Pearl Gourami: The Ultimate Guide

By Nadine Oraby | 2020 Update

“I should pet some hardy fish species to polish my aquarist skills.”

I thought to myself while staring at my home aquarium that is filled with the little and peaceful fish. I suddenly developed this urge to keep a challenging species.

For this purpose, I looked for the little but difficult fish which can exist inside the home aquarium. I found this medium-sized stunner known as Pearl gourami. I had never heard of this fish before, so I dug out the complete details about this species.

For your ease, I have written down possible details about Pearl gourami in this Ultimate guide. I hope it is helpful for all those who are interested in keeping this breed as their pet.

This article is divided into many sections; each of them describing the different aspect of pearl gourami. You can go through all of them and read out what you need to know.

In the last part of this article, I have listed out some quality products from amazon.com which you can order for the best care of your pearl gourami

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


Chapter 1: Introduction to Pearl Gourami

Introduction to pearl gourami

Pearl gourami is a group of freshwater fish from Osphronemidae family Pearl gourami is a very charming fish but having it in a home aquarium can be a challenge. So, it is suitable for those who hold prior experience of fish keeping.

Origin

Pearl gouramis are native to Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and the islands of Borneo and Sumatra. They inhabit typically in acidic water at lowland swamps or shallow tropical waters. But you can discover them everywhere in the world as they are bred in captivity by fish keepers.

Appearance

They have a spectacular body which can grow to 4 to 5 inches in length. It would be unfair to deny their beauty. The presence of pearl shaped spots on their body enhances their charisma, that’s where they derived their name from. These sparkling spots make them distinguishable from other fish of the gourami family easily.

The body shape of this fish is elongated and compressed in the sides the same as other fish from this species.

Behavior

The behavior of all the gourami species is nearly the same. Pearl gouramis spend most of their time moving around in the middle and upper zone of the aquarium. They travel downwards to the surface of the aquarium occasionally.

It is a labyrinth fish that can take oxygen directly from air to breathe. They possess a unique organ which acts as their lungs and allows breathing out of the water.  This alteration enables them to survive in stagnant, shallow and oxygen-depleted water. You can also hear them growling or making noise while fighting or breeding.

They reproduce via spawning. During spawning, the male members get aggressive towards female and other fish who try to reach their incubation nests.

All Gourami fish incubate their eggs until they hatch. Some of them perform incubation by making a bubble nest at the water surface while some of them are mouth-brooders. The pearl gouramis belong to the first category. Fish from different species of gourami are bred together for the fancier fins and unique colors.

Other than that they have a peaceful nature and don’t fight with other tank mates.

Care

The average life-span of pearl gourami living in a home aquarium is up to 5 years depends on the care level. They require a medium care level to survive. They have an adaptive and peaceful nature. They can adapt the new water conditions easily which make them a good choice for the community tanks.

They are used to live in acidic water in wild. They will thrive in home aquarium if you keep them in soft acidic water. Keep the tank conditions like their natural habitat i.e. dark substrate, subdues lighting and floating plants. Do not keep them with over aggressive and bigger fish in the same tank.

Care guide

To give a good life to your pearl gourami, you need to be careful about several things. Following are some care tips for pearl gouramis:

  • Get a big size tank to keep pearl gourami.
  • It is essential to keep the aquarium clean by doing regular water changes
  • Due to the presence of natural plants inside the tank of pearl gouramis, there is a vital chance of algae growth. The fish feed on these algae but excess quantity is harmful. Clean the excess algae immediately.
  • Feed the adult fish twice a day and do not overfeed them
  • Install a filter for automatic recycle of tank water

Diseases of pearl gourami:

The fish can get disease due to many reasons. You cannot crash out the diseases completely but you can lower the chance of getting the disease by keeping them in a clean tank.

One of the most common diseases among pearl gouramis is fin-rot.  This is due to a bacterial infection that could cause discoloration and decay of the fins. Examine your fish careful to figure out if it is sick.

The bacteria grow when water is dirty and risk increases when the fins are already damaged. The fin-nipper fish can play a role in harming the fins of pearl gouramis. If your fish seems to have fin rot, do the water changes frequently and also add anti-bacterial medications to control the infection.

