Overview

Brief Summary

The kissing gourami, Helostoma temminkii, is a rather large (20-30 cm long) freshwater fish in the gourami family, found in slow-moving or standing water in Indochina and the Malay archipelago. The species name is sometimes misspelled temminckii. Characteristic of the suborder Anabantoidei to which they belong, M. opercularis have an accessory breathing organ called the labyrinth organ that allows them to survive in waters with low oxygen content by breathing air from the surface. An important food fish, its exact native range is confused by a long history of interaction with humans; it been introduced around the world for aquaculture and commercially farmed for the aquarium trade. Although individuals have been found in the wild in Florida, these are probably individual escapees, Helostoma temminkii does not appear to be established there. Helostoma temminkii’s common name derives from kissing-like lip protrusions that it makes during feeding and sometimes courtship and fighting. Kissing gourami are omnivorous and have a number of feeding methods. Their large, strong lips are covered with enamel-covered “teeth” which they use to dislodge algae from rocks and other surfaces. They also take insects and small invertebrates from the water’s surface, and are specialized filter feeders using their large, developed gill rakers to eat plankton. Unlike related gourami species, kissing gourami scatter their eggs and do not make nests or care for their young. Although heavily fished and collected, kissing gourami are common and abundant in their native environment.

(Coughlin 2006; Fuller and Neilson 2012 2012; Seriously Fish; Wikipedia 2012)

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Comprehensive Description

Biology

Occurs in lakes and rivers (Ref. 56749). Prefers slow-moving water with thick vegetation. Feeds on a variety of plants and animals, including green algae and zooplankton (Ref. 6459) as well as aquatic insects near the water surface (Ref. 12693). Utilized fresh for steaming, pan-frying, broiling and baking (Ref. 9987); also processed as dried or salted fish; ripe ovaries are collected and separately eaten (Ref. 56749). Large quantities of small fish are exported for aquarium use in Japan, Europe, North America, Australia and other parts of the world (Ref. 9987). Very popular with aquarists due to its habit of sucking its lips and kissing other fishes, plants and other objects (Ref. 4833). Aquarium keeping: not recommended for home aquariums; minimum aquarium size 150 cm (Ref. 51539).
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Distribution

Range Description

Widely distributed in southeast Asia, from the Mae Khlong in Thailand to the lower Mekong, and to the Malay Peninsula (Peninsular Malaysia, southern Thailand, and possibly associated drainages in eastern Myanmar), Indonesia (Sumatra and Kalimantan), Malaysia (Sarawak (Rahim et al. 2009) and perhaps Sabah), and Brunei (Belait River; Parenti and Meisner 2003).

Known from Sumatra (Tan and Ng 2005) and Lake Tundai, Kalimantan (Doi et al. 2000). Occurs throughout the year in lakes and main rivers of Kapuas Lakes area in Kalimantan Barat, Borneo (Ref. Kottelat and Widjanarti 2005). The species has been introduced elsewhere, including to Irian Jaya, Singapore and the Philippines.
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Southeastern Asia.
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Asia: Thailand to Indonesia.
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Geographic Range

Helostoma temminkii, also known as the kissing gourami, is naturally found in Southeast Asia in Thailand, Indonesia, Sumatra, Borneo, and Java. Due to tropical fish breeding for the aquarium trade, it has also been reported in Florida but is not yet established.

Biogeographic Regions: oriental (Native ); neotropical (Introduced )

  • Christensen, M. 1992. Investigations on the Ecology and Fish Fauna of the Mahakam River in East Kalimantan (Borneo), Indonesia. Internationale Revue der Gesamten Hydrobiologie, 77(4): 593-608.
  • Courtenay, W., J. Stauffer. 1991. The introduced fish problem and the aquarium fish industry. Journal of the World Aquaculture Society, 21(3): 145-159.
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Physical Description

Morphology

Physical Description

Helostoma temminkii has a rounded caudal fin and a dorsal fin that is longer than the anal fin. It has an interrupted lateral line and a smooth-edged operculum and sub operculum. In the wild its typical length is around 20 cm but it can reach a maximum length of 30 cm. The most notable feature of kissing gourami are mouths with very strong, fleshy lips that can be stretched forward to "kiss" things like rocks, plants, food, and each other. They have no teeth on the palate or jaws, but they do have hundreds of small rust colored mucous membrane teeth that are covered with enamel. Fish sold for aquariums are usually an artificially produced pink color. Wild forms are gray to green with a dark bar along the base of the caudal fin.

