How to care for a pearl gourami

How to care for a pearl gourami

If you are interested in buying pearl gouramis or already have them, I am going to reveal what kind of behavior you can expect from this fish. This will make it easier for you to decide if Pearl Gourami is the fish you want in your aquarium.

So how does Pearl Gourami behave? Are they aggressive or peaceful? On the whole, these are quite peaceful species that do well in groups. However, if the male to female ratio is too high, the male fish develop aggressive behavior. They then become difficult to handle.

I am going to elaborate more on the behavior of Pearl Gourami to make it easier for you to take care of these fish.

The behavior of Pearl Gourami

The body of Pearl Gourami is covered with an array of white spots. This coupled with large and delicate fins that it has makes it quite a beautiful fish. Therefore, it is only natural that aquarists would be attracted to it.

However aggressive behavior of one fish can put all the others in stress which can then lead to health concerns. Therefore, it is always a good idea to acquire more information about the typical behavior of any fish.

How does Pearl Gourami typically behave?

The behavior of Pearl Gourami depends on the environment they are in and their tank mates. Pearl Gourami fish tend to spend most of their time swimming in the upper or mid-levels of the tank. Sometimes, they head to the surface for oxygen.

While mostly they are peaceful species who do not become bothersome for other tank mates; they do exhibit aggressive behavior in some conditions like:

  • These fish become quite aggressive during spawning
  • Male Pearl Gourami becomes aggressive when it has competition for the attention of the female

Prevention of aggressive behavior

Pearl Gourami fish thrive optimally when they are together in a group of four or more. This is because they are social animals. Therefore, it is not advisable to opt for one or two of these fish in fear of aggression.

Instead, you need to make sure that the male to female ratio is appropriately maintained. There should be one Pearl Gourami for 2 or three females in the tank. This minimizes the risk of aggressive behavior to a large extent.

The tank size should be adequate as well. If you want to have a small group of Pearl Gourami in your tank, it needs to have a capacity of approximately 30 gallons.

Around 6 gallons for each Pearl Gourami would prove to be sufficient. This gives them ample space. Overstocking can pose problems and thus should be avoided.

What tank conditions are suitable for Pearl Gourami?

The natural habitat of Pearl Gourami is slow-moving freshwater in Asia. You can find them in rivers, lakes and lowland swamps. These areas have shallow water and have thick plantations. This ensures that Pearl Gourami can move with ease to the surface for air in the safety of plants.

Their tank should offer them similar conditions if you want to see them thrive. This decreases health issues and also makes them feel closer to home.

Fill the bottom of the tank with sand or fine-grained gravel. Ensure that your tank is thickly planted. It will be ideal if you have live plants. This is because fish can eat these plants as well to supplement their diet. These plants will also keep water clean.

The condition of the water is vital as well. Naturally, they live in acidic water. However, you can keep them within the pH range of 6 to 8. The temperature of the water needs to be maintained between 77 and 82°F while the water hardness needs to be between 5 and 15 dh.

Ensure that some space exists between the tank lid and surface of the water. This will make it easier for Pearl Gourami to gain access to air.

Tank mates to reduce aggression in Pearl Gourami

Since Pearl Gourami are peaceful for the most part, you can keep them in community aquariums. Therefore, you have quite a few options while selecting their tank mates.

It will be ideal if you opt for small fish that are peaceful. Neon tetras and pearl danios are such species that will prove to be suitable. Larger fish can also be chosen. However, ensure that the larger ones are not known to be aggressive or territorial.

You can also consider catfish and loaches. This is because these species spend most of their time at the bottom of the tank. Therefore, they would not cross paths with Pearl Gourami all too often.

Avoid overactive fish which can cause stress to Pearl Gourami. This will prompt them to hide and lose their color because of stress. Fin nippers need to be avoided as well.

Some other options include Dwarf Cichlids, Guppies, Platies, Swordtails, and Hatchet fish.

What should I feed Pearl Gourami?

Selecting a healthy diet for the fish is vital since improper diet can adversely affect their behavior and growth.

Pearl Gourami are not very picky about their food. Preferring an omnivorous lifestyle, these fish are content with eating whatever they are offered.

In the wild, they mostly feed on small insects, algae and eggs. They can also opt for aquatic plants. Providing them with such food would not be a problem for you.

