While you may have heard of the fish species known as the gourami, the pearl gourami is making waves as one of the best freshwater fish species you can raise. This unique creature has a gorgeous appearance, with elegant white spots that cover its entire body. It’s lovely color and patterns make it one of the most beautiful freshwater species of fish you can find.
As if that was not enough, the pearl gourami is also relatively easy to care for. You don’t need to possess a lot of experience to care for this easygoing fish. Therefore, if you are a new fishkeeper, you don’t need to stress about accidentally making one of the more common beginning fishkeeping mistakes.
Interested in learning more? Continue reading for a thorough overview of how you can raise one of the best freshwater fish species – the pearl gourami.
Pearl Gourami Background
The pearl gourami belongs to a large family of fish and are known scientifically as Trichopodus leerii. These freshwater fish are from the family known as Osphronemidae, which includes several other types of gourami species, such as honey gouramis, dwarf varieties, and kissing types of gouramis.
These fish go by many monikers, including mosaic gourami, diamond gourami, and lace gourami. Usually, however, you will hear them being called pearl gourami, as this is the most common type.
These fish are native to southeast Asia, particularly to countries such as Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia. In these countries, they occupy tropical waters with lots of vegetation. They prefer acidic water. They are usually found in slow-moving freshwaters such as lowland rivers, swamps, and lakes.
Despite this native territory, pearl gouramis are found around the entire globe today. You can find them in just about any country because they are commonly bred in captivity specifically for the fishkeeping trade. While pearl gouramis are relatively easy to keep compared to other species of fish, you should know that they do have some demanding behaviors that you will need to contend with. Therefore, a little experience is best before tackling this species.
That being said, pearl gouramis are easy to find and affordable, available at most fish stores. You can usually purchase one for less than $5. A healthy and hardy fish, this beautiful creature can live for five years or more in captivity if the correct conditions are provided.
Pearl Gourami Appearance And Behavior
These fish are some of the most sought-after fish in the aquarium trade. They have an undeniable beauty that makes them a standout in any aquarium. Their bodies are covered in pearl-like spots – hence the name – and they also have a thin black bar that run along their sides.
Pearl gouramis are difficult to confuse with other species of gourami because of their colors, but they also have other distinguishing characteristics as well. For example, these fish have fins that are wide, large, and skinny. These fins give them a graceful appearance, but they also make the fish good candidates for fin-nipping fish. You will need to keep this tendency in mind when you are selecting the inhabitants of your tank.
Pearl gouramis also have unique pelvic fins. These hang beneath the fish and are very thin but just about as long as the rest of the body. Pearl gouramis usually only grow to five inches or so in length.
Females and males display a great deal of sexual dimorphism, with males developing prominent red breasts as they age. This breast becomes even redder as the fish readies for mating, and makes the pearl gourami one of the most beautiful fish you will find. Pearl gouramis also have long dorsal fins.
Pearl gouramis share common behaviors with many other species of gourami. Usually, they will spend their days swimming around the upper or middle levels of the water column. Occasionally, you might see your pearl gourami pop to the surface of the water. This is nothing to be concerned about. Gouramis will head to the top of the water to gasp at some oxygen. Most fish breathe using their gills, but some fish, like pearl gouramis, are also able to breathe through a labyrinth organ. This organ absorb oxygen directly from the air instead of from the water.
Pearl gouramis are relatively easy going creatures, but during spawning, they can become aggressive. Males tend to be the most aggressive and willbut smallover females and intimidate any fish that comes close. Otherwise, they are very peaceful and can get along with most other tankmates.
Pearl Gourami Tank And Water Requirements
In the wild, pearl gouramis need a habitat that has tons of vegetation and types of plants. The waters in which they tend to live are quite shallow, which allows the pearl gourami to move easily from the bottom of the water to the surface of the water for air.
They prefer a substrate that is sandy. They like plenty of structure, too, with decorations such as driftwood and rocks that allow them to form caves. They also like plenty of algae in the tank.
Try to make your tank similar to the pearl gourami’s natural habitat. This will reduce the potential for any health issues and will also make your fish feel right at home. You should us a sandy substrate, butsmall, narrow-grained gravel will also be suitable. Add plenty of plants to the tank, like anacharis and java fern. Live plants will help clean the water, and the pearl gourami will also nibble on your plants from time to time.
