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Three spot gourami

Trichopodus trichopterus

Photo: Three spot gourami
Animal description
The Three Spot Gourami, scientifically named Trichopodus trichopterus, is a captivating freshwater fish that is native to Southeast Asia, inhabiting slow-moving waters in Thailand, Malaysia, and parts of Indochina. This species is particularly admired by aquarium enthusiasts worldwide due to its unique appearance and relatively peaceful temperament, making it a favored choice for community tanks.

One of the most distinctive features of the Three Spot Gourami is its coloration and patterning. The body of this fish is elongated and laterally compressed, exhibiting a stunning array of colors that can range from a silvery blue to a deep blue or even greenish hue. What sets this species apart, however, are the two black spots that adorn its body—one in the center and another towards the end of its body, near the caudal fin. Interestingly, the third "spot" referred to in its common name is actually its eye, which together with the two black spots, gives it its distinctive tri-spotted appearance.

This species can reach a size of up to 15 centimeters (6 inches) in length, making it a medium-sized fish suitable for a variety of aquarium setups. The Three Spot Gourami has a dorsal fin that is long and pointed, and its pelvic fins are thin, with filament-like extensions that are used for tactile exploration of its surroundings.

One of the most fascinating aspects of the Three Spot Gourami is its ability to breathe air directly from the surface due to a specialized labyrinth organ. This adaptation allows it to survive in waters with low oxygen levels, where other fish might struggle. As a result, it's not uncommon to see these fish coming up to the water's surface to gulp air.

In terms of behavior, the Three Spot Gourami is generally peaceful but can exhibit territorial tendencies, especially among males. It is important for aquarium hobbyists to provide ample space and hiding spots within the tank to prevent aggression. They are omnivorous and will accept a wide variety of foods, including flakes, pellets, and live or frozen foods such as brine shrimp or bloodworms.

Breeding Three Spot Gouramis in captivity can be a rewarding experience. They are bubble nest builders; the male constructs a floating nest out of air bubbles and plant material where the female will lay her eggs. After spawning, the male takes on the role of guarding the nest and the eggs until they hatch, displaying a fascinating aspect of parental care not commonly observed in fish.

The Three Spot Gourami is not only admired for its beauty but also valued for its contribution to the ecological balance within its native habitat. However, like many species, it faces threats from habitat destruction and pollution. In the aquarium trade, it continues to be a popular species, appreciated for both its aesthetic appeal and its intriguing behavior. For those looking to add a touch of elegance and natural history to their freshwater aquarium, the Three Spot Gourami is an excellent choice.
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