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gourami

gourami go͞orä´mē [key], tropical freshwater fish of the labyrinth fish suborder. Like other members of that suborder, gouramis have a labyrinthine breathing apparatus connected to each gill chamber that enables them to utilize atmospheric oxygen. They can therefore live in oxygen-poor water. Gouramis are native to SE Asia and Africa. The true gourami, Osphronemus goramy, reaches a length of 2 ft (60 cm). It originated in Indonesia, but has been introduced in China and S Asia, where it is cultivated as an important food fish. Certain smaller members of the family, popular as aquarium fishes, are also called gouramis, but the best known, the white, 10-in.(25-cm) long kissing gourami ( Helostoma temmincki ) is now classified in the family Helostomatidae. Other popular gouramis are the moonlight gourami ( Trichogaster microlepis ) of Thailand, a 6-in. (15-cm) long, silvery-blue fish with long, threadlike ventral fins, and other Trichogaster species. The talking, or croaking, gourami ( Trichopsis vittatus ), a 2-in. (5-cm) long fish, is noted for the curious sounds produced by the males when they surface for air at night. The labyrinth fishes also include the betta , or fighting fish, and the paradise fish , which are in the same family as the gourami, and the so-called climbing perch , climbing gourami, or walking fish, which is in the family Anabantidae. True gouramis are classified in the phylum Chordata , subphylum Vertebrata, class Actinopterygii, order Perciformes, family Osphronemidae.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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