Pearl Gourami Guide – Why you should consider this fish

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Are you looking for a center piece fish? Do you want a fish that will dazzle you with its beauty?

If you are then look no further than the Pearl Gourami for your community tank.

I have had the pleasure of owning these beauties in the past.

The only reason I do not have one now is because all my tanks are 20 gallon and smaller and these fish need space to swim.

If I had a bigger tank then this stunner would definitely be residing in one of my tanks.

This extensive and well researched Pearl Gourami guide will make sure you will know everything there is to know about this fish so you can make the best decisions possible.

Pearl Gourami, trichogaster leeri

Introduction to the Pearl Gourami

The Pearl Gourami is a popular and exotic looking freshwater fish that many fishkeeping hobbyists are proud to own.

This beautiful fish is part of the Gourami family and is famous for its appearance, which consists of white shiny spots across its whole body.

The pattern of these white spots is the reason why this fish is given the name Pearl Gourami.

It is also sometimes known as diamond, lace, or mosaic gourami. However, it is most popularly known as the Pearl Gourami.

The Pearl Gourami is a great showcase fish that will add beauty and variety to your fish tank.

As exotic as the fish is, caring for a Pearl Gourami is not as difficult as it seems.

They don’t cause a lot of trouble in your tank and they do reasonably well in even average-sized fish tanks.

However, there are a few things to consider before you buy this fish and bring it home to your aquarium.

Where Does Pearl Gourami Come From?

Pearl Gourami (Trichopodus leerii) is a freshwater labyrinth fish that comes from Southeast Asia mainly Indonesia, Thailand, and Malaysia.

It is also very commonly found in the islands of Sumatra and Borneo.

These fish thrive in shallow waters that are high in acidity.

These lowland swamps that this fish is usually found in are abundantly filled with plants and vegetation.

This is the optimal environment for the Pearl Gourami since they can hide in the vegetation whenever the need arises.

Although the fish is native to Southeast Asia, nowadays, it can be found all over the world due to attempts being made to breed these fishes in captivity by the fish keeping industry.

How to Identify a Pearl Gourami

The Pearl Gourami gets its name from the mesmerizing pearl-like sheen covering the whole body resembling a ‘pearl’.

For this reason it is very popular among aquarists.

While swimming, the pearl-like white dots create a very attractive sight where the dots seem almost like they glitter.

Moreover, starting from the head, a unique black line runs horizontally across its body which ends at the tail in a dot.

The darkness of this line differs from fish to fish; however, it is always pretty noticeable and stands out against the group of bright pearl-like spots.

Pearl Gourami looks very similar to other fish in the same gourami family.

Their mouth is small and turned upward.

This is due to the fact that the Pearl Gourami is a labyrinth fish and needs to gulp air from the surface of the tank.

Along with having pearl-like white spots, they have brown and pearl flecks covering their whole body.

The body of the fish is long, thin, and flat. Their ventral fins are also thin and pretty long.

These fins swing loosely when the fish is swimming and sometimes extend past the caudal fins.

Size

An average a Pearl Gourami is about 4-5 inches in size. The size will be determined by 4 factors:

  • Gender
  • Age
  • Health and care
  • Genetics

How Do You Identify Males From Females?

Differentiating between male and female Pearl Gourami fish is not difficult.

The differences are often quite easy to see.

Pair of Pearl Gourami

Female Pearl Gourami usually have heavier-set bodies and they are rounder in shape.

Males, on the other hand, are more towards the thin side.

Additionally, males usually have a bright orange breast area and are more colorful than the females.

If you see a Pearl Gourami with a bright orange-reddish tinge on its body, you are looking at a male fish.

This color is needed to woo the females as it gets brighter during mating season.

Another visible difference is the fins.

Males usually have long dorsal fins, whereas females have fins that are smaller and shorter in size.

Pearl Gourami Care

Caring for a Pearl Gourami is relatively easy.

With a few precautions here and there, the fish is not difficult to take care of as they are relatively hardy and non-aggressive. 

But, that does not mean that you should neglect the fish’s care.

If you want your fish to lead happy and healthy lives, keep the following considerations in mind.

Tank Size

A tank size of about 30 gallons is optimal for your Pearl Gourami.

Some people might tell you that you can get away with 20 gallons but to ensure optimal conditions and your fish’s well-being, stay on the safe side of 30 gallons or more.

