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Labyrinth Fish / Belontiidae / Chocolate Gourami

Chocolate Gourami
Sphaerichthys osphromenoides


Synonyms: Osphromenus malayanus, O. notatus
Physical description: A short-bodied labyrinth fish which has a laterally compressed body. It has an oval-shaped body with a pointed head and a small mouth. The dorsal and anal fins are long and extend from the midsection of the body, nearly to the caudal fin. The main body coloration is chocolate brown with variations to reddish brown. Irregular white to yellow stripes run vertically along the body. The fins are brown with a yellow ridge along the edges.
Size/Length: To 2.5" (6.4 cm)
Similar species: Resembles juvenile O. goramy.
Habitat: Shore areas of small, still and slow-moving black water with heavy vegetation in Southeast Asia; western Borneo, Malaysia, and Sumatra.
S: All
Aquarium: A tank measuring 28" (71 cm) with a capacity of 20 to 25 gallons (76-95 L). The tank should be heavily planted with a cover of floating plants. Provide hiding places among wood, rocks,and roots. The substrate should be dark and the lighting should be dim. Use a filtration system that creates only slight circulation. Leave some open swimming areas. This species does best in peat filtered water.
Water chemistry: pH 4.5-6.5 (6.2), 1-7°dH (3), 79-88°F (26-31°C)
Social behavior: A peaceful, timid fish that are best kept in a pair in a species tank. Although, if combined with other fish, keep with other small, calm, nonaggressive species.
Suggested companions: Preferably none, although Corydoras, Trichopsis, Pangio, tetras, Loricarids.
FOOD: Flakes; live; Brine Shrimp, mosquito larvae, fruit flies.
Sexual differences: The male has a yellow or white border along the edge of the anal fin.
Breeding techniques: Very difficult. This fish was originally thought to be a livebearer, but is now known to be a mouthbrooder, although it occasionally makes a bubble nest. Sometimes an addition of a small amount of seawater may help initiate spawning. The pair spawns near the bottom. The male mouthbroods the 20-40 fry for 14-20 days. In the case when a bubble nest is built, the fry are spit into the bubble nest. The young should be transferred to a rearing tank. They are delicate and very slow-growing. Often the fry die from infections and changes in water condition. Start feeding with small live foods.
Breeding potential: 9. Breeding is very difficult and unusual.
Remarks: A demanding species, recommended only for expert aquariasts. Water must be changed often, and a good water conditioner must be used. The Chocolate Gourami is the most difficult Labyrinth fish to care for. It is extremely delicate and is susceptible to parasites, fungus, bacteria, and disease. The Chocolate Gourami is a short-lived fish. A sub-species, S phaerichthys osphromenoides selatanensis has been identified. It has more stripes and a darker body color.
Difficulty of care: 8. A highly sensitive species.


By Rhett Butler   Mongabay.com