Trichogaster Pectoralis (snakeskin gourami)

Trichogaster pectoralis which is most known as the Snakeskin gourami belongs to the Osphronemidae family and Anabantoidei suborder. In the past, the species have changed their scientific names by scientists to Osphronemus saigonensis.
The species is native of Asia ( Vietnam, Cambodia, the Malay Peninsula, and Thailand) but, has been introduced in different countries due to human consumption. 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. and snakeskin gourami), etc. In addition to the degradation of gouramis’ habitat, many species are in danger of extinction.
Generally, 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. Trichogaster pectoralis have a grey-green or black body with markings like snakeskin. Moreover, Snakeskin gouramis have a long, thin and dark line on the sides. The species have an average size of 8 inches (20 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. Three-spot gouramis have sexual dimorphism. Males have long pointed dorsal fins, while females have short rounded dorsal fins.
It’s best to keep the species in a ratio of one male with two females. The male snakeskin gourami is less territorial than other gourami species. Furthermore, snakeskin gouramis are peaceful, gentle giants which makes them great for community tanks. In community tanks, the snakeskin gourami is compatible with other peaceful fish with a similar size such as large danios, angelfish, corydoras, etc.
Because of the natural habitat of Trichogaster pectoralis should be kept in soft acidic water. A pH between 6.0-7.0, with a temperature between 25-28 Celsius, and hardness 50mg/l, suits the species.
Snakeskin gouramis need large aquariums because of their large size. An aquarium with 190 liters (50 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.
Snakeskin 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 plant matter, algae, insects’ larvae, e.t.c.
Trichogaster pectoralis are surface bubble nesters which means when the male is ready for reproduction, creates a nest and waits for a ”willing” female. 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 put them into the nest. The action is repeated many times until the female gets exhausted. The female snakeskin gourami produces about 5000 eggs. The young hatch 28 to 30 hours after egg-laying and after 3-4 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 gouramis. Like almost every fish, another key for breeding gouramis is diet. Besides prepared food, feed the snakeskin 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.

A group of snakeskin gourami fish in a private aquarium, Suphanburi, Thailand


  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
  4. Trichopodus Pectoralis. Retrieved from
  5. Trichogaster Pectoralis. Retrieved from

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