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FAQs on the True Pearl Gouramis, Trichogaster leeri

Related Articles: Anabantoids/Gouramis & Relatives, Genera Ctenopoma & Microctenopoma, Betta splendens/Siamese Fighting Fish

Related FAQs:  Gouramis 1, Gourami Identification, Gourami Behavior, Gourami Compatibility, Gourami Selection, Gourami Systems, Gourami Feeding, Gourami Disease, Gourami Reproduction, Betta splendens/Siamese Fighting Fish,

Angelfish having problem with Pearl Gourami?      11/6/16
<Hi there Judy>
I have one fairly large angel in a 29 gallon. He/She has been in there for 4 or 5 days and sat near the bottom only to come up to eat. I put a Pearl Gourami in and the angel is now lively and has chased the gourami a few times or tried as Gouramis do not seem to move much. The Gourami is hiding a lot. Was the gourami a mistake or should I get a second Gourami??
<Mmm; maybe... I think we've been over the general temperament of FW Angels; and two Trichogaster leeri might diffuse aggression here. Worth trying, but I'd be ready to move one or the other species elsewhere>
thank you
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
Angelfish having problem with Pearl Gourami?     Neale's go       11/7/16

I have one fairly large angel in a 29 gallon. He/She has been in there for 4 or 5 days and sat near the bottom only to come up to eat. I put a Pearl Gourami in and the angel is now lively and has chased the gourami a few times or tried as Gouramis do not seem to move much. The Gourami is hiding a lot. Was the gourami a mistake or should I get a second Gourami?? thank you
<Angels and Gouramis usually mix well. They're quite similar in temperament. But occasionally problems do occur. The first thing to try is the old "break up their territories" trick. Basically, remove the aggressive fish to a secure bucket, move the rocks and plants about in the tank so the territories are broken up, switch the lights off, and then
after the aggressor has been out of the tank for an hour or so, put it back. Don't turn the lights on until the following day. With luck, the aggressor will think he's somewhere new, and he'll accepts existing fish rather better than before. If this doesn't work, write back and we'll try something else! Ideally, you don't want to add extra fish because this tank
might become overstocked with multiple fairly big fish. On top of that, two male Pearl Gouramis might not tolerate one another in a smallish tank, let alone how the Angel reacts! Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Angelfish having problem with Pearl Gourami?       11/8/16

The Pearl Gourami turned the tables on the angelfish and is bullying him.
<Oh dear.>
I took the Pearl Gourami out and he is in a bucket. I will turn the lights out and rearrange everything and see what is going on tomorrow.
<A good plan. I'd remove both fish, rearrange the tank, and then reintroduce them.>
The Gourami is a large female. There is no orange on the fish that I can see. Maybe it would be ok to keep the angel alone if this doesn't work out?
<Absolutely. Farmed Angels do perfectly well kept as singletons. Cheers, Neale.>
re: Angelfish having problem with Pearl Gourami?      11/9/16

