THE IMPRESSIVE GIANT GOURAMI Definition: gou.rami (goo ra'me, goor e me') NOUN pl.-.mies or -.mi, any of various families of tropical fresh water percoid fishes; esp., a nest building food fish of southeast Asia. Species: There are 3 main species of giant gouramis, giant gourami (Osphronemus gorami), Siamese gourami (Trichogaster pectoralis) and kissing gourami (Helostoma temmincki). Description: This beautiful fish can reach sizes of 70cm (28") or more, but in captivity rarely reach sizes over 40cm(16"). They have an oval body shape and their color ranges from gray to white with some spotting or dots. Giant gouramis have a strong personality and very intelligent even to the point of recognition. They have been known to live for 20 years or longer with appropriate care. These fascinating fish have a special organ called a labyrinth organ which allows them to breath air from the surface. The labyrinth organ is a suprabranchial accessory formed by vascularized expansion of the epibranchial bone of the first gill arch. The fish are not born with the organ, but develop it gradually. Sexing: Males develop a nuchal hump on the head and have longer and more pointed dorsal and anal fins in contrast to the females which have noticeably more rounded fins. Feeding: Giant gourami are omnivores with an enormous appetite and can grow very quickly. They will eat a wide range of food including but not limited to: flake food, pellet food, feeder fish, fruit and most vegetables. Behavior: They are predatory but are often called a gentle giant and can be kept with a large variety of fish species as long as they are large enough to not be eaten. Breeding: The male will build a bubble nest utilizing plant material just below the water’s surface. Wrapping around the female, the male will collect the eggs into his mouth and place them into the nest. The eggs hatch in 24 hours. The male will jealously guard the nest even becoming aggressive towards the female. Tank Maintenance and Requirements: Due to the large appetite, weekly water changes are recommended. A minimum tank size of 150 to 200 gallons is recommended. Common diseases: Some diseases that have been found in or on the giant gourami are Achlya (a fungus infection caused by bacteria infecting the skin and gills producing a toxic substance damaging epithelial cells), Epizootic ulcerative syndrome(EUS) (an infection known as Aphanomyces invadans or Aphanomyces piscicida affecting the kidneys, liver and muscular tissues usually developing red spots or small to large ulcerative lesions on the body), Lernaea (a crustacean parasite infecting the skin and gills), Trypanosoma (an internal parasite found in the blood of giant gourami in Thailand).[/ Conclusion: This is a truly wonderful fish and can be kept in a large aquarium with a variety of fishes.The giant gourami makes a great and long lived pet. If anyone reading this overview has any questions or additional comments, please add it to the discussion thread.