Gouramis occur in a wide range of colors. For instance, I have one blue and one flame-colored gourami in my 50-gallon tank. About two weeks ago, my gouramis turned white, and it took a while to figure out how to fix the discoloration. I will give you the practical tips that restored my gourami’s stunning colors.

The main cause of your gourami turning white is stress and shock. For example, transferring the fish from one tank to another can be stressful. They can also turn white due to bacterial infections such as white spot disease (Ich), an imbalance in the aquarium water pH, and incompatible tank mates.

However, daily water changes and antibiotic treatments will save your gouramis. Apply a broad-spectrum antibiotic such as Maracyn or Melafix. I will give you other powerful tips to fix your gourami. If the fish is actively eating, pooping, and swimming, you can restore its color by following these tips. But first, what makes gourami turn white? 

What makes gourami turn white?

Here are some issues that can make your gourami turn white:

Causes Fixes 
Stress and shockRemove stress factors
Fear and anxietyRemove stress factors
High nitrate and nitrite levelsMonitor and correct water chemistry,
Change 20-30% water twice weekly,
Vacuum the aquarium substrate
Bacterial infectionsTreat with antibiotics
Incompatible tank matesChoose the right tank mates
Temperature changesKeep it around 80°F
Poor feedingFeed them twice daily

1. Extreme stress and shock

Various chemical and physical elements can subject your gouramis to extreme shock and stress. For example, gouramis are extremely sensitive to ammonia. 

Removing your gourami from one tank and transferring it to another can also stress and shock the fish. The fish starts to get dull in behavior and color, making gouramis look white.

2. Constant fear and anxiety

Constant traffic and loud noises in the aquarium can instill fear and anxiety in your gouramis. Also, avoid moving the fish tank frequently because your gouramis will feel like hostages. They are in constant fear for their lives.

The anxiety from these kinds of treatments can turn gouramis pale and white. I recommend locating an ideal place in your house with low traffic and less noise. 

3. An imbalance of aquarium water pH

Gouramis prefer a neutral water pH of between 6.8 and 7.8. An imbalance of the aquarium water pH can cause a reaction with the fish’s skin and turn gouramis white. 

For instance, lower pH is acidic and corrosive to color pigments. Very alkaline aquarium water can also damage the skin of your gouramis and make them turn white.

4. High nitrate and nitrite levels in your fish tank

Monitoring your fish tank’s water parameters is essential to understanding what makes gourami turn white. Nitrate and nitrites are toxic compounds that accumulate gradually in the aquarium. These compounds lower oxygen in the water and stress your gouramis. 

Chronically poor aquarium water can also cause popeye disease in fish. This disease causes bulging eyes and is also common in betta fish.

Use aquarium water test strips and kits to detect your aquarium water toxicity. Also, ensure regular tank maintenance. These will help save your gouramis from turning white and give them a new colorful appearance. 

5. Bacterial infections 

Gouramis are susceptible to bacterial infections such as ich and fin rot, which may make them turn white. Ich starts as sprinkled white spots on the fish’s body while fin rot inflames the base of your gourami’s fins and may turn black, brown, or white. They may also swim on their sides.

The infections can be fatal, so you need to act fast. I will tell you how to treat these bacterial infections in the next section. Let’s see some other things that can make gourami turn white.

6. Incompatible tankmates

Another commonly overlooked cause for discolored gourami fish is incompatible tank mates. Aggressive and territorial tankmates nip gourami fins and cause undue stress to your fish. 

But don’t worry. I will give you the five best and three worst tankmates for your gourami fish at the end of this article. You should consider the latter and altogether avoid the former.

7. Temperature changes

Temperature is a significant determinant of color in fish. Like pH, the temperature directly impacts gourami fish chromatosomes and skin color. The chromatophores release more color in autumn temperatures and less in summer.

However, lower temperatures also promote fish diseases than higher temperatures. Therefore, a sudden temperature change can shock the fish and make your gourami pale and dull within minutes. Use an aquarium heater to raise the temperatures to about 80°F.

How do I prevent gourami from turning white?

Here are some tips to prevent your gourami from turning white:

1. Monitor your water chemistry

Most fishkeepers underestimate the benefits of monitoring their aquarium water chemistry. I consider it critical for my gouramis since it’s one of the reasons fish die.

You can find several high-quality and budget-friendly aquarium water test kits in your local fish store or online. I recommend the API Freshwater Master Test Kit.

Use the kits to monitor your fish tank’s ammonia, nitrates, and nitrites. Eliminate any traces of these compounds as soon as they accumulate in your aquarium. Fresh and adequately oxygenated water will prevent your gourami from turning white.

