Fish, Tanks and Ponds

Fish, Tanks and Ponds
A comprehensive guide to fish

Parosphromenus deissneri

Liquorice Gourami

Liquorice Gourami, Parosphromenus deissneriLiquorice Gourami, Parosphromenus deissneri
Photos by Andy Rapson


Parosphromenus, para: Greek -  in the side of.
Osphromenos, osphrainomai: Greek - to smell.

General Notes:

Parosphromenus deissneri, come from very acidic and very soft water. They will not thrive in hard alkaline water for very long at all. Due to their small size and sedate lifestyle a group of about six to eight individuals can be kept in a 60 litre aquarium.
Their native water is tea coloured (black water) due to all the tannins dissolved in it, so only subdued lighting should be used in order to see them at their best and not with their colour appearing washed out which will happen if the lighting is to bright.
Parosphromenus deissneri are extremely sensitive creatures and they detest changing conditions. This is important when making water changes where a little and often should be the rule. Change just 10 or 15% of the water twice weekly and never make changes of 30 - 50%.


This can be a problem area with Parosphromenus deissneri because they never accept any dried food. Most specimens will only ever accept very small live food such as micro worms, cyclops and baby brine shrimps. Some specimens will learn to accept frozen food but this can't be relied upon.


Very peaceful but also quite timid, boisterous tank mates will increase their timidity to the point where they may refuse to compete for food so only small gentle species should be considered as tank mates. Ideally they should be kept in a group in a species aquarium or if it is the intension to breed them then keep a single pair with no other fish present.


Males have a white to blue edge on their dorsal, anal and tail, they also exhibit stronger colours although the latter cannot be relied upon.


Unlike a lot of other similar fish which are bubble nest builders Parosphromenus deissneri are cave spawners. The male does most of the brood care once the eggs have been laid. A well cared for pair will spawn with no special treatment.
Males fish select a territory with a natural cave under stones or under bogwood etc. at it's centre. They will then display to passing females until one reacts positively and follows him in to the cave where spawning takes place. The fry will begin free swimming after about a week but it may take a further two or three days before they can swim in a more controlled fashion. The fry will initially feed on infusoria or you can use a rotifer culture to feed them and a few days later they will accept newly hatched brine shrimps and micro worms. The fry can be left quite safely with the parents if no other fish are present. In order that the fry grow well it may be necessary to raise a limited number of fry to avoid over crowding, water changes will also have to be increased in frequency to daily but still only 10 - 15% of the volume.

Wild status

The wild status of Parosphromenus deissneri has not been evaluated but the species is potentially under great threat due to having a very small range. Originally Parosphromenus deissneri was  thought to be endemic to the small Malaysian island of Bangka but it has also been found on the neighbouring island of Belitung. The species hasn't spread beyond these two islands.

Additional information

The name Parosphromenus deissneri has been wrongly applied by the aquatic trade. There are now twenty recognised species of Liquorice gourami.  and until a few years ago the fish we commonly call Liquorice gourami found for sale was not Parosphromenus deissneri.

Information at a glance

pH: 5.6 - 7.2
dGH: 2 - 8
Temperature: 24 - 28°C (76 - 82°F)
Diet: Omnivore
Size: 3cm (1.5in)
Min tank size: 60 litres
Difficulty level: Difficult
Aquarium type: Species
Swimming level: All levels

Distribution and habitat

distribution map for Helostoma temminckii

Origin: Bangka, Indonesia

Habitat: Sluggish, well vegetated streams.


Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii.
Order: Perciformes.
Family: Osphronemidae.
Genus: Parosphromenus
Species: P. deissneri, (Bleeker, 1859)

Other common names:

Parosphromenus deissneri sumatranus,
Osphromenus deissneri.