The Pearl Gourami is a peaceful fish that is also known as the Leeri or Lace Gourami. It is one of the most attractive, hardiest, and easy-to-keep gourami. The body is stretched out and laterally compressed with ventral fins that are long and thin, having the look of feelers. It is covered with iridescent pearl and brown flecks that give it a mother-of-pearl appearance. There is a horizontal black line that runs from the lips to the tail, where it ends with a spot. The Pearl Gourami is one of the labyrinth fish. Although labyrinth fish have gills, they also have a special organ which allows them to also breathe directly from the air. As a result, they prefer to have access to the surface of the water in the aquarium.
The Pearl Gourami requires a 30 gallon or larger tank with water approximately 12 inches deep, and a covering of floating ferns that may be used as hiding places. The substrate should be dark and the light subdued. The ideal tank mates for the Pearl Gourami should be fish similar in size and temperament. It should not be housed with aggressive tank mates, like Cichlids. It will hide in a corner, begin to lose color, and may refuse to eat if kept with overly-aggressive fish.
It is easy to distinguish the male from the female because he has extended, pointed dorsal and anal fins, and is more red. Prior to breeding, the pair should be fed live or frozen brine shrimp and worms for conditioning. The water temperature should also be raised to 80°F. When breeding, the water level in the tank should be reduced to 4-5 inches. The male will build a bubblenest under which spawning will take place. After spawning, the female should be moved to a separate tank. The male Pearl Gourami tends to the eggs, and once the fry are hatched, the male should also be removed.
The fry should be fed liquid food or infusoria culture several times a day. At approximately two weeks, freshly hatched (or frozen) brine shrimp may be offered to the fry. When the fry reach approximately one month, fine flake foods may be offered. Water should be changed every two to three days, and as the fry grow larger, they should be distributed between several tanks to reduce lethal build-up of wastes.
The Pearl Gourami is an omnivore and prefers both algae-based foods as well as meaty foods. An algae-based flake food, along with freeze-dried bloodworms, tubifex, and brine shrimp will provide this fish with the proper nutrition.
Ideal tank mates include: