The Balloon Pink Kissing Gourami is a newer introduction into the aquarium hobby. This fish is a mutated strain developed from the pink form of the Kissing GouramiHelostoma temminkii. While its parentage is notable for having a body that is strongly compressed and deep, this gourami is rounder and not quite as laterally compressed. It has a short-bodied ‘balloon’ type shape from which its common names are derived. It is also known as the Balloon Kissing Gourami, Balloon Pink Kissing Fish, and Dwarf Kissing Fish.

This captive bred gourami is smaller than its progenitors. It will usually reach about 4 – 5″ (10 – 13 cm) while the Kissing Gourami will commonly attain an aquarium size of about 5 – 6″ (12 – 15 cm). The Kissing Gourami lives on average between 6 – 8 years, with some even living to over 20 years, however don’t expect quite as long a lifespan with this stunted variety. Though generally shorter lived and smaller, it’s nearly as durable. But it can be more prone to internal disorders like swim bladder problems.

Like its parentage, these fish use their lips and teeth to rasp algae from the surface of rocks, or from the glass in the aquarium. The lips are thick and fleshy with fine teeth on the inner surface. These fish will press their lips against the aquarium rocks, glass, and plants to feed on algae and debris. They not only use their lips and teeth to feed from surfaces in the aquarium, they will also suck on the sides of other fish to ingest the slime that covers them.

These fish are quite hardy and have a great appetite. They don’t get as large as their counterpart so they can be kept in a smaller aquarium. Still they must not be overcrowded as this can stunt their growth. As juveniles they can be kept in a 20-30 gallon aquarium but as adults a larger tank that is 50 gallons or more will be needed. They like real plants in the aquarium but they also enjoy snacking on them. so a favorable decor can be provided with artificial plants. They also like some driftwood, which will provide places for hiding and retreat.

As juveniles these gouramis are generally considered good community fish but as they grow they can begin to bully their aquarium companions. There are some that will be tolerant of like sized tank mates, yet others may become quite aggressive. Because they can get belligerent or territorial as adults it is best to keep them with other neutral temperament fish of similar size, or keep them in a species only tank.

These are very pretty and durable fish and they are also moderately easy to breed. But due to their size and temperament they are suggested for an aquarist with some experience. They are a lot of fun to watch and make a good display in a large roomy tank.


Scientific Classification


Balloon Kissing Gourami – Quick Aquarium Care

Aquarist Experience Level:Intermediate
Aquarium Hardiness:Moderately hardy
Minimum Tank Size:50 gal (189 L)
Size of fish – inches7.9 inches (19.99 cm)
Temperature:72.0 to 82.0° F (22.2 to 27.8&deg C)

Habitat: Distribution / Background

The Kissing Gourami Helostoma temminkii was first described by Cuvier in 1829 and named after a Dutch doctor, Temminck. They are found in the tropical Asia from Thailand into Indonesia in Sumatra, Borneo, Java, Cambodia, Malay Peninsula, and possibly in eastern Myanmar (Burma). This is a monotypic genus that contains only this single species.

In the wild the Kissing Gourami inhabit slow waters, primarily ponds and marshes with dense vegetation.This fish shows a preference to waters with clear, highly oxygenated waters. The substrate is normally composed of sand and rocks and grows very dense vegetation. In nature this fish feeds on insects, diatoms, algae, small invertebrates and detritus.

The Balloon Pink Kissing Gourami has been developed in captivity and is a mutated strain of the ‘pink’ color-morph of the Kissing Gourami. Other common names they are known by include Balloon Kissing Gourami, Balloon Pink Kissing Fish, and Dwarf Kissing Fish. There are no wild populations of these varieties.

  • Scientific Name: Helostoma temminkii
  • Social Grouping: Groups
  • IUCN Red List: NE – Not Evaluated or not listed – Although the Kissing Gourami is listed as Least Concern (LC), there are no wild populations of this mutated variety.


The Balloon Pink Kissing Gourami is rounder and not quite as laterally compressed, as the Kissing Gourami. It is also smaller. This fish has a labyrinth organ, a part of the fish which allows it to absorb atmospheric oxygen directly into the bloodstream. These fish are pinkish to orangish pink with transparent fins.

A good length for this fish to reach in the aquarium is about 4 – 5″ (10 – 13 cm), though these fish could reach up to almost 8″ (20 cm). Its progenitor, the Kissing Gourami, has been known to reach up to 12 inches (30 cm) in the wild. These fish may live about 6 to 7 years with proper care, just as the Kissing Fish, but due to their stunted development they are generally a little shorter lived then their parentage.

The most distinctive characteristic of both this fish and the Kissing Gourami is the mouth. The mouth has lips that are thick and fleshy with fine teeth on the inner surface. The name ‘Kissing” was actually derived from the action of its mouth where it uses it lips and teeth to rasp algae from the surface of rocks or from the glass in the aquarium.

  • Size of fish – inches: 7.9 inches (19.99 cm) – They can reach almost 8″ (20 cm) in length, but are usually about 4 – 5″ (10 – 13 cm) in the aquarium.
  • Lifespan: 5 years – On average they have a lifespan of 5 – 8 years with good care.

Fish Keeping Difficulty

The Balloon Pink Kissing Gourami should be housed by fish keeper with a moderate amout of experience. They can get belligerent or territorial as adults. These are hardy fish but if keeping more than one, adults will need at least a 50 gallon tank. They are best kept with other large fish or in a species only tank. They are slow swimming and eat slowly which can make matching tankmates difficult.

  • Aquarium Hardiness: Moderately hardy
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Intermediate

Foods and Feeding

Since they are omnivores, they will generally eat all kinds of live, fresh, and flake foods. A quality flake or pellet food makes a good base to the diet but it is important to supplement this with meaty foods. Supplementation can include white worms, blood worms, brine shrimp, or any other suitable substitute. Fresh vegetables or vegetable tablets, such as spirulina algae wafers, can be offered as well. Vegetables such as fresh romaine lettuce, cooked zucchini or peas are great choices to keeper your Dwarf Kisser Fish healthy. Make sure to clean uneaten vegetable as they will quickly foul the water. Generally feed once or twice a day.

  • Diet Type: Omnivore
  • Flake Food: Yes
  • Tablet / Pellet: Yes
  • Live foods (fishes, shrimps, worms): Some of Diet
  • Vegetable Food: Some of Diet
  • Meaty Food: Some of Diet
  • Feeding Frequency: Several feedings per day – Generally feed once or twice a day.

Aquarium Care

These gouramis are extremely hardy fish. Although the labyrinth organ allows the fish to survive in oxygen depleted water, it is a common misconception that this makes water changes unnecessary. This is hardly the case as these fish will suffer the same tissue damage from built up toxins as any other fish. Regular water changes are a must with 25% weekly being recommended. When cleaning algae from the sides of the tank, the back glass should be left alone as these fish will feed on the algae there.

  • Water Changes: Weekly – Weekly water changes of 25% are recommended.

Aquarium Setup

The Balloon Pink Kissing Gourami will swim in all areas, but primarily inhabits the top and middle areas of the aquarium. As a small fish they can be housed in smaller aquariums or about 20-30 gallons, but as adults they will need at least a 50 gallon tank or larger. They gulp water at the surface to insure adequate oxygen intake, so they must have access to plenty of unobstructed surface area. It is desirable to keep the tank in a room with a temperature as close as possible to the tank water, or risk damaging the labyrinth organ. The tank should have an efficient filtration system but it should not to create too much of a current. This fish will be bothered by a strong current in the tank, especially if the tank is small.

These gouramis will show their colors best on a dark substrate. A large gravel substrate with some river rocks work great to prevent digging and to provide surface areas for algae growth. The tank should be decorated in a way which allows for some areas of retreat, some driftwood and rocks can work for this. Plants are not necessary but are appreciated. Keep in mind however, that plants are a natural part of their diet and these fish have been known to snack on them. Java Fern or Java Moss are great choices as they are hardy species and difficult to eat, basically inedible, and artificial plants can make a handy substitute. They will appreciates the cover of floating plants as well, but they regularly breath air at the surface so its important to have some areas unencumbered, and again they may nibble at them.

  • Minimum Tank Size: 50 gal (189 L) – Juveniles can be kept in a smaller aquariums but for adults, 50 gallons or more is suggested.
  • Suitable for Nano Tank: No
  • Substrate Type: Large Gravel
  • Lighting Needs: Moderate – normal lighting
  • Temperature: 72.0 to 82.0° F (22.2 to 27.8&deg C) – Keep the surrounding room temperature consistent with the water temperature to avoid causing trauma to the labyrinth organ.
  • Breeding Temperature: 80.0° F – They will breed with normal water temperatures.
  • Range ph: 6.0-8.8
  • Hardness Range: 5 – 35 dGH
  • Brackish: No
  • Water Movement: Moderate – They will be bothered by a strong current, especially if the tank is small.
  • Water Region: All – These gouramis primarily inhabit the top and middle areas of the aquarium.

Social Behaviors

The Balloon Pink Kissing Gourami is generally considered a good community fish when small, but may not be as peaceful as adults. Care should be taken to make sure the Gourami’s are not bullying other fish. When they get older its best to keep them with fish their own size or in a species tank. A mix of same sized neutral personalities is an ideal goal for the range of tank mates. Fin nippers should absolutely never be mixed with gouramis. The trailing pelvic fins and generally slower movement of this fish make it the perfect target.

They can be kept with their own kind but should not be crowded. Bullying between gouramis is a likely scenario as these fish, typical of gouramis, are fixated on constantly working out the details of the hierarchy. Both sexes of will often spar with a “kissing” action where they connect with their lips, push, and then quickly release. This “kissing” action is never fatal by itself, but it can cause great stress to less dominant tankmates.

  • Temperament: Peaceful – They are generally peaceful as juveniles but as adults they may become territorial and belligerent towards tankmates.
  • Compatible with:
    • Same species – conspecifics: Yes – These fish will tussle amongst themselves, and males are territorial and aggressive when breeding.
    • Peaceful fish (): Safe – Will need to monitor compatibility as the fish matures, avoid smaller fish.
    • Semi-Aggressive (): Monitor
    • Aggressive (): Threat
    • Large Semi-Aggressive (): Monitor
    • Large Aggressive, Predatory (): Threat
    • Monitor
    • Shrimps, Crabs, Snails: May be aggressive
    • Plants: Monitor – These gouramis will make a meal of most soft leaf plants.

Sexual differences

There are no visible differences between the male and female. Only at time of spawning is there any indication, as the female will become rounder when filled with eggs.

Breeding / Reproduction

The Balloon Pink Kissing Gourami is somewhat more difficult to breed than other gouramis. Kissing Gouramis need a large tank to spawn in and it is impossible to determine the sexes except when females are full of eggs. Unlike most of the labyrinth fish, they are not bubble nest builders. They are open-water egg scatters but they will deposit the eggs under a leaf, if available at the time of spawning. Their eggs as well as the fry are lighter than water and float to the top. Once they have spawned, there is no parental care and the eggs are forgotten.

A pair will be most likely to spawn if the breeding tank is quite large and there is a good sized surface with a fair amount of leaf cover, along with some open areas. It’s best to try to get pairs by raising several fish to breeding size together. They should be well conditioned with small offerings of live and frozen foods several times a day. When well fed and ready to spawn both sexes will darken.

The breeding tank needs to be at least 24″ (60 cm) deep and at least 36″ (91 cm) long or more. The water should be soft and slightly acidic to neutral with a pH of 6.8 – 8.5. Normal water temperatures between 72.0 to 82.0° F (22 – 28° C) are fine. You can add a small gently air-powered sponge filter or some peat filtration, but the tank current should be minimal. Float some plant material on the surface for the eggs to adhere too. Fine leaved plants such as Water Wisteria, Hornwort, Milfoil, or Giant Ambulia can be used. But you can use lettuce leaves too, as these will quickly start to deteriorate and then will host bacteria and infusoria for the newly hatched fry to feed on.

A healthy pair of adults should be introduced into the breeding tank. The male will begin a courtship display, swimming around the female with spread fins, but she will drive him off until she is ready. When the female is ready she will become active and instigate the spawn by pushing the male in the belly several times. At this time they will both begin beating their tails progressively faster, until they end up mouth to mouth. The male then takes the female into a body embrace and turns her upside down. The spawning follows with the male shivering and the female will release some eggs which will float to the surface. Each spawn becomes progressively larger, initially about 20 eggs are released, increasing to as many as 200. They will continue to spawn until thousands of eggs are released.

Although the parents usually ignore the eggs, they have been known to start eating them after the spawning period is over, so it’s best to remove them at this time. The eggs will hatch in about 17 or so hours, and the fry will be free swimming another 2 1/2 to 3 days. Free swimming fry can be fed infusoria or a liquid fry food until they are large enough to eat baby brine shrimp. See the description of breeding techniques in: Breeding Freshwater Fish: Anabantoids. Also see Fish Food for Fry for information about types of foods for raising the young.

  • Ease of Breeding: Moderate – The Balloon Kissing Gourami is reputedly harder to breed than other types of gouramis.

Fish Diseases

Balloon Pink Kissing Gouramis are very hardy so disease is not usually a problem in a well maintained aquarium. However as these mutations of the Kissing Gourami are stunted, they are shorter lived and can also be more prone to internal disorders, such as problems with its swim bladder.

Some diseases they are prone to are bacterial infections, constipation and Hole in the Head if good water quality, nutrition, and maintenance is not provided. With any additions to a tank such as new fish, plants, substrates, and decorations there is a risk of introducing disease. It’s advisable to properly clean or quarantine anything that you want add to an established tank prior to introduction, so as not to upset the balance.

These fish are very resilient but knowing the signs of illness, and catching and treating them early makes a huge difference. An outbreak of disease can often be limited to just one or a few fishes if you deal with it at an early stage. The best way to proactively prevent disease is to give your fish the proper environment and a well balanced diet. The closer to their natural habitat the less stress the fish will have, making them healthier and happy. A stressed fish will is more likely to acquire disease. For information about freshwater fish diseases and illnesses, see Aquarium Fish Diseases and Treatments.


The Balloon Pink Kissing Gourami is readily available both in stores and online and is moderately priced.



 Kissing Gourami (Image Credit: Aditi Jivani, Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 4.0 International)