The Sparkling Gourami (Trichopsis pumila)

Trichopsis pumila, male, 1 April 2008, Zikamoi. Wikipedia. CC BY-SA 3.0.

The Sparkling Gourami (Trichopsis pumila) is an adorable, truly sparkling small fish. Originally found in Southeast Asia, the species inhabits slow-moving waters, such as swamps, marshes, and rice paddies. As per its natural habitat, the Sparkling Gourami is best found in a heavily planted aquarium with many hiding spots. The fish is relatively easy to care for and is a great addition to any community tank.

Like the Betta fish, the Sparkling Gourami is a labyrinth fish and can, therefore, breathe oxygen from the air when needed. Unlike the Betta, however, the Sparkling Gourami is relatively peaceful and will accept the companionship of other small fish, such as other small Gouramis, dwarf shrimp, and small tetras.

One of the most interesting things about the Sparkling Gourami is their croaking sound, which they use to communicate with each other.


The name Trichopsis pumila comes from the Greek words ‘trichos,’ meaning ‘hair,’ and ‘opsis,’ meaning ‘appearance.’ The specific epithet ‘pumila’ means ‘dwarf’ in Latin.

The species is also popularly known as the Dwarf Croaking Gourami, Pygmy Gourami, Dwarf Gourami, and Three-spot Gourami.


Trichopsis pumila, 1 April 2008, Zikamoi. Wikipedia. CC BY-SA 3.0.

The Trichopsis pumila is a small, elongated fish with a laterally compressed body. Adults grow to be approximately 1.25 to 1.5 inches long (3.175-3.8 cm). The species has a lifespan of about 4 to 5 years under good conditions.

Known for its glimmering scales, the species can be made to look its best with good lighting and dark background.


The Trichopsis pumila is an omnivorous fish and, in the wild, feeds on small insects, crustaceans, and plant matter. In an aquarium, they will accept most dry foods but should also be given a variety of live and frozen foods.

Water Conditions

Trichopsis pumila, 1 April 2008, Zikamoi. Wikipedia. CC BY-SA 3.0.

Sparkling Gourami prefers neutral to slightly acidic water with a pH of 6.5-7.5. The ideal water temperature is 24-28 degrees Celsius (75-82 degrees Fahrenheit). The water should be soft to a medium hardness (3-10 dGH). The species is a suitable fish for tropical blackwater aquariums.

Tank Mates

Trichopsis pumila, 17 May 2015, BEDO (Thailand). Wikipedia. CC BY-SA 4.0

The Trichopsis pumila is a peaceful fish that gets along well with other small peaceful fish species. Good tank mates include other gouramis, danios, barbs, rasboras, and tetras. It is best to keep them in an aquarium with other fish of similar size. Avoid keeping them with larger fish that may bully them or eat them.

Males can be territorial with each other and may fight if they are not given enough space. It is best to keep one male per tank unless it is a large tank. If keeping more than one male per tank, it is best to have an odd number so that they can establish a hierarchy without fighting. Females are not as territorial as males and can be kept together in groups.


Hear the croaking of a Sparkling Gourami.

The male Sparkling Gourami will produce a guttural sound using their pectoral fins during mating. The croaking sound is produced during mating to attract the females and intimidate other males.


A spawning pair of Pygmy gourami (Trichopsis pumila), 28 June 2008, Zikamoi. Wikipedia. CC BY 3.0

Trichopsis pumila is a bubble-nesting, egg-laying species. Breeding them in an aquarium is not difficult if the following conditions are met: the tank is at least 20 gallons in size; the water temperature is 26-28 degrees Celsius (79-82 degrees Fahrenheit); the water is soft to a medium hardness (3-8 dGH). The species will rarely eat their own fry, but you may still want to provide plenty of hiding places for the fry (baby fish) to hide after birth, just in case.

The mating process begins with the male forming a bubble nest at the surface of the water. If made to the liking of the female, the two will begin a dance. The male will wrap himself around the body of the female, and she will release clumps of eggs. The male will then carefully pick up the eggs and place them in the nest. The two will continue their dance many more times, after which the female will have no further contribution to the breeding process.

The male will then fertilizes the eggs and tends to them. Should an egg fall from the nest, the male will pick it up and put it back. The male will guard the eggs and fan them with his fins to ensure that they are getting enough oxygen.

The fry will hatch after 24-36 hours and will be free swimming after another 5-7 days. The parents will usually not eat their own fry, but it is best to remove them from the tank anyway so they can grow undisturbed.

The fry can be fed newly hatched brine shrimp, micro worms, and finely crushed flakes. As they grow bigger, they can be fed frozen or freeze-dried foods such as bloodworms or daphnia.

Leave a Reply