Pearl Gourami (Trichopodus Leerii) Ultimate Care Guide

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The Pearl Gourami is one of the most beautiful fish in the hobby. A mature male Pearl Gourami, when the light catches it correctly, shimmers with color. They are called ‘pearl’ gourami because they are literally covered in scales that reflect the light like a pearl. If you own a tank with Pearl Gourami in it, I guarantee you, you’ll love to watch the tank every day.

I currently have a trio of Pearl Gourami in a heavily planted tank with a school of Rummy Nose Tetras and Cardinal Tetras. The Pearl Gourami is a fish that makes a stunning ‘centerpiece’ fish either as a single specimen in a smaller tank or as a group in a much larger aquarium.


Common Name:Pearl Gourami
Scientific Name:Trichopodus leerii
Origin:Malaysia, Sumatra, Borneo, and Thailand
Tank Distribution:Top and upper mid-water
Adult Size:5 inches (12.5 cm)
Life Expectancy:Up to 5 years
Care Level:Beginner
Minimum Tank Size:20 – 30 Gallons
Breeding Method:Bubble nest builder
Temperature:76°F – 82°F
pH:5.5 – 7.5

Origin And Distribution Of Pearl Gourami:

Pearl Gourami originate from Malaysia, Thailand, Sumatra, and Borneo. They naturally inhabit lowland waterways where the water tends to be acidic. Very few Pearl Gouramis in the hobby today are taken from the wild as this fish is often bred commercially in captivity.

The Pearl Gourami is listed by The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species as Near Threatened. It is believed that poor water management and harvesting of wild populations have caused the decline of the species.

Overview Of The Pearl Gourami

Pearl Gourami are freshwater fish from the family Osphronemidae. Other members of the family include Dwarf Gourami, Sparkling Gourami, and Honey Gourami.

Pearl Gourami are peaceful fish who spend their days cruising around the top of the aquarium looking for something to eat. Pearl Gourami makes great community tank mates and can be bred in captivity.

Pearl Gourami Behavior

Pearl Gourami, like the cat majority of other gouramis in the family, are peaceful fish, except when it comes to breeding. During spawning, Pearl Gourami can become aggressive and territorial. Males will fight each other over females.

Like other members of the Osphronemidae family, Pearl Gourami have the ability to breathe air directly from the surface. They use an organ known as the labyrinth organ.

What Do Pearl Gourami Look Like?

Pearl Gourami are long slender fish measuring up to 5 inches in length. Males are more colorful than females. Females are much plumper than males.

Both sexes have a black line running down their body and they are covered in white circles (which also resemble pearls). Both sexes have an orange frill to their anal fin, but the colors are more striking in the males.

As with other members of the Gourami family, Pearl Gourami have long-flowing fins, which can be targeted for fin nipping species like Tiger Barbs, so don’t keep them together. They also have modified pelvic fins which they use to ‘feel’ their way around and to locate food.

What Is A Pearl Gourami Natural Habitat?

In their natural habitat, Pearl Gourami live in streams that have heavy vegetation. Floating plants mean they are accustomed to lower light levels. The substrate in their waterway is dark.

Recreating similar conditions will make your Pearl Gourami feel at home. Pearl Gourami naturally live in soft, acidic waters, but they are adaptable and will adjust to most home aquariums.

This adaptability makes them an ideal candidate for the community aquarium.

How To Setup A Pearl Gourami Tank

To get the best from your Pearl Gourami, their tank should reflect their natural environment as closely as possible. The ideal Pearl Gourami tank would be a minimum of 20 gallons, but bigger is always better.

The tank should have a dark substrate and be furnished with either dark rocks or aquarium-safe wood. Pearl Gourami likes to feel safe and a heavily planted aquarium helps them feel at home. Having floating plants will subdue the light from above, which also helps mimic their natural waterways.

Water temperature should be maintained in the high 70’s to very low 80°F. An aquarium heater is the best way to maintain a constant temperature.

What Water Conditions Do Pearl Gourami Need?

Pearl Gourami naturally like soft, acidic water with a hardness of 5-15dH and a pH of 5.5-6.5 Water temperature should be maintained in the high 70’s to very low 80°F. Pearl Gourami are incredibly adaptable and will quickly adjust to your aquarium conditions.

What Size Aquarium Do Pearl Gourami Need?

A single Pearl Gourami could be kept in a 20-gallon aquarium, a pair could live in a 30 gallon. A 55-gallon aquarium would be able to house a trio of Pearl Gourami. A 75 Gallon aquarium is perfect for 4 Pearl Gourami.

What Other Fish Can Live With Pearl Gourami?

As Pearl Gourami are peaceful fish, they like to live with similar tank mates. Pearl Gourami work well with many of the smaller tetras including Neon Tetras, Cardinal Tetras, and Lemon Tetras.

Corydoras make great companions as do small loaches and smaller members of the plecostomus family like the Bristlenose pleco.

Fish to avoid include anything aggressive because Pearl Gourami will be easily bullied. Tiger Barbs should also be avoided because they may nip at the flowing fins of the Gourami.

What Do Pearl Gourami Eat?

Pearl Gourami need a well-balanced, commercially available fish food. I have had good success feeding my Pearl Gpourami Bug Bites (I usually buy these ones from

Pearl Gourami like to primarily eat either directly from the surface of the aquarium water or in the top third of the water column. Pearl Gourami will readily accept flakes and floating pellets. Pearl Gourami also relish a mix of live and frozen foods including bloodworm, daphnia, and brine shrimp.

How Do You Sex Pearl Gourami?

Pearl Gourami are relatively easy to sex once they mature. Male Pearl Gourami are usually larger, although slimmer than the females. If the male is dominant, he will have a bright orange chest and pelvic fins.

Less dominant males may have coloration more similar to the females. Females are much plumper in the body.

Can You Breed Pearl Gourami In An Aquarium?

Pearl Gourami are relatively easy to breed in a home aquarium, although not necessarily in a community tank. A dedicated breeding tank should be set up with a minimum of 6 inches of water.

The breeding tank should contain a large number of floating plants. The ale will build a bubble nest in the floating plants and then attract the female over. Spawning will occur under the bubble nest and the eggs will float up into the nest, with the male’s assistance.

After spawning the female should be removed and the male left with the nest. He will tend to the eggs. Once the fry become free-swimming the male should be removed as well.

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