Kissing Gourami: Ultimate Guide (Care, Diet, Breeding, & More)

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Written By Matt Stevens

Hi, I'm Matt! I've been obsessed with fishkeeping for over 15 years now and created this site to share my knowledge with others.

Kissing Gourami is a fascinating and interesting species of freshwater fish that stand out in any aquarium you put them in. Their large lips make them all the more fun to watch, and they also help identify them in a community tank.

However, they aren’t as easy to take care of as the other species of the Gourami family, which is why you have to adhere to certain strict and particular guidelines in order to keep them healthy and happy.

This isn’t to say that they are expert-level fish, but you have to maintain certain conditions in order for them to thrive in captivity.

Luckily, we are here to help you. This guide helps you learn everything about caring for the Kissing Gourami, including their habitat, water requirements, diet, breeding, tank mates, and several other factors.

Species Summary

Kissing Gourami is as interesting as its name, and it is also known by the scientific name Helostomatemminkii. Moreover, it belongs to the Helostomatidae family, and although its name is suggestive of a peaceful and loving temperament, this is hardly the case.

The only reason these fish are known as Kissing Gourami is because of the shape of their lips, and they are also referred to as kissers or kissing fish. They are a wonderful addition to your tank.

Moreover, they have a medium size and unique features that are uncommon in the aquarium trade.

Life Span5-7 years
Color FormPink or green
Care levelIntermediate
CompatibilitySimilar sized fish
SizeUp to 12 Inches
Tank SetupFreshwater rich in vegetation
Minimum Tank Size50 Gallons

These fish are native to the Java island in Indonesia, but they are also spotted in Borneo, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, and Vietnam. In several places, they also serve as food for the locals.

Most of the specimens that you find are bred commercially, and they are truly one to care for.


The average lifespan of the Kissing Gourami is roughly 7 years when they are in captivity. Otherwise, they can even live up to 25 years!

Therefore, if you provide them with the right conditions, you might be able to prolong their life expectancy. However, there is no exact science in this, and you can’t be sure about it. Nevertheless, you should strive to give them a healthy and comfortable environment.

In the perfect aquarium conditions, these fish will stay healthy and grow quickly. They don’t fare well when the water conditions keep changing, especially the rise in ammonia levels. Therefore, you should change the water partially after every one or two weeks.


As mentioned above, Kissing Gourami are instantly identified and distinguished due to their mouth. Their mouth extends forward rather than facing upwards or forwards. They also have extra joints in their jaw, which allow them to open their mouths wider for eating easily.

Whenever these fish are fighting or feasting, their mouths look as if puckered up for a kiss. Other than that, they have a similar profile as other species of the Gourami family. They have a tall and slender body, which also gives them the agility to swim faster in the aquarium.

Their anal and dorsal fins cover most of their body. These, along with their caudal and pectoral fins are decked with spiny rays.

These fish are also quite colorful, and have some rare variations as well. Naturally, they have silvery-green bodies, as well as bands on their dorsal and anal fins. Then, there is another type of fish called the mottled kisser, which has the same base color but specks of black or dark green on top of it.

Another variation of Kissing Gourami has a silvery pink color, which is due to a genetic mutation. Thanks to selective breeding, this variation makes them quite popular in the aquarium community.

There are no visible differences between the male and female species, and the only way to tell them apart is during the breeding season when the female starts swelling up with eggs.


Typically, Kissing Gourami grows up to 6 inches in length, but they grow up to 12 inches in the wild. However, it isn’t probable for them to exceed the 6-inch mark in captivity.

This is another reason why these fish need a much larger tank than normal, and a smaller tank can inhibit their growth.

Kissing Gourami

Caring for Kissing Gourami isn’t a piece of cake, but it isn’t rocket science either. Once you have nailed down the care requirements and maintained their tank conditions, you won’t face any problems at all.

They do have a unique personality and quirky behavior, which is why you need to prepare yourself for looking after them before you buy them. Let’s have a look at the complete care guidelines that you need to familiarize yourself with.

Tank Size

When it comes to keeping Kissing Gourami in your home aquarium, you need a minimum tank size of 50 gallons. If you can manage it, keep them in an even bigger tank, ideally 75 gallons.

However, if you are only going to accommodate one fish, you can make do with a 30-gallon tank, but this would require you to keep the tank mostly empty.

With a 50-gallon tank or greater, you will allow these fish to move about freely. Plus, it would also appease their semi-aggressive temperament and prevent any territorial disputes. If you are planning on keeping more than one Gourami, this would be particularly helpful.

Water Parameters

As is the case with many species of fish, the best way to keep your Kissing Gourami healthy and happy is to replicate their natural environment, which features slow-moving waters rich in vegetation. Naturally, these fish are quite hardy, so they can also survive in low-oxygen conditions.

Just like other species of the Gourami family, they also have a labyrinth organ, which means that they draw in oxygen from the atmosphere. This requires them to come up to the surface of the tank every now and then,

The adaptable Kissing Gourami requires a water temperature between 72°F to 82°F in order to thrive. Moreover, they do well with a pH between 6.8 and 8.5, so that the water is as neutral as possible. Lastly, the water hardness should be maintained between 5 and 20 dGH.

When you set up the tank for the first time, make sure to test the water quality regularly, and we advise that you get a water testing kit. Once they have grown used to the environment, you can spread out the frequency of water testing.

What to Put in Their Tank?

The next thing you need to know about is setting up their tank, including the substrate. A dark-colored substrate of fine sand or gravel is ideal since it would provide the perfect contrast against their bodies. Ideally, you should add gravel since they may accidentally ingest fine sand.

