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How To Keep Cichlids And Gouramis In The Same Aquarium!

After publishing our article going over keeping plecos and cichlids in the same aquarium, we have noticed a number of people reaching out and asking various questions related to keeping cichlids and gouramis in the same aquarium too.

Thankfully, there is far less misinformation out there about keeping cichlids and gouramis in the same aquarium as each other compared to pairing with a pleco but we still wanted to publish an article to try and help any of our readers who are thinking of keeping the two species in the same aquarium.

You are able to keep a number of different cichlid species in the same tank as gouramis but it is only usually recommended in larger aquariums.

Not only should you make sure that there is plenty of space available in the aquarium for each fish but it is usually recommended that you add a little additional space for due to the aggressive nature of most cichlid species.

The recommended additional space in your aquarium ranges depending on the specific species of cichlid that you are intending on keeping in the same tank as your gouramis.

It can range from anywhere between an additional twenty percent additional space to an additional fifty percent space and this can drastically increases your costs for larger tank sizes.

Can Gouramis Live With Cichlids?

Gouramis can live with cichlids in many aquarium setups but they tend not to be very budget friendly tanks due to needing to be larger than normal to offer plenty of space for both species to prevent problems with aggression.

This is why we would only recommend keeping gouramis and cichlids in the same aquarium if you have built up some experience within the fish keeping hobby already.

You also have to factor in that some species of cichlid such as the dovii cichlid are more aggressive than other species of cichlid even though most types of cichlid have higher than average levels of aggression anyway.

You will have to factor all of this in when looking to plan out the tank mates in your community tank and the more aggressive species of cichlid should not usually be considered, even if you do have experience within the fish keeping hobby.

Male gouramis can sometimes be aggressive too, especially in smaller tanks but this aggression is usually towards other male gouramis rather than to their tank mates.

This is why most people focus on the potential aggression problems coming from the cichlid species but in smaller tanks, especially smaller tanks with multiple male gouramis, you have to factor in their aggression levels too.

What Species Of Cichlids Can Live With Gouramis?

Most people should look towards the less aggressive species of cichlid when looking to keep cichlids in an aquarium with a gouramis.

This often pushes people towards Keyhold Cichlids, Blue Acara Cichlids, Yellow Lab Cichlids, and German Blue Ram Cichlids due to the fish being far less aggressive as far as cichlids go with some being rather passive and placid towards their tank mates.

As the majority of people who look to keep cichlids in their aquarium want a decorative fish with unique colors and patterns, Blue Acara Cichlids or Yellow Lab Cichlids will often be the better options due to their colors.

The German Blue Ram Cichlids do also have a nice looking pattern and color scheme but depending on your area, they can be more difficult to find and if you do find them, they can be expensive so some people may be put off them.

If you have the budget available for a larger tank then the range of cichlids that you are able to keep with your gouramis really does start to open up though as the larger amount of space in your aquarium helps to minimize problems with aggression.

Still, if you have the budget available for one of these larger tanks but don’t have much experience with aquarium keeping, especially larger tanks, we would usually recommend that you just stick with the cichlid species recommended above until you build up some experience.

What Size Tank Do You Need To Keep Gouramis With Cichlids?

The majority of the smaller, passive species of cichlid can live in a tank as small as 50 gallons with gouramis but larger tanks are much better options.

For anyone looking to keep their gouramis with a less passive species of cichlid you should be looking at an absolute minimum of 70 gallons, often more with a 100 gallon tank being common.

We have seen people on social media asking about keeping their gouramis with mbuna cichlids and even in larger tanks, you will often have problems similar to any of the other species of African cichlids.

As we covered in our article on how many cichlids you can keep in a 60 gallon tank, you can have problems in decent sized tanks due to their higher aggression levels.

This is why we would never recommend mbuna or other types of African cichlid be kept with your gouramis even in larger tanks.

The chances of the cichlids attacking the gouramis drastically increases with those species and you should stick to Blue Acara Cichlids or Yellow Lab Cichlids if possible as they are easier to keep in a smaller, cheaper aquarium tank with gouramis and more beginner friendly fish.

Should You Add Plants And Hides To A Tank With Gouramis And Cichlids In It?

There is generally no need to add a large amount of plants or hides to a tank with gouramis and cichlids in it but some form of cover is recommended.

Many people often just use a large rock in the middle of the tank so the fish can break line of sight of each other if needed but if you choose, you can keep the fish in a planted tank if you wish.

On the flipside of this, there is a train of thought that having less rocks in a tank with most cichlid species will actually reduce aggression though as it leaves less space for the cichlids to claim as their territory.

You really do have to do your research with the specific type of cichlids that you plan to keep in your aquarium though as different species prefer slightly different setups.

Another thing that you should be taking into account when looking to keep some species of cichlid with various other species of fish is the substrate.

Most people often recommend that you stick to a sand substrate and for the most part we would agree as it lets your cichlids burrow and make breeding pits in the sand that can in turn reduce their aggression levels.

Will Cichlids Eat Gouramis In Their Tank?

Some species of cichlid such as the mbuna cichlid will fight and eat gouramis in their tank with other hyper-aggressive species of cichlids also being likely to kill and eat your gouramis.

The less aggressive species of cichlids will generally be fine for the most part though and not try to eat your gouramis, especially in a larger aquarium tank.

This one will drastically change depending on the specific species of cichlid that you plan to keep though.

Some cichlid species do very well on a herbivore diet based around algae and other plant based foods and will pay minimal attention to the other fish in their tank where as other cichlid species can be omnivorous or carnivorous increasing the chance that they may see gouramis, especially smaller gouramis as a potential food source.

If your gouramis dies in the tank overnight from natural causes then even some of the more passive cichlid species will tend to feed on the carcass though.

This is just the opportunistic way of nature and an easy meal being a good opportunity and not to be overlooked even in an aquarium where the fish are well fed on a regular basis.

Is There Enough Crossover In The Water Parameter Requirements?

There is plenty of crossover in the water parameter requirements between a gouramis and most species of cichlid making it relatively easy to keep the two species in the same tank.

If you are new to keeping fish then this can help make it easier to maintain the water parameters without issue giving you a much easier job.

A small number of African cichlid species do prefer very hard water but the majority of cichlids will be fine in most tank setups that are fine to keep gouramis in too.

As we have said multiple times throughout the article, this will come down to you putting the research in for the specific species of gouramis that you are looking to keep in your tank and making sure that the water parameter requirements match up with what is suitable for the gouramis you wish to keep.


That brings our article going over keeping cichlids and gouramis in the same aquarium to an end. We hope that we have been able to help you better understand what species of cichlid you should be looking to keep in your aquarium with your gouramis. Although many people do shy away form keeping different fish species in the same tank as cichlids due to their aggressive reputation, it can be done, especially with the specific species that we mentioned earlier in the article due to their lower aggression levels.