam.


The Kissing Gourami is famous for its apparent kissing behavior, although scientists are still unsure about their true purpose.

Appearance and Variation

Kissing gourami species come in three color variations: pink or flesh-colored, silver-green (known as “green kisser”), and mottled or piebald. The pink variation results from leucism, which reduces pigmentation and has been selectively bred for the aquarium trade.

In their natural state, these fish have a green coloration with a dark bar bordering their dorsal and anal fins. There is also a mutated strain selectively bred in aquariums with a shorter and rounder shape with a balloon-like appearance.

A Closer Look at Kissing Gourami

Kissing Gourami Average Size

They are known for their relatively small size, measuring around 6 inches long in captivity. However, these fish can commonly grow up to 12 inches in their natural habitat.

Despite their small size, these fish are still popular among aquarium enthusiasts due to their vibrant colors and unique kissing behavior. Their small size makes them suitable for smaller tanks, but providing them with enough space to swim and explore is important.

Additionally, their small size also means that they require less food and produce less waste, making them easier to care for than larger fish species. Overall, the average size of the kissing gourami makes them a versatile and appealing choice of fish keeping for both beginner and experienced fish keepers.


When kept in captivity, kissing gouramis typically have a lifespan ranging from 5 to 8 years. However, with proper care and attention to their needs, these fascinating fish have been known to live well beyond a decade.

In captivity, Kissing gouramis have an average lifespan of 5-8 years…

By providing a suitable environment and meeting their specific requirements, such as maintaining water quality, providing a balanced diet, and ensuring adequate space, fish enthusiasts can significantly enhance the longevity of their kissing gouramis.

It is important to note that individual variations in genetics, health, and environmental factors may influence the lifespan of these fish. Still, with the right care, they can thrive and bring joy to their owners for many years.

Distribution of Kissing Gourami

Kissing gouramis are widely distributed across Southeast Asia, making them a common sight in freshwater ponds throughout the region. They can be found in various countries, including Indochina, the Malay Archipelago, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, New Guinea, and even as far as Colombia. This extensive range highlights the adaptability of these fish to different environments and their ability to thrive in diverse conditions.

In Indochina, which includes countries like Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos, these kissing fish can be found in the rivers, lakes, and ponds that are abundant in the region. These fish are well-suited to Indochina’s warm and tropical climate, making it an ideal habitat for them. Similarly, in the Malay Archipelago, which consists of thousands of islands, these fish can be found in the freshwater bodies scattered throughout the region.

Sri Lanka, an island nation off the southern coast of India, also provides a suitable habitat for the kissing gourami species. The country’s numerous lakes, reservoirs, and rivers offer ample opportunities for these fish to thrive. Additionally, the Philippines, known for its rich marine biodiversity, is home to various species of kissing fish. The country’s warm waters and abundance of freshwater sources provide an ideal environment for these fish to breed and flourish.

Furthermore, kisser fish have also been introduced to other parts of the world, such as Florida, Thailand, and Singapore, where they are bred for the hobby industry. These regions have established breeding facilities to meet the demand for these popular aquarium fish. Introducing this fish to these areas has allowed enthusiasts to enjoy their beauty and unique behaviors in their home aquariums.

Caring for Kissing Gourami

Kissing fish require specific care to thrive in a home aquarium. Here are some important tips and guidelines to ensure the well-being of your kissing gourami.

Diet and Feeding

Kissing gouramis have an omnivorous diet, meaning they eat plant matter and small insects. Their primary food source should be a high-quality flake or pellet food with a high vegetable content. Supplement their diet with spirulina algae wafers, lettuce, watercress, bloodworms, or brine shrimp.

They use their lips to consume algae from glass, rocks, and driftwood, and they also have gill rakers to filter microorganisms. It is vital to provide a balanced diet to meet their nutritional needs.

    Kissing Gourami Feeding

    Feeding Schedule and Monitoring

    Feed your Kissing gourami twice daily, offering an amount of food that can be consumed within a few minutes. Monitoring their feeding habits to avoid overfeeding is crucial, as excess food can lead to water pollution and health issues. Observing their eating patterns can help ensure their nutritional needs are adequately met.