2. Change 20 to 30% of the aquarium water twice a week

During a water change, do not remove the fish from the aquarium. Many fish hobbyists make the common mistake of cleaning the entire aquarium setup. While at it, they release their fish from the tank and wash everything before returning the fish to an entirely new ecosystem.

I am not saying that is wrong. You can change 100% of the aquarium water once a year. However, the most effective way to prevent gourami from turning white is to change 20% to 30% of the aquarium water every two or three days.

3. Treat your gouramis with antibiotics

Sometimes the discoloration in your gourami is caused by bacterial infections like ich and fin rot. Use effective broad-spectrum antibiotics such as Maracyn or Melafix. These antibiotics relieve gouramis of bacterial infections and promote rapid healing.

Mix the antibiotics with fish food then give it your gouramis to eat. Use granola oil or fish oil to bind the antibiotic to the fish food. You can also drop some antibiotics in the water, which will get absorbed through the gourami’s skin.

4. Feed your gourami twice a day

Overfeeding, underfeeding, and digestive problems can turn gouramis white. Therefore, diet is essential for smooth and colorful gourami skin. 

If your fish is turning white, the problem could be the diet. Are you providing your gouramis with a balanced diet? And how many times are you feeding them?

Aquarists suggest feeding gouramis twice daily using fish foods such as shrimp pellets, color flakes, and Aqueon tropical flakes. 

5. Vacuum the aquarium substrate

Food leftovers and fish poop dissolve in the water and promote algal growth on the substrate surface. Bad water can react with gourami skins and give them a whitish appearance. 

The most cost-effective way to vacuum the gravel and substrates in your gourami tank is to use an aquarium siphon and a bucket. And if you suspect you are having the wrong tankmates for your gourami, I have the best ones for you below.

Best tank mates for gourami fish

Here are 5 of the best tank mates for your gourami fish:

1. Barbs

Barbs grow to about 6 inches. They are green or gold-colored fish that will coexist happily with your gouramis and enhance your fish tank’s attractiveness. In addition, the fish’s water chemistry requirements are close to those of gouramis.

For instance, Barbs thrive at a pH of between 6 and 8 and temperatures between 75°F and 82°F. Barbs are also a hardy fish species that is relatively easy to care for. 

Keep at least five barbs alongside your gouramis because barbs are schooling fish. The fish enjoys swimming in groups with members of its species.

2. Glowlight Tetra

They are one of the most common tetras you will find in your local fish store. Glowlight tetra is small and slender, measuring about an inch and a half in length. The fish derives its name from its golden and neon stripe markings, which glow like a light bulb when the tetra swims.

Glowlight tetras are shy and peaceful. The minimum tank size to keep glowlight tetras and gouramis is 10 gallons. Care for the fish involves weekly water changes, feeding twice daily, and monitoring your aquarium’s water quality. 

3. Platys

Platies are omnivorous fish that can grow to a maximum length of 2.8 inches. They occur in a wide range of colors, depending on the species. However, the standard platy colors are pale to deep yellows and blacks. 

Like the glowlight tetra and the barbs, platies get along quite well with gouramis. However, do not overstock your aquarium with platies and gouramis. Overstocking can trigger aggression amongst the male platies. 

4. Swordfish

A swordfish is easy to identify. The fish is long and has an elongated sword-like “nose.” It has a distinct olive green color with red and yellow streaks along its two sides. 

Use a 15-gallon fish tank to keep swordfish and gouramis. Swordfish are social. Keep the fish in pairs to keep them active and happy. 

Swordfish is a colorful and vibrant fish that will make a good tank mate for your gourami and add color and vibrance to your aquarium.

5. Amano Shrimp

Amano shrimps have attractive translucent silver-blue bodies. They are highly compatible with gouramis and will associate without any issue.

To keep Amano shrimps and gouramis happy, keep them in a tank larger than 10 gallons. Each shrimp should occupy about 2 gallons of water. Besides, Amano shrimps are omnivorous. Add Amano shrimps to your tank, and they will also help with algae control.

The shrimps are fantastic gourami tank mates because they are friendly and peaceful fish. 

The best tank mates for your gouramis are platies, swordfish, Amano shrimps, glowlight tetra, and barbs. On the contrary, the worst tank mates for your gouramis are bettas, goldfish, and male guppies. These are aggressive fish and may harm your gourami.


Francis, R., Yanong, R., & Pouder, D. (2018). Ichthyophthirius multifiliis (White Spot) Infections in Fish. University of Florida: IFAS Extension

Yanong, R. (2019). Lymphocystis Disease in Fish. University of Florida: IFAS Extension

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