Pearl gouramis are prized for their dazzling looks and peaceful demeanor, making them a must-have for experienced aquarists.
They do have reasonably advanced care requirements, which makes them a little tough for beginners who are new to fishkeeping. But once you get their list of equipment down, you can easily look after them.
This pearl gourami care guide lays gives you the complete lowdown on making sure owning one is a walk in the park.
|Level of Care||Medium|
|Appearance||Unique oval shape with black stripes and brown flecks|
|Life Expectancy||Live for over 5 years|
|Size||Average length of 5 inches|
|Tank Size||30-gallon tank|
|Tank Environment||Lots of freshwater required along with freshwater|
|Tank Mates||Generally peaceful with other community fish|
Pearl Gourami Overview
Pearl gourami are a non-aggressive species that do well in heavily planted freshwater tanks. They come from a diverse group of gourami species, which comprise the Osphronemidae family.
Other names for these species include mosaic gourami and lace. Their natural habitats are low-lying swamps with acidic water, commonly found in different parts of Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand.
While these waters have low pH values, Pearl gouramis can thrive in a wide range of aquarium levels. One notable feature of the Pearl gourami is the presence of an organ known as labyrinth through which allows them to breathe outside air, meaning they will survive in fish tanks without much oxygen.
This quality makes Pearl gouramis the ideal choice for beginners. They’re tough as nails, look dazzling, and get along well with other species. Let’s explore more about them in this care guide.
Pearl Gourami Appearance
Their distinctive appearance will hold your attention for hours on end, as you admire those vivid patterns and oddly shaped fins. Pearl gouramis get their name from the white dots sprinkled throughout their bodies, covering the dorsal and caudal fins. The only place you won’t see these dots is on the underside of their mouth, which extends down to the belly.
These pearl-like dots look alive when the fish swim around, and if you look at just the right angles, you’ll notice a glittering effect. Another entrancing feature of the pearl gourami is a horizontal black stripe that starts from their mouth, runs down the middle of the body, and ends where the caudal fin starts. The depth of the darkness varies depending on how the rest of the fish is colored, but the line is always easily visible.
Pearl gouramis have flat, thin bodies that are long and tall. In pet stores and aquariums, Pearl gouramis will only reach a maximum of five inches in size.
They are a sexually dimorphic species, which means males and females have different appearances. Males are more colorful and larger in size than females.
Their throats develop a sharp orange or red color that becomes bright during the mating season. Specialists believe that the throat allows males to attract female pearl gouramis. Furthermore, males have longer, more pointed dorsal fins than female pearl gouramis.
Pearl Gourami Temperament
Pearl gouramis exhibit similar behaviors with other gourami species. While they’re mostly passive, Pearl gouramis have been known for becoming aggressive during the breeding season.
Males will fight over females and try to scare off any fish that comes near their nest. They have a mellow temperament for 90% of the time, this allows Pearl gourami to get along with all kinds of aquatic species.
Pearl gouramis enjoy surfacing every now and then to breathe in outside air thanks to the labyrinth organ. Because of this behavior, Pearl gouramis will spend most of their time occupying the upper levels of the aquarium.
Pearl Gouramis Tank Mates
Pearl gouramis are a passive species and will hang out with most freshwater fish without getting too territorial or aggressive. They can survive in a wide range of water conditions, giving you greater control over tank mates.
Pearl gourami are shoaling species, which means they prefer to swim in groups of their own. This is why expert aquarists recommend having a few of these fish if possible to lower their stress levels, not to mention the fact that a group of them will look even more stunning.
Pro Tip: You should keep more females than males to prevent aggression from males.
There are two things to keep in mind when selecting tank mates: i) the size of the fish and ii) the temperament of the fish.
A significant size difference between two fish will cause the smaller one to be stressed out and feel unsafe. As a result, your Pearl gourami will spend most of its time hiding in-between plants and decorations. This becomes all the more complicated since they like to head up to surface and breathe in air.
The second thing to keep in mind is the aggression. Any fish species that have hostile tendencies will not make a good tank mate for your Pearl gouramis.
Here is a list of ideal Pearl gourami tank mates:
- Panda Corydoras These armored catfish are peaceful and active in a tank. They are timid and don’t get into fights with other fish, making them perfect tank mates for pearl Gouramis. Panda Corydoras do well in acidic and soft water, making it easy to care for both species in the same tank.
