Pearl Gourami: Care, Tank Size, Tank Mates, Size & More

Scientific NameTrichogaster leeri
Common Name(s)Pearl gourami
OriginThailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and other regions of Southeast Asia
Temperature Range75-86°F
Water ParametersKH 5-18, pH 6.5-8.0
Adult Size4.5in

Pearl Gourami Facts:

  • Like most gouramis, the male of the species is much more ornamental and brightly colored with orange accents.
  • Often considered the most beautiful of the gourami species.
  • They are hardy fish and are more tolerant of different water conditions than other gourami species.
Pearl gourami

The Pearl gourami (Trichopodus Leerii) is a species of fish native to Thailand, Malaysia, and the islands of Borneo and Sumatra. They are mainly found in lowland swamps near the sea where the acidic water is more to their liking. Though some have been introduced into Singapore and Columbia.

Pearl gourami are considered to be one of the more attractive species of gourami. They have the usual elongated body shape of other gouramis, but thin and long ventral fins which appear like long feelers that dangle while they swim. As well as a long horizontal black stripe that runs down along their length, starting at their mouth and ending at the dorsal fin.

On average, pearl gourami can range in size from 4 to 5 inches on body length. This does not count the length of their long ventral fins.

Their name comes from the small, white (pearl-like) dots which cover the majority of their bodies except for a small patch under the mouth. These dots create a very beautiful visual image and in some lights can almost seem to glow. This has also led to them often receiving the names diamond gourami, mosaic gourami, and lace gourami.

Aside from just being attractive, pearl gourami are also labyrinth fish. This means that they are capable of breathing by gulping in the air at the surface of the tank. Don’t be surprised if you hear your pearl gourami “talk” by vocalizing growling or croaking noises, especially when fighting or breeding.

Difference in Size Between Male and Female Pearl Gourami

Spotting the difference between male and female pearl gourami is rather easy. The males will have thinner and more angular bodies with slightly different fins. Males also possess a red-orange breast spot and will be more colorful in appearance. Also, you can distinguish them by the longer and more pointed dorsal fin.

What is a Labyrinth Fish?

A labyrinth fish has a special organ, called the labyrinth, that lets the fish breathe air from the surface of the water. It is a common adaptation in fish that live in locations that can become very low in oxygen.

The labyrinth has small maze-like compartments of thin plates called lamellae. These have membranes that are so thin they can allow oxygen to pass through. Blood in the membranes absorbs this oxygen and carries it throughout the body. As long as the fish remains moist it can stay alive in little or no water for an extended period of time.

The labyrinth organ develops as the fish grows to maturity and is not present from birth. Once they reach maturity, most labyrinth fish become unable to survive fully without drawing oxygen from the surface as their gills cannot fully support their oxygen needs.

Labyrinth fish are part of the family Anabantoidei. A family that includes over six dozen species. Mostly variants of bettas and gouramis. They are native to Africa and Southeast Asa in areas where the high temperatures and low waters cause a low level of oxygen saturation.

Pearl Gourami Care

Since pearl gourami live in lowland swamps, rivers, and lakes they are used to waters that are acidic and quite shallow. Including a large number of plants and varied vegetation.

It’s best to keep your tank fairly close to its natural environment.

The bottom of the tank should be mostly sand with rocks and logs sitting on the surface. Fine-grained gravel can also be used if desired. The pearl gourami tends to swim closer to the top of the tank for easy access to the surface air, so they are unlikely to damage themselves on the gravel surface.

Make certain to add a lot of plants to the tank. Live plants are best since they help to make the water cleaner. Pearl gourami are known to nibble on plants on occasion so synthetics are not advised. Hornwort is a common choice, as well as Brazilian waterweed. Other ideal choices are java fern and anacharis.

Decorations are not very necessary but can make the tank more aesthetic. Caves can work well and give the gourami a place to hide sometimes.

Other than a good heater, you will also need a good filter to clean the water. An air pump can be used to oxygenate the water, though it isn’t needed. Make sure there is a space between the surface of the water and the lid of the tank so the pearl gourami can get easy access to air.

Pearl Gourami Water Temperature

Pearl gourami are most comfortable in water temperatures between 77 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit.

Pearl Gourami pH Levels

Your tank’s pH levels should range between 6.5 to 8 while water hardness should be within 5-25 dH. Remember to keep your levels consistent as fluctuations in the water can stress out your fish or cause them harm.

Pearl Gourami Food & Diet

Pearl gouramis are an omnivorous species, which provides many different options for food choices. In the wild, they will eat small, protein-rich foods such as insects, eggs, larvae, and have also been known to nibble on the occasional plant. In your tank, the best food for them is a base of fish food pellets or flake food. It’s a good idea to also mix in some live foods for the high-quality protein it provides along with fresh vegetables.

Some possible options for live food are brine shrimp, bloodworms, blackworms, and glass worms. Good choices for vegetables are lettuce, cooked peas, as well as spinach.