Other than this, you can add rocks and driftwood throughout the tank. Since they have fine teeth within their puckered lips, they like to scrape algae off the surfaces in the aquarium.

Plants are also very important for imitating the natural environment of Kissing Gourami. However, they eat delicate plants as a whole, including the stems.

Therefore, you may add plastic plants, particularly to provide them with shelter. Otherwise, you can add Java moss, Java fern, and other durable live plants in the tank.

However, make sure not to overfill the aquarium with plants, as this would inhibit the fish’s ability to swim up to the surface to take in oxygen.

Lastly, you should leave a bit of the aquarium empty at the top for air. Make sure not to fill up the aquarium till the brim since the fish need to access the water’s surface in order to breathe in atmospheric air. For this purpose, you can leave one or two inches over the waterline.

Common Diseases

Kissing Gourami are susceptible to all of the diseases that affect freshwater aquarium fish. The most common disease that they are affected with is called Ich, which is caused by a ciliated protozoan called Ichthyophthirius multifiliis.

Basically, it is a parasitic disease that causes the formation of small and grainy white spots all over their bodies.

These spots look like grains of salt, and it causes them to scrape their bodies against the surface of objects in the tank. If not treated on time, it may become more lethal and cause them to become weaker and lose their appetite.

Another disease that Kissing Gourami are at risk of is called Hole in the Head disease, which is also caused by parasites. This disease is identified by small pits on their skin’s surface.

They also lead to bacteria and other pathogens making their way into the body, which is why you should treat this disease immediately.

Moreover, Kissing Gourami may also be susceptible to parasitic algae, which can also cause the fish to host parasites beneath their skin. You can identify this disease through its spotted appearance. Although this disease isn’t lethal, it would make them weaker and more stressed.

Apart from maintaining the tank and water conditions, there is no other way to guarantee that your Gourami fish won’t get sick at all. Therefore, you should monitor the water conditions from time to time and also perform partial water changes in order for them to stay healthy.

If you are going to add kissers to an established aquarium with other species of fish, make sure to quarantine them in another tank before you add them to the main one. Although this might seem tedious, it would go a long way towards keeping your fish healthy.

What Do Kissing Gourami Eat?

Kissing Gourami love to eat, and since they are natural omnivores, they are constantly on the prowl for something to eat in the wild. In the aquarium, you can notice them opening up their lips to eat various types of algae off the glass, rocks, driftwood, and other surfaces in the tank.

These fish also contain gill rakers, which are used to filter microorganisms like plankton. Although they like to eat regularly, you will have to watch what they eat. You can give them dry flakes and pellets as a regular food source.

Plus, you can give them blanched vegetables, which include lettuce, spinach, and zucchini. However, protein should also be a major component of their diet. For this purpose, you can feed them live and frozen food, but only occasionally.

Protein-based foods will help in their enrichment and growth, and you can treat them with brine shrimp, bloodworms, and tubifex worms from time to time.

Behavior & Temperament

Kissing Gourami are known as semi-aggressive fish, and they are known to intimidate other fish, while also fighting for territory. When you keep more than one male fish in the tank, be ready to see them fight. However, the fight is rather amusing than alarming.

These fish actually use their lips to ‘kiss’ each other when fighting. Actually, they are pushing each other, but to the observer, it seems like an intimate moment. Although this doesn’t result in any of Gourami being injured, constant fighting can cause them to become stressed.

Eventually, one of the fighting kissers will forfeit and stand down. Apart from this, these fish also intimidate small or similar-sized species, and they use their lips to push them around too.

If you see them pushing any fish from their sides, they are actually attacking them and eating their slime coat, which can leave them susceptible to parasitic infections.

Kissing Gourami Tank Mates

Pairing Kissing Gourami with other fish can be a challenge due to their semi-aggressive temperament. Firstly, you should prevent keeping any small or peaceful species because they will have to defend themselves constantly.

Although it may seem like a good idea, kissers don’t get along well with other Gourami species too. These fish are aggressive towards them, too, even though they belong to the same family.

They can get along with their own kind, provided that the number of males is very few in number. Here are some suitable tank mates that you can keep:


The breeding process for Kissing Gourami is relatively easier. If you can provide them with a controlled environment, you are highly likely to experience success.

Firstly, you should set up a breeding tank with temperature on the higher side in order to replicate the natural spawning conditions. You should also lower the water hardness.

Once this is done, you can add your mating pair and feed them with live foods. These fish like to scatter eggs all over the tank, and these eggs float to the surface. You can place a large lettuce leaf on the surface to gather all the eggs.

The lettuce will provide shelter for the eggs and will also gather beneficial bacteria and Infusoria, which the fry will be able to eat.

When the couple mates, the female will turn over and lay eggs, following which the male will fertilize them. Once the eggs gather on the lettuce leaf, you can put the mating pair back into the main tank. Within a day, the fry will hatch and feed on the egg sac, along with the bacteria and Infusoria that is gathered on the leaf.

Once the fry starts to swim freely, they will be able to eat baby brine shrimp and powdered foods.

Final Thoughts

Kissing Gourami are truly fascinating and interesting species, and it is a delight to watch them swim around in the tank. Once you have gotten the hang of their care guidelines, tank conditions, water parameters, and diet, you will be able to take care of them like clockwork.

Plus, you can always check back here for any of the care instructions in case you need any help or are stuck. You will thank us once you find Kissing Gourami swimming happily in your tank.