Why Your Honey Gourami Is Turning Black!

Male honey gouramis naturally develop a black breeding jacket on their stomachs as they mature, indicating their readiness to breed.

This is completely normal and is a sign of a healthy honey gourami. However, the black breeding jacket typically only covers the stomach area of the fish.

Other color changes in gouramis can result from factors such as hybrid DNA, aging, diet, or injury.

A Male Honey Gourami With It’s Black Breeding Jacket

Male Honey Gourami In Full Breeding Jacket
A Male Honey Gourami With A Full Breeding Jacket

Mature male honey gouramis develop a black breeding jacket on their stomachs during the mating season.

In dominant males, this black coloration can extend from just under the eye to the tip of the anal fin.

This color change is completely normal and nothing to worry about.

However, be aware that the fish may become slightly more aggressive toward other male honey gouramis in the tank when displaying its black breeding jacket.

Male Honey Gourami Displaying A Breeding Jacket
Male Honey Gourami Developing Its Black Breeding Jacket

The breeding jacket on male honey gouramis takes time to develop, so there may be a stage where small patches of black appear on the belly, as shown in the image above.

Additionally, in tanks with a dominant male honey gourami, some males may only develop a patchy breeding jacket. Keep this in mind if the entire belly of the fish does not turn black.

Two Male Honey Gourami In Their Tank

In the video clip above, you can see two of my male honey gouramis. The dominant male is starting to develop its black breeding jacket, while the other male retains his regular colors.

Because male honey gouramis typically have brighter colors, a significant portion of honey gouramis in the fish-keeping hobby are male.

This makes the black breeding jacket a very common reason for these fish turning black.

Here are some ways to distinguish between male and female honey gouramis.

Male Vs Female Honey Gourami
Male Vs Female Honey Gourami

Less Common Reasons Your Honey Gourami May Turn Black

Two Honey Gourami
Two Honey Gourami

There are several other potential reasons your honey gourami might start turning black, including:

  • Old Age
  • Diet
  • Substrate
  • Injury

These factors often cause the fish to appear pale rather than dark, but here is a quick breakdown of each:

Old Age: As honey gouramis age, they can undergo changes in coloration, typically resulting in a faded, paler color rather than a darker one.

Diet: A poor or unvaried diet can lead to color changes in a honey gourami, which is more common than many people realize.

Substrate and Background Color: Fish may adjust their coloration to better blend with their surroundings. If you’ve recently changed the substrate or the background, the fish might alter its color as a form of camouflage.

Injury: Physical injury or trauma can result in discoloration, either from the injury itself, missing scales, or subsequent infections.