Are kissing fish really kissing?

The tropical fish might not be as romantic as they seem…

‘Kissing fish’ are a tropical fish species that originate from the warm waters of Southeast Asia, but they are commonly kept as pets in tropical aquariums. They’re known as ‘kissing gouramis’ as members of this species can sometimes be seen to lock lips – something that we associate with a kiss. However, when these fish pucker up their intentions couldn’t be further from romantic.

This is actually an aggressive stance, with the fish using their lips to push one another around.

In their natural habitat of shallow ponds and swamps thick with vegetation, these fish feed on insects and plants. They use their toothy lips to rasp at algae and plants, and it’s this rasping motion that they also use as a defence mechanism. A feisty species, these fish will try to ‘kiss’ each other on the lips when they feel threatened.

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