|Synonyms||Sphaerichthys osphromenoides osphromenoides|
|Distribution||Borneo, Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore, and Sumatra.|
|Sexual Dimorphism||In mature fish, the males have a straight throat profile, whereas the females have a slightly uneven profile due to the presence of distensible skin that expands during mouthbrooding. Males also have a more pointed dorsal fin, although this can be difficult to ascertain as the dorsal is often held flat against the body.|
|Maximum Size||6cm (2.4")|
|Temperature||24-27 deg C (75-81 deg F)|
|Water Parameters||Very soft & acidic. pH: 4.0-6.0, dH: up to 8 degrees.|
|Compatibility||Specialist softwater community|
|Lighting||Dim (can be brighter if diffused by plants)|
The Chocolate Gourami is known from blackwater rainforest peat swamps. Here the water is acidic, has negligible hardness, and is tannin stained from decaying plant matter. The aquarium must be biologically mature before this delicate species is added. Provide them with a myriad of hiding places amongst tangles of bogwood, rocky caves, and dense planting, including floating species to help diffuse the light. A dark coloured substrate and background will also help the fish to feel more confident and will bring out their best colours. Filtration should be efficient but water movement gentle, and we'd suggest the use of aquarium peat as a filter medium to help emulate the natural water conditions. The addition of leaf litter would further help in this respect - dried Indian Almond leaves (Terminalia catappa) are ideal and are readily available. Much attention must be paid to water quality since Chocolate Gouramis will not tolerate elevated nitrates or swings in water chemistry; small partial water changes should be carried out on a frequent basis. These fish are best maintained in small groups of 6 or more. If tankmates are desired, they should be small, peaceful, and thrive under soft, acidic conditions. Good companions could include shoals of small cyprinids such as Boraras spp. Eirmotus octozona, Kuhli loaches (Pangio spp.), Sundadanio spp., or Trigonostigma spp. Acclimatise very carefully.
Small live or frozen foods such as bloodworm, white mosquito larvae, vitamin-enriched brineshrimp, daphnia etc. Unlikely to take dried foods.
This species is a maternal mouthbrooder and has been bred in the home aquarium. Breeding is considered moderately difficult, but well-conditioned fish should spawn when maintained under suitable conditions as outlined above. With heightened colouration, the male will initiate courtship, displaying to passing females to try and entice them into spawning. If a female is receptive, her colour will also intensify, and the pair will embrace with eggs and milt released simultaneously onto the substrate. The female immediately takes the eggs up into her mouth for incubation. The eggs (numbering between 20-40) are brooded for 8-18 (average 14) days before they hatch and free-swimming fry are released. The young will require baby brineshrimp (Artemia nauplii) or microworm straight away. In a densely planted tank, some fry may survive, but if you wish to raise larger numbers, they should be separated from the parents once free-swimming. It is of extreme importance to maintain a warm layer of air between the surface of the water and the coverslides at all times whilst the fry are developing their labyrinth organ, critical during the first few weeks of their life.