Licorice Gourami – Profile, Size, Care, Tank Size

The licorice gourami is a fish that belongs to the biological family of Osphronemidae.

This fish is popular among fishkeeping enthusiasts because the licorice gourami is characterized by a distinctive appearance, hardy personality, and the intriguing activities it performs daily.

Its ray-finned body features a silver base with vertical black stripes and a black head with an upturned mouth, making it stand out among other gourami fish.

licorice gourami

The licorice gourami’s vibrant colors, intriguing activities, and ability to thrive in various environments make it a fantastic choice for aquarium hobbyists.

On the other hand, Male species frequently demonstrate hostile behaviors toward other males of the same species. This article highlights the essential points you need to know about caring for your licorice gourami fish species.

Description and Behavioral Tendencies of the Licorice Gourami

Licorice gourami fish has a silver body with black vertical stripes running from the dorsal fin to the top of the head. The blue, green, and red hues of the tail, belly and back fin make a spectacular sight, especially in an aquarium with a darker substrate.

Males have significantly more vibrant colors than females. Their dorsal, anal, and caudal fins are long and filamented, giving them a stunning appearance.

Male licorice gouramis in breeding mode have three black stripes on a light brown body with three white lines on each side. They have unpaired dark fins with a whitish margin and a red center stripe in the center.

Male licorice gouramis

Female black-bodied licorice gouramis have a light brown top and a dark brown bottom. In most cases, the female’s anal fins are blue-white near the body, although they can also be blue-white along the body’s margin.

Licorice gouramis become uneasy when stressed and prefer to dwell at the bottom of the tank. They may also zigzag across the tank or rub their bodies against any hard surface.

If you see this, immediately check your water quality and, if necessary, perform a partial water change. Unattended water accessories such as pebbles and aquatic plants can sometimes change the water quality, altering the licorice gourami’s typical behavior.

The mature licorice gourami weighs around 0.1 kg and reaches a length of about 2.5 inches (6 cm). Until it’s time to breed, there are no visible differences in size between the sexes.

Classification of the Licorice Gourami

The licorice gourami is also known as the Parosphromenus deissneri and is a freshwater ray-finned fish belonging to the Macropodusinae subfamily of the gourami family Osphronemidae.

Osphromenus deissneri was formally described as Osphromenus deissneri by Dutch ichthyologist Pieter Bleeker in 1859, citing Sungai Baturussa basin as the type location.

Distribution of the Licorice Gourami Species of Fish

You can typically find the licorice gourami in South East Asia. In fact, it is native to that region and originates primarily in the Bangkla Island of Indonesia.

Creating a Habitat For Your Licorice Gourami Fish Tank

The wild licorice gourami prefers warm water temperatures in freshwater settings. It favors stained blackwaters, where tannin-producing aquatic vegetation gives the water a dark tint. You can find it in low-visibility swampy water bodies.

Some do, however, thrive in clear water channels and ponds. They are hardy in their natural habitat, so that they will survive in an aquarium with similar water conditions.

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You should choose a twenty-gallon large fish tank and maintain the water temperature at around 79 degrees Fahrenheit. Further, the water must be of an acidic to neutral pH. Thickly planted with many floating plants is ideal for your licorice gourami.

For a pair of these fish, you’ll need a tank that can hold at least 5 gallons of water, and for a group of these fish, you’ll need a tank that can hold at least 20 gallons.

Water conditions required for keeping licorice gourami

It’s best if you try and recreate the licorice gourami’s natural habitat in your fish tank. To do that, you will need to add a dark-colored substrate to mimic dark water conditions.

You can create this environment by using peat in your filter or substrate, which will color the water in hues of brown or black, depending on how much you use. You should also add driftwood in the aquarium to create spaces for your licorice gourami fish to hide in.

This is essential to their mental health and comfort since these fish are known for finding a hiding area and settling down there for long periods of time.

Plants on the top of the tank are also a favorite of these fish since they can resort to entering the greenery for cover when they feel threatened!

Consider a filtering system that is effective but friendly on the water. Your fish tank must measure at least 40 centimeters in length and twenty centimeters in width. Try to maintain your aquarium’s water temperature within the range of 75 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit.

The water’s pH should be between 6.8 and 7.2, and it should be soft to medium-hard in texture.

Tankmates for the licorice gourami

The licorice gourami is a gentle fish, but it can be aggressive toward other fish of its species or those that resemble it. When choosing tank mates for your licorice gourami, seek species that are similar in size and peaceful.


Make sure your licorice gourami’s tank mates don’t snap at their fins. If they do, then you should probably relocate them to a different aquarium. Dwarf gourami fish, neon tetras, livebearers, boraras, kuhli loaches, and sundadanio genus fish are suitable tank mates.

You can also add some bottom-dwelling communal fish to the tank, such as cory catfish. You should not add shrimps and snails to your aquarium because licorice gouramis may attack and eat them.

Dietary Requirements for the Licorice Gourami

Licorice gouramis are omnivorous in their natural habitats, which means they can consume both algae and meat. These fish graze on insects, worms, larvae, and plant materials in an ideal natural habitat of dark and muddy waters. 

