Gouramis can eat many of the same foods of other tropical freshwater fish. Pet shops sometimes claim that feeding gouramis is exactly like feeding bettas. Although gouramis are in the Ananbantid family, closely related to the betta (Betta splendens), they do better on a slightly different diet than a betta would. They can not only get along with other species of fish better than a betta, they will also willingly share the food of other species. However, they do appreciate some variety in their diet.
Although there are many varieties of gouramis, the most popular are the dwarf gourami, moonlight gourami, blue gourami, pearl gourami, opaline gourami and the appropriately named kissing gourami (which should really be called Mick Jagger gouramis). No matter their color, gender or variety, they all eat the same diet.
The most common gouramis available in pet shops will enjoy commercial flake or pellet food made for community freshwater tanks. Since gouramis are omnivores, the flakes or pellets need to be made from both animal and plant ingredients. This should be their main source of food. Gouramis will feed on the surface, but also like to feed on sinking food. They also use the antenna-like front fins to probe for morsels among the gravel.
You don’t want to keep using the same brand over and over again. You want to change brands and textures to keep things interesting. Authors and fish keepers like Frank Indiviglio of “The Everything Aquarium Book” (Adams Media; 2006) suggest keeping two or three kinds of pellets and flakes and switching back and forth every couple of days.
Gouramis and the other communal freshwater species living with them will enjoy the occasional treat of fresh vegetables. You need to be sure the vegetables are well washed to be sure that they don’t have any pesticides on them. If you’re not sure about a produce’s pesticide level, then don’t give it to your fish. Lettuce and peas are favorites.
Gouramis and other communal tropical freshwater fish will greatly enjoy treats like bloodworms (frozen or freeze-dried), tubifex larvae and brine shrimp. Frozen foods are recommended more than freeze-dried, as you can stick a cube in hiding places or place it on the glass to be sure that all of the fish get a chance at a bite instead of just the swiftest surface feeders.
If you do feed tiny live food like brine shrimp, you need to turn your filters off or set them on very low because the shrimp will automatically be sucked up by the filters.
If you are thinking of breeding gouramis, then they are going to supplement a commercial flake or pellet food with frozen, freeze-dried or live food. You may also need to set up a separate tank for the minute live food that the fry will need to eat. Some breeders recommend putting cooked egg in cheesecloth in order to make the egg small enough for the fry to eat.
Ready-made fish fry food is available in some pet stores. Some hobbyists love thee foods and some hate them. These are usually liquid formulations that are good for egg-laying fish or live-bearing fish.
Pocket Guide to the Care & Maintainence of Aquarium Fish. Alice Burkhart, et al. Sterling Publishing Company; 2004.
PetPlace.com How to Feed Newly Hatched Fry.
Fishchannel.com “The Dwarf Gourami.”