Pearl Gourami (Trichopodus leerii) – Lifespan, Size, Care, and More!

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The Pearl gourami is a beautiful tropical aquarium fish that’s hardy and beginner-friendly. You can buy these fish from good fish stores and online for a modest outlay.

But how big do Pearl gouramis get? Are Pearl gouramis peaceful fish? And will gouramis eat other fish?

Read this comprehensive guide to learn how to care for these charming labyrinth fish.

Pearl Gourami – Overview

Scientific Name

Trichopodus leerii

Common Name (species)

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




Thailand, Sumatra, Borneo, Malaysia



Care Level





4 to 5 years


Peaceful community fish, but males can be territorial

Tank Level

Middle to upper regions of the water column

Minimum Tank Size

20 gallons

Temperature Range

Tropical 77° to 82° F

Water Hardness

2 – 30 dKH

pH Range

5.5 to 7.5

Filtration/Flow Rate

Prefers well-filtered water and a low flow rate


Bubble nest builder, egg layer


Generally peaceful

OK, for Planted Tanks?


Origins and Natural Habitat

Pearl gouramis originate from Borneo, Sumatra, Thailand, and Malaysia, and there are a few introduced populations in Singapore and Colombia. These fish prefer the acidic conditions of lowland coastal swamps, where the water flow is low.

Pearl gouramis currently feature on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species as “near threatened,” thanks to overfishing and habitat destruction. However, most of the specimens you find for sale in fish stores are captive-bred fish.


Pearl gouramis are attractive fish that have long, thin feelers instead of traditional ventral fins.

These colorful fish are surface feeders and have small, upturned mouths.

The fish has a blue body that fades to brown decorated with tiny pearl-like flecks, which give the Pearl gourami its common name. There’s a black line extending along the body from the fish’s mouth to its tail, ending in a black spot.

Trichogaster leeri (Gourami Perla/Pearl Gourami)
Image Source:

Sexing Pearl Gourami

Male and female Pearl gouramis are pretty easy to tell apart.

Male fish are angular and thinner than females, which are plumper and rounder when in spawning conditions. Males are also more colorful than females, having brilliant red or orange-colored breasts and throats.

Male Pearl gouramis have dorsal fins that are longer and more pointed than females.

Size and Lifespan

The average Pearl gourami lifespan is between 4 and 5 years, growing to around 4.5 to 5 inches when fully grown.

Females are usually somewhat smaller than males.

Activity Level/Behavior

Pearl gouramis are quite active fish, swimming together in loose groups in the mid to upper levels of the water column. Occasionally, these labyrinth breathers visit the water’s surface to breathe gulps of air.

Male Pearl gouramis are rather territorial, although a large, well-decorated tank usually mitigates that.

Tank Mates

Pearl gouramis are beautiful freshwater fish that generally do well in a community setup with other peaceful fish of a similar size. That said, males can be territorial and can sometimes be aggressive toward conspecifics and other gourami species.

Cherry Barb

I’ve always found keeping several females and one male Pearl gourami together works pretty well.

Good companion fish for gouramis can be Cherry barbs, Neon tetras, danios, Corydoras catfish, and the like.

Feeding Your Pearl Gourami

Pearl gouramis are omnivorous, enjoying a varied diet of meat, plant matter, and veggies.

Types of Food to Feed Your Fish

Pearl gouramis are not fussy feeders and are pretty easy to cater to.

My gouramis did very well on a basic daily diet of high-quality tropical fish flakes, with some frozen meaty foods, such as blood worms, daphnia, and mosquito larvae, added to give variety.

Although gouramis love live foods, you must be extremely careful when sourcing them. The live foods you buy from fish stores sometimes include bacteria and parasites that you don’t want in your fish tank.

So, unless you have a safe, reliable source, it’s best to give your gouramis frozen meaty protein instead.

How Much Food Should You Give?

We recommend feeding your Pearl gouramis twice daily.

Assorted different types of food for aquarium fish. Flakes, spirulina, pills, mixture. Navy blue sea background, close up

Offer your fish only what they will eat in a couple of minutes. That prevents overfeeding, which can cause digestive problems and leads to uneaten food rotting in the tank and polluting the water.

Habitat Requirements

Pearl gouramis are a peaceful species that are undemanding, tolerating a wide range of water conditions.

That said, the water quality in your tank should be pristine, as these fish won’t cope with poor water quality.

Tank Size

Gouramis are quite large, active fish that need a rectangular 20-gallon tank. These fish can jump, so your aquarium must have a cover slide or lid.

Water Movement and Filtration

Pearl gouramis prefer well-filtered water with a low flow.

We recommend an external filtration system, preferably with an adjustable outlet valve. Alternatively, simply use decorations and plants to buffer and deflect the flow away from your fish.

Temperature and pH Level

Pearl gouramis are tropical fish that require a water temperature of between 77° and 82° F.

Note: The ambient room temperature must be close to the water temperature to prevent damage to the fish’s delicate labyrinth organ.

aquarium temperature

Pearl gouramis prefer soft, slightly acidic water with a pH of 5.5 to 7.5 and a hardness of 2 to 30 dH.

Tank Setup, Substrate, and Decorations

As with all fish species, your Pearl gouramis will settle in better if you can replicate the conditions of their wild habitat.


So, in the wild environment, Pearl gouramis inhabit dimly lit water. If you have an LED lighting unit with a special effect setting, you can alter the brightness or do what I did and use floating plants to provide dappled shade for the habitat.


