Colisa lalia (dwarf gourami)

Colisa lalia which is most known as the dwarf gourami belongs to the Osphronemidae family and Anabantoidei suborder. In the past, the species have changed their scientific names by scientists to Trichogaster lalia, Trichogaster lalius, Trichopodus lalius, and Polyacanthis lalius. Moreover, as stated by Eschmeyer (2017), the valid name of the species is Trichogaster lalius.
The species is native of Asia ( Bangladesh and Borneo). Dwarf Gouramis inhibits slow-moving waters like floodplains, irrigation systems, and rice paddies. In general, gouramis occur in low oxygen, plant-choked, low mineral content, tea-colored black-water areas. Furthermore, the water has a high amount of tannin due to the decomposition of leaves and wood. As a result of the human expansion, the original habitat of gouramis has altered and are found in pig farms and rice paddies (Colisa sp.), etc. In addition to the degradation of gouramis’ habitat, many species are in danger of extinction.
Dwarf gouramis have a long, flattened body with extended and filamentous ventral fins that are used as tactile organs to obtain physical information about objects. Furthermore, gouramis can use ventral fins for orientation in dark, muddy water habitats. The original form has a blue-green body with red or orange stripes. There are many variations such as the ”flame red dwarf gourami” (red body and blue-green dorsal fin with no stripes) and ” blue dwarf gourami” (bright blue coloration with thin red stripes).
The species have sexual dimorphism, with the males being more colorful with long-pointed dorsal fins. Females’ body coloration is grey-silvery with short-rounded dorsal fins and body. However, because of selective breeding of the species, in some variations females, gouramis are colorful too. Dwarf gouramis have an average size of 2.4 inches (6,3 cm). Gouramis, like the rest of the anabantoid fish, can breathe atmospheric air. This ability occurs in anabantoid fish due to an organ located closed to the branchial apparatus, the labyrinth. The species have an average of 3 years lifespan.
In general, dwarf gouramis are easy to maintain if not sick. It’s best to keep gouramis in pairs or in a ratio of one male with two females as males can be territorial with the same species. They are also suited for community tanks with species with a similar size, behavior and water chemistry. Some compatible species with dwarf gouramis are corydoras, peaceful tetras, Trigonostigma heteromorpha, rasboras, e.t.c.
Because of the natural habitat of Colisa lalia, they should be kept in soft acidic water. A pH between 6.0-7.0, with a temperature between 22-28 Celsius, and hardness 50mg/l, suits the species.
Dwarf gouramis are prone to bacterial or parasitic infections if the water is not clean and with the right chemistry. An aquarium with pure 55 liters of water is suitable for a pair of dwarf gouramis. Plants are necessary as they provide shelter for stressed fish and their offspring, especially floating plants. Furthermore, the surface air should have a similar temperature of the water for the prevention of losses. Cover the aquarium to maintain a similar temperature above and under the water.
Dwarf gouramis are omnivorous and can eat prepared food and small live-foods such as brine shrimp, white worms, bloodworms, etc. In nature, their diet consists of small invertebrates, algae, e.t.c.
Dwarf gouramis are surface bubble nesters which means when the male is ready for reproduction, creates a nest and waits for a ”willing” female. In contrast with other anabantoids, female dwarf gourami helps the male to build the bubble nest. The species may use floating plants for the creation of bubble nests. Then the male wraps the female’s body and inseminates the eggs, that she releases. After that, the male collects the eggs and puts them into the nest. The action is repeated many times until the female gets exhausted. The female dwarf gourami produces about 600 eggs. The male gourami like the rest of the anabantoid fish cares for the nest alone until the young can swim on their own. The young hatch 12 to 16 hours after egg-laying and after 2-3 days can swim on their own. Anabantoid young are very small in size to eat regular food for young such as hatched brine shrimp. You can feed the young with liquid food (boiled egg), infusoria or rotifers. They reproduce better in a temperature between 25-26 Celsius.
Some species, like the dwarf gourami, usually produce in community tanks without a problem. However, for the survival of the young, the species is best to spawn in a breeding tank than a community or only-species tank with many individuals. an aquarium with many floating plants, a heater, and water between 10-15 cm depth, suits for breeding. Like almost every fish, another key for breeding gouramis is diet. Besides prepared food, feed the dwarf gouramis with a variety of high-quality foods such as live foods and plant sources like spirulina or vegetables. Furthermore, many aquarists don’t use lights during reproduction. Last, Remove the female after she releases the eggs and when the young are swimming-free, remove the male too.

Red Dwarf Gourami in an Aquarium


  1. Gary Elson and Oliver Lucanus 2005, Gouramis and other Labyrinth fishes, Published by Barrons
  2. Earl Schneider and Dr. Leon f. Whitney 1957, The Complete Guide
    to tropical fishes
  3. David Alderton 2005, 2008, Encyclopedia of aquarium and pond fish, Published in the United States by DK Publishing, ISBN 978-0-7566-3678-4
  4. A. O. Kasumyan, E. S. Mikhailova, and E. A. Marusov 2013, Role of Tactile Sense and Other Sensory Systems in Control of Feeding Behavior in Gourami of the Genus Trichopodus. Retrieved from
  5. Trichogaster Lalius. Retrieved from
  6. Colisa Lalia. Retrieved from
  7. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service 2016, Dwarf Gourami. Retrieved from

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