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.

Females

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.

Surface

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.

Zoom Out Full

Gold Barb (Puntius semifasciolatus)

A Gold Barb

The Gold Barb

Gold barbs actually have a rather interesting history in terms of how they’ve been named and bred within the aquarium hobby. While originally from the Red River Basin area of Southeast Asia (thus sometimes calledChinese or China barbs), most gold barbs sold in stores are the result of Thomas Schubert‘s selective breeding efforts in the 1960’s. Schubert‘s bright yellow/gold Puntius semifasciolatus are beautiful fish now captive bred for sale, while the wild greenish Puntius semifasciolatus populations are considered at risk.

Gold barbs are hardy, adaptable shoaling fish, meaning they need to be kept in groups. Sometimes mine group quite tightly, and other times they can be found spread throughout the tank. Given their bright yellow color, gold barbs can make a beautiful focal point in a tank. Mine are still not full grown, but they typically reach around 3″. These guys are quite active throughout the tank, especially in the middle and bottom regions, so be sure to give them room to swim and search! For a general idea, in an established 20 gallon, 9 gold barbs would max out stocking.

Healthy gold barbs have incredible appetites. They’re not shy at all, and tend to nibble at my arms while working in the tank. When not eating food I’ve recently added, they’re searching around the tank, nomming on anything they find appetizing. Furthermore, they are quite hardy and do well in a wide range of water conditions.

Many of the typical “barbs” sold in stores are more aggressive than gold barbs. Gold barbs are quite peaceful community fish that won’t chase or nip at more other fish. They’re one of my favorite fish in my 150 gallon right now. I love watching their behavior, from foraging to breeding behavior; gold barbs are pretty awesome fish.

Giant Danio (Devario aequipinnatus)

d6a

I began keeping giant danios back when my largest tank was a 30 gallon tall. I got them to create more motion and excitement in my tank, whose other residents tended to be slower moving or usually out of sight. Everything I’d read described giant danios as fast, mid-level swimmers who need other giant danios to bully and race.

The giant danio makes a beautiful schooling fish, especially if they have ample room to swim. These are some of the quickest and most active schooling fish I’ve ever had the pleasure to home. While most sites online recommend 30 gallons for a school of them, they seem to absolutely love the extra space in my 150 gallon. If kept in a 30 gallon or similar sized tank, try to use an extra-long if possible. Giant danios are quite active and need lots of swimming room!

d29a

Giant danios reach about four inches in length when full grown. As they age, my danios have also shown changes in facial features. Most noticeably, the areas around their eyes become more pronounced and darker in color with age.

d31

I love the beautiful yellow-orange markings on the sides of giant danios. Each fish has a distinct pattern of markings that help me tell them apart, though making out the patterns when they’re darting around is rather difficult.

d67

My group of eight danios eat pretty much anything I add to the tank. They enjoy flake food, pellets, veggies, blood worms, and everything else I’ve ever added. My group of giant danios would also follow behind loaches and other bottom feeders, waiting to snag stirred up bits of food. Because they are quite resourceful and seemingly always hungry, many of them have developed decent sized bellies.

d84

I’ve never had a giant danio jump out of my tank, but every site on them tends to mention needing am aquarium lid. I have no doubts that these sleek and powerful fish could easily jump out of a tank if they wanted, so am glad I’ve never had to experience that.

d95

I highly recommend this hardy and active fish to those with a compatible aquarium setup. Especially if not kept in a decently sized group, they can antagonize other fish. They also will eat readily, so shy fish might need special accommodations or experience stress if homed with giant danios.