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Kissing gouramis

Helostoma temminkii

Foto: Kissing gouramis
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Kissing gouramis, scientifically known as Helostoma temminkii, are a unique and fascinating species of freshwater fish, native to the warm, slow-moving waters of Southeast Asia, including Thailand, Indonesia, and Malaysia. These intriguing fish have garnered attention and popularity in the aquarium trade, primarily due to their distinctive mouth shape and the peculiar "kissing" behavior from which their name derives.

Characteristically, kissing gouramis possess a robust, somewhat elongated body that can reach up to 12 inches (30 cm) in length in the wild, though they are typically smaller in captivity, often around 5 to 6 inches (12 to 15 cm). Their bodies are laterally compressed, featuring a broad, forward-projecting mouth equipped with specialized lips that are thick and fleshy. It is these lips that facilitate their "kissing" action, which is actually a form of aggression or a way of establishing dominance rather than an act of affection as one might whimsically imagine.

The coloration of kissing gouramis can vary, but they are commonly found in shades of greenish to silvery-pink, with a pearlescent sheen that makes them particularly attractive under aquarium lights. Some selectively bred variants exhibit more vibrant colors or patterns. Their fins are generally simple and unadorned, with a large dorsal fin and a rounded caudal fin that aids in their slow, graceful swimming style.

Kissing gouramis are omnivorous, feeding on a diet that includes algae, plant matter, and small aquatic invertebrates. In aquarium settings, they adapt well to a variety of commercial fish foods, though their diet should be supplemented with vegetables and plant-based foods to mimic their natural feeding habits and maintain their health.

In terms of behavior, aside from their notable "kissing" interactions, these fish are generally peaceful but can exhibit territorial tendencies towards members of their own species or similarly shaped fish. They are gregarious and do well in groups, provided there is ample space to accommodate their size and territorial behaviors. It's important for aquarists to provide a spacious tank with plenty of hiding spots and open swimming areas to prevent stress and aggression.

Breeding kissing gouramis in captivity can be challenging. They are bubble nest builders, with the male creating a large nest of bubbles at the water's surface into which the female deposits her eggs during spawning. The male then guards and tends to the nest until the eggs hatch, displaying a level of parental care that is not commonly observed in all fish species.

Kissing gouramis require a well-maintained aquarium environment with stable water conditions, including a temperature range of 72 to 82°F (22 to 28°C), a pH between 6.8 and 8.5, and moderate hardness. Regular water changes and filtration are essential to keep these fish healthy, as they are sensitive to poor water quality and can succumb to common aquatic diseases if stressed.

In conclusion, kissing gouramis are a captivating and beautiful addition to the freshwater aquarium, cherished not only for their unique appearance and behaviors but also for their peaceful nature. With proper care, these intriguing fish can be a delightful and rewarding challenge for both novice and experienced aquarists alike.
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