Honey Dwarf Gourami Fact Sheet
The Honey Dwarf Gourami, Colisa chuna, (or possibly Trichogaster chuna; see scientific names at the end of this article) comes from Bangladesh and India and is found in both the Ganges and Brahmaputra systems. This is not surprising since these great rivers are connected.
It is related to the Dwarf Gourami, Colisa lalia, (or possibly Trichogaster lalia) but is a separate species with different characteristics. In my opinion, the colours of the Dwarf Gourami are often superior to those of the Honey Dwarf Gourami, although the Honey Dwarf Gourami is still a beautiful fish. On the other hand, the Honey Dwarf Gourami seems to be a hardier fish than the Dwarf Gouramis generally available nowadays.
The Honey Dwarf Gourami is a small species of Gourami. Fishbase lists the maximum length as 7 centimetres (nearly 3 inches), but I have never seen one as big as this. The Honey Dwarf Gourami is more slender than a Dwarf Gourami. Generally the Honey Dwarf Gourami is the smaller species.
The maximum life span of this fish is about 8 years.
The Honey Dwarf Gourami is a tropical fish. The water temperature should not be allowed to drop below 22 degrees C (72 degrees F). The ideal temperature for keeping them is about 26 degrees C (79 degrees F) although they are all right at the 24 Degrees C (75 degrees F) that I normally recommend for a community tank. They can take a moderate level of hardness, and up to about 19 degrees of general hardness is all right for them. The pH can be between 6.0 and 8.0, but I would recommend no higher than 7.5. The air above the water should be of high humidity and similar temperature to the water. The easiest way to arrange this is to have a cover on the tank.
The minimum sized tank suggested is 60 litres (15 US gallons). The tank should be well planted including some floating plants.
Some people have reported that they are particularly susceptible to white spot, but I have not observed this myself. I suggest keeping a lookout for this disease and treating for it as soon as any symptoms appear.
The Honey Dwarf Gourami is an easily fed omnivore which will eat all normal fish foods of a size it can handle. They will eat plants, but are not one of the types of fish likely to denude your tank. They will browse on the roots of floating plants. Probably the other organisms which grow on these roots are important to this and other fish.
They also eat some algae, but they are not a specialized algae eating fish like the Bristlenose Catfish, and will not keep an aquarium clear of algae.
A basic good quality fish flake can be supplemented with a variety of animal and plant based foods including such things as live or frozen Bloodworms, Brine Shrimp and Daphnia, as well as plant based foods like algae wafers, spirulina flakes, Zucchini etc.
This is one of the types of fish that are capable of shooting drops of water to knock insects into the water. This water drop shooting is also used in breeding.
The Honey Dwarf Gourami is one of the best of all the gouramis for compatibility with small fish in a community tank. I would avoid male Siamese fighting fish and other slow moving, long finned fish like Male Guppies, and also fish known to be bad for fin nipping, but nearly all small and medium sized community fish would be suitable companions for this species.
Naturally you need to avoid large and aggressive fish.
The females grow bigger than the males, and usually have a horizontal brown coloured stripe. The males have a more pointed anal fin.
In breeding condition, it is very easy to distinguish males from females: males are yellow-orange with bright yellow dorsal fin and the underside of the abdomen velvety black, orange and blue on the neck, while females are almost uniformly brown.
An increase in temperature will help to stimulate breeding. Although the adults can be kept in moderately hard water, for breeding the water needs to be fairly soft, with a maximum hardness of 8 degrees of general hardness. The water should be slightly acidic. These changed water conditions, including the temperature, will need to be maintained for several weeks to raise the fry.
The Honey Dwarf Gourami, like many of its relatives, is a bubble nest builder. The larger types of gourami like the Blue Gourami build their nests at the surface while the very small ones like the Sparkling Gourami build them under a leaf. The Honey Dwarf Gourami is the smallest of its genus, but is bigger than the smallest gouramis. Although the Honey Dwarf Gourami will build under a leaf if a suitable one is available, it is also quite prepared to build at the surface, often in a corner of the tank.
As with the other species of gourami, it is the male that builds the nest and tries to get the female to come and spawn under it. He is gentler than many of his relatives. He will swim vertically in front of the female and swim towards the nest to get her to follow him.
A slightly unusual feature of this fish is that the male often will build either a nominal (small) nest or even no nest until spawning is complete, and then construct a fairly large nest around the eggs.
While they are actually spawning, the male curls his body round the female, turning her upside down with their vents close together so that he releases his sperm as she releases her eggs. The eggs float towards the nest and he gathers up any stray ones and puts them into the nest.
The male will protect the nest with the eggs in. This includes spitting drops of water onto the top of the nest which forces the bubbles down into the nest. This water would also help to ensure that the eggs have sufficient oxygenated water near them.
If you are breeding this fish there should be no other fish present. The eggs and fry are very vulnerable to predation. The little male will do his best to protect his nest with the babies in. This fish is normally one of the most peaceful of the gouramis, but when guarding his nest, the male Honey Dwarf Gourami has been known to mount an heroic defence against bigger fish, even occasionally killing the other fish.
The eggs hatch in 24-30 hours and the fry are free swimming in 4.5 days.
Raising the Babies
All other fish should have been removed from the tank. The baby Honey Dwarf Gouramis are very small. They will need infusoria for a while before they can tackle live food visible to unaided Human eyes.
In English this fish is called the “Honey Dwarf Gourami”, the “Honey Gourami” or the “Sunset Gourami”.
In French it is called “Le Gourami miel”.
In Urdu, in India and Bangladesh, it is called “Chuna”, or “Chuna khailsha”. This is where the specific name comes from.
Fishbase gives the accepted name of this fish as “Colisa chuna” (Hamilton, 1822), but there is some question about whether this is up to date. In 2009, Topfer & Schindler did some changes, following on from earlier work that puts the genus name of chuna to “Trichogaster”. This makes the scientific name “Trichogaster chuna”. This combination was first used in 1822; [“Trichogaster chuna”(Hamilton, 1822).] It also changes the name of the Dwarf Gourami to “Trichogaster lalia”. The genus previously known as “Trichogaster” was changed to “Trichopodus”. So, for example, the Blue Gourami’s name is now “Trichopodus trichopterus”.
Other scientific names that have been used for the Honey Dwarf Gourami include; “Colisa sota” (Hamilton, 1822), “Polyacanthus sota” (Hamilton, 1822), “Trichopodus chuna” (Hamilton, 1822) and “Trichopodus sota” (Hamilton, 1822).
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