Just wondering if it was weird that the Pearl Gourami bullied the larger angelfish.
<Unusual, but not unknown. Usually, in a sufficiently big tank, groups of Gouramis and Angels coexist just fine. But they both have the ability to be mildly territorial. Rarely enough to damage on another, but enough to do chasing!>
Is that fairly common or was that a rogue Gourami?
<In terms of aggression, the Three-spot Gourami (including Blue, Gold, Opaline, etc) is generally the most aggressive of the common species. Pearl Gouramis are much more consistently peaceful, but with odd exceptions.
Moonlights, despite being the biggest of the three species, seem to be very placid.>
Maybe Pearls are more aggressive than I thought
<Not normally. Sometimes fish just get cranky. Sometimes if the tank is too small, they get fractious, like prisoners sharing a cell! Careful overstocking can work, by disrupting the ability of dominant fish to hold a patch of territory, but with the cost in terms of water quality. Try adding a flat mirror to one side of the tank to attract the attention of one of
the fish. Don't leave it there too long, but for half an hour, might provide some diversion. I've found this trick works well with mildly aggressive cichlids, where boredom and/or lack of social interactions with their own species might be to blame. Do also try feeding less, and on lower quality food (greens rather than meaty foods, and "shelly" things like
brine shrimp rather than soft bodied worms). Fish that have to spend more time foraging spend less time on aggression. Gouramis are partial herbivores in the wild, and Angels, like most cichlids, will give anything a go if it's even vaguely edible! So something like an algae wafer pressed against the glass could provide some useful diversion compared to simply offering easy to gobble up flakes and pellets.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Preventing future injury infection on pearl Gourami       1/4/15
Good afternoon,
Thank you in advance for reading my message.
<Most welcome.>
I am writing because (1) your site has been extremely useful in my research--thank you--and (2) because I had a bit of trouble finding pictures and/or descriptions regarding this particular issue, so I thought maybe I could help someone else.
<Quite so.>
My male pearl Gourami seemed to have damaged his skin on (presumably) a sharp decoration in my tank, as he chased my female Opaline.
<Yes; looks a clean wound, should heal nicely.>
I saw a whitish area on his side that seemed like a small loss of scales.
<White = dead tissue.>
I monitored it and watched his behavior for a week; he was eating well, he did not lose coloring or have any indications of white spot, cotton mouth, or ragged fins. I read on your site that injuries make fish more susceptible to diseases so I was ready to take action, but I did not think there was a need at that point.
<Indeed; in good water quality fish have an ASTONISHING ability to heal from wounds such as these. If the wound stays "clean" ... without signs of fungal threads or bacterial decay, treatment may indeed be unnecessary.>
Overnight into day 8, the pearl's injury enlarged and his front body inflated like a balloon; posts on your site suggested this might be a sign of an internal parasite. I QT'd him in cycled water and he died twelve hours later; I was not surprised since he barely put up a fight when I netted him, he was not eating, and he had suddenly relegated himself to the bottom of the community tank and later the QT,
although he did remain buoyant.
Aside from alleviating the ornament situation, which I did, how can I prevent the infection from an injury--if my diagnosis it correct--next time? When I see the injury, should I separate and medicate right away?
If so, which medication should I use? I am not sure how to medicate appropriately without knowing the nature of the secondary problem, yet I also read that waiting to treat is often too late.
I attached a picture of him after he expired, showing the affected/infected areas.
Many thanks again, Matt
<I would medicate as per Finrot; my favourite product is eSHa 2000 where antibiotics aren't available, otherwise in the US, various antibiotics such as Kanaplex should work well. On the other hand, while Epsom salt can be an
excellent addition where swelling and/or dropsy are indicated (1-3 teaspoons per 5 gallons/20 litres) by itself it has no impact on bacterial infections, and nor does salt, which at a dose of 1-2 gram/litre can help minimise osmotic stress is not in itself a medication against bacterial infections. So either might have their place, or even used together, but
alongside, not as an alternative to an anti-Finrot medication. Make sense?
Cheers, Neale.>

PEARL GOURAMI; sys., stkg.       12/4/14
Hello all, hope things are going well. Could you please tell me the maximum amount of pearl gouramis I should put in a 30 gallon Nuvo
innovative marine tank.
<Two or three females would be fine, or a harem of one male and two females. But multiple males may be fractious.>
If more than one, how should I sex them?
<When mature, males tend to have a redder chest area than the females. As with other gouramis, males also tend to have long, almost raggedy dorsal and anal fins compared to the females.>
I will be putting other fish in the tank as well. Also, I have thought of going will a species tank of angels. How many can I get max for that tank and can I get different species or do I have to get all the same?
<Sexing Angels is nigh-on impossible, outside of looking at their spawning tubes. So the best approaches are (a) singletons; (b) mated pairs, occasionally sold as such; groups of 6+ specimens. In groups of 2-5 specimens bullying tends to happen, and if you have a pair within a group, that pair will drive the others to one end of the tank, sometimes aggressively. But groups of 6 tend to be stable. Such a group would need 50+ gallons as adults, but youngsters can be kept easily enough in smaller tanks, then surplus fish rehomed once a mated pair forms. That's the old school approach, and because Angels are so popular, rehoming surplus fish is rarely difficult (and often profitable!) if you start off with decent well-bred specimens that people will want as adults. It is not a good idea to mix Angel species. Farmed Angels (Pterophyllum hybrids, no longer pure Pterophyllum scalare) are quite robust fish, even pushy, and sometimes
carry diseases that don't harm them but will harm Discus and wild-caught Angels. Altum Angels are sensitive fish that need soft, warmer water than farmed Angels and can be difficult to keep. Finally, Pterophyllum leopoldi, the "Dwarf Angel" or "Roman-Nosed Angel", falls somewhere between the two, and being smaller and less hardy, tends to do poorly with farmed Angels even though it isn't nearly as delicate as the Altum Angel. Look out for "Peru Angels", some sort of wild Pterophyllum scalare, that has many of the
positives of farmed Angels (size, temperament) but is somewhat more picky about water chemistry. It's a stunning fish, but expect to pay through the nose for them! Again, you wouldn't mix with farmed Angels because of the risk of disease, even though their requirements are not much different.>
Thank you for all your help. James
<Most welcome. Neale.>
Re: PEARL GOURAMI      12/4/14
Please tell me if it is ok to have 1 each of male and female. Thanks again for your help.
<If they get along, yes, it'll be fine... if they don't, or the male is pushy, adding a second female can help. Gouramis don't form mated pairs.
Males have territories with nests in them, they attract females for the purposes of spawning, then drive them off when they're done, looking after the eggs by themselves. Under aquarium conditions we force animals to live together that in the wild would swim away when they're disinterested in each other. Sometimes, often even, two Gouramis will get along. Pearl Gouramis are especially easy-going. But there's no guarantee, so you need to keep an eye out and see what happens. Would I try keeping two specimens?
Yes, in a reasonably large tank, 30+ gallons. But I'd have a friendly chat with the retailer about returning one (or buying another!) if things went wrong, or else the option to move one of them to another tank in my house.
Cheers, Neale.>

