Giant Gourami – Osphronemus Goramy – Thai Fish Species

Species: Osphronemus goramy.

Common name: Giant gourami, Giant gouramy. Thai Name: Pla Let.

Distribution: Found in various freshwater habitats throughout Southeast Asia. Their natural range includes countries such as Sumatra, Borneo, Java, the Malay Peninsula, Thailand and Indochina (Mekong basin)

Habitat: These fish are highly adaptable and can thrive in a range of aquatic environments. Giant Gourami often inhabit large lakes, including oxbow lakes and man-made reservoirs. These environments typically have slow-moving or still water and provide plenty of space for the fish to grow and reproduce. They are also found in slow-moving rivers and streams, particularly in areas with dense vegetation and submerged woody debris. These habitats offer shelter and hiding places.

Also known to venture into flooded areas during the rainy season, where they can access a variety of food sources. These temporary habitats can be quite dynamic, with changing water levels. Swamps and wetlands with standing water and an abundance of aquatic plants are ideal for Giant Gourami. These environments offer plenty of foraging opportunities and shelter. In some regions, Giant Gourami can be found in rice fields, especially during the wet season. They are often introduced to these fields by local farmers to control insect populations.

Giant Gourami - Osphronemus goramy - Thai Fish SpeciesGiant Gourami (Osphronemus goramy)

Are a freshwater fish species belonging to the sub-family Osphronemus in the family Osphronemidae. Some other larger members of this family are also occasionally or regionally referred to as “giant gourami”. This includes the banded and three spotted Gourami. In turn this species are also sometimes known as the rainbow, or striped Gourami. These fish have a distinctive appearance with a laterally compressed body. Their coloration can vary, but they are typically brownish to olive-green with a mottled pattern. The fins are large, and they have a long dorsal fin that runs the length of their body. They can breathe moist air so that they can survive out of the water for long periods of time.

Giant Gourami are also an immensely popular aquarium fish. When one thinks about a pet, will dogs or cats often come to mind! But people who have raised a Giant Gourami for many years, have realized that these fish are the ultimate “pet fish´´ as they can live 20+ years and have a personality and intelligence that many say resembles a dog.

They are also known to be very hardy fish and are not too fussy with their water conditions; they will readily accept anything you throw into the tank.  But keep in mind, you will need to give the Gourami a varied diet, otherwise you will end up with a fussy fish; vegetable foods, flakes and pellets work great and other meat substances can be incorporated into its diet.

Lifespan and Size

The lifespan of a Giant Gourami can vary depending on several factors, including their environment, diet, and overall care. In the wild, these fish typically have a lifespan of around 10 to 15 years, although some individuals may live longer under ideal conditions. In captivity, where they receive proper care and a well-maintained environment, they can potentially live even longer. Some well-cared-for Giant Gourami have been known to reach 20 years or more in captivity. Providing them with a spacious tank, stable water conditions, a balanced diet, can contribute to their longevity.

The size of Giant Gourami is much larger than most other gourami, growing to a length of 70 cm (28 inches) or even larger, although most individuals do not grow quite that large. In terms of weight, they can become quite hefty. A fully grown adult can weigh anywhere from 4 to 19.8 pounds (1.8 to 9 kilograms) or more, depending on factors like diet, genetics, and environmental conditions. Fish kept in captivity, such as those in home aquariums or aquaculture facilities, may vary in size and weight based on how well they are cared for and the resources available to them. Current IGFA World Record 5.60 kg (12,35lbs.) Caught Oct. 10, 2004, Bung Sam Lan Lake in Thailand.


In the wild, Giant Gourami are omnivorous and have a varied diet that reflects their opportunistic feeding behavior. Their diet consists of a range of natural foods found in their freshwater habitats. They consume a significant portion of aquatic plants, including both submerged and floating plants. Their ability to eat plants is facilitated by their specialized pharyngeal teeth, which allow them to grind plant material effectively. Insects and their larvae make up an important part of the diet. They forage for insects at the water’s surface and in the water column. Flying insects that land on the water are often targets for these fish. Small crustaceans, such as shrimp and crayfish, are another food source. They use their pincer-like mouthparts to capture and consume these crustaceans.

