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Pearl Gouramis: A Complete Care Guide (Diet, Tank & More)

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The pearl gourami is a beautiful fish that will add elegance to any freshwater aquarium. They are very peaceful and are great in a community tank. 

Pearl gouramis are unique in coloration and the most popular of the gouramis in freshwater tanks. This care guide will ensure these beautiful fish are thriving in your home.

Pearl Gourami Care Guide

Common Names:Lace gourami, diamond gourami, or mosaic gourami
Scientific Name:Trichopodus Leerii
Adult Size:4-5 inches
Minimum Tank Size:30 Gallons
Pearl gourami (Trichopodus leerii)

The pearl gourami is a popular freshwater aquarium fish due to its distinct sheen coloration. They are peaceful additions to your tank and grow up to 5 inches. They are tropical fish and require a minimum tank size of 30 gallons.

Appearance, Temperament & Lifespan


These friendly gouramis behave similarly to other gourami species. They also spend the majority of their time swimming around in the mid-level of the tank. 

However, you may see them heading to the surface of the tank. This is because, unlike most fish that breathe using gills, the pearl gourami breathes through a labyrinth organ.

This organ takes oxygen from the air rather than through water.

Although these are very peaceful fish, this isn’t fully the case during spawning. This is when they become aggressive.

The male pearl gourami will become the most aggressive, as they fight over females and defend the nest. With that being said, they return to their peaceful demeanor after spawning. 

During spawning time, it is recommended to have a separate breeding tank to avoid the territorial and aggressive tendencies of these fish. This will ensure other species do not end up getting hurt. 


The pearl gourami can be easily distinguished from other gourami species by their fins and size. The pearl gourami can grow to about 4-5 inches. They also have large thin fins which are nearly as long as their bodies.

Colors and Markings

Pearl gourami (
Trichopodus leerii

Gouramis are a popular group of freshwater aquarium fish, but since the pearl gourami has distinct markings, it is the most popular gourami.

They have a sheen to them along with stunning pearl-white markings across their whole body. 

On top of this, they also have a thin black line that runs along the side of their body. They also have wider, large thin fins that add to their side adding to their elegant looks.

This makes them a captivating addition to your freshwater home aquarium. 

Gender Differences

Unlike other species of fish, with this species, it is easy to tell the difference between males and females. Although both have beautiful pearl-like appearances the male will start to develop red breasts as they mature. 

When they are mating this red color is more prominent and bright. The males also have a longer dorsal fin than the females.

Lastly, the male pearl gourami is more thin and angular, whereas the females tend to have more round and heavy-set bodies. 


With the proper care and ideal living conditions, as well as a proper diet, the pearl gourami can live between 7-9 years.

However, in the wild, they only live between 4-5 years. Again this is dependent on genetics and if they are well cared for.

Diet & Feeding

Even though pearl gouramis are not picky eaters and will eat anything that they come across, it is important to give them a healthy diet.

The diet that you provide your pearl gourami can affect their behavior and even their growth.

Pearl gouramis are omnivores and in the wild will eat small insects, eggs, and algae. They will also eat most fish food such as flakes, pellets, and live and frozen foods.

Good options for live food for the pearl gourami include glass worms or brine shrimp.

A good way to change their diet is by adding some green vegetables, such as zucchini. This will keep them curious when it comes to their food and give them a boost of vitamins.

If giving zucchini, make sure they are cut up into small pieces to ensure the fish does not choke. 

To not overload their digestive system when feeding, it is also best to feed pearl gouramis in smaller amounts two to three times.

Only give them what they can eat within a few minutes and then remove any excess food to prevent changes in your water quality due to the decay of this waste.

Pearl Gourami Tank Mates

Even though the pearl gourami is a peaceful fish and is also a great addition to community tanks,  there are some different species you will want to avoid mixing pearl gouramis with.

With that being said, there are still vast options for suitable tank mates that have similar temperaments. They can be mixed with small peaceful fish, and even some larger ones as well.

Some great options for tank mates for pearl gourami include:

  • Pearl Danios
  • Neon Tetras
  • Swordtails
  • Guppies
  • Platies
  • Dwarf Cichlids

Other great options for tank mates are catfish, loaches, or even shrimps. These examples tend to stay near the bottom of the tank while pearl gouramis stay mid to high up levels of the tank.

As mentioned previously, the pearl gourami has large thin fins that can make easy targets, so it is best to avoid a species that are known as “fin nippers”. Tiger barbs are a good example of a fin nipper. 

Even though you can mix the pearl gourami with bigger fish that are not aggressive or territorial, you need to be mindful of the behaviors of the larger fish.

If a larger fish is very active this can cause stress in the pearl gourami. When this happens, the pearl gourami will hide and can turn pale in color from the stress. Unfortunately,  they may also die as well.

Having a sole tank of pearl gouramis is also a great option. This is because they are very social fish. They do well in groups of at least four pearl gouramis together and there are benefits in doing so. 

When keeping a shoal of them, their colors will become more vibrant in a group setting. Also, when you have a shoal you will witness a lot more of their natural behaviors than you would see in the wild.

Since the male can become aggressive during breeding times, it is best to have one male in the group with the rest females. 

Tank Setup & Tank Conditions

For your pearl gourami fish to thrive and live a healthy life, you will want to make sure that you have the ideal water parameters, a great tank setup, as well as adequate space for them to grow and swim. 

A 30-gallon tank is a minimum size if you plan to have a small group of pearl gouramis. It is best to have around 6 gallons of water for every pearl gourami. This gives them ample room to swim and will allow them to not feel overcrowded.

Like with most species of fish, for your pearl gourami to thrive and be healthy, you will want to set up your tank to replicate their natural environment.

Below are the water parameters that you should have the tank maintained to:

Water Parameters

  • Water Temperature: A temperature between 77-82°F is ideal. This is a tropical fish species. Therefore, the water should be warmer to copy that natural environment. 
  • pH Levels: A pH range from 6-8 is suitable for this gourami. In the wild, the pearl gourami lives in acidic waters. However, captive-bred pearl gouramis can handle a wider range of ph levels. 
  • Water Hardness: Pearl gouramis come from softer waters, so a hardness level between 5-15dH should be ideal for keeping them happy.

As previously mentioned, replicating your tank as close to its natural habitat is the best way to keep pearl gourami happy.

You will also want to make sure you leave some space between the top of the water surface and your tank lid to ensure that your pearl gourami has enough space to swim up and breathe air. 

Starting at the bottom of the tank, you will want to add a nice layer of soft gravel or even sand, this helps create the water floors that they originate from.

Adding in some rocks on the bottom is also beneficial since the small rivers and swamps they live in are full of rocks.

Adding plants to your tank is a wonderful way to make your pearl gourami feel more comfortable. In the wild they come from waters with plenty of vegetation, adding plants like java fern or anacharis is a good idea.

Read our full guide on the best plants for gouramis.

A clean tank is also essential in preventing disease and shock. With that being said, it is best to perform partial water changes every 1 -2 weeks.

Making sure to wipe away excess algae in the tank. 

Breeding Pearl Gourami Fish

Bubble Nests

In the wild, the pearl gourami will breed in the shallowest waters, in hopes that bigger fish won’t prey on them. 

Pearl gouramis are air bubble nesters, meaning the male will blow bubbles when they are seeking to mate, and the bubbles will float to the water’s surface.

The bubble nest is where the eggs will later be deposited for safekeeping. A bubble nest is a collection of male bubbles at the surface. These bubbles are coated in the male’s saliva making them more durable.

After the bubble nest has been formed by the male, he displays it to the female and they go under it and spawn.

Once the female’s egg has been fertilized, she will release the eggs into the bubble nest.

The eggs will then hatch after a day or two. The fry begin swimming around five days old. As the adult pearl gourami has the labyrinth organ, the fry do not.

They are only able to breathe through gills, but this organ will develop as they mature.

Breeding Tank Setup

Breeding pearl gouramis at home is not a difficult task to do, but you need to make sure you have your breeding tank set up in the right conditions.

There are steps that you can take prior like slowly raising the temperature waters to about  82°F, while starting them on high-quality foods, such as live foods. 

In your breeding tank, you are going to need to place 1 male for every 2 or 3 females. This is an ideal ratio because if you have too many males in the tank they will become aggressive.

Too many aggressive males mean there will be more fighting than spawning.

Keeping the pearl gouramis’ natural habitat in mind you will want to set up the breeding tank somewhat shallow, with sandy bottoms and rocks.

You’ll also want to add some floating plants to the surface, as this is ideal for the spawning process and bubble nests.

Origin: From Labyrinth Fish to Aquarium

Pearl gouramis come from the slow-moving freshwaters in East Asia, more towards Thailand, Indonesia, and Malaysia. 

Unfortunately, due to ecosystem changes and extensive water projects, their natural habitat has been affected. 

Because of this, the pearl gourami has been listed near threatened by IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species.

Pearl gouramis are a very popular choice in aquariums and because of this, they are mostly bred in captivity.

They can be found in swamps, rivers, and lakes in this area, however, they tend to prefer the lowland swamps as they are slightly more acidic.

In their natural habitat, due to the acidic waters, especially in the swamps, the pearl gourami is found in the top half of these waters. 

These shallow waters have lots of vegetation in them, which allows the pearl gourami to move safely to the surface for air.

As previously mentioned, the pearl gourami is a labyrinth fish, meaning they have a labyrinth organ. 

These shallow waters with dense vegetation are ideal for them to be able to breathe through this organ as opposed to most fish that breathe using their gills.

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