While decorations are not mandatory, they help add an element of interest to the tank and they also give your pearl gourami a place to hide. Your fish will be able to form caves from the decorations which are necessary, particularly if you have large or more aggressive fish.
You will want to make sure the water in your pearl gourami tank is relatively acidic. Even though pearl gouramis naturally prefer acidic waters, captive pearl gouramis can tolerate pH that is much broader, with an ideal range between 6 and 8. You should keep the water in your tank warm, ideally at a temperature between 77 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit, with a water hardness between 5 and 15 dH.
You don’t need to invest in a lot of expensive equipment for your tank. Besides a good heater, you will also need to add a filter to keep the water clean. This does not need to be fancy – it just needs to get the job done. You may also want to purchase an air pump, which will help to oxygenate and circulate the water. You don’t really need to do this specifically for the pearl gourami – you can add a pump if there are other fish in your tank who will benefit from it, but otherwise, pearl gourami prefer water to be calmer and will obtain their oxygen from the air, anyway.
To allow them to do this, just make sure there is plenty of room between the lid of the tank and the surface of the water. In other words, don’t overfill your tank with water. This will provide your pearl gourami with appropriate access to air.
Your fish will need a tank that is at least 30 gallons in volume. If you want to keep a small or large population of pearl gouramis, you may need a tank that is even larger. Generally, you need about six gallons for every fish you add. This should provide them with plenty of space to thrive. However, you are always better to understock your tank rather than to overcrowd it with too many pearl gouramis.
What Do Pearl Gouramis Eat?
For best results in keeping a pearl gourami, provide it with a healthy, nutritious diet. A poor diet can affect the health and growth of your fish and also make it more likely to contract unpleasant diseases.
Pearl gouramis are not picky and will eat just about anything you drop into the tank. As omnivores, they will eat both meat and plant-based foods. They might choose to munch on small insects, algae, eggs, or larvae. They are good at finding food in the aquatic plants among them, too.
Pearl gouramis will eat anything from flake food to pellet food – they even love live and frozen food. The only requirement is that it must be small enough to fit in its mouth! If you’re interested in watching some unique activities while the pearl gouramis are eating, feed them live foods. This will encourage new behaviors as the fish will have to work for their food. You might want to consider feeding foods like brine shrimp and glass worms.
You can even add fresh or frozen vegetables to the tank. Stick to green vegetables, like zucchini or spinach, and make sure you cut it into fine pieces. This is a healthy way to encourage your pearl gourami to eat new, delicious foods.
Feed your fish about two or three times a day. You should feed small portions every time and monitor your fish for any signs of overfeeding. Overfeeding can cause some serious digestive issues. Remember, only provide your fish with as much food as they can eat in a couple of minutes. Any remaining food should be removed from the tank so that it doesn’t deteriorate the quality of the water.
Pearl Gourami Tank Mates
Because pearl gouramis are peaceful fish, there aren’t too many limitations in terms of which fish you can add to your tank. As a result, they make excellent community fish. Ideally, you should choose peaceful small fish like neon tetras or pearl danios. Frankly, as long as you select fish with reputations for being safe, you can even add larger fish, too.
You might want to consider adding bottom dwellers. Y you will probably be okay with keeping more aggressive bottom-dwelling species since they usually won’t encounter the pearl gourami, but to be safe, opt for peaceful catfish and loaches like corydoras and yo-yo loaches.
Try to avoid keeping a massive or hyper fish in your tank. Even if they aren’t aggressive, their sheer size and activity level can cause significant stress to your fish and cause them to shy away from everyone else. They may hide more frequently and they can even develop discolorations and various health issues.
You should also avoid fish that have a tendency to nip the fins of other fish. An example is the tiger barb. This fish likes to chew on the delicate fins of the pearl gourami, and so is not a great choice for a community tank.
Remember, you can also keep pearl gouramis in groups of their own kind, too. In fact, this is preferred. While pearl gouramis can get by just fine on their own, they are much happier in groups of four or more. As social animals, they will exhibit endless displays of unique natural behaviors when they are kept in a shoal.