Pearl Gouramis     9/11/14
Hello all, hope things are going well. I have some questions, please. I have a 38 gallon high tank (24 inches wide) and right now have 6 sterbai cories. I want to have no more than 4 other fish that swim in the upper water columns to prevent the look of overcrowding and hopefully cut down on aggression. My first choice was a single angel and a pair of pearl gouramis (since they are supposed to be a lot less aggressive than others).
I know the males are more colorful, but if I get 2 males won't I have more aggression than with 1 male and 1 female?
<Male and female Pearls look extremely similar. Not much difference at all.
Essentially, the males have more orange on the throat plus a longer dorsal fin. But the females are still very pretty fish. If you want zero
aggression, getting 2 females is the obvious choice.>
Or should I go with 2 females? I want to use the angel as the "show fish" so to speak, so will it hurt to get one larger than the gouramis?
<No, they should be fine, but add the Angel last of all; introduce the Pearls a good couple of weeks beforehand so they're well settled before the cichlid turns up. Usually the two species coexist extremely well, but a little extra caution won't go amiss.>
Thanks for all you do. It is appreciated.
<Most welcome, Neale.>
Re: Pearl Gouramis     9/11/14

Sorry Neale, I forgot to ask you something very important. I have heard that angels cannot swim in too strong of a current.
The nuvo tanks put out a pretty forceful current, but I have ordered something called spin streams that can be attached to the two outgoing
nozzles that put water in the tank. These attachments make the nozzles spin in random 40 degree circles supposedly to imitate the real ocean currents. Do you think these would help the angels or should I just forget them and get another type of fish?
<Never seen these attachments so can't comment. Filter flow rates designed for marine tanks will likely be too strong for Angels, but most any freshwater system should be fine. Positioning tall rocks in the way of the water current can help to distribute current, reduce the turbulence.>
Also, can gouramis take strong currents?
<Similar to Angels. They come from ponds, ditches, canals, rice paddies.
Not fast-flowing streams or rivers.>
Thanks again.
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Pearl Gouramis 09/11/14

Hello again Neale, can you please tell me how to tell if the water flow in a tank is too strong for a fish?
<Slow moving fish get pushed about. Catfish and loaches generally don't mind because they stick close to the substrate. But it should be obvious whether slow moving midwater fish are happy (swimming casually, eating food) or being buffeted about (e.g., Angels flapping their fins wildly, looking for restful corners). Generally minnows, barbs, etc. adapt well to brisk currents.>
Thanks again.
<Cheers, Neale.>