You can offer them flakes, live, and frozen foods or pellets. Just make sure that the food is small enough for fitting in their mouth.

Live foods prove to be a good option. This is because they make the fish work for their food which can be healthy. You can provide them with glass worms or brine shrimp. Green vegetables in small pieces are also an option you can consider.

The fish should be offered meals twice or thrice a day in small amounts. It is crucial not to overburden their digestive system. Ensure that the amount of food you provide is such that they can finish off in a couple of minutes.

Make it a point to remove the leftover food from the tank. The food can decay and hamper with the quality of water.

Related Questions

How can I differentiate between male and female Pearl Gourami? These fish have broad, large and thin fins. These fins play a pivotal role in giving Pearl Gourami a delicate and elegant look.

As they swim, you can spot a pair of pelvic fins beneath them. These fins are of around the same length as their body. The average growth that Pearl Gourami can attain is up to 4 to 5 inches.

Males, when matured, develop a red chest which is crucial for sexing the fish. The chest gets bigger during mating. Males also have longer dorsal fins.

What is the most common health issue that I need to be worried about for Pearl Gourami? One of the most common health issues that you might have to face with this species is fin rot. This bacterial infection leads to decaying and discoloration of the fins.

The infection occurs owing to poor quality of water. Water changes should be done more frequently if you suspect your fish is developing fin rot.


Fish Fanatic
  • Jan 8, 2012
  • #1
  • Ruskull

    Bitter & Clinging.
    • Jan 9, 2012
  • #2
  • Pearl Gouramis are by nature, much less aggressive than Three Spot varieties but they can still defend themselves. Chances are the Pearl Gourami would be fine with a Dwarf Gourami, but a lot has to do with the size of the tank, hiding places, etc. I would think a Pearl would be chasing the Dwarf if anything.

    I would also think a Honey Gourami would be too small to go with either of the other Gouramis, but maybe I’m mistaken.

    What size tank are you keeping them in?


    Fish Fanatic
    • Jan 9, 2012
  • #3
  • Ruskull

    Bitter & Clinging.
    • Jan 9, 2012
  • #4
  • Nice! They should be very happy in a tank that size. Many folks get 2 or 3 of these types of Gouramis and cram them into a 10 gallon wondering why they have problems with aggression.

    I would put a lot of plants and assorted decorations so each can establish their own territory. If you’re still worried about aggression you can get a larger female Pearl to go with the smaller male Dwarf Gouramis. This way she’ll be able to hold her own.


    Fish Fanatic
    • Jan 9, 2012
  • #5
  • RedTail123

    Fish Fanatic
    • Jan 9, 2012
  • #6
  • LongS

    • Jan 9, 2012
  • #7
  • In my experience dwarf gouramis are a bit more aggressive than pearl and you might actually find the aggression stems from the dwarf. I haven’t actually kept them both at the same time so i can’t be certain, but you have a nice big tank there and with enough plants there will not be any problems i am pretty sure of that.

    Start with a single dwarf and see how it go’s. If the aggression isn’t a problem then maybe add another. Better than getting loads in at once only to find they won’t tolerate each other.

    Hows the flow in the tank?

    One more thing, dwarf gouramis are slightly notorious for being a bit short lived due to inbreeding and disease (but there are people who have no problems with theirs), so i would definitely quarantine before adding to the main set up.


    Bitter & Clinging.
    • Jan 9, 2012
  • #8
  • In my experience dwarf gouramis are a bit more aggressive than pearl and you might actually find the aggression stems from the dwarf. I haven’t actually kept them both at the same time so i can’t be certain, but you have a nice big tank there and with enough plants there will not be any problems i am pretty sure of that.

    Start with a single dwarf and see how it go’s. If the aggression isn’t a problem then maybe add another. Better than getting loads in at once only to find they won’t tolerate each other.

    Hows the flow in the tank?

    One more thing, dwarf gouramis are slightly notorious for being a bit short lived due to inbreeding and disease (but there are people who have no problems with theirs), so i would definitely quarantine before adding to the main set up.

    That’s some good advice right there. Add 1 at a time, these aren’t schooling fish so there’s no benefit to adding a bunch at once. You might be able to get away with 2 male Dwarf Gouramis & a single male Pearl but these fish should be kept at 1 male per 2 females. Try getting a female Pearl, wait a week or two & add another female or similar size. The reason for 2 females per male ratio is because it spreads out the attention/aggression between the two females giving one or the other a break.