Range length: 17 to 30 cm.

Average length: 20 cm.

Other Physical Features: ectothermic ; bilateral symmetry

Sexual Dimorphism: sexes alike

  • Axelrod, H., C. Emmens, D. Sculthorpe, W. Winkler, N. Pronek. 1971. Exotic Tropical Fishes. Jersey City, NJ: TFH Productions, Inc..
  • Sterba, G. 1983. The Aquarium Fish Encyclopedia. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.
  • Sakurai, A., Y. Sakamoto, F. Mori. 1993. Aquarium Fish of the World: The Comprehensive Guide to 650 Species. San Fransisco: Chronicle Books.
  • Garant, P. 1969. Observations on the Ultrastructure of the Ectodermal Component during Odontogenesis in Helostoma temmincki. Journal of Anatomical Research, 166: 167-188. Accessed October 05, 2005 at http://www.jstor.org/.
  • Trapani, J. 2001. Position of Developing Replacement Teeth in Teleosts. Copeia, vol 2001 iss 1: 35-51. Accessed October 05, 2005 at http://www.jstor.org/.
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Size

Max. size

30.0 cm TL (male/unsexed; (Ref. 7050))
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
Inhabits sluggish, heavily vegetated waters, including rivers, canals, swamps, lakes and ponds.

Systems
  • Freshwater
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Environment

benthopelagic; potamodromous (Ref. 51243); freshwater; pH range: 6.0 - 8.0; dH range: 5 - 19; depth range 2 - ? m
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Helostoma temminkii is a freshwater fish that prefers the sluggish or standing water of tropical lakes, canals, swamps, and ponds, and water temperatures between 22 and 30˚C. During the rainy season these fish migrate through rivers to shallow lakes and floodplains to spawn. They are usually found near the surface of the water because of their ability to breathe air.

Average depth: 2 m.

Habitat Regions: tropical ; freshwater

Aquatic Biomes: lakes and ponds; rivers and streams

Wetlands: swamp

  • Rainboth, W. 1996. Fishes of the Cambodian Mekong. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
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Migration

Potamodromous. Migrating within streams, migratory in rivers, e.g. Saliminus, Moxostoma, Labeo. Migrations should be cyclical and predictable and cover more than 100 km.
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Trophic Strategy

Food Habits

Kissing gourami are omnivorous. They feed on phytoplankton, zooplankton, and aquatic insects, supplemented by plant material. They are considered to be the most highly specialized freshwater filter-feeder of southeast Asia with very intricate gill rakers.

Animal Foods: insects; zooplankton

Plant Foods: algae; phytoplankton

Foraging Behavior: filter-feeding

Primary Diet: omnivore

  • Roberts, T. 1989. The Freshwater Fishes of Western Borneo (Kalimantan Barat, Indonesia). San Fransisco: California Academy of Sciences.
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Associations

Ecosystem Roles

Helostoma temminkii can be host to parasitic algal species that live under their skin and look like color spots. Fish with the algal growth are somewhat emaciated and generally less healthy than fish without the algae. The algae possibly receive some of the requirements for photosynthesis and protein synthesis from the fishes’ bodies.

Commensal/Parasitic Species:

  • Nigrelli, R., J. McLaughlin, S. Jakowska. 1958. Histozoic Algal Growth in Fish. Copeia, vol 1958 iss 4: 331-333. Accessed October 05, 2005 at http://www.jstor.org/.
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Predation

Kissing gourami are eaten by humans in some areas of Southeast Asia.

