Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: Louisville, Kentucky, USA
I fell in love with gouramis when I bought my first one, many years ago.
As everyone has said, they tend to fuss with their own kind. Basically, I've found gouramis can be classified into three categories of social behavior: independents, moderates and gregarious.
Independents are the "loners." Like Betta, these guys are better left alone. Certainly they may be housed with some other, compatible species, but probably don't mix well with their own, or other anabantid types. These are our Paradise Fish (Black, blue or red), usually the Three-spot (Blue, gold, opaline, etc)--I know people generally can put the Three-spot into a "community" setting with one another, but I have NEVER had any luck with them this way. Females bully the male, the male bullies the females, eventually it becomes chaos.
The moderates are the middle path. That rule that someone mentioned with three females per male . . . def. works for these guys. These are the Banded ("Giant"), Thick-lipped, Dwarf (and versions thereof), Pearl (aka Mosaic) and on some occasions other species. They usually don't have issues with operating in a community setting, but more importantly, a community, gourami setting. In fact, sometimes this group will even tolerate the presence of another "family" or species of grouami in the same tank (though as a novice, I don't recommend trying this for you). They're like all gouramis in that become a little fussy when fed, but otherwise they're decent, fun guys to have around.
The Gregarious ones are pretty cool. The little laid-back guys. Spiketail Paradise goes here (they are awesome fish to have), also the Honey (C. chuna) which in fact, will school in the wild, given enough room and partners in an artificial setting, Snakeskins certainly go here, as well. The Moonlight would come closest to fitting in this group. Generally aggression is reserved (if displayed at all) to squabbles within their "gourami network." These guys usually don't pose a threat to their tankmates in any way either.
Hey, good luck to you and I hope you grow to appreciate gouramis.