The fish tank is only the sec­ond home of the licorice gourami

We have to be aware of the fact that the real home of the licorice gouramis is (or was) the pri­mary trop­i­cal for­est of west­ern Sun­da­land with the Wallace-​line as east­ern bound­ary (http://​en​.wikipedia​.org/​w​i​k​i​/​S​u​n​d​a​l​a​n​d). Most peo­ple will only encounter licorice gouramis in a fish tank, if they ever see them at all. It was the aquar­ium hobby, not ichthy­ol­ogy which has drawn the spot­light upon this group of fish.

The his­tory of the licorice gourami in the aquar­ium is not old. By the sec­ond half of the 19th and in the first half of the 20th cen­tury only very rarely had a few of these fish been kept in tanks, but as far as we know, they were not bred. Mostly these fish did not last very long, because almost noth­ing was known about their require­ments. Even M. W. F. Tweedie, at this time cura­tor of the fish depart­ment at the Raf­fles Museum of Sin­ga­pore, reported before the sec­ond world war in the Amer­i­can mag­a­zine ”The Aquar­ium” that his ”P. deiss­neri” remained in good con­di­tion only for about half a year, then ”the joy of life” has left them. It needs ”a more skil­ful aquar­ist than I” to offer them ideal con­di­tions. This man entered the stage in the sev­en­ties of the twen­ti­eth cen­tury: the Ger­man physi­cian Dr. Wal­ter Foer­sch. With him, our knowl­edge of the licorice gourami in the aquar­is­tium began.

P. rubrimontis Tanjong Malim (Photo Helene Schoubye)

Today these fish are well estab­lished, though not on the aquar­ium hobby mass mar­ket. As a mar­ket fac­tor, licorice gouramis are not sig­nif­i­cant and they will prob­a­bly never be. They play almost no role in the pet trade, although some of the species are occa­sion­ally exported and offered in pet stores. For the friends of these fish, it is pri­vate expe­di­tions, the explo­ration of more or less dif­fi­cult to access wet­lands by aquar­ium enthu­si­asts, which plays an impor­tant role. Almost all species and forms have been dis­cov­ered and brought home this way. But as a much praised spe­cial­ity for the expert, licorice gouramis belong to the most desir­able, least-​known and most attrac­tive, small fish for the spe­cialised aquarium.

These facts show that the aquar­ium hobby itself should not be put on a level with the pet shop aquar­ium hobby. The lat­ter char­ac­terises the vast major­ity of today´s estab­lished aquar­ium types, but besides this, a minor­ity of fish keep­ers vol­un­tar­ily or unavoid­ably aban­don the ser­vices of the aquar­ium indus­try and the pet shop trade partly or even com­pletely. Amongst licorice gourami enthu­si­asts, both forms mix which is what makes these fish so attractive.

In the fol­low­ing chap­ter of this web­site, we put together the basic prin­ci­ples of care of licorice gouramis in the aquar­ium. The focus is set on the fun­da­men­tals. Some par­tic­u­lar­i­ties are men­tioned in the pre­sen­ta­tion of the var­i­ous species, but these are to be found mainly in the spe­cialised lit­er­a­ture. Before, how­ever, we must say some words on the rela­tion between the aquar­ium and politics.



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