7 Fish That Kiss (These Are Commonly Kept Aquarium Fish)

Fish kissing

In some fish species, the male fish will kiss the female during the mating ritual.

However, there is also a different connotation to kissing in fish species. It indicates a warning or an act of aggression.

So let’s look at the seven fish that kiss and understand the meaning.

7 Fish That Kiss

1. Kissing Gourami

Kissing Gouramis

The kissing gourami, also known as a kisser, is native to the Indonesian island of Java and inhabits the waters in Borneo, Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam.

There are three different color varieties of this fish: pink or flesh-colored, a silver-green called the “green kisser,” and a speckled or piebald.

The male fish are known to lock lips.

However, it’s important to understand that what seems to be kissing between fish is a harmless territorial challenge that occurs between two males.

In contrast, spawning begins with the male circling the female and progressing into nudging and dancing, followed by vigorously shaking the tail.

Eventually, the male turns the female upside down, wrapping his body around hers.

Kissing gourami shouldn’t be kept with small fish because they’re quarrelsome.

However, they can be housed in a community tank with medium-sized fish.

2. Goldfish

Goldfish

The common goldfish is a freshwater fish native to East Asia.

You can find goldfish in bright colors such as orange, yellow, red, brown, gold, grey, or black.

Goldfish have a slender shape with long bodies.

They’ve got curved dorsal fins with a stripe across their belly and two sets of paired fins, namely pelvic and pectoral fins.

The male fish will nip the female’s fin and tail during the mating ritual.

The male goldfish is also known to kiss the female if he gets too close to the female fish.

Goldfish are friendly but can get territorial in certain situations.

Some fish owners have noticed existing fish kissing the new fish introduced into the tank.

It’s not a sign of acceptance; instead, the old fish threatens the new fish to establish its dominance through physical contact.

Such situations can escalate and disturb the peace of the aquarium.

3. Koi

Koi fish

Koi or nishikigo are a large group of freshwater fish native to Central Europe & Asia.

They’re colored varieties of the Amur carp kept in outdoor ponds and water gardens for decorative purposes.

This fish comes in different colors like white, black, red, orange, yellow, blue, brown, and cream.

Some koi fish also have metallic shades like gold and silver-white scales.

Understanding fish behavior is essential if you want to know what is happening inside your pond and prevent your fish from hurting each other.

When two males lock lips, they’re usually competing for dominance, mating rights, or to claim a particular territory within the pool.

This lip kissing is much more aggressive, and the loser ends up getting injured severely.

In contrast, when the male nudges the female, he doesn’t want to hurt her but instead wants to get her to lay eggs so he can fertilize them.

This type of kissing can be related to courtship.

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4. Bettas

Betta

Bettas are popular freshwater aquarium fish, also known as Siamese fighting fish.

This fish is native to the shallow and slow-moving waters of Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Malaysia.

Bettas have bright colors and long flowing fins, which makes them popular with fish owners.

In comparison, males are brighter and more attractive than females.

In fish keeping, it’s advised never to keep two male bettas together as they will fight till one of them falls.

When two bettas start a fight in the wild, the weak one will retrieve in the reeds.

However, in captivity, when male lip-locking is part of the fighting for dominance, the weaker can’t escape the tank, and the dominant male will chase and nip until the weaker one falls.

On the other hand, male bettas may not indulge in an elaborate kiss with the female.

But they do perform a mating dance to attract the female fish.

5. Cichlids

Cichlid

Cichlids are one of the most varied groups of colorful fish species found in the freshwater lakes of Africa and river basins of South and Central America.

The cichlid fish vary greatly in their body shape, from strong laterally compressed bodies to cylindrical and even highly elongated body shapes.

Cichlids often wrestle by grabbing each other by the lips.

This behavior can stem from a territorial dispute or trying to show off to the females.

However, male cichlids can cause grave injuries to each other with this aggressive behavior.

So it’s best to separate them when you see such aggression.

In contrast, males are known to shimmer or shake their fins and tail to woo or flirt with females.

Fish keepers have also observed the male fish circling, chasing, and nipping or kissing; by locking lips with the female fish before mating.

6. Guppies

Guppies in a tank

Guppy fish is also known as rainbow and millionfish.

It’s a member of the Poeciliidae family, native to northeast South America. However, they’re also found in Guyana and Brazil.

Guppies come in different colors, including red, blue, yellow, green, black, white, or orange.

Males are brighter than females, and their dorsal and caudal fin lengths are longer.

Among guppies, when the male fish kiss one another, they’re fighting with each oth­er.

They may fight over females or to establish their dominance.

During guppy courtship, males dance around females to express their interest.

If the female wants the male to court her, she will respond to his advances and move toward him.

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7. Plecos

Pleco on driftwood

Plecos or suckermouth cats are a tropical freshwater species in northeastern South America.

You can find this fish in northeastern Brazil, Guiana, and Trinidad and Tobago.

Plecos are usually gray, olive, or brown and may be marked with black or dark brown spots.

Plecos have an underturned mouth, flat bellies, expansive fins, and long, slender tails.

Pleco males lock lips or kiss to compete for dominance or claim their territory inside the aquarium.

It’s recommended to stop such fights to avoid fatal injuries to the fish.

On the contrary, if plecos display interest in breeding, the male pleco will perform the mating dance to woo the female.

The male will attract the female inside the chosen cave, where the female will lay her eggs.