Pearl Gourami Care Sheet: Tank Mates, Temperament, and More

The Pearl Gourami makes a beautiful addition to any fish tank.

They are well known for their stunning pearlescent appearance and peaceful temperament.

Because they are so easy-going, they are compatible with lots of other smaller fish including Tetras and Guppies.

On top of all that, they are easy to care for too!

Are you considering adding this pearlescent fish to your tank?

Keep reading to find out more about their origin, size, suitable tank mates and much more…

Trichopodus leerii

Pearl Gourami 101

The Pearl Gourami (Trichopodus leerii) is a graceful freshwater fish originating from the lowland waters of Asia.

They are from the Family Osphronemidae along with other popular fish such as the Giant and Dwarf Gourami. All the fish from this family have a labyrinth organ (anabantiform) which lets them breathe air.

Pearl Gouramis have risen in popularity because of their peaceful nature and low maintenance. They thrive in tanks with smaller tank mates such as Tetras and Danios and will glitter as they swim around the tank.

Their shoaling behavior only adds to their beauty.

Pearl Gouramis are a staple in fishkeeping and you can find them for around $5 each.

How Long Do Pearl Gouramis Live?

Pearl Gouramis have an average lifespan of roughly 4-5 years.

On some occasions they can live for up to 6 years.

Key Facts:

  • Experience Required: Beginner or Intermediate
  • Nickname: Mosaic Gourami, Diamond Gourami, Lace Gourami, Pearl Leeri Gourami
  • Color Forms: Cream and White spots
  • Size: 4-5 inches.
  • Tank Size: 30+ gallon.
  • Tank Temperature: 77-82°F.

Appearance

Pearl Gourami

The beauty of the Pearl Gourami is well known.

Their pearl-like spots cover the majority of their body except for the small region below their mouth.

These spots really glitter and shine in the light.

In addition to their pearlescent pattern they have a singular black line that runs horizontally from their mouth to the beginning of their caudal fin.

They grow to an average size of 4-5 inches (not including ventral fins).

Pearl Gouramis have a tall and thin body. Their flat and wide fins give them a flowing, graceful look.

If the mother of pearl look did not make these fish already distinctive, their ventral fins do. These antennae-looking appendages are modified pelvic fins that dangle just below their body and can reach the entire length of the fish.

To tell the difference between males and females all you need to do is look for a red coloration on the underside of their bodies running from the mouth to the end of their anal fin.

If you can see this then you are looking at a male.

The red coloration only brightens when mating, and it develops as they mature, so it can be more difficult to tell the difference as juveniles.

As juveniles the males will be slender, with longer, more pointed dorsal and anal fins.

Tank Mates for Pearl Gouramis

In the wild Pearl Gouramis are typically found with other peaceful fish.

Pearls are generally nonviolent so they should only be kept with other peaceful fish.

The best tank mates are other Pearl Gouramis.

They much prefer to be shoaling than to be kept on their own. You can keep 4-6 of them together, but make sure to keep a ratio of one male for several females. This will help you to manage mating season aggression.

Other good tank mates for Pearl Gouramis include:

Do not forget about algae cleaners. Pearls will not bother Shrimps or Snails, so you can consider some of these too.

You should keep Pearl Gouramis away from fin nippers, so this means Barbs like Tiger Barbs are not safe.

Avoid large (5+ inches) and boisterous fish too.

Stressors such as these can cause a lack of coloration in your Pearl.

Care Guide

Pearl Gouramis are very hardy and disease resistant.

You do not have much to worry about with your Pearl Gouramis, but there is one problem that runs rampant among Pearls and that is fin rot.

Fin rot can occur when the water quality is poor. This causes bacteria to proliferate and infect your fish, which results in decay and discoloration. Fin nippers increase the risk of fin rot by damaging fins. This allows the bacteria to take over, so definitely do not keep your Pearls with fin nippers.

There are antibacterial medications that can be added to the water.

To prevent fin rot you should maintain high water quality conditions.

Weekly water changes and basic test strips will tell you the pH, nitrate, and nitrite levels. If you do notice signs of fin rot, start increasing the frequency of your water changes and pay extra attention to the water quality.

Other than fin rot, diseases to look out for with Pearl Gouramis include Ich, Ammonia Poisoning, Fish fungus, and Swim Bladder Disease.

To prevent these diseases a regular care routine needs to be maintained.

This includes changing the water weekly or biweekly whilst also wiping down the sides of the tank or decorations to remove algae build-up. You also need to feed your Gourami a balanced omnivorous diet. Aside from the basic regular care, other care includes cleaning your filters, siphoning the substrate and trimming any plants you have in your tank.

Pearl Gouramis with Tetras

Diet

Pearl Gouramis are omnivores.

In the wild they eat lots of insects and protein rich foods such as eggs and algae.

Their natural environment is filled with plants, so if no prey comes their way they will happily nibble on nearby vegetation.

You can replicate their natural diet very easily as they will eat most fish foods you can buy at your local pet store.

Some good options include flakes and pellets.

They eat almost anything so do not be afraid to mix up their diet with some live foods. This will help stimulate their behaviors and maintain their beautiful coloring. Here are some of the best foods you can give them:

  • Flakes
  • Pellets
  • Black Worms
  • Bloodworms
  • Brine Shrimp
  • Glass Worms
  • Lettuce
  • Spinach
  • Peas
  • Zucchini

You want to aim for two or three small feedings per day. Give Pearl Gouramis enough that they can eat all the food in a few minutes. Initially monitor how much food they are eating and reduce the amount you give them if there is a lot left over. The last thing you want is uneaten food increasing ammonia levels within your tank.

Behavior and Temperament

The Pearl Gourami is peaceful and elegant.

They are shoaling fish and you will often find them schooling with other Pearl Gouramis. This can make a spectacular show within your aquarium.

With other species they are very shy, and they will rarely interact with other fish in your tank. Because of this they rarely get into fights. If another fish picks on them they are more likely to hide than retaliate.

Pearl Gouramis are not aggressive.

These Gouramis breathe at the surface of the water so they spend most of their time at the top of the tank. They are unlikely to hide and will swim freely almost all of the time. If you find your Pearl hiding or not going to the surface for air, there could be an underlying health problem or unsuitable tank mates.

A fun behavior to watch for is when they hunt for prey. Just like Archer Fish they will actually squirt their prey out of the air.

Pros

  • Compatible with many other smaller fish
  • Easy to breed
  • Low maintenance and hardy
  • School with other Pearl Gouramis
Cons

  • Cannot be kept with fish larger than 5 inches
  • Must have a planted tank
  • Can suffer from fin rot

Tank Set Up and Parameters

In Asia, Pearl Gouramis live in slow-moving freshwater such as lowland swamps, rivers and lakes.

These areas are known to be acidic but they are abundant with plant life, sand and rocks. You will also find the occasional driftwood, which forms caves or overhead shelter if it is on the surface.

As hardy as they are, your Pearls will be happiest with the following water conditions:

  • Temperature: 77-82°F
  • pH: 6.0-8.0
  • Water Hardness: 5-25 dGH

These are the closest parameters to their natural environment in Asia.

A 30 gallon tank is ideal for a group of 4 Pearl Gourami.

Each additional fish will need an additional 5 gallons each.

Although a filter is needed, you do not need to worry about a pump as they prefer calmer waters. A low flow will be ideal as it helps to oxygenate and circulate the water. They do not require too much light so keep lighting levels low at around 2-5 watts per gallon.

Equally important is the lid of the tank.

Because they have labyrinth organs they like to visit the surface of the water to take in air. You will need to leave at least a 3 inch gap between the water surface and the lid to provide a breathing space. The hood should fit tight in order for the air pocket to remain warm and humid.

Plants are a staple in the Pearl Gourami’s natural habitat.

Java Fern, Anacharis and Hornwort are all good choices.

Sand is ideal to further the natural look because this is what Pearl Gouramis are used to in the wild. You can use a fine-grained gravel if sand is not an option for you.

Gouramis typically do not make much use of caves, but rocks and driftwood can add a lot to your setup and are typically found in their natural environment.

Just keep in mind that these middle-top dwellers use a large amount of space for swimming, so prioritize swimming space over decorations.

Tank Parameter Requirement
Minimum Tank Size 30 Gallons
Tank Type Freshwater and planted
Temperature 77-82°F
pH 6.0-8.0
Hardness 5-25 dGH
Flow Light
Substrate Sandy

Breeding Pearl Gouramis

Pearl Gouramis are very easy to breed and they have a very unique breeding method.

They create bubble nests!

You will need to start by setting up a separate mating tank.

For the pair you will need a tank that is at least 15 gallons with a water level that should not exceed 12 inches. The water should be old with a hardness of 7dH, pH of 7 and a temperature of 80-89°F. You should decorate your spawning tank like their natural environment (see Tank Set Up).

It is also useful to cover the glass walls and place the tank in a quiet place; this will help make your Pearls feel safe enough to spawn.

When selecting a mating pair you should take young fish (8 months onwards) that are brightly colored, and look for bright red-breasted males. Keep your pair separated for a week whilst feeding them both a variety of live foods such as bloodworms and brine shrimp.

Place the male into the spawning tank first before introducing the female a few hours later. Do not feed them during this process. If they have not spawned within two days you can start to feed them small portions of live bloodworm.

The male will use his saliva to blow bubbles to the surface of the water. He will then coax the female just underneath the floating bubbles before they both simultaneously spawn. The female can lay up to 300 eggs which, once fertilized, will float toward the surface within the safety of the bubble nest.

Once spawning has occurred and the eggs are within the nest, remove the female from the tank as the male will attack her. He will tenaciously defend this nest against other fish looking for a meal.

After four days the eggs will hatch into free-swimming fry.

At this point you should return the male Pearl Gourami to their original tank.

You can feed the fry infusoria up to 6 times a day for the first few days before moving up to small brine shrimp at 4-7 days and finally fish flakes at one month. It takes several weeks for the fry to grow large enough to be introduced to your main tank. The fry will only be mature once they have reached around 3-4 inches in length and this will take several months.

History and First Sighting

The Pearl Gourami was first described by Bleeker (1852) but the story of their initial discovery is unknown.

We do know that they were found in southeast Asia including Thailand, Malaysia and the islands of Borneo and Sumatra. You may also locate them in the wild in Singapore and Colombia due to human intervention but they originate from Southeast Asia.

They were previously named Trichogaster leerii after a taxonomic misinterpretation by Myers in 1923.

Pearl Gouramis were more recently interpreted by Topfer and Schindler (2009) and Tan and Kottelat (2009) which led to their name change from Trichogaster to Trichopodus leerii.

How they arrived in the aquarium hobby is relatively unknown.

We do know that, because they are so easy to breed there are very few wild-caught specimens in the fishkeeping hobby. This is also due to their Near Threatened (NT) status on the IUCN Red List as populations are declining primarily as a result of habitat loss.

Summary

Pearl Gourami
Other Common Names: Mosaic Gourami, Diamond Gourami, Lace Gourami, Leeri Gourami
Scientific Name: Trichopodus leerii
Family Name: Osphronemidae
Distribution: Southeast Asia
Size: 4-5 inches
Color: Grey-blue with white spots
Care Level: Beginner/Intermediate
Temperament: Peaceful
Lifespan: 4-5 years
Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons
Tank Mate Compatibility: Very compatible with species smaller than them

Pearl Gouramis have been popular for quite some time.

They are easy to care for, compatible with lots of other tank mates, and stunning to watch when swimming.

Whether you need a slightly larger fish to accompany your smaller Tetras and Danios or just some beautiful fish for the top of your tank, you are sure to love these elegant fish.

Pearls are the perfect way to go!

After all, it is said that the pearl is the queen of all gems.

Let us know your questions in the comments section below…

David Thomas Author Bio Picture
David Thomas leads the team at Everything Fishkeeping as the Editor-in-Chief. David has been keeping fish since he was a child. In his first tank he kept goldfish and since then he has kept over 30 different species. Now he has 4 separate tanks and his favorite is a 100 gallon freshwater tank with a school of Rasboras, Tetras and Loaches.