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Pearl Gourami: Care Guide, Varieties & Lifespan (With Pictures)

Sarah Psaradelis

By Sarah Psaradelis

Pearl gourami

The Pearl Gourami is a dazzling freshwater fish that livens up aquariums. These fish are relatively peaceful and easy to care for. They can be a great addition to various community aquariums if their conditions are ideal. Caring for a Pearl Gourami is relatively easy, which makes them suitable for both beginner and experienced fish keepers alike.

Although the Pearl Gourami is considered hardy and low-maintenance, they still require specific care to ensure that they can thrive.

Quick Facts About the Pearl Gourami

Species Name: Trichopodus leerii
Family: Osphronemidae
Care Level: Easy
Temperature: 72°F to 80°F
Temperament: Mellow, peaceful, semi-territorial
Color Form: Brownish-red, silver, white spots
Lifespan: 4 to 5 years
Size: 4 to 5 inches
Diet: Omnivore
Minimum Tank Size: 20 gallons
Tank Set-Up: Tropical, planted, spacious
Compatibility: Community aquariums

Pearl Gourami Overview

The Pearl Gourami (T. leerii) is a type of freshwater fish that belongs to the Osphronemidae family in the Trichopodus genus. They are native to Southeast Asian countries such as Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia. Pearl Gouramis were first described in 1852 by Pieter Bleeker, and the Pearl Gourami’s species name was derived from one of his medical colleges.

In their wild habitat, the Pearl Gourami prefers shallow and warm lowland swamps, lakes, and rivers. These bodies of water are slightly acidic and contain dense vegetation that the Pearl Gourami hides amongst. Pearl Gourami are relatively small fish that rarely grow larger than 5 inches in size. They are similar to the popular betta fish since both species are labyrinth fish. When their natural habitat starts to dry up or become inhabitable for most other fish species, Pearl Gourami use a labyrinth organ to breathe air from the surface of the water.

Although Pearl Gourami can survive in low-oxygen or poor water conditions, they still require a proper aquarium setup in captivity. Pearl Gourami don’t live for very long and even with proper care, they only live for around 5 years.

Pearl gourami (Trichopodus leerii)
Image Credit: Vladimir Wrangel, Shutterstock

How Much Does Pearl Gourami Cost?

Pearl Gourami does not cost very much. You can expect to spend between $5 to $25 for one Pearl Gourami. Since Pearl Gourami are not considered rare, they can be found in many different pet stores around the world. You can also purchase Pearl Gourami from breeders or online retailers. Regardless of where you purchase them from, they usually don’t cost more than $25.

Typical Behavior & Temperament

Pearl Gourami are generally considered to be peaceful fish that aren’t overly aggressive toward other fish. However, male gourami can become territorial and semi-aggressive during the spawning season. These behaviors usually pass within a few weeks.

These fish prefer to swim around the middle and top parts of an aquarium, and they rarely venture to the bottom unless they are searching for food. A healthy Pearl Gourami is going to be quite active, and they don’t spend much time hiding. This allows fish keepers to view their Pearl Gourami during the day and observe their fascinating behaviors.

There’s no doubt that Pearl Gourami are attractive fish, but they are quite unusual too. Pearl Gourami can vocalize by making a clicking or slight growling noises. They can do this because of their labyrinth organ, and presumably, most species of gourami can make these noises. You may notice that their vocalizations increase during feeding time or when males are trying to impress the females for spawning.

Pearl gourami Closeup (Trichopodus leerii)
Image Credit: Vladimir Wrangel, Shutterstock

Appearance & Varieties

The Pearl Gourami has a striking appearance that makes them a top choice for many new fish keepers. Pearl Gourami reach an adult size of 4 to 5 inches, with females growing slightly larger than males. They have a long dorsal fin, a single caudal fin, and an elongated anal fin. All Pearl Gourami have two long, tendril-like ventral fins that extend from their bodies. They use their ventral fins to navigate their environment and for sensory information.

A Pearl Gourami’s coloration is usually a silverish brown, but can sometimes appear as a deep red. They can sometimes have a mixture of oranges, blues, and reds along the bottom half of their bodies which makes them look vibrant. On top of their impressive coloration, Pearl Gourami have small white dots which allows them to stand out in an aquarium. The male Pearl Gourami is more colorful than the female.

How to Take Care of Pearl Gourami

Habitat, Tank Conditions & Setup

Pearl Gourami require a minimum tank size of 20 gallons. They should only be kept in rectangular fish tanks, and not tall ones or small aquaria like bowls and vases. Pearl Gourami need space to swim and explore their environment, and they are not ideal for nano aquariums. If you keep more than one Pearl Gourami in the tank or plan to add them to a community aquarium, ensure that the size is large enough to support all the inhabitants.

Water Quality & Conditions

Although they are hardy fish that can tolerate some fluctuation in water quality, good water quality is essential for your Pearl Gourami’s health. They are freshwater and tropical fish that require warm and slightly acidic waters. A heater is necessary for your Pearl Gourami’s aquarium and the temperature should be kept above 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

The pearl gourami in aquarium
Image Credit: Andrej Jakubik,Shutterstock
Temperature 75 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit
pH range 5 to 8
Ammonia 0 ppm
Nitrite 0 ppm
Nitrate below 20 ppm

Substrate

There are various substrates that you can use in your Pearl Gourami’s aquarium. Some of the most popular options are fine gravel or sandy substrates. You can also use a soil-like substrate that lowers the water pH if it is high. Those types of substrates are usually recommended for planted aquariums.

