Labyrinth Fish / Belontiidae / Paradise Gourami

Paradise Gourami
Macropodus opercularis

Synonyms: Labrus opercularis, Macropodus concolor, M. filamentosus, M. venustus, Polyacanthus opercularis
Physical description: An elongated fish with long fins. The coloration varies, although generally the male has a turquoise-gray to green-brown head and back. The body color is dull turquoise with numerous vertical orange stripes. The gill cover and caudal penuncle are also marked with orange. The caudal fin has an orange and turquoise marbling, while the other fins are light blue. Females are much duller in color.
Size/Length: To 4" (10 cm)
Similar species: None
Habitat: In standing and slow-moving water in shallow areas of marshes, canals, ponds, and rice patties. Asia; China, Korea, Taiwan, Southern Vietnam, Okinawa (Japan)
S: middle, top
Aquarium: 20" (50 cm) or 10 gallons (38 L) is adequate for smaller fish. Full grown specimen need a larger tank with a minimum size of 24" (60 cm) or 20 gallons (75 L). Provide retreats for the female. The tank should be well-vegetated. Fish prefer large tank with lots of open swimming area. A partial cover of floating plants is beneficial to aide in bubble nest building. The Paradise Fish is an well-known jumper, so the tank should be well-covered.
Water chemistry: pH 6-8 (7.0), dH 4-30 (12), 59-79°F (15-26°C).
Social behavior: Young fish make excellent community fish, but adult males often cause problems. If two males are confined together in a small tank (Under 30" or 30 gallons), they will fight almost as aggressively as male Betta splendens. Females may be attacked by males, even during non-spawning times. If attacks become to brutal on the female, remove her. Better results occur when several females are kept with one female. Best kept in a species tank.
Suggested companions: Trichogaster, Corydoras, Botia, Angelfish, Loricarids.
FOOD: Algae; flakes; live; worms, crustaceans, insects, insect larvae. A favorite meal of the Paradise fish is planeria.
Sexual differences: The male is more colorful with longer fins.
Breeding techniques: Breeding is fairly easy. Take a strong, established pair and place them in a tank alone. Initiate spawning by lowering the water level and increasing the temperature to 75-84°F (24-29°C). After an active courtship, the eggs float to the surface where the male collects them and spits them into the bubble nest. The bubble nest is usually built beneath a large leaf. The female should be removed at that point. The eggs, numbering as many as 1000, are guarded aggressively by the male. They hatch in 24-28 hours and are free-swimming after 3-5 days. The male should be removed. Start feeding with powdered dry foods and infusoria, and later with Artemia.
Breeding potential: 5. Breeding the Paradise Fish is fairly easy.
Remarks: The Paradise Fish was among the first introductions to the aquarium. It was the second tropical fish-behind the goldfish-to be imported into France (1869). There are two readily available color morphs; the black and albino variants.
Difficulty of care: 4. Young Paradise Fish are excellent community fish that are hardy and easy to care for. However, adult males are a different story. They are often aggressive and pugnacious.

By Rhett Butler   Mongabay.com