What to Know About Pearl Gourami

Medically Reviewed by Vanesa Farmer, DVM on December 02, 2022
4 min read

Gouramis are some of the most popular freshwater aquarium fish. They’re easy to find at your local pet store and relatively low-maintenance. Plus, their attractive coloring makes them a beautiful addition to any home aquarium. While there are many types of gourami fish, you’re sure to find the pearl gourami variety to be a top favorite.

Pearl gourami (also known by its scientific name, Trichogaster leerii) is one of the most physically appealing fish of the gourami species. The pearl gourami fish is thought to have originated in Thailand, Malaysia, and the islands of Borneo and Sumatra. They’re also sometimes called diamant gourami, lace gourami, or mosaic gourami because of the small studded line of dots you see on their flank.

Pearl gourami physical appearance. The pearl gourami size is usually about 12 centimeters (4.72 inches) in length. Their bodies are also laterally compressed — in other words, they're flat from side to side. As mentioned, they have a thin black stripe with small white dots that runs from the tip of the nose to the caudal peduncle (the tapered region behind the dorsal and anal fin). They also have the same small white dots all over their body and fins that look like pearls, hence their name.

Pearl gouramis also have two string-like wires coming from their pectoral fins, which is a defining characteristic in many gouramis. These wires act like sensors to help the fish as it wanders about its environment.

Male pearl gouramis are slightly thinner and more v-shaped than the females. Their fins are also more pointy, and they're usually more colorful than females — you'll notice they have red coloring on the chest, too.

Pearl gourami behavior. Pearl gouramis have similar behavioral traits to other gouramis. They like having plenty of space to swim and show off their colors. At the same time, they like their alone time and may try to find hiding spaces among plants, rock formations, and other aquatic vegetation.

The pearl gourami is generally peaceful with other fish as tank mates. However, these fish can show more aggression during the breeding season. For this reason, it's best to pair them with tank mates that are the same size or slightly smaller and those that have similar temperaments. 

The minimum number of pearl gourami you should keep in your tank is one pair. If you plan on getting more than two pearl gourami, make sure to get no more than one male and the rest female. The reason is that male pearl gourami tend to compete with each other through sparring, though it's rare that either of them would be significantly harmed.

The pearl gourami is also called a labyrinth fish because of the way it extracts oxygen from the water using its labyrinth lung. So while most fish take in oxygen using their gills, labyrinth fish like the pearl gourami have another option, as they can breathe in air from the atmosphere. The pearl gourami's labyrinth organ is located in the gill cavity on the sides of its head, just above the gills.

Because of this unique characteristic, you're likely to find your pearl gourami swimming in the upper or middle level of its tank. This is so it can easily breathe in air beyond the water's surface. This trait also makes it possible for the pearl gourami to survive in oxygen-deficient water. It also provides an explanation why they are better able to cope with shallow water conditions compared to other aquarium fish.

Pearl gourami diet. Pearl gouramis are omnivorous fish, so their diet consists of both plants and meat. Wild pearl gourami will mostly eat plant matter, algae, invertebrates, and worms. If you plan on keeping pearl gouramis as pets, try to mimic their natural diet as much as possible. You should be able to find specialty gourami food at a local pet store or online. These fish like high-quality flake foods and various vegetable feeds. You can also give them live foods like brine shrimp, mosquito larvae, blood worms, and daphnia, which are all good conditioning foods for breeding.

Pearl gourami care. Provide your pearl gourami with a tank that's at least 120 centimeters long or 30 gallons. Add plenty of natural plants into their aquarium, including some floating plants and java moss attached to driftwood, because these fish enjoy sheltering every now and then.

Some popular plant options include:

  • Hornwort
  • Brazilian waterweed
  • Amazon frogbit
  • Water lettuce
  • Cryptocoryne wendtii
  • Java fern 
  • Amazon sword
  • Water wisteria
  • Vallisneria
  • Salvinia
  • Ludwigia repens

The temperature of their tank should be between 24 and 28 degrees Celsius with a pH of 6.5 to 8.

Give your pearl gourami enough light––usually a medium amount is good enough, but even in higher lighting conditions, these fish should be fine so long as they can get shade from plants in their tank.

Keep in mind that the pearl gourami doesn't like a current in the water, so it's best to get a filter with a wide outlet. Sometimes, these fish like to build bubble nests, so if the current is too forceful, the nests will fall apart.

The lifespan of the pearl gourami is about four to five years, and with the right living conditions, you can surely get your pearl gourami to reach the upper end of its lifespan range.