To be blunt, putting three pygmy gourami into a single ~3 gallon tank was really stupid of me. Despite warning online, I didn’t fully realized how territorial these little guys can get. I’d worked with “territorial” fish before that have warnings listed consistently in profiles about them, but they usually just chased away threats then returned to their claimed area. These pygmy gourami are different in how they interact than the other fish I had worked with before. In such a small tank, even with ample cover, the pygmy gourami chase each other down. They follow their target through the moss clumps, leaves, around driftwood; it didn’t matter how much cover there was because the aggressor was willing to follow the fleeing fish through any terrain.
Thus, after the first week, one of the three had begun to be singled out with obvious signs of stress and aggression. I let the chasing go on for a few days, in hopes that a pecking order could be sorted out between the three. Often this works with semi-agressive fish. Once I saw torn/chewed fins on one of the sparkling gourami, I ended my little test sparkling gourami tank. At first I moved the injured pygmy gourami, but soon after I also moved out the second one. The original king of the junk tank now remains.
Here’s some shots of the tank and the remaining purring gourami that stayed still for long enough to snap some shots.
One last behavior trait that I’d like to mention with the guys is that they really do make quite loud sounds! This is where the nickname “purring” gourami comes form, but I’d say its more of a loud click. I usually hear it when one of the two gourami has found the other, perhaps as a sort of warning or signal to the other. Sometimes the more dominant one would swim up next to the other and make the clicking noise before scooting away or inciting a small chase.
Let me know if you have any questions, suggestions, concerns, etc about this setup! And please never try to push the limits on stocking pygmy gourami. These guys really, truly, with no exceptions seem to need at least 10 gallons with lots of cover and hiding spots if you want to have two.