Can I keep 3 dwarf gourami?

Quick Answer

Yes, you can keep 3 dwarf gourami in the same aquarium provided certain conditions are met in terms of tank size, water parameters, tank mates, and more. Dwarf gourami are social fish that do well in groups of 3 or more. However, a 20 gallon or larger tank is recommended to provide enough space. Proper steps must be taken to reduce aggression through aquascaping techniques and close monitoring of water quality. Overall, 3 dwarf gourami can coexist peacefully in a well-maintained aquarium.

Tank Size Recommendations

Dwarf gourami reach up to 2 inches in length when fully grown. A general guideline is to provide at least 10 gallons of water per dwarf gourami in the aquarium. Therefore, for a group of 3 dwarf gourami, a minimum tank size of 30 gallons is recommended. However, a larger tank is always better to reduce aggression and allow more swimming space.

Here are some tank size recommendations for housing 3 dwarf gourami:

  • Minimum tank size: 30 gallons
  • Recommended tank size: 40-55 gallons
  • Ideal tank size: 75 gallons or larger

The extra space will be utilized by the dwarf gourami and make them less likely to fight over territory. A larger aquarium also makes it easier to create defined spaces using aquatic plants and tank decor. Proper aquascaping is key to reducing aggression in dwarf gourami.

Water Parameters

Maintaining proper water parameters is crucial when keeping multiple dwarf gourami together. Here are the ideal water conditions to provide:

  • Temperature: 74°F – 82°F
  • pH: 6.0 – 8.0
  • Water Hardness: 5-12 dGH
  • Ammonia: 0 ppm
  • Nitrite: 0 ppm
  • Nitrate: < 20 ppm

Dwarf gourami prefer soft, slightly acidic water that is on the warmer side. The temperature should never drop below 74°F. Regular partial water changes will help keep ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates low. Use aquarium test kits to closely monitor the water parameters.

Stress from poor water quality can weaken the dwarf gourami’s immune systems and increase aggression. Keeping the water pristine is key to their health and minimizing conflict. Consider using live plants to help absorb nitrates between water changes.

Tank Mates

Selecting appropriate tank mates is important when housing dwarf gourami together. Avoid keeping them with aggressive fish that may prey on them or compete for territory space. Some suitable tank mates include:

  • Small peaceful community fish like neon tetras, celestial pearl danios, white cloud mountain minnows
  • Bottom dwellers like corydoras catfish and kuhli loaches
  • Snails and shrimp

The key is choosing fish that occupy different areas of the tank. For example, tetras use the upper levels while catfish stay at the bottom. This allows the dwarf gourami to claim their own mid-level space without competing. Tank mates should be added at the same time, not after the dwarf gourami have already established territories.

Avoid keeping dwarf gourami together with aggressive fish like tiger barbs, convict cichlids, Jack Dempseys, or oscars. These types of fish are likely to harass or kill the dwarf gourami. Be mindful of adding fish that are similar in size and temperament as the dwarf gourami themselves.

Aquascaping & Decor

The aquascape design can impact dwarf gourami aggression and compatibility. Here are some aquascaping tips:

  • Provide plenty of hiding places using rocks, driftwood, and plants
  • Create defined territories and boundaries between areas using decor
  • Provide open swimming areas for exercise
  • Use tall plants like Cabomba, Valisneria, and Amazon swordplants to break sightlines
  • Arrange decor to limit each dwarf gourami’s line of sight to reduce territorial disputes

Adding lots of plants and decor helps diffuse aggression by obstructing views and allowing the dwarf gourami to establish their own spots. Leave plenty of open swimming space as well. Positioning decor thoughtfully can make a big difference in dwarf gourami behavior.

Fine-leaved plants, floating plants, and very dense vegetation may be ignored or destroyed by the dwarf gourami. Pay attention to the types of plants and decor they seem to prefer. Adjust the aquascaping if needed to give them appropriate territories.


Feeding dwarf gourami a varied diet will keep them healthy and less aggressive at mealtimes. Offer a mix of:

  • High quality flake or pellet foods
  • Frozen foods like brine shrimp, bloodworms, daphnia
  • Blanched vegetables like zucchini, spinach, peas

Feed 2-3 small meals daily and watch for signs of aggression at feeding times. Spread the food out over a wide area to give all fish access. Target feeding more timid individuals to ensure they get food. Remove uneaten food promptly.

Well-fed dwarf gourami are less likely to show food-related aggression. Adjust the feeding amounts and schedule to reduce competition. Fasting 1-2 days per week can also improve temperament. Aim to feed a nourishing diet without overfeeding.

Sex Ratio

The ideal groups consist of at least 1 male dwarf gourami and 2 females. The presence of females tends to curb male aggression substantially. All males groups often result in fighting as each fish tries to assert dominance.

Females are not as brightly colored and lack the extended dorsal fin that distinguishes males. Look for subtle color patterns and a rounded dorsal fin shape when selecting females. Introducing them to the tank first before adding males can also minimize aggression.

Keeping just 1 male with multiple females is possible as well. The male will display to the females but is less likely to act aggressively towards them. Remove any females that seem stressed or harassed. Having a larger group of 6+ dwarf gourami can disperse aggressive behaviors but requires a very large tank.

Quarantine Period

Always quarantine new dwarf gourami for 2-4 weeks before introducing them into an established tank. Observe them closely for signs of disease during the quarantine period. This prevents introducing contagious issues like parasites, infections, or illnesses into the main aquarium.

Quarantining also allows time for the new fish to settle in and become accustomed to food, water parameters, and interactions with tank mates. Acclimating the fish gradually through quarantine reduces stress and aggression when they are finally added to the display tank.

Provide a spare 10+ gallon tank outfitted with a heater, filter, and plenty of hiding spots for quarantining purposes. Monitor water quality diligently and use medications as needed before releasing the dwarf gourami into the main tank.

Observations & Adjustments

Observe the dwarf gourami closely, especially during initial introduction and feeding times. Signs of aggression include:

  • Chasing or nipping
  • Spreading fins or raising gill covers as threats
  • Fighting and biting
  • One fish isolating itself or hiding frequently
  • Rapid respiration or loss of appetite in subordinate fish
  • Torn fins or wounds

At the first signs of aggression, make adjustments like:

  • Rearranging aquascaping to break up lines of sight between fish
  • Adding more plants, rocks, driftwood to create additional barriers
  • Feeding at multiple areas of the tank
  • Improving water conditions
  • Removing the aggressor fish temporarily or permanently if needed

Continuously evaluate tank size, water parameters, aquascaping, tank mates, and feeding routines. Make changes as required to promote harmony and reduce stress. With close observation and quick corrective actions, 3 dwarf gourami can live together peacefully.


Keeping 3 dwarf gourami together in one aquarium can work well provided some key considerations are met:

  • Provide a sufficiently large tank (40+ gallons recommended)
  • Maintain excellent water quality
  • Choose suitable tank mates
  • Aquascape thoughtfully using plants and decor to create territories
  • Feed a varied, nutrient-rich diet
  • Quarantine new fish prior to introduction
  • Monitor for aggression and make adjustments as needed

With some preparation and planning, a group of 3 dwarf gourami can add liveliness and beauty to a peaceful community aquarium. Their interactions are interesting to observe, especially during courtship displays and activities. Ensure each fish has adequate space and food, and pay close attention for signs of trouble. Adjust promptly at the first hint of aggression between the dwarf gourami. With proper husbandry, a trio can thrive together.

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