Kissing gourami
Kissing gouramis, also known as kissing fish or kissers (Helostoma temminckii), are large tropical freshwater
Fresh water is naturally occurring water on the Earth's surface in ice sheets, ice caps, glaciers, bogs, ponds, lakes, rivers and streams, and underground as groundwater in aquifers and underground streams. Fresh water is generally characterized by having low concentrations of dissolved salts and...

Fish are a paraphyletic group of organisms that consist of all gill-bearing aquatic vertebrate animals that lack limbs with digits. Included in this definition are the living hagfish, lampreys, and cartilaginous and bony fish, as well as various extinct related groups...

 comprising the monotypic
In biology, a monotypic taxon is a taxonomic group with only one biological type. The term's usage differs slightly between botany and zoology. The term monotypic has a separate use in conservation biology, monotypic habitat, regarding species habitat conversion eliminating biodiversity and...

 labyrinth fish family
Family (biology)
In biological classification, family is* a taxonomic rank. Other well-known ranks are life, domain, kingdom, phylum, class, order, genus, and species, with family fitting between order and genus. As for the other well-known ranks, there is the option of an immediately lower rank, indicated by the...

 Helostomatidae (from the Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 elos [stud, nail], stoma [mouth]). These fish originate from Thailand
Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...

 to Indonesia
Indonesia , officially the Republic of Indonesia , is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Indonesia is an archipelago comprising approximately 13,000 islands. It has 33 provinces with over 238 million people, and is the world's fourth most populous country. Indonesia is a republic, with an...

. They can be
food fish which are farmed
Aquaculture, also known as aquafarming, is the farming of aquatic organisms such as fish, crustaceans, molluscs and aquatic plants. Aquaculture involves cultivating freshwater and saltwater populations under controlled conditions, and can be contrasted with commercial fishing, which is the...

 in their native Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia, South-East Asia, South East Asia or Southeastern Asia is a subregion of Asia, consisting of the countries that are geographically south of China, east of India, west of New Guinea and north of Australia. The region lies on the intersection of geological plates, with heavy seismic...

. They are used fresh for steaming
Steaming is a method of cooking using steam. Steaming is considered a healthy cooking technique and capable of cooking almost all kinds of food.-Method:...

, baking
Baking is the technique of prolonged cooking of food by dry heat acting by convection, and not by radiation, normally in an oven, but also in hot ashes, or on hot stones. It is primarily used for the preparation of bread, cakes, pastries and pies, tarts, quiches, cookies and crackers. Such items...

, broiling, and pan frying
Pan frying
Pan frying is a form of frying characterized by the use of minimal cooking oil or fat ; typically using just enough oil to lubricate the pan...

. The kissing gourami is a popular aquarium fish.


Typical of gourami, the body is deep and strongly compressed laterally. The long-based dorsal
Dorsal fin
A dorsal fin is a fin located on the backs of various unrelated marine and freshwater vertebrates, including most fishes, marine mammals , and the ichthyosaurs...

 (16–18 spinous
Spine (zoology)
A spine is a hard, thorny or needle-like structure which occurs on various animals. Animals such as porcupines and sea urchins grow spines as a self-defense mechanism. Spines are often formed of keratin...

 rays, 13–16 soft) and anal fins (13–15 spinous rays, 17–19 soft) mirror each other in length and frame the body. The posterior most soft rays of each of these fins are slightly elongated to create a trailing margin. The foremost rays of the jugular pelvic fins are also slightly elongated. The pectoral fins are large, rounded, and low-slung. The caudal fin is rounded to concave. The lateral line
Lateral line
The lateral line is a sense organ in aquatic organisms , used to detect movement and vibration in the surrounding water. Lateral lines are usually visible as faint lines running lengthwise down each side, from the vicinity of the gill covers to the base of the tail...

 is divided in two, with the posterior portion starting below the end of the other; there are a total of 43–48 scale
Scale (zoology)
In most biological nomenclature, a scale is a small rigid plate that grows out of an animal's skin to provide protection. In lepidopteran species, scales are plates on the surface of the insect wing, and provide coloration...

s running the line's length.

The most distinctive feature of the kissing gourami is its mouth. Other than being terminal rather than superior (as in other gourami families), the kissing gourami's mouth is highly protrusible as its family name suggests, the lips are lined with horny teeth
Teeth are small, calcified, whitish structures found in the jaws of many vertebrates that are used to break down food. Some animals, particularly carnivores, also use teeth for hunting or for defensive purposes. The roots of teeth are embedded in the Mandible bone or the Maxillary bone and are...

