Dwarf Gourami (Colisa lalia) is ideal fish for small fish tanks for beginners. They are peaceful fish and can live well with other fish in a 10 gallon aquarium.

About Dwarf Gourami (Colisa lalia)

  • dwarf-gourami-colisa-lalia.jpg
  • Species name: Colisa lalia
  • Common names: Dwarf Gourami
  • Family: Osphronemidae (Gourami)
  • Subfamily: Luciocephalinae
  • Order: Perciformes
  • Class: Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes)
  • Distribution: Asia: Pakistan, India and Bangladesh.

Better known by the common name Dwarf Gouramis, Colisa lalia are native to the Asia where they can be found in slow moving streams, rivulets and lakes with plenty of vegetation. This is the smallest and most popular of the family.

Dwarf Gouramis have an oval-shaped body with strong lateral compression. They have long ventral fins (filamentous-like). The anal and dorsal fins begin in the frontal part of the body, and extend nearly to the fan-shaped caudal fin.


The males are more colourful and have a pointed dorsal fin. Female are less colourful and have a rounded dorsal fin.

Wild males are very colorful while female are plain silver. Several color variants have been bred though, some of which also have colored females. Dwarf gouramis are now available in the blue striped variety, blood red, as well as the cobalt blue. They are considered Labyrinth Fish (like Betta fish), meaning they breathe directly from the air, and must have access to the surface. If they are not allowed access to the air then they drown.

Dwarf Gourami types – varieties


Dwarf Gourami (colisa lalia)


Fire Red Dwarf Gourami


Flame Red Dwarf Gourami


Neon Blue Dwarf Gourami

Image sources and references: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dwarf_gourami

Keeping Dwarf Gourami

  • Hardiness: Medium
  • Lifespan: 4+ years
  • Maximum length: 3.5″ in (8.8 cm)
  • Minimum tank: 10 gallon fish tank
  • Optimum temperature: 80 °F (27 °C)
  • Temperature Range: 73.4 – 82.4°F
  • pH Range: 6.5-7
  • Water hardness:  dH 4-10
  • Diet: Omnivore. Should be fed both algae-based flake fish foods as well as meaty foods such as freeze-dried bloodworms, tubifex, and brine shrimp.
  • Aggressiveness: Peaceful. Best kept in pairs or one male with two females. The dwarf gourami is territorial among individuals of the same species. They should not be kept with large, aggressive fish.

Dwarf gourami will do well in an aquarium with pH between 6.5 and 7 and a dGH of 4-10. Water temperature should be between 73.4 – 82.4 F so the tank should be acquired an aquarium heater to keep them healthy. Dwarf gourami are very sensitive concerning the water conditions. In poor water conditions it is susceptible to diseases. For that reason, frequent water changes must be performed to ensure good water quality.


The aquarium should be heavily planted with plenty of open swimming space. Floating aquarium plants will dim the aquarium LED light and are especially important to their sense of security. A fish tank hood is also important to keep the atmosphere over the water very humid and as warm as the water. While they will do well in a peaceful community tank, a species tank would be the best. They can be skittish when subjected to noise so they should be kept in a quiet location.

A darker substrate will help show-off the gourami’s colors.

Special note: Currently most of the Colisa lalia are arriving in pet shops with a virus (Dwarf gourami Iridovirus (DGIV)) in them. This causes lethargic behaviour, darken of colour, tumours and death within a year. This virus is also believed to infect other fish like Swordtails and Mollies, possibly some cichlids. There is no treatment for this virus.

Breeding Dwarf Gourami

Breeding Dwarf Gourami is not difficult. To trigger breeding, simply increase temperature to 82°F for a few days. They are bubble nest builders that build there nest on the surface among dense vegetation. The male will chase the female after spawning so it is best to remove the females from the tank. The male guards the nest until the fry become free swimming. The male should be removed when the eggs hatch. You will have to feed the fry with infusoria and roftiers, then with Artemia. The fry must be frequently sorted according to size or else cannibalism will occur.

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