Female Pearl Gouramis; comp.     8/16/14
Hi Crew, hope all is going well. I have a gourami question, please.
Currently I have a innovative marine nuvo38 gallon with 5 fancy guppies.
My first question is can I safely keep pearl gouramis with the guppies?
<Yes. Gouramis generally ignore fish except perhaps bite-sized livebearer fry, so don't expect many offspring.>
Also, to keep from male aggression and possible breeding is it OK to keep a pair of females without a male?
And can a female be kept singly in a community tank or would one need another companion?
<Yes, they are fine kept singly, and this is an excellent approach.
Gouramis are not social fish, and actually prefer "the quiet life" in a tank with smaller, gentle fish rather than living alongside boisterous tankmates of the same size as they are.>
thank you.
<Most welcome, Neale.>
Re: Female Pearl Gouramis     8/16/14

Thank you Neale,
So it sounds like you are saying that even 2 female gouramis can be aggressive towards one another?
<Normally it's the males that are aggressive since they (exclusively) make nests and protect the eggs/fry, so in theory the females just amble about minding their own business. But there are occasional neurotic females out there that cause problems. Would I risk it? Yes. Absolutely. Pearl Gouramis are usually very good community fish.>
And also I forgot to ask earlier if a single angel could be kept with these fish. Thanks again.
<Most welcome, Neale.>
Re: Female Pearl Gouramis     8/16/14

Thanks again Neale. And would you think a single angel would be compatible with guppies and a female gourami?
<Angels and Gouramis usually work well, as singletons. Angels and Guppies is more of a pot luck situation -- a few Angels are persistent fin-nippers on fancy Guppies.>
Thanks again
<Cheers, Neale.>

Pearl Gourami issue     1/11/14
Hello Crew,
I have few pearl gouramis for about a year now.  In the last 2 months  I've lost 2.  They were very beautiful and all of a sudden the fins started to rot. 
I put the rest of them in a quarantine aquarium and started to treat them with API Fungus Cure.  On day 2 of the process few white spots appeared on one of the fish as it is coming from inside the fish out.  See attached photo.  I am not sure what it is? 
<Me neither. Do you have a microscope?>
Can you help me with it?  The white spot on the top fin appears to be a warm of some sort as the 2 white spots on the
side.  The white spot on the bottom fin is very small but long. 
Thank you for your help.
<Could be protozoan... or just body mucus coalescing... from? What is the cause of the broken fins? What re water quality tests? Bob Fenner>

A quick pearl gourami question   5/16/13
Hello WWM crew!  I am so thankful for your website and the time you spend answering our questions.  That said, I do not want to waste your time so I will get right to it.  I have a 25 gallon tank with an AquaClear 50 that has been running for approximately 6 months.  My ammonia is 0, Nitrite is 0, Nitrate is between 5 and 10, temperature is 76, and Ph is 7.0.  I have 4 peppered Corys (plus a couple fry and juveniles), and three Otos.  Five days ago I added a female pearl gourami.  She is coloring up beautifully, and although a bit shy, still interesting to watch.  I was under the impression that gouramis would be comfortable kept singularly,
<Mmm, though not nearly as interesting...>
but am second guessing my sources when I see how shy this particular gourami gets when I approach the tank.  I am wondering if it would be in this fish's best interest for me to return her, and if so, do you recommend a particular gourami that would do well by itself?
<Well, smaller species would be happier in this setting, though still better in groups... Colisa lalia (given you can find healthy specimens); C. chuna... Do see the Anabantoids (stocking/selection FAQs) sections on WWM>
  Would a few of the smaller gouramis be a better choice for my tank size?
<Ah yes. Bob Fenner>
 Thank you in advance,

gourami trouble, T. leeri     2/10/13
Hi, I have a 35 gallon aquarium that has been set up for three years now.
It contains a pair of banded gouramis (very nice fish), two skirt tetras,
<More will be more peaceful... best to have a grouping that will chase each other around rather than nip their tankmates>
three harlequin Rasboras, one croaking gourami, and one pearl gourami that I have had since this tank was set up. But recently the pearl gourami stopped eating, and it seems like he is having trouble swimming--even completely rolling over sometimes.
<Not good>
The day after this problem showed up,
the banded gouramis started getting Ich.  The temperature is 79 degrees, pH is about 6.5, and the nitrite and ammonia readings are very low.
<Have to be zero, 0.0 ppm both. Very toxic, debilitating otherwise>
I'm not too concerned about the Ich, but I don't know what the pearl gourami has, and if it's something about the water quality I don't know what. It seems like my water is just around the favorable area for gouramis. I really don't want to lose the pearl now, I've had him for a really long time.
Any help is greatly appreciated. Thanks,
<Need more information... perhaps the best approach is to have you read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/gourdisfaq4.htm
and the linked files above in the series. Bob Fenner>

