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5 Great Tank Mates for Kissing Gouramis (With Pictures)

Lindsey Stanton Profile Picture

By Lindsey Stanton

Kissing gourami

The Kissing Gourami is a large fish bred for food in many parts of the world, but most of our pets are captive bred in Florida, so keeping them does not harm their natural habitat. These fascinating fish breathe air from the surface and are plant and algae eaters that appear to be kissing the food. However, these fish can also be aggressive when fully grown, so many experts recommend keeping them separate from other fish. However, we’ve compiled a list of several species that will get along just fine with your pet so you can have a more diversified aquarium.

Keep reading while we look at the size, diet, care level, and more of each one of these fish so you can see if they are right for your aquarium.

The 5 Great Tank Mates for Kissing Gouramis

1. Red EyeTetra (M. sanctaefilomenae)

Red Eye Tetra
Image Credit: Nicholas Toh, Shutterstock
Size: 2 3/4 inches (7 cm).
Diet: Omnivore
Minimum tank size: 20 gallons (95 liters)
Care level: Easy
Temperament: Peaceful (best in groups of three or more)

The Red Eye Tetra is a popular aquarium fish due to its easy-going temperament and preference for living in a community tank. It’s happiest in groups of three or more and might even become aggressive if kept alone. It’s fun to watch and large enough to live alongside your Kissing Gourami. It’s instantly recognizable by its red eye and is captive-bred at commercial facilities in Europe and Asia, so owning them does not reduce their natural numbers. It’s easy to raise and lives about five years.

2. Cherry Barb (Fanciu nm.) – Best for Small Tanks

cherry barbs
Image Credit: Grigorev Mikhail, Shutterstock
Size: 10 – 12 inches (25-30 cm)
Diet: Omnivore
Minimum tank size: 25 gallons (95 liters)
Care level: Easy
Temperament: Peaceful (best in groups of five or more)

The Cherry Barb is a smaller fish from South Asia that can cohabitate peacefully with your Kissing Gourami and is our pick as the best for small tanks. It’s a popular aquarium fish with a compact body. The female is a fawn color while the male has a reddish tint, giving this species its name. These fish prefer to be part of a school, and most experts recommend keeping them in groups of five or more.

3. Clown Loach (C. macracanthus)

clown loach
Image Credit: Joan Carles Juarez, Shutterstock
Size: 11.8 inches (30 cm)
Diet: Omnivore
Minimum tank size: 100 gallons (378 liters)
Care level: Intermediate
Temperament: Peaceful

The Clown Loach is the largest fish on this list so far, often reaching more than 11 inches long. Its size and peaceful nature keep it off the radar of your Kissing Gourami, and they should cohabitate nicely. The Clown Loach can be a little aggressive when under stress, like when you first add it to the tank. It will no longer be hostile once it becomes familiar with its environment, and it’s a great choice if you have frequent problems with snails because it excels at removing them. The only challenge with keeping these attractive fish is that they require a large environment of at least 100 gallons.

4. Kuhli Loach (P. kuhlii)

Kuhli Loach
Image Credit: slowmotiongli, Shutterstock
Size: 4 inches (8 cm).
Diet: Carnivores
Minimum tank size: 15 gallons (57 liters)
Care level: Intermediate
Temperament: Peaceful, shy

The Kuhli Loach is an eel-like fish from Indonesia. It grows to about 4 inches long and is extremely shy, often hiding behind tank decorations or burying itself in the substrate if it’s soft enough. It will go out of its way to avoid your Kissing Gourami, and they are unlikely to get into a conflict. While this species is attractive and can live in one of the smallest tanks on our list, it can be challenging to see since it’s nocturnal and will scurry away if it senses you coming.

5. Apistoogramma  (Mesops taeniatus)

Apistogramma of ramezi
Image Credit: Pixabay
Size: 3 inches (10 cm)
Diet: Omnivore
Minimum tank size: 20 gallons (95 liters)
Care level: Intermediate
Temperament: Semi-aggressive

The Apistogramma is the only strict carnivore on our list of tank mates, so it will not always be competing with your Kissing Gourami for food. It does have a slight reputation for becoming aggressive in certain circumstances, but it is much calmer if you keep it in groups of three or more. It’s also not likely to attack the much larger Kissing Gourami.

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What Makes a Good Tank Mate for Kissing Gourami?

Your Kissing Gourami is a fairly large fish that can often reach one foot in length. It’s an omnivore, so it will be happy to make a meal out of any fish that’s about the size of a meal, so you should avoid fish that are smaller than about one inch. You should also avoid other aggressive fish and fin nippers, like the Goldfish that might start a fight. Fast-moving fish can also attract the peaceful and slow-moving Kissing Gourami causing it to attack.

Where Do Kissing Gourami Prefer to Live in the Aquarium?

Your Kissing Gourami will require a tank of at least 75 gallons to accommodate its large size. It will also need access to the surface since it will need to breathe water. When not at the surface, it enjoys taking slow swims across the tank.

close up kissing gourami in the tank
Image Credit: Evgenii Predybailo, Shutterstock

Water Parameters

Your Kissing Gourami prefers to live in slow-moving water, so you will need to make sure the filter and aeration don’t move the water around too much. The water will need to stay between 72 and 82 degrees to keep your pet fish healthy, and it requires a water a pH between 6 and 8.8. there are no special lighting requirements.


Wild Kissing Gouramis live in much larger bodies of water than we can create in our home and can often reach 12 inches or more. However, in smaller home aquariums, it’s much more common to see smaller sizes in the 5 – 7-inch range, though larger sizes are possible.

Aggressive Behaviors

Your Kissing Gourami is quite sociable as a juvenile, and you can safely keep it in a tank with other fish. However, as it matures into an adult, it will begin to bully the other fish and can get aggressive, often chewing off fins and preventing other air-breathing fish from reaching the surface. We recommend separating it and only housing it with suitable companions like the ones we have listed here.

aquarium plant divider

The 7 Benefits of Having Tank Mates for Kissing Gourami in Your Aquarium

1. It can add variety to your aquarium.

2. Some tank mates can rid the tank of algae, snails, and other companions.

3. You’ll get more use out of your 75-gallon (minimum) tank.

4. The aquarium will be more fun to watch.

5. The aquarium will better recreate natural environments

6. A more natural environment might help reduce the stress levels of your fish.

7. More fish are more fun.


aquarium plant divider


The Kissing Gourami is a majestic fish relaxing to watch as it slowly drifts back and forth across your tank. It can be quite hypnotic, but if you’re like most people and want more fish to your tank, you’ll also find it quite aggressive and a skilled hunter. Our list should get you started with adding attractive and useful companies to your tank, and our guidelines should help you assess the risks of other fish you might see as you shop. As a general rule, larger peaceful fish that don’t swim too fast are a good choice. We like the Loaches because they are interesting, attractive, and help keep the tank clean.

We hope you have enjoyed reading over this guide, and it has helped answer your questions. If we have helped find your pet a new companion, please share this guide to selecting tankmates for your kissing Gourami on Facebook and Twitter.

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Featured Image Credit: Vladimir Wrangel, Shutterstock

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