Sparkling Gourami are a beautiful, little iridescent species. In doing the initial research on this species to determine suitability for my well-planted community tank (65-Gallon), I discovered some inaccurate and inconsistent information including the caution against keeping unless live food is an option which lead to my initial decision not to keep them.
Over the last several months, I have kept seven of them in a community tank and, with a little initial effort to help them adjustment to prepared foods, have found them to be good community fish, fairly easy to keep, pretty hardy, and reasonably outgoing. With regard to tank mates, I have observed no difficulties with various community members who are or have been tank mates (i.e., Corydoras False Julii & Habrosus; Dianos Celestial & Zebra; Diasy’s Ricefish, Endler’s Pure & Tiger; Otocinclus; Plecos (Smaller Long-Finned); Swordtails; Tetras Cardinals, Flame, & HY511; Tiger Hillstream Loaches; and White Clouds). It should be noted that I tend to maintain a somewhat higher bio-load. While I cannot claim to be an expert or exhaustive studies, I will share my observations and experience to add to the knowledge base.
Good community fish, fairly easy to keep, pretty hardy, and reasonably outgoing. In my experience, I have found variability in their behavior (personalities) ranging from active exploration of the environment to keeping close and weaving in-and-out of the hard scape and plants. As I have not tagged them, I cannot say whether specific individuals are shy and others are outgoing or specific individuals exhibit the full range of behavior.
In their interactions, I have observed that they were shy and timid following their initial introduction to the community though after adjustment their behavior changed to what was just described. In short, I have observed their movement to be graceful and slow purposeful (not unlike other kinds of gourami) with the ability to dart to strike at food, not overly aggressive or timid, and generally peaceful though occasionally they chase and are chased by their own and other species.
Overall, I do not find them timid or shy in aquariums with a fairly high bio-load and plenty of scape in which to hide (i.e., plenty of plants and hardscape).
Active hunters and micropredators. In my experience, the species does not school and sometimes appears to be a little territorial especially with own species. In addition, I observe that their ‘group attack’ on prey is more akin to sharks swarming prey as it does not appear to me to be a coordinated hunting pack akin to wolves.
With regard to feeding with live and prepared foods, I have found this species adapted to prepared foods without a great deal of difficulty. At this time, I find the species eats prepared food without any issues including flakes (see below).
With regard to fish fry and Amano and Red Cherry Shrimp, I observed the disappearance of my small, long-standing colony of Red Cherry Shrimp with the inclusion of this species in the first few weeks (including juveniles and adults) while the Amanos suffered no notable losses. Over last several months, I observed that the micro-sized fry of the Daisy’s Ricefish did not last the day; whereas, the larger fry of both the Endler’s and Swordstails survive in the community setting for days and weeks. As a result, I cannot conclude this species is partially or solely responsible for the demise of ricefish though within my aquarium they did not hunt down the larger fry.
Recommendations for Feeding with Prepared Foods
When I was doing the research on this species to make a decision about their inclusion in my community tank, I read several profiles suggesting that this fish was not a good choice for beginner's for several reasons (i.e., as it 'requires live food' and 'small maximum size and timid nature'). As a result of the former, I chose not to purchase them for my community tank as I prefer not to hassle with maintaining a live food stock.
Fortunately, I attended the GWAPA Meeting which was hosted by a member who keeps these fish. When I shared my thoughts on their beauty, explained my decision not to keep them, and asked his were fed, I was told that he experienced no difficulty feeding them prepared food and used New Life Spectrum Micro. At this point, I made the decision to purchase three and added four more when feeding was not an issue.
When first introduced into the community, I observed that they tended to be shy and timid and they would explore the very small sinking flakes particles though spit them out almost without exception (TetraColor and TetraMin). At this point, I experienced an "uh-oh" though figured I would experiment with other prepared foods.
In addition, I had "First Bites" Hikari Tropical on hand and gave it a go. Although I am not certain whether it is purely smell-taste or smell-taste in combination with the fine powder size of the food (about the size of larger microorganisms), I discovered that it is the hands down favorite for the seven in my community tank. When feed the first bites, I observe they aggressively dart about and snapped it down with flashes of gusto.
During the first few days, I continued to experiment with other larger prepared foods. I found that they accepted both "Micro-Pellets" (Hikari Tropical) and Spectrum Small Fish Formula. Within two weeks, I noticed the seven of them began to consume the flake food starting off with the smallest sinking crumbles and progressing up to the smaller sinking flakes (Note: I keep quite a number of minnow-sized fish and crumble-up my flakes with much of the crumbled flakes being about the size of the micro-pellets (Hikari and Spectrum).
At this point, they accept the above foods without any problem though no food produces the highly zealed eating that occurs when I feed them "First Bites" as a treat.
WARNING: I have read that folks have been able to keep them successfully with RCS though such reports are far fewer than those reports where the population of RCS was threatened or entirely consumed (including the adults, especially when molting). I experienced the loss of my small, long-standing colony following their introduction while my Amanos suffered no losses. While I would guess that a large colony of RCS in a large aquarium with tons of small hardscape crevases with only a few of these fish would allow the survival of a fairly good size RCS colony, I will note that my well planted and moderately hardscaped (though without small nooks and cranies) 65-Gallon was not sufficient for this purpose. Given the expense of these dwarf orimental shrimp, I think it is fair warning.