Pearl Gouramis breathing problems      9/23/12
Hello crew, I've noticed lately today while inspecting my aquarium for a while that my pair of pearl gouramis seem to be surfacing for air more frequently and for longer periods of time than I'm used to seeing.
<Do check temperature first, water quality/filtration second, and social behaviour third. Warm water contains less oxygen than cool, so if the water is too hot, Gouramis will supplement dissolve oxygen in the water with oxygen from the air. If the filter stops circulating properly or the aquarium stocking/filtration is inappropriate to the size of the tank and the types of fish, again, Gouramis will breathe air more often to compensate for poor water quality. Finally, if stressed or otherwise unusually active (e.g., fighting, being nipped, possibly even breeding) then they may breathe air more often.>
The aquarium in 125 gallons with two emperor 400 (I believe) filters, set to 78 F, and has been running more or less without issue for about 9 months. The livestock consists of 9 Australian Rainbowfish, 4 Bala sharks,
<These may outgrow this tank.>
1 Siamese algae eating shark, 1 standard common Pleco (9in) 2 clown loaches (adding to the group soon), 1 tire track eel, a 1 in Redtail shark I added yesterday, and the pair of gouramis (1 male 1 female).
<In fact your aquarium is going to be quite heavily stocked in time as the Plec, Clown Loaches and Spiny Eel grow.>
Diet consists of Omega One flake food with regular offerings of finely shopped krill and live brine shrimp. Over the past few days I've started adding live plants (giant Val.s, sword plants)
<Disturbing the substrate can lower the amount of oxygen in the water by exposing partially decayed material to the water. As such material starts to rot, the bacteria outcompete the fish for oxygen. But this said, you'd expect other, more sensitive fish (like the Clown Loaches) to be showing signs of stress LONG before the Gouramis.>
and I was curious if the increased surfacing and breathing periods might be related to the gouramis coming into breeding condition and preparing to make a nest, or if there is any other things that might be causing this.
<Do see above; review the aquarium and act accordingly.>
Any help or advice you could give would be greatly appreciated! Thank you!
<Cheers, Neale.>

pearl gourami picking on banded Gouramis – 05/13/12
i am having a problem with my four banded gouramis (Colisa fasciata). when my pearl gourami started picking on them, i thought it was just some sort of territorial issue. but then when the gouramis started getting split fins and skin torn off, i went out and set up a 10 gallon quarantine tank.
<I see.>
then the day when the 10 gallon tank was finally done cycling, i saw a huge chunk taken out of one of the male banded gouramis tail. it was like a  rectangle-shaped piece that had been removed. so i promptly moved the banded gouramis to the 10 gallon tank. they all went straight down to the bottom. then the next day when i checked, the male gourami with the split tail was dead. the other male's colors were completely gone, just light silver. I was worried if this was a sign that this gourami might also die.
<Fish can recover from these sorts of injuries. Isolate (which you are doing anyway, it seems) and medicate for Finrot and Fungus.>
if i move the banded gouramis back to the large tank after they heal all their wounds, I'm worried that the pearl gourami will pick on them again.
is it ok to keep banded gouramis permanently in a 10 gallon aquarium?
<Not ideal, but do-able, and for sure better than keeping them with a psychotic Lace Gourami.>
any help is greatly appreciated.
<It's very rare for Lace/Pearl Gouramis to be aggressive, but it does happen. I do think this is something relatively new, perhaps because of inbreeding; in past decades this species was very trustworthy and an excellent community tank resident. With this said, males of any/all Gourami species have the potential to turn nasty, especially if the tank isn't big enough. I wouldn't keep more than one male of any Trichogaster or Colisa species in less than 30 gallons. Cheers, Neale.> 

