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Common Gourami Diseases and Illnesses

Common Gourami Diseases and Illnesses

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This post is written to the author's best knowledge and is not intended to be used in place of veterinary advice. In addition, this post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Gouramis are really good fish for people who don’t have a lot of experience taking care of fish. They’re very pretty freshwater fish that aren’t overly complicated to take care of.

Most people will have a pretty easy time caring for these fish, but there are still issues that you can encounter. For example, gouramis are prone to certain types of diseases.

Knowing more about gourami diseases and illnesses will serve you well. It’ll help you to know what you should be looking out for.

Keep reading and you’ll get all of the information that you need to know. You should have an easier time keeping your gouramis in good health.

How Do Fish Get Sick?

Typically, gouramis are going to get sick due to exposure to bacteria and parasites. This situation won’t happen as often when you’re doing a really good job taking care of the aquarium.

You know that gouramis need you to keep the water parameters in the right range. When you do a poor job of monitoring the water conditions, the water might have significant issues.

The pH balance could be thrown way off or the fish might be forced to live in water that is the wrong temperature. This can cause the gourami fish to experience substantial stress.

When fish get stressed, they’re going to develop compromised immune systems. This makes them more susceptible to disease and illness.

To add to this, dirty water makes it possible for bacteria to become a big problem in the fish tank. You might wind up having your fish tank become an environment where harmful bacteria can thrive.

If you don’t correct these problems, then your fish likely won’t survive. Fish need clean water and the proper water conditions to be able to stay healthy and keep going.

You should also know that adding new fish to your fish tank can sometimes bring diseases or illnesses into the aquarium. A fish that you bought from the pet store could have been sick, and it might wind up infecting the other fish.

This is why some people choose to quarantine new fish in a separate tank for up to four weeks before adding them to a community tank. You can choose to take precautions like this if you want to be as safe as possible.

Dwarf Gourami Disease

Dwarf gourami disease is something that you absolutely don’t want your fish to get. This is a type of disease that is only known to impact gourami fish.

Also, it has no known cure as of the time of writing. Knowing this, you might be particularly worried about whether your fish will contract this disease.

Continue reading to learn a bit more about this problematic condition. Knowing the most that you can about it can at least help you to react in the best way if any of your fish do start to experience problems related to this disease.

What Is Dwarf Gourami Disease?

You’ll find that dwarf gourami disease is a condition that will kill any gourami fish that contract it. When gourami fish get dwarf gourami disease, they’re only going to be able to live for between ten and thirty more days on average.

Since there isn’t a cure for the disease, all you’re going to be able to do is wait for the fish to die. Sadly, the disease is known to spread rapidly, so there’s a good chance that all of your gourami fish will get infected.

You could try to quarantine the infected fish in an effort to avoid having the other gourami fish get infected. If you catch things very early, then this might be possible.

Understand that this disease spreads so fast due to low hygiene levels in your aquarium. This can be a big problem, and you will likely have water parameter issues that need to be addressed.

It’s thought that extremely poor water conditions make it more likely that the fish will have issues with this disease. For this reason, prevention is the best course of action.

Do a better job of keeping an eye on water parameters. Start making an effort to keep the water clean by cleaning the tank more regularly and changing 15% of the water on a weekly basis.

You should also know that the most common cause of this disease is an iridovirus that can cause necrosis of the kidneys and spleen.

It’s also notable that some types of dwarf gourami fish are more susceptible to this disease than others. If you’re concerned about dwarf gourami disease, then it might be worthwhile to seek out fish that seem to be more resistant to it.

When trying to identify dwarf gourami disease, you’ll be able to look for various signs. The fish will start to lose color when it’s infected, and it also will start having sores show up on its body.

Infected fish experience a loss of appetite and there will be swelling around the belly of the fish. There are also times when a perfectly healthy fish that shows no signs will just drop dead from dwarf gourami disease.

Fish will sometimes have erratic behavior when infected, too. For example, the fish might start swimming in a hyperactive fashion.

You might have some fish in your aquarium show signs of the disease while others do not. Even apparently healthy fish will drop dead sometimes.

It’s still going to be wise to isolate fish that show signs of the disease. This might help you to avoid having every gourami fish in your tank become infected.

If you truly want to know whether a fish is infected or not, then you can have an exotic veterinarian do a medical examination. It’s up to you to decide whether doing this will be worthwhile or not.

Is Dwarf Gourami Disease Contagious to Other Fish?

Since dwarf gourami disease is only known to impact gourami fish, you’re not going to have to worry about other types of fish. Generally, this disease only impacts dwarf gourami fish and three-spot gourami fish.

