How do I ‘tame’ this gourami?

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A reader asks for advice on what to do with his stroppy gourami...

Q) Please can you help me with a stroppy gourami in my 90x38x38cm tank? Its a Gold gourami and I think it’s a male but I’m not completely sure. It chases everything all the time. I have Black neons, Harlequins, corys and Pearl danios. I initially had a mate for the gourami but it died not long after I purchased them. Should I try another mate? How can I tell if this one is a male or not?

CHRIS WRIGHT, VIA EMAIL

A) Bob replies: Gold gourami are a line bred colour form of the Three-spot gourami, Trichopodus trichopterus. Despite being very popular they don't make a great community tank choice. Sadly, they have a well deserved reputation for being belligerent and intolerant of just about anything else in the tank with them, particularly other gourami. Males can be indentified as they mature to be little larger than females, and they also have a pointed dorsal fin.

Some people have success keeping them in larger groups in big tanks where the aggression is spread among greater numbers and individuals can find space away from the 'top dog' fish that would bully them constantly in a smaller aquarium.

You can sometimes help lessen the problem in smaller tanks by breaking lines of sight with decor such as branching wood or lush planting, but I suspect that, given the relatively small size of your aquarium, this is unlikely to work. Adding a second fish will probably end with the same outcome as the first, with the resident gourami bullying the newcomer until it dies. Your best course of action is to rehome the remaining fish if possible.