The chocolate gourami (Sphaerichthys osphromenoides) is a small fish native to much of Peninsular Malaysia, Sumatra, and Borneo where it primarily inhabits peat swamps and associated black water streams though is also found in some clear water habitats. This small fish only grows to an adult size of 1.5 to 2 inches long. Adult males exhibit a uniformly straight lower jaw profile and an overall more tapered head shape than females, which have a slightly rounded lower jaw due to the presence of distensible skin that is expanded during mouthbrooding.
The chocolate gourami should be maintained in an aquarium of 20 gallons or larger. A dark colored soft, sandy substrate (CS6631) is a good choice. Driftwood (ZM2000) and leaf litter (CS706) will provide a more natural habitat. Hardy low light, live plants such as anubias may also be incorporated.
The chocolate gourami prefers a temperature of 73°F to 86°F, a pH of 4.0 to 6.5, and a hardness of of up to 0 to 3°H. Captive bred specimens may be able to tolerate a pH of up to 7.0 and a hardness of up to 10°H.
The chocolate gourami is a shy fish unsuited to the general community aquarium. It is slow moving and easily intimidated, so tank mates should be chosen with care. Good choices include small danios and rasboras such as celestial pearl danios, chili rasboras. glass catfish, otocinclus, and kuhli loaches. While not a schooling fish, chocolate gouramis to seem to require interaction with conspecifics. For this reason, it is advised to maintain them in a group of 6 or more.
In the wild, the chocolate gourami is a micropredator feeding on small aquatic crustaceans, worms, insect larvae and other zooplankton. In the aquarium it can be a picky eater and challenging to feed. Good food choices include frozen bloodworms (SF4792), brine shrimp (SF6777), and live blackworms. For maximum color, growth, and health these fish will look their best when given probiotics (AL169) in addition to a balanced diet.