Thick Lip Gourami
The Thick Lipped Gourami Trichogaster labiosa (previously Colisa labiosa) becomes a very handsome fish. Once it gets settled this beauty makes a very attractive addition to a community aquarium. The mature adult has a splendid rusty orange or brown coloration accented by turquoise colored fins with orange or red edges. The males are even more gorgeous with bold turquoise bands which run vertically along the body, especially towards the back. The term ‘labiosa’ in its scientific name means ‘lip’ and is referring to the thick lips of this fish, hence its other common name is Thicklip Gourami.
It’s a fantastic fish in its true coloration, but it has been further developed to bring out more of its orange. This color morph is not found in nature but has been selectively bred for the aquarium trade. This gold or ‘sunset’ strain has the barred patterning of the “true” form replaced by a uniform orangish red or gold coloration. This variety is also very stunning and the female is almost as colorful as the male. It is known as the Sunset Gourami or Sunset Thicklip Gourami, and sometimes is also called the Orange Thicklip Gourami or Golden Thicklip Gourami.
This gourami is very closely related to the well known Dwarf Gourami Trichogaster lalius and the Banded Gourami Trichogaster fasciatus. In fact the natural color pattern of the Thick Lipped Gourami is so similar to that of the Banded Gourami, that the two are easily mistaken. Also because of the close relationship between the Thick Lipped Gourami and these other two, they can crossbreed. Selectively bred hybrids have produced even more new color patterns in golds, reds and greens, with the red hybrid being called the “Robin Gourami”. These color morphs are often more available to the aquarist than the “true” form, possibly because they maintain their coloration better at the retailers.
Whether as color morphs of individual species or as hybrids of two species, the number of color varieties selectively bred in captivity has created a lot of confusion. When selecting any of these fish it helps to know the scientific name as well as the common name. This is because common names are often applied rather indiscriminately, with different developed varieties often being called by the same name. A good example of this is the Sunset Gourami. Sunsets can be a color variation of the Thick Lipped Gourami T. Labiosa or the Honey Gourami T. Chuna, and also other fish can have a “sunset” color morph.
This gourami is a Labyrinth fish, and as is characteristic of this group it must have access to the surface of the tank so it can breathe. They can still get oxygen by passing water through their gills, but they have an additional respiratory organ called the “labyrinth organ”. Another characteristic is that of being a bubble nest builder, and this male seems to enjoy building his nest. He will build a nest so big that it can cover half of the aquarium surface. However the nest is fragile and he does not use vegetation in it, but to keep it stable he will build it under a leaf.
Thick Lipped Gouramis are much hardier than most dwarf varieties and one of the easiest species of gourami to breed. This makes them great first fish for the beginning keeper. Once acclimated and comfortable in their own environment their truly beautiful colors begin to emerge. They have a great appetite and although they seem to prefer live foods, they are not picky about what foods they will eat.
Being a peaceful fish makes them a good addition to a community tank but they can be a little timid, especially if housed with fish that pester them. These fish do well in a group or with other peaceful fish in a tank as small as 15 gallons. They like a planted aquarium so they have of places to hide. Ideally place plants along the back of the aquarium, have some floating plants, and leave open spaces in the front for them to swim.
This species in its natural coloration is not as popular as other varieties. This is because few hobbyists have the patience to wait for the Thicklip Gourami’s full colors, which are slower in coming. However those that do commit to the keeping this fish are greatly rewarded when males flush with their breeding colors. They are some of the most brilliant of the family!
- Species – Trichogaster labiosa
- Common Name – Thick Lip Gourami
- Origin – India, West Bengal, Assam, and Bangladesh
- Diet – Omnivore, eats algae
- PH Range – 6.0 – 7.5
- Water Type – Soft
- Temperature – Tropical 22°c – 28°c
- Breed Type – Egglayer, bubble nest
- Current Size – approximately 4.5cm (Grows to approximately 5cm)
- Sex – Un-sexed