Pearl Gourami – Tankmates, Size, Feeding and Care

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The Pearl gourami is a beautiful fish that’s also easy to care for and generally pretty hardy. These labyrinth fish are readily available from most good fish stores and can make a nice addition to your tropical community tank.

So, can you breed Pearl gouramis in the home aquarium? What size fish tank do Pearl gouramis need? And are Pearl gouramis suitable for your aquarium?

Read this complete care guide to find out!

Pearl Gourami – Overview

Scientific Name

Trichopodus leerii

Common Name (species)

Mosaic gourami, Diamond gourami, Pearl gourami, Lace gourami, Leeri gourami

Family

Osphronemidae

Origin

Thailand, Malaysia, Borneo, Sumatra

Diet

Omnivore

Care Level

Easy

Lifespan

4 to 5 years

Temperament

Peaceful community fish but males can be territorial

Tank Level

Middle to upper areas of the tank

Minimum Tank Size

20 gallons

Temperature Range

Tropical 77° to 82° Fahrenheit

Water Hardness

2 – 30 dKH

pH Range

5.5 to 7.5

Filtration/Flow Rate

Prefers well-filtered water and a low flow rate

Breeding

Egg layer

Compatibility

Peaceful but males can be territorial

OK, for Planted Tanks?

Safe with plants

Origins and Natural Habitat

The Pearl gourami comes from Malaysia, Thailand, Sumatra, and Borneo. There are also some introduced populations of these fish in Colombia and Singapore.

Unfortunately, because of overfishing for the trade and destruction of the fish’s natural habitat through logging and damming, the Pearl gourami appears on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species as “near threatened.”

Wild populations of Pearl gouramis are decreasing, so, consequently, pretty much all the fish that you find for sale in pet stores are captive-bred.

The fish are generally found in acidic waters in lowland coastal swamps.

What Do Pearl Gouramis Look Like?

focus shot of a pearl gourami in blurry background

Pearl gouramis are truly beautiful fish with long, flat bodies. The fishes’ ventral fins have evolved into long, thin “feelers” that are used to explore the creature’s environment. Like other members of the gourami family, Pearl gouramis are surface feeders, so they have a small, upturned mouth.

The fish’s body is blue, shading to brown, and is covered with tiny pearly and brownish flecks, hence the Pearl gourami’s common name. A black line extends along the fish’s body from its mouth to its tail, ending in a spot.

Gender Differences

You can tell male and female Pearl gouramis apart quite easily. Males are thinner and more angular than females. When in spawning condition, female gouramis have a much rounder, plumper body.

 Male gouramis are more colorful than females, with bright red or deep orange breasts and throats. Also, males have longer, more pointed dorsal fins than females. 

Size

Pearl gouramis are one of the larger fish in the family, growing to measure between 4.5 and 5 inches at maturity. Female fish are generally slightly smaller than males.

Life Expectancy

When given the correct care and a high-quality diet, the Pearl gourami can live for up to 5 years.

Activity Level/Temperament

Pearl gouramis are generally peaceful fish that spend much of their time cruising around the upper regions of the water column in loose groups. These fish are labyrinth breathers, and you’ll see them making regular forays to the water surface to take gulps of atmospheric air.

Males can be somewhat territorial, although that’s not generally a problem in a large tank. 

Tank Mates

Pearl gouramis make good community fish, provided that you keep them with other non-aggressive fish of a similar size.

However, male Pearl gouramis can be territorial, and that can cause displays of aggression toward other gouramis of the same and other species.

If you want to keep a few of these gorgeous fish together, I recommend that you keep one male and several females.

Fish Species to Avoid

As previously mentioned, it’s generally best to keep fish of a similar size, as very small fish may be intimidated by the larger Pearl gouramis. Also, fin nippers can stress the gouramis and are best avoided.

Feeding

Pearl gouramis are omnivores, meaning that they eat a variety of meat, plant matter, and vegetables.

What To Feed Your Pearl Gouramis

Heap of dry complete multi-ingredient flake food for daily feeding of all ornamental fish

Pearl gouramis are easy to cater to, as they are not usually fussy feeders.

You can feed your fish a basic diet of high-quality flaked tropical fish food, as well as frozen meaty foods. Gouramis also enjoy cooked spinach and peas and live foods such as brine shrimp, blackworms, and bloodworms.

If you decide to offer your fish live foods, be very careful where you source the food. Live foods that you find in fish stores often come with an unwanted side serving of parasites and bacteria, which you definitely don’t want in your tank. However, if you have a reputable, reliable supplier, your gouramis and their tank mates will certainly enjoy a few tasty wrigglers!

How Much and How Often to Feed Pearl Gouramis

I recommend that you feed your Pearl gouramis twice a day.

To avoid overfeeding your fish, offer them only what they will eat in a couple of minutes. That way, you won’t overload the gourami’s digestive system, and you won’t end up with lots of uneaten food decomposing in your tank.