Therefore, you can feed your pet licorice gourami live foods such as bloodworms, brine shrimp, along with feedings of algae tablets. As a treat, you can also provide your licorice gouramis with fancy foods such as water fleas and tubifex worms. 

Licorice gouramis are more inclined toward swimming rather than hunting for their meals. Therefore, you must ensure that you make their meals accessible to them rather than making them work for it.

You can provide your fish with food once or twice a day and alter the food depending on whether you’re trying to train them for breeding or just keeping them healthy.

Reproduction and Breeding in Licorice Gourami Fish

Typically spawns in small caves or among leaf litter, forming temporary pair bonds with the male solely responsible for egg and brood care.

The classification of Parosphromenus has been arbitrarily made based on the courtship rituals of fish, which can be ‘head-up,’ ‘head-down,’ or ‘horizontal,’ depending on the species of fish.

During their courtship rituals, the male licorice gourami sometimes assumes a near-vertical position with the head lowermost and fins splayed. Still, he also frequently adopts a much more horizontal orientation. 

Sexually mature males form small territories, the center of which is a small cave, which in nature is formed from leaf litter. But, in fish tanks, they can choose any suitable structure. They then use spectacular displays to entice females in the area to enter the cave. 

Some males build a fundamental structure called the bubble nest inside the cave. However, this behavior is not universal in this species. However, after the eggs are released, both males and females attempt to attach them to the ceiling.

Any attempts to spawn after this may dislodge eggs from the cave’s roof, and inexperienced adults may simply eat them. Therefore, you must remember that you may require patience as a breeder until the fish get it right.

Suppose the mating process turns out to be fruitful. In that case, the female licorice gourami generally leaves the cave. It takes on the role of defending that area while its male counterpart takes on the part of brooding.

If you wish to breed your licorice gouramis, you should feed them live worms or tubifex to stimulate spawning. However, please make sure that the fish can easily consume them. If not, try tearing the worm into tinier pieces. 

Another step to facilitate the mating process is to gradually increase the water’s temperature until it reaches 28 degrees Celsius. Reduce the water level to 4 inches and wait for the male to construct a bubble nest on the artificial cave in the tank (such as a coconut shell).

Introduce the sexually mature female to the mating tank once the bubble nest is complete. She should begin spawning almost immediately.

Incubation in the licorice gourami species of fish typically lasts 24-36 hours, with the fry or baby fish emerging 4-6 days later.

They swim without direction at first, and the male will collect and return them to the ‘nest,’ but after 3-5 days, they are fully free-swimming and leave the cave, at which point parental care ends.

Sexual Dimorphism in Licorice Gourami

The licorice gourami species of fish is also known to be sexually dimorphic in nature. Therefore, male licorice gourami has a margin that is colored in a whitish-blue hue.

Further, a series of bluish oval-shaped markings on the dorsal, anal, and caudal fins are also commonly found on these fish. The portion of this fish’s fins closer to its head is black to reddish in color, with a small bluish or greenish iridescent patch on the dorsal.

Pelvic fins are iridescent greenish-blue with a white to bluish filamentous tip, while pectoral fins are hyaline. Nuptial males have a more intense color pattern overall.

On the other hand, female licorice gourami is much less colorful, lacking the bright blue and red bands on the dorsal, anal, and caudal fins.

One aspect you’ll find attractive in these fish is that both sexes can rapidly change color depending on their mood, for example, becoming significantly darker when aggressive.

Licorice Gourami Care

The licorice gourami is simple to care for, but it does necessitate some special precautions. It is best kept in tanks with plenty of swimming space and low light levels so it can hide when resting. It also prefers aquariums with a lot of vegetation, such as Java ferns.

The licorice gourami is a sensitive species. As a result, your aquarium should be a replica of its natural habitat. Make sure the licorice gourami has plenty of places to hide. It is a shy fish that quickly becomes stressed.

As a result, make sure the tank is well-decorated with bushy plants and driftwood for the fish to dart in and out of. Make sure that your aquarium has a dark substrate that mimics the murky water of its natural habitat.

Floating plants, such as Indian Fern or Amazon Frogbit, will also be appreciated by the licorice gourami.

Furthermore, as long as you follow the points of consideration about feeding them and setting up their habitats that we have discussed in this article, you will be able to provide your licorice gourami fish with the best care possible!


The licorice gourami fish can be an excellent addition to your pet fish collection. However, you need to provide the right environment and habitat for it in your aquarium. And this article is your best friend when it comes to that!


What is the lifespan of licorice gourami fish?

Licorice gourami fish live for about six years.

Where do gouramis eat?

Licorice gourami is omnivorous fish and eats algae, worms, insects, and larvae.

How big do Licorice Gouramis get?

Licorice gourami generally grows to be about 2.5 inches in length.

Are licorice gourami aggressive?

Licorice gourami fish aren’t generally of an aggressive nature but can display a readiness to fight other male licorice gouramis.

About the author

I'm Gulshan, a passionate pet enthusiast. Dive into my world where I share tips, stories, and snapshots of my animal adventures. Here, pets are more than just animals; they're heartbeats that enrich our lives. Join our journey!