The pearl gourami is a peaceful, easy-to-keep fish for freshwater community tanks.
It is entrancing to look at the pearl-like dots all over their body as they swim around the tank. It is also a delight feeding them and watching them make friends with other species.
So, if you are intrigued and wondering whether you should get a few, keep reading!
|Origin||Continent: Asia, Countries: Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Islands: Sumatra Borneo, Java|
|Scientific Name||Trichopodus leerii|
|Common Names||Pearl gourami, Mosaic gourami, Lace gourami, Diamond gourami, Leeri gourami|
|IUCN Red List Status||Near Threatened (NT)|
|Appearance||A laterally compressed thin and long brownish-silver body, brown and white pearl-like dots all over the body, a distinct black line from the head, gradually thinning towards the caudal fin|
|Size||Up to 12-13 cm (4.8-5 in)|
|Lifespan||4-5 years in captivity, 6 years with best care|
|Temperament||Peaceful but aggressive during breeding|
|Tank Level||Mid and upper levels|
|Water Temperature||73.4-82.4 °F (23-28 °C)|
|Water Hardness||5-19 dGh|
|Minimum Tank Size||30 gallons for one. 55 gallons for a group of 5|
|Tank Environment||Lots of swimming spaces, plants and decor for hiding, dark substrate, minimal lighting, and gentle currents|
|Tank Mates||Peaceful species of similar size|
The captivating pearl gourami hails from Asia. It is found in the freshwater landscapes of Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand. Notably, it is present in the islands of Sumatra, Borneo, and Java.
The gourami prefers swampy lowlands and meandering coastal waterways. Despite its preference for acidic waters, it can adapt to various water conditions.
In the wild, the gourami tends to stay in the top half of their aquatic surroundings, often among floating plants and dense vegetation. This way, it can make occasional trips to the surface to take in oxygen directly from the air.
This ability is due to a specialized organ called the labyrinth organ. It allows the fish to supplement oxygen intake beyond its gill capacity.
The pearl gourami holds a Near Threatened status on the IUCN Red List according to their 2019 assessment, highlighting conservation urgency.
The Integrated Fishery Laboratory at Bung Hatta University in West Sumatra, Indonesia, is playing a significant role in conserving this species. Currently, they have more than a hundred specimens under their care.
The species belongs to the Anabantiformes order and the Osphronemidae family. Its binomial names are Trichopodus leerii.
It is admired worldwide in various names, like pearl gourami, mosaic gourami, lace gourami, diamond gourami, and leeri gourami.
Fun Fact: Much like some other labyrinth fish, the pearl gourami has the interesting ability to communicate vocally. Don’t be surprised to hear your pet “talking” with growls or croaks, especially during breeding or fights.
Now! if you’re eager to delve deeper into its physical attributes and behaviors, let’s roll up our sleeves and dive right in!
The pearl gourami is a relatively large species in comparison to other gouramis. It grows to sizes of 12-13 centimeters (4.8-5 in) in captivity.
With proper care, sufficient space, and a balanced diet, it typically attains its full size within one to two years.
The pearl gourami has a brownish-silver body. It has pearl-like pretty white spots mixed with brown all over it, including the caudal and dorsal fins.
There’s a black line starting from its head to the tail, gradually thinning towards the caudal fin.
Pearl gourami boasts a distinctive laterally compressed thin and long body shape.
The fish possess unique traits in the form of thin wires emerging from its pectoral fins that serve as sensors while it swims around.
Its fins are distinct: the anal fins are sizable, contrasting with the relatively shorter dorsal fins. The pelvic or ventral fins, resembling elongated strings, stand out and can extend beyond the length of its caudal fins.
Males possess thinner and more angular bodies compared to females. They have vibrant coloration, with distinct red-orange throats, red chests, and elongated dorsal fins.
In contrast, females are less colorful with smaller bodies. Female fish look plumper as they get ready to spawn.
Behavior & Temperament
In general, the fish exhibits peaceful temperaments, coexisting harmoniously with tank mates. However, during breeding times, it may display heightened aggression, especially when males compete for females’ attention. Females become edgier during spawning.
The fish mostly swims on the mid and upper levels of the tank. Similar to other gouramis, it occasionally comes up on the surface of the tank for better availability of oxygen.
While keeping one fish is also possible, a group of four or more enhances their social and natural behaviors.
In a larger community tank, a lone pearl gourami may feel shy and anxious, showcasing its more reserved side.
The lifespan of pearl gourami is relatively shorter compared to certain other long-living fish.
The fish typically lives for approximately 4 to 5 years in captivity. However, in my experience, some specimens can live up to 6 years with proper nutrition and living conditions.
Author’s Note: Limit the number of male pearls in a tank to control aggression. Overcrowding males often causes conflicts with other males over females. Opt for mostly females to prevent issues.
Pearl Gourami Care
Now, are you ready to bring this fish home? Let’s create its new habitat right here!
For a single pearl gourami, a 30-gallon tank is ideal. Smaller tanks don’t allow proper swimming space among plants and rocks.
If you wish to keep more, add 5-10 extra gallons per fish. A group of 5 would need a 55-gallon (208 liters) tank.
Now, let’s take care of the most sensitive thing about fishkeeping – the perfect water characteristics!
- pH Levels: 6.8-7.2
- Water Temperature:73.4-82.4 °F (23-28 °C)
- Water Hardness: 5-19 dGh
- Ammonia: 0 ppm
- Nitrite: 0 ppm
- Nitrate: Below 20 ppm
Of course, you’re eager to introduce this enchanting fish to your tank. But before that, let’s begin designing its perfect home!
Generally, pearl gourami swims higher in the tank, but they like to dig in the substrate sometimes and make caves.
So, choose a substrate that resembles the fish’s natural habitat. It’ll ensure a comfortable and familiar environment for it to explore.
Incorporate soft gravel, dark sand, or soft-grained substrate to prevent injuries.
Alternatively, consider a soil-based substrate to adjust pH levels if needed. You can also add rocks over the sandy substrate, as they are found in abundance in its natural habitat.
Pearl gourami also desires a swimming space that can feed on its active and playful nature. It also seeks solitude, sheltering amid plants and rock formations.
So, place plants strategically throughout the tank to mimic the dense vegetation of its native swamps and waterways.
They serve as shelter, hiding spots, and resting areas, reducing stress and promoting natural behaviors.
Plants also help maintain water quality by absorbing excess nutrients and providing oxygen through photosynthesis.
As the fish is not a plant eater, plenty of them can be added to your tank. Recommended plant species are:
- Amazon swords
- Java moss
- Brazilian waterweed
- Water lettuce
- Wendt’s water trumpet
- Java fern
- Water wisteria
- Ludwigia repens
These plants are not only visually pleasing but also contribute to a harmonious ecosystem within the tank.
Pearl gourami prefers subdued lighting that resembles its wild habitat in the swamps. So, opt for a consistent low to moderately bright lighting schedule of 6 to 10 hours per day.
It will provide a balance of intensity and spectrum to support both your fish and aquatic plants. Turn the lights off at night as your fish needs to rest. Consider using LED lights, as they’re easy to operate and adjust.
Enhance your aquarium with natural elements like rocks, driftwood, and cave-like structures for exploring and hiding.
Incorporate wooden decor so that algae can grow on them, as this gourami likes consuming them.
Arrange decor to create open swimming areas and easy access to the water surface. Avoid overcrowding and sharp ornaments.
Maintain a clean and balanced environment for the well-being of your fish.
To keep the tank pristine, perform regular water changes of approximately 10% each week or 25% every two weeks, alongside utilizing proper filtration.
Enhance the water change process by incorporating an aquarium water changer and vacuum gravel cleaner.
Upkeep the filter effectively so that you eliminate waste, minimize toxins, and ensure the overall health of your fish.
