Saturday, January 5, 2019

How to Breed and Raise Honey Gourami Fry

Are you looking for an interesting, little breeding project? Try honey gouramis! They’re easy to breed, they make cool bubble nests, and it’s a fun challenge to raise the fry. Keep reading for step-by-step instructions and some best practices I learned!



How to Breed Honey Gouramis

After all the enjoyment I got out of raising cory catfish fry, I absolutely got baby fever and was like, “Ooo, what else can I breed?” Turns out my honey gourami Pikachu is pretty easy to breed, so I set about finding him a wife.
  1. Gouramis breed and hatch very quickly, so before you introduce the potential parents, start your infusoria culture now.
  2. For the breeding tank, I set up a 10-gallon aquarium with the heater raised to 82°F. 
  3. To make it easier to build a bubble nest, lower water to 6 to 8 inches high and keep water surface agitation at a minimum with a gentle sponge filter. Also, add floating plants or large leaves on the surface so that it’s easy to build nest. I used both floating fake plants and an upside-down plastic cup cut in half (inspired by betta breeders), and the male chose to build his nest under the cup.

    honey gourami bubble nest site using floating plants and plastic cup
    Male honey gourami creating a bubble nest under a plastic cup

  4. Condition the parents by feeding them well with live and frozen foods several times a day, imitating favorable conditions for their fry. I was able to trigger breeding by feeding live baby brine shrimp. The male in breeding dress turns vibrantly colored with a black-blue throat and abdomen, while the female becomes plump with eggs.

    conditioning male and female honey gourami for breeding
    Female and male honey gourami eating live baby brine shrimp in breeding tank
     
  5. After making a suitable bubble nest, the male will embrace the female multiple times so that she drops her eggs and he gathers them up into his nest. Once she is emptied of eggs, he will chase her away from the nest and you can remove her from the breeding tank.
  6. I found a study from India saying their honey gouramis laid 200 to 400 eggs per batch, with a 33% survival rate where most deaths occurred among the 7- to 15-day-old fry. However since my gouramis were first-time parents, they laid like ten eggs that produced two healthy fry in end. 
  7. The eggs hatch after 24 to 36 hours and then become free swimming after another one to two days, during which time you can remove the male.
male honey gourami protecting his bubble nest of newly laid eggs
Male honey gourami spitting out fertilized eggs into his bubble nest

How to Raise Honey Gourami Fry

  1. For the fry tank (which was the same as my breeding tank), multiple sources said that high humidity was important for the fry’s developing labyrinth organ, so I sealed the top of my tank with saran wrap.
  2. At 1-day-old, the fry look like tiny black tadpoles with a huge yolk sac attached. Because they aren’t totally free swimming yet, they stayed close to surfaces like aquarium décor and even the glass. You can begin feeding them once they become free swimming.

    1-day-old honey gourami fry with yolk sac, clinging onto glass wall of aquarium
    1-day-old honey gourami fry with yolk sac, clinging onto aquarium wall
     
  3. Now I took a page from master breeder Greg Sage and heavily fed the fry while maintaining high water quality. For the first 2 weeks, I fed them 5 times a day, alternating between infusoria and a little bit of Hikari First Bites, and I changed 15-20% of the water every day.

    2-week-old honey gourami fry
    2-week-old honey gourami fry
     
  4. To remove fish waste and uneaten food, I tied a chopstick to one end of some airline tubing, sucked on the other end to start the siphon, and then put that end of the tubing in a net so that it could catch any fry that accidentally got sucked up.
  5. I tried to feed them live baby brine shrimp when they were a week old, but their mouths simply weren’t big enough, so better to wait till they’re 2 weeks old to try. In the beginning, I collected the baby brine shrimp at the 18-hour mark rather than the usual 24 hours, so they would be even smaller than normal. You can tell if the fry are eating properly because they’ll have pink bellies that match the color of the shrimp.

    3-week-old honey gourami fry
    3-week-old honey gourami fry

  6. My honey gouramis grew super-fast on a diet of mostly live baby brine shrimp because it’s so nutritious and the shrimp’s jerky swimming motions really entice their feeding instinct, but you can also feed them liquid fry food, microworms, boiled egg yolk, the straight-up powder form of Repashy, frozen baby brine shrimp, and eventually transition them to ground-up flakes and other prepared foods when they’re 6-weeks to 2 months old.
  7. As they grew bigger and stronger, I gradually decreased feedings to 2-3 times a day and water changes to 2 times a week. Now at 2 months old, they are ¾ to 1 inch long and are ready to sell!
1-month-old honey gourami juvenile
1-month-old honey gourami fry

I really enjoyed breeding my first bubble nesting fish, and I feel like it’s easier than betta fish because the offspring can all grow up together in the same tank without tons of fighting. Figuring out how to feed these itty-bitty fry was a little nerve-wracking since you can’t easily see infusoria and tell how much the fry are eating. However, once you get past the 2-week mark, you’re pretty much on the home stretch and it’s easy going from there!

2-month-old honey gourami fry
2-month-old honey gourami juvenile

Question of the Day

What fish or invert would you like to see me breed next? Comment below to let me know what you think, and view my “Breeding for Fun” playlist if you want to see more this videos like this. Don’t forget to take time to enjoy your aquariums and I’ll see you next time!


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