      Health Concerns

      Kisser fish are known to be susceptible to several common freshwater diseases. These diseases can significantly impact the health and well-being of these fish. One of the most common diseases is Ich, caused by a parasitic protozoan. Ich manifests as white spots on the fish’s body and fins, leading to irritation and discomfort. If left untreated, Ich can weaken the fish’s immune system and make it more susceptible to other infections.

      Another health concern is fungal problems. Fungal infections can occur when the fish’s immune system is weakened, often due to stress or poor water quality. Fungal infections can manifest as cotton-like growths on the fish’s body or fins. These growths can cause irritation and may lead to secondary bacterial infections if left untreated. Maintaining a clean and well-maintained aquarium environment is essential to prevent fungal problems.

      Additionally, parasitic algae can affect these fish, which can lead to a spotted appearance on the fish’s body. These algae can attach themselves to the fish’s skin, causing discoloration and potentially impacting their overall health. Parasitic algae are often a sign of poor water quality or inadequate filtration in the aquarium. Regular water changes and proper filtration can help prevent the growth of parasitic algae and keep the kissing gourami healthy.

      Disease Prevention

      Taking several preventive measures to prevent diseases in kissing gourami is essential. Firstly, quarantine new fish before adding them to the aquarium. This step helps prevent the introduction of diseases into the tank.

      Secondly, regular water testing and maintenance are crucial in preventing disease outbreaks. Keeping the water quality in check and maintaining optimal conditions can significantly reduce the risk of illnesses.

      Additionally, providing a balanced diet to your kissing gourami is essential as it helps maintain their immune system. A well-rounded diet supports their health and makes them less susceptible to diseases.

      Lastly, it is vital to closely monitor your kissing gourami’s health and promptly address any signs of illness. Regular observation and timely action can help prevent the spread of diseases and ensure the well-being of your fish.

      By following proper care guidelines and providing appropriate nutrition, you can ensure the well-being of your kissing gourami.

      Temperament and Community Tank Mates

      Kissing gourami, or helostoma temminckii or helostoma temminkii, are popular freshwater fish in the aquarium trade. They exhibit interesting behavior and have specific requirements.

      During the breeding season, kissing gouramis display territorial behavior…

      Territorial Behavior: During the breeding season, kissing fish display territorial and aggressive behavior. Providing them with ample space in the aquarium is essential to prevent aggression.

      Peaceful Nature: Kisser fish are generally peaceful fish for most tank mates. However, they may become aggressive towards similar species or smaller fish. It is best to avoid adding other species of gourami or more kissing gourami to the tank.

      Unique “Kissing” Behavior: These fish are well-known for their unique “kissing” behavior during courtship rituals. It adds a fascinating aspect to their interactions within the aquarium.

      Kissing Fish With Other Fish

      Recommended Tank Mates: Kissing gouramis can be kept with peaceful community fish such as angelfish, tetras or corydoras. Suitable tank mates include the Yoyo Loach, Swordtails, Tiger Barb, Chinese-algae eaters, Angelfish, Congo Tetra, Rosy Barb, Pictus Catfish, Archerfish, and smaller Cichlids.

      Incompatible Tank Mates: Instead of having just two individuals in the same tank together, it is better to acquire several young individuals, as one more robust fish may constantly intimidate the weaker one. Adult kissing gourami may exhibit aggression towards smaller tank mates and even feed on them. Invertebrates should also be avoided as they are at risk of being eaten by these voracious eaters.


      To maintain harmony in the aquarium, it is advisable not to keep other species of gourami or additional kissing gourami together.

      When setting up a habitat for kissing gourami species in your aquarium, consider their behavior and compatibility with other freshwater fish. You can observe these fascinating fish in all splendor by providing the right tank mates and ensuring a suitable environment.

      Tank Requirements

      To ensure the well-being of kissing fish, they must be provided with suitable tank conditions. Here are some key factors to consider:

      Ideal Tank Size

      When housing kissing gourami species, it is recommended to provide a spacious tank. A minimum tank size of 50 gallons is necessary, but opting for a larger tank of 75 gallons or more would be even better. This allows these active swimmers ample space to move around and helps prevent territorial conflicts.

      Water Parameters

      Maintaining stable water parameters is crucial for the health of kissing gourami. Keeping the temperature between 21–27 °C (70–81 °F), pH levels between 6.0-7.5, and water hardness between 5-20 dGH is important. Regular tank cleaning ensures a clean and healthy environment for these fish.

