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.

Practical Fishkeeping (UK) - - New fishkeepers -

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.

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