Trichopsis Vittata - The Croaking Gourami

Scientific Name: Trichopsis Vittata (comes from Latin vittatus=banded)

Common Name: Croaking Gourami

Synonyms: Trichopus striatus, Ctenops vittatus, C. nobilis, Trichopsis harrisi, Osphromenus vittatus, O. striatus

Order: Percomorphi

Sub Order: Anabantoidea

Family: Belontiidae


T. vittata is an anabantoid fish. It has a labyrinth organ to supplement its oxygen supply in its habitat of ponds. It comes from Eastern India, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia. It is a commonly found labyrinth fish in these places.

Croaking gouramis generally a peaceful species if kept in a community tank with other gentle species. In a species tank, they can become a bit rough if there are only a few fish in it. In NE Malaysia, where they have no Betta splendens or B. imbellis, they are called "fighting fish" and are fought in contests.

This fish gets to be about 2½" long. There are differences between the male and female. These differences are not always noticeable in some fish. (I had two females; one of which I thought was male). Males have more reddish colour to their fins and a longer anal fin. Females are also supposed to be identified by the fact the their yellowish ovary shows through their scales. The best way to see this is to look at the fish in a small container and hold it up to the light to see the yellow. Croaking gouramis are a brown bodied fish with three horizontal stripes. Two run from the mouth to the anal fin and one starts behind the eye and goes to the anal fin. There are blue highlights on the body of the fish, especially the rear part of the body. The anal fin starts approximately 2/3 down the body. The tail is pointed. All the fins are reddish with blue highlights. The anal fin has threadlike extensions on the back end of the fin. Both sexes have these extensions (though not always so obvious in females).

The books I have read state that this fish should be kept at 72-82F. The pH should be 6.5-7.5 with a water hardness of 3-15dGH. They like a very well planted tank to be kept in. They are omnivorous. They seem to eat everything that I put in the tank for them. (They really liked Tetrabits and newly hatched live brine shrimp).

They are called croaking gouramis because both sexes make croaking noises when excited; breeding or fighting.

T. vittata is a bubblenest builder. It will make a nest in a cave or on the surface of the water. It is supposedly difficult to breed and not prolific in one book and another states they lay 200 eggs. It is recommended to lower the water level in the tank you are using for breeding. Raise the temperature to around 86F and use soft water. The female will turn on her side to show the male her belly. She then moves her caudal fins in front of the male in a wave-like motion. The male moves beside her and squeezes her just like a Betta splendens. When breeding is over, you should remove the female. The fry hatch in about 36 hours. It takes 4-5 days before the fry are free swimming.

I bought my fish in London at a pet store on Oct. 3. I bought four fish. Two males and two females. Five days later one female was beaten to death. Two weeks later I could only find a male and a female in the tank. One week after this the male took a trip to the basement floor and was a 'crunchie' when I found him. I was not happy with this situation to say the least. So that weekend I went back to London to get more gouramis. I was glad to see that there was some left. I bought two more fish; a male and a female as it turns out.

Three days later, I went to my fishroom and there was a bubblenest in their tank. I had put them in a tank with a sponge filter that barely put out bubbles. I had the temperature at 86F. The water is hard with a pH of 7.8-8. There was Java Moss and floating hornwort in the tank. Not taking any chances I removed all the fish to another tank. After I removed the parents I covered up the tank with plastic wrap because I knew it would be too cold otherwise for the fry to live when their labyrinth organs were developing. There were at least 100 fry on the first day. Their numbers slowly declined. I think the fry needed more food that was smaller than baby brine. I also put liquid food in for them as well.

The tank that the adults were in also had a sponge filter but it was going pretty hard. I noticed one of the gouramis getting picked on so I put a piece of PVC pipe in there for it to hide from the others. Twelve days later there was a bubblenest inside the PVC pipe but the female was dead. She had been beaten up. I again remove the adults, slowed down the filter and covered the tank.

I had put the adults in with a 4½" Betta pugnax because there was no more spots for them to be moved to. Four days after being in that tank, there was another bubblenest. I had thought the two remaining fish to be both males because of their appearance. They kept the Betta away from the nest in a 5 gallon tank. I thought that was really interesting. Another thing that happened was because I had no more space for the fry; I moved some to a tank that had fry in it and left the rest with the parents as there was A LOT of plant cover. The female started to eat the fry that swam to the front of the tank. However when she tried to do this the Betta would attack her. He normally just ignored her. He never went after the fry (he won't even eat baby brine shrimp).

Most of the fry in the second tank did not survive. I think it was because I had no plants in that tank, so there was no good colony of infusoria for them to eat. I have about 20 fry from the first batch. I read in the books that this fish was hard to spawn and the fry easy to raise on baby shrimp. In my experience; I couldn't stop the fish from breeding and had a hard time with the fry. I really enjoy the looks of these especially at spawning time. All the reds really become quite noticeable and are arranged quite prettily on the fish. I would recommend this fish to others. I didn't follow all the advice I had found and still spawned them. Well, who said fish read books.

© Copyright 1999-2003 Lisa Boorman
All Rights Reserved

Suggested Reading:

Baensch Aquarium Atlas by Dr. Rüdiger Riehl & Hans A. Baensch

A Fishkeeper's Guide to Fish Breeding by Chris Dr Andrews

An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Aquarium Fish by Gina Sandford

Aqualog: all Labyrinths (Bettas, Gouramis, Snakeheads, Nandids) by Frank Schaefer

Beginner's Guide to Bettas by W. L. Whitern

Bettas, Gouramis and Other Anabantoids by Jorg Vierke

To see more references on anabantids:

Anabantid Book List

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