      Tank Decor

      Creating an appealing environment in the tank enhances the comfort of kisser fish. Consider adding live plants and floating vegetation for natural aesthetics. Providing shelters like snags, roots, or artificial objects ensures each fish has its own space within the tank. Surrounding walls and snags with plenty of tank plants, including floating ones, adds visual interest while preventing substrate digging.

      Filtration for Fish Well-being

      Maintaining proper filtration is essential to keep the water clean and well-oxygenated for the well-being of kissing gourami species. This helps remove waste and provides enough oxygen for their survival.

      By following these guidelines regarding tank size, water conditions, decor choices, and filtration systems, you can create an optimal habitat that promotes the health and happiness of your kissing fish in your freshwater aquarium setup.

      Breeding Kissing Gourami

      Breeding kissing gourami is an exciting process that requires specific conditions and careful attention. Unlike other climbing perch species, these fish do not exhibit parental instincts or construct nests from bubbles. Instead, they reach reproductive maturity at around two years old and spawn in pairs. To prepare for spawning, it is necessary to separate the fish into individual tanks for two weeks and provide them with ample vegetable-based food.

      During the mating season, there are distinctive features that can help identify the genders of kissing gourami. Females have a rounder body shape compared to the slimmer appearance of males. This difference becomes more apparent as they prepare for breeding.

      Creating suitable spawning conditions is crucial for successful reproduction. A tank with a capacity of approximately 150 liters works well for breeding kissing gourami. The substrate should consist of river sand, and a selection of tank plants, including floating aquatic plants like riccia fluitans or duckweed, should be present. The water in the spawning tank should be soft with a hardness level below 10° and maintain a neutral pH level (pH 7).

      During the mating season, kissing gouramis engage in extended ”kisses”…

      The actual spawning process typically begins in the morning and lasts for several hours. It starts with a mating ceremony characterized with extended “kisses” between the fish. The male then holds the female from underneath and slightly flips her upside down to initiate egg release. A female kissing gourami can lay anywhere from 20 to 200 eggs at a time, resulting in a total count ranging from 5,000 to 6,000 eggs per spawn.

      Caring for the eggs and fry requires special attention as well since kissing gourami do not construct bubble nests or care for their eggs once laid. The egg stage typically lasts for 15 to 20 hours before hatching on the third day. After hatching, the larvae settle at the bottom of the tank, where feeding should commence. Infusorians can be used as an initial food source for juveniles, while brine shrimp can be introduced as they grow.

      Breeding kissing gourami is a fascinating process that showcases their unique reproductive behavior. By providing the right conditions and care, it is possible to witness the development of these beautiful tropical fish from eggs to fry.

      Frequently Asked Questions

      Why do kissing gourami fish kiss?

      Kissing gourami fish engage in “kissing” behavior as a part of their natural courtship and social interaction. It is a way for them to establish dominance, display affection, and communicate with each other. The lip-locking behavior allows them to establish territories and form social bonds within their community.

      Are kissing fish easy to keep?

      Yes, kissing gouramis are generally considered to be relatively easy to keep in aquariums. They are hardy fish and can adapt well to different water conditions. However, they do require a spacious tank with plenty of hiding spots and vegetation to replicate their natural habitat. Maintaining proper water quality and a balanced diet ensures their well-being.

      Can Kissing Gourami live without oxygen?

      No, kissing gouramis, like all fish, require oxygen to survive. They have gills that extract oxygen from the water, allowing them to breathe. Lack of oxygen in the water can be fatal to these fish, so providing them with well-oxygenated water through proper filtration and aeration in their aquarium is crucial.

      Do Kissing gouramis like water flow?

      Kissing gouramis generally prefer calm or moderately flowing water in their aquarium. They are not particularly fond of strong water currents, which can cause stress and discomfort for them. Providing gentle water movement through the use of a mild water filter or air stone is usually sufficient for their well-being.

      Do Kissing gouramis like bright light?

      Kissing gouramis do not prefer bright light conditions. They come from habitats with dense vegetation and prefer subdued lighting. Bright lights can make them feel exposed and stressed. It is recommended to provide them with low to moderate lighting in the aquarium, using floating plants or dimmed aquarium lights to create a more natural and comfortable environment.

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