Licorice Gourami: The Unusual Blackwater Fish

Licorice Gourami The Unusual Blackwater Fish
An Adult Male Licorice Gourami Fish (Copyright @argon_1228_ On Instagram)

Licorice Gourami: The Unusual Blackwater Fish – The Parosphromenus deissneri (Licorice gourami) is a member of small gourami fish varieties under the osphronemidae family. These tiny freshwater fish have ray-finned and spectacular colorations.

They are actually endemic fish from Bangka island, Indonesia. The Licorice gourami usually inhabits slow-flowing streams with tea-colored (black waters) associated with peat swamp forests.

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These gourami fish types were formally described as Osphromenus deissneri by Pieter Bleeker in 1859. He is an ichthyologist from the Netherlands. The specif name “deissneri” was used to honors F. H. Deissner (a military health office) that sent some collection fish specimens from Bangka to Bleeker and including this type.

Normally, you will need about $10 or more for an adult single fish. You can found them in fish stores, online markets, or fish hobbyists.

Licorice Gourami The Unusual Blackwater Fish
Female Licorice Gourami Fish (Copyright: @fishroom_tanks On Instagram)

Licorice Gourami: The Unusual Blackwater Fish


Licorice Gourami Appearance

The male of these gourami species has a creamy-tan main color with two horizontal black stripes. The one stripes running from their eye until the end of the caudal peduncle and another one just above this. At the base of the anal and dorsal fins, you can found some black stripes.

The unpaired fins feature the unique lined pattern, but the inner blue lines are a group of spots,s not a solid line, and the edge of their fins is commonly bluish. Some males may have reddish color on fins and tails.

While the females are colorless and do not have blue lines at the dorsal, anal, and caudal fins, both sexes can change their color depends on mood; for example, they will look darker when aggressive.

The licorice gourami can grow to 5 cm (2 inches) when they reach fully matured. Their expected lifespan may reach up to 5 years, depending on their environmental conditions.

Read Also: Moonlight Gourami Is Amazing Silvery Labyrinth Fish


Licorice Gourami Behavior

Like most other fish from gouramis species, the parosphromenus deissneri have a special organ called the labyrinth organ. It functions like a lung which allows the fish to breathe the atmospheric air. The labyrinth fish species can survive well in areas affected by drought and polluted waters.

The licorice gourami almost spends their life swimming at the middle and upper level of the tanks. It helps them to easiest reach the surface to take the oxygens.

They are small peaceful gourami fish types and grow well when keeping with other species or groups. But, like most other tropical fish species, they become more aggressive when breeding.

Sometimes these fish become territorial with their own species in the aquarium with enough space.

The different Parosphromenus spp. species should not be put with them because the females in this genus are hard to tell apart, and some may be hybridizing.

Read Also: Three Spot Gourami Fish Species Complete Profiles


Licorice Gourami Housing, Aquarium Setup, And Care

They can be housed in solo, small groups, and communities. It would be best if you had at least a 20-gallon tank for keeping a single fish or single pair and more than a 35-gallon tank for small groups or communities. Give them enough space is not a difficult thing.

The best way to keeping them is to decorate your tank like their natural habitat. You start with the dark substrate, which will result in the most vivid coloration of these fish. The substrate form is not important; the sand or gravel form is still nice. We recommend trying flourite black sands or silver pearl gravel.

Licorice Gourami The Unusual Blackwater Fish
Long Blackwater Tank Setup For Licorice Gourami (Copyright: @balance0fnature On Instagram)

Deissner’s licorice gourami prefers the aquarium with heavy vegetation. The freshwater aquatic plants which can survive in their environment are the right choice. Hardy stem plants like anubias species, Bacopa australis, and cryptocryne parva can be an option.

An aquarium with plenty of covers using floating aquatic plants offers them more shady areas, which it’s are preferable. Adding dried leaves such as cattapa leaf changing the water parameters and displays seems like their wild nature. Besides, it will produce extra natural foods for them that making the fish live healthier.

