Chocolate gourami.

When your fish are content, they will generally do what all living things generally do, they will breed.

Licorice and chocolate gourami are both considered to be a specialist's fish. They are challenging fish to keep successfully.

For a long time licorice gourami were on my wanted list of fish to try keeping. So when I finally, and unexpectedly found some at the aquarium shop, I immediately bought them and took them home.

Then came the question; How do I care for them?

What followed was a lot of reading and a steep learning curve.

My own fish have done very well and have bred for me repeatedly. So I thought I would put what I have learned here for others to find. The photos you see on this website I have taken myself and are from my own aquaria.

As they say; a picture is worth a thousand words.

When doing research, sometimes you find an interesting and important fact.

What I found interesting is the fact that both chocolate and licorice gourami can be found living together in the same waters. Two fish with reputations of being difficult to keep alive, let alone breed successfully.

and another one - licorice comes in allsorts.

A licorice,

Since they both live together in the wild, then it follows that if you can successfully keep licorice gourami, you can successfully keep chocolate gourami. That would probably go for many of the fish from those same type of waters.

Licorice and chocolate gourami come from the rain forests of Indonesia and in particular; Borneo. These waters are generally very soft, very acidic and very clean. These are called blackwaters and peat swamps.

In the aquarium, we can simulate to a degree, the creation of the blackwater by using very soft acidic water and adding some old wood and a few dried leaves. Tannins will be released, humic and fulmic acids will form in the acid water. Dried Indian almond leaves are popular to achieve this.

What really matters is clean water in regards to micro-organisms such as bacteria. Very acid water with very little nutrient content is not a good environment for micro-organisms to grow. Many of our familiar micro-organisms of aquarium keeping won't grow in very soft acidic water. This is important.

Chocolate gourami picking up newly laid eggs.

So we don't actually need peat for keeping our chocolates and licorice gourami. At least I don't find it so with Parosphromenus bintan and nagyi, nor with chocolates. The practice of maintaining water quality and placing some old wood and a few dried leaves in the aquarium can accomplish something similar to peat in recreating their natural home.

Licorice gourami have very limited areas of distribution in the wild. This together with agriculture and industry encroaching on these habitats, it follows that there may come a time in the very near future when these fish will disappear and be lost to us.

There is a world wide project to conserve licorice gourami within the hobby. It is The Parosphromenus Project. (external link). There you will find information on just about everything to do with the licorice gourami - the Parosphromenus.

I will echo here one of the aims of the Parosphromenus Project; if we are to continue to have these fish within the aquarium hobby, it is essential that we have hobbyists willing to learn how to conserve licorice gourami within the hobby.

It is one thing to successfully keep licorice gourami and indeed the chocolates. It is another thing entirely to go to the considerable trouble of breeding our fish regularly. The housing, feeding and upbringing of fry and finding homes for them is sometimes not easy. One needs a certain dedication.

Newly laid Parosphromenus bintan eggs together with older developing fry.

Perhaps this website can make it easier for interested hobbyists to succeed with the Parosphromenus here in Western Australia.

Here in Australia we are in a fairly unique position as far as importation of licorice gourami goes. We can only import one species of licorice gourami, Parosphromenus deissneri. We have a white list of allowed imports[1].

Unfortunately deissneri is close to extinction, so the fish imported are something else.

There are two species of Parosphromenus that have a wider distribution in the wild than many others, and therefore perhaps less threatened by human encroachment upon their habitats.

These are Parosphromenus bintan and Parosphromenus nagyi.

Coincidentally, these are the two species I have found, and the males are pictured above on this page. Parosphromenus bintan on the left and nagyi on the right. Perhaps one day the importation restrictions might be relaxed to allow bringing other species into Australia.

I hope this website helps you join a unique group of people, those who successfully keep and breed the licorice gourami. - Albert Sluik. Grass Valley Western Australia.


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  1. Permitted live freshwater fish suitable for import. (2020, March 18). Retrieved August 28, 2020, from



Suggested Reading

parosphromenus project logoParosphromenus Project (external link)

Parosphromenus Project (external link)

The Parosphromenus Project was founded in 2005 in Germany and has grown to be a worldwide project to study and preserve the licorice gourami within the aquarium hobby.

There you will find everything about the keeping and breeding of the licorice gourami.

Highly recommended as essential reading if you wish to keep the Parosphromenus.

The Science of Aquariums (external link)

An easy read practical explanation of the science behind aquarium keeping and water chemistry. Written by a chemist who is also an aquarist.


You can contact the author of this website by emailing: Albert Sluik.



This website is my little corner of the web where I can indulge my interests of coding websites, breeding challenging tropical fish and taking photographs of said challenging subjects.

It is also a place where I can share knowledge gained.

I am enjoying myself.

That is what this website is all about.