. Many other diseases Peal gouramis can fall sick due to other diseases like:

  • Ammonia poisoning
    The symptoms of this disease are red inflamed gills or panting for air
  • Dropsy
    It is a bacterial infection. The symptoms of this disease are raised and bloated scales
  • Ich
     The symptoms of this disease are White salt-like spots on the body
  • Fish fungus
    The symptom is the appearance of white fungus on body
  • Swim bladder disease

When the fish seems to have trouble in straight movement)

The other symptoms of sickness are laziness, lesser appetite, and discoloration of fins. The pearl gouramis can get physical damage while fighting which makes the fish more prone to catch the disease.

Keeping pearl gourami together

The pearl gouramis prefer living as a group of four or more. However, if you keep them in a pair or a single fish in an aquarium, they might feel lonely which leads to stress. But having friends around them would make them happy.

A group of pearl gouramis living together will intensify their body colors. So, it is a breathtaking view when they swim around the tank and play with each other.

One thing you must to consider for proper administration is the ratio to male and female fish in one tank. If there are more males then they’ll start fighting and hurting each other. It is recommended to keep one male to 3 females to maintain peace. With this ratio, you can successfully breed your fish.

Chapter 2: Types of Gourami

Gourami is the diversified family of small to large size fish. All of the species are remarkably attractive. Pearl gourami is one of the species of this family. Pearl gourami doesn’t have any additional types but it is closely related to other species of gourami family. Following are the types & basic attributes of well-known gourami species:

1: Blue gourami

This is a very well-known species of gourami family. The average length of this fish is 4 inches. It is also called three spot gourami and their color changes according to their mood. While spawning, their skin color darkens. The male members of this family don’t take each other well and start fighting.

2: Chocolate Gourami

This is very little yet pretty fish. Their average length is 1.75 inches. It is considered as a very difficult species to keep. They are extremely sensitive to water conditions. You cannot find them commonly available in the market.

3: Dwarf gourami

As the name suggests, this is a tiny fish. The average length is 2 inches. They are suitable to place in mini aquariums. They come in many unique hues from powder blue to sharp red. They are excellent fish to keep in a community tank as they are very social by nature.

4: Kissing gourami

This is a very popular species due to the special behavior of kissing each other. These fish are notorious for quarreling with other tank mates. They have sharp and small teeth which are used for eating purpose. The average length of kissing gourami is 2 inches.

5: Moonlight gourami

They have a distinctive body shape and silvery appearance. These fish have a very shy nature, so they prefer living in a tank with a lot of hiding spots. Their body length is larger than most of the other species. The average body length of an adult moonlight gourami is 6 inches.

6: Banded Gourami

They are also called rainbow gourami. They love eating vegetables. These fish have a calm nature and they can live with other tank mates who have the same size and behavior.

Special traits of pearl gouramis

Although the fish from the gourami family share the same habits and behavior, there are some key features of each species which make them different from each other. You can differentiate pearl gourami from other fish of the same family on the basis of:

  • Fin shape
  • Body Spots

Fin shape

These fish have delicate and large fins. The unique pattern of fins gives them an elegant look. Due to bigger fins, they are a target for fin-nipping fish. So, do not keep these two kinds together.

When they swim, a pair of ventral fins beneath them can be seen hanging. These fins are almost the size of the body. The ventral fins are thin and long which seems like feelers.

Body Spots

They have signature pearl-like spots on their body which helps in their identification. These spots are brownish in color and they sparkle. Their mouth is small in size and upturned. A thin black line runs horizontally over their body from mouth till tail.

It is easy to identify the gender of these fish. The adult male fish develops red colored breast and it gets brighter during mating. The dorsal fins of the male are longer than female.

Chapter 3 Feeding Pearl Gouramis

Natural feeding habit

For fish, people presume that typical fish food is alright to feed all of them. That is just a myth. There are infinite fish species and all of them have varying requirements according to their taste, inhabitant and nutritional needs.

It is important to pick up the right food for the pearl gouramis to keep them healthy and fit. Their growth and behavior depend on what you feed them.

These fish are not picky eaters; they accept almost all kind of foods. In wild they are omnivorous by nature and feed on algae, small insects, larvae or eggs. It is easy for them to fetch their food as they live near aquatic plants in wild.

Aquarium food for pearl gouramis

You do not need to feed them on just plants in a home aquarium. They will accept the usual fish food like flakes, frozen food, and pellet from aquarist stores. But the food should be small in size to fit in their tiny mouths.

Following are some suggestions on ideal food types for pearl gouramis in a home aquarium:

  • Live food like brine shrimp and worms
  • Algae-based pellets and flakes
  • Egg yolk and fresh vegetables

Live food is an excellent diet due to many reasons. Besides filling the belly, it enables the active mode of fish when it has to catch the food. Live food like black worms, glass worms, and brine shrimp will be a good treat for all of them and conditioning food for breeding pair.