Also known to prey on smaller fish when the opportunity arises. They are capable of ambushing and capturing small fish, especially when the fish are in their vicinity. Giant Gourami also consume detritus, which includes organic matter like decaying plant material and microorganisms. Detritus can be an essential part of their diet in some habitats. While not a primary food source, Giant Gourami may graze on algae and biofilm that grow on rocks and submerged surfaces. Their ability to adapt to changing environmental conditions and their opportunistic feeding habits enable these fish to thrive in a variety of freshwater habitats. In captivity, it’s essential to replicate their natural diet by providing a balanced diet that includes high-quality pellets, live or frozen foods like brine shrimp and bloodworms, and some plant matter. Offering a diverse diet is crucial to ensuring their nutritional needs are met in an aquarium setting.

Giant Gourami Breeding Timeline

The breeding behavior for Giant Gourami is influenced by various environmental factors, particularly the onset of the rainy season in their native habitats. While they are not known for elaborate courtship rituals, their breeding activities typically start during the rainy season. The increase in rainfall and rising water levels create suitable conditions for spawning. During this time, the males often become more territorial and establish breeding territories, which they defend vigorously against other males. These territories are usually located in shallow, densely vegetated areas near the water’s edge, providing protection for the nest and potential offspring.

The male constructs a nest

By using a mixture of mud, plant material, and saliva. This nest is usually a large, shallow depression in the substrate with a surrounding wall. The male takes great care in maintaining and repairing the nest, making it an essential part of the breeding process. Once a female enters the male’s territory, courtship and spawning occur. The male uses various displays and behavior to attract the female, such as colorful fin displays and circling movements. If the female is receptive, she will join the male near the nest, and the two fish will engage in a spawning embrace. The female releases her eggs, and the male fertilizes them externally. The eggs are adhesive and stick to the nest’s inner walls, where the male guards them. Depending on the size and age of the female, a single spawning event can produce hundreds to thousands of eggs.

After spawning, the male takes on the role of guarding and caring for the eggs. He diligently protects the nest from potential threats and fans the eggs with his fins to provide oxygen and prevent fungal growth. The male continues to guard and care for the developing fry (baby fish) after hatching. The eggs typically hatch within a few days, and the fry are initially attached to the nest substrate by a yolk sac, which provides them with nourishment. As the fry grow and absorb the yolk sac, they become free-swimming and start to explore their surroundings. Giant Gourami fry gradually develop into juvenile fish, and as they mature, they venture away from the nest. Over time, they become more independent and are eventually ready to find their own territories and repeat the breeding cycle once they reach sexual maturity.


Determining the gender of Giant Gourami can be challenging when they are young, as the sexual dimorphism (physical differences between males and females) becomes more pronounced when they mature. The most reliable way to sex Giant Gourami is by examining their genital papilla, a small, fleshy protrusion located just behind the anal fin. In males, the papilla is pointed and may appear thicker, while in females, it is shorter and more rounded. You may need to gently handle the fish to observe this feature. It is important to note that these characteristics become more apparent as Giant Gourami reach sexual maturity, which can take several years.

Males tend to be larger than females. Males can grow up to 28 inches (70 cm) or more, while females are typically smaller, around 18 to 25 inches (45 to 63 cm). Adult males often have a more elongated and streamlined body shape compared to females, which tend to be rounder and plumper. In mature males, the dorsal fin may be longer and more pointed compared to females. It can also have a more pronounced and extended anterior ray. During breeding season, males will typically display darker colors and females will also have more subdued colors. Males are more likely to exhibit territorial and aggressive behavior as they compete for the attention of females. They may also build bubble nests.

Giant Gourami Fishing method

Fishing for Giant Gourami can be an exciting and rewarding experience, as these large freshwater fish are known for their size and fighting spirit. They are more active during dawn and dusk. Therefore, fishing during these times can increase your chances of success. Many of the stock ponds / Fishing Park’s in Thailand have stocked this species, where they can be caught on bread and fish pellets. In the wild, they can be caught by fly fishing where you use flies that imitate local insects and fruit. The bait angler can use bananas and fruit. Remember that fishing for Giant Gourami can be challenging, as they are known for their intelligence and can be cautious when approaching bait. Be patient, use the right gear, and adapt your techniques based on the conditions and the behavior of the fish in your chosen fishing location.

Source: Wikipedia Fishbase

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