Plants

Pearl Gourami prefer planted aquariums because they have a lot of vegetation in their natural habitat. You ideally want to choose live plants that grow well under the same water conditions as Pearl Gourami. This includes plants like Hornwort, Amazon Swords, and even Java Moss.

Lighting

Lighting is essential for planted Pearl Gourami aquariums since the plants need light to grow. Pearl Gourami also require light during the day to create a day-and-night cycle. You can keep a low to moderately bright aquarium light on for 6 to 10 hours during the day. However, the lights will need to be turned off at night to let your Pearl Gourami rest.

Filtration

Your Pearl Gourami’s aquarium needs to be filtered continuously. This ensures that the water is kept moving and fresh, while your Pearl Gourami’s waste can be effectively processed. You ideally want to choose a filter that doesn’t produce a lot of movement since Pearl Gourami do not like strong currents in their aquarium.

pearl gourami in aquarium
Image Credit: Andrej Jakubik,Shutterstock

Are Pearl Gourami Good Tank Mates?

Pearl Gourami are often chosen for community aquariums because of their beauty and peaceful temperament. There are a range of different tank mates that are compatible with Pearl Gourami, but you should choose ones that have similar water requirements as them. Pearl Gourami can be kept in same-species groups of four or more. Having more females than males in the group is recommended to prevent breeding-related issues. Male Pearl Gourami may nip at fins and chase other males around the aquarium.

Suitable Tank Mates:
  • Ember tetras
  • Plecostomus
  • Corydoras
  • Kuhli loach
  • Cherry barbs
  • Neon tetras
  • Lemon tetra
  • Snails
Unsuitable Tank Mates:
  • Betta fish
  • Shrimp
  • African cichlids
  • Goldfish
  • Koi
  • Pufferfish
  • Arowana
  • Red-tailed sharks

You generally want to avoid housing Pearl Gourami with fish that have long and flowing fins. Pearl Gourami are prone to fin nipping which can damage other fish’s delicate fins. Overall, they make good tank mates for the right fish and invertebrates.

What to Feed Your Pearl Gourami

Pearl Gourami are omnivores and enjoy having variety in their diet. Your Pearl Gourami’s daily food should consist of flakes or pellets that are formulated for omnivorous fish. Their diet should be supplemented with various live foods like baby brine shrimp, insects, and bloodworms. Pearl Gourami can also eat blanched vegetables like zucchini, broccoli, and deshelled peas. Algae wafers are also a great food to feed Pearl Gourami. They naturally eat algae in the wild, so it is an important addition to their diets in captivity.

These fish generally eat anything, so it is important to not overfeed them. Only give your Pearl Gourami enough that they can eat within 3–5 minutes.

Pearl gourami Mosaic GouramiCloseup (Trichopodus leerii)
Image Credit: Vladimir Wrangel,Shutterstock

Keeping Your Pearl Gourami Healthy

Pearl Gourami are relatively healthy and hardy fish. They are prone to very few health issues which are typically caused by improper diet and water conditions. Pearl Gourami may be more susceptible to ich (white spot disease) if they are kept in cold water below 70 degrees Fahrenheit. It is important to keep your Pearl Gourami’s water warm using an aquarium heater. You will need to use a thermometer to monitor the temperature.

Keeping your Pearl Gourami healthy and happy involves maintaining their large aquariums, doing water changes when necessary, and testing the water regularly to check the ammonia and nitrite levels. Even the smallest traces of ammonia in the aquarium can be detrimental to your Pearl Gourami. The safest level of ammonia in their aquarium is 0 ppm. Pearl Gourami are more tolerant of higher levels of nitrates, which are safe up to 20 ppm.

Breeding

Pearl Gourami are sexually dimorphic, which makes it easier to determine between males and females. During the spawning season, male Pearl Gourami becomes more vibrantly colored. They develop an orange and red coloration above their anal fins. In males, their dorsal fin is pointier than in females. Female Pearl Gourami typically have a rounder body shape than males.

They are bubble nest builders and create foamy bubbles at the surface of the water. This is where they will deposit the eggs. To encourage your Pearl Gourami to breed, you will need to create an ideal environment for them. The temperature should be gradually raised between 78 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit, and you will need to do 10% to 20% water changes every few days.

The male will wrap himself around the female to squeeze out the eggs to be fertilized. Once the eggs are fertilized, the male Pearl Gourami will place them into the bubble nest.

pearl gourami in tank
Image Credit: Juan Carlos Palau Díaz, Pixabay

Are Pearl Gourami Suitable for Your Aquarium?

Pearl Gourami can adapt to various freshwater aquariums that are heated and planted. They are a great choice for community aquariums if they are kept with compatible tank mates and have a spacious tank. They are relatively peaceful fish, with males being slightly more aggressive during the spawning season.

Pearl Gourami require a filter in their aquarium, along with plants to shelter them and replicate their natural habitat. Once you have created an ideal environment for Pearl Gourami, they will thrive and coexist peacefully with other small and non-aggressive fish. They are relatively easy to maintain in aquariums and are more tolerant of slight temperature fluctuations than other tropical fish.


Featured Image Credit: NERYXCOM, Shutterstock

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