why does my gourami stay at the bottom of the tank

Why Does my Gourami Stay at the Bottom of the Tank?

Many breeds of gourami are popular with aquarium lovers, because of their gorgeous colours, and general hardiness. They’re excellent options for beginners and experts alike, but, regardless of your experience, it’s important to understand their behaviour to give them the best possible care. If you notice that one of your gouramis is suddenly spending a lot of time at the bottom of the tank, this could signify something that needs your attention.

Gouramis can stay at the bottom of the tank due to swim bladder infections, ich, or spawning. This behaviour can also signify that your tank isn’t the best environment for your fish. Staying near the bottom of the tank may be a sign that you need to perform a water change or adjust the temperature.

This article will tell you everything you need to know about reasons why your gourami is spending an unusual amount of time at the bottom of the tank, so you can better understand what this behaviour means and how to address the different problems it can signify. Read on to learn more.

blue gourami
A Blue Gourami.

Why Is My Gourami Staying at the Bottom of the Tank?

Here are some reasons why your gourami is staying at the bottom of the tank:

  • Your fish has a swim bladder infection. Fish have an organ called a swim bladder that controls their buoyancy and ability to swim properly. Unfortunately, swim bladder infections are common. If your fish is swimming strangely, upside down, or unable to swim to the top of the tank, they might be suffering from an infection.
  • Your gourami could be suffering from ich or another illness. If your gourami is frequenting the lower section of its tank, this can mean that your fish is sick and needs treatment as soon as possible.
  • The tank needs to be cleaned. A dirty tank can make your fish sick. This is why it’s important to make frequent water changes.
  • Temperature adjustments may need to be made. If your fish is too hot or too cold, it might spend less time being active and more time near the bottom.
  • An aggressive tank-mate has injured your fish. An injured fish might not be able to swim regularly.
  • Your gourami is spawning. Some breeds of fish spend time near the bottom of the tank if they’re pregnant or about to lay eggs. If you’re concerned that this is the case, the following section covers common gourami breeding practises.

Do Pregnant Gouramis Stay at the Bottom of the Tank?

Gouramis do not get pregnant. They lay unfertilised eggs. If your gourami is spending a lot of time laying at the bottom of the tank or swimming very close to the substrate, this can signify they are about to lay their eggs, or they have laid them and are now eating them. However, you should always also rule out illness.

But how exactly can you tell if your gourami is carrying eggs or not?

How To Tell if Your Gourami Is Carrying Eggs.

Gouramis are not livebearers. This means that they are never technically pregnant. They lay eggs, which then get fertilised by the males after they have been laid. Here are some common signs to look out for that your gourami is carrying roe:

  • Your gourami is visibly more prominent than normal. Obesity in fish isn’t exactly a common thing. If you notice that your gourami’s stomach appears to be bigger than usual, this can be a sign that she is carrying roe.
  • Your gourami is female. While this may seem obvious, you must know whether or not your fish is female before making any judgments about pregnancy. This is crucial because if your gourami is a male, it’s likely that your fish is ill rather than carrying roe. This can also signify the need for water adjustments. Female gouramis tend to be bigger than their male counterparts. The males are more vivid in colour.

When it comes to laying their eggs, gouramis are what is known as ‘egg scatterers’. The female will release a large number of eggs at random, many of which will land on the substrate. Gouramis show no parental care, so, if you see your gourami spending a lot of time at the bottom of the tank, they are most likely eating the eggs, rather than protecting them. Gouramis tend to eat their roe very quickly so you should see them eating some of the eggs almost as soon as they appear.

This mesmerising video shows a Honey Gourami laying (and then feasting on) her eggs.

Are Gouramis Bottom Dwellers?

Gouramis aren’t bottom dwellers. While they’re known to have the occasional algae snack, they’re not naturally bottom feeders and tend to hang out nearer to the top of the tank than the bottom. This is why most gourami species are always a good match with bottom-dwelling fish. Bottom-dwelling fish include loaches, corydoras, and plecos amongst others.

If your gourami is spending a lot of time at the bottom of the tank, I would consider this unusual behaviour.

chocolate gourami
Chocolate Gourami.

Signs of Illness To Look Out For.

Unfortunately, a bottom-dwelling gourami might be a sick one.

As previously discussed, gouramis aren’t natural bottom-dwellers like loaches and other common bottom-feeder species. If you’re convinced that your fish isn’t pregnant, it’s essential to check for symptoms of common fish illnesses.

Here are some illnesses and ailments you should check for:

  • Ich: Ich is one of the most common illnesses seen in freshwater fish. It’s a parasitic infection that causes white spots to appear on your fish.
  • Swim bladder infections: An infected swim bladder can affect your pet’s ability to swim properly.
  • Fin rot: Fin rot is relatively easy to diagnose. While this is more common in bettas and other fish with more elegant tails, mollies can still be prone to this.
  • Poisoning (contaminated water): Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to contaminate the water in your fish tank accidentally. If you use harsh soaps to clean your fish care supplies, the chemicals in the soap can transfer over to your tank. You should also have a designated bucket for water changes to protect your fish from cleaning solutions.
  • Chlorine sickness: It’s imperative to ensure that the water in your fish tank is dechlorinated. If you forget this step during cleaning and/or water changes, this can make your fish very sick.

In addition to bottom-dwelling behaviour, here are some signs of illness that you should look out for:

  • White spots (ich)
  • Slowed movements
  • Rotted fins
  • Your fish isn’t eating
  • Increased or decreased aggression (depending on the typical behaviour of the individual fish)

How To Treat Common Gourami Illnesses.

If you think your fish is suffering from an illness, it’s crucial to treat your tank properly.

One helpful solution is to carry out a partial water change. I would also test the water. I personally would carry out the water change even if the water parameters are showing as fine.

It is also a good idea to have a quarantine tank in case you need to take a sick fish away from the group. I have written a helpful article on quarantine fish tanks which you can read here.

Do Gouramis Like To Hide?

Gouramis like to hide occasionally, like most fish. Hiding places allow your fish to feel safe while getting accustomed to a new tank. They can also serve as shelter, just in case some of the other tank members show aggression.

If your fish stays close to the bottom to hide, this is probably nothing to worry about. It’s still a good idea to double-check for symptoms of pregnancy and illness for safety.

kissing gourami
Kissing Gourami.

Final Thoughts.

Gouramis are very popular fishkeeping favourites because they’re relatively easy to care for. However, no fish is immune to ailments. If your gourami is spending a lot of time near the substrate, this can mean illness, pregnancy, or an inadequate environment.

Hopefully, this article has helped you better understand your gouramis, so you can analyse their behaviour and continue to keep your fish as happy and healthy as possible.

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