Trichogaster microlepis (moonlight gourami)

Taxonomy:
Trichogaster microlepis which is most known as the moonlight gourami belongs to the Osphronemidae family and Anabantoidei suborder. Trichogaster microlepis may also be known as Deschauenseeia chryseus, Trichopus parvipinnis Sauvage, and Osphromenus microlepis.
Distribution-Habitat:
The species is native to Southeast Asia (Thailand and Cambodia) but, has been introduced in different countries. Moonlight gouramis inhabit in small shallow ponds and large lakes’ margin with dense vegetation. 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.
Description:
Generally, gouramis have a long, flattened body with extended and filamentous ventral fins (Moonlight gouramis have notable longer ventral fins from other gouramis) 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. Trichogaster microlepis have a translucent silvery body with a red coloration to the adult male’s pelvic fins. Furthermore, male moonlight gouramis have pointed dorsal fins while females have rounded dorsal fins. The species have an average size of 6 inches (15 cm). Gouramis, like the rest of the Anabantoidei fish, can breathe atmospheric air. This ability occurs in Anabantoidei fish due to an organ located closed to the branchial apparatus, the labyrinth. The species have an average of 4 years lifespan.
Habits:
It’s best to keep the species 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 because of their peaceful temperament. In community tanks, the moonlight gourami is compatible with Botia sp., Corydoras sp., Barbs, etc. However, males may become aggressive to other male gouramis due to territorial behavior.
Because of the natural habitat of moonlight gouramis should be kept in soft acidic water. A pH between 6.0-7.0, with a temperature between 26-30 Celsius, and hardness 50mg/l, suits the species.
Moonlight gouramis need big aquariums as they get stress easily and males are territorial. An aquarium with 110 liters (29 gallons) of water is suitable for a pair of 2-3 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.
Moonlight 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, insects’ larvae, e.t.c
Breeding:
Trichogaster microlepis are surface bubble nesters which means when the male is ready for reproduction, creates a nest and waits for a ”willing” female. A large water change and increase temperature of about 29 Celsius may help trigger the behavior. The male 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, they collect the eggs and put them into the nest. The action is repeated many times until the female gets exhausted. The female moonlight gourami produces about 1000 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 28 to 30 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, rotifers.
For the survival of the young, the species is best to spawn in a breeding tank than an only-species tank with many individuals. For the reproduction of the species, an aquarium with dense floating plants and water depth of 10 cm suits for breeding moonlight gouramis. Like almost every fish, another key for breeding gouramis is diet. Besides prepared food, feed the pearl gouramis with a variety of high-quality foods such as live foods. Last, Remove the female after she releases the eggs and when the young are swimming-free, remove the male too.

Moonlight gourami (Trichopodus microlepis), also known as the moonbeam gourami. Wildlife animal.
“iStock.com/wrangel.”

References:  

  1. Gary Elson and Oliver Lucanus 2005, Gouramis and other Labyrinth fishes, Published by Barrons
  2. David Alderton 2005, 2008, Encyclopedia of aquarium and pond fish, Published in the United States by DK Publishing, ISBN 978-0-7566-3678-4
  3. 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 https://istina.msu.ru/media/publications/article/6d5/24c/6023586/kasumyan_et_al_2014.pdf
  4. Trichopodus Microlepis. Retrieved from https://www.seriouslyfish.com/species/trichopodus-microlepis/
  5. Trichogaster Microlepis. Retrieved from https://www.itis.gov/servlet/SingleRpt/SingleRpt?search_topic=TSN&search_value=172638#null
  6. Trichopodus Microlepis. Retrieved from https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/187925/1835632#habitat-ecology

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