Known Predators:

  • Edwards, P., D. Little, A. Yakupitiyage. 1997. A comparison of traditional and modified inland artisanal aquculture system. Aquaculture Research, 28: 777-788. Accessed October 05, 2005 at http://www.jstor.org/.
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Diseases and Parasites

White spot Disease. Parasitic infestations (protozoa, worms, etc.)
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Velvet Disease 2 (Piscinoodinium sp.). Parasitic infestations (protozoa, worms, etc.)
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Turbidity of the Skin (Freshwater fish). Parasitic infestations (protozoa, worms, etc.)
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Skin Fungi (Saprolegnia sp.). Fungal diseases
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Nematode Infection (general). Parasitic infestations (protozoa, worms, etc.)
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Hole-in-the-Head Disease. Parasitic infestations (protozoa, worms, etc.)
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Fungal Infection (general). Fungal diseases
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Fish louse Infestation 1. Parasitic infestations (protozoa, worms, etc.)
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Fin-rot Disease (late stage). Bacterial diseases
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Fin Rot (early stage). Bacterial diseases
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Dactylogyrus Gill Flukes Disease. Parasitic infestations (protozoa, worms, etc.)
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Costia Disease. Parasitic infestations (protozoa, worms, etc.)
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Bacterial Infections (general). Bacterial diseases
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Anchorworm Disease (Lernaea sp.). Parasitic infestations (protozoa, worms, etc.)
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Anchor worm Disease. Parasitic infestations (protozoa, worms, etc.)
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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Communication and Perception

Kissing gourami have very acute hearing due to a suprabranchial air-breathing chamber located close to the inner ear. The air bubbles in the suprabranchial chamber modulate and enhance their ability to hear. Kissing gourami frequently emit sounds that are associated with social behavior and this sound is achieved by grinding their pharyngeal teeth.

Communication Channels: acoustic

Perception Channels: visual ; acoustic

  • Sakai, H., J. Wang, K. Naka. 1995. Contrast Gain Control in the Lower Vertebrate Retinas. Journal of General Physiology, vol 105 iss 6: 815-835.
  • Ladich, F., H. Yan. 1998. Correlation between auditory sensitivity and vocalization in anabantoid fishes. Journal of Comparative Physiology, vol 182 iss 6: 737-746.
  • Yan, H. 1998. Auditory role of the suprabranchial chamber in gourami fish. Journal of Comparative Physiology, 183: 325-333.
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Life Cycle

Spawning usually occurs under floating vegetation. Eggs hatch in a day and fry become free-swimming 2 days after.
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Development

Fertilized eggs attach to the underside of vegetation and take approximately a day to develop into fry. The larvae are free swimming in two days and stay in the floodplains for only a short time. When juveniles reach about 5 to 7 cm they migrate back through rivers to slower water where they spend the majority of their lives.

  • Pethiyagoda, R. 1991. Freshwater Fishes of Sri Lanka. Colombo: The Wildlife Heritage Trust of Sri Lanka. Accessed October 10, 2005 at http://fishbase.org/.
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Life Expectancy

Lifespan/Longevity

In captivity and in the wild the average lifespan is 5 to 7 years, but they can live much longer.

Typical lifespan

Status: wild:
5 to 7 years.

Typical lifespan

Status: captivity:
5 to 7 years.

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Reproduction

Kissing gourami spawn once a year. Females initiate matings and only mate with one male per spawn. They do not seem to show any mate choice and do not keep the same mate for future spawnings.

Mating System: polygynandrous (promiscuous)

Helostoma temminkii are oviparous and dioecious and demonstrate external fertilization. They spawn once a year at the beginning of the rainy season. Adults migrate through rivers into shallow lakes or flooded forests to spawn. A female initiates mating and she and the male fish turn almost upside down before simultaneously releasing the eggs and sperm. Females release on average 1000 eggs. Eggs are usually small compared to other freshwater species and have an oil droplet to increase buoyancy. Fertilized eggs float to the surface and usually attach to floating vegetation. The eggs develop into fry that become free swimming after two days. Kissing gourami reach sexual maturity at three to five years of age.

Breeding interval: Kissing gourami breed once yearly

Breeding season: The breeding season is the beginning of the rainy season (May)

Range number of offspring: 900 to 1900.

Average number of offspring: 1000.

Range time to hatching: 1 to 2 days.

Average time to hatching: 1 days.

Average time to independence: 3 days.

Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 3 to 5 years.

Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 3 to 5 years.

Key Reproductive Features: seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; fertilization (External ); broadcast (group) spawning; oviparous

Besides the investment of energy that goes into spawning, Helostoma temminkii do not invest in their offspring. Unlike closely related species, kissing gourami do not build nests or care for their young.