If you can’t be around at regular feeding times, I suggest that you get yourself an automatic fish feeder that has a built-in timer. These inexpensive gadgets enable you to feed your fish at preset times and with exactly the correct quantity of food, giving you peace of mind and your fish a regular feeding regimen.

Aquarium Requirements

Pearl gouramis are quite easy to look after, as long as you give them the correct tank conditions.

Tank Size

Pearl gouramis grow to measure around 5 inches long and are deep-bodied fish, so they need a fairly large tank. As these are labyrinth fish that need easy access to the surface, I recommend a long tank with plenty of surface area. A long tank also provides plenty of swimming space for the fish. 

Gouramis can jump when alarmed, so you need an aquarium with a cover slide or a tightly fitting lid.

Tank Setup

Pearl gouramis do best when given a habitat that mimics their wild environment.

Substrate

A dark substrate is an excellent choice, as that will really show off your Pearl gouramis’ colors to the best effect.

Since these fish spend most of their time in the upper areas of the tank rather than on the bottom, you can use either a sandy or gravel substrate.

Decorations

You can use whatever items of decoration you prefer in your gourami aquarium. These fish look best when displayed in a naturalistic setting, so use pieces of driftwood, twisted roots, and rockwork, as well as plenty of lush, green planting.

Floating plants also work well, helping to diffuse the light. You just need to make sure that the plants don’t clog the surface, as the fish need space to feed and breathe.

Habitat Requirements

Filtration

Like most fish species, Pearl gouramis appreciate well-filtered water, but they don’t like a strong flow. For that reason, an external filtration system is a good option, ideally with an adjustable outflow valve. Alternatively, you can buffer the current against decorations and plants.

Water Parameters

Water Temperature

Pearl gouramis are a tropical species that need a water temperature of between 77° to 82° Fahrenheit.  

Also, it’s critical for the fishes’ health that the ambient room temperature is as close to that of the aquarium water to avoid damaging the labyrinth organ.

Water Hardness and pH Range

The pH range for Pearl gouramis should be between 5.5 and 7.5 with a water hardness of 2 to 30 dH.

Lighting

In the wild environment, Pearl gouramis live in dim waters, and that should be replicated in their captive habitat.

You can use a lighting unit with special effects to adjust the brightness of the light or, alternatively, choose floating plants to filter the light and create an attractive dappled shade effect.

Tank Maintenance

Vilnius, Lithuania A man vacuums a fish tank.

As with any fish species, you must keep up with your tank maintenance regimen to keep your Pearl gouramis and their tank mates happy and thriving.

Vacuum the Substrate

Fish waste, plant debris, and uneaten fish food tend to gather around the base of plants, underneath ornaments, and in the tank corners. If you don’t remove it, that waste gradually decomposes, polluting the water and potentially causing an ammonia spike.

The most efficient way of removing that dangerous waste is to suck it out using an aquarium vacuum cleaner.

Perform Water Changes

While you’re vacuuming the substrate, you can also perform partial water changes, exchanging 20% to 25% of the dirty water with fresh, dechlorinated water. That helps to keep nitrate levels down and maintain a healthy environment for the tank residents.

Maintain Filter Media

Once a month or so, you need to rinse the filter media in dirty tank water. That helps to remove solid debris that clogs the media so that water can flow freely over the colonies of bacteria that make up the biological filter element of the system.

Setting Up Your Pearl Gourami Tank

Assemble what you’ll need to set up your aquarium:

  • Dark substrate
  • Lighting unit
  • Filter
  • Heater
  • Aquarium thermometer
  • Ornaments
  • Living plants

How to set up your fish tank:

  1. Wash the substrate under running water to get rid of dust and loose debris.
  1. Put the clean substrate into your aquarium to a depth of around two to three inches.
  1. Install your filter system and aquarium heater, but don’t turn them on just yet.
  1. Fill your aquarium with dechlorinated tap water. Add a pinch of fish food or a few drops of pure ammonia to kickstart the Nitrogen Cycle.
  1. You can prevent substrate displacement by placing an upturned dish in the center of the substrate and pouring the water over that.
  1. Wash tank decorations to remove dust, and arrange them in your tank.
  1. Tidy up living plants by snipping off damaged stems and dead leaves and arrange them in your tank. Allow space between the plants so that they can grow and spread.
  1. Activate the filtration system and heater. Now, allow the aquarium to cycle for at least ten days before adding fish. Before you rush out and buy your Pearl gouramis, test the tank water to make sure that ammonia and nitrite levels are zero and nitrates are below 20ppm.

Don’t put fish in the tank before the cycle is complete or you risk an ammonia spike and a mass fish kill.

Health and Disease

Pearl gouramis are generally healthy fish, but you must give them the correct environment, clean water, and a high-quality diet to keep them in good condition and show their best colors.

Signs of Good Health

Healthy Pearl gouramis like to cruise the upper reaches of the water column, swimming in loose groups. Every so often, the fish will rise to the water surface to breathe atmospheric air.

