Why is my Gourami Losing Color?

Male Blue Gourami
Male Blue Gourami

Gouramis make an excellent addition to any freshwater aquarium, but they can lose color due to various factors. Stress is one of the most common causes of gouramis losing color. Many factors, such as poor water quality, bad tankmates, overcrowding, inadequate nutrion, bad lighting, disease and injury can cause stress in fish. Fortunately, these issues can be prevented with proper care. In this article, we will explore the various causes of color loss in Gouramis and how to prevent it.

Poor Water Quality

Poor water quality is typically the leading cause of a Gourami losing color. When ammonia levels become too high, Gouramis can become stressed, leading to color loss. Proper aquarium maintenance is essential to maintaining good water quality.

Filtration is a critical part of your aquarium system, and its maintenance is necessary to promote the growth of beneficial bacteria. Proper maintenance will require that the filter media be replaced and the filter intake be cleaned every 3 to 4 months. If chemical filtration is used, like activated charcoal, it will require to be replaced it every 3 to 6 months, and as of mechanical filtration, like filter floss or sponges, every 2 to 3 weeks.

To clean the filter media, use water from the aquarium, not tap water, as the chlorine in the tap water will kill your beneficial bacteria.

Water changes are also important for maintaining the health of your aquarium. You will need a gravel vacuum, bucket, and water conditioner to do a water change. The gravel vacuum separates the debris and waste from the aquarium gravel. The water conditioner removes chlorine and other chemicals from the tap water that can harm your Gouramis. Chlorine can negatively affect the cycling of the tank, which is why it’s important to age the tap water before using it in the aquarium.

Golden Gouramis

Other Fish

Overcrowding and bad tankmates can cause stress in Gouramis.

When a tank is overcrowded, Gouramis may not find enough food or space to establish their boundaries with other fish, which can lead to stress and weak immune, leading to disease and loss of coloration. To prevent this, keeping as many Gouramis and fish in the tank as can comfortably house is important. Providing plenty of hiding places in the tank gives the Gouramis a place to flee if they feel threatened or need space.

Aggressive species or species that are too large can be intimidating and cause the Gouramis to feel stressed, leading to discoloration. When a fish is trying to avoid other fish in the aquarium, it will attempt to camouflage itself by dimming its coloration and brightness. Choose compatible tank mates like tetras, swordtails, and small, peaceful catfish like Corydoras.

Pay attention to your Gouramis, their behavior, their body, and their environment so that any potential issues can be spotted early and solutions can be found before it is too late. Regularly testing the waters is also necessary to keep track of the levels of ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates in the water and make adjustments as needed.

Sparkling Gourami

Excessive lighting can be stressful for Gouramis, who prefer subtle lighting. In the wild, Gouramis tend to stay in densely vegetated environments with a lot of shade. If too much light is used, the fish will not feel comfortable and may become stressed. To prevent this, it is important to use dim lighting and not use it all day. You can use a dimmer/timer to help you achieve this.


Inadequate nutrition can cause various issues for Gouramis, including a weakened immune system, lethargy, and loss of coloration. To ensure your Gouramis get the proper nutrition, it is important to feed them a balanced diet that includes protein and plant products. Recommended foods include bloodworms, daphnia, earthworms, flakes, krill, tubifex worms, live brine shrimp, and insect larvae. Additionally, feed them regularly to ensure they get the proper nutrition. Failing to provide an adequate diet for your Gouramis can lead to disease.

Diseases & Injuries

Diseases can cause color loss and other health issues in Gouramis, so it is important to provide a healthy environment and monitor them for signs of illness.

Ich (Ichthyophthirius multifiliis) is a common disease in freshwater fish, including Gouramis. It is caused by a single-celled parasite, which can be spread through contact with infected fish or water. Symptoms of Ich include white spots on the body, loss of appetite, lethargy, and loss of coloration. Ich can be fatal if left untreated.

Fin rot is another common disease in freshwater fish. The bacterial disease is characterized by the deterioration of the fins. Infected areas generally appear discolored, red, or tattered. If left untreated, the fins may become necrotic, leading to further color loss but also very potentially, death.

Velvet is a disease that can affect Gouramis, causing them to lose color and become dull. The disease is caused by a parasite called Oodinium, which feeds on the slime coat of the fish. Infected fish will show spotted golden-brown coloration on their body and fins, will be lethargic and usually lose their appetite. If left untreated, the infection can be fatal.

Proper aquarium maintenance is essential for preventing disease. If you notice any signs of disease, such as spots, color loss, lethargy, or loss of appetite, quarantine the affected fish and treat it promptly.

Injuries can occur for various reasons, such as aggressive tankmates or sharp objects in the aquarium. An injuried fish is likely to be stress, which can lead to loss in coloration. The injury itself can also cause loss of pigmentation in the affected area. To minimize the risk of physical injury, it is important to choose compatible tank mates and keep avoid sharp objects in the aquarium.

If your fish becomes injured, ensure that you identify the issue, resolve it, and provide treatment if neccesary.

Closing Remarks

Gouramis can lose color due to stress, poor water quality, overcrowding, bad tankmates, excessive lighting, and inadequate nutrition and disease. Fortunately, these issues can be prevented with proper care. Maintaining a stable tank environment, choosing compatible tank mates, and providing a balanced diet are all essential steps to ensure your Gouramis remain healthy and vibrant. With proper care and attention, your Gouramis will remain beautiful and colorful.

If you want more information about Gouramis, see this page. It contains links to detailed information on creating the perfect environment for your Gouramis, including proper nutrition, tank mates, and aquarium maintenance. With this guide, you can ensure your Gouramis remain healthy and colorful.

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