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8 Great Tank Mates for Gouramis (With Pictures)

Kristin Hitchcock

By Kristin Hitchcock


The Gourami is a beautiful fish that comes in just about every variety imaginable.  While these fish are docile, you cannot simply add them to a community tank. There are certain tank mates that can stress out the Gourami, increasing the chance of disease and leading to aggressive behavior.

If you want your fish to be happy, you should be careful about what tank mates you choose for your Gourami. They can get along with many different species without much of a problem.

In this article, we look at some of the best tank mates for the Gourami1. While they won’t live totally peacefully with all these fish, they are the best options when you’re looking to add to your community tank.

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The 8 Great Tank Mates for Gouramis

1. Panda Corydoras (Corydoras panda)

panda corydoras
Image Credit: tarzan1104, Shutterstock
Size: 2 inches
Diet: Bottom feeders
Minimum tank size: 15 gallons
Care level: Easy
Temperament: Docile

The Panda Corydoras is a peaceful, armored catfish that is both peaceful and fun to watch. They are bottom dwellers, so they won’t mind many top-dwelling species, including Gourami. Both these species need similar water parameters, so you won’t be playing a difficult balancing game to keep them in the same tank. These catfish generally stay out of the way of other fish, so they are excellent for practically any community tank.

As you might imagine, this fish is called a “panda” due to their black and white pattern. They are quite unique to look at, which is rare for such a docile fish. They don’t get larger than 2 inches, so they don’t take up much room in a tank.

The only thing to keep in mind is that this species is somewhat particular about the substrate. They prefer a sandy bottom, as gravel and rocks can cause them injury. You’ll need to feed these Cories sinking pellets and feed your Gourami floating pellets.

2. Kuhli Loach (Pangio spp.)

kuhli loache
Image Credit: slowmotiongli, Shutterstock
Size: 4 inches
Diet: Bottom feeders
Minimum tank size: 20 gallons
Care level: Easy
Temperament: Docile

These fish are well-known for their yellow and dark brown pattern, which sets them apart from other fish. They are nocturnal and spend most of their daytime hours hiding under rocks and anywhere else they can find. Therefore, they don’t tend to bother diurnal fish.

However, they also aren’t the most fun to watch for this reason. You won’t see them until it’s nighttime. They’ll spend much of their time hiding and sleeping.

For best results, it is best to keep a larger group together. We recommend keeping at least eight in a tank for maximum satisfaction. At night, their activity levels rise substantially, making them quite fun to watch. Install some sort of a moon light so you can view their nighttime behavior.

Like most bottom feeders, you’ll need to feed them sinking pellets. This won’t interfere with any top-dwelling fish, making it easy to keep them together.

3. Glowlight Tetra (Hemigrammus erythrozonus)

Glowlight tetra
Image Credit: Besjunior, Shutterstock
Size: 1.5 inches
Diet: Omnivorous
Minimum tank size: 20 gallons
Care level: Easy
Temperament: Docile

Tetras are great for a community tank in general. These peaceful fish don’t tend to bother other fish. Plus, their schooling behavior makes them quite interesting to watch. These fish are less neon than other species of tetras. This prevents them from potentially seeing the Gourami as rivals, making them better tank mates for this species.

They also like similar water conditions to Gourami, which allows them to be kept alongside them easily. They do prefer having multiple places to hide, however. We recommend adding a few floating plants or similar places.

As you might expect from a schooling fish, it is best to keep at least eight of these fish together. This prevents them from looking bland and skittish. They find power in numbers and won’t follow their true behavior otherwise.

4. Harlequin Rasbora (Trigonostigma heteromorpha)

harlequin rasbora
Image Credit: Joan Carles Juarez, Shutterstock
Size: 2 inches
Diet: Omnivorous
Minimum tank size: 15 gallons
Care level: Easy
Temperament: Docile

Harlequin Rasbora are both agile and colorful, which makes them fun to watch. Because they are schooling fish, you’ll need to keep many of them in a tank for them to remain happy and content. They will add life to your aquarium without bothering your Gourami. They don’t require a large tank, but they do prefer tanks that are wide rather than tall.

They prefer the same water conditions as the Gourami, so you won’t need a complicated tank setup. They find calm, dimly lit spaces the best and particularly love tanks with many live plants. Look for low-light plants in particular, like Java ferns.

5. Bristlenose Pleco (Ancistrus sp.)

Bristlenose Plecos inside aquarium
Image Credit: TTONN, Shutterstock
Size: 5 inches
Diet: Bottom feeders
Minimum tank size: 30 gallons
Care level: Easy
Temperament: Docile

There are many small catfish varieties that may be suitable for your community tank, including the Bristlenose Pleco. Because these fish live on the bottom, they don’t interfere with other fish that live higher up. They are also quite docile and not that active, so they aren’t likely to make themselves targets of other fish. They’ll spend most of their time simply attached to the side of the wall or the bottom of the tank.

While these fish do stay somewhat small, they aren’t necessarily a good option for smaller tanks. They produce a great deal of waste, so we recommend at least a 30-gallon tank for these fish. This is a similar size that you’ll need for large Gourami species, so if you’re getting one of these larger fish, you may want one of these bottom feeders as well.

