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Labyrinth Fish

Updated on February 29, 2012

What is a Labyrinth Fish?

A labyrinth fish is a small tropical fish that breathes air with their gills, like other fish, but also possess another breathing structure, the labyrinth. The labyrinth is a breathing structure located in a chamber above the gills and has many blood vessels. It enables the fish to use oxygen from air gulped in through the mouth and also allows the fish to survive out of, or in oxygen-poor water.

Labyrinth fish are found in the freshwaters of Asia and Africa. They are often called bubble nest builders because the males of the species build, guard and maintain a foamy nest of bubbles that float at the surface of the water.

There are about 70 species of labyrinth fish, some are commonly kept in home aquariums.

Betta Splendens (Siamese Fighting Fish)
Betta Splendens (Siamese Fighting Fish)
Dwarf Red Flame Gourami
Dwarf Red Flame Gourami
Pearl Gourami
Pearl Gourami

Common freshwater Labyrinth fish for your home aquarium

Betta Fish or Siamese Fighting Fish – The males of this group must be kept separate from other males. I’ve had 5 of these fish in the past 6 years and I really enjoy them. They thrive in warm temperatures, in a small (2.5 – 3 gallon heated, filtered tank). Contrary to popular belief keeping these fish in small bowls is not the best way to keep them, especially if you live in a climate that is below 72 degrees during the year. These fish love warm water ( 72-80 degrees) and are most active and happy in warmer temperatures. If kept in a bowl it is much more difficult to maintain a stable temperature. Their life span is generally 2-3 years, but can live for up to 5 or 6 years.

Gourami – There are many types of gourami’s. I only have experience with the Red Dwarf Gourami. These are peaceful fish, but other gourami’s such as the blue gourami, gold gourami, and sometimes kissing gouramis are aggressive towards other fish. Gouramis are quite graceful and fun to watch. The red flame gouramis that I have are great for adding color and movement to my tank.

Paradise Fish – Like betta fish this fish must be kept separate from other males. They are small, hardy, and colorful fish, but tend to be aggressive towards other slow moving fish like angelfish. It was the first tropical fish to be imported from other countries and kept.


The Wet Spot Tropical Fish (always find very healthy fish here)

Aquatic-Hobbyist (great site for articles, index of fish etc.)


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      Irene 8 years ago

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      To whom it may concern,

      Thank you for sharing your knowledge and expertise on labyrinth fish. I have learned much valuable information from your website. I have betta fish from the labyrinth family. I have seven vale tail females, one vale tail male, one double tail male and one delta tail male. I find it fascinating how these fish use their labyrinth organ to breathe and how they flare as a way to flirt with the opposite sex or when two males show aggression. For later reference, I have organized your website and other related websites that I may need later.


      Irene Steffen