Sunset Thick-lipped Gourami
by Twyla Lindstrom-Peters
From "Fins & Friends" Regina Aquarium Society, Canada
These fish originate in Burma and Indo-China where they are found in shady waters. They
attain a size of 8cms. in the wild. They are very peaceful and can be easily kept with
other community type fish. They are not often available in pet stores.
The sunset thick-lipped gourami is a colour morph of the regular thick-lipped gourami.
It has the same "gourami" shaped body with the thickened fold of skin about the
mouth resulting in a thickened appearance (especially in the males). It also has the
ventral fin extensions resembling threads which are where its taste buds are located. It
differs primarily in colour. The females become a beautiful golden shade throughout as
they mature. The abdomens of the females also become quite deep as well as wide as they
fill with eggs. Males also develop the golden hue but turn chocolate brown on their
undersides when interested in spawning. The males are slimmer, lacking the large abdomen
of the female. They also have a slight depression over the eye.
They tend to be quite shy and appreciate a well planted tank with plenty of sheltered,
quiet corners in which to rest. When they relax they show their fins and color. They will
accept flake or pelletted foods, but are best conditioned on live foods or frozen brine
shrimp. They are quite hardy and tolerate 68-86 degrees F. (ideal is 78 degrees F.) and
most water conditions.
To encourage these fish to spawn, place one pair in a well planted tank (water sprite
is ideal) with top cover such as water lettuce or frogbit. Keep the water level down about
2 inches. Increase the temp. to between 80-84 degrees F.. Keep the tank tightly covered
and add a sponge filter with slow to moderate air flow. Try to use a large, long tank as
the spawns are very large. (Some sources suggest upwards of 1500 eggs). When the pair
spawns, they can simply be removed and the spawn raised in the breeding tank.
My fish spawned within 24 hours of being placed in a breeding tank. They spawn in the
same fashion as most other anabantoids. The male builds a very large and deep bubble nest
(about 6 inches around and 3-4 bubbles deep). Then after a few "flirtatious"
circular rendezvous the pair will embrace with the male wrapping his body around the
female and rolling over together. As they roll, about 50-100 eggs are expelled and
fertilised simultaneously. The female is then released as the male collects the eggs and
places them in the bubble nest. The spawning embrace is repeated until the female's egg
supply is depleted. Then, the male chases the female away and guards and tends the nest.
The male Colisa labiosa is not as vicious as the male Colisa lalia
and is usually content as long as the female stays out of the vicinity of the nest. (I
removed both parents once spawning was complete.)
The eggs hatch in 24-36 hours at 80 degrees F. and fry hang like minute commas from the
nest for the next 48 hours while absorbing their yolk saks. I leave the light on above for
24 hours while the fry are tiny. Once free swimming, the fry can be fed infusoria and
Liquifry. By the end of the week, they can handle newly hatched brine shrimp. Be careful
to maintain good water quality and warm, humid air over the water especially at 4-6 weeks
old when the labyrinths are developing. Also, avoid any sudden drops in the temperature of
the water and water hardness or pH as all can be lethal to small fry.
They grow quite quickly and should be about 3/4-1inch long with a golden line up the
anal fin by 60 days of age if provided with good food and water conditions. The fry are
very peaceful but will require extra space to grow especially if the spawn is a large one!
Next time you notice these not often seen gouramis in a shop, give them a try, they are