Pearl Gourami

Pearl Gouramis are fascinating freshwater fish with their unique pearl-like patterns, which have gained them considerable popularity among aquarium hobbyists. These peaceful creatures require a moderate level of care, making them a splendid selection for community aquariums.

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Care DIfficulty


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Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia

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5 inches (12.5 cm)

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8 years

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Table of contents

Origin, Appearance, Size, and Lifespan

The Pearl Gourami, or Trichopodus leerii, often known as the Lace Gourami, is a well-liked freshwater fish originating from the warm freshwater habitats of Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia. These fish are commonly found in the slow-moving waters of swamps and marshes with dense vegetation. This thick vegetation serves as both a shelter and a food source, while the muddy substrates enhance their shimmering colors. These solitary fish are not schooling but prefer a peaceful coexistence with other species.

Their natural habitats have warm, slightly acidic to neutral water. The temperature typically ranges between 77 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit (25 to 28 degrees Celsius), with a pH level of 6.0 to 7.5, and water hardness between 5 to 15 dGH. To replicate a similar environment in your home aquarium, ensure a consistent water temperature, use an efficient filtration system, and include live plants and driftwood.

By closely imitating the Pearl Gourami's natural habitat and maintaining the appropriate water conditions, you'll be providing your fish with a healthy and content life in your home aquarium.

Pearl Gouramis are admired for their shimmering pearl-like spots that cover their bodies, complemented by a black line that runs from the fish's head to its tail. These unique patterns make them an attractive and standout feature in home aquariums. Despite their larger size, growing up to approximately 4 to 5 inches (10 to 12.5 cm) in length, their distinctive patterns and serene nature make them an ideal choice for those seeking a calming, visually striking aquatic display. These graceful fish captivate observers as they calmly navigate the tank, making them a much-loved choice among enthusiasts of all skill levels.

With appropriate care, Pearl Gouramis can have a lifespan of up to five to eight years. As peaceful beings, they thrive in a calm environment and are best kept with non-aggressive tank mates. To ensure their well-being and longevity in captivity, it's vital to provide a densely planted aquarium with plenty of hiding spots, along with a varied diet consisting of high-quality flakes, pellets, and live or frozen foods.

Fun Facts

Having acquainted ourselves with the appearance and lifespan of Pearl Gouramis, let's delve into some intriguing facts about these exquisite fish that set them apart in the aquarium hobby. From their distinctive pearl-like patterns to their tranquil demeanor, Pearl Gouramis are filled with charm and are bound to fascinate any aquarist.

  • Labyrinth Organ: Pearl Gouramis belong to the Anabantidae family, known for having a unique organ called the labyrinth organ. This organ allows them to breathe atmospheric air, enabling them to survive in oxygen-poor waters.
  • Significance of Color Patterns: The pearl-like patterns on Pearl Gouramis aren't just for show. They actually help the fish blend in with the water's surface, protecting them from potential predators.
  • Sexual Dimorphism: Pearl Gouramis exhibit distinct sexual dimorphism. Males boast a more vibrant orange-red color on the throat and belly, along with a pointed dorsal fin, while females are generally duller with a rounded dorsal fin.
  • Vocal Fish: Pearl Gouramis are one of the few "vocal" fish species. They produce a unique croaking sound during courtship and territorial disputes, which is made possible by their pectoral muscles' rapid contraction.
  • Bubble Nest Builders: Male Pearl Gouramis are bubble nest builders. During breeding, males create a nest of bubbles at the water surface where the fertilized eggs are deposited.

Armed with these interesting details about Pearl Gouramis, you can better appreciate their intricacies and charm in your aquarium. In the next section, we'll offer advice on tank setups, ensuring your Pearl Gouramis have a perfect environment to flourish and exhibit their remarkable features.

Recommended Tank Setups

Each setup comprises essential components—tank, filter, heater, lighting, substrate, and more—ensuring that you can establish a suitable environment for Pearl Gouramis and other compatible freshwater fish species in your aquarium. As you graduate from cost-effective to premium setups, you will also have more room for customization, aesthetic improvements, and advanced features. Pearl Gouramis are peaceful fish and should be kept in a well-decorated tank that provides them with plenty of hiding spots. Typically, Pearl Gouramis are priced between $5 and $10 per fish, although prices can differ based on factors such as size, quality, and availability.

