Max Size: 10cm

Frail Gourami (Ctenops nobilis)

Due to their extreme sensitivity to shipping stress and high aggression levels, you will not often see Frail Gouramis in the aquarium trade. This species is also not recommended for anyone but the experienced fish keeper as they are one of the harder to maintain freshwater fish.

Frail Gouramis are not recommended for the typical community aquarium; however, you can maintain them alongside other non-cannibalistic anabantoids in larger set-ups. You can also keep these fish with peaceful, schooling Cyprinids, although you should avoid larger species.

Frail Gouramis are sociable as juveniles but not as adults as they are often openly hostile towards and may even kill members of the same species given a chance. You can maintain them in a group; however, to do so, you would require a large aquarium or well-structured set-up with dense plant growth and other decor arranged to break lines of sight. The aggression is not restricted to a specific gender and is heightened when the fish are kept at higher temperatures or are in breeding conditions.

Frail Gouramis are unfussy when it comes to the decor as long as you have plenty of structure and cover. A more natural-looking design could consist of a sandy substrate with driftwood roots or bogwood placed to form hiding places for the Gouramies to feel safe. Adding dried leaf litter such as beech, Indian almond, or oak.

Frail Gouramis do best under dim lighting and thick plantings such as Microsorum, Cryptocoryne, Taxiphyllum and Anubias. However, adding floating plants to diffuse the lighting and provide additional cover.

Although it is always essential to maintain good water conditions, the filtration should be gentle. It would be best to avoid water changes so long as the aquarium is lightly stocked; however, if you wish to do so, only perform 10 to 15 per cent weekly. You will also need to ensure a tight-fitting lid as this species is well known for its jumping abilities, especially if you have just introduced them to a new aquarium.


Frail Gourami
Quick Facts
Scientific NameCtenops nobilis
Year Described1845
Other NamesIndian Paradisefish, Noble Gourami
Aquarium LevelMiddle - Top
Best kept asLoners
Lifespan1 - 3 years
Water Parameters
Water TypeFreshwater
PH5.0 - 7.5
GH10 - 20
TDS36 - 215
59 - 77℉
15 - 25℃


Because the Frail Gourami is a carnivore; it would be best if you aimed to feed your fish on a diet primarily of meaty foodstuffs such as live and/or frozen daphnia, brine shrimp, lobster eggs, cyclops, Mysis shrimp and bloodworm. Bloodworm should be used sparingly as it is hard for your fish to digest.

You can also cut up earthworms from your garden or chop up shop brought mussels, prawns, krill and fresh fish (be sure only to use fresh or frozen fish and not fish canned in oil).

You can also try your fish with dried foods formulated for predatory fish and made up of insect material such as Fluval bug bites, which can also be used to supplement the diet.

Get to know your fish and test which foods they prefere and which they ignore but always be sure not to overfeed your fish and remove excessive uneaten food whenever possible.

Tank Mates

10 interesting tank mate ideas for the Frail Gourami could include:

Butterfly Barb(Barbus hulstaerti)
Clown Rasbora(Rasbora kalochroma)
Eilyos Tetra(Hyphessobrycon eilyos)
Golden Dwarf Barb(Pethia gelius)
Licorice Gourami(Parosphromenus deissneri)
Marbled Hatchetfish(Carnegiella strigata)
Meghalaya Danio(Danio Meghalayensis)
Sparkling Gourami(Trichopsis vittata)
Steel Blue Tetra(Hyphessobrycon weitzmanorum)
Zebra Danio(Brachydanio rerio)

Sexual Dimorphism

It is rather challenging to differentiate between male and female Frail Gouramis, especially when newly imported or if they are not in very good condition. However, females always possess a uniformly straight lower jaw and have a more tapered head shape than males. In contrast, the male's lower jaw is slightly rounded due to distensible skin that expands during mouthbrooding. Other than that, both sexes are very similar looking.

Other Gouramis of interest

Banded Gourami(Trichogaster fasciata)
Chocolate Gourami(Sphaerichthys osphromenoides)
Congo Ctenopoma(Ctenopoma congicum)
Dwarf Gourami(Trichogaster lalius)
Giant Chocolate Gourami(Sphaerichthys acrostoma)
Giant Gourami(Osphronemus goramy)
View all Gouramis
Date Added: 01/10/2021 12:09:05 - Updated: 08/08/2022 12:41:33