Gourami Fish Color Changes: What You Need to Know

Gourami fish do change colour due to several factors. This could be due to environmental changes, health issues, or behavioral displays. Managing their habitat and health is key to maintaining their vibrant hues.

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Do Gourami Fish Change Colour?

There is something enchanting about the shimmering colours of Gourami fish as they glide through the water. Yet, many Gourami owners find themselves asking, "Do Gourami fish change colour?" As a long-term aquarist and a Gourami enthusiast, I can confirm that they do, and it's all part of their mesmerising charm. But why does this happen? This question requires us to dive into the captivating world of fish colouration.

When my first set of Gourami's changed from a bright orange to a very dull orange, I did start to panic. Reading more about the fish and how it reacts put my mind at ease.

Just to be on the safe side, I did test the water using water test strips to put my mind at ease.

Why Fish Change Colour

Fish colour changes are largely due to cells known as chromatophores in their skin. These cells contain pigments and reflect light in various ways, contributing to the fish's visible colouration. For Gouramis, these chromatophores react to different stimuli, resulting in colour changes.

There are numerous reasons why Gouramis and other fish might change colour, from environmental factors to health concerns. Sometimes, even simple behavioural displays could induce these magical transformations. Let's explore these different scenarios more closely.

Environmental Factors

A Gourami's environment can significantly affect their colouration. For instance, when a Gourami fish is introduced into a new tank, its colours might temporarily fade. This change is due to the stress of moving to a different environment, which often triggers a defensive mechanism that causes fish to "blend in" to their surroundings for protection.

This same mechanism can also lead to changes in colour when the lighting conditions in the tank alter. Our article on how much it costs to run aquarium lighting provides more information about managing the ideal light levels for your fish.

Health Concerns

Changes in a Gourami's colour could also signify health issues. For instance, a sick Gourami might display pale or discoloured patches. It's vital to pay attention to these changes, as they might be the first signs of diseases like fin rot or ich, a condition that causes white spots on fish. If you notice your Gourami exhibiting white spots, our article on why fish have white spots offers more details on this disease.

Behavioural Displays

One of the most fascinating aspects of Gourami fish is their colourful displays during different behaviours. Male Gouramis, for example, can intensify their colours when trying to attract a mate or to signal aggression during territorial disputes.

Another common behaviour is when Gouramis darken their colour during the spawning process. They do this to signal their readiness for reproduction, adding a layer of intrigue to their already captivating presence in the tank.

How to Maintain Healthy Gourami Colours

Given that many factors can affect a Gourami's colour, it's essential to provide them with a healthy, stable environment. Keep the water change frequency in check to ensure the water conditions remain optimal.

Moreover, investing in a good aquarium heater can also help regulate the temperature in the tank, providing your Gouramis with a more comfortable habitat.

Proper feeding also plays a significant role in maintaining your Gourami's vibrant hues. High-quality, nutrient-rich fish food will not only keep your fish healthy but will also contribute to their colour vibrancy.


Yes, Gourami fish can and do change colour, reflecting their remarkable ability to adapt to their environment, signal different behaviours, and indicate health status. By understanding these changes, you can provide your Gouramis with the best care possible, ensuring they continue to showcase their vibrant, captivating hues for years to come.