A dark substrate shows off your gouramis’ colors to the best effect. You can use a gravel or sandy substrate that provides a good anchoring point for your living plants.

Driftwood and twisted roots are nice natural decorations that can help to lower the water’s pH by releasing tannic and gallic acid into the water. You might also want to include some smooth rocks and pebbles and plenty of plants.

However, Pearl gouramis are active swimmers, so be sure to leave plenty of open swimming space for them.

Setting Up Your Pearl Gourami Tank

Assemble everything you need to set up your tank:

  • Dark-colored substrate
  • LED lighting unit
  • Filter
  • Heater
  • Aquarium thermometer
  • Decorations
  • Living plants

How to Set Up Your Fish Tank:

  1. Wash the substrate to get rid of dust.
  2. Add a couple of inches of the clean substrate to your tank.
  3. Install the filter and heater units, but don’t switch them on yet.
  4. Fill your tank with dechlorinated tap water. Add some fish food or a couple of drops of pure ammonia to start the nitrogen cycle.
  5. Pour the water over an upturned bowl in the center of the substrate to prevent the gravel from being displaced.
  6. Wash decorations to remove dust, and put them in your aquarium.
  7. Snip off damaged plant stems and dead leaves, and put the plants in your tank, leaving adequate space between them for growth and spread.
  8. Activate the filter and heater.

Test the aquarium water every day for the next few weeks until ammonia and nitrites are zero and nitrates are around 20 ppm. Now you can add a few small fish!

Health and Disease

Pearl gouramis are pretty hardy, healthy fish, although they can suffer from a few common fish diseases.

Signs of Good Health

Healthy Pearl gouramis swim in groups in the upper areas of the water column, visiting the water surface every so often to breathe atmospheric air through their labyrinth organ.

Red Flags

These red flags indicate health problems in your Pearl gouramis:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Inactivity
  • Hanging at the water’s surface
  • Red patches, swellings, ulcers, and fading color
  • Flashing or rubbing against solid objects in the aquarium

Common Health Issues and Treatment

Health Issue

Symptoms or Causes

Suggested Action

Ich (White Spot Disease)

Ich is caused by a parasite called Ichthyophthirius multifiliis. Infected fish rub or flick against objects in the tank before developing a rash of white spots across the body, fins, and gills.

Increase the water temperature to 82o F for a few days, and use an OTC Ich medication.

Fungal infections

White, cotton-like growths on the face, body, and gill covers

Quarantine infected fish; treat the tank with antifungal drugs.

Bacterial infections

Reddened patches on the skin, sores, torn fins

Quarantine any sick fish; treat with OTC antibacterial drugs.

Columnaris (Cotton Mouth Disease)

Columnaris is caused by the gram-negative bacterium, Flavobacterium columnare. Symptoms include discolored scales, lost scales, ulcers, and fluffy patches on the skin caused by secondary infections.

Quarantine infected fish; treat with proprietary antibacterial medication

Health Issue

Symptoms or Causes

Ich is a very common disease that’s caused by an aquatic protozoan parasite. 
Fish infected with Ich develop a sprinkling of tiny white spots on their fins, gill covers, and bodies. They also flash against the gravel and other solid objects in the aquarium.

Suggested Action

Raise the water temperature to 82o F for three days. Use an OTC  White Spot Disease medication to treat the tank.

Health Issue


Symptoms or Causes

Flukes is the term used to describe various types of external fish parasites. These macroparasites can often be seen with the naked eye attached to the fish’s skin or gills.

Suggested Action

Treat the fish tank with an OTC antiparasitic medication.

Health Issue

Fungal infections

Symptoms or Causes

White fluffy growths on the fish’s body, mouth, and head.

Suggested Action

Quarantine infected fish, and treat with an antifungal medication.

Health Issue

Bacterial infections

Symptoms or Causes

Sores and ulcers on the body and head, ragged, bloody fins.

Suggested Action

Treat the tank with OTC antibacterial treatment.

How To Breed Pearl Gouramis

You can breed Pearl gouramis at home in a separate breeding tank.

To give your fish the best chance of breeding successfully, feed them plenty of meaty protein for a couple of weeks.

Spawning Tank

Your spawning tank should have lots of aquarium plants and a water temperature of around 80o F.

The water in the breeding tank should be around six inches deep, enabling the fry to get to the surface so that the labyrinth organ develops correctly.


Male Pearl gouramis build bubble nests at the water’s surface, typically in a corner or under a raft of floating plants.

Once the female has laid 200-300 eggs, the pair transfer the eggs to the nest. At this stage, it’s safest to remove the female, as the male goes into guarding mode, and he might attack his mate.

After the eggs hatch, the fry remains attached to the egg sac for a couple of days. We recommend removing the male now, as he might eat the fry once they become free-swimming.

Raising Fry

Feed the growing fry on liquid fry food and infusoria several times daily until they are large enough to eat finely crushed fish flake and baby brine shrimp.

It’s essential to perform partial water changes every few days to keep the water clean. If the water is dirty, the fry won’t survive.


Pearl gouramis are readily available in most good pet stores and online, retailing for a few dollars per fish.

Final Thoughts

Did you enjoy our guide to Pearl gouramis? If you did, please share the article!

Pearl gouramis are a beautiful species of community fish that are easy to care for and relatively hardy, provided you give them the correct living conditions and a varied, high-quality omnivore diet.

Although these fish are suitable for beginner aquarists, male gouramis can be territorial, so it’s best to keep one male with a few females, an arrangement that can also make a fun breeding program.

What tank mates work with your Pearl gouramis? 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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