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Are Gourami and Cichlids the same? 12 Interesting Facts

You may think that gourami and Cichlids are the same species because both species look the same.

But, if you observe them carefully, you’ll see some significant differences in both species. Let’s talk about these two fish species onwards.

Gourami vs Cichlid

Is gourami a Cichlid?

No, gourami and cichlid are not the same. 

Gouramis are different types of aquatic animals. The gourami’s labyrinth organ considered the lung of the fish, which the fish use for breathing. Gourami uses its labyrinth organs to take oxygen from the surface.

Differences between gourami and Cichlids.

Gouramis come in many different types, sizes and colors. Most of these aquatic animals share the exact shape of body structure and have a labyrinth organ. This organ helps the fish to breathe oxygen from the surface.

Cichlid found in freshwater or brackish lakes and rivers. These fish have a classical fish-shaped body, and they come in many different colors. Most of the cichlid have gills to breathe oxygen directly from the water.

The main difference between these fish species is that gouramis have to swim to the surface to get oxygen, and the cichlid has gills to filter the water for oxygen.

Gourami and Cichlids

Facts about gourami

  • Gourami is a freshwater fish that belongs to the Osphronemidae, Helostomatdiae, and Anabantidae families. 
  • There are around 133 types of gourami species recognized, and four subfamilies, and about 15 groups. 
  • These fish are native to eastern and southern Asian countries like Pakistan, India, and Korea. 
  • The name first originated in Indonesia, and the name “Gurami” use for many other varieties of gourami species.
  • The specific species has a long feeler-like ray from the front of their pelvic flips. these fish show prenatal care. 
  • Few are mouthbrooders, and others make bubble nests at the surface to incubate their eggs till they hatch.
  • Gouramis are aggressive towards their own species and get along with other similar-sized fish species that are not-fin-nippers or too active. 
  • They are slow-moving fish, and most gouramis are omnivorous except for Kissing Gourami, which is herbivorous. 
  • The largest gourami size is about 28 inches long.
Read More : Dwarf gourami diseases identification treatment

Facts about cichlid

  • cichlid belong to the family Cichlidae, and there are more than 1000 species of cichlids that live in Central and South America, tropical Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Indian subcontinent. 
  • cichlid are related to a variety of fishes. 
  • Most of them are found in rift lakes in Africa. You can find more than 500 species of cichlids in just three lakes in Victoria, Malawi, and Tanganyika. 
  • These species are highly specialized feeders and can live with many other different types of fish. 
  • Most cichlid types are territorial and aggressive fish that attack any fish that come into their territory. So, they need ample space if they happen to live with other fish types.
  • cichlids are generally omnivorous.
  • Just like gouramis, cichlids are good parents. 
  • Most cichlid types lay eggs in the safety of a cave and guard them until they hatch (substrate spawners). Some cichlid species are mouthbrooders. 
  • These cichlid species protect their eggs, keeping the fertilized eggs in their mouth for about 21 days until they hatch. The largest cichlid species grows up to 21 inches long.

Are gouramis related to cichlids?

No, Gouramis does not relate to cichlids. Although gouramis look like cichlids in size and shape, there are apparent differences in both fish species.

Are dwarf gouramis cichlids?

No, dwarf gourami is a species of gourami native to South Asia. Unlike cichlids which are aggressive and territorial, dwarf gouramis are peaceful and shy. 

They are small labyrinth fish that reach 2 inches long and are considered the smallest gourami species globally. 

However, their diet is the same as cichlids as they are also omnivore fish.

Gourami tank mates

Always remember that most gouramis are aggressive aquatic animals and very territorial. 

These species are slow-moving and can grow big. So, we always recommend keeping them with the same size fish. 

Gourami’s tank mates shouldn’t be fin nippers or too active. Most gourami types are top dwellers. So, they are compatible with bottom-dweller fish. 

Here are a few tank mates that you can keep with your gourami. 

Panda Corydoras.

These fish are one of the most kept aquatic animals with the gouramis tanks. They are armored catfish who are very peaceful and highly active, and a delight to see them swim around the tank. 