Keeping a shoaling group serves another benefit in that it allows you to really witness their gorgeous colors there’s nothing quite like watching a group of pearl gouramis moving together around the tank.
The only thing to keep in mind is that you will want to consider the gender of your pearl gouramis when housing a group in a tank. Try not to keep the percentage of males to females too high – this can lead to fighting. Ideally, you should keep one male for every two to three females.
Some other fish you may want to include are those that are peaceful and slow-moving, such as small tetras, guppies, swordtails, dwarf cichlids, platies, and hatchetfish. You can also keep shrimp or snails in your tank as well – your pearl gouramis should not bother them. Plus, these invertebrates can serve another purpose by helping to keep your tank free from algae!
Common Pearl Gourami Diseases
Pearl gourami aren’t prone to many diseases as a species, but they can be susceptible to the most common freshwater fish diseases. Do your best to prevent these by engaging in good preventive care. Provide your fish with a healthy diet and do your best to limit stress in its life. You can also clean the tank every week or two conducting partial water changes to keep the water quality fresh and good. Removing excess algae from the tank can also help keep these creatures healthy.
One of the most common diseases that can befall the pearl gourami is fin rot. This bacterial infection is common in many species of freshwater fish, particularly those kept in captivity. It can cause some serious problems, such as fin discoloration and decay. This bacteria is the most common when water quality has deteriorated.
Unfortunately, preexisting fin damage is a risk factor for this illness. If your pearl gourami already has fins that have been nipped, ripped, or otherwise damaged by other fish, it is more likely to contract fin rot. If fin rot becomes a problem in your tank, conduct water changes more often and consider adding an antibacterial medication.
Fin rot is not the only disease, sadly, that may affect your pearl gouramis. You might also find that your fish suffer from ammonia poisoning or dropsy. Ammonia poisoning causes red, swollen gills, and will encourage your fish to gasp for air at the surface of the water much more one thn is normal. This, too, is caused by poor water quality. Dropsy, on the other hand, is an indicator of bacterial infection and causes bloating and raised scales.
There are other parasitic and fungal diseases that may befall your fish tank, too. Ich is one of the most reported, causing miniscule white spots to appear on your fish’s scales. Fish fungus might look like cotton growing on the body of your fish, while swim bladder disease will make it a challenge for your fish to stay upright and swimming straight.
You may also notice other symptoms of disease in your fish, such as trouble swimming, reduced activity, fin discoloration, and loss of appetite. Watch your fish carefully and monitor for any signs of physical damage or illness. This can help you treat a disease long before it becomes a full-blown tank infestation.
Breeding And Life Spans Of Pearl Gouramis
If you’re interested in breeding your pearl gourami, you’re in luck – these fish are some of the most fun to breed. They are bubble nest builders, meaning the males will produce tons of bubbles, blowing them outward, while they look for a mate. These bubbles come to rest on the surface of the water.
Bubble nests are so much more than just a benign mating display. This collection of bubbles is coated in saliva, making them durable and a great place for a female to deposit her eggs. When pearl gouramis mate tin eh wild, they do this in very shallow waters, hoping that predators in the water will be too large to reach the eggs in the limited amount of water.
Pearl gouramis will court and spawn before releasing fertilized eggs. These eggs float up into the bubble nest, and the male will then spend the next few days defending the nest. Eggs take only a day or two to hatch, with fry beginning to swim at just five days of age. Fry do not develop a labyrinth organ until later in life, so they need well-oxygenated water to survive until they get a little bit older.
You can easily breed your own pearl gouramis at home. To do this, make sure you have both females and males in your tank. Pearl gouramis are relatively easy to sex, because males have the prominent red breast and long dorsal fins. Again, keep only one male to two or three females, which will reduce the likelihood of fighting and increase the chances of spawning.
If you have any fish that are known to eat eggs or fry, make sure you remove them before the breeding period commences. You will want to feed your pearl gouramis nutrient-rich, high-quality foods as they prepare to breed. You can also raise the temperature in your tank to encourage spawning behavior. Raise the temperature to about 82 degrees Fahrenheit, but try not to go any higher, as this can cause health problems. As always, keep your tank as clean as possible to discourage stress and any potential problems in mating.