There are many similarities and differences between thick-lipped gouramis (Trichogaster labiosa) and honey gouramis (Trichogaster chuna). This article will teach you the main differences between thick-lipped and honey gouramis. You will also learn about their distinguishing features, diet, and how to set up the aquarium.

The main difference between them is in their names. Thick-lipped gourami has thick lips, and honey gourami is honey-colored. Secondly, thick-lipped gourami is slightly larger than honey gourami. The former grows to 3.5 inches, while the honey gourami reaches 2.2 inches.

Thirdly, both fish are native to Asia; thick-lipped gouramis to the southeast and honey gouramis to Bangladesh and India. However, aquarists and fish hobbyists have introduced thick-lipped gouramis and honey gouramis worldwide over the last few years. You can purchase them at your local fish store or online. 

Thick-Lipped Gourami vs Honey Gourami

Thick-lipped gourami vs honey gourami

Thick-lipped gouramis and honey gouramis are beautiful and vibrant fish that thrive in nearly the same water parameters. 

Similarities Differences 
Same fish speciesAppearance 
Both are freshwater fishTemperament 
Can be kept in the same tankDiet 
Both are peaceful and friendlyTank set-up
Females larger than malesTank management
Foam nest buildersCompatible tank mates
Susceptible to bladder infectionsHealth issues 

Here are some differences between thick-lipped gourami and honey gourami:

1. Appearance

Thick-lipped gouramis have thick lips, silvery skin, and light blue and red stripes running along their flanks. Mature adult thick-lipped gouramis are bigger than honey gourami adults. The former is an inch bigger than the latter.

However, the female Trichogaster labiosa and female Trichogaster chuna will be slightly bigger than their male species. Therefore, the gouramis are much easier to identify by color.

Female honey gouramis have a different color from their male counterparts. Females are usually silver-gray, and males exhibit a golden-yellow appearance. If you have noticed, honey gouramis derive their name from the color of the males. 

During breeding, male honey gouramis get particularly more honey-yellow or reddish-orange. Since thick-lipped gouramis and honey gouramis occur in a wide range of colors, it is easier to find the best-colored gourami that fits your home’s theme. 

For instance, the silvery gray female honey gouramis are unique and attractive in the aquarium against a white or gray-themed home. On the other hand, thick-lipped gouramis will improve the aesthetic quality of almost anywhere it is placed.

2. Temperament

Temperament refers to how thick-lipped gouramis and honey gouramis act in different environments. The main factors that can trigger gourami fish temperaments are breeding and overpopulation. 

Generally, they are docile, mild, and peaceful fish that pose no serious harm to other fish or themselves. Unlike koi which sleep in certain ways, gouramis don’t have specific sleep patterns and signs.

Although they are non-aggressive community fish, the gourami males can be quite aggressive toward each other.

An aquarium with fewer gouramis registers less aggression than one with many gouramis. Overpopulation can increase the accumulation of toxic compounds in the water, competition for food, aggression, and potential death. 

Similarly, the fish heightens their temperament during spawning seasons. Male thick-lipped gouramis and honey gouramis help to build the breeding nest and protect the eggs until they are hatched. During that time, they can be quite territorial and aggressive to other males swimming near the nests. 

I recommend separating the breeding fish from the rest of the group and increasing your aquarium size to keep your gouramis healthy and happy. 

Without the aggression triggers, thick-lipped and honey gouramis can live peacefully alongside other tank mates such as guppies and mollies.

3. Diet

Although thick-lipped gouramis have different physical appearances, they share the same diet. Both fish are omnivorous bottom feeders eating a wide range of food, including zooplanktons, insects, and small invertebrates.

However, there are high-quality fish food aquarists suggest for gouramis. Thick-lipped and honey gouramis enjoy color flakes, shrimp pellets, and frozen and live foods. A good diet for the fish should also include greens such as cucumber and lettuce.

A balanced diet is essential for the health and lifespan of your fish. With the correct care, thick-lipped and honey gouramis can live for up to 8 years. Feed your gouramis twice a day, every morning and evening. 

Remember that overfeeding thick-lipped and honey gouramis can result in intestinal health issues such as bloating. Therefore, feed them gradually until they are not eating anymore. Remove any food leftovers from the tank twice a week.

