This is the first of what I hope will be a regular series on the wonderful variety of aquatic botanicals, and how they work with various fishes. The idea behind this was to give you some inspiration and ideas for utilizing our botanicals in species-specific setups, for breeding, education, and enjoyment.
Today, we'll look at a much sought-after representative from one of the more popular groups of fishes- the Gouramis- specifically, the "Sparkling Gourami", Trichopsis pumila, and the types of aquatic botanicals that would work well with this species.
Image by Zikamoi (used under CC BY SA 3.0)
This species is found throughout the lower Mekong River basin in Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand, and in watersheds all over Central and Southern (peninsular) Thailand. It's a small fish, reaching only about an inch and a half at best, which lends itself well to being kept in small aquariums, ranging in size from 2.5 to 10 gallons. One word of warning, from the "Don't-say-we-didn't-tell-you-so" Department: They make noises! Huh? Yeah, they "croak", which is a bit weird until you realize that they are also known in the trade as the "Dwarf Croaking Gourami!"
It typically inhabits slow-moving, sometimes even semi-stagnant habitats, including swamps, tributaries of rivers, flood plains, rice paddies, irrigation channels, and even roadside ditches. T. pumila seems to favor sluggish and still environments, with a lot of vegetation, roots, leaf litter, branches, and other matter. Since the fish likes access to humid ari, you'd be well advised to not fill up the aquarium completely to the top, leaving some humid air-water interface. Being Anabantoides, they can breathe atmospheric air to a certain extent. For this reason, the Sparkling Gourami would be a good subject fish for a riparium type display, featuring a combination of riparium plants and natural woods, pods, etc!
Swamps with dark. organic-rich water and riparium plants are not an uncommon biotope in which to fish T. pumila.
Rice paddy- one environment of the Sparkling Gourami.
Even little roadside ditches provide a comfortable environment for T. pumila.
If you're trying to represent its natural environment, you'd do well to utilize a number of leaves and leaf-litter "substitutes...Specifically, "Nano" Catappa Leaves, Guava Leaves, and botanicals like "Carambola Lixo", "Terra Sorrindo", "Frita Pods", or Banana Stem Pieces. These fish favor an acidic pH (between 5.0-7.0), so these materials, if used in proper quantity, can reduce pH and supply beneficial tannic and humic acids for the fishes' health, appearance, and well-being. I would use a simple sponge filter or or small internal filter to maintain their aquarium, with minimal surface agitation.
Nano Catappa Leaves pack a nice tannin "punch!"
"Terra Sorrindo"- a longer lasting "leaf litter" component!
"Frita Pods" offer a new dimension to your substrate!
These fishes are rather sociable, so you can keep them in small groups or pairs. Being the peaceful type, you want to keep them with similar-sized tank mates which have very peaceful dispositions themselves. The reality is that your best off keeping these little gems in their own, species-specific display. This will encourage more natural behaviors, which can lead to spawning!
A bubble nest- a very encouraging sign!
If you elect to go with a riparium-type setup, you could employ the ingenious Aqua Verdi RIparium Planters to place beautiful plants along the "bank" of your "swamp!" This opens up all sorts of potentially fascinating and productive possibilities. With a little creativity, you could certainly mimic something like this:
Beautiful and inspiring riparium by Devin Biggs.
One of the best things about this endearing little fish is that you can house it quite successfully in a relatively small aquarium. This gives you both great control over the environment, as well as the ability to observe the fishes closely. Such setups come together easily and quickly, and can be a lot of fun to work with!
I hope this very brief little review of the Sparkling Gourami and some botanical suggestions gives you a little inspiration to try something with tis cool fish! If you have pics and ideas of setups for this little Gourami, feel free to post them on our Facebook page, os you can inspire others!