    Finding 2 female Dwarf Gouramis might be a challenge since the local fish stores usually only have males because they’re the brightly colored ones.

    Published August 6, 2019
    Author: Mike – FishLore Admin
    Social Media:

    The Pearl Gourami has many different common names such as the Lace Gourami, the Leeri Gourami, etc. They are all referring to the same fish – Trichopodus leerii.

    How to care for a pearl gouramiHow to care for a pearl gourami

    For a gourami, the Pearl Gourami is considered peaceful and will share a tank with most community fish types. However, male pearls may fight with each other, especially if there are females in the tank and it’s spawning time. Be ready to use a tank divider or take the other males back to the store and only keep one male with the females in your tank. Even after doing this, the male may still harass the other female pearl gouramis. Take the appropriate action if this happens.

    The originate from swampy areas in Asia where the water can be on the acidic side of the pH scale. While it would be good to keep them in similar conditions you should know that they will tolerate a wide range of water parameters.

    They are a very nice looking fish with tons of tiny white “pearl” shapes dotting its body. There is a horizontal black bar that runs the length of the Pearl Gourami’s body. Males are easy to distinguish from females because they will develop a red breast and their dorsal fins will be longer.

    How to care for a pearl gouramiHow to care for a pearl gourami

    Feeding your gourami should pose no problems since they will eat nearly every sort of fish food you put in the tank. Give them a quality flake food and supplement with live or frozen freshwater fish cubes. Feeding live foods becomes even more important if you’re planning on breeding this beauty. If you’ve successfully bred livebearers you should find that this fish is not that much harder to breed assuming that you can acquire a male and female. Females seem to not be as commonly available at the fish store as the males.

    How to care for a pearl gouramiHow to care for a pearl gourami

    Pearl Gourami Care

    Scientific Name : Trichopodus leerii

    Common Name : Lace Gourami, Diamond Gourami, Leeri Gourami, Mosaic Gourami

    Care Level : Easy and hardy, good for freshwater beginners

    Size : 5 inches (13 cm)

    Temperature : 77°F – 82°F (25°C – 28°C)

    Water Hardness : 5° to 15° dH,

    Life span : 3 – 4 years and longer

    Origin / Habitat : Asia, Thailand, Indonesia

    Temperament / Behavior : Mostly peaceful but they may scrap with other gouramis. Males seem to be more aggressive than females.

    Breeding : The Pearl Gourami is a bubble nest builder. Increase the tank water to around 82°F (28°C), lower the water level a little and condition them with good foods (live foods and/or brine shrimp) for a couple of weeks. The male will build a bubble nest and then he will try to get the female to come over to his nest where he will wrap himself around her and she will release the fertilized eggs into the nest. He will then guard the nest. The eggs should hatch within a day or two and the fry should be swimming about 5 days later. Make sure you have fry foods ready – liquid fry food works well. You will want to move them to a grow out tank where you can perform frequent (daily) partial water changes.

    Aquarium Size : 29 gallon minimum

    Tank Mates : Peaceful most of the time, except for when the male pearls go after each other. Watch for signs of aggression and remove or separate as needed. They may also bicker with other gouramis.

    Fish Disease : Freshwater Fish Disease – Diagnose, Symptoms and Treatment

    Diet / Foods : This is not a picky fish. They will eat flakes just as quickly as they’ll eat live and frozen foods.

    Tank Region : Middle to top

    Gender : Relatively easy to determine. The male will develop a red breast and the male’s dorsal fin is longer. The red breast on the males should become even more visible as it nears spawning mode.

    How to care for a pearl gourami

    Air Breathers

    Gouramis are a group of fish in the families Osphronemidae, Helostomatidae and Anabantidae. They have a labyrinth organ that acts sort of like a lung, which allows them to breathe air at the surface. In nature this adaptation enables them to live in shallow, stagnant, oxygen-poor water. Some gouramis are mouthbrooders, and some make bubble nests at the surface to incubate their eggs until they hatch. Males are usually larger and have brighter colors and longer fins than females. Several species have been selectively bred for different colors and fancier fins.

    Natural Habitat for Gouramis

    Gouramis are found throughout eastern and southern Asia, from Pakistan through Thailand, Vietnam, the Malaysian Archipelago, China and as far north and east as Korea and Japan. They live in slow-moving rivers, swamps, marshes, canals, wetlands and temporary pools.