Water Flow Rate
The fish prefers calm currents and gentle water movement. Avoid strong water flow, which can cause stress and discomfort. Strive for comfortable and steady water circulation to keep your fish happy.
Fish Care Tip: The fish often visits the water surface to breathe atmospheric oxygen. So, to avoid it from making a fatal jump and to keep it safe from predators, shut your aquarium top with a tight lid.
Food & Diet
The fish is a pretty versatile omnivore and thrives on a variety of foods. In the wild, it naturally consumes plant matter, algae, invertebrates, and worms.
In a tank environment, it particularly enjoys protein-rich options. It can accept both live foods and blanched vegetables. Other than that, here is a list of food that can help you create a balanced diet for them:
- Brine shrimp
- Flake food
- Blood worms
- Mosquito larvae
- Algae wafers
- Glass worms
- Black worms
- White worms
- Tubifex worms
- Baby brine shrimp
Feed the fish only for 3–5 minutes to prevent overfeeding. Remember, variety and balance ensure the optimal health and well-being of your fish.
In aquariums, competition often arises over food. To alleviate food competition, offer a variety of floating and sinking foods.
Given their peaceful nature, pearl gouramis can coexist with various peaceful and similar-sized tank mates.
For a harmonious community that won’t intimidate them, here is a list of potential tank mates:
- Dwarf gouramis
- Neon tetras
- Cory catfish
- Kuhli loaches
- Cherry barbs
- Bristlenose plecos
- Dwarf cichlids
- Small tetras
- Panda corydoras
- Glowlight tetras
- Harlequin rasboras
- Ember tetras
- Otocinclus catfish
- Pygmy corydoras
- Dwarf crayfish
Non-fish friends like amano shrimps, mystery snails, and nerite snails can also thrive alongside this species, adding diversity to your tank.
Tank Mates to Avoid
Avoid the following kinds of fishes when you are keeping a community tank with pearl gourami:
- Aggressive fish, especially those known for fin-nipping (e.g., tiger barbs).
- Large or overactive fish that might stress out the pearl gouramis.
- Territorial fish can lead to conflicts.
- Any fish that is significantly larger than the pearl gouramis could make them feel unsafe.
- Fish with a tendency for disruptive behavior.
- Any species that could potentially damage their delicate fins.
Pearl gouramis are generally resilient and healthy fish, but they can still be susceptible to several typical fish ailments. Here are some common fish diseases that they might experience:
|Dropsy||Viral and bacterial infections, parasites, poor water conditions, sudden temperature changes, stress, improper nutrition, overcrowding||Swollen belly, protruding scales, ulcers, reddening at fins||Remove affected fish to a separate tank, maintain good water quality, use antibacterial treatment, consider salt treatment|
|Hole-in-the-head Disease (Hexamitiasis)||Flagellate protozoans (Hexamita or Spironucleus), poor nutrition, overcrowding, low oxygen levels, bad water conditions||Small holes, yellow mucus strands, reduced eating, subdued face||Medicated fish food, metronidazole in the tank, quarantine new fish, improve water quality|
|Ich (White Spot Disease)||Parasite infection, often introduced by new fish||Small gray and white spots on the skin, and fins, increased gill movements, scratching behavior, appetite loss, Lethargy, and flashing||Raising the temperature within the aquarium, using ich medications or aquarium salts|
|Physical Damage||Aggressive fish, mishandling, net entanglement||Open wounds, damaged fins, loss of scales, eye injuries||Separate injured fish, antibacterial treatment, use salt for faster healing|
|Fin Rot||Bacterial Infection(Flavobacterium, Aeromonas, Pseudomonas), poor conditions||Frayed, split, ragged fins, white or black edges, sluggishness, reduced appetite||Isolate infected fish, antibacterial treatment, salt treatment, and improve water quality|
|Columnaris||Bacterial Infection||Sluggish behavior, reduced appetite, the appearance of gray/.white patches, and fraying of fins.||Improving water quality, administering antibiotics, and minimizing stress factors.|
|Gill Disease||Poor water conditions, infections (bacteria, protozoans, flukes), overcrowding||Swollen gills, discolored filaments, gasping at the surface||Improve water quality, isolate infected fish, antibacterial treatment, and copper treatment for parasites|
|Fish Tuberculosis||Acid-fast bacteria (Nocardia, Mycobacterium), stress, poor water quality||Emaciated appearance, loss of appetite, ulcers, nodules on the organs||No known cure, isolate the infected tank, avoid contact, and maintain a closed system|
|Popeye Disease (Exophthalmia)||Parasites, bacterial infection, poor water quality, injury||Protruding eyes, cloudiness, lethargy.||Isolate fish, treat with broad-based antibiotics (e.g., API General Cure), and improve water conditions.|
|Swim Bladder Disorder||Unknown, microbial infections, sudden temperature changes.||Floating problems, difficulty maintaining position.||Antibiotic or salt treatment, raises the water temperature, and adjusts the water level.|
Quick Tip: You can avoid the majority of diseases by properly maintaining your aquarium and performing regular water changes.