This will provide your fish with plenty of room to swim around in and have fun while doing so.

For every extra Pearl Gourami that you include, you need to add roughly 5-10 extra gallons.

You will find them swimming in the top and middle areas of your tank.

It is advisable to have only one male with a few females or if your tank is large enough you can have a couple of males with double the amount of females.

Water Parameters

A happy fish is a healthy fish.

Which is why, when you buy a Pearl Gourami, you need to make sure of the water parameters that are required for its health and happiness. 

Although Pearl Gourami are easy to care for, they are still quite sensitive to the temperature and parameters of the water they live in.

The following water considerations should be kept in mind before buying a Pearl Gourami:

  • Water temperature should be 77 F or 82 F.
  • pH levels should be about 6.5 to 8.
  • Water hardness should be somewhere between 5 to 25 dH
  • Water flow rate should be slow.

Despite the fact that Pearl Gouramis are usually found in acidic bodies of water in the wild, they easily adapt to less acidic water conditions as well.

Many Pearl Gourami found in pet stores are commercially bred so they are able to tolerate a higher PH level.

For these reasons, the pH range can be between 6 to 8.5.

Breeding Pearl Gourami

What They Need in Their Tank

Pearl Gourami hails from the slow-moving waters of East Asia.

The types of water-bodies that they usually live in are rivers, low-water swamps and even lakes.

These bodies of water are filled with plants and vegetation.

There is also a lot of sand and rocks at the bottom which means that you should add those to your tank as well.

If your Pearl Gourami is given an identical environment to their natural habitat, the fish is going to thrive and have a longer lifespan.

Make sure to have low lighting, have the fish surrounded by lots of plants, and lay sand and rocks down at the bottom of the aquarium to make the fish feel at home.

The type of plants does not matter since Pearl Gouramis are not big plant-eaters and only occasionally will they take a bite out of your plants.

I personally never had a problem with them eating plants but I do know of some other people that have not been so lucky.

Common Diseases and Treatment

As mentioned before, Pearl Gouramis are hardy fish and they usually are not that susceptible to diseases.

However, fin rot is something that a lot of Pearl Gouramis seem to suffer with at times.

Fin rot is a bacterial disease that, as the name suggests, causes the fins of the fish to rot.

If the disease is left untreated or if the treatment is delayed, it will progress to the rest of the body, causing the fish to die.

Luckily, fin rot is easily preventable.

Since it is usually caused by poor water quality in the tank, maintaining the water quality in your tank by changing it regularly can easily prevent your fish from getting sick.

If however your Pearl Gourami does get sick, it is best to isolate it immediately to stop the disease spreading to your other fish.

You can then proceed with treatment by adding antibacterial medication to the water to help the fish heal.

Is Your Existing Tank Suitable For Pearl Gourami?

Before you go ahead and buy a Pearl Gourami, you need to make sure that your tank is providing a suitable environment for this fish.

Remember the following details covered above:

  • Tank size
  • Temperature
  • pH
  • Water parameters

You should do a water change at least once a week to keep the water quality high.

If you feel like you have all these things under control according to the fish’s needs, you can then go ahead and buy yourself a nice showcase Pearl Gourami.

Behavior and Temperament 

Pearl gouramis are generally very well-behaved and peaceful fish.

They can get along with almost any species of fish making them suitable for community tanks.

However, male Pearl Gouramis can get aggressive when in breeding mode and can fight with other males over females.

Other than that, these fish have a labyrinth organ – pretty much like a lung – for the sake of breathing.

This means that they need to swim to the surface of the water periodically to get some air.

So make sure there is space between the water surface of the tank and the glass lid (If used) with fresh air available at all times.

Pearl Gourami tank mates

Pearl Gourami Tank Mates

Since Pearl Gouramis are peaceful in nature, they usually get along with almost any other fish as long as the other fish are not aggressive.

Pearl Gouramis do not pick fights with other fishes, except the males during spawning time.

So, you won’t have to worry about your fish getting in trouble.

Some of the most common choices of tank mates for your Pearl Gourami include:

However, the fish is not limited to just these tank mates.

Generally, it is better not to keep large or very active fish with your Pearl Gourami, since that can make it feel unsafe and consequently, increase its stress levels.

Breeding

When it comes to breeding, Pearl Gouramis will breed quite easily if the perfect conditions are met.

