Pearl Gourami: Species Profile

Category: Gourami

Common Names: Pearl Gourami

Scientific Name: Trichogaster leeri

Family: Belontiidae

Minimum Tank Size: 30 Gallons

Care Level: Easy

Temperament: Peaceful

Max Size: 4 Inches

Temperature: 76-84 F

pH: 6.0-8.0

Tank Level: Middle to Top

Colors: White, Clear, Pink

Diet: Omnivore

Breeding: Moderate

Pearl Gourami with Dark Plant

Pearl Gourami Overview

Pearl gouramis look as majestic as they sound. These fish are popular among fish keepers because of their stunning pattern and flowy ventral fins.

Furthermore, pearl gouramis are excellent for beginner tropical fish owners because they’re so hardy.

But although it’s challenging to harm pearl gouramis with minor tank care mistakes, ensuring you maintain their preferred water parameters is essential for helping them to live a healthy and stress-free life.

Distinguishing Features

It’s easy to spot pearl gouramis because these fish have white spots placed evenly all over their body. These spots are what give them their pearl name, and depending on the lighting, they can look like they’re shimmering.

The body color of pearl gouramis can vary but ranges from silver to brown. All pearl gouramis also have a single black line from their mouth to the start of their caudal fin.

Aside from their showy body patterns, pearl gouramis also turn heads because of their fins. They have long, flowy ventral fins that create a striking appearance.

The remainder of their fins is wide, making their ventral fins stand out even more.

Pearl gouramis have a classic gourami shape, with thin, flat bodies. Their form is what allows them to be so agile in the water.

Pearl Gourami with Yellow Tint and Blue Water


Pearl gouramis originate in the freshwaters of Southeast Asia, particularly Thailand, Malaysia, and islands like Borneo and Sumatra.

You can also find pearl gouramis in the wild in regions outside of these areas, such as Singapore and Colombia. However, their presence is invasive from humans introducing them.

Sadly, wild pearl gouramis are on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. It’s a mouthful, but pearl gouramis made their way on this list due to forest logging and people catching them in excessive quantities.

For this reason, nearly any pearl gourami you’ll find at a pet store will have been bred and raised in captivity.

Pearl Gouramis thrive in lowland swamps that are near the ocean. They don’t mind murky water and enjoy living in plant-dense areas.

These fish enjoy both rooted and floating plants, including java moss and water lettuce.

Pearl gouramis don’t spend much time in their lowland homes’ substrate. But the substrate is typically a mix of sand, mud, and rocks.


Pearl gouramis are on the smaller side of the gourami species, growing between four to five inches long. Note that this measurement doesn’t include their ventral fins.

Male pearl gouramis are almost always larger than females.

However, stress, nutrition, and genetics all play a role in how large pearl gouramis will grow.


Pearl gouramis live an average of four to five years.

If you take outstanding care of your fish and offer them a low-stress environment, they may live as long as six years. But don’t be hard on yourself if this doesn’t happen, for it’s rare.

Pearl Gourami with Pink and Green Plants


Male and female pearl gouramis are easy to tell apart, thanks to notable differences in their coloring and fins.

You can tell if you’re looking at male pearl gouramis if they have:

  • A thinner body
  • More brilliant colors
  • A red throat and breast
  • Longer and pointier dorsal fin

The bottom line is that females have a duller color and are plumper than males, particularly around spawning time.


As a whole, pearl gouramis are peaceful for being a gourami species. You can expect females to be particularly docile.

Males can get aggressive with other fish if they don’t have enough space, given that they’re territorial. They’re especially feisty with other male pearl gouramis, given that they feel threatened for finding a mate.

Generally speaking, it’s best to keep one male pearl gourami with one or more female gouramis to reduce the chances of aggressive behavior.

That said, as long as you have a large enough tank and pair male pearl gouramis with fish within and outside of their species of a similar size, it’s unlikely you’ll encounter a problem.

Tank Parameters

If you’re ready to bring home pearl gouramis after learning about their characteristics and behaviors, it’s essential to put thought into preparing their tank.

Below are some of the most important factors to consider when doing so.

Minimum Tank Size

We recommend having a minimum 30-gallon tank for one gourami, although it’s possible to get away with a tank size as small as 20 gallons.

But since these fish love to explore, the larger the tank, the better.

You should factor in an additional five to ten gallons for every additional pearl gourami you’d like to add to your tank.

Therefore, if you’d like to bring home four gouramis, you should have at least a 35 to 45-gallon tank.

Pearl Gourami with Gravel and Plants

Water Parameters

Knowing the pearl gourami’s ideal water conditions is essential for reducing stress and preventing illness. So, although these fish are hardy, you should ensure that their aquarium water remains within the conditions below.


Pearl gouramis are warm water-dwelling fish. For this reason, you should ensure their water temperature remains between 77 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit.

A heater and thermometer are the easiest way to maintain this water temperature.


Pearl gouramis have a high tolerance for pH levels, although they heavily lean towards the acidic side of the spectrum.

A pH of 5.5 to 7.5 is ideal for these fish.

The easiest way to make aquarium water more acidic is by using a chemical solution you can purchase online.


Although pearl gouramis live near saltwater in the wild, these are freshwater fish. For this reason, you should never place them in a saltwater tank.