- Kuhli Loach Kuhli loach are nocturnal species, which means they spend most of their time hiding in nooks and crannies. They are bottom feeders and enjoy sinking pellets. This makes for an ideal combination with Peal gouramis who rarely lurk to the bottom of the tank.
- Bristlenose Pleco These catfish varieties are small and work well with timid fish. They are not very active and spend most of their time lurking at the bottom of the tank or attached to the glass. The average length of a Bristlenose Pleco is about 5 inches but they don’t do well in small aquariums, we recommend at least 30 gallons if you’re interested in keeping them.
- Amano Shrimp Unlike dwarf shrimps, Amano shrimps are large enough to avoid being eaten or nipped. This also happens to be the case with Ghost Shrimps, but they’re a little more aggressive and could upset your Pearl gouramis. Amano shrimps are easy to provide for and thrive in a vegetable-based diet such as algae wafers, spinach, and zucchini.
- Mystery Snail Mystery snails are fun to watch and a useful addition to most tanks. They are small and leave your tank’s plants alone. Mystery snails are large enough to avoid being confused as prey and will do their part in keeping your tank clean by eating leftover foods. They also bring a lot of colors to your aquarium by adding white, blue, purple, and yellow.
- Harlequin Rasbora They are active fish that make a great choice for beginners who want to add more life to their aquarium without upsetting Pearl gouramis. These little creatures don’t need a very large tank and live in water conditions that Gouramis also enjoy.
- Glowlight Tetra Glowlight Tetra are peaceful schooling fish that are a good match for Pearl gouramis. They like similar tank parameters such as neutral to slightly acidic waters. They appreciate being kept in groups of their own kind; keep at least 8 Glowlights to keep them happy.
Tank Requirements and Conditions
In the wild, Pearl gouramis occupy slow-moving streams in rivers, lakes, and lowland swamps. These habitats share certain qualities that are ideal for gourami.
For starters, they live in shallow waters with dense vegetation for shade from the sun and protection from predators. This allows the gourami to easily move around the water and reach for the surface.
Your goal should be to mimic the natural habitat of the Pearl gourami, which isn’t that difficult. The tank should be at least 30 gallons, especially if you want to keep a small group of them.
They are a freshwater species, so the water needs to be kept at about 78 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. The water’s hardness levels should not exceed 15dH. You may need to buy a heater to regulate the temperature. Install a digital thermometer at an appreciably large distance away from the heater to record accurate readings.
To replicate their natural habitats, there are a few things you should add to the aquarium. Starting with plants. Pearl gourami originate from rivers that are rich in dense vegetation. You can find plenty of options, including Hornwort, Java Fern, and Java Moss.
Rocks are an easy and affordable way to make the tank look more authentic. Alternatively, you could add driftwood and logs to the tank if it has enough space.
You will also need to filter the tank to provide clean water. Some aquarists add aid pumps to oxygenate and circulate the water. This isn’t needed because Pearl gourami prefer slow-moving waters and will get their oxygen from the air.
Pearl Gourami Feeding Guide
Pearl gourami are omnivorous species, which means they’ll eat just about anything. Their diet will play a role in their behaviors and growth. In the wild, they’ve been observed to eat larvae, eggs, algae, and small insects.
They can also thrive on a source of plants. Pearl gourami will eat most fish foods that you can easily purchase from pet stores, such as frozen foods, flakes, live foods, and pellets. Just make sure the food is small enough to fit in their mouths.
Live food is good for their health because it brings out their basic hunting instincts since the Pearl gourami have to work for their food. Examples of live food include glass worms and brine shrimp. You can also add leftover vegetables from your pantry. Simply cut them into small pieces to make it easier for the fish to eat.
Feed your Pearl gourami at least 2 to 3 a day. Careful not to overfeed them otherwise it will overwhelm their digestive systems and disrupt the tank’s environment. Feed your Pearl gourami enough food that can be eaten in a few minutes. Once they’re done eating, remove any leftover food from the aquarium to prevent it from decaying and ruining the water’s quality.
