Three Spot Gourami: Profile, Facts, Size, Care, Tank Mates

three spot gourami

The three-spot gourami, scientifically known as Trichopodus trichopterus, is a fascinating and versatile fish species. This species is also commonly referred to by other names such as opaline gourami, blue gourami, and gold gourami. These alternative names reflect the fish’s beautiful and varied color patterns. Originally, the three-spot gourami was native to southeastern Asia’s rich and diverse waters. This includes countries like Thailand, Vietnam, and Malaysia, where it inhabits slow-moving streams, rivers, and ponds. However, its adaptability and popularity have led to its introduction in various parts of the world. In these new environments, the three-spot gourami has established itself successfully, sometimes even thriving in the wild.

Three Spot Gourami: Profile, Facts, Size, Care, Tank Mates

The three-spot gourami, or Trichopodus trichopterus, is a notable fish species with various attractive qualities. Its distinctive spots, varied color patterns, and adaptability make it a favorite in both its native habitat and the global aquarium trade. While it plays a minor role as a food fish in southeastern Asia, its significance extends beyond nutrition. The three-spot gourami enriches the lives of fish enthusiasts around the world, contributing to both economic and recreational aspects of human life. Whether in the wild or in a tank, this species continues to captivate and charm those who encounter it.

Physical Characteristics and Naming

The name “three-spot gourami” derives from the distinctive appearance of the fish. It has two prominent dark spots on either side of its body, aligning with the eye, which is often considered the third spot. This unique marking makes the three-spot gourami easily recognizable among other fish species. The body of the gourami is usually elongated and laterally compressed, which helps it navigate through aquatic vegetation. The fins are large and often have a flowing appearance, adding to the fish’s graceful swimming style. These spots, combined with its vibrant coloration that ranges from pale blue to shimmering gold, make it a popular choice for home aquariums.

Economic and Nutritional Importance

In its native range, the three-spot gourami holds minor commercial importance as a food fish. Local communities may farm this species to supplement their diets, benefiting from its nutritional value. The fish is often consumed fresh, but it can also be preserved through drying or smoking. Although it is not a major commercial species like some other fish, it contributes to the local economy by providing a source of protein and income for small-scale fishers and farmers. This economic role, although minor on a global scale, is significant for many rural communities in southeastern Asia.

Popularity in Aquarium Trade

Beyond its role as a food source, the three-spot gourami is exceptionally popular within the aquarium trade. Fish enthusiasts and hobbyists are drawn to its striking appearance and relatively peaceful temperament. This species is suitable for community tanks, where it coexists harmoniously with other fish. Its ability to adapt to different water conditions makes it a favorite among both novice and experienced aquarium keepers. The three-spot gourami’s hardy nature and easy care requirements contribute to its popularity, ensuring that it remains a staple in the aquarium trade worldwide. Breeders have also developed various color morphs, enhancing its appeal further.

Omnivorous Diet of the Three-Spot Gourami

The three-spot gourami is an omnivore, which means it requires a balanced diet consisting of both plant-based and animal-based foods. To meet its dietary needs, a combination of algae-based flake foods and meaty treats is ideal. Algae-based flakes provide essential nutrients that mimic their natural consumption of plant matter in the wild. Additionally, offering freeze-dried bloodworms, tubifex worms, and brine shrimp ensures they receive the protein necessary for growth and health. Live foods such as mosquito larvae and daphnia are particularly beneficial, as they stimulate the gourami’s natural hunting instincts and provide high nutritional value. This varied diet is crucial for maintaining the vibrant health and color of the three-spot gourami.

Identifying Male and Female Three-Spot Gouramis

Differentiating between male and female three-spot gouramis is relatively straightforward once you know what to look for. The most distinctive feature is the dorsal fin. In males, the dorsal fin is typically long and pointed, and the anal fin follows suit. In contrast, females usually have shorter and rounded dorsal and anal fins. However, there are exceptions, as some females may exhibit dorsal fins almost as long as those of males. During the breeding season, these differences become more pronounced. The male’s behavior also changes; he constructs a bubble nest and engages in elaborate displays to entice the female, swimming back and forth, flaring his fins, and raising his tail in a show of fitness and readiness to breed.

Breeding Behavior and Egg Care

When ready to breed, the male three-spot gourami takes on the role of nest builder and protector. He creates a bubble nest at the water’s surface, using his saliva to form a stable structure for the eggs. After the nest is ready, he courts the female, who can lay up to 800 eggs. Post-spawning, it is often necessary to remove the female from the tank to prevent aggression from the male, who becomes highly protective of the nest. The male diligently guards the eggs until they hatch and the fry become free-swimming. At this point, to ensure the survival of the young fish, the male is usually removed as well. Frequent water changes, particularly around the third week, are essential for the fry’s development, as this is when their labyrinth organ—a specialized structure allowing them to breathe air—begins to form.

