Helostoma temmickii

17. May 2023

The kissing gourami (Helostoma temmickii) in its pink breeding form is one of the best known labyrinth fish. It is not actually bred as an ornamental fish, but as a food fish. The species grows up to 30 cm long under suitable (fattening) conditions and is considered delicate. In the nutrient-rich, turbid breeding ponds, the pink-colored animals are much easier to see than the green-gray wild form, which greatly facilitates control, care and fishing.

In the aquarium the fish usually reaches only 15-20 cm in length and is a rather peaceful, but in any case interesting ornamental fish for larger aquariums. The peculiar mouth is covered with numerous teeth, which are used to graze aufwuchs (algae and the small animals they contain). The famous “kissing” of these fish has nothing to do with expressions of affection, but is a form of mouth writhing, a ritualized fighting action widespread among fish.

The sexes are hardly distinguishable in the kissing gourami. The males are slightly less high-backed. Unlike very many other labyrinth fishes, kissing gouramis do not engage in any brood care, but simply release the spawn (many thousands in larger fishes) freely into the water during a labyrinth fish-typical embrace. The eggs have small oil droplets and therefore float on the water surface. In Europe breeding is almost not practiced, it is much easier and ecologically more sensible to import them from Southeast Asia, where breeding of Helostoma has been practiced for centuries.

The care of kissing gouramis is not difficult, any water is accepted, any usual food is eaten, it should only not be too coarse. The water temperature can be between 20 and 30°C. One should always keep several specimens, even if Helostoma temmickii does not need conspecifics for well-being. But it is interesting to watch the “kissing” of these animals and for kissing you have to be at least two…

For our customers: the animals have code 421302 (4-5 cm) and 421305 (7-9 cm) on our stocklist. Please note that we only supply wholesale.

Text & photos: Frank Schäfer