. However, teeth are absent from the premaxilla
The incisive bone is the portion of the maxilla adjacent to the incisors. It is a pair of small cranial bones at the very tip of the jaws of many animals, usually bearing teeth, but not always. They are connected to the maxilla and the nasals....

, dentaries, palatine
The palate is the roof of the mouth in humans and other mammals. It separates the oral cavity from the nasal cavity. A similar structure is found in crocodilians, but, in most other tetrapods, the oral and nasal cavities are not truly separate. The palate is divided into two parts, the anterior...

, and pharynx
The human pharynx is the part of the throat situated immediately posterior to the mouth and nasal cavity, and anterior to the esophagus and larynx. The human pharynx is conventionally divided into three sections: the nasopharynx , the oropharynx , and the laryngopharynx...

. The gill raker
Gill raker
Gill rakers in fish are bony or cartilaginous processes that project from the branchial arch and are involved with filter feeding tiny prey. They are not to be confused with the gill filaments that compose the bony part of the gill. Rakers are usually present in two rows, projecting from both the...

s are also well-developed and numerous. The visible scales of the body are ctenoid, whereas the scales of the top of the head are cycloid. Kissing gourami reach a maximum size of 30 centimetres (12 in) TL
Fish measurement
Fish measurement refers to the measuring of the length of individual fish and of various parts of their anatomy. These data are used in many areas of ichthyology, including taxonomy and fisheries biology.-Overall length:...

. There is no outward sexual dimorphism
Sexual dimorphism
Sexual dimorphism is a phenotypic difference between males and females of the same species. Examples of such differences include differences in morphology, ornamentation, and behavior.-Examples:-Ornamentation / coloration:...

 and is difficult to almost impossible to distinguish the sexes.

There are two colour morphs encountered: greens, which have lengthwise lateral stripes and opaque, dark brown fins; and pink, which have a rose to orangy pink body and silvery scales, with transparent pinkish fins. Green fish originate from Thailand while pink fish origiante from Java
Java is an island of Indonesia. With a population of 135 million , it is the world's most populous island, and one of the most densely populated regions in the world. It is home to 60% of Indonesia's population. The Indonesian capital city, Jakarta, is in west Java...

. There is also a "dwarf" or "balloon pink" variety, which is a mutated
In biology and especially genetics, a mutant is an individual, organism, or new genetic character, arising or resulting from an instance of mutation, which is a base-pair sequence change within the DNA of a gene or chromosome of an organism resulting in the creation of a new character or trait not...

 strain of the pink gourami that are offered to hobbyists. The "balloons" are named so for their smaller and rounder bodies.

Habitat and ecology

Shallow, slow-moving, and thickly vegetated backwaters are the kissing gourami's natural. habitat
Habitat (ecology)
A habitat is an ecological or environmental area that is inhabited by a particular species of animal, plant or other type of organism...

. They are midwater omnivore
Omnivores are species that eat both plants and animals as their primary food source...

s that primarily graze on benthic
Benthos is the community of organisms which live on, in, or near the seabed, also known as the benthic zone. This community lives in or near marine sedimentary environments, from tidal pools along the foreshore, out to the continental shelf, and then down to the abyssal depths.Many organisms...

 algae and aquatic plant
Aquatic plant
Aquatic plants are plants that have adapted to living in aquatic environments. They are also referred to as hydrophytes or aquatic macrophytes. These plants require special adaptations for living submerged in water, or at the water's surface. Aquatic plants can only grow in water or in soil that is...

s, with insect
Insects are a class of living creatures within the arthropods that have a chitinous exoskeleton, a three-part body , three pairs of jointed legs, compound eyes, and two antennae...

s taken from the surface. It is also a filter feeder
Filter feeder
Filter feeders are animals that feed by straining suspended matter and food particles from water, typically by passing the water over a specialized filtering structure. Some animals that use this method of feeding are clams, krill, sponges, baleen whales, and many fish and some sharks. Some birds,...

, using their many gill rakers to supplement their diet with plankton
Plankton are any drifting organisms that inhabit the pelagic zone of oceans, seas, or bodies of fresh water. That is, plankton are defined by their ecological niche rather than phylogenetic or taxonomic classification...

. The fish use their toothed lips to rasp algae from stones and other surfaces. This rasping action, which (to humans) looks superficially like kissing, is also used by males to challenge the dominancy of conspecifics.

Spawn (biology)
Spawn refers to the eggs and sperm released or deposited, usually into water, by aquatic animals. As a verb, spawn refers to the process of releasing the eggs and sperm, also called spawning...

 occurs from May to October in Thailand
Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...

