Kissing gourami, also known as kissing fish, is a firm favorite with many experienced fish hobbyists because it is so intriguing. This unique pink kissing fish is the only species in the genus Helostoma temminkii.
This interesting freshwater fish’s signature thick lips and pretty pink color sets them apart from the inhabitants of your community aquarium.
While this fish is not especially demanding, understanding their temperament and requirements will allow you to give them the best care. This guide explains the essentials of caring for the Pink Gourami, such as tank mates, diet, breeding, and water parameters.
|Scientific name||Helostoma temminkii|
|Common name||Kissing fish; Pink kissing gourami|
|Tank level||Middle to top|
|Minimum tank size||75 gallons|
Kissing Gourami Origins and Habitat
The Kissing Gourami is native to the Indonesian island of Java. However, it is also found in other Southeast Asian countries such as Thailand, Sumatra, Borneo, Cambodia, Malaysia, and Vietnam.
The Pink Kissing fish lives in calm, sluggish water such as swamps, lakes, canals, and ponds. These waters have many dissolved minerals due to heavy vegetation, and this species can tolerate an acidic pH range, as low as 3.0 to 4.0.
Although the Kissing Gourami is used to water temperatures between 72 to 82 F, they adapt to other water conditions well due to the fluctuations in their natural habitats during the dry and wet seasons. During the rainy season, these fish migrate to shallow lakes and floodplains to spawn.
The Pink Gourami is valued as a source of food by the local population. As a result, it is cultivated in the southern Indochina region as a food fish.
The Kissing Gourami’s mouth is their most significant feature. Instead of an upward or forward-facing mouth common to all fish, kisser fish have a mouth that juts out. This makes the lips look like they’re puckered up for a kiss!
This breed has an additional joint in their jaw that allows the fish to open its mouth wide and makes it easy to feed on algae, aquatic plants, plankton, and insects in their natural habitat. While the Pink Gourami has no teeth on their jaws, they have hundreds of tiny rust-colored mucous membrane teeth covered with enamel.
The Kissing gouramis have a tall, deep, and slender body typical of their breed. The anal and dorsal fins stretch along the length of their body. These fins, along with the caudal and pectoral fins, have spinous rays.
The natural coloration of the Kissing Gourami is silvery green with some subtle edges on the dorsal and anal fin. However, a natural genetic mutation has produced the silvery pink color extensively demanded by aquarists.
The males and females Pink gouramis look alike. You can only distinguish between the sexes when the female becomes rounded as she fills up with eggs during the spawning season.
The Kissing Gourami has a long life span. In an aquarium, they can live up to seven years. However, in the right conditions and reasonable care, they can live as long as 25 years.
These pretty pink kisser fish will flourish In pristine tank conditions. However, fluctuating water parameters and excess ammonia in the tank harm their health. To maintain their good health, we suggest carrying out regular maintenance to keep the water clean.
– Kissing Gourami Size
In their natural habitat, pink kissers grow to a foot or even longer, but they are generally six inches long in captivity. However, even a tiny kisser will outgrow a 30 gallons tank. The Kissing Gourami is not a species suitable for mini-tanks.
– Features Of The Kissing Gourami
The Kissing Gourami has a labyrinth organ, a respiratory organ that functions as a lung to let them breathe air. Since their natural habitat is in shallow, stagnant water with low oxygen levels, this organ enables them to breathe oxygen from the air.
The gills of labyrinth fish are usually not even strong enough to get sufficient oxygen from the water. Therefore it is essential to leave space at the top of your tank.
Kissing Gourami Behavior
The Kissing Gourami has their name because they are often seen with their mouths touching, as though “kissing.” This act of locking lips is aggressive rather than romantic.
While scientists are still studying the true purpose of this unusual behavior, they believe it generally occurs when two males try to dominate the other to establish their territory. However, as the Kissing Gourami mature, their desire to challenge one another over territory reduces.
Sometimes, Pink kissing gourami can be aggressive with their tank mates and crash against the sides of other fish. If you see this happening frequently, it would be best to separate the fish as this may strip away their protective slime coat and damage their skin.
However, such incidents are rare, so don’t be discouraged from adding the Pink kisser to your tank. You will generally find the gorgeous Kissing gourami swimming slowly around the middle and upper levels of the aquarium.
Kissing Gourami Care
Kissing Gourami will be happiest in a tank of 50 gallons. It would be even better to keep them in a bigger aquarium of, perhaps, 75 gallons. It is quite possible to keep one Kisser fish in a small 30 gallons tank; however, that would require you to keep the habitat bare, which would be deplorable conditions for the fish.
Not only does a larger tank provide this active species with sufficient space, but it also reduces territorial disputes, especially if you wish to keep a group.
– Tank Setup
The Kissing Gourami’s natural habitat is in the tropical freshwaters of Southeast Asia. They are used to slow-moving water with dense vegetation. Although they live in tropical climates with lots of sunlight, the plants provide shade.
The first step is to choose a soft substrate to coat the bottom of the tank. Fine-grained sands are ideal since your Kissing Gourami will poke around the substrate while searching for food. The rough gravel is likely to hurt them.
On the other hand, while fine sand is safer than gravel, the fish can swallow sand while they’re feeding, so we suggest using large rocks and chunky gravel.
You need to ensure that the water in the tank is warm and has a neutral pH. The Kissing Gourami is accustomed to living in tropical waters, so we recommend you heat the water to about 72 – 82 F. The pH of 6 – 8 and hardness from 5 – 20 dGH would be appropriate.
