Freshwater Fish

Blue gourami – Trichopodus trichopterus: Care guide

Blue gourami are beautiful freshwater fish that are slightly overlooked in the aquarium scene. And with so many other gouramis to choose from, it’s understandable.

But there is much to like about this species!

These fish are beautiful, easy to care for, and quite active (this is a very fun species to watch). This guide will teach you everything you need to know about blue gourami care, so you’ll be ready to get your own!

Species Summary

The opal gourami or blue gourami (Trichopodus trichopterus) is a beginner-friendly freshwater fish that has much to offer aquarists of any level. Sometimes called marbled gourami, this fish does not occur naturally. It is a product of selective breeding and is considered a distinct variation of the famous three-spotted gourami.

While this particular species does not occur in the wild, its ancestors are generally found in Southeast Asia. These tropical fish come from wetlands and marshes throughout India, Cambodia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and more.

Author’s Note: Like all gouramis, these opaline beauties are not your average fish. They have quirky personalities and distinct behaviors that make them a joy to care for (and will make them stand out in a community tank).


In terms of body shape and silhouette, Blue gouramis are straight from the usual mold. They have the same iconic gourami profile, which is oval in shape. The head is slightly pointed near the mouth, but most fish are remarkably oval.

The recognizable shape is mainly due to the anal fin. It is on the underside of the fish and extends from the ray-finned pectoral fins to the caudal fork. Of course, there are also needle-like ventral fins, unsurprisingly.

These fins are delicate and almost look like antennae. They are sensitive to touch and play an important role in fish navigation.

In terms of color, Blue gouramis are quite striking. The base color is silver blue. However, the deep cobalt blue flecks create a unique marbled effect. The intensity of this pattern varies from specimen to specimen.

Breeders are generally looking to have the most vivid coloration possible, leading to some truly impressive fish!

Author’s Note: Males and females look very similar. The only main difference between the two is the dorsal fins. In males, the dorsal fin is long and pointed. Meanwhile, it is stockier and rounder in females.

Opal gourami medium size

The average size of the blue gourami is around six inches long when fully grown.

Most fish are considered «mature» when they reach about three inches. At that point, they are capable of reproducing (more on that later). They usually continue to grow a bit until they reach the higher end of the size spectrum.

Author’s Note: The two main factors that will influence the size of these fish are genetics and the quality of care they receive. Please do your part by being a responsible owner and always do your homework when searching for potential sellers!

Life expectancy

Under good living conditions, the typical lifespan of the blue gourami is between four and six years. They might live a bit longer if you’re lucky, but those cases are few and far between.

As you probably know, there is no way to guarantee the lifespan of a fish. There is a certain degree of luck and genetic prosperity at stake. Not only that, but the level of care you provide will have a huge impact on the life expectancy of your opal gourami.

Blue Gourami Care

For the most part, gouramis are fantastic beginner fish because their needs are relatively straightforward. The blue gourami is no different.

But with that said, opaline gourami care still requires you to be familiar with some essential requirements. These freshwater fish have basic preferences and needs like any species.

Here are some tips you need to know on how to give your blue gourami the best life possible.

tank size

For adult Blue Gouramis, it’s best to stick with aquariums that can hold 35 gallons of water or more. You can keep juveniles in tanks as small as 20 gallons. But as they grow, you’ll need to upgrade to suit their playful demeanor and vigorous swimming habits.

Author’s Note: A 35-gallon aquarium is adequate for a single fish or a very small group. If you plan to create a larger community setting, it’s always better to make it bigger.

water parameters

Generally, the best course of action is to look to a fish’s natural habitat for guidance on water parameters. Because Blue gouramis don’t occur naturally, you should look to their closest relatives: the three-spot gourami.

These fish live in warm and humid environments. They are also used to shallow waters full of plants. As a result, the habitat tends to be slightly acidic and moderately hard.

Fortunately, Gouramis Trichopodus trichopterus are hardy too! They can accommodate a wide range of parameters well, giving you a little leeway in setting up the tank.

  • Water temperature: 73°F to 82°F
  • pH levels: 6.0 to 8.8 (close to neutral is best)
  • Water hardness: 5 to 35 dGH

Because maintaining proper water parameters is such an important part of blue gourami care, you want to make sure you have a reliable water testing kit on hand. This will allow you to monitor the status of your tank and make adjustments when necessary (before problems arise).

What to put inside your tank

Blue gouramis are not too picky when it comes to decoration. The goal here is to add elements that work with your look and lifestyle!

Starting with the substrate, go for something dark. Blue gouramis move throughout the water column, so they don’t care much about the exact material. Whether you choose pebbles or fine sand, a darker color will make the beautiful blue tones and marbling effect pop!