It’s also said that some types of cichlids have shown signs of the disease, but this is a very uncommon occurrence. Generally, if you suspect that a fish has dwarf gourami disease, it’s also best to put it in a quarantine tank.

You’ll need to be worried about the fish spreading the disease to the other gourami fish in the tank. The disease can spread fast to the other gourami fish.

Fungal Infections

Fungal infections will be some of the most common types of issues that fish have to contend with. Spores are normally present in fish tanks, but fish become more likely to get infected when they are stressed or injured.

A fish that is experiencing a fungal infection might develop something that looks like cotton or wool on its body somewhere. It’s also common for fish that have a fungal infection to experience bulging eyes.

Light-gray growths on the eyes, skin, gills, and fins will be common. The fish might lose its appetite and it’ll develop a pale color.

Overcrowded fish often get stressed and get fungal infections. Water quality issues can cause great stress as well.

Treating fungal infections will involve quarantining the sick fish. Treat the fish with aquarium salt by following the instructions on the package carefully.

After a few weeks, the infection should be gone. Be sure to address water quality issues in the main tank, and take steps to avoid overcrowding your fish tanks, too.


Columnaris is a type of bacterial infection that gourami fish have been known to have problems with. It’s a common infection for many types of aquarium fish.

When fish are infected, they will have spots on their heads that appear to be grayish white on parts of their heads. You may also notice a reddish tinge somewhere on the body, gills, fins, or head.

It’s common for fish to show signs of bruising on their sides and bellies when infected with columnaris. Also, the fish will have its fins start to deteriorate as sores begin to show up on the body.

Eventually, the fish will start to lose its appetite. It’ll also be far less active than usual.

The causes of this infection will be fairly typical. Not feeding the fish a good diet can cause it stress and make it more susceptible to infection.

Improper water conditions can do this too. Poor water quality and issues such as temperature fluctuation can make this infection more likely to occur.

Overcrowding the tank with too many fish can also cause infections such as this. Sometimes the infection gets spread by using contaminated nets, too.

Treating this infection will be easier if you lower the temperature of the tank to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. It’ll slow the infection down.

Putting an air stone in the fish tank can help as well. This bacterial infection thrives in low-oxygen conditions.

Medicated food can help your fish to get better fast. Often, exotic veterinarians will prescribe medicated food that contains oxytetracycline when you go to them for help.


Popeye is a type of disease that impacts many fish. This condition makes it so that the fish will have a swollen and distended eye.

Sometimes popeye will only cause one of the eyes to swell. Other times, it’ll wind up impacting both eyes.

You might notice that the gourami fish will have its eyes start to look cloudy. This can be a very painful condition for the fish to deal with.

For the most part, popeye is usually going to happen when a fish is experiencing other diseases or infections. It’s often caused by bacterial infections, but it could also occur due to some type of injury.

Poor water quality will make it much more likely that a fish will experience popeye. An excess level of gas in the fish tank can contribute to this problem as well.

If both eyes are experiencing popeye, then it’s most likely that you have water quality issues to address. Do your best to determine what the problem is to try to help the fish.

Single eye issues are usually going to be caused by some type of injury. Thankfully, you can try to treat the fish no matter what is happening.

Injured fish can be placed in a quarantine tank and treated with aquarium salt. If you suspect that a fish is infected, then you might need to treat the infection using antibiotics or antibacterial medications.

Hole in the Head Disease

Hole in the head disease impacts many different types of freshwater fish. When fish have this disease, they’re going to develop lesions on their heads.

The lesions will be pitted, and the holes can become larger over time when you don’t treat the fish right away. It’s also easy for the fish to develop secondary fungal or bacterial infections.

When the fish is infected, it’ll be lethargic and it’ll lack an appetite. Many different things can cause this disease.

Poor water quality, improper nutrition, and overcrowded fish tanks are some of the main contributors. It’s also said that flagellate parasite Hexamitavitamin imbalance makes it more likely that a fish will develop the disease.

Treating the condition involves fixing water quality issues, feeding the fish high-quality foods, and using antibiotic medications. Over time, the fish should start to show signs of improvement.

If you do nothing, then the fish might die. This is why it’s imperative to take action fast when fish show signs of hole in the head disease.

Fish Lice

Fish lice is a condition where fish will be infested with large parasites. The parasites attach themselves to the fins and the heads of fish.

When the parasites attach themselves to the fish, it’ll cause them a lot of irritation. You’ll likely see small dark spots on the fish.

Red markings and ulcers are also common signs of fish lice. Your fish will probably start scratching itself up against objects in the tank to try to remove the parasites.

