Kissing Gourami (Helostoma temmincki) are native to southeast Asia, where they are found living in tropical waters throughout Indonesia, Java, Thailand, Malaysia and Sumatra. They prefer slow-moving streams, floodplains and lakes with plenty of submerged vegetation. Their waters in their native habitat very widely in water chemistry, which makes the Kissing Gourami well suited for aquarium life where aquarium water chemistry varies widely from tank to tank. Kissing Gourami are also capable of living with a wide range of aquarium tank mates including both smaller more delicate species and larger more aggressive species. Their large adult size helps keep larger more aggressive fish from picking on them, while their relatively peaceful disposition makes them a suitable tank mate for smaller peaceful fish species. Lastly, hobbyists keeping multiple Kissing Gourami specimens may see them “kissing” one another by facing each other and locking lips. While not completely understood, it is believed that this behaviour is a social behaviour intended to establish social dominance and territory within the aquarium.
Hobbyists will want to keep Kissing Gourami in aquariums of at least 30 gallons in size and with a length of 3 feet or more. At their adult size of 9 inches, the Kissing Gourami will need adequate room to swim and enough water volume to handle their waste output. A 30 gallon aquarium or larger combined with a high-end power filter or canister filter will work well for keeping this species. Ideally the aquarium aqua-scape will include large flat rocks or driftwood surfaces that the Kissing Gourami can graze bio film off of. They will also appreciate low to moderate water currents, which are similar to the calm waters that they inhabit in nature. Kissing Gourami do well with a wide variety of peaceful to semi-aggressive tank mates, but may eat very small fish like juvenile Neon Tetra or similar very small fish species. Hobbyists will want to choose hardy plant species as the Kissing Gourami will spend much of its time grazing for algae on plant leaves, rocks, driftwood and the aquarium glass.
Kissing Gourami are actually a filter feeding fish species, who utilize specialized gill and mouth structures to filter microorganisms and algae from the water and submerged surfaces. It is this specialized feeding behavior that makes them appear to be “mouthing” almost constantly as they draw in water to filter it for food particles and free floating algae. They also spend much of their time using their mouths to scrape algae off of algae covered surfaces. Despite their specialized feeding behaviors, Kissing Gourami actually adapt well to aquarium life and will even consume many commercial food items. They do best with smaller soft foods like flake foods, tubifex worms, blood worms and other similar items that do not require them to crush or chew the food. Their overall diet should be high in plant material, thus they do best with flake foods that contain plenty of spirulina and vegetable material.