Sorta sickish Gourami in new Discus tank 9/24/11
Hi, crew,
Thanks for your very fast reply when I was concerned about my community fish getting too much food as I stepped up the feedings for a new bunch of discus. You are awesome!
<Thanks for the kind words.>
I have a new concern, however, as to whether I should quarantine an older male pearl Gourami that I suspect might have a returning bacterial infection (HITH?), or just treat the whole tank, or just keep doing
frequent water changes. Which would be better for the discus?
Water parameters: Ammo 0, Nitrite 0,Nitrate 1or2, kH 2, gH 3, pH 7.0, Temp 82, 90 gallon established tank. 6 discus about 2 1/2" (in the tank almost a month now), 2 electric blue rams, pair of pearl gouramis, 2 SAE's, 1 longfin albino Bristlenose, 3 female phantom tetras (I know they like cooler water...so far seem okay...)
<Will be shorter lived kept this warm, possibly lasting just a couple years.>
History on the male pearl Gourami, Several months ago he had a couple of indeterminate whitish patches between his head and dorsal fin, along with some apparent fin rot (this was long before I got the discus! Water quality had suffered while I left the tank in others' care..) One of the tetras was also struggling a bit. I treated with a couple of cycles of Maracyn Plus, then fed exclusively on Jungle AntiBacterial Food, and both recovered. The Gourami's patches disappeared, and fins seemed to be regrowing, although have never grown back to their original magnificence!
He was always eating, chasing the female, acting just fine. To help fin regeneration, I started adding a Microbe-Lift product, "Vitamins & Amino Acids." (I use a combo of RO & tap water.)
I'm writing because the Gourami now has an indentation on the head, and a tiny white spot in the center has just appeared.
<Could be anything, really. Whitespot is always a risk, and should be treated accordingly. The salt/heat method is a good approach here as it won't stress the Discus, and you would have to assume the tank is infected.
Finrot and Fungus are normally easy enough to diagnose. Dead white skin can be a precursor to both.>
He is spitting out food a lot more than he is eating. In fact, he appears to be getting thinner, and tries to eat, only to spit it out.
<May not like what you're offering.>
The only thing he seems to prefer is freeze-dried Tubifex, but it seems those make any symptoms worse (or is that my imagination???)
<The latter probably, but Tubifex worms aren't a balanced diet, even assuming that these worms are disease-free (live Tubifex are notoriously risky foods in terms of parasites). Do try live brine shrimp and/or daphnia, and surprisingly, even newly hatched brine shrimp, which are very nutritious and will be eaten by surprisingly large fish.>
I just fed more AntiBacterial food, soaked in Garlic Guard. Everyone else ate it--him, not so much! He swims around just fine, not afraid of any of the other fish. So, back to my original question, is it better to pull him out and treat in a QT? Or if he might have infected the discus, is it better to treat the whole tank? Maracyn Plus again? The discus all appear perfect, as does every other fish in the tank.
Thanks in advance,
<If the fish is healthy enough, would review diet first, and observe for a day or two further. If you suspect a protozoan infection like Hexamita or HITH, then a hospital tank will be the better way to treat with Metronidazole without the expense of medicating the big tank. Cheers, Neale.>

Any compatibility issues in a 29 gallon between pearl gouramis and smaller livebearers? 5/12/2011
Hi. I am setting up a new 29 gallon tank, and I am trying to decide what to stock it with. I really like gouramis, and I'd like to put a pair of pearl gouramis (Trichogaster leeri) into the tank. I am choosing them because the reading I've done suggests they are less aggressive than species like the blue Gourami (Trichogaster trichopterus) and more likely to work well in a community.
<In general, twixt these congeners, this is so>
I would also like to add the inhabitants of a smaller tank I have into the 29 gallon as well. I have four platies (the small two inch kind, not the larger wags) and one Ancistrus/Bristlenose catfish. Will there be any compatibility issues with the pearl gouramis and these inhabitants?
<Should be fine together here, though I'd stock one male T. leeri w/ two females>
I'm primarily concerned with for the platies, as they are quite a bit smaller the pearl Gourami will be.
Lastly, I would like to get maybe three or four small balloon mollies to go in the tank (one male, the rest females). Will that be too much livestock for the tank (or might there be room for more fish)?
<Should be fine, though am not a fan of this sport mutation... and you'll need to be more careful re not letting the system water slip into acidic condition, nor nitrogenous waste accumulation w/ the mollies presence>
Are the balloon mollies, which are a little more aggressive than platies, likely to nip fins or cause other issues? Will the gouramis bother them?
<Are all about the same mixable/aggressive. Again, I give you good odds of their mixing behaviorally>
Thanks in advance for your help!
<Welcome! Bob Fenner>