Issues with these parasites can be caused by sudden temperature changes in the water. Adding new fish to the fish tank could have exposed fish to the parasite.

Note that this is a highly contagious condition. It’s likely that all of the fish in the fish tank will become infected if you don’t act quickly.

Removing the parasites can be tough. You can do so by holding the fish with a damp cloth and removing the parasites with tweezers.

Some might choose to enlist the help of exotic veterinarians. Either way, you’ll want to act quickly.

Velvet Disease

Velvet disease is another very common fish disease that you should know about. It’s also sometimes referred to as rust.

This disease could very well kill every fish in your aquarium. It’s caused by Oodinium that attach themselves to your fish.

They will attach themselves to the skin and the gills of the fish. Fish that have this condition will appear to be very lethargic and they will have a lack of appetite.

You might first notice that the fish will scratch itself against hard objects. This is an effort to get the parasites off of its body.

The fish will develop a film on its skin that will be somewhere between yellow and something darker. During the last stages of this condition, the skin will start to peel off.

A fish that is having these issues will also have clamped fins. This condition is directly caused by the Oodinium, but it’s more likely that fish will have issues when the aquarium isn’t maintained well.

Sudden changes in water temperature can also play a role. This condition is extremely contagious, and curing it is nearly impossible.

Taking action swiftly is highly recommended. It’s said that you should dim the lights or leave the fish in total darkness to try to treat this disease.

The fish might not survive. It’s best to try to prevent this condition from happening.


Dropsy is a type of swelling that is caused when soft tissues accumulate too much water. When a fish has dropsy, you might notice that it will have a swollen belly and that its eyes will be bulging.

This condition is also known to make the spines of the fish appear to be curved. Fish that are infected will start acting quite a bit different than usual, too.

The fish will have an extreme loss of appetite and might stop eating entirely. Often, fish with dropsy will be lethargic and they will hang out in low spots of the fish tank.

If you look at the anal area of the fish, then you might notice that it will be red and swollen. Also, the fish might have pale gills.

What causes this sort of troubling infection? It could be a combination of many different things.

As usual, bacteria can become a problem in a fish tank due to poor water conditions. You might need to address water quality issues as well as improper water temperature.

Giving the fish an unhealthy diet will make them more susceptible to dropsy. This is why it’s imperative to feed your gourami fish high-quality foods.

Treating the condition isn’t as easy as you would hope. You’re going to need to catch the problem early if you wish to save the fish.

As soon as you notice signs that the fish has dropsy, it’s recommended to quarantine it. This can help to prevent the other fish in the main tank from getting dropsy.

Next, you’ll want to add aquarium salt to the water. You’re supposed to use one teaspoon of aquarium salt for each gallon of water in the tank.

Combine this with treating the fish with antibiotics. If you give the fish medication and feed it well, then it might recover eventually.

Sometimes the fish won’t survive when you catch things too late. This is why it pays to be an observant and proactive fish owner.

Fin and Tail Rot

Fin and tail rot will be common bacterial infections that gourami fish will have to deal with. Many different types of freshwater fish wind up getting infections such as this.

As you likely suspect, this is a type of infection that causes the fin or the tail of the fish to show signs of decay. This is usually caused by significant water quality problems.

If you don’t do a good job of taking care of the water parameters, then it can create an environment where bacteria can grow. A gourami fish could get infected through a cut or sore, and this will lead to the fin or tail rot happening.

Different types of gram-negative bacteria have also been linked to the disease. Prevention is generally about keeping the fish tank as clean as possible.

Feeding the fish too much could also make the water less hygienic. Too much fish feces can throw off the water parameters.

Treating this disease is relatively simple since you need to start by getting the water clean. Fix any water parameter problems and add fish antibiotics to the aquarium water.

This should help to clear up the infection over time. Some choose to quarantine fish that have fin rot or tail rot so that they can be treated with aquarium salt as well.

Final Thoughts

After learning about the many types of gourami fish disease, you’ll be better prepared to care for these fish. There are many common diseases that these fish will have to deal with.

You can prevent many of them by just caring for the fish properly. Often, poor water quality will be the cause of problems for the fish.

Keeping a close eye on water parameters, feeding the fish a healthy diet, and generally being a proactive fish owner will help a lot. If you do notice signs of disease, then you can try to act quickly to save the fish.

If you’re at all worried about treating the fish yourself, then you can go to an exotic veterinarian for assistance. They will be able to give you advice about what to do, and in some cases, they might help you to treat the fish themselves.

Don’t let these illnesses and diseases scare you off. Caring for gourami fish really will be simple, but it’s best to be prepared just in case your fish ever do get sick.

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