Habitat Preferences of Blue Gouramis

Blue gouramis, a hardy subset of the three-spot gourami family, thrive in a variety of water conditions. Their natural habitats include ditches, canals, ponds, swamps, rivers, and lakes—environments rich in vegetation. These fish prefer waters densely populated with plants, which provide shelter and feeding grounds. Blue gouramis can tolerate a wide range of temperatures and are not overly demanding regarding water conditions. However, they prefer soft, slightly acidic water during breeding. Juvenile blue gouramis do well in tanks of 15 to 20 gallons, but as they mature, they require larger spaces of at least 35 gallons to accommodate their growth and active nature.

Tank Maintenance and Environmental Needs

Even though blue gouramis possess a labyrinth organ that allows them to breathe air directly, maintaining a well-filtered tank is crucial. Proper filtration ensures water quality and provides a healthier environment. Adding air stones can further enhance oxygenation, making the tank conditions more suitable for the fish. Using a darker substrate in the aquarium can significantly enhance the visual appeal of the blue gouramis, as it contrasts beautifully with their vibrant colors. This not only creates a stunning display but also helps mimic their natural environment, contributing to their overall well-being and comfort in captivity.

Naming and Vernacular Titles of the Three-Spot Gourami

The three-spot gourami earns its common name from its distinctive physical markings. This intriguing fish showcases two prominent spots on each side of its body. These spots are perfectly aligned with its eye, which is considered the third spot, thus giving rise to its name. This characteristic makes the three-spot gourami easily identifiable among other fish species, providing a simple yet effective way to distinguish it in the diverse world of freshwater fish.

Alternative Names and Variants

Apart from its primary name, the three-spot gourami is known by several other names that reflect its various physical traits and regional popularity. In Malaysia, it is often called the “two-spot gourami” due to its prominent dual spots. The term “hairfin gourami” comes from its scientific name, Trichopodus trichopterus, highlighting its unique fin structure. Various color morphs and patterns have led to additional names: “opal” or “opaline gourami” (sometimes called “Cosby gourami”) for marbled patterns, “blue gourami” for the blue variant, “gold” or “golden gourami” for the yellow variant, “platinum gourami” for the white variant, and “lavender” or “amethyst gourami” for the stunning mix of blue and gold.

Native Habitat

The three-spot gourami is indigenous to the standing or slow-moving freshwater environments of southeastern Asia. Its natural habitat extends from Yunnan in China through mainland Southeast Asia, encompassing countries like Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam, and stretches to the islands of Java, Borneo, and Sumatra. These regions provide the ideal conditions for the gourami, with an abundance of marshes, swamps, canals, and lowland wetlands. The slow-moving waters and dense vegetation in these areas offer both food sources and protection.

Introductions Beyond Native Range

Due to its hardy nature and adaptability, the three-spot gourami has been introduced to various regions outside its native range. These areas include the Philippines, India, Sulawesi, and southwestern Trinidad. In these new environments, the gourami often thrives, sometimes to the point of becoming established in the wild. Its ability to adapt to different ecological conditions makes it a resilient species, capable of surviving and reproducing in a variety of habitats.

Seasonal Migrations and Habitat Use

The three-spot gourami exhibits fascinating migratory behavior, especially during the flood season. During this period, these fish migrate from permanent water bodies to flooded areas, such as seasonally inundated forests in the middle and lower Mekong. This migration allows them to take advantage of the abundant resources available in these temporary habitats. As the dry season approaches, the gouramis return to their permanent water bodies, ensuring their survival through the changing conditions.

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Diet and Reproductive Behavior

In terms of diet, the three-spot gourami primarily feeds on zooplankton, crustaceans, and insect larvae. This diverse diet supports their growth and health, providing the necessary nutrients for survival. During the breeding season, the male gourami takes on a unique role by building a bubble nest for the eggs. This nest is constructed from air bubbles and saliva, creating a floating nursery. The male then fiercely protects this nest, ensuring the safety and development of the eggs until they hatch. This protective behavior underscores the gourami’s commitment to ensuring the survival of the next generation. Fitness – Meditation – Diet – Weight Loss – Healthy Living – Yoga

Hardy Nature of the Three-Spot Gourami

The three-spot gourami is well-regarded for its hardy nature, making it a popular choice among aquarists. This resilience allows it to thrive in a variety of aquarium conditions, which is why it’s often housed with a diverse array of tank mates. These companions typically share a similar size and temperament, ensuring a harmonious environment. While male gouramis can exhibit territorial behavior towards one another, they tend to become timid when faced with more aggressive species. This adaptability and hardiness make the three-spot gourami a favorite for both novice and experienced fish keepers.

