What to keep
Each issue we pick a favourite ‘Community’ fish. These are tried and tested species that have a winning combination of looks and behaviour that make them perfect for newcomers.
Honey gourami, Trichogaster chuna
Gourami are among the most popular fish in the hobby, and rightly so given their grace, colour and generally peaceful behaviour.
However, many of the popular species get a little too big for the average starter community tank, while others are plagued by disease problems. Luckily, the Honey gourami is not only the perfect size at just over 5cm/2in full grown, but is also a model community resident. Like many fish, they can appear a little dull in the shop tanks — just a washed out cream colour with the occasional dark blotch or bar, but once settled into a well planted aquarium they’ll show their true colour.
Females are a coffee/tan shade, with a bold, chocolate brown bar running horizontally from nose to tail. Males look rather similar, but with a warmer, more golden body colour, but once in breeding condition they flush with their namesake golden honey colouration, which in the best specimens can be a deep orange. At the same time their throat and belly darken to a deep blue/ black while their dorsal fin is tipped with yellow.
For those who want more obvious colour, a few selectively bred varieties are available; ‘Red robin’ with bright, rather artificial deep orange red colour all over and a ‘Golden’ or ‘Sunset’ variety with a rich yellow.
These little fish build nests of bubbles to lay their eggs in but will need floating plants to help them do this.
If you watch them closely, you’ll see that they use their fine, thread-like ventral fins to ‘touch’ each other as well as objects around the tank.
Where are they from? India and Bangladesh.
How big do they grow? 5.5cm/2.2in.
What size tank do they need? 60 x 30cm footprint/54 l volume minimum.
How many should I keep? These aren’t shoaling fish, but they do like company of their own kind, so aim to keep at least four.