Pearl Gourami Care GuideBest Tank, Lifespan, Diet and Breeding
By Eddie Waithaka @aquariawise
Pearl gourami is among the best non-aggressive gourami species to keep in a planted freshwater aquarium. They have a beautiful collection of white spots on their body and large fins, both of which makes them quite popular with fish keepers.
Their natural habitat is in tropical South East Asia which includes Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia Islands of Sumatra and Borneo.
For this reason, keep your pearl gourami in a tropical aquarium filled with water that is slightly acidic with between 6 and 8 ph and the hardness between 5 and 15 dgH.
Pearl gourami prefer the aquarium temperature to be anywhere from 72°F to 82°F, which means you will most likely need to add a heater to your fish tank.
Moreove, pearl gourami grow up to 4.7 inches in length, and male fish get aggressive and territorial as they age so you will need to keep them in a 30-gallon aquarium or more.
That said, this article will help you to understand their natural habitat, their behavior in the aquarium, how to identify them, how to care and setup pearl gourami tanks, breeding, feeding and much more.
Pearl gourami is a species of the larger gourami family, and are scientifically named Trichopodus leerii. Other common names include lace and mosaic gourami.
The fish is native to low-land swamps filled with acidic water where they prefer the top and mid-level parts of the habitat.
Pearl gouramis are spread across parts of South East Asia from Thailand, down south to Malaysia and East up to Indonesia.
Though the water in their natural habitat has a low ph, they are adapted to a wide range of aquarium ph levels due to captive breeding. They also have an organ called labyrinth which allows them to breathe atmospheric air meaning they will survive even in a fish tank without oxygen addition.
Noteworthy, pearl gourami are long-lived and seem to be quite aware of their owners. This beautiful fish also has an endearing habit of using its pelvic fins to feel the environment and even feel its tank mates.
When pearl gourami are spawning, the water level should be reduced, and the temperature kept at approximately 82°F.
The fish are bubble nest builders that use plants to bind the bubbles together. Therefore, you’ll want to add a couple of live plants in their aquarium.
Eggs hatch after two days and the new fry become free-swimming three days later. Feed baby gourami with infusoria and brine shrimp.
By and large, as with any tropical aquariums, pearl gourami need adequate filtration, lighting, substrate, plants, decoration, and proper care requirements.
Pearl Gourami Appearance
The reason they are called pearl gourami is due to the bright pearl-like specks on their bodies.
They naturally have a brownish-silver body covered in pearl patterns and a distinct black line running from the head and gradually thinning towards the caudal fin.
However, male pearl gouramis develops a reddish-orange color under their throat and on all fins except the caudal flipper. They also generally have longer fins, more pointed dorsal fins and extended anal fin rays.
Whereas females look plumper, less colorful with fins that are less elongated than in males.
How Big Do Pearl Gourami Get?
The maximum size of mature pearl gourami is about 4.7 inches in length, but in aquariums, the only grow to an average size of 3 to 4 inches.
For your fish to get to the maximum size, you need to keep them in proper tank setups with the ideal tropical freshwater condition that includes a warm aquarium environment that is heavily planted and feed them a rich diet.
That said, all fish are not the same with some growing faster than others. It’s also normal for fry that grow faster to devour their smaller siblings.
Pearl Gourami Lifespan
The lifespan of a pearl gourami average between 5 and 8 years with proper care.
However, excess breeding and poor living conditions in captivity have substantially reduced the fish lifespan. Also, some pearl gouramis are peculiarly prone to diseases.
Behavior and Temperament
Despite pearl gourami relatively large size, they are among the most peaceful fish in their class. Their subtle demeanor makes them perfect community fish that can accommodate a host of companions.
Howbeit, the fish may be somewhat timid and shy especially when first introduced to a new aquarium. They spend a long time hiding during the first several days, sometimes weeks.
Hence, you should not add pearl gourami to tanks with aggressive fish or fin nippers. The best tankmates are species with a similar temperament to gouramis as long as you avoid small companions that can get snacked out.
Moreover, leave enough space in your aquarium for the fish to swim around. This will help keep their stress levels down especially since male pearl gouramis get aggressive and territorial as they grow older.
To know if your pearl gourami is stressed, look for any fish hiding in a corner with its colors getting dull and may stop feeding altogether.
Pearl Gourami Tank Setup Guide—Plus Compatibility
Pearl gourami are hardy fish that are easy to breed making them an excellent first species for people entering the hobby.
The only pressing concern would be your aquarium size and water temperature. Plus they have a particular affinity towards acidic water that is soft to moderately hard.
A tank with a volume of 30-gallons or more is adequate for a pair of pearl gourami. Although more than that is recommended because the fish show signs of stress, aggression and illness when confined.
The preferred tank temperature falls between 72°F and 82°F and the ph anywhere from 6.5 to 8, but due to adaptation over time they will survive in a wide range of ph.
