Parasphaerichthys ocellatus, Eyespot gourami

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Stefan van der Voort on the rarely seen Burmese chocolate gourami, or Eyespot gourami, Parasphaerichthys ocellatus.

Common name: Eyespot gourami, Burmese chocolate gourami

Scientific name: Parasphaerichthys ocellatus Prashad and Mukerji, 1929

Origin: Myanmar, Asia.

Size: Rather small at up to 4cm/2.

Water: Both pH and GH should be neutral accompanied by a water temperature between 18 and 24C/65 and 75F.

Aquarium: There are conflicting reports on the best way to keep this species, with some recommending a small tank and others suggesting a large aquarium. Either way, they require densely planted tanks decorated with bogwood, as they are shy fish and need shelter to feel comfortable. A single species tank is imperative for optimal care.

Diet: Live foods only (everything that they can fit in their mouths will be eaten).

Breeding: This species has not yet been bred. It is also unknown whether Parasphaerichthys ocellatus are mouth brooders or, like their sister species, bubble nest builders. At least two noted German fishkeepers are working on breeding this gourami but they have so far been unsuccessful.

Notes: P. ocellatus is an extremely difficult fish to keep alive in captivity and even more difficult to breed. These fishes die easily so constant monitoring is advised. These fish feel happiest in groups of 6 to 12.

Similar species: There is only one other species, Parasphaerichthys lineatus, which was described by Ralf Britz and Maurice Kottelat in 2002. P. ocellatus is a dull, grey coloured species whereas P. lineatus is orange with a black head (though it possesses the same grey colouration when not in breeding condition). The former has two distinct and rather large eye-spots on the flanks, versus more but smaller spots in P. lineatus. A third obvious difference is the size of both species with the latter only reaching 2.5cm/1.

Availability: The difficulty in keeping and breeding them in captivity means that this is a very rare species, and it is usually only seen in very small quantities. These were on sale at Wildwoods in Middlesex.

Price: 5.95 from Wildwoods in Middlesex.

This article was first published in the May 2006 issue of Practical Fishkeeping magazine. It may not be reproduced without written permission.