Parental Investment: no parental involvement

  • Christensen, M. 1992. Investigations on the Ecology and Fish Fauna of the Mahakam River in East Kalimantan (Borneo), Indonesia. Internationale Revue der Gesamten Hydrobiologie, 77(4): 593-608.
  • Sterba, G. 1983. The Aquarium Fish Encyclopedia. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.
  • Riehl, R., H. Baensch. 1991. Aquarium Atlas. Melle, Germany: Mergus.
  • Davis, C. 1959. A Planktonic Fish Egg from Fresh Water. Limnology and Oceanography, 4(3): 352-355. Accessed October 05, 2005 at http://www.jstor.org/.
  • Pethiyagoda, R. 1991. Freshwater Fishes of Sri Lanka. Colombo: The Wildlife Heritage Trust of Sri Lanka. Accessed October 10, 2005 at http://fishbase.org/.
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Helostoma temminkii

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 1
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2012

Assessor/s
Vidthayanon, C.

Reviewer/s
Allen, D. & Smith, K.

Contributor/s

Justification
The species is locally and seasonally common throughout its range. Threats include overfishing and pollution in general, however declines are not considered significant at it is assessed as Least Concern.
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Kissing gourami are not on the IUCN Red List, and although they are heavily fished in their natural habitat, they are still one of the most common fish in the area.

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: no special status

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Population

Population
Locally uncommon in its suitable habitats. Uncommon in central Thailand, more common in the Malay Peninsula.

Population Trend
Stable
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Threats

Major Threats
Pollution and wetland conversion are threats to this fish in general, but level is not significant to species survival.
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Least Concern (LC)
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
Research is needed into the species native and introduced range.
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Importance

fisheries: highly commercial; aquaculture: commercial; gamefish: yes; aquarium: highly commercial
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Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

There are no known adverse affects of Helostoma temminkii on humans. Although there are many theoretically adverse affects that could be associated with their accidental release outside of their natural habitat, there have not been any well-documented cases.

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Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Kissing gourami are very popular aquarium fish, and are collected in their native habitat to sell and are also bred and sold out of Florida. They are popular fish in the aquarium trade in part because of their high tolerance to crowding. They are also an important food fish in Southeast Asia and are desirable because they can be kept alive for prolonged periods in markets.

Positive Impacts: pet trade ; food

  • Ng, P., H. Tan. 1997. Freshwater fishes of Southeast Asia: potential for the aquarium fish trade and conservation issues. Aquarium Sciences and Conservation, vol 1: 79-90. Accessed October 05, 2005 at http://www.jstor.org/.
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Wikipedia

Kissing gourami

Kissing gouramis, also known as kissing fish or kissers (Helostoma temminckii), are large tropical freshwater fish comprising the monotypic labyrinth fish family Helostomatidae (from the Greek elos [stud, nail], stoma [mouth]).[2] These fish originate from Thailand to Indonesia.[3] They can be food fish which are farmed in their native Southeast Asia. They are used fresh for steaming, baking, broiling, and pan frying.[3] The kissing gourami is a popular aquarium fish.

Description[edit]

Helostoma temminkii in an aquarium, 2009.

Typical of gourami, the body is deep and strongly compressed laterally. The long-based dorsal (16–18 spinous rays, 13–16 soft) and anal fins (13–15 spinous rays, 17–19 soft) mirror each other in length and frame the body.[2] The posterior most soft rays of each of these fins are slightly elongated to create a trailing margin. The foremost rays of the jugular pelvic fins are also slightly elongated. The pectoral fins are large, rounded, and low-slung. The caudal fin is rounded to concave. The lateral line is divided in two, with the posterior portion starting below the end of the other; there are a total of 43–48 scales running the line's length.