    Gourami’s Water Requirements

    Many gouramis are found in soft, acidic water in the wild, however the majority of aquarium species sold today are raised commercially in water that has a higher pH and alkalinity than their native environments, so they are very adaptable. pH should be between 6.8 and 7.8, alkalinity between 3° and 8° dkH (50 ppm to 140 ppm) and water temperature should remain between 75° and 80° F. If the aquarium is kept in rooms below 75°, use an Aqueon Aquarium Heate r to maintain the correct temperature. Maintain good filtration and change 10% of the water weekly or 25% every 2 weeks using an Aqueon Aquarium Water Changer or Siphon Vacuum Gravel Cleaner . Do not forget to treat tap water with Aqueon Water Conditioner before refilling your tank.

    Housing Requirements for Gouramis

    The size aquarium you need will depend on which species of gourami you want to keep. Sparkling, croaking, honey and dwarf gouramis can be kept in tanks as small as 10 gallons, while a 30-gallon aquarium or larger is recommended for pearl, blue, gold, opaline and moonlight gouramis, as well as paradise fish. Kissing gouramis get to be quite large and will need a 55-gallon tank or larger when full size. Osphronemus goramy, the “True” or Giant gourami, can grow to 24” and adults require an aquarium of 250 gallons or larger. Most gouramis are surface oriented, so having tall plants or ones that float at the surface help make them feel at home. They will be less stressed and show their best colors in a well decorated aquarium. Keep a secure lid on the aquarium to prevent them from jumping out.

    Gouramis Behavior/Compatibility

    Male gouramis have a tendency to be aggressive towards each other, so they should typically be kept individually. Female gouramis usually tolerate each other well. Mixing different species or color varieties of gouramis should only be done in larger, well decorated tanks. Remember that blue, three spot, opaline, gold and lavender gouramis are all the same fish – they have just been bred for different colors! Gouramis are slow moving and are best kept with similar sized fish that are not fin nippers or too active. Larger tetras, livebearers other than fancy guppies, peaceful barbs, most danios and angelfish, can all be good choices. Always consult an aquarium expert before buying any new fish for your aquarium.

    What do Gouramis Eat?

    Most gouramis are omnivorous and will thrive on Aqueon Tropical Flakes , Color Flakes , Tropical Granules and Shrimp Pellets . Kissing gouramis are more herbivorous and should be fed Aqueon Spirulina Flakes and Algae Rounds. Frozen and live foods can also be fed as treats or to help induce spawning. For best results, rotate their diet daily and feed only what they can consume in under 2 minutes, once or twice a day.

    Gouramis Breeding Level – Intermediate

    Many species of gouramis can be bred in captivity, but some effort is required to raise the fry to adulthood. Most species of gouramis sold in stores are bubble nest builders. After building a suitable nest at the surface, the male courts the female and a spawning ritual begins. As eggs are laid, the male retrieves them and deposits them in the nest, which he guards until they hatch. Males can become aggressive towards the females after spawning in an effort to guard the eggs from being eaten, and females may need to be removed.

    How to care for a pearl gourami

    Sexing fish is tricky but important. Finding the gender helps maintain a good ratio in the tank which ensures a peaceful environment and high breeding rate.

    Is your Pearl Gourami male or female? Female pearl gourami has a rounder and heavier body than the male. The fins on the male Pearl Gourami are longer, larger, and more angular than those of the female.

    Sexing the fish comes with a number of other questions too. There are more connected issues. Read on to clarify all such queries.

    Identifying gender

    Sexing Pearl Gourami is very easy due to their visible physical differences.

    Males and females have:

    • Different fin shapes
    • Different body shapes
    • Varying colors
    • Different behavior

    The females are rounder than males. If you look at the male and female side by side, you’ll notice that the female’s body has a rounder belly. Her dorsal fin will also have a rounder shape.

    The males, on the other hand, will be longer and slimmer in terms of body shape. Their dorsal fin will be longer than that of males. Their body shape is further elongated with the help of a pointier end on the dorsal fin.

    These easily noticeable features will help distinguish between males and female Pearl Gourami without a hassle. However, these features are only noticeable in adult fish. Other things to look out for include behavior and colors.