Make sure not to overfeed them though, as pearl gourami will eat anything you put in your tank to the point of gorging themselves. Aim for two to three feedings per day, but watch while they eat to make sure they are consuming it. Dial back on the amount of food if you see they are not eating it all as uneaten food will become organic waste in the tank and pollute the water quality.

Pearl Gourami Tank Size

Pearl gourami are best kept in a tank of about 30 gallons. This will provide your fish with plenty of room to swim about and explore their tank. If you plan to have more than one you should consider adding 5 to 10 gallons to the tank per fish.

Pearl Gourami Breeding

Pearl gourami are what are known as “bubble nest” breeders. Meaning that the males blow bubbles as a precursor to mating. This “bubble nest” is covered in saliva to make it more durable and floats on the surface of the water. Providing a safe place for the female to deposit her eggs, in the hopes that a would-be predator would be too big to reach the shallow waters they inhabit.

Once the nest is completed the female will take a position beneath the nest while the male curves his body around her. The female will expel a few eggs at a time, at which point the male will release her, pick up the eggs in his mouth and then deposit them into the bubble nest. The process will repeat itself over and over until the female has laid all of her eggs.

Once done the male will patrol the nest to defend it from other fish seeking an easy meal.

After a day or two, the eggs will hatch and the young fry will start to swim about on their own at five days old. During this process the male will care for the fry, taking them in his mouth and spitting them back out into the nest if they fall out. The fry will need a good supply of oxygen in the water until their labyrinth organ develops and they can breathe air without just their gills.

In order to prepare the fish for breeding, it is best to begin by feeding them high-quality, protein-rich foods. Raise the temperature in the tank (no higher than 82 degrees Fahrenheit) and separate any fish that might prey on the fry.

It’s also best to only keep one male for every 2 to 3 females in the tank. Too many males will mean the fish will be more interested in fighting instead of spawning.

What are Bubble Nests?

Labyrinth fish are typically also bubble nest builders. Meaning males blow bubbles that stick together which will form a nest on the water’s surface. Size and thickness vary depending on the species and males have sometimes been observed creating bubble nests even without a female around to lay eggs. This is often a sign that the male is comfortable with his current habitat.

Rapidly moving water will make creating bubble nests difficult and hard to maintain so most labyrinth fish prefer low currents.

Pearl Gourami Diseases

Pearl gourami are durable fish that are not prone to any diseases that are unique to them. However, they do seem to have a special susceptibility to fin rot.

Fin rot is a bacterial infection in part of the fin. Usually, this results from an injury that has been infected. It usually starts at the very edges of the fin and works its way in. It can be treated with medication, but the best treatment is prevention. Make sure that your fish are not nipping at each other’s fins and be sure to keep the water quality high to prevent this disease from affecting them.

Pearl Gourami Tank Mates

Pearl gourami can be kept on their own, but they’re a social species and are much happier with others. A group of at least four will keep your fish happy and you’ll see a lot more natural behaviors from them.

Remember not to keep too many males in your tank at the same time unless you have enough females to accommodate them. 1 male to every 2 or 3 females is a good rule.

As far as other species of fish go, pearl gourami are very friendly and peaceful and can get along with a wide variety of tankmates. The best choices are small and peaceful fish like pearl danios or neon tetra. Larger fish can work as long as they are not types that are territorial or aggressive. As can bottom-feeders like catfish, since they’ll stay at the bottom of the tank and won’t interact with your gourami often.

Fish that like to nip fins are obviously a bad choice as well since the pearl gourami’s delicate fins will make them a target for attack.

Other good choices are dwarf cichlids, small tetra, guppies, platies, swordtails, red tail sharks, hatchet fish, shrimp, or snails.

Are Pearl Gourami and Angelfish Compatible as Tank Mates?

There is a little bit of back and forth on the subject of whether pearl gouramis and angelfish can make good tankmates. Some people claim that they have had problems with the angelfish picking on the gourami, but in general, the consensus is that the two can work together as tankmates overall.

Both species have similar requirements in terms of tank and water conditions and they are mostly peaceful. There may be some aggression from the male pearl gourami at breeding time so keep a careful eye on things.

Are Pearl Gourami and Betta Fish Compatible as Tank Mates?

Since bettas and gouramis belong to the same scientific family, some often ask if these two species can coexist together.  The short answer is no.

While they share the same family and both are very beautiful fish, bettas are very aggressive and territorial, especially towards others of their species. While gourami are not of the same species, they are close enough for most bettas to view them as rivals. A male betta will almost certainly attack your pearl gourami or vice versa.

If you absolutely must try and house these two species together you will need a very large tank filled with foliage. This will give both fish plenty of space and territory, as well as hiding places to keep out of each other’s sight. Even then you should keep a close eye on your fish as you may need to separate them.

Where to Find Pearl Gourami for Sale?

Pearl gourami are an easy-to-find species in most fish stores. They can also easily be found in online stores or private sellers. The price can range from between $8.00 to $12.00 US.