For good health, feed fresh vegetables like zucchini, cooked peas, spinach and lettuce as varied diet once in a while. They can eat green vegetables very fondly. Cut the vegetable into small pieces and feed it to your pearl gouramis.

Feeding pattern

A right feeding patter estimates the following things:

  • Feeding timing
  • Feeding Portion

Feeding timings: Feed the adult fish twice a day with an appropriate amount to keep them in ideal condition. For the development of fry, you need to feed them several times a day.

Feeding portion: Do not overfeed them as they cannot digest it properly. Add an amount which they can eat in 5 minutes. When the fish doesn’t show interest in eating any more food, remove the excess food from the tank.

If you do not remove the food particles, they will decay inside and increase the water toxicity. You can lift the food particles which are floating in the water by using a fish net. Throw it in the bin or flush it down later.

Fry food

Initially, a newborn fry can feed on liquid food and powdered egg yolk. But you need to alter the food type once they are free swimmers. Even then, feed the powdered food or small food that is edible by them.

A fry can consume small sized fry food like rotifers, infusoria etc. which is easily available at pet stores. Feed them a size times a day for healthy and fast growth. After 4-7 days you can begin feeding them baby brine shrimps and micro-worms.

Chapter 4: Tank Requirements and Mates

In the wild, pearl gouramis are found in shallow rivers, lakes and lowland swamps. All of these habitats have certain qualities that make them a perfect living place for pearl gourami. All of them are depthless and have plenty of vegetation and plants. This allows the fish to conveniently move through the plants towards the surface for breathing in air.

The bottom surface would be a sandy substance with logs and rocks.

Tank conditions

To keep your pearl gourami in a happy mood, you should mimic the tank condition as their natural environment. Fish will stay comfortable inside such aquarium and the chances of stress-related problems decrease. To set up an ideal environment for pearl gourami, you need to add the following objects in an aquarium:

•    Sand on the bottom surface

•    Natural plants and vegetation

•    Tank decoration or accessories

Sand

Place gravel or sand at the bottom surface of the tank. They form a place for algae to grow. However, these fish rarely visit the bottom surface, most of the time they stay on the surface and in the middle of the tank.

Natural plants and vegetation

You also have to put natural plants and vegetation inside the tank to give your fish a homely feeling. They also fulfill their nutritional needs from plants like java fern & anacharis. Besides, these plants help in keeping the water clean.

Tank Decoration and accessories

Decorations are not crucial but they give an interesting look to the tank. But it is suggested to add the tank accessories and decoration which could render a hiding station for fish. Fish use these spaces while hiding from other tank-mates during a fight.

But you must add the floating objects/ decoration in a breeding tank. The male fish uses floating objects to adhere to the bubble nests safely.

Water conditions

The next thing is the water conditions. Naturally, they are found in acidic water but those which are bred in captivity can bear a much extensive pH range i.e. 6-8. The water temperature must be warmer as per the needs of pearl gourami. The temperature of 77-82°F would be fine. The hardness of water should be somewhere around 5-15dH.

Usually, the tap water can meet these requirements but you still need to check it before-hand. If your tap water doesn’t match the above-mentioned parameters of hardness and pH, then you can amend them accordingly.

Other than that, you must install just these two equipment inside the pearl gourami’s aquarium:

•    Heater

•    Water filter

Heater

A heater is required to maintain the warmness of water. A sudden change in water temperature is bad for your fish’s health.

Water filter

A water filter will sustain the gentle flow of tank water while removing the waste materials efficiently. Pearl gouramis are vulnerable to the bacterial diseases which occur by dirty water. Get a filter that is suitable as per your tank size and follow the instructions to install it properly.

Skip air pump in Pearl gourami’s tank

Some people install air pump for the oxygen and circulation of water but this is not necessary because of pearl gourami:

  • Prefers slow moving water
  • Can get the oxygen from the air. They move to the top surface of the tank for air, so make sure that there is a reasonable distance b/w the lid of the aquarium and surface of the water.

Tank size

Considering the requirements of pearl gourami a spacious tank size is needed for their happy survival. If you are keeping a group of 4 fish then at least a 30-gallon tank is required. For raising a large number of fry, a 15-20 gallon tank is required until they grow up. When the fry starts getting bigger, you need to place them in a bigger tank.

How many fish can be kept per gallon?

One pearl gourami needs a 6-gallon tank to live in perfect condition. This is an estimate though but it is better to under-stock rather than overcrowding.