    The males are generally brighter in color than the females. During the breeding season, the males display even brighter hues. They usually get an orange or red spot near their neck. This allows them to attract females.

    As in the case of most fish species, the males of the Pearl Gourami family are also more aggressive than the females. If a fish is chasing around the others, this chaser is definitely a male. Similarly, if a group of fish is fighting, they are probably all males. Lastly, the males like to build a circle around an area in the aquarium using plants or by making bubbles. This happens mostly during the breeding season.

    How to tell if a Gourami is pregnant

    You may have spotted the females but you’ll need a few more indications to confirm if a female is pregnant or not.

    Here’s the deal: Gourami is not a livebearer fish type so technically, the fish aren’t pregnant.

    However, they do swell up before they lay eggs. The right term to use for that is to say that your fish is gravid. By spotting a gravid fish, you can provide an appropriate environment for egg hatching.

    The first indicator is that the fish are mating. If you notice a male and a female staying together a lot, with their bodies touching, they are probably mating. Now that you know of it, pay closer attention to the female.

    A gravid female will have a swollen belly, specifically in one spot that is towards the front end. The scales in this area will appear stretched. It may even look like the fish has swallowed something like a small stone.

    If you’re seeing bubble nests in your aquarium, that is also an indication of the breeding season. If a female is around this nest, she is probably gravid.

    Pearl Gourami Care – Tank Mates, Size, Lifespan (Video)


    After identifying the males and the females, the breeding process becomes much easier. Breeding Pearl Gourami is as easy as it can be. The fish basically do everything on their own. You just have to provide the right environment.

    The first requirement for breeding is that there is a couple. You can also put multiple females with one male.

    The right ratio is 1 male to 2 to 3 females.

    The male is usually dominant and will attract the females on his own. Most of the work has to be done by the male. You don’t have to provide any breeding box. The male will make a next using bubbles or sometimes, plants. This will give them the privacy they need for reproducing. You’ll know that the breeding was successful by noticing a swollen belly on the female.

    For the male to make the nest, you must provide appropriate surroundings. The tank should be in an ideal condition before you start expecting any new fish.

    Once the eggs have been laid, the male will take care of them. The eggs will hatch inside the nest that was built by the male. During the process of hatching, the male becomes very overprotective. It is recommended to remove the female from the nest if she doesn’t come out on her own. If this isn’t done, the male may kill the female to keep the eggs secure.

    Leave the male in the nest until the hatching actually begins. Once the new fry are born, there is a risk that the male might eat them. Leave the fry alone and let them grow into adults.

    Tank requirements

    Comfortable living space is necessary because:

    • It is vital for the health of Pearl Gourami
    • It encourages the process of breeding

    First of all, the tank shouldn’t be overcrowded. A 20-gallon tank is usually big enough. It should be long enough to provide enough swimming space. Pearl Gourami prefer calm waters therefore, steer clear of air stones and filters.

    The water in the tank should fulfill certain requirements. Do not add tap water directly in the tank. Old water is more preferable. The temperature should be maintained between 77 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit.

    Pearl Gourami prefer soft water. A pH between 5.5 and 7.5 is what works perfectly for them. Addition of plants is a must. Floating plants and loose branches of aquatic plants are a good option to consider.

    Types of Gourami fish

    Differentiating between the male and female Pearl Gourami was rather easy. But, differentiating between the different Gourami types is not that simple.

    Basically: Gourami is a very social fish family. These different types can be kept together in one tank without any worries.

    Dwarf Gourami is a famous pet fish type. It is easy to keep and much like the Pearl Gourami, it is peaceful too. These fish are very brightly colored. Only opt for them if you are an experienced aquarist. Lack of care can cause their death.

    Another famous Gourami type is Chocolate Gourami. Honey Gourami is another famous name in this family. They have similar requirements to the Pearl Gourami.

    Liquorice Gourami is a unique type in this family. It is brightly colored. The behavior of the fish is described as ‘unusual’ by experts.

    Related Questions

    Is gourami aggressive? Pearl Gourami are easy to keep fish. They are mostly peaceful and social in the tank. This behavior may change around the breeding season. The males become more competitive. If the male ratio in the tank is higher than average, you’ll notice a lot of aggression. If you want to avoid situations like these, provide a big enough tank with more females than males.

