Fish, Tanks and Ponds

Fish, Tanks and Ponds
A comprehensive guide to fish

Sphaerichthys osphromenoides

Chocolate gourami

Chocolate gourami, Sphaerichthys osphromenoidesChocolate gourami, Sphaerichthys osphromenoides
Photos by Andy Rapson


Steatocranus: Greek, sphaira = ball + Greek, ichthys = fish

General Notes:

Chocolate gourami's are quite peaceful and until they settle down they are shy and timid but once settled they lose their shyness. Most are kept in a species set up but if the right tank mates are chosen they can be kept in a community aquarium. There is a very similar species (S. selatanensis) which may hybridise with Sphaerichthys osphromenoides and so the two shouldn't be kept together. S. selatanensis was classed as a sub species of S. osphromenoides until relatively recently but is now considered to be a separate species in its own right. Chocolate gouramis are extremely demanding about their environment, they live in very soft; acidic water and their long term health will suffer in other environments. Water with very low pH has a lower bacterial count and so these fish which come from this environment have lower immunity to disease. Chocolate gouramis don't like large water changes, so smaller more frequent water changes should be carried out. With low pH and low hardness the aquarium will be more prone to the pH crashing, to prevent this the KH should be monitored daily and adjusted as necessary to maintain the pH. There are four species of chocolate gourami's Sphaerichthys osphromenoides, Sphaerichthys vaillanti, Sphaerichthys selatanensis, and Sphaerichthys acrostoma. All are specialist fish and none are really suitable for a general community set up


Wild chocolate gourami's mostly feed on insects, insect larva, worms and other small live food. In captivity they will accept freeze dried food, suitably sized live or frozen food. Some individuals will accept flake food but this cannot be relied upon.


There are subtle differences between the sexes but chocolate gouramis are difficult to sex, males are a deeper colour and have more pointed fins when adult.


Unusually for gourami's Sphaerichthys osphromenoides is a mouth brooder, it is the female alone who cares for the brood and when the fry emerge they are well developed a miniature replicas of the adults. When released the fry are large enough to take micro worms and newly hatched brine shrimps, only live food will be accepted.

Wild status

The wild population of Sphaerichthys osphromenoides has not been evaluated and so it is unknown, however, it is known that the habitat is under pressure from industrial logging.

Information at a glance

pH: 4 - 6
dGH: 2 - 4
Temperature: 24 - 27°C (75 - 80°F)
Diet: Omnivore
Size: 6cm (2.4in)
Min tank size: 60 litres
Difficulty level: Very difficult
Aquarium type: Species
Swimming level: middle / top

Distribution and habitat

distribution map for Chocolate gourami, Sphaerichthys osphromenoides

Origin: Asia: Indonesia (Sumatra and Borneo) and Malaya.

Habitat: Peat marshes, black water forest streams.


Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Perciformes
Family: Osphronemidae.
Genus: Sphaerichthys
Species: S. osphromenoides,

Common name:
Chocolate gourami

Synonyms: Sphaerichthys osphromenoides osphromenoides