After keeping the little fishes for a long time, a hobbyist may be tempted to try something larger for a change. The Giant Gourami can be a great option. However, one must remember that the huge fish requires a larger tank than the ‘usual fish’. Before purchasing a huge tank for the giant fish, one could still be contented with the smaller species.
Among the labyrinth fishes, giant gourami is considered the largest. Its consumption rate in terms of feeding is also quite huge. So when one decides to purchase it, be prepared to provide lots of feeds.
Appearance of Giant Gourami
Also known as Osphronemus goramy, the giant gourami measures between 40 and 45 inches. In its native habitat though, there are occasions when some were found to be more than 70cm in length. Meaning that with the right tank conditions and proper feeds, their sizes can balloon.
When they are still small, they normally exhibit a flat head, pointed snout and banded coloration. Juveniles adorn a gray to silver blue on golden yellow to cream background. As they age, the stripes disappear and they are left with the greyish almost black color.
The adults, more so males, develop what looks like a swollen head. They also have thick lips, but these are more pronounced in females. Both of them have a thick chin. Unlike other kinds of fish, at least there are features that can be used to distinguish males from females.
It is laterally compressed with an oval shape, and has threadlike ventral fins. The presence of its labyrinth helps it to survive in waters with little or no oxygen. As it swims, it is able to absorb oxygen into its bloodstream. It does this by gulping air it finds at the water surface.
The giant gourami is believed to be native of Java’s Greater Sunda Islands. It is also found in Borneo, Sumatra and Islands of Malay’s Archipelago. At the moment, they can be found in a number of countries where they were introduced for aquaculture reasons. Some of these countries include Australia, Mekong Basin, Thailand, Singapore, China and Cambodia.
The gourami species is currently considered widespread owing to the fact that it survives a number of climates. In a number of countries, it is an important delicacy.
The giant gourami swims in all parts of the tank. In other words, it requires a huge tank for this venture. Requirements include at least 200 gallons of water or more. Brackish water conditions. It is not suited to full brackish water conditions, so make it slight. Salinity should not exceed 10% of normal saltwater fish tank.
The fish thrives best in fresh, clean water. Filtration should therefore be adequate, with water flow in moderation. It desires water gravity of not more than 1.0002. A pH range of about 6.5- 8.0. The gourami needs weekly water changes. This might sound a little too much since it uses lots of water. Remember however, that it is a freshwater fish.
Incorporate a dark substrate as they appear more colorful in this kind of set-up. The tank should be less decorated to allow room for it to swim. Put in some relatively big-sized rocks and bogwood since the fish is larger than the normal sized fish. They need some moments of rest which is preferred under rocks. Add plants along the sides of the tank as this will offer privacy. They are likely to eat the plants. Ensure these are fast growing.
Typically, the giant gourami is an omnivore. In the wild, they are known to feed on algae and other smaller fishes. Frogs, worms and different kinds of dead meat are their delicacy. In captivity, they can do with a number of feeds. Some of these include Flakes or pellets of high quality.
Cooked foods including meat, boiled potatoes or vegetables are another delicacy for the gourami. Beef from mammals can be avoided as they are not easily digested by the fish.
As a treat especially when the fish now recognizes the owner, frozen or live brine shrimp can be offered. Bloodworms are another special treat to be offered.
Avoid feeding the gourami live fish as this may be expensive in the long run. As soon as it is purchased, it ought to be trained on the kinds of foods listed above. Fish in captivity often adjusts to the types of feeds frequently offered.
Differentiating males from females is possible as the males have more pointed anal and dorsal fins. Females have thicker lips than the males and their dorsal fins are rounder. Anal fins are rounder too.
Giant gouramis build nests from plant bits during breeding periods in the wild. They do this mostly in the months of May and April. Spawning on the other hand happens all year round.
Breeding this fish in captivity is not a real problem, but providing a huge tank for this process can be very difficult.
They mature at around 6 months.
The female lays mature eggs of between 1,500 and 3,000. These are lighter than water and will float on the surface. The male then gathers all these eggs in its mouth and takes them to the nest. After about 40 hours, the eggs hatch. The male guards the fry for at least 14 days.
The fry grow relatively fast and may begin feeding after about one week. Provide light fish feeds at this time.
- It is a community fish but may be a loner too. They can share a tank with other big fish but may not tolerate their fellows of the same species.
- The males tend to be more aggressive towards each other, more so during breeding periods.
- The adults become quite aggressive when their tank is small. To avoid this, ensure the tank is big enough to accommodate the gourami as well as other tank mates.
- When they stay for a long time in the same tank with the same setting, they tend to own or possess the habitat. In case there is a new addition, they are seriously bullied.
If there is a huge tank and plenty of feeds to offer the giant gourami, then this can be a great consideration for a hobbyist.