    Is a Pearl Gourami a Labyrinth fish? Yes, Pearl Gourami is a Labyrinth fish type. This means that other than absorbing oxygen from within the water, these fish can also directly breathe in the air. They go to the surface of the water to gulp in air.

    How to care for a pearl gouramiPearl Gourami Stats
    Minimum Tank Size: 20 Gallons (75 Litres)
    Care Level: Easy
    Water Conditions: 5.5-7.5 pH and Soft to Hard
    Temperature: 73-82 °F (24-28 °C)
    Maximum Size: 4.5 inches (12 cm)

    The Pearl Gourami (Trichopodus leerii), also known as the mosaic gourami and lace gourami, is widely known as being one of the easiest gouramis to care for. It is native to Malaysia, Sumatra, Borneo and Thailand, though its population appears to be on the decline in recent years.

    In the wild, it is primarily found in lowland swamps and coastal waterways and is most at home in heavily vegetated and shaded areas. Most of the waters it inhabits are acidic, but since the vast majority are now bred and raised on fish farms, they can tolerate a wider range of water types than wild caught fish could in the past.

    Pearl Gouramis stay relatively small in the home aquarium, and most will only grow to a maximum of 5 inches. The males are distinctive from the females, and they exhibit bright orange coloring around the throat region, which becomes more brilliant during breeding. Most will only live between 4-5 years in the home aquarium, though some exceptionally well cared for individuals have reached 8 or even 9 years of age.


    Pearl Gouramis have a well earned reputation as a hardy fish, and are undemanding when it comes to aquarium requirements. With that being said, they can exhibit signs of stress if they are kept in conditions that are too cramped for them. When considering a tank purely for a small group of pearl gouramis, a 20 gallon aquarium should really be viewed as the minimum size.

    Tank mates for pearl gouramis should be chosen with care, and any overly active or aggressive fish should be avoided. They tend to be peaceful and timid fish, so they will do well with most slow moving community fish. Because of this and their hardy nature, they are often seen in larger community tanks and are highly sought after.

    Any tank containing pearl gouramis should be heavily planted, and the fish will also appreciate subdued lighting and a dark colored substrate. The subdued lighting does not necessarily mean that you have to cut back on the tanks lighting, and can be achieved through a combination of floating plants and tall aquatic plants.

    I would strongly recommend choosing an Aquaclear Power Filter for a pearl gourami tank. This filter combines excellent filtration with a durable design, and it will keep your tank sparkling clear for years to come. You can also read the Aquarium Tidings Aquaclear Filter Review here.

    If you have a bit deeper pockets, you may also want to consider using a canister filter, though for pearl gouramis it tends to be overkill. Some people also use sponge filters in conjunction with HOB filters, which helps to provide the excellent water quality that tends to prevent disease in pearl gouramis.


    Pearl gouramis are ominvores, and consumer plant matter, algae, inveterbrates and worms in the wild. This diet should be replicated as closely as possible in the home aquarium, and can be accomplished through regular feedings of a high quality flake food, live or frozen foods and varied offerings of vegetables. I personally use Hikari Micro Wafers which is among the best prepared foods that you can feed to your fish.

    Some of the easiest live foods to provide are brine shrimp, black worms, mosquito larvae (illegal to culture in some areas) and daphnia. If you can’t provide them with live foods, then frozen foods are almost as good, and they will greedily accept frozen brine shrimp, blood worms, daphnia and blackworms.

    The vegetables that are most readily accepted by them are blanched zucchini and cucumber medallions, shelled peas and some people have reported success with lettuce and spinach, though I’ve never had success with my offerings.

    How to care for a pearl gouramiBreeding

    Breeding pearl gouramis is relatively easy, and will often occur with very little intervention. As with many fish, it’s important to first condition the fish for breeding through regular feedings of live or frozen foods. After about a week of this conditioning, most pearl gouramis will be ready for breeding.

    As previously stated, sexing your pearl gouramis will be simple, as the males have a bright orange stripe around their neck, which will brighten coinsiderably during breeding. The females will not have the orange stripe, and will also be noticeably plumper than the males as they fill up with eggs.

    To prepare their aquarium for breeding, the temperature should be raised to 80 degrees and numerous floating plants should be provided. Pearl gouramis are bubblenest builders, and will often use floating plants in the construction of their nests.