Pearl gourami’s tank mates

These fish have a very calm nature which makes them an ideal candidate for community aquariums. So, it is clear that we have a lot of options to select the tank mates for pearl gouramis.

However, the best tank mates are fish which are small in size and peaceful like neon tetras and pearl danios. You can also add bigger fish if are not notorious as fighters.

Catfish and loaches are also safe addition. They usually stay at the bottom surface of the tank so they hardly interact with pearl gouramis. But still, you should prefer little and non-violent fish to maintain the peace inside the tank.

As long as the other breed is cool-minded and share similar water requirements, they can be good friends and tank mates of pearl gouramis. Some of the examples are the following:

  • Small tetras
  • Dwarf cichlids
  • Guppies
  • Platies
  • Danios
  • Hatchet fish
  • Swordtails

Another interesting fact is that tank mates for pearl gouramis are not restricted to other fish. Other water creatures like nerite snails and shrimps can also share the tank with these fish. Besides being tank mates, they offer several benefits e.g. they eat algae and keep the tank clean.

Incompatible tank mates

Any large and fighter fish will spread violence and stress out the pearl gouramis. They will lead the stressed fish to several health problems.

Fin-nipper fish like tiger barbs are strictly prohibited with pearl gouramis as they will target the delicate fins and damage them.

Chapter 5: Breeding Pearl Gouramis

These fish are easy to breed at home if you keep them in a suitable environment. Like other types of gouramis, pearl gouramis are also nest-builders and the nest size is relatively larger.  If you desire to breed your fish, then the first step is to determine the sex of fish and then choosing the breeding pair out of them.

Determination of gender

It is easy to distinguish males from females on the basis of the following:

  • Body color
  • Structure of fins
  • Body Shape
  • Behavior

Body Color

You can effortlessly identify the male fish by their coloration. The body color of male fish is more sparkling as compared to females. When the breeding season approaches, the male fish develops an effect of sharp red or orange color around the throat to seduce females.

Fin shape

You can also differentiate the male fish from a female by their fin shape. Male pearl gourami has longer fins as compared to the female fish. Also, the male fins are more angular and pointed.  The beautiful fins of pearl gouramis act like a magnet for nip finning fish.

Body shape

Both genders have slightly different body structure. The female fish has a round and heavy body while the male has a thinner body structure. Male fish has straight lines on angular bodies and females have curvy lines on rounded bodies. However, this difference is subtle and may take an expert eye to notice.

Behavior

You can tell the gender of pearl gourami on the basis of their behavior. Male has more aggressive nature than female. Almost every male member of the gourami family has this trait. Male fish scares off the female fish during spawning and they even start fighting with other male fish for no apparent reason.

When the fish breed, the male pearl gourami builds nests out of plant bits and bubbles. If you witness pearl gourami that is blowing bubbles at the corner of your tank, it is the male fish.

Setting up the breeding tank

These fish are egg layers and construct the bubble nests for the spawning process and protecting the fry.

Inside the breeding tank, the water level should be low i.e. 6-7 inches. To induce spawning, the lighting of the tank should be subdued and increase the temperature gradually until it gets considerably warm.

The water circulation should be minimal to keep the bubble nests safe. The rest of the environment should be like the standard tank for pearl gouramis. Install the floating objects or floating plants inside the breeding tank. These accessories are necessary to install as the fish use these spots to adhere to their bubble nests. Monitor the water conditions such as pH level and temperature of the breeding tank frequently.

Cover the tank with a lid to avoid the frequent change of water temperature as the young fry are very sensitive to the changes.

Transferring the breeding pair to the tank

Now you can identify the gender of your fish as per given instructions. Select one healthy male and female from the group of fish and shift them to the breeding tank.

Place the female pearl gouramis in the breeding tank first to allow her to acclimate and find the hiding spots. With a gap of one day, you can place the male fish inside the tank too. Before moving the male fish, make sure that female is settled down in the tank and has found the places to hide during the egg-laying process.

If the male gets aggressive during the breeding process, you may add another female fish to distract him.

The breeding process

The breeding process of pearl gourami in a home aquarium is a bit complicated and requires extra attention of the keeper. It is divided into the following sections:

  • Mating
  • Forming bubble nests
  • Spawning
  • Removal of female fish from the breeding tank
  • Birth of fry
  • Removal of male fish
  • Fry care

Mating

After moving into a breeding tank, a pair of pearl gouramis may take several days to mate.