Breeding & Reproduction
You must create the right environment to successfully breed pearl gouramis. For that, you need a dedicated breeding tank that offers the ideal conditions for these bubble nest builders to court, spawn, and care for their offspring.
Selecting a Healthy Breeding Pair
To begin, select a healthy and compatible breeding pair. Look for signs of good health in both individuals. A strong appetite and no history of illness are positive indicators. Condition the pair with healthy, high-quality, protein-rich food.
Setting up Breeding Tank
In a dedicated 40-gallon tank, the breeding pair can focus on nest-building without any intrusion by other tankmates.
To create an inviting atmosphere, maintain a slightly warmer temperature (around 80 °F or 27 °C). Ensure soft and slightly acidic water, introduce rooted and floating plants to encourage bubble nest construction, and use gentle air-powered filters.
The Mating Process
Mating among pearl gouramis involves intricate behaviors. The male fish creates a bubble nest near the water’s surface using a mixture of bubbles and saliva. This nest provides a safe haven for the upcoming eggs.
The male then lures the female to the area beneath the nest, where spawning takes place.
During spawning, the female releases 200-1000 eggs, which float up into the bubble nest.
Egg Deposition & Care
Following spawning, the male diligently cares for the fertilized eggs. The eggs are typically laid within the bubble nest and are guarded against predators and water currents. Remove the female fish, as the male may also attack her.
The incubation period lasts for about one to two days, after which the eggs hatch.
The newly hatched fry remains near the bubble nest for approximately three to five days. During this time, the male continues to provide protection and care.
Supporting the Fry
After hatching, the fry starts to grow rapidly. It’s important to ensure a suitable diet for their development. Feed them infusoria for the first two weeks.
Then you can feed them with baby brine shrimp for a month. Thereafter, you can start feeding them with fish flakes that are finely smoothed.
Keep the breeding tank water clean by changing it every 2-3 days and maintaining appropriate water parameters to upkeep the fry’s well-being.
As the fry grows to about an inch in length, it can be transferred to a community tank, where it will continue to thrive and contribute to the vibrant aquarium ecosystem.
Breeding Tip: While pearl gouramis can be bred in a community tank, set up a separate breeding tank for increased success. This approach benefits both the breeding pair and the fry.
Quick Buying Tips
- Buy healthy gouramis that are active and don’t spend much time hiding.
- Pearl gouramis thrive within their own kind. It is recommended that you buy at least 4-5 fish to ensure optimum social behavior and vibrant health of your fish.
- Always keep more female gouramis in the tank to ensure a harmonious environment.
A word from FIA
Not only is the pearl gourami extremely easy to keep, but the fish is also hardy and is among the most vibrant ones you can keep in your aquarium. It will truly stand out with its group in your tank!
With that said, if you think this article is of value, don’t hesitate to share its wisdom with fellow aquarium enthusiasts and appreciate these exquisite species together. Further queries? Feel free to email us, our team is ready to assist you in resolving any questions!