    Once breeding commences, the male will entice the female under his bubblenest, where he will wrap his body around hers as she lays the eggs. The male will catch the eggs as they begin to sink, and will place them in the bubblenest, one by one. Mating may occur each time, and the male will place the eggs in the bubblenest after each mating.

    After mating is complete, the male will set about guarding the bubblenest, and you may want to remove the female at this point. After around 3 days, the eggs will have hatched, and the fry will start to become free swimming. The male should be removed at this point, and attention should be given to feeding the fry.

    The fry should be fed three times a day, and will only accept infusoria or green water to begin with. They can then be moved onto baby brine shrimp, or commercially available fry foods. While it takes a bit more effort and planning, most aquarists prefer to use newly hatched brine shrimp.

    How to care for a pearl gourami

    Maksim Lobanov / Getty Images

    Native to Southern Asia from Pakistan to Korea, several species of the tropical freshwater Gourami are popular aquarium fish. It is also one of the easier egg laying fish to breed in an aquarium.

    Gourami care and breeding (spawning) requirements vary slightly from species to species, but most Gouramis have the same basic needs. If you are considering spawning your Gourami, learn the basic requirements, and then check the profile for your species to see if they have specific needs.

    Aquarium Setup and Tankmates

    Gouramis are relatively undemanding, and therefore are well suited for most community aquariums. Choose non-aggressive tankmates of similar size. Dwarf Cichlids are suitable, as are characins and other labyrinth fish. Because the males may be territorial, keep only one male Gourami in a tank. If space is large enough to allow each to claim its own territory, two may be tried.

    Fine to medium size substrate of neutral color is preferable. Optimum water temperature for most gourami species is 74–79 degrees Fahrenheit (24–26 degrees Celsius). The water pH should be neutral to slightly acidic, with low hardness. Plant the aquarium well with Cryptocoryne, Java Fern, Vallisneria or other sturdy aquatic vegetation.

    Gouramis will eat almost any food; however, it’s important to vary the diet to ensure balanced nutrition. A combination of dry flake food as well as frozen and fresh/live foods will provide a well-rounded diet. When conditioning fish prior to breeding, offer fresh vegetables such as lettuce, cooked peas, and spinach, as well as live foods such as blackworms, brine shrimp, and glass worms. All breeding specimens must be well-fed and healthy before moving them to a breeding tank.

    Breeding Tank

    The water level in the breeding tank should be six inches deep for breeding most gouramis. For larger species of gouramis, it may need to be slightly deeper. Lighting should be subdued, and the water temperature should be slowly increased for several days prior to spawning until it reaches 82-85 degrees. The water movement should be minimal so the bubble nest is not disturbed. A sponge filter is good to use for breeding tanks, as it won’t suck up the baby fish.

    All gourami fish are egg layers that build bubble nests for spawning and raising their young. Place some floating plants or other floating objects in the tank as most species of Gourami build bubble nests that are attached to these floating objects. Some experts use pieces of styrofoam as the floating platforms in the breeding tank.

    Carefully monitor all conditions of your tank, such as water temperature and pH, both before and after breeding. Also, make sure the tank has a lid. While the adult fish do not require this, the young fry are very sensitive to any temperature shifts.

    Selecting a Male and Female

    If you don’t already know the gender of your gouramis, examine them closely. Females usually have more rounded dorsal and anal fins while the male’s fins are more pointed at the rear edge. Females will often swell in width when they are carrying eggs. In some species, there may be distinct color differences between males and females. In any case, it is important to choose a healthy pair with a female that is clearly carrying eggs.

    Transferring a Breeding Pair

    Move your selected female to the breeding tank first, providing the fish a chance to acclimate and locate various hiding spots. After a day or so, you can move the male to the tank. Watch to make sure the female has places to hide, as this will be needed during the egg-laying process. If the male harasses the female to the point of causing scrapes or preventing the female’s hiding and seclusion, try adding a second female to the tank to distract the male.

    Breeding Process

    It may take several days for the fish to breed. In the meantime, if your species is one that builds a bubble nest, the male may be constructing it among the floating plants or objects. The male may even use a corner of the tank as an anchor for the bubble nest. When the nest is built and the female is ready to spawn, the male will wrap his body around hers under the nest and fertilize the eggs as she lays them.

    After the female lays eggs, which number in the hundreds or even thousands, the male will catch them in his mouth as they fall and the bring each egg individually to the bubble nest. If the species is not a bubble nest builder, the eggs will remain randomly distributed around the tank.

