Giant Chocolate Gourami (Sphaerichthys acrostoma)
The Giant Chocolate Gourami is the least attractive of all Chocolate Gouramis regarding colouration; however, it is a fascinating species. These Gouramis are the rarest of all Chocolate Gouramis in the wild as well as in the hobby.
Giant Chocolate Gouramis are not a shoaling species; however, these fish seem to require interaction with their own kind and display more exciting behaviours when maintained in more significant numbers. Therefore it would be best if you purchased at least six individuals. When you keep these fish in larger groups, you will notice them developing hierarchies. You will often see dominant individuals chasing away their rivals if they occupy their favourite place or feeding times.
Tankmates for the Giant Chocolate Gourami must be chosen with care. These Gouramis are slow-moving and can easily be intimidated or outcompeted for food by larger or more boisterous tankmates. These Gouramis will fare better in a species only tank; however, you can also house them with other peaceful species such as Rasboras, smaller Barbs and loaches.
The ideal aquarium setup for Giant Chocolate Gouramis would be a densely planted aquarium, with a fine gravel or sandy substrate covered with dried leaf litter, lots of driftwood roots, wood bark, and branches formed into small caves. Use low light plants such as Microsorum, Taxiphyllum, Cryptocoryne, and Anubias to decorate and create hiding places for your fish.
As long as there is adequate cover and structure available in the aquarium, this species is not fussy when it comes to decor. Some fish keeping enthusiasts use pieces of PVC pipe, ceramic flowerpots and other artificial materials in their aquariums for cover. Still, these fish prefer a more aesthetically pleasing environment that mimics their natural habitat.
Giant Chocolate Gouramis have a high, flattened, moderately elongated body with a long anal and dorsal fin and low filamentous pelvic fins. The overall body colour of these fish is golden to bronze with slightly networked scales, dark fins, and a light throat. In addition, two black cherry coloured lines extend from the tip of their nose through the eye to the end of their gill cover.
|Scientific Name||Sphaerichthys acrostoma|
|Other Names||Golden Chocolate Gourami, Sharp Nosed Gourami, Moonlight Chocolate Gourami, Black Lined Chocolate Gourami, Black-Tailed Chocolate Gourami|
|Aquarium Level||Middle - Top|
|Difficulty||Intermediate - Advanced|
|Best kept as||Groups 6+|
|Lifespan||5 - 8 years|
|Temperature||69 - 77 ℉ (20.6 - 25 ℃)|
|PH||3.5 - 6.5|
|GH||10 - 20|
|TDS||0 - 54|
Natural Habitat of the Giant Chocolate Gourami
Giant Chocolate Gouramis are only known from Indonesian parts of the island of Borneo. Their area is within the Mentaya River drainage and presumably in Southeast Asia in Indonesia's Central Kalimantan province. These fish inhabit still or sluggish peat swamps and forested blackwater streams that are usually littered with rotting leaves and fallen tree branches.
The waters in their habitat are typically stained a dark brown to almost black colour by the tannins and other chemicals released from decaying organic matter. This decomposition results in negligible dissolved mineral content in the water leading to a low pH level of between 3.0 and 4.0.
The thick jungle growth and the rainforests canopy allows very little light to pierce the water's surface, letting only low light loving plants like Cryptocoryne, Blyxa, Utricularia, Barclaya, Eleocharis, Lymnophila and Utricularia to grow.
Unfortunately, due to agriculture, logging and other human actions throughout Southeast Asia, huge stretches of primary forest have been altered or lost altogether. Fish habitats in affected regions have also been heavily restricted in many cases, with species variety declining as a result.
Other Gouramis of interest
What to feed the Giant Chocolate Gourami
In the wild Giant Chocolate Gouramis are primarily micro predators feeding on worms, insect larvae, small aquatic crustaceans and other zooplankton. In the aquarium, these fish can be a little picky and initially, they may not accept dried or prepared foods, although they will often learn to take them over time.
It would be better to offer your Giant Chocolate Gouramis daily meals of small live, frozen or freeze-dried foods. These can include brine shrimp, mosquito larvae, grindal worm, bloodworm and daphnia, as this will help your fish develop perfect colour and conditioning.
How to Sex the Giant Chocolate Gourami
It is relatively straightforward to distinguish the males from female Giant Chocolate Gouramis. When in breeding conditions, the males exhibit a lateral stripe that extends from the caudal fin base to its midbody. In contrast, females lack this stripe and instead display a series of darkened scale rows in the lower anterior part of their body and along the base of the anal fin.
In addition, females also maintain a greater degree of red pigmentation on their throat area as well as in the unpaired fins. Females also have a uniformly straight lower jaw and an overall more acuminate head shape than males, whereas the male's jaw is slightly more rounded due to the presence of distendable skin that expands during mouthbrooding.
How to Breed the Giant Chocolate Gourami
You can breed Giant Chocolate Gouramis in a group or a single pair in a separate breeding tank, and as long as the quality of the water and their diet is maintained, breeding these fish should not prove too difficult.
Breeding is usually initiated by the female or alpha female if multiple individuals are present. The climactic spawning embrace is where the couple remains nearly upright, rather than the female being turned upside down like Bettas and most other anabantoid species.
The spawning process can take several hours, and the eggs will be laid and fertilised on the substrate, where the male will collect them in his mouth. Both parents defend the surrounding area throughout.
The males will usually take refuge in a quiet tank area and will eat very little if anything at all. Then, the male will hold the eggs and fry in his mouth for between 7 and 20 days, where anything from 10 to 40 fully developed, free swimming juveniles are released.
If you prefer, you can remove the male to a separate aquarium a few days after spawning has occurred to minimise the chances of the fry being consumed; however, in an established, well-decorated setup, some fry may survive. Alternatively, you can remove the babies once you notice any as long as the water is the same temperature and chemistry as the breeding tank.
Once the fry becomes free swimming, they should be large enough to accept live foods such as baby brine shrimp and microworm straight away. You should also perform daily water changes of around 10 per cent of tank volume to sustain water quality and growth rate.
The raising tank needs to have a tightly fitted cover as they need access to a layer of warm, humid air to ensure the proper development of the labyrinth organ.