These fish will generally stay in the top water layer and won’t mind the company of the bottom dwellers. Further, Panda Corydoras can live well with slightly soft and acidic water like gourami.

Glowlight Tetra.

These are also very peaceful schooling fish, which is a good match for gouramis. Since these fish have significantly fewer neon colors, that prevent the gourami’s possibility of seeing it as a rival. 

These fish also can live in the same water levels as the gouramis.

Kuhl Loach.

Like many other types of the same species, these loaches usually have a yellow and dark brown banded pattern. 

These elongated loaches are nocturnal. These species will sleep or spend a lot of daytime hiding in rocks or any place where they could hide; hence they are compatible with gouramis.

Harlequin Rasbora.

These active and very colorful schooling fish are also a great addition to the gourami tank. These fish will for sure give your tank some life without bothering any of the tank’s gouramis. 

These fish do not need any complicated tank set up and are easy to keep and will prefer the same habitat as gouramis, light water flow, and dark waters with plenty of aquatic plantations. 

Bristlenose Pleco.

These species of Plecostomus catfish are perfect for a tank of gouramis since these fish are not active and will spend most of their time in the tank’s bottom or attached themselves to the tank glass.

Amano Shrimp.

These are again perfect to keep as tank mates with the gouramis. Because of their size, unlike many other smaller verities of shrimps, they are large enough to avoid being nipped at or eaten. 

Dwarf Crayfish.

These are also a great addition to the tank with gouramis since these are bottom feeders, which makes them leave each other alone. 

If gourami tries to bother by any chance, a peaceful crayfish can stand its ground without any injuries.

If you are planning on mixing gouramis with any other fish, it’s always best to consult an aquarium expert before choosing any new fish.

tank mates

Things to note when keeping gouramis in the tank.

Suppose you are interested in keeping these labyrinth fish in your tank. There are few things that you must know.


Like many other labyrinth fish, they fear nature. This means these fish will get quite stressed when kept with very active tank mates. 

Always keep in mind that not all gourami species are the same. Many types of gouramis like giant gourami and kissing gourami are not so fearful and turn into bullies themselves.

And also, these species are not suitable tank mates with other fish. So, when adding another fish with gouramis, you must think twice before combining these fish with any other. 

Water Values

Commercially bred gouramis are species that are very adaptable to a wide range of water values.

These fish originate from water that is slightly soft and acidic. So, these types of water values are preferred in your aquarium if you are planning on breeding gouramis.

Due to somewhat lower pH levels in the water, you have to consider this when selecting a tank mate for the gourami. 

Tank Set-up

You always have to consider that the gourami’s natural habitat is usually gentle streams and ponds with very light water flow, dark water, with many aquatic plantations. 

Even though these fish are highly adaptable to any environment, they will appreciate a similar habitat for them to grow. 

What type of fish is gourami?

Gouramis are a diverse family of medium to large size fish. They belong to Osphronemidae, Helostomatdiae, and Anabantidae families. 

Gourami is slow-moving So, it’s best to keep them with similar-sized fish that are not flip nippers.

Can I put Gourami and cichlids together?

No, you can not put gouramis and cichlids together in the same tank. Both fish species are naturally in the same size, aggressive and territorial. 

If you put them together, both fish will fight with each other till they die. The damage for gouramis will be higher because cichlids are aggressive than gouramis.

Can you keep dwarf Gourami and cichlids together?

No, it is not recommended to keep dwarf gouramis and cichlids together. We assume that these are African cichlids. They will surely kill the gourami. 

When it comes to African cichlids, they are very persistent when they do not like other fish in their territory.

Can Gouramis be aggressive?

Yes, gouramis are known to be very aggressive. Giving them lots of space and lots of plants to hide will make them less aggressive most of the time. 

But keep in mind that gouramis will not always be less aggressive even they get plenty of hiding places. Male gouramis are aggressive towards each other. 

It is recommended to keep them individually. On the other hand, female gourami usually can stay together.

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About Dr.Chamika

Hello, I'm Dr. Chamika. I am a Researcher in Water quality, Aquatic organisms, and Environmental chemistry. I am a passionate fish keeper, with10 years of experience. My mission is to help other aquarists experience the joy of fish keeping.