Name: Trichogaster trichopterus
Origin: Thailand, Borneo
Three-Spot Gouramies are very hardy and pretty fish which can be readily found in several different color patterns, ranging from light to dark blue, yellow, pink and brown. Dispite the name, many of these have no spots at all. They're often sold to and chosen by beginners because of their hardiness, but they do have two points against this choice: first, they grow rather large (~15 cm) and may overcrowd smaller tanks. Second, the males tend to be very territorial and with their large size will often bully all the smaller fish, forcing them to stay hidden in some corner of the tank. This can be very frustrating to beginners, especially kids. The solution is to keep them in large, well planted tanks, or to keep only females. Sexing them is easy, since the male has a long and pointed dorsal (upper) fin, while the female's is short and rounded (as in the picture above). I find it quite disappointing that few employees in fish shops actually know this difference.
In my experience, I have not had any problem keeping males and females together. I have a total of eight gouramies in a 200 liter tank and I believe that in a tank of such length (1,20 m) one should be okay since the fish have plenty of space to move around. Actually, in my situation, the females are more aggressive than the males! Everyone seems to have a different experience with these fish, and with experience comes knowledge of what works for you.
I keep some (now about ten) gouramies in 200 litres and 1 metre long tank. There are also some other species, mostly catfishes. Occasionally even a couple of barbuses for a moment. Up to now without conflicts as gouramies are bigger. During a couple of years gouramies are dominating in this tank and regularly nesting and spawning. I have a lot of Ceratophyllum plants on the surface and it is protecting offspring. Once I had 3 successful nests at the same time with about 30 cm distance. Sometimes females get smaller damages from males, but damages quickly recover and females don`t look stressed.
One of the color variants is called the "Opaline Gourami" or the "Cosby Gourami" after the fish breeder who first established it. In this fish the dark spots are replaced by a marbleized patterning of dark ink blue against the light metallic blue of the body. This is one of the most beautiful of the many color varieties of Trichogaster and Colisa spp. however, when you choose this fish don't accept one where the spots are still distinct, they should be blended into the clody rippled markings of the fish. This Gourami too is subject to intestinal parasites: it needs a quarantine and medication for nematodes before you introduce it to your aquarium.
I haven't intentionally bred these Gouramies, but I've seen them mature and spawn in my tanks, so here's how it normally went:
- As they mature, the male develops a more slender body and a longer and more pointed dorsal fin. Females develop huge whitish bellies, which means they're full of eggs. Their dorsal fins are short and rounded.
- The dominant male chooses some corner of the tank where the water is still, marks his territory and starts building a bubble nest. His colors become very intense (deep blue) and he won't tolerate ANYONE, not even you, coming near his corner. Whenever I stuck my hand into the tank for maintenance he would visciously attack it...good thing they don't have teeth :-)
- He then moves around the tank looking for a receptive female. If they aren't ready they'll just run away while he chases them for a while. If one of them is receptive, he eventually attracts her to just below the bubble nest.
- They begin some interesting dances, and at some moment he bends his entire body, embracing the female's belly, and "squeezes" out the eggs and fertilizes them. This is a truly fantastic scene, it's hard to believe that the male can bend that much until you actually see it.
- They make sure the eggs get to the bubble nest and stick to the bubbles. After that the female is typically dismissed and the male takes over caring for the eggs.
- The eggs hatch after 2 or 3 days (if I remember correctly) and that's the end of the story where my experience is concerned, since the babies had this inevitable tendency to go hide inside other fish's bellies :-)
I believe they need still, warm and soft water in order to do this. The spawning conditions in my tank were typically T 27-30 C, pH 6.6-7.2, GH 3-5.