Sick Pearl Gourami    4/20/11
I have a 29-gallon tank that's been up for five weeks now. The water parameters are normal--ammonia and nitrites are 0, nitrates within acceptable parameters, and pH on the slightly acid side of neutral. I have two pearl gouramis (male and female), a baby Pleco (of the sort that only gets about four inches as an adult),
<Presumably you mean a Bristlenose Catfish, Ancistrus sp., rather than a Plec.>
four guppies,
<These won't do well in acidic water for long; expect to deal with Finrot and especially Fungus when Guppies are kept in soft and/or acidic water conditions.>
and two ghost shrimp. The tank is well planted.
The problem: last night, I noticed my male Gourami seemed to look a bit strange around the mouth--just a bit lop-sided. This morning, that "just a bit" had become a very noticeable lump, though it was still fleshed colored. By this afternoon, the lump was a light pink. Staring at him now, I think a second lump might be developing under the first, but I can't say for sure yet. The first lump is round and a little smaller than an apple seed. The potential second lump has a darker pinprick of maroon on it. Lump aside, he's acting no differently than usual--his appetite is at its usual voracious level, his fins are up, he's not shy or hiding, and he's swimming fine. I currently have him in a ten-gallon quarantine tank, and am attempting to treat with Tetra's "Lifeguard: All-in-One Treatment" after failing to turn up anything that sounded like his condition on Google. It did lead me to you, though'¦
<This does sound like Mouth "Fungus", which, despite the name, is actually a bacterial infection caused by Flexibacter columnaris (or Flavobacterium columnare, if we're being picky about the correct name nowadays!). Because of the bacteria that causes it, some aquarium books refer to the disease as Columnaris.>
Do you have any idea what's wrong with him, or how to treat it more effectively? Is what he has likely to be contagious to the female pearl or the others in the tank? I'm debating dosing the main tank as well, but thus far everyone else looks fine. With the possible exception of the female pearl--she's looking significantly plumper than usual, but I had assumed that she was getting ready to breed (her scales aren't sticking out, her behavior is normal, and the male had been starting to pester her more than usual these past few days--though it should be noted that he's an unusual bully for a pearl, and has always chased her around a bit).
<Pearl Gouramis take a good year or two to become sexually mature, so my guess is that the female is merely fat or constipated, though she may well be carrying eggs if she's full grown. Either way, it's a good idea to scale back feeding and increase the amount of fibre, e.g., by offering less (ideally no) freeze-dried foods and instead lead towards live brine shrimp and live daphnia, as these are both excellent laxatives. Constipation is a common problem with aquarium fish, for much the same reason it's common among humans living on Western diets -- too much rich food, not enough fibre. And while not a major problem in itself, it can be the first step towards more serious problems like bloating and intestinal infections.>
The male has also seemed slightly (emphasis on slightly) plumper than usual for the past few days, though, which makes me paranoid that they're sharing a disease but presenting symptoms in different ways/at different times.
<Columnaris is typically treated using antibiotic or antibacterial medications. Do remember to remove carbon from the filter (if used) while medicating -- carbon removes most medications. The triggering factors for Columnaris typically involve either poor water quality, which can easily be the case in new tanks whatever your test kits might be reporting, and fighting between fish.>
Any advice you can give would be greatly appreciated!
Thank you,
<Hope this helps, Neale.>