To avoid unnecessary complications, you should have a separate tank set up for breeding.

The tank needs to have some floating plants with dim lighting and a bare bottom for easy cleaning.

Use a small sponge filter to avoid the eggs and fry from being sucked in.

A heater is also necessary to keep the temperature constant.

You can place the male and female fish you want to mate in that separate tank together.

Start feeding them with live foods like brine shrimp and frozen foods like daphnia and blood worms.

The Pearl Gourami, just like other gourami, will build a bubble nest and uses the floating plants to keep it in place.

The female can lay anything between 200 to 300 eggs which are immediately fertilized by the male.

The male will then gather all the eggs and place them in the bubble nest.

The female needs to be removed as soon as she is done because the male becomes very aggressive when he is protecting the eggs.

The eggs take around 4 days to hatch and the baby fry are able to swim immediately after hatching.

After the eggs are hatched, make sure to remove the male Pearl Gourami or else he will eat his own young.

The fry will need to be fed infusoria for the first two weeks and then they can upgrade to freshly hatched brine shrimp thereafter.

You can start feeding finely crushed fish flakes when the babies are about a month old.

Make sure you do frequent water changes to keep disease at bay and water parameters in check.

Remove uneaten food using a siphon or suck it up with a turkey baster at least once a day.

Diet and Nutritional Requirements

Pearl Gouramis are omnivores so their diet should be geared towards that.

Your main focus should lie on understanding your fish’s nutritional needs and providing your fish with a balanced diet.

Pearl Gouramis munch on a lot of insects and other protein-rich foods in their natural habitat.

In the aquarium, your fish should be given a high quality base food, such as flake food or pellets.

To ensure an optimal diet for your fish, you should keep the fish’s diet varying by mixing in some live or frozen food, such as live blood worms, glass worms, black worms, brine shrimp, and other types of protein-rich foods.

Group of pearl gourami

Buying Pearl Gourami in Groups

You will have no problem keeping your Pearl Gourami in groups as this is what they prefer.

When you go to buy your Pearl Gourami, it is better to buy a few of them (If your tank is big enough).

This way, the fish will be happier.

One thing to note here is that you should limit the number of male fish and always have more female fish in the tank.

This is because the male Pearl Gourami is often aggressive and tends to compete with other males during breeding season.

Is the Pearl Gourami right for you?

The Pearl gourami is a great fish for beginners because it is not particularly difficult to care for.

A few things, such as temperature and water parameters should be kept in check and after that, you are good to go.

This beautiful this fish is going to make your tank look stunning with its pearly-white gleaning spots.

I hope this Pearl gourami guide made you confident enough to decide on whether or not this fish is the best fit for you and your aquarium needs.

Please feel free to leave a comment or question below the FAQ section.

FAQ’s

How much do Pearl Gouramis cost?

The fish is cheap and won’t cost you a lot.

You can easily pick one up for around $5. However, make sure that the fish you buy is healthy and active.

How many Pearl Gouramis should be kept together?

These fish love to be in a group so the ideal amount would be 3 or 4. Just make sure that you have more females than males.

How often should I feed my Pearl Gourami?

Feed your fish twice a day. Make sure to not overfeed as this will cause problems in the tank. Feed them as much as they will eat in 2 minutes.

Can I keep a pair of Pearl Gourami?

You can keep them as a pair but they are much happier in a group. If you do keep a pair then it is best to have one male and one female.

Can Pearl Gouramis live with bettas?

I would be hesitant to have these two fish together in a tank. However, if the tank is large enough then it could be a possibility.

Will Pearl Gourami eat small fish?

If the fish is tiny (like a baby fry) then it will eat them. Smaller sized fish like neons will be safe.

Will Pearl Gourami eat plants?

They are not active plant eaters. They will however use some of your plants to build their bubble nests.

Will Pearl Gouramis eat guppies?

No, they will not eat grown guppies but they will eat any guppy fry that they find.

Can Pearl Gouramis change gender?

Not as far as I know.

Check out all these different types of freshwater fish.

Photo of author

AUTHOR

Irma Bense is the founder of BetterFishkeeping.com. She has over 42 years of experience in keeping fish.She has kept both freshwater and saltwater fish through the years.She has extensive knowledge in breeding numerous species of fish from Show Guppies, Cory Catfish, German Blue Rams to Apistogrammas.You can learn more about Irma on the 'About' page.

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