The Kissing Gourami requires a tank with stones and plants. Create some densely planted areas balanced with sufficient open spaces for your fish to swim. It would be best to choose hardy and fast-growing plants since the Pink kisser enjoys nibbling on plants. Java Fern and Hornwort are sturdy plants and could be suitable. You may like to add a few plastic plants as decor.
It would help if you lay some rocks and driftwood around the tank, too. Pink kisser fish enjoy eating algae. They use the fine teeth inside their fleshy lips to scrape the algae growing on rocks. This species will save you the bother of cleaning the back of the tank. Your Kissing gourami will keep it clean by grazing on the algae growing there.
Since the Kissing Gourami breathes from the air, please don’t fill the tank up to the rim. The fish needs access to the surface to suck in air, so leaving an inch or two of space between the waterline and the lid is vital.
The only pieces of equipment you need in this tank are a filter and a heater. Kissing Gourami are okay with standard aquarium lighting, and since they don’t like strong currents, you do not need to install an air or a water pump.
– Water Parameters
Kissing gouramis habitually live in slow-moving ponds and marshes filled with plant life. As a result, this breed is quite hardy when it comes to water conditions. They can also survive in water with low oxygen since they are among the fish species that possess a labyrinth organ which helps them pull as much oxygen from the water as possible. The Pink kisser can even get air from the surface.
Overall, the Kissing Gourami can adapt to a range of conditions. The following water parameters are most suitable for these fish>
- Water temperature: 72 F to 82 F
- pH levels: 6.8 to 8.5 (try to aim for neutral water)
- Water hardness: 5 to 20 dGH
When you’re first establishing their aquarium, we suggest you test the water every week to ensure the water chemistry is stable. Once you’re sure the parameters are consistent, you can reduce the frequency of the tests.
– Kissing Gourami Tank Mates
Kissing Gourami can be an excellent addition to a community aquarium if you choose their tank mates that can cope with their semi-aggressive nature.
Pink Kissing Gourami can be hostile towards fish that look like them. As a result, other species of Gourami do not make suitable tank mates. It is best to consider hardy and similar-sized fish breeds.
Some suitable companions for this breed include:
- Tiger Barbs
- Congo Tetra
- Rosy Barbs
- Pictus Catfish
- Clown Loaches
- Yoyo Loaches
- Chinese Algae Eaters.
It would be safest not to keep small species like certain Tetras who cannot defend themselves because they will become a quick meal for the Kissing Gourami.
It is vital to keep an eye on the Pink kissing fish for signs of bullying. It will be necessary for you to separate the fish if that happens. Keeping invertebrates in the same tank is also not a good idea as there is a possibility of them being gobbled up.
You can keep a pair of one male and one female in a tank; however, if you wish to keep a larger group, you will have to get a much larger tank and make sure it is well-planted.
– Kissing Gourami Diet
Kissing Gourami are omnivores, and hence it is easy to feed them. They are used to eating plants and meat, so they eagerly gobble up anything you put in the aquarium.
In the wild, a significant part of their diet comes from plants. The tiny teeth on their fleshy lips enable them to scrape algae from rocks and shred larger plants. Their unique mouths also allow them to catch insects on the surface. Pink kissers also have gill rakers that filter the water passing over their gills, which gives them plankton.
You can offer them live, and frozen foods since Pink Kissers enjoy proteins. Flake, frozen, freeze-dried, and small live foods, such as tubifex, brine shrimp, daphnia, and bloodworms, are all appropriate.
Their diet should include plenty of spirulina-based foods along with fresh vegetables. Feeding them occasionally with peas, cooked zucchini, and fresh romaine lettuce will keep your Pink kissers healthy. However, you must be careful when adding fresh vegetables to the tank, as leftovers pollute the water.
Breeding the Kissing Gourami
Kissing gouramis are easy to breed as they bond into pairs.
The first step is to set up a breeding tank with warm, soft water. The Pink kissing fish’s natural spawning season is from May to October, so you need to replicate the conditions by keeping the temperature higher. 80 F would be ideal.
Place the adult pair in the tank. Feed them with live foods in preparation for breeding.
Kissing gouramis do not build elaborate bubble nests like other labyrinth fish. Since they are egg-scatterers, you should place a large lettuce leaf on the surface of the water to trap the eggs. Since the eggs are buoyant, they will float to the water’s surface and stick to the lettuce leaf.
The lettuce will not only shelter the eggs but will also provide nourishment to the fry. The hatchlings can eat the bacteria and infusoria that will grow on the leaf.
When the Kissing Gourami is ready to spawn, they’ll perform the mating ritual, which begins with the fish circling one another. This will be followed by nudging and dancing and, finally, an intense beating of tails. In the end, the male wraps his body around the female. The female turns over and lays hundreds of eggs which the male fertilizes as they rise to the surface.
Once the spawning is done, put the adults back in the main tank as they may try to eat the eggs.
The eggs will hatch quite quickly in as little as a day. The fry will first eat the egg sac and then the infusoria around the lettuce leaf. Once they are free-swimming, you can feed them with newly-hatched brine shrimp and finely-powdered foods.
Experienced fish hobbyists favor the Kissing gourami because of their pretty pink color and unusual characteristics. Here is a quick look at some tips to help you give them the best possible environment.
- The Kissing Gourami can live from seven to 25 years
- This species has a labyrinth organ
- They need pristine water conditions
- It is vital to leave some space at the top of the tank so these fish can breathe
- These fish can be semi-aggressive
- Their eggs are buoyant and will float to the top
If you have a large tank, this fascinating fish will be ideal for you as you will delight in its intriguing behavior.
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