That said, small amounts of salt can help boost a pearl gourami’s immunity, particularly if they have a parasite, bacterial, or fungal disease.

In that case, you should purchase aquarium salt. Table salt usually has high amounts of iodine, which can harm pearl gouramis.

Tank Setup

Are you ready to embark on the fun part of setting up your pearl gourami tank? Below are some guidelines for ensuring you create a home that your fish will love.


The ideal substrate for pearl gouramis is a combination of sand and rocks. Giving them these items is the best way to mimic their environment in the wild.

Just be sure not to pick out substrate with a rough texture, for it could injure your gouramis should they meander to the bottom of their tank to pick at the substrate.


Aside from adorning the bottom of your pearl gourami’s tank with some rocks, placing wood at the bottom and driftwood at the top of their tank is also a great way to replicate their natural environment.

Of course, you can also pick out a castle or whatever other fun pieces of decor you encounter at the pet store.

Just be sure to leave enough space for plants and open water so your pearl gouramis can swim without restriction.


Your pearl gouramis can happily live without decorations, but they’d feel lost without plants. Some of the best plants to add to their tank include:

It’s important to use a combination of rooted plants and those that float to the surface. While pearl gouramis love surface plants, they need to have enough open space for breathing, given that they’re labyrinth fish that breathes air.

As with decorations, it’s essential not to pack your aquarium so full of plants that your pearl gouramis don’t have enough room to swim.


Given that pearl gouramis live beneath dense plants in the wild, they’re not used to having a lot of light.

For this reason, purchasing an aquarium light and placing it on dim is best. We recommend aquarium lights with timers, given that fish rely on having the lights off at night to maintain their sleeping cycle.

Two Pearl Gouramis in Aquarium


A high-quality filter is a must for your pearl gourami tank, given that the water doesn’t have an outlet to filter itself as in nature.

There are three kinds of aquarium filtration systems:

  • Biological
  • Mechanical
  • Chemical

At the very least, you should purchase biological and mechanical filters. However, a chemical filter will make it easier for the other two to do their job and help you maintain a cleaner tank.


Pearl gouramis have relatively small and warm temperature range requirements. For this reason, installing a heater is crucial.

A heater will ensure your fish have the ideal conditions, preventing environmental stress that could cause disease.


Pearl gouramis live an omnivorous life in the wild, and you should replicate this at home. High-quality fish flakes and pellets are a good start, but they’re not everything.

Instead, you should supplement traditional fish food with live, frozen, or freeze-dried versions of the following:

You should feed your pearl gourami twice daily, letting them eat as much as they’d like in three to five minutes.

Then, remove all remaining food. Doing so prevents them from overeating and will keep your tank cleaner.

Pearl Gourami with Pink and Green Plants


Novice fish owners can easily breed pearl gouramis. To start, select one male and one or more females with bright colors and patterns.

Move these fish to a separate tank and set the temperature to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Feed these fish a diet high in brine shrimp and worms while providing plenty of plants for the male to build a bubble nest.

Once the male’s nest is ready, he’ll start puffing out his body and circling the female.

When the female is on the brink of spawning, she’ll tap the male to let him know. The male will then wrap his body around hers, turning her upside down and fertilizing her eggs as she lays them.

At this point, it’s best to place the female back in her original tank.

However, you should leave the male in the tank for a few more days until the fry (baby pear gouramis) hatch.

Removing the male at this time is crucial. Otherwise, he might start eating his offspring.

Common Diseases

Although pearl gouramis are hardy, it doesn’t mean they’re immune to disease. Below are some of the most common illnesses they get and how you can prevent and treat them.

Velvet Disease

Velvet disease is from the Oodinium parasite. It causes pearl gouramis to turn a gold-speckled color, looking like sprinkled dust.

Pearl gouramis most commonly get velvet disease if you introduce an infected fish to their tank.

You can eliminate velvet disease by turning off the aquarium light, increasing the tank’s water temperature, and treating the water with velvet disease medication.

Fin Rot

Fin rot is a bacterial infection that almost always arises from poor water conditions. The bacteria can enter pearl gourami for several reasons, including physical injury and stress.

The best way to treat fin rot is to perform frequent partial water changes. You should also add antibacterial mediation to the water.

Most pearl gouramis with fin rot disease recover without issue.


Ich is another parasitic infection. Like velvet disease, it enters a tank with the arrival of a new infected fish if your pear gouramis didn’t already have it before you bought them.

Treating ich involves removing the infected fish(s) and placing them in a quarantine tank. Then, treat the water with ich medication, changing the water regularly.

It’s often possible to cure ich in pearl gouramis if you catch the situation early. However, you’ll need to keep them quarantined for a significant amount of time, given that the medication only kills ich when it’s at a specific part of its life cycle.

Three Pearl Gouramis

Potential Tank Mates

Pearl gouramis usually get along with most fish species as long as they’re non-aggressive. Some of the best tank mates for pearl gouramis include:

  • Danios
  • Cory catfish
  • Kuhli loaches
  • Cherry barbs
  • Bristlenose pleco

The list goes far beyond this. So, if you want to add a different fish species to your tank, consider their size and temperament.

If the fish remains as large as or smaller than pearl gouramis and doesn’t have an aggressive personality, it’s likely safe to add them to the tank.