Male Aggression and Tank Dynamics

Male three-spot gouramis are known for their aggressive tendencies, especially when they feel their territory is being threatened. This aggression can manifest in fin nipping and generally bothersome behavior towards other fish in the tank. Species with long, flowing fins, such as male guppies, goldfish, and bettas, often become targets due to their vibrant colors and elongated tails. These traits are seen as competition by the male gouramis, who are trying to impress potential mates. Despite this aggression, female gouramis tend to be more peaceful. They usually keep to themselves, though they can sometimes hassle other fish.

Co-Habitation of Multiple Gouramis

Although it is commonly advised against housing multiple gouramis together, exceptions can be made under certain conditions. For instance, three-spot gouramis that have been raised together, especially in pairs, can cohabit successfully. This is particularly true for females, especially if they are siblings and have stable personalities. Adequate swimming space is crucial in these scenarios, as it helps reduce potential conflicts. The individual personalities of the fish play a significant role in their ability to coexist peacefully. When the conditions are right, aquarists have successfully kept multiple gouramis together in the same tank. Fish and Fishing accessories

Dominance and Behavior Among Co-Habiting Gouramis

In cases where multiple gouramis are housed together, typically, one fish may assume a more dominant role. This dominant gourami often grows larger and may exhibit playful teasing or chasing behaviors towards the more submissive fish. Despite this occasional dominance display, both fish generally maintain a tolerant and cooperative relationship. This dynamic is often seen as a form of social interaction rather than outright aggression. The successful cohabitation of gouramis is a testament to the aquarist’s skill in providing the right environment and understanding the unique personalities of their fish.

Tank Size and Activity Levels

The Blue Gourami is an active swimmer and utilizes all areas of the tank, making it a dynamic addition to any aquarium. When they are young, they can comfortably live in a 15 to 20-gallon aquarium. However, as they mature, these fish require significantly more space to accommodate their growth and active nature. Adult Blue Gouramis should be housed in a tank that is at least 35 gallons. Providing ample space ensures they have enough room to swim freely and reduces the likelihood of stress and territorial aggression, which can occur in cramped environments.

Temperature and Environmental Considerations

Maintaining the right temperature in the aquarium is crucial for the health of Blue Gouramis. It is advisable to keep the room temperature as close as possible to the water temperature in the tank. This is particularly important because drastic temperature differences can damage the gouramis’ labyrinth organ, a specialized structure that allows them to breathe air. Ensuring a stable and warm environment helps prevent health issues and promotes the overall well-being of these fish. Using a reliable heater and a thermometer can help maintain consistent water temperature, which is vital for the gourami’s health.

Stress and Color Changes

Three-spot gouramis are known to change color when experiencing high levels of stress or when kept in poor conditions. One of the most noticeable changes is the fading of their characteristic black spots. In healthy gouramis, these spots are bright and vivid. However, under stress, such as poor water quality, inadequate diet, or unsuitable tank mates, these spots can fade significantly. Additionally, as gouramis age, their spots naturally fade, so it’s important to distinguish between normal aging and stress-induced color changes. Providing a stable environment, proper diet, and appropriate tank conditions are essential to maintain their vibrant coloration and overall health.

Selectively Bred Varieties

The aquarium trade offers a variety of selectively bred three-spot gouramis, each with unique and appealing color patterns. The opaline or opal variety features a striking marbled pattern, adding a decorative element to the tank. Platinum or silver gouramis have a whitish coloration, giving them a sleek and elegant appearance. Blue gouramis are popular for their vibrant blue hue, while golden or gold gouramis exhibit a xanthochromistic yellow coloration. The lavender or amethyst variety results from crossing blue and golden gouramis, resulting in a beautiful purple coloration. These varieties not only enhance the visual appeal of an aquarium but also allow hobbyists to choose fish that best fit their aesthetic preferences.


Blue Gouramis are adaptable, active, and visually striking fish that can be a delightful addition to any aquarium. By ensuring appropriate tank size, maintaining stable temperatures, and providing a stress-free environment, hobbyists can enjoy the beauty and unique behaviors of these fascinating fish. Understanding their needs and characteristics, including their potential for color change under stress, helps in creating a thriving and harmonious aquatic habitat. The diverse varieties available in the aquarium trade add an extra layer of enjoyment, allowing aquarists to customize their tanks with a range of beautiful and colorful gouramis.

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