Aggressive honey gouramis - advice needed

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Fish Fanatic
Dec 6, 2020
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United Kingdom
I bought 2 honey gourami and 4 ember tetras for my nano aquarium (55 litre) about 6 weeks ago. All has been fine but the two gourami have turned out to be male and female and last week we witnessed them doing their courtship/breeding routine and then built a bubble nest. I noticed that they began to get aggressive toward the tetras, chasing them away from the centre of the tank. This morning however I couldn't see any of my tetras. Finally one emerged only to be pursued aggressively around the tank by the female gourami.

I needed to do a water change and clean the tank and in the process destroyed the bubble nest and disturbed the fish from their hiding places as I vacuumed the aquarium. As a couple of the tetras emerged once I finished, again the gourami chased them off and them keep going up to each other as if to nip each other (the female is doing this to the male as well as the other way round).

The reason I bought the honey gourami is that I read they are peaceful fish and won't cause issues and I don't want this kind of aggression in my tank where tetras are being forced to hide below the filter in the bottom back corner of the tank.

Should I return both gourami or just one, and if one, which is better to keep with other fish peacefully on it's own, the male or female?
Seriously? The only thing a 55 liter tank is suitable for is a single betta, or a few small aquatic plants and some snails or dwarf shrimp, if that's what you're into.
What are the tank dimensions (length x width x height)?

All labyrinths (Bettas & Gouramis) are territorial when breeding. The reason your two became aggressive is due to them breeding. If they built a bubble nest a week ago it would have eggs in it by now and they would be close to hatching.

In a small aquarium, the gouramis will take the entire aquarium over as their territory. You either get rid of the gouramis or the tetras. If you get another aquarium, you could move the tetras into that and breed the gouramis in their current tank.

If you only want one gourami, get a male because they have nicer colour. However, since they have bred, the male will be more aggressive and probably annoyed that you destroyed his nest and removed his girlfriend, so he might go after the tetras. If they hadn't bred yet you could get rid of one and the other would probably be ok with the tetras.
Sometimes stores sell 'red honey gourami' or 'sunset honey gourami' etc. which are not actual honey gourami (trighogaster chuna) but the more aggressive thick lipped gourami (trichogaster labiosa) or various hybrid colour morphs. If you post photos it may be possible for someone to tell what you have.
I agree with @Colin_T , you need to separate them from the ember tetra.
It's not quite logical the female chases a male or other fish. Could you place a pic of both?
The eggs hatched and there was a lot of spawn but I think they’ve all been eaten now. The good news is both gouramis have calmed down. My plan is to return the male and get another female.
The eggs hatched and there was a lot of spawn but I think they’ve all been eaten now. The good news is both gouramis have calmed down. My plan is to return the male and get another female.
I had a male and female HG and had the exact problems you are having. My Rasbora and ember tetras at the time were bullied into hiding among the plants. At feeding time any fish (including the female) in the top 1/3 of the tank was quickly chased off by the male. The mistake I made was having a tall aquarium (60L) cube) the surface area wasn't big enough even with the hardscape that blocked the line of vision from all 4 corners of the tank. I eventually returned the male after 4 or 5 bubble nests and never had any aggression problems after.
Just a thought - this was not aggression. It was defensiveness. The gouramis made a nest which they filled with eggs. That had to be protected from predators. The embers would have been happy to eat those eggs, and probably got some fry or larvae after the nest was destroyed. So who is aggressive - the fish defending the next generation, or the predator looking for a quick meal?

In the end, female honeys/chuna are colourless fish, and kept on their own will probably get boring fast. Males will colour up if they have a reason to, but on their own aren't likely to do much. It really is a species that should be kept in pairs or groups to see their beauty and behaviour. Lone or single sex ones are not likely to be what you want.

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