Common Diseases that Affect Pearl Gourami
Pearl gourami fish are susceptible to parasitic and bacterial infections, diseases arising from aquatic contamination or unhygienic conditions, and sickness due to an imbalance of pH in the water (too acidic or too alkaline). Here is our round-up of the most common diseases that typically affect Pearl gourami.
i) Costia Infection
It affects moist freshwater fish species. The Peal gourami will develop cloudy patches on their skin, in some cases, you’ll notice discolored blotched under their scales. Dark blotches are a sign of infections caused by water contaminations.
ii) Fish Flukes
Fish flukes are parasitic flatworms that invade the fish’s body, gradually draining it of all the nutrients from its body, making the host weak and pale. In the case of fish flukes, the Pearl gourami will often rub against the surface of the tank and other hard surfaces, develop mucus over its gills and lose their color.
iii) Ich Disease
Ich is often caused by freshwater protozoa and is one of the most common diseases that affect Pearl gourami. It appears as grain-like spots on the skin and will show up as other signs of ill-health, such as loss of appetite, hiding in the bottom of the tank, rapid respiration, and the formation of dermal nodules.
If you notice Ich disease, it’s time to act fast because the infection will affect other freshwater fish as well. Remove the affected fish from the main tank and quarantine it in a separate tank until it recovers.
Pearl Gourami Breeding Guidelines
Pearl gourami are foam nest builders. Males will blow bubbles to court females, these bubbles float to the water’s surface. Pearl gouramis coat the bubbles in saliva to increase their durability and provide a safe place for females to deposit their eggs. In the wild, they deposit these bubbles in shallow waters to prevent predators from reaching the eggs.
Breeding pairs should be fed live shrimp or worms for conditioning. You should also add lots of floating plants in the tank to help them add more bubble nests. A breeding pair will display an attractive mating dance in which the male will try to lure the female. The mating process is repeated several times until the female has completed laying her eggs.
Once the mating process is complete, the fertilized eggs will be released into the bubble next. The male will spend the rest of the time guarding these eggs against other fish that may be looking to eat it.
The eggs hatch after 24 to 48 hours and the fry gains the ability to swim at five days old. Fry do not have a fully developed labyrinth organ to breathe in the air and will depend on their gills for oxygen-intake.
This makes it particularly important to maintain a high-quality tank and supply enough dissolved oxygen to keep the fry healthy.
Use the following tips to initiate spawning:
- The first step is to ensure you’ve got both males and females in the tank. Males are easy to identify because of their longer dorsal fins and a distinct brilliant-red breast. It is recommended to maintain a ratio of 1:3 in favor of females. Too many males will result in lots of in-fighting and could hurt their chances of breeding.
- Remove any fish from the tank that may interfere with the breeding process or try to eat the eggs.
- Provide the pair with high-quality foods and lots of protein.
- Raise the temperature of the tank to initiate spawning, you can increase the temperature up to 81 degrees Fahrenheit, but not higher.
- Ensure that the tank is clean for the best results.
How Big Do Pearl Gouramis Get?
Pearl gouramis are known for reaching a maximum length of 5 inches. Males will be typically larger than females and sport a more colorful appearance. Just because the average Pearl gourami size is small doesn’t mean you can get away with a small tank, you need a large enough tank that is at least 30 gallons or more (if you plan on breeding).
Are Pearl Gouramis Aggressive?
Pearl gouramis are peaceful species that don’t get into fights with other fish. They do exhibit aggressive behavior during the breeding season, especially when there are too many males in a single tank.
Where to buy Pearl Gourami?
Pearl gourami can be purchased from most pet stores, online stores, and internet forums. They are slightly more expensive than most freshwater fish species and will typically fetch a price of about $7 per fish.
Are Pearl Gourami the Right Fish for Your Tank?
Pearl gourami are attractive, resistant, and low-maintenance. It’s easy to breed them and increase their population. Their colors and patterns will add lots of flair to your tank and should be easy to look after by anyone who has kept fish in the pat.
Just make sure to add lots of vegetation to mimic their natural habitat. You have a lot of choices when it comes to adding tank mates, just make sure they are small enough and passive; however, do not add species known or nipping fins.
If you provide them with a healthy environment and provide them with enough nutrients, these fish will be worth your time.