6. Dwarf Crayfish (Cambarellus sp.)

dwarf crayfish
Image Credit: SritanaN, Shutterstock
Size: 1.6-2 inches
Diet: Bottom feeders
Minimum tank size: 8 gallons
Care level: Easy
Temperament: Docile

Crayfish typically aren’t good tank mates because they tend to eat their cohabitants. However, the Dwarf Crayfish is a bit different. They are much too small to eat most other fish, which means that they typically spend their time just peacefully hanging out.

These fish also inhabit a completely different water layer. They’re bottom feeders, so they usually won’t wander to the top of the tank where the Gourami is. If the Gourami decides to bother your crayfish, they can typically hold their own without sustaining any injuries.

The Dwarf Crayfish and Gourami make good tank mates not because they will peacefully leave each other alone, but because they can’t injure each other either way.

7. Amano Shrimp (Caridina japonica)

amano shrimp
Image Credit: Pixabay
Size: 2 inches
Diet: Bottom feeders
Minimum tank size: 10 gallons
Care level: Easy
Temperament: Docile

Unlike other shrimp, Amano shrimp are big enough to avoid being eaten by Gourami. They are much larger than others species of dwarf shrimp and won’t get nipped much because of this. They are also not that assertive and tend to keep to themselves. They won’t upset your fish and they have a huge appetite for algae, so they’ll do a good job of keeping your tank clean.

These shrimp are extremely easy to keep, so they’re a good option for new hobbyists as well. They do need plenty of veggies to eat. Naturally occurring algae is the best option. However, they will eat blanched zucchini and spinach if algae is in short supply. You can also purchase algae wafers for them to eat.

8. Cherry Barb (Puntius titteya)

cherry barbs
Image Credit: Grigorev Mikhail, Shutterstock
Size: 2 inches
Diet: Omnivorous
Minimum tank size: 20 gallons
Care level: Easy
Temperament: Docile

Barbs are typically the best tank mates for Gourami. Most species tend to be a bit nippy and are extremely active. They can take up the whole tank, no matter how big it is. However, cherry barbs are a bit different. They’re far more docile and are pretty as well, which makes them a suitable option as tank mates.

These fish are adaptable, so they’re often easy to take care of. They do prefer similar water values to Gourami, so they can be kept alongside them. They are schooling fish, though, so you’ll need to get a group of at least 8 for them to behave naturally. Otherwise, they can be quite skittish.

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What Makes a Good Tank Mate for a Gourami?

Gourami usually hang out at the top layer of water, near the surface. For this reason, they do best with fish that are either bottom feeders or prefer the middle water layer. If the other fish also wants to hang out at the top, you may run into issues.

This species is quite docile in nature and even a bit shy. They can easily feel stressed by fish that are extremely active or nippy. While they can defend themselves in many situations, the act of needing to defend themselves will cause a decent amount of stress.

At the same time, Gourami are predatorial. They will eat small fish and shrimp. If it fits into their mouth, they’ll eat it. Therefore, your main goal is to look for tank mates that are larger but peaceful.

Where Do Gourami Prefer to Live in the Aquarium?

Gourami breath air, unlike most other fish. While they can receive some of their oxygen from the water around them, they will also “gulp” it from the surface of the water. Therefore, they prefer to stay toward the top of the water where they can easily access air when they need it.

They will typically spend all their time at the top, only occasionally going to the bottom. If they see a shrimp or something yummy to eat, they may travel to the bottom of the aquarium to hunt it. However, for the most part, they’ll spend all their time at the top.

Water Parameters

Most Gourami are adaptable to their water. They can do well in a wide range of water values, especially if they were commercially bred. However, they naturally occur in soft and acidic waters, so they seem to do best with these water parameters.

You may want to choose tank mates that can deal with this lower pH. There are many fish that are theoretically great tank mates, but they prefer harder water.


There are a few different species of Gourami. They all grow to different sizes and need differently sized aquariums. For instance, some can grow as large as 12 inches, which would indicate a need for an aquarium that is at least 75 gallons. Some are smaller and only get a few inches. This allows them to be suitable for smaller tanks.

Dwarf gourami
Image Credit: Corneliu LEU, Shutterstock

Aggressive Behaviors

In many cases, these fish are docile. They simply hang around the top of the tank and mind their own business. They aren’t particularly aggressive and can be considered quite peaceful in most cases.

That said, they are predatory. This means they will attempt to eat anything that is smaller than them. This can be a problem for shrimp and any smaller fish in the aquarium. Therefore, it is important that the fish that you choose as tank mates can’t be seen as food.

The 3 Benefits of Having Tank Makes for Gourami in Your Aquarium

1. You’ll use the whole tank

Gourami typically stick to the top of the tank. They don’t use the whole thing because they’ll spend most of the time just sitting near the top. If you want your whole aquarium to get used, you’ll need to invest in a few tank mates.

2. Some tank mates will keep your tank clean

Many ideal tank mates will help keep the tank clean by eating algae and other debris. Gourami don’t do this.

3. Many tank mates will make your tank livelier

Gourami aren’t super active. They tend to spend most of their time resting near the top.


powder blue dwarf gourami
Image Credit: Yuriy Chertok, Shutterstock

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Gourami are a complicated fish to find tank mates for. They tend to be docile, and more active fish can easily stress them out. However, they are also predatory and will eat anything smaller than them. Therefore, it is best to find a tank mate that is larger and quite peaceful.

We included eight different tank mates in this article that fit this description. Most of these fish are docile and easy to take care of.

See Also:

Featured Image Credit: slowmotiongli, Shutterstock

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