You can then add some modest plants and decorations here and there. These fish are relatively trusting, but it’s still a good idea to have some plants to take refuge in whenever they need comfort. However, you don’t have to go crazy and cover the entire tank with dense vegetation.

Author’s Note: In fact, you may do better if you keep most of the tank open. These fish are active swimmers. Not only that, they are labyrinth fish!

They belong to a unique class of fish that can breathe atmospheric air. Opal gouramis must have access to the surface of the water to breathe, so do your best to keep plant growth manageable.

Common Potential Illnesses

Blue gouramis depend on the vagaries of the environment in which they find themselves. Insufficient care and a tank in poor condition could cause these fish to suffer from a wide range of diseases.

They are susceptible to all the usual health problems. However, some conditions seem to be more frequent than others.

Ich disease and hole in the head is quite common in Blue gouramis. Parasitic infections cause both conditions. With Ich, white spots begin to form all over the body. For hole in the head disease, you may see deep pits around the lateral line and head.

Fortunately, these diseases can be treated. If you notice something wrong, you need to act fast! Ich can spread throughout the enclosed aquarium, while hole-in-the-head disease often leads to bacterial infections. Quarantine your fish the moment you notice symptoms and provide treatment.

Author’s Note: The best way to avoid disease is to maintain tank and water conditions. Test regularly and do 25 percent water changes about every two weeks. This will help keep your fish healthy and overall stress levels low.

Food and Diet

The blue gourami is a hungry omnivore that will consume almost anything you feed it. They do best on a balanced diet of algae-based foods and protein-packed snacks.

As the primary source of dietary nutrients, provide commercial flakes or granules. Look for balanced formulas that focus on color vibrancy for best results. You can provide two small meals a day to keep your fish happy and healthy.

A few times a week, try offering some high-protein foods! Gouramis Trichopodus trichopterus are very fond of bloodworms, brine shrimp, and other popular aquarium foods.

Author’s Note: Interestingly, the Blue Gouramis will also seek out any Hydra. Hydra is a small pest microorganism. Most freshwater fish cannot eat hydra, so Blue Gouramis can be very helpful in this regard.

In addition to high-protein foods, you can try blanched vegetables like peas. Opal gouramis aren’t picky, so feel free to experiment and see what you like!

Behavior and temperament of Trichopodus trichopterus

Blue gouramis are generally peaceful freshwater fish. They can do well as community fish with other species.

However, this particular gourami variety is a bit more territorial than most. Males often butt heads if kept in a tank that is too small for the pair. Adult fish can also bully smaller ones.

Ultimately, temperament and aggressive behavior vary from fish to fish. Keeping an eye on them in a community tank is paramount. Most will not have any problems, but you should always keep an eye on them and address problem behavior.

Throughout the day, Gouramis Trichopodus trichopterus are a joy to watch! As mentioned above, these fish can breathe atmospheric air. They have a special labyrinth organ. You can see them sucking air from the surface from time to time.

When they’re not doing that, you can find these fish swimming and playfully exploring. They are surprisingly active, so there is always a show to enjoy!

Blue Gourami Tank Mates

Blue Gouramis can be semi-aggressive depending on tank mates and environment.

The best way to keep the peace is to pair these fish with non-aggressive species of the same size. Avoid anything significantly smaller than gourami. It will quickly become dinner!

It is also important to stay away from familiar pliers. Those delicate ventral fins on the opal gourami can become a target for smaller bullies.

Not sure where to start with a blue gourami community tank? Try these tankmates for size:

  • many kinds of plecos
  • characins
  • loaches
  • largest tetras
  • peaceful beards
  • Large invertebrates (mainly snails and shrimp)


Breeding opaline gouramis is a fairly easy and rewarding experience. The process is interesting!

These fish build bubble nests to lay their eggs. The males also exhibit some protective behavior over the eggs, which is not common in the fish kingdom. Still, it is a good idea to provide a separate rearing tank to maximize fry survival rates.

The breeding tank should be shallow. You only need five to six inches deep. Use peat filtration to condition the water and install some sponge filters to keep the fry safe once they hatch.

Keep the water temperature hot. Around 80 degrees is ideal to start spawning. To trigger the breeding process, you can also provide plenty of high-protein snacks.

The female will begin to swell with eggs. In response, the male will build the bubble nest. When they are ready, the fish will spawn below the nest. When you release the eggs, they will float to the nest to hatch.

You can remove the female after she lays her eggs. The males will protect them for the next few days before they hatch. After the fry emerge, they will feed on the egg sac for a couple more days. Once they are free swimming, you can remove the adult male and feed the babies infusoria or powdered food.


Blue gourami care is really simple once you understand the basic needs of this species. With the exception of some unusual aggressive behavior, you should have no problem keeping these fish happy and healthy.

We hope you have found this guide useful and give this beautiful species a chance! They are one of our favorites.

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