Formation of bubble nests

After the female gets pregnant, the male fish starts building the bubble nest in a corner of the tank near floating plants. The bubbles are covered in salvia that gives them durability and they do not burst easily. The nest yields a secure shelter to deposit the eggs. In the wild, the bubbles are formed in shallow areas to keep them safe from predators

Spawning

The process of spawning starts when the female has laid the eggs. The number of eggs ranges from hundreds to thousands. After that, the male brings all these eggs to the bubble nest and of course, he is unable to carry each egg to the nest. So, very few eggs make it to the next step.

The female fish should be removed from breeding tank right after she lays eggs otherwise she may start eating eggs. Male parent fish can get aggressive towards the female after the spawning process in order to protect the eggs from getting eaten by them.

Birth of fry

The male parent fish must stay in the tank for the next step that is to take care of the nest until the fry is born and start swimming freely. The eggs hatch in 2 days and the fry start swimming after 3 days of birth. After that, the male can move out and shift with other fish.

Fry care

Raising fry is not an easy task. Only a few fry survive in the end of this process.

When the pearl gourami fry is capable of swimming on its own, they will take a few weeks to grow large enough to live with adult fish. Until then, taking care of the pearl gourami fry is the challenging task. Adult fish possess labyrinth organ to breathe but the fry has gills in the start and it depends on the water to get oxygen for breathing.

Attrition of fry can be very high during the first few weeks as many of them will grow slowly and their rapidly growing sibling will hunt them.

You need to take care of the nutritional needs of the fry since their birth. Start with liquid food and egg yolks to the newborn fry. Perform partial water changing of the tank in order to keep it clean & eliminate the wastes. Be careful that you do not scoop out the baby fish during the water change.

It is obvious that you will get enormous fry out of one pair of pearl gouramis. If you can take care of all of them then you may keep them. Otherwise, sell them or find them another owner but do not compromise on the quality of their life inside the home aquarium. The overpopulation will make it impossible for you to keep the tank clean. Due to excessive wastes, your fish can die or get sick.

You know your fry fish is ready to move out of the breeding tank into the larger one when they start accepting standard fish food.

Tips for successful breeding

Here is a quick guide to get the successful results from the breeding process of pearl gouramis:

  • Place both genders of pearl gourami in the same tank. Keep the ratio of 1 male to 3 females in the same tank.
  • Separate the fish which eats the eggs or fry
  • Feed the breeding pair with high-quality food
  • To prompt the spawning behavior, the trick of increasing water temperature works effectively but do not raise temperature higher than 82°F
  • The environment of the tank must be calm, clean and dirt-free.

Quality amazon products for your pearl gourami

We have picked out some amazing fish products on Amazon. Pamper your pearl gourami with these high-quality products. For your ease, you can be redirected to the website link of the given products by clicking on them. Happy shopping!

Floating Aquarium log

I found this amazing product for the pearl gourami’s tank on Amazon. This Zoo Med floating Aquarium log is best for all the aquatic creatures which need a comfortable and secure place for spawning on the water surface. Also, your fish can hide inside the caves of this floating object. It is medium weighted that do not sink in the water.

Aquarium water heater:

The pearl gourami requires warm water to survive in a home aquarium. Use Aqueon Pro Submersible Heater to maintain the water temperature. This product is shatterproof and unbreakable. It is a smart tool that turns itself on/off automatically according to the water temperature. Just set the temperature you want and leave the rest on this device.

Freeze live food

Feeding the fish is always a concern for the aquarists. If you are in search of live freeze food for the pearl gourami, then this product on Amazon is the best one. The freeze dried blood worms will fulfill the nutritional needs of your fish. They float on the surface of the water tank that is easy to catch for your pearl gourami.

Related Questions

Can I keep pearl gourami in a fish bowl? No, you cannot. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, pearl gourami cannot live alone. Second, a fishbowl is extremely small to adjust more than one pearl gourami. The fish will stress out in such a low space and due to loneliness which will ultimately kill it.

Should I keep the pearl gourami mother and fry in the same tank? The mother of this species has no maternal instincts. They will eat their own eggs after laying them. So, you cannot take the chance of keeping the mother in the same tank after she has laid eggs. Also, you should keep the fry in a separate tank from adult fish whether it is male or female.

Why is my pearl gourami making weird sounds? These fish make sounds while gulping air at the surface of the water. The male fish also makes a sound when it is in aggressive mode. The volume of these fish is hearable but it is very normal. So, nothing to worry about if your pearl gourami is talking to you.

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