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Labyrinth Fish / Belontiidae / Pearl Gourami

Pearl Gourami, Lace Gourami, Mosaic Gourami, Leeri Gourami, Platinum Gourami
Trichogaster leerii


Synonyms: Osphromenus leeri, Trichopodus leeri
Physical description: An elongated, oval shaped fish with lateral compression. The ventral fins are filamentous and the anal fin is runs from just beyond the ventral fins nearly to the fan-shaped caudal fin. The dorsal fin is shorter than that of the previously mentioned Colisa species and runs from the mid-back to caudal penuncle. The back of a male is olive brown, while the flanks are brown to brownish red. The flanks are littered with numerous, over-laying dots that are pearl to iridescent violet in color. A black lateral stripe extends from the lips to the caudal penuncle, although in some specimen, this stripe is inconspicuous. The throat and belly are bright orange red to red in color. The fins have the same pattern as the flanks, save for the ventral fins which are orange-red in color. Females are blander, although they also have the pearl pattern over-laying their flanks.
Size/Length: To 5" (13 cm)
Similar species: None
Habitat: Shallow shore areas with heavy vegetation in still to slow-moving rivers, ponds, and lakes in Southeast Asia; Borneo, Malaysia, Sumatra, and Thailand
S: All
Aquarium: A 24" (61 cm) or 10-20 gallon (38-76 L) tank is adequate for a single pair. At least a 20 gallon (76 L) is recommended for more. Arrange the tank in dark colors with a cover of floating plants. The tank should be well-planted along the edges, and an open swimming area should be left in the center. Provide a retreat for each fish. Like all Labyrinth fish, the Pearl Gourami prefers shallow tanks.
Water chemistry: pH 5.5-8 (7.0), 2-30 dH (8), 75-86°F (24-30°C)
Social behavior: The Pearl Gourami will be harassed, stop eating, and loose color if combined with aggressive species (cichlids). Otherwise an excellent community fish. Males may harass females during the spawning season. If this occurs, separate the pair because the male may injure or kill the female. Males are territorial towards one another.
Suggested companions: Danios, Trichogaster, Corydoras, Botia, Angelfish, Barbs, Loricarids, Livebearers that can tolerate neutral water conditions.
FOOD: Live; Tubifex , insects, insect larvae, crustaceans; flakes; pellets; chopped spinach and lettuce
Sexual differences: The males are more colorful and have pointed dorsal fins.
Breeding techniques: The water level should be reduced 4-6" (10-15 cm) and no water current should be present. Condition the pair with insect larvae, Artemia, and Daphnia. The male builds a large bubble nest (occasionally over 10" in diameter) at the water's surface in floating plants. After an active courtship, 200-300 clear eggs are laid. Spawning may continue for extended periods-even weeks. These float up to the bubble nest, and are corralled by the male. They are guarded by the male. At this time, all other fish should be removed, including the female. The eggs hatch after 20-30 hours. The fry remain in the nest for 4-5 days. Start feeding with paramecia, roftiers, and infusoria. The male can be removed after the fry are free-swimming. The fry are slow-growing.
Breeding potential: 7. Breeding is moderately difficult due to the difficulty in finding a suitable pair. Once a pair is found, spawning comes fairly easily. Like other Gouramis, the Pearl Gourami possesses taste cells at the tips of the ventral fins.
Remarks: The Pearl Gourami regularly lives over 8 years.
Difficulty of care: 2. A hardy fish suitable for a beginner.


By Rhett Butler   Mongabay.com