Using a high-quality filtration system to keep the best water conditions. Keep the water movement at a slow-moderate level similar to their natural conditions.

The growth rate of licorice gourami fish will reach a good level under the subdued lighting system. The moderate lighting level is also accepted, but the water surface should be covered enough.

Create more hiding space by putting the driftwood, stones, or caves into the tank. These tropical gourami fish are shy, and when they are scared by other fish, the hardscapes will help them hide.

There are some rules about the water conditions if you won’t keep them in the aquarium:

  • Water Temperature: 22 – 28 °C
  • pH Level: 3.0 – 6.5
  • Water Hardness: 18 – 72 ppm

Read Also: Freshwater Paradise Gourami Complete Care Guide


Licorice Gourami Tankmates

Parosphromenus deissneri is a calm and timid fish species with relatively small-bodied. The best tankmates for them are fish species that have similar characteristics to them. A small gourami type like “sparkling gourami” can be a good friend.

Licorice Gourami The Unusual Blackwater Fish
Tiny Young Licorice Gourami With Giant Bamboo Shrimps (Copyright: @aquamrs On Instagram)

Other species like boraras, sundadanio, guppy, small corydoras catfish, peaceful tetra species, and peaceful shrimps and snails species can be good options. Please do not keep them with larger, territorial, and aggressive species. They may be bullied even eat them. Betta fish should be avoided because they are aggressive and territorial although has similar body size.

Read Also: Chocolate Gourami “The Unique Mouthbrooding Gourami Species”


Licorice Gourami Feeding And Diet

In wild nature, these gourami species are micro predators. They usually eat some tiny aquatic invertebrates, crustaceans, and larvae. In the aquarium, you can feed them with daphnia, micro worm, artemia mosquito larvae, etc.

Dried foods like flakes are normally refused. Even frozen foods are sometimes accepted by them. So, they are picky fish about the meals.

Read Also: The Ultimate Kissing Gourami Fish Care Sheet


Licorice Gourami Breeding

Unlike most other types of gourami fish species such as dwarf gourami and honey gourami, the liquorice gourami is a cave breeder. Before breeding, they should be fed with live food. It can help to stimulate them to spawn and increase the success level.

Preparing a breeding tank with a sponge filter. Put a coconut shell or larger caves or larger plastic pipes into the tank as breeding media, and it must be below the water’s surface.

Planting some java moss on the substrates and cover the surface with floating plants. The dense java moss may help the female when the male going too insistent during the spawning session.

Decrease the water level by about 4 inches and up the temperature to 82 degrees Fahrenheit by 2 degrees per day.

Licorice Gourami The Unusual Blackwater Fish
Spawning Session Of Parosphromenus Deissneri Or Licorice Gourami (Copyright: @tajahs.tanks On Instagram)

Before spawning, males will build the bubble nest on the roof of the coconut shells (caves/pipes). When both are ready to spawn, the male develops his coloration while the female loses her stripes and goes paler.

After that, spawning begins, and both embrace inside the coconut shell with a bubble nest. Female laid some eggs, and male fertilized soon.

The eggs will fall and be saved by the male’s ventral fins and then the female will put them with her mouth and placed them into a bubble nest. Some eggs may fall onto the floor and the couple picked up soon, then save them to the nest. This process repeats several times until the eggs on her are empty. During mating, females usually produce around 10-50 largish eggs.

After mating is finished, the male generally becomes more aggressive and may chase her away. You can move the female into a separate tank. Male will take over next all job including caring and guard the eggs.

Once the eggs are hatching, he still guards them and puts the fry into the nest if they swim outside. Since they become free-swimming fry, he should be moved to other tanks to prevent killing them.

Feed the fry with infusoria until they can accept larger food like brine shrimps. Sticking the cling film around the lid help to keep humidity and warm air over the aquarium also keeps out drafts.

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