Planted aquariums are also highly advised for pearl gourami because they are somewhat shy, and occasionally hide behind live plants. However, they are known to nibble on live plants so you may notice small leaves missing from your plants now and then.
A filter and a heater are paramount in pearl gourami tanks. Ideally, a good option would be a hang-on-the-back filter coupled with a 25 percent weekly water change. The heater you use will depend on your tank, but you may want to use one rated for a tank a level higher than what you own.
An air pump is not necessary since pearl gouramis spend a lot of their time in the middle and top of the aquarium hence prefer minimal water movement. Besides, they have labyrinth organs, and therefore, they will survive with or without the extra aeration.
What Fish Can Live with Pearl Gourami?— Tankmates
As I had mentioned, pearl gourami is peaceful fish that do well in community tanks meaning they can be maintained with a wide range of species with no incidence.
The best companions are fish with an equally subtle demeanor and not know nippers.
Some bad companions would be species that are outrightly belligerent like cichlids, fin nipping fish and territorial species. More so, don’t put gouramis with small fish that will fit in their mouth even when they make good companions.
Gourami species can be kept together in species tanks though males are known to get aggressive. You may also be able to keep them with their close cousins the bettas, but the combination is unpredictable and quarrelsome behavior is not entirely unheard of.
Since pearl gouramis are mid and top dwelling fish, they can live with docile bottom dwellers like loaches that won’t bother them because they virtually never swim anywhere but near the tank base.
Pearl gouramis are generally slow swimmers that appreciate a calm atmosphere in the fish tank. So if you’re considering adding them with small active swimmer like danios, your biggest concern will be stressing the gouramis.
Here are 10 fish species that will live with pearl gouramis.
- Neon tetras
- Dwarf cichlids
- Harlequin rasboras
- Tiger and Rosy barbs (Be careful with the barbs because they get aggressive with age and have a reputation for fin nipping)
- Cory fish
- Kuhli loach
- Bettas (You will need to exert some cautions because betta fish are generally aggressive to brightly colored fish)
Pearl Gourami Diet
Pearl gouramis are omnivorous fish that are not fussy about diet. They generally are quite easy to feed and will eat different kinds of food including freeze-dried and frozen food, vegetables, cooked peas, bloodworms, brine shrimp and glass worms.
In the wild, they mostly feed on insects, larvae, and zooplankton. So it’s crucial to supplement their aquarium diet with generous amounts of live-meaty meals. These can include bloodworms, tubifex or brine shrimp.
Live foods are also good treats for conditioning breeding gouramis.
For a day to day meal, feed your pearl gourami with regular portions of high-quality flake food or frozen food with varied servings of vegetables to argument their diet with the crucial vitamins.
Some vegetable pearl gouramis will feed on are blanched zucchini, cucumber, shelled peas, lettuce and spinach.
Intrestingly, this fish feed on the hydra, which is a soft-bodied freshwater coelenterate that sometimes is accidentally introduced to aquariums. It has small poisonous tentacles that it uses to prey on fish fry and small fishes.
Therefore, in the rare chance you get a hydra in your tank, pearl and other gourami species like blue gourami (three spots gourami) will help you get rid of it.
That said, a thing you should keep in mind is that the fish have small mouths and therefore, won’t be able to swallow large sized food. Plus their need to swim the mid and top of aquariums means you have to feed them floating fish food.
As with other tropical aquarium fish, feed your pearl gourami once or twice a day with small pinches of food that they can finish in 3 to 5 minutes.
Pearl Gourami Breeding
Breeding pearl gourami is relatively easy and will occur naturally without much human intervention. The only thing a breeder needs to do is create a conducive environment for the fish to breed.
You will need at least a 10-gallon breeding tank, but since pearl gouramis are quite fertile fish, you may need up to a 15-gallon tank. The water in the breeding tank should not exceed 8 inches during spawning.
Also, breeding is temperature induced, therefore, keep it stable at anywhere from 80°F to 82°F.
It is advisable to feed a breeding pair live or frozen brine shrimp or worms for conditioning and add a lot of floating plants in the tank because pearl gourami use need them to bind their bubble nests.
Breeding fish will display an unusual but attractive mating dance after the male prepares a bubble nest to which he will lure the female. Usually, the male fish will wrap his body around her, while under the nest, as she lay her eggs. He then catches the laid eggs in his mouth before they sink and blow them into the nest.
This mating process is repeated several times with the male gourami placing the eggs inside the bubble nest till she has completed the egg-laying.
After mating is complete, you may want to expel the female gourami form the breeding tank and leave him to guard the nest.
Pearl gourami eggs hatch after two days, and the new fry become free-swimming within 5 days. Feed the babies with infusoria, green water or brine shrimp for a week, then introduce them to finely-ground flake gradually. When the fry get older, they should start to eat freeze-dried tablets.
However, it good to note when feeding the newly hatched fry, you want to use newly hatched brine shrimp instead of the normal kind.
Hope you enjoy the hobby.