Stare at a kissing gourami for about two minutes and you'll feel the contagious pouting of its lips. You might find yourself involuntarily pouting your lips, too. The freshwater fish seems like always ready to kiss. No wonder why it's called a kissing gourami or kisser by some. Although obviously lovely, this fish can be a little tricky to handle, especially if you are not equipped with the needed knowledge.
In the place of its origin, in the Southeast Asia, the kissing gourami is surprisingly popular as a food fish, cooked by pan frying, broiling, baking, and steaming. From these places, the kissing gourami is bred and exported to Australia, North America, Europe, and Japan, where it is considered a pet fish.
Unfortunately, the fish is not really that good for ornamental fish keeping unless pink, flesh, and silver-green colors are appealing for you. Besides color, it doesn't have any other variation. Still, many fish keepers are amazed with its almost scale- and skin-less look, especially its kissing lips, which are actually its teeth.
Despite the few choices, keeping kissing gourami is a demanding job. The fish can reach 12 inches long, with a lifespan of up to seven years. If you want it smaller, then get the balloon pink or the dwarf kissing gourami. These two were specially bred to achieve a smaller kisser.
In the wild, the kissing gourami lives in a slow-moving but heavily vegetated pond. Imitate the same quality of aquarium habitat for the fish and you'll keep it happy and healthy.
A slow-moving tank can be achieved by not using air pump or choosing special filters. For the needed plants, it's best to stick with java moss and java fern. But since the fish is fond of digging plants, you better use big gravels and stones to prevent this habit.
Set all these up in a 50-gallon tank. While a young kisser can survive in a 20-gallon tank, it will outgrow it so fast and you'll soon need a bigger tank. A 50-gallon tank is, therefore, a better investment.
The tank for a kissing gourami should keep the water at least 72oF to as much as 82oF while the pH should be between 6 and 8. Although it is a hardy fish, it still has a preference on water hardness, which is 5 to 20 dH.
Algae growth is in favor for the kissing gourami's hungry stomach. Better not to clean the tank glass to produce this natural food source.
The kissing gourami naturally feeds on algae that is growing on corrals. It nips on the corral stones just to get the algae, a behavior similar to the parrotfish.
But if you can't let algae grow, then choose among other food choices for the kisser like aquatic plants, phytoplankton, and zooplankton. There are algae wafer, too, which can perfectly replace the naturally grown algae.
Usual food choices like flakes and pellets are also good. Freeze and live foods like worms and brine shrimps will give a variety to its usual diet.
A kissing gourami is potentially a territorial and aggressive fish. Some of it, however, can be peaceful and live harmoniously with other fishes of its kind. So before you take a kissing gourami home, observe its behavior first. An aggressive fish will be a real headache, be it a kissing gourami or not.