Red Flags

These red flags indicate potential health problems for your fish:

  • No appetite
  • Inactivity
  • Hanging at the surface
  • Obvious red patches, ulcers, and swellings
  • Flashing against solid objects in the tank

Common Health Issues and Treatment

Health Issue

Symptoms or Causes

Suggested Action

Ich (White Spot Disease)

White Spot disease is caused by a very common aquatic parasite called Ichthyophthirius multifiliis. The disease appears as a sprinkling of tiny white spots scattered across the fish’s body, fins, and gills. Affected fishes flash or rub against solid objects in the tank. The fish’s respiration rate also increases.

Raise the water temperature to 82o F for a few days, and use an Ich treatment.

Fungal infections

White, fluffy growths on the face, body, and gill covers.

Quarantine any infected fish; treat the water with antifungal medicine.

Bacterial infections

Reddened areas on the skin, sores, ragged fins.

Quarantine any diseased fish; treat the water with over-the-counter antibacterial medicine.

Columnaris (Cotton Mouth Disease)

Columnaris is a serious condition that’s caused by a gram-negative bacterium called Flavobacterium columnare. Discolored scales, ulcers, loss of scales, fluffy skin patches caused by secondary infections.

Quarantine infected fish; treat with proprietary antibacterial medication.

Health Issue

Symptoms or Causes

White Spot disease is caused by a very common aquatic parasite called Ichthyophthirius multifiliis. The disease appears as a sprinkling of tiny white spots scattered across the fish’s body, fins, and gills. Affected fishes flash or rub against solid objects in the tank. The fish’s respiration rate also increases.

Suggested Action

Raise the water temperature to 82o F for a few days, and use an Ich treatment..

Health Issue

Fungal infections

Symptoms or Causes

White, fluffy growths on the face, body, and gill covers.ched to the fish’s skin or gills.

Suggested Action

Quarantine any infected fish; treat the water with antifungal medicine.OTC antiparasitic medication.

Health Issue

Bacterial infections

Symptoms or Causes

Reddened areas on the skin, sores, ragged fins.

Suggested Action

Quarantine any diseased fish; treat the water with over-the-counter antibacterial medicine.

Health Issue

Columnaris (Cotton Mouth Disease)

Symptoms or Causes

Sores and ulcers on the body and head, ragged, Columnaris is a serious condition that’s caused by a gram-negative bacterium called Flavobacterium columnare. Discolored scales, ulcers, loss of scales, fluffy skin patches caused by secondary infections.

Suggested Action

Quarantine infected fish; treat with proprietary antibacterial medication.

How To Breed Pearl Gouramis

If you set up a separate spawning tank, it is possible to breed Pearl gouramis relatively easily.

Preparation

To bring your fish into prime spawning condition, simply feed them lots of live or frozen meaty protein, such as bloodworms, brine shrimp, etc.

Spawning Tank

The spawning tank should contain plenty of floating plants, and the water temperature needs to be around 80o F. 

The water should be quite shallow, ideally at a depth of around six inches. That’s so that the fry can easily access the surface to promote the normal, healthy development of the labyrinth organ.

Spawning

Pearl gouramis are bubble nesters. The male fish will create a nest of bubbles at the water surface, usually underneath the floating plants or in a corner of the tank.

Once the nest is complete, a spawning dance begins. The fish touch each other with their extended ventral fins, becoming entwined until the female is stimulated to release hundreds of eggs. The process is repeated until around 300 eggs have been produced.

The eggs float up into the nest while the male carefully guides any stragglers into the nest. He remains on guard underneath the nest. At this point, I recommend that you remove the female so that she isn’t injured by the male. When the fry hatch and are free-swimming, typically after four days or so, you should also remove the male just in case he eats the babies.

Raising Fry

You can feed the growing fry on infusoria or commercially prepared liquid fry food, ideally several times every day.

When the fry are a couple of weeks old, they will take frozen or freshly hatched brine shrimp. Older fry can be fed crushed flake food.

You will need to carry out partial water changes every couple of days to keep the water as pristine as possible. Usually, fry is lost because of poor water conditions. 

Availability

Pearl gouramis are readily available in most good fish stores and online. Since these fish are easy to breed in captivity, they are plentiful in the trade, typically retailing at just a few dollars per fish.  

In Conclusion

I hope you enjoyed our guide to the beautiful Pearl gourami. If you loved it, please remember to share!

Pearl gouramis are easy to care for and make a nice addition to a peaceful community tank. These fish get along well with other non-aggressive species of a similar size. However, you should know that male Pearl gouramis can be territorial. For that reason, I recommend that you keep one male gourami with a small group of females.

Did you successfully breed Pearl gouramis in your home aquarium? Tell us in the comments box below.

Alison Page has been an avid fish keeper for over 35 years and has owned many different species of freshwater tropical fish including bettas. Currently Alison has two large freshwater tanks. The first tank has two huge fancy goldfish who are almost ten years old and still looking as good as ever. In the other, she has a happy community of tiger barbs, green tiger barbs, corydoras catfish, platys, and mollies.

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