. Kissing gouramis are open-water egg
Egg (biology)
An egg is an organic vessel in which an embryo first begins to develop. In most birds, reptiles, insects, molluscs, fish, and monotremes, an egg is the zygote, resulting from fertilization of the ovum, which is expelled from the body and permitted to develop outside the body until the developing...

 scatterers; spawning is initiated by the female and takes place under cover of floating vegetation. The eggs, which the adults do not guard, are spherical, smooth, and buoyant. Initial development is rapid: the eggs hatch after one day, and the fry are free-swimming two days thereafter. The Kissing gourami does not care for its young.

In the aquarium

Kissing gouramis are also popular with aquarists
An aquarium is a vivarium consisting of at least one transparent side in which water-dwelling plants or animals are kept. Fishkeepers use aquaria to keep fish, invertebrates, amphibians, marine mammals, turtles, and aquatic plants...

 for the fish's peculiar "kiss
A kiss is the act of pressing one's lips against the lips or other body parts of another person or of an object. Cultural connotations of kissing vary widely. Depending on the culture and context, a kiss can express sentiments of love, passion, affection, respect, greeting, friendship, and good...

ing" behavior of other fish, plants, and other objects. Kissers of both sexes will often spar by meeting mouths and pushing each other through the water. Large quantities of these fish are exported to Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

, Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

, North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

, Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

, and other parts of the world for just this reason. Kissing gouramis need a roomy tank in order to thrive; they grow rapidly, and juvenile fish will quickly outgrow smaller aquaria. Kissing gouramis are territorial, some are tolerant towards fish of similar size, but others will bully, chase and torment causing significant stress on tank mates. Male kissers will occasionally challenge each other; however, the "kissing" itself is never fatal but the constant bullying can stress the other fish to death. They often do in fact kill other fish by sucking their 'fish slime' (mucus
In vertebrates, mucus is a slippery secretion produced by, and covering, mucous membranes. Mucous fluid is typically produced from mucous cells found in mucous glands. Mucous cells secrete products that are rich in glycoproteins and water. Mucous fluid may also originate from mixed glands, which...

) off of their skin as food, which opens the victim fish up to infections. These fish may be useful as algae eater
Algae eater
Algae eater is a common name for many bottom-dwelling fish that feed on algae. Algae eaters are important for the fishkeeping hobby and many are commonly kept by hobbyists.Some of the common and most popular freshwater algae eaters include:...

s to control algae growth. To prevent digging and to present enough surface area for algae growth, the substrate should consist of large-diameter gravel and stones. The aquarium's back glass should not be cleaned during regular maintenance, as the gouramis will feed on the algae grown there. Most plants will not survive the fish's grazing, so inedible plants such as Java fern, Java moss
Java moss
Java Moss is a moss belonging to the Hypnaceae family. Native to Southeast Asia, it is commonly used in freshwater aquariums. It attaches to rocks, roots, and driftwood...

, or plastic plants are recommended.

These fish are omnivorous
Omnivores are species that eat both plants and animals as their primary food source...

 and need both plant and animal matter in its diet. The fish will accept vegetables such as cooked lettuce
Lettuce is a temperate annual or biennial plant of the daisy family Asteraceae. It is most often grown as a leaf vegetable. It is eaten either raw, notably in salads, sandwiches, hamburgers, tacos, and many other dishes, or cooked, as in Chinese cuisine in which the stem becomes just as important...

 and any kind of live food. Water hardness should be between 5–30°dGH
Degrees of general hardness is a unit of water hardness, specifically of general hardness.General hardness is a measure of the concentration of metal divalent ions such as calcium and magnesium per volume of water...

 and pH
In chemistry, pH is a measure of the acidity or basicity of an aqueous solution. Pure water is said to be neutral, with a pH close to 7.0 at . Solutions with a pH less than 7 are said to be acidic and solutions with a pH greater than 7 are basic or alkaline...

 between 6.8–8.5; the temperature should be between 22–28 °C (71.6–82.4 F). When breeding kissing gouramis, soft water is preferred. As the fish do not build a nest, lettuce leaves placed on the water surface serve as a spawning medium. The lettuce will eventually host bacteria and infusoria
Infusoria is a collective term for minute aquatic creatures like ciliates, euglenoids, protozoa, and unicellular algae that exist in freshwater ponds...

which the fish will feed upon. The maximum length for Kissing gouramis in aquariums is between 20 to 30 cm (7.87 - 11.81 inches)
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