4. Tank set-up

Thick-lipped gouramis like to swim more than honey gouramis. While honey gouramis stay in the same spot for a more prolonged time, thick-lipped gouramis swim to every part of the aquarium.  Therefore, the tank setup is essential for their health and happiness.

You can keep both fish together or in separate aquariums. But the fish tanks should be 10 gallons or larger. Although they are not schooling fish, I recommend keeping thick-lipped and honey gouramis in pairs or groups of 4 to 6 fish.

Second, honey gouramis and thickened-lipped gouramis prefer warm water. However, they will not tolerate significant changes in the water chemistry. Therefore, maintain the aquarium water temperature between 71-82°F and a neutral water pH between 6.8 and 7.

Also, avoid placing the tank in direct sunlight. Direct sunlight raises the water temperature and accelerates algal growth in the aquarium. The algae use enormous amounts of oxygen and can suffocate the gourami fish. 

Set up the tank where your gouramis can get 6 to 8 hours of bright indirect light daily. In addition, grow the best aquarium plants such as water lettuce, Java fern, and water wisteria for your thick-lipped and honey gouramis.

The plants will improve your aquarium’s water quality by absorbing carbon and other heavy metals from the water. Most importantly, gouramis like to hide. Setting up an aquarium with plants and substrates gives them enough space to play, hide, and breed.

5. Tank management

There are also some best practices for managing thick-lipped and honey gourami aquariums. Although they are hardy, warm water fish, they are susceptible to changes in the water chemistry.

Most fish tanks have no water inlet or outlet. Eventually, carbon dioxide, ammonia, and nitrates accumulate in the aquarium. Therefore, good tank management involves constant water changes, installing an aquarium filter, heater, and lighting.

Change 25-30% of the water weekly to improve oxygen circulation. You can also use the Aqueon QuietFlow 75 LED PRO Power Filter to clean debris from the aquarium and aerate the water for your gouramis. On the other hand, the best aquarium heater is the Aqueon Submersible Aquarium Heater

Consider an artificial light for your gouramis if your tank cannot get adequate bright and indirect light. Hygger Full Spectrum Aquarium Light is the best lighting for your thick-lipped and honey gouramis. Keep it on for at least five hours a day.

6. Compatible tank mates

Honey and thick-lipped gouramis are compatible with tankmates like guppies, mollies, corydoras, and neon or ember tetras. However, consider the size of your aquarium and the health of the potential tankmate.

When choosing a tankmate for your thick-lipped gouramis or honey gouramis, analyze the eyes of the tankmate. The fish’s eyes should be clear and bright. If the eyes are sunken or bulging, avoid the fish as it could be sick. Look also at the fish skin. It should look fresh and not so slippery.

7. Health issues

Several freshwater fish diseases can affect thick-lipped and honey gouramis. They are susceptible to ich (ick), gill diseases, and fin and tail rot. Drastic changes in the aquarium water chemistry and overstocking are the leading causes of health issues in gouramis.

Sometimes, your gourami can turn white due to these health issues. For instance, ich makes gourami scales appear rough and spotted with white. Tail rot starts at the base of the fish fin or tail. The diseases are caused by bacterial infections. 

However, Ich can kill your gouramis faster than fin rot. The most effective treatment against ich and fin rot are antibiotic treatments such as Melafix and Maracyn. 

Give thick-lipped and honey gouramis medication orally by dissolving it in the aquarium so they can absorb it through the skin.


The two fish are similar in a lot of ways including the following:

  • Thick-lipped gourami and honey gourami belong to the same fish species.
  • They are both freshwater fish.
  • You can keep both fish in the same aquarium.
  • Thick-lipped gouramis and honey gouramis are both peaceful and friendly fish. I will cover their temperament in the next section.
  • In both cases, females are slightly larger than males.
  • The thick-lipped gouramis and honey gouramis are foam nest builders, which means they build laying nests using saliva when the spawning season begins. You will see a mass of tiny air bubbles on the aquarium substrates or plant leaves. 
  • Can both swim on their sides with infected bladders.

As such, they share lots of similarities but may be totally different fish even if they are of the same main species. Gouramis, especially the large sizes, can be eaten just like some koi fish.


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

Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology. A Manual for Commercial Production of the Gourami, Trichogaster trichopterus, A Temporary Paired Spawner.

Academia. Standardized karyotype of the three-spot gourami, Trichogaster trichopterus (Perciformes, Belontidae) from Thailand by conventional and Ag-NOR staining technique.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *