Pearl Gourami (Trichogaster leeri): Basics

Pearl Gourami (Trichogaster leeri) were one of the first species of fish I really put time and effort into learning about and accommodating. I was recommended them as a good peaceful community fish for beginners, as they are quite hardy and beautiful fish.


While males can be absolutely gorgeous and engaging fish, they are often much harder to find in fish stores. I began with two females in a 30 gallon, hoping I had enough hiding spots for them to live peacefully together, as female gourami can be agressive toward each other One of the females was more confident, inquisitive, and aggressive than the other. The bottom, orange/red spiked fin on this female was almost always extended, showing off beautiful colors. The other female was quite anxious and easily scare, with its bottom fin rarely being extended. The difference in this fin placement can be seen in the two photos below:

One rather fortunate and interesting adaptation of Pearl Gourami is their Labyrinth Organ, common to bettas, paradise fish, and other from the suborder AnabantoideiLabyrinth organs let fish take oxygen from the air into the bloodstream, rather than having to absorb oxygen from the water. So, when the more shy of my two females jumped out of my tank minutes after being added, she was fine when I finally found her ten minutes later! It was terrifying to be sure, but so long as an anabantoid is returned to water before losing too much moisture, the fish can make a full recovery.


A female pearl gourami breathing at the water’s surface

I now have the original two females, a male, and a third female all living together in my 150 gallon. With so many hiding spots, I rarely see all of them out at once. They prefer to stay in darker corners and really enjoy when I let my floating plants multiply. Pearl gourami are voracious eaters, with very little feed not on their menu. Yet, with their temperament, I’ve never had one go after dwarf shrimp or smaller fish. My male is far more aggressive than the females, but only when chasing off other large fish.

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