Stocking Fish Tips: Make sure that any new fish you are planning to add to your tank will be compatible with the current inhabitants. You need to look at temperament, water parameters and tank size requirements. For instance, please don’t put a common pleco in anything under 55 gallons.
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The croaking gourami, Trichopsis vittata, is a species of small freshwater labyrinth fish of the gourami family. They are native to still waters in Southeast Asia and are distributed worldwide via the aquarium trade. Croaking gouramis are capable of producing a “croaking” noise using their pectoral fins.
Croaking gouramis can reach an average size of about 5 centimeters, though some individuals can grow as large as 6 or 7 centimeters. Coloration is highly variable, ranging from pale brown and green to dark purple with black or red spots on the fins. 2-4 brown or black stripes or rows of spots are present on their sides. Median fins have a thin iridescent blue coloration on their edges. The iris of the eye is bright blue or purple. Females tend to be paler than males, have a slightly rounded dorsal fin and a shorter anal fin (Sterba, 1983; Page and Burr, 1991). Most Croaking Gouramis live for about 2 years but with proper care can live as long as 5 in an aquarium setting. They are native to stillwater streams, ponds, swamps, canals, flooded grasslands, and puddles in Java, Borneo, Sumatra, Malaya, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam. A breeding population is known to exist in a series of drainage ditches in Palm Beach County, Florida, USA (Shafland, 1996), almost certainly introduced there through the aquarium industry.
As their name suggests, croaking gouramis are capable of producing an audible grunting or chirping noise, accomplished through the use of specialized adaptations of their pectoral fins (Ladich et al, 1992). These noises are produced by both sexes during breeding displays and during the establishment of dominance hierarchies among males. A typical showdown between males consists of each fish circling the other, flaring fins, aggressively darting (though rarely making contact), and producing croaking noises. Well matched individuals may continue this behaviour for several hours at a time.
Croaking Gouramis are fairly shy, peaceful fish that do well in most community aquaria and do not cause problems with other tankmates. Males can be fairly territorial and aggressive with each other during breeding periods, but won’t cause harm given a large enough aquarium, and usually males comfortably coexist. They require a tank no smaller than 40 litres (10 US gallons), preferably larger, and each pair of males will need about 20 inches of space to feel comfortable with one another. Croaking Gouramis will prowl about all areas of the aquarium, preferring to lurk among reeds and under large leaves close to the water surface. At night, they might be found “sleeping” at the bottom, even resting on the substrate (which is not normally a cause for concern), or hovering motionless at the water surface.
Like all gouramis, the Croaking Gourami can breathe atmospheric oxygen from above the water surface using a specialized labyrinth organ (like the Betta) if necessary. It is important, therefore, that the surface of the water be exposed to fresh air, usually accomplished by keeping them in an open-top tank or using a hood that allows air ventilation. If you are using good air pumps, this is not always needed, since the air pumps will refresh the air above the water. Very cold air temperatures at the water surface may lead to infections of the labyrinth organ.
The aquarium should be heavily planted and have at least part of the surface shaded by broad leaves or floating plants. Croaking Gouramis will become severely stressed in bare tanks without various hiding places. A darker substrate will make them feel comfortable and help show off their subtle colors. Like most gouramis, these fish are susceptible to diseases and infections, so regular water changes are a must. They are tolerant of fairly high temperatures. This can be used to eliminate fish diseases such as ich from the aquarium. Temperatures of 84 °F (29 °C) are easily tolerated though 26 °C seems to be close to optimal. A pH of 6.8 is about right and peat filtration is often recommended.