Budget-friendly setup (around $200):

  • Tank: 30-gallon aquarium with a hood or glass canopy ($50 - $80)
  • Filter: Hang-on-back (HOB) or sponge filter rated for 30 gallons ($25 - $45)
  • Heater: 100-watt adjustable aquarium heater ($20 - $35)
  • Lighting: Basic LED aquarium light ($25 - $55)
  • Substrate: Affordable aquarium sand or small gravel ($15 - $25)
  • Decor: A few pieces of driftwood and rocks, along with low-cost live plants like Java Fern and Anubias ($25 - $45)
  • Fish: 1-2 Pearl Gouramis ($10 - $20)
  • Thermometer: $5 - $15
  • Substrate Vacuum: $15 - $30
  • Fish Net: $3 - $10
  • Algae Scraper or Magnetic Cleaner: $7 - $25
  • Siphon and Bucket: $20 - $35
  • Test Kit: $20 - $55
  • Fish Food: $7 - $25
  • Water Conditioner: $7 - $20

Mid-range setup (around $400 - $650):

  • Tank: 30-40 gallon aquarium with a hood or glass canopy ($70 - $130)
  • Filter: Canister filter or high-quality HOB filter rated for the tank size ($70 - $160)
  • Heater: 150-watt adjustable aquarium heater ($30 - $55)
  • Lighting: LED aquarium light with adjustable settings for plant growth and color enhancement ($60 - $160)
  • Substrate: Nutrient-rich aquarium substrate designed for planted tanks ($25 - $45)
  • Decor: A mix of driftwood, rocks, and live plants such as Amazon Swords, Java Fern, Anubias, and Cryptocoryne species ($50 - $90)
  • Fish: 2-4 Pearl Gouramis ($20 - $40)
  • Thermometer: $5 - $15
  • Substrate Vacuum: $15 - $30
  • Fish Net: $3 - $10
  • Algae Scraper or Magnetic Cleaner: $7 - $25
  • Siphon and Bucket: $20 - $35
  • Test Kit: $20 - $55
  • Fish Food: $7 - $25
  • Water Conditioner: $7 - $20

High-end setup (above $800):

  • Tank: 40-50 gallon rimless aquarium with a glass canopy ($140 - $270)
  • Filter: High-quality canister filter rated for the tank size ($120 - $260)
  • Heater: 200-watt adjustable aquarium heater with an external temperature controller ($45 - $85)
  • Lighting: Advanced LED lighting system with customizable settings for plant growth, color enhancement, and day/night cycles ($170 - $320)
  • Substrate: Premium aquarium substrate designed for planted tanks, with added root tabs for extra plant nutrition ($35 - $65)
  • Decor: A combination of driftwood, rocks, and live plants to create a natural aquascape, featuring plant species such as Amazon Swords, Java Fern, Anubias, Cryptocoryne species, and carpeting plants like Dwarf Hairgrass or Monte Carlo ($70 - $160)
  • Fish: 4-6 Pearl Gouramis ($30 - $60)
  • Thermometer: $5 - $15
  • Substrate Vacuum: $15 - $30
  • Fish Net: $3 - $10
  • Algae Scraper or Magnetic Cleaner: $7 - $25
  • Siphon and Bucket: $20 - $35
  • Test Kit: $20 - $55
  • Fish Food: $7 - $25
  • Water Conditioner: $7 - $20

Please remember that these figures are only suggestions, and you should take into account other aspects such as tank mates and individual fish temperaments when deciding how many Pearl Gouramis to keep in your aquarium. Prices may fluctuate depending on location, brand, and availability.

Set Up Your Tank

In the preceding section, we examined the ideal tank configurations for your Pearl Gouramis and other aquatic inhabitants. Now that you're armed with this knowledge, let's proceed to the sequential procedure of preparing your aquarium. This includes choosing a suitable location for your tank, cleaning and equipping the tank, initiating the water cycling process, and acclimating your Pearl Gouramis and other fish to their new environment. We'll also shed light on how to acclimate your new fish properly to avoid unnecessary stress. By adhering to these instructions, you'll set the stage for a vibrant underwater ecosystem where your fish can thrive.

  • Step #1: Identify an ideal spot for your aquarium. It should be away from direct sunlight, heat, and cold drafts. Make sure the selected spot is flat and robust enough to handle the weight of the filled tank. If a stand is needed, follow the manufacturer's guidelines to assemble it and position your empty aquarium on top.
  • Step #2: Proceed to clean the tank by rinsing it with fresh water (soap or detergents are not recommended) to get rid of any dust or loose particles. Use a clean, soft cloth or paper towel to dry the inside of the tank. Rinse the chosen substrate in a bucket repeatedly until the water appears clear, then layer it evenly at the bottom of the tank. Consider a gradual slope towards the back for a sense of depth.
  • Step #3: Before introducing water into the tank, preplan your aquarium's layout, including the positioning of equipment such as heaters and filters. This proactive step will ease future maintenance and setup. Install the heater and filter as per the instructions from the manufacturer. If you opt for a sponge or under-gravel filter, place it under the substrate before adding water.
  • Step #4: Embellish your tank with driftwood, rocks, and aquatic plants, creating natural hiding spots and an attractive environment, while ensuring sufficient open spaces for your fish to swim freely. Be mindful when arranging these elements to avoid damaging or obstructing the equipment. Plants can be anchored to driftwood or rocks for stability.
  • Step #5: Begin filling the tank with dechlorinated water if your tap water contains chlorine or chloramines. To avoid disturbing the substrate, place a clean plate or plastic bag on it while filling. When the tank is about 2/3 full, attach the aquarium light to the hood or canopy as per the manufacturer's instructions. Consider a timer for the light to maintain a consistent day/night cycle - vital for the wellbeing of your fish and plants. Connect the heater, filter, and any other equipment to a power source, and place the thermometer in a location that is easy to monitor.
  • Step #6: Complete filling the tank with water, leaving some space at the top for oxygen exchange. Switch on the filter, heater, and other equipment. Monitor and adjust the water temperature as required. Allow the tank to cycle for 4-6 weeks to establish a healthy population of beneficial bacteria and stabilize water parameters. During this period, you can introduce a bacterial starter culture to expedite the cycling process. Use an aquarium test kit to keep an eye on ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels.
  • Step #7: Once the tank has completed cycling and water parameters are stable, you can start acclimating your Pearl Gouramis and other fish to the tank's conditions. Start by floating the bag containing the fish in the tank for about 15-20 minutes to equalize the temperatures. Then, open the bag and gradually add small amounts of tank water every 5-10 minutes over the next 30-60 minutes, allowing your fish to slowly adapt to the new water chemistry. Use a net to gently move the fish from the bag to the tank, minimizing any undue stress or exposure to the bag's water.
  • Step #8: After all the fish have been introduced, establish a regular feeding regimen, providing premium food suitable for your particular fish species. Regularly change the water (20-30% every 1-2 weeks) and monitor the water parameters using a test kit to maintain a healthy environment for your fish. Keep a keen eye on your fish for any signs of stress or disease, especially during the initial weeks following introduction. Be ready to intervene if necessary, such as adjusting the water parameters or consulting an experienced aquarist.

By following this sequential guide and implementing the additional setup advice, you can establish a lively aquatic habitat that allows your Pearl Gouramis and other fish species to thrive in their new environment.

Recommended Water Parameters

The health and happiness of your Pearl Gouramis significantly depend on maintaining the appropriate water parameters in your aquarium. Here are the conditions you should strive for:

  • Temperature: Aim to keep the water between 77°F and 82°F (25°C and 28°C) for maximum comfort.
  • pH: Maintain a neutral to slightly acidic pH, ideally around 6.0 to 7.5.
  • Hardness: Pearl Gouramis prefer soft to moderately hard water, within the range of 4-15 dGH.
  • Ammonia, Nitrite, and Nitrate: As with all fish, ammonia and nitrite levels should always be at 0 ppm, with nitrate levels kept below 20 ppm.
  • Lighting: Moderate to bright lighting is acceptable, but make sure there are shaded areas where the fish can retreat.
  • Water movement: These fish prefer calm water, so try to minimize water flow in your tank.Regular testing and necessary water changes are important to keep the aquarium conditions stable.

Routine Water Maintenance

Regular water maintenance is crucial for the well-being of Pearl Gouramis. It helps to eliminate surplus nutrients, waste, and toxins. Here's a suggested routine:

  • Weekly water changes: Change about 20-30% of the tank water every week.
  • Test water parameters: Regularly monitor pH, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and hardness levels.
  • Use a gravel vacuum: This tool helps to clean the substrate during water changes.
  • Dechlorinate the water: Always treat tap water with a water conditioner before adding it to your aquarium.
  • Match temperature and pH: Ensure the new water matches the tank water in terms of temperature and pH.
  • Acclimate the fish: Allow your Pearl Gouramis time to adjust to new conditions following water changes.

Furthermore, ensure your fish's health and your aquarium's overall aesthetic by:

  • Monitoring lighting duration: Maintain a consistent 10-12 hour light period daily. Overexposure to light can cause excessive algae growth.
  • Plant maintenance: Regularly trim live plants to maintain their health and appearance. Remove any dead leaves or plant matter to prevent water quality issues.
  • Filter maintenance: Clean or replace the filter media as suggested by the manufacturer, usually every 4-6 weeks. Avoid replacing all filter media at once to prevent disrupting beneficial bacteria and causing water quality issues.‍

Diet and Feeding Schedule

Pearl Gouramis are omnivores and require a varied diet. Here are some feeding guidelines:

  • Flakes and pellets: Feed them high-quality flake or pellet food suitable for tropical fish.
  • Frozen and live foods: Treat your Pearl Gouramis with brine shrimp, bloodworms, or daphnia occasionally.
  • Vegetable matter: Provide blanched vegetables like spinach or peas for added nutrients.
  • Feeding frequency: Feed modest amounts once or twice a day, taking care not to overfeed.

Stress and Diseases

Pearl Gouramis may experience stress from various sources, such as poor water quality, aggression, or unsuitable tank conditions. Identifying and addressing these stressors is vital for your fish's health and well-being:

  • Watch for stress signs: Look for unusual behavior like hiding, lethargy, color loss, or rapid breathing in your Pearl Gouramis, which could indicate stress.
  • Check water quality: Test your aquarium water to ensure it meets the ideal parameters. Conduct regular water changes to maintain a healthy environment.
  • Monitor tank mates: Ensure that your Pearl Gouramis aren't being harassed or attacked by other fish. Remove any aggressive tank mates if necessary.
  • Create a suitable habitat: Make sure there are plenty of hiding spots, appropriate lighting, and a properly sized tank for your Pearl Gouramis.

While Pearl Gouramis are usually hardy, they can be susceptible to some common fish diseases, such as:

  • Ich (white spot disease): A common parasitic infection that causes white spots on the body and fins, lethargy, and appetite loss. Treat Ich with aquarium salt or anti-parasitic medication and raise the water temperature to around 86°F (30°C).
  • Fin rot: A bacterial infection that leads to frayed or discolored fins and tail. Treat fin rot with a partial water change, aquarium salt, and antibacterial medication.
  • Dropsy: A condition characterized by a swollen belly due to fluid retention, often caused by bacterial infection. Dropsy is usually a sign of a serious internal problem, and treatment can be challenging.
  • Swim bladder disease: A condition where fish have difficulty swimming upright. Treat swim bladder disease by fasting the fish and offering them blanched peas, and consider using an antibacterial medication if needed.

Prevent diseases in Pearl Gouramis by maintaining excellent water quality, avoiding overfeeding, and providing a balanced diet. Quarantine new fish before adding them to the main tank and promptly address any signs of illness.


Breeding Pearl Gouramis can be a rewarding experience with the right setup and conditions. Here are the steps:

  • Step #1: Set up a suitable breeding environment in a separate 20-gallon or larger tank, with a pH level of around 7.0, and a temperature of about 82°F (28°C). Maintain soft water and include floating plants for the fish to build their bubble nests.
  • Step #2: Choose healthy, mature male and female Pearl Gouramis for breeding. The males are more brightly colored and slender, while the females are duller and plumper.
  • Step #3: Feed the breeding pair a high-protein diet of live or frozen foods for several weeks to help them build strength and energy.
  • Step #4: Encourage spawning by introducing the pair to the breeding tank. The male will build a bubble nest among the floating plants. Once the nest is ready, the male will entice the female underneath it to spawn.
  • Step #5: After spawning, the male will chase the female away from the nest. At this point, it's best to remove the female from the tank as the male can become aggressive. The male will guard the eggs until they hatch in 24-48 hours.
  • Step #6: Once the fry are free-swimming, remove the male from the tank. Feed the fry infusoria or liquid fry food initially, then gradually introduce crushed flake food.
  • Step #7: Keep an eye on the growth and development of the fry, and separate them by size if needed to prevent larger fry from preying on smaller ones.

Breeding Pearl Gouramis can be a rewarding experience with patience and the right conditions.

Recommended Tank Mates

Here are the top 10 recommended tank mates for Pearl Gouramis:

  • Harlequin Rasboras
  • Corydoras Catfish
  • Zebra Danios
  • Platies
  • Mollies
  • Swordtails
  • Tetras
  • Plecos
  • Ghost Shrimp
  • Nerite Snails

Avoid housing Pearl Gouramis with aggressive or larger species like certain types of Cichlids, Oscars, and larger Catfish, as they may bully or harm the Gouramis. Always monitor the behavior of new tank mates to ensure they are not causing stress or aggression towards the Pearl Gouramis.


In summary, Pearl Gouramis are an alluring species of freshwater fish known for their distinctive patterns and relatively easy care. These fish require specific water conditions, a diverse diet, and an appropriate environment to thrive in captivity. With proper care, they can live up to five to eight years and serve as a fantastic addition to any aquarium. When choosing tank mates, it's essential to select peaceful and non-aggressive species to maintain a harmonious community. Breeding Pearl Gouramis can be a rewarding venture for advanced aquarists, and patience alongside ideal conditions are key factors for success. Overall, Pearl Gouramis are a visually striking and dynamic species that can enrich any aquatic setup with their unique patterns and serene behavior.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the ideal tank size for Pearl Gouramis?

A 30-gallon tank is the minimum recommended size for housing Pearl Gouramis. This gives them ample swimming space and helps in maintaining stable water conditions.

How many Pearl Gouramis should be kept together?

Pearl Gouramis are generally peaceful and can be kept singly or in pairs. However, keeping a group is not recommended as males can become territorial with each other.

What water parameters do Pearl Gouramis require?

Pearl Gouramis prefer water temperatures between 77°F and 82°F (25°C and 28°C), a pH between 6.0 and 8.0, and moderately hard water with a hardness between 5 and 15 dGH.

What do Pearl Gouramis eat?

Pearl Gouramis are omnivorous and enjoy a varied diet. They can be fed high-quality flake or pellet food, supplemented with live or frozen foods like daphnia, brine shrimp, and bloodworms.

Are Pearl Gouramis compatible with other fish?

Yes, Pearl Gouramis are generally peaceful and can live with other similar-sized, non-aggressive fish species. Ideal tank mates include tetras, rasboras, and corydoras catfish.

How can I differentiate between male and female Pearl Gouramis?

Male Pearl Gouramis have a brighter color and a more pointed dorsal fin, whereas females have a duller color and a rounded dorsal fin.

How long do Pearl Gouramis live?

With optimal care and tank conditions, Pearl Gouramis can live for 5 to 8 years.

How do I breed Pearl Gouramis?

Breeding Pearl Gouramis requires specific water conditions and a separate breeding tank. The males build a bubble nest for the eggs, and after spawning, it's advisable to remove the female from the tank to prevent aggression from the male.

Do Pearl Gouramis require a planted tank?

While they can survive in a non-planted tank, Pearl Gouramis prefer a well-planted aquarium. Live plants provide hiding spots, contribute to healthier water conditions, and mimic their natural habitat more closely.

Can Pearl Gouramis change color?

Yes, Pearl Gouramis can change color in response to various factors such as stress, disease, or changes in water conditions. If you notice your Pearl Gouramis showing color loss, it's crucial to check the water parameters and monitor their health closely.