    The female should be removed very soon after laying as she may begin eating the eggs. The male should be left in the breeding tank, as it is the male’s duty to care for the nest and fry until they can swim freely. Once the fry are free-swimming, the male also can be removed. For species that do not form bubble nests, remove both parents immediately after spawning to prevent egg predation.

    Caring for Fry

    Initially, the fry will absorb their egg yolk sac for nutrition, but as soon as they are free swimming, you will need to begin providing nutrients. Begin by feeding specialized foods that are small enough for the tiny fry to consume. Options include liquid fish food, rotifers, or infusoria, all of which are available at aquarium stores. Feed the fry often, six times a day or more. Once the fish are larger, at about four to seven days, begin feeding baby brine shrimp. It will take several weeks for them to grow large enough to move to a normal aquarium.

    Make sure to keep the water clean. Just as you would in a normal aquarium, make partial water changes, but be careful not to scoop out the tiny fry by mistake. You will almost certainly end up with more surviving fish than you can keep yourself, so seek out people to buy or adopt. After a few weeks, when they appear able to eat standard fish food, you can move the young gourami to their larger home.

    Popular Gourami Species

    There are roughly a dozen species of gourami that are commonly seen in the aquarium trade. Several of them have more than one color morph, but are still the same species. Common gourami species include:

    Equipment needed for breeding pearl gouramis

    Pearl gourami general information and care

    Pearl gouramis are pinkish in colour with white dots on each scale that look like pearls. The males have longer dorsal fins and when mating the chest becomes reddish. They grow to 4.5 inches with the female slightly smaller. They make great community fish and are quite hardy. But watch rival males who might fight. They can be kept in most water conditions and will eat dry foods and live foods without hesitation. Water temperature of 77F is ideal.

    Breeding does not present a problem. Slightly acid and soft water is preferred for breeding but is not critical. They breed easily. However, the pearl gourami fry are difficult to raise.

    Preparing pearl gouramis for breeding

    Place your best pair of adults in the breeding tank. Move the two matured sponge filters with them. Observe if the male harasses the male. Put a partition between them if so. Raise the temperature to 82F and lower the water level to 6 inches deep. Feed well with high protein pellets, live food such as tubifex, blood worms and mosquito larvae. Make sure the worms are cleaned well before feeding to the fish. When the male has built his nest remove the partition to see if they breed. If not and the male harasses the female too much then put her behind the partition again and try 2 days later. Eventually they will show signs that they are both ready to breed.

    Pearl gourami breeding behaviour

    The male pearl gourami will create a large bubble nest amongst the floating plants or in a corner of the tank. Meanwhile the female will get plump. The male will get a red or orangey chest.

    The female will follow the male towards under the nest. Then the pair will twirl round each other until they get into the correct position. Then the male will embrace the female. The female will wriggle her tail until she releases her eggs. Then she goes still. A large batch of eggs, about 30-40, are released. The male fertilises these eggs as they are released. The eggs gently drift upwards towards the bubble nest. Meanwhile both male and female drift down. The male will then head to the nest to see if there are any stray eggs and put them in the nest.

    This whole process repeats many times for up to an hour. The female may lay several hundred eggs, maybe over 1000 is possible.

    Remove the female when she has finished laying eggs. The male will harass her and protect the nest.

    Raising pearl gourami fry

    The eggs will hatch after about 24 hours. Their tails will dangle down from the bubblenest. After another 4 days they will become free swimming and need to be fed. Remove the male as well at this point. Also try and cull as many as you can. There will be too many fry and the numbers must be reduced to benefit the survivors.

    The fry are quite small for such a large fish. They have to be fed with infusoria several times a day. Being a labyrinth fish you need to keep the air above the water moist and warm at all times. This is achieved by use of a tight fitting lid. Cling film is another option. Feeding can be by use of an air line hose to siphon infusoria into the tank. Water changes which should be 10% daily can also utilise an air line hose. The hose should be passed through a small hole in the lid.

    The fry may grow slowly at first and many may die unless they are well fed with plenty of water changes and kept in a larger tank. After 10 days to 2 weeks introduce some brine shrimp and microworms. Slowly phase out the infusoria. Keep up the water changes. With good care the fry may reach 2 inches at 3 months old. They can be sold at this size.