The most distinctive feature of the kissing gourami is its mouth. Other than being terminal (forward-facing) rather than superior (upward-facing) as in other gourami families, the kissing gourami's mouth is highly protrusible as its family name suggests, the lips are lined with horny teeth.[2] However, teeth are absent from the premaxilla, dentaries, palatine, and pharynx.[2] The gill rakers are also well-developed and numerous.[2] The visible scales of the body are ctenoid, whereas the scales of the top of the head are cycloid.[2] Kissing gourami reach a maximum of 30 cm (12 in) in total length.[3] There is no outward sexual dimorphism and is difficult to almost impossible to distinguish the sexes.[4][5]

Two colour morphs are encountered: greens, which have lengthwise lateral stripes and opaque, dark brown fins; and pink, which have a rose to orangy pink body and silvery scales, with transparent pinkish fins. Green fish originate from Thailand, while pink fish originate from Java.[4] There is also a "dwarf" or "balloon pink" variety, which is a mutated strain of the pink gourami that are offered to hobbyists.[citation needed] The "balloons" are named so for their smaller and rounder bodies.

Habitat and ecology[edit]

Shallow, slow-moving, and thickly vegetated backwaters are the kissing gourami's natural habitat.[3] They are midwater omnivores that primarily graze on benthic algae and aquatic plants, with insects taken from the surface.[3] They are also filter feeders, using their many gill rakers to supplement their diet with plankton.[2] The fish use their toothed lips to rasp algae from stones and other surfaces. This rasping action, which (to humans) looks superficially like kissing, is also used by males to challenge the dominancy of conspecifics.[4]

Spawning occurs from May to October in Thailand. Kissing gouramis are open-water egg scatterers; spawning is initiated by the female and takes place under cover of floating vegetation. The eggs, which the adults do not guard, are spherical, smooth, and buoyant. Initial development is rapid: the eggs hatch after one day, and the fry are free-swimming two days thereafter. The kissing gourami does not care for its young.[2]

In the aquarium[edit]

A kissing gourami in an aquarium

Kissing gouramis are also popular with aquarists for the fish's peculiar "kissing" behavior of other fish, plants, and other objects. Kissers of both sexes will often spar by meeting mouths and pushing each other through the water.[3] Large quantities of these fish are exported to Japan, Europe, North America, Australia, and other parts of the world for just this reason.[3] Kissing gouramis need a roomy tank to thrive; they grow rapidly, and juvenile fish will quickly outgrow smaller aquaria.[5] Kissing gouramis are territorial; some are tolerant towards fish of similar size, but others will bully, chase, and torment, causing significant stress on tank mates. Male kissers will occasionally challenge each other; however, the "kissing" itself is never fatal, but the constant bullying can stress the other fish to death. They often do in fact kill other fish by sucking the mucus off of their skin as food, which opens the victim fish up to infections. These fish may be useful as algae eaters to control algae growth. To prevent digging and to present enough surface area for algae growth, the substrate should consist of large-diameter gravel and stones. The aquarium's back glass should not be cleaned during regular maintenance, as the gouramis will feed on the algae grown there. Most plants will not survive the fish's grazing, so inedible plants such as Java fern, Java moss, or plastic plants are recommended.

These fish are omnivorous and need both plant and animal matter in their diets.[5] The fish will accept vegetables such as cooked lettuce and any kind of live food. Water hardness should be between 5 and 30 dGH and pH between 6.8 and 8.5; the temperature should be between 22 and 28 °C (72 and 82 °F). When breeding kissing gouramis, soft water is preferred. As the fish do not build nests, lettuce leaves placed on the water surface serve as a spawning medium. The lettuce will eventually host bacteria and infusoria upon which the fish will feed. The maximum length for kissing gouramis in aquariums is between 20 and 30 cm (8 and 12 in).

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Vidthayanon, C. 2012. Helostoma temminckii. In: IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.1. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 17 October 2013.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Froese, Rainer, and Daniel Pauly, eds. (2007). "Helostomatidae" in FishBase. May 2007 version.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2007). "Helostoma temminckii" in FishBase. May 2007 version.
  4. ^ a b c Sanford, Gina (1999). Aquarium Owner's Guide. New York: DK Publishing. ISBN 0-7894-4614-6. 
  5. ^ a b c Axelrod, Herbert R. (1996). Exotic Tropical Fishes. T.F.H. Publications. ISBN 0-87666-543-1. 
  • Baensch, Hans A., and Riehl, Rudiger. (1997) Baensch Aquarium Atlas, Vol. 1. (6th ed.), p. 652. Microcosm Ltd.; Shelburne, Vermont. ISBN 1-890087-05-X
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