You never want to have fish fighting in your aquarium. Gouramis are said to be very peaceful fish, and many consider them to be excellent community tank fish.
This is why you might be surprised when the gouramis that you bought start fighting each other. If these fish are supposed to be peaceful, then why would they be fighting?
There could be several different things going on here. It’s important to learn why the gouramis are fighting so that you can understand how to stop it.
Below, you’ll get information about why gouramis fight each other. You’ll also get other advice that will help you to keep a peaceful freshwater aquarium.
1 – Males Usually Don’t Get Along
Male gourami fish usually don’t get along. You’ll find that most species of gouramis will have males that will fight each other.
If you’re keeping two males in the same fish tank, then it’s very likely that they will fight. This can be a big problem, and it’s even possible that one of the males will kill the other.
Male gourami fish feel as if they are in competition with each other. They will get very aggressive and try to fight all the time.
Since you don’t want this to happen, it’s best to avoid keeping multiple male gouramis in the same aquarium. You’ll have a much easier time keeping a male gourami with a couple of female gouramis.
There are exceptions to this rule, of course. Sparkling gouramis are very docile and the males aren’t known to fight.
Instead, sparkling gouramis will compete by making sounds and showing off their colors to try to impress females. So it should be fine to keep a few male sparkling gouramis in the same tank.
2 – The Fish Could Be Fighting to Establish Dominance
In fish tanks, it’s normal for fish to try to establish dominance. There is going to be a hierarchy in the tank where one fish is the alpha of the group.
Some of the fighting that you’re seeing in the group could simply be about establishing dominance. Once the pecking order has been established, the fighting will likely not be as frequent.
This doesn’t mean that you won’t worry about the fighting. It is good to keep an eye on things to try to ensure that a bully gourami fish isn’t severely hurting another fish.
3 – Fighting Because the Tank Is Overcrowded
Gouramis will get stressed if they’re forced to live in cramped spaces. Generally, you’re supposed to give gouramis more than enough room so that they will stay happy.
If you try to keep them in a fish tank that is too small, then they might fight each other. This is because gouramis can be territorial.
When gouramis don’t feel that they have enough space, they’re going to be more territorial than usual. This is why it’s truly important to consider how much space the gouramis have.
Ensure that you have an adequate fish tank for the number of gouramis that you wish to care for. Also, you want to avoid overcrowding the tank by not putting too many fish in there.
Gouramis can be excellent community tank members, but they will fight a lot if you overcrowd the tank. This could be bad for the other fish and it’ll also be tough for the gouramis.
4 – Fighting Over Food
You might notice that your gouramis will fight each other when they’re being fed. It’s actually pretty normal for fish to fight when they’re being fed, but some fish will be more aggressive than others.
It might be a good idea to try to spread the food out a bit so that the fish won’t all eat in the same area. This might help you to limit the fighting so that it doesn’t get too bad.
Usually, the fish won’t fight too much over food. They should squabble a bit, but so long as you’re giving each fish a chance to eat, it’ll be fine.
5 – Fighting Over Potential Mates
It’s normal for fish to fight over potential mates, too. You read about males not getting along earlier, and that holds true.
Generally, it’s not good to keep male gouramis in the same fish tank. They will fight over territory, food, and even potential mates.
If you have two male gouramis in the tank with several female gouramis, then they will fight for the attention of the females. Each male wants to be able to claim the females as mating partners.
The males will fight quite a bit over matters such as this. This is why it’s really not good to keep males together when you’re talking about most gourami types.
6 – Protecting Bubble Nests
It’s normal for gouramis to wind up fighting when they have bubble nests to protect, too. When gouramis mate, the male will build a bubble nest to house the eggs.
The female gourami fish lays the eggs and then the male takes the eggs to place them in the bubble nest. Male gouramis will be the protectors of the eggs and will do everything once the eggs have been laid.
After the female has done its part, the male gourami fish might chase it away. This is because it doesn’t want the female gourami fish to eat any of the eggs.
Sometimes females will do this. It’s normal for the male to keep the female away from the bubble nest.
The male fish will also fight or chase off any other gouramis that might be in the tank. It’s just following its instincts to protect the eggs.
Gouramis Fighting with Different Gourami Types
So what if you’re keeping gouramis in a fish tank with gouramis that are of a different species? What should you do if those two types of gouramis start fighting each other?
You’re not supposed to keep gouramis with other types of gouramis. Mixing the gourami species in an aquarium will usually lead to terrible results.
When you put gouramis in the fish tank with other gouramis from a different species, the two are going to fight a lot. The gouramis will see the other set of gouramis as an invading force.
Basically, the territorial instincts of the gouramis will kick in and they will try to chase the other gouramis away. In some cases, the gouramis might even wind up killing each other.
There are some situations where people have gotten two gourami species to leave each other alone in the same tank. This involves putting the fish in a very large aquarium.
If you have a 100-gallon fish tank that has lots of aquatic plants placed inside, then it might be able to work. The two sets of gouramis might be able to stick to different sides of the tank, and this means that conflict between the two factions will be avoided.
This might work out better with some types of gouramis than it will with others. Regardless, it’s not likely a practical or good idea to try mixing two gourami species.
If your goal is to keep the gourami fish happy, healthy, and safe, then it’s not worth trying this. It’d be better to pick compatible tank mates for the gouramis.
You can care for multiple types of gouramis, but you’ll just need to keep each gourami species in a different tank. It’s the easiest route to take.
Gouramis Fighting Other Fish
Of course, gouramis will also sometimes fight other fish. It wouldn’t be unusual for gouramis to fight fish over territory or even for other reasons.
If you don’t put compatible tank mates in the aquarium with the gouramis, then they might fight with the other fish a lot. The gouramis could even wind up bullying certain other types of fish.
Gourami fish can also be bullied by larger and more aggressive fish. This is why it’s imperative to research the compatibility of the gouramis and other fish before putting them all in an aquarium together.
Remember that each species of gourami fish will have different compatible tank mates. Gouramis differ quite a bit based on what species they come from, and you’ll need to find good tank mates for them so that you’ll have a peaceful community tank.
After learning what causes gouramis to fight, it should be easier to keep it from happening too often. Now you know that it’s usually a bad idea to keep two male gouramis in the same tank.
Doing so is only going to cause more fighting. Male gouramis normally don’t get along well, and they’ll wind up fighting for so many different reasons.
Gouramis will fight over territory, food, potential mates, and more. To keep things as peaceful as possible, it’s best to keep one male gourami fish with a small group of female gouramis.
It’s also not a good idea to mix different gourami types together. Different types of gouramis will fight each other and potentially kill each other.
You should also know that gouramis will fight other fish in a community tank if you pick incompatible tank mates. Be careful when picking tank mates for the gouramis to avoid these issues.
Hopefully, you’ll feel confident that you can keep your gouramis getting along now. Knowing what causes problems will at least make it so that you know what to look out for.
Jeff has always enjoyed having pets, but as a child, he was drawn to his family’s fish tank. Being able to maintain a small ecosystem and observe the behaviors and interactions in the underwater world peaked his interest early on and has kept him hooked until this day. On Avid Aquarist, Jeff shares everything he’s learned about helping aquatic life survive and thrive in a home aquarium.