Kissing gourami

Aquarium fish: Kissing gourami (Helostoma temminkii)
Size: 20 – 30 cm
Origin: Asia
Water temperature: 22-30 ° C
Aquarium volume: 300 l

Kissing gourami (Helostoma temminkii ) – a popular, fairly large aquarium fish with interesting behaviors, the only representative of the kissing family (Helostoma).

Occurrence

Asia. The species is found in Thailand, the Malay Peninsula, Sumatra, Java and Borneo. It lives in shallow, slowly flowing waters (lakes, rivers, canals, ponds, wetlands). Found both in black and clear waters near sunken roots and clusters of aquatic vegetation.

Characteristics and disposition

In nature it grows up to 30 cm in length, in an aquarium usually less than 15-25 cm. High body, laterally flattened. The pectoral fins are low, large and rounded. Concave caudal fin. It comes in two color forms: green and pink.

The first variety is gray-green with vertical stripes on the body and dark fins. The second one is colored from white-pink, through pink to orange with transparent fins. There is also a stunted, deformed breeding form with a smaller balloon body. The most distinctive feature of this fish is its mouth with thick fleshy lips that conceal its fine teeth. The common name of the species comes from the mouth-like behavior of kissing, such as when a fish uses its mouth and teeth to scrape algae off the surface of rocks or aquarium glass panes.

The fish also “kiss” each other, hold each other temporarily with their lips and let go. It is probably something like a trial of strength and hierarchy within the herd. However, they do not hurt themselves. Interestingly, this behavior occurs in individuals of both sexes. Sex indistinguishable until spawning.

Adult females are clearly thicker during this period. Like gourami, they have a labyrinth – an organ that allows them to breathe atmospheric air. They swim in the upper and middle parts of the aquarium. On average, they live 6-8 years, but sometimes, in good conditions, they live to over 20.

Nutrition and feeding

Omnivorous.

In natural habitats, they eat algae, plant matter, zooplankton, and insects. In the aquarium, they take all available food. The basis can be high-quality dry food, regularly supplemented with live or frozen (bloodworm, waterfowl, artemia, grindale, etc.) or vegetable, e.g. flakes with spirulina, vegetables. However, it should be borne in mind that the specific structure of the mouth (no additional teeth) prevents them from crushing and swallowing larger parts.

On the other hand, they will be happy to scrape algae from the aquarium glass.

Aquarium

Adult kissing gourami require a spacious tank from approx. 300 liters. However, its decor is not as important as the quality of the water and the free space for swimming. For decoration, you can use the roots, from which the fish will gladly scrape the algae.

Sooner or later delicate plants will be eaten, the more durable ones with hard leaves, such as anubias, microzorium and floating plants, will work. They look better against the background of dark ground. Although they are hardy fish, they also require efficient filtration and weekly water changes. They don’t like the water current that is too strong. The air temperature should be close to the water temperature to prevent the labyrinth from catching a cold.

The species is suitable for larger social tanks with other large and hardy fish. They can be kept, for example, with a shoal of carp or tetras, larger catfish, cichlids, labyrinths or long-nosed. Fish of a similar size and appearance should be avoided. Although adults in nature do not live in a herd, several animals can be kept in a sufficiently spacious tank. In small aquariums, a stronger individual will sooner or later finish off the rest of its species.

Rather, character depends on the individual characteristics of the fish in question.

Breeding

Reproduction is definitely more difficult than with other gouramis. Breeders rarely decide to breed them , which requires time and considerable financial outlays. A large tank is required for spawning and the sex of the fish is indistinguishable until they reach maturity. In natural conditions, they wear out in the rainy season, possibly migrating to temporarily flooded areas.

Unlike other labyrinths, they do not build a foamy nest and the eggs are scattered in the depths or placed on the bottom of the plant leaves. Roe is lighter than water and floats freely to the top. After spawning, parents forget about the eggs and do not care for their offspring. Breeders recommend buying a group of young fish and raising them to maturity (approx. 12-15 cm long).

Adult fish should be fed with either frozen or live food. Over time, females should be clearly thicker than males. The selected pair is transferred to a separate tank, at least 90 cm long, with a lot of plants, also floating ones. The spawning water should be soft and slightly acidic to neutral, between 6.8-8.5 pH and 22-28 ° C. The male starts courtship by swimming around the female with tight fins.

The female initially chases the male away until she is ready, when she nudges him several times in the stomach. The fish begin to dance, hitting each other faster and faster with their tails. The male hugs the female and turns her belly up. The female initially scatters a small amount of eggs (about 20), which rises to the surface of the water. With each new spawning act, more and more eggs are released, and an adult female can lay as many as 10,000 during the entire spawning period.

After the parents have finished spawning, it is best to catch them, because they eat the eggs. Hatching occurs after 24-36 hours. After the next 2-3 days, it begins to swim freely. It can be fed micro foods until they can eat brine shrimp larvae.

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