Fish, Tanks and Ponds

Fish, Tanks and Ponds
A comprehensive guide to fish

Helostoma temminckii

Kissing Gourami

Kissing gourami, Helostoma temminckii Kissing gourami, Helostoma temminckii
Photos by Andy Rapson


Helostoma: Greek, helo = nail + Greek, stoma = mouth

General Notes:

The temperament of kissing gouramis varies from individual to individual, some are entirely peaceful while other will relentlessly chase other fish and rasp at their flanks most kissing gouramis tend to behave more like the latter. Their habit of 'kissing' has made them a very popular aquarium fish even though the kissing is an act of aggression rather than friendliness. Some kissing gouramis can develop a taste for feeding from the flanks of other species, especially fish like angelfish or discus this constant harassment will in time lead to injury and possible infection of the victim so these and other similar shaped fish shouldn't be housed with kissing gouramis. All but the toughest aquarium plants are likely to be nibbled at or eaten completely. Kissing gouramis have a labyrinth organ which allows the to utilise atmospheric oxygen and to live in water which is low in oxygen, it doesn't allow them to live in polluted water with high ammonia and nitrite levels. There are two colour forms of kissing gouramis, pink/white aquarium bred morph which is the most common type offered for sale and green wild form. There are also a third aquarium bred 'balloon fish which have shortened rounded bodies which we don't recommend keeping. Kissing gouramis are often seen for sale around 2 - 3 inch in size but they grow very quickly and may ultimately reach 30 cm (12 inches} in size and should be housed accordingly. Kissing gouramis are a long lived species living for up to 20 years in captivity, most end up dying prematurely. This is a problem seen in many large fish which are sold as small juveniles, they are sold in large numbers but relatively few seem to be kept as large adults. Most kissing gouramis in captivity are bred for the aquarium trade rather than collected from the wild, they are however still collected from the wild as a popular food fish. Despite this they are widespread and remain common across all their range.


Kissing gouramis are omnivores and will consume plant and animal matter. In the wild they eat tender aquatic plants, algae, insects, worms, crustaceans. In captivity slightly blanches lettuce, skinned processed peas, algae, live or frozen blood worms, daphnia, brine shrimps and cyclops along with flake or pelleted food are all accepted. The structure of their specialised mouth means that they cannot eat large items of food so it is important that only suitably sized food is offered. They are able to eat fine food which they such in to their mouth and filter it from the water with their numerous gill rakers.


There are no reliable external difference between the sexes. Ripe females are more rounded than the males due to carrying eggs.


Commercially produced in great numbers these fish aren't often bred by hobbyists. The eggs float to the surface and stay among floating plants until the hatch. Each female lays thousands of eggs in each brood.

Wild status

Pollution and wet land reclamation are two threats but they are not significant to the species survival.

Information at a glance

pH: 6 - 8
dGH: 6 - 8
Temperature: 22 - 28°C (72 - 82°F)
Diet: Omnivore
Size: 20 - 30cm (8 - 12in)
Min tank size: 675 litres
Difficulty level: Intermediate
Aquarium type: Community
Swimming level: All levels

Distribution and habitat

distribution map for Helostoma temminckii

Origin: Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand also introduced in to other Countries.

Habitat: Occurs in lakes and rivers. Prefers slow-moving water with thick vegetation.


Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Perciformes
Family: Helostomatidae
Genus: Helostoma
Species: H. temminckii, Cuvier, 1829

Common name:
Kissing gourami. 

Synonyms: ---