compatibility of scissortail Rasbora and Sparkling Gourami in a 40 gallon  3/17/11
<Hello there>
I'll be setting up a 40 gallon (36" width) heavily planted tank. I'd like to keep a Pearl Gourami pair, Sparkling Gourami school of #?,
<Trichopsis pumila? Two or more>
and some scissortail Rasboras.
Are these three compatible?
<Should be>
I've also some neon tetras in a 20g that I'd like to transfer over as well.
<Mmm, the Trichogaster and Rasboras may well work them woe, I would not mix these>
It will be a heavily planted tank.
Thanks in advance.
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
Re: compatibility of scissortail Rasbora and Sparkling Gourami in a 40 gallon  3/17/11
Thanks Bob,
<Welcome Mable>
Further research now has me leaning toward:
3 Pearls, (max size 5-6"), 1 male/2 female - (necessary, or will just a pair suffice?),
<A trio would be better>
Scissortail Rasbora [Rasbora trilineata] (max size 4-5" very thin), 5 each Sparkling Gouramis [Trichopsis pumilo], (max size 1.5") 5-7 each <With the added Pearls, I'd leave out these or vice versa>
Silver Hatchet [Gasteropelecus sternicla], (max size 2.5") 5-7 each approx 2" per gal in a heavily planted tank considering max sizes for each. Do they generally max out in an aquarium?
<Mmm, do you mean do they reach a maximum size as stated? Not often, no.
Gastropelecids almost always die prematurely due to lack of nutrition, poor water quality, jumping out or damage from trying>
My only concern, will a 36" length allow sufficient swimming space for a Pearl? Do they like to cruise, or do they hang close to home?
<More hanging>
As always, you guys 'and gals' do good work. Enjoy your day!
M Stewart
<Will do. BobF>

Pearl Gourami... hlth., reading   3/14/11
We do not have power and my battery is about to die
so I have to be brief. We have our fish in a temporary 30gal tank due to Ich from new fish - long story. It is cycled with two filters and airpump.
It is a little crowded but there are lots of hiding places and access to air at top. My pearl Gourami started swimming with his back more arched and now is swimming crooked. Do you know why?
<Mmm, could be a few "causes"... there are varying etiologies...
environmental, genetic, pathogenic, nutritional...>
He is with familiar tank mates - a few cats, a rainbow, Danios... Everyone gets along as far as I can tell. Ideas? Once the power is restored it might be good to put him in a different tank. Thank you!!
<Maybe... Do search here: http://wetwebmedia.com/Googlesearch.htm
with the string:
fish twisted back
Read the cached views. Bob Fenner>

Re: Pearl Gourami... dis., confusion    3/15/11
Thanks. I have read several pages that indicate it could be fungal
<Nah, highly unlikely>
(I don't see any fungus on him), nutritional or bacterial. As a bit of history, I introduced 2 reed/rope fish a month ago that came from a quarantine tank at the LFS - I checked them at the LFS for a couple weeks and they were getting treated with either All-in-One or Copper.
<I hope not the latter... and for what purpose/s supposedly? Sigh...>
When I got them home, all was well until about 48 hours, then fish that normally are tough and have survived my mistakes of years past, just popped up dead - no obvious signs of anything.
Then every day after that, we'd find fish with Ich and fin rot or hemorrhaging - we lost nearly our entire tank (150 gal). It was horrible.
I had to euthanize one barb who just couldn't shake the Ich. Neal was helping me through this crisis. I bought a 30 gallon tank and put the remaining fish - which did not have visible Ich - in that tank with double filtration, air stones, and daily water changes as it got cycled. It only took a week. I did add some filter media from my other (clean) QT tank to get the process going.
In the 30 gal, there are a few small gouramis (flame, gold, pearl), Danios, Featherfin cat, Bristlenose Pleco, 'rubber eel', a small Cory, a rosy barb, a small bumblebee cat, a small boesemani, and 3 SAEs. We are hoping to have the big tank up and going by the end of the week, I know it's a little cramped in there.
Seeing this pearl sick with possibly a bacterial infection
<Considering what you've just stated, this IS likely summat bacterial>
concerns me that there were issues other than Ich that came in the tank with the Ropefish.
So, I am cleaning the 150 gal tank, replacing the gravel with a fine gravel for the cats and other burrowing fish, drying out and cleaning all equipment and the inside of the tank. Should I throw out my Hornwort plant that was in that tank?
<Likely not worth the risk of re-using... You could keep this... put in a jar on the window (with water...) and leave it for a few weeks... IF there was "something" pathogenic in/on it, the virulence would diminish appreciably>
Is there anything else I need to do. I have tossed all but the ChemiPure Elite filter media that was new and only in the filter for a few days. I have it drying out. I don't want anything to reinfect my fish. I am also putting a new bulb in my U/V filter.
As soon as I took them out of the big tank, I didn't lose any more fish. I was losing at least one at day up until that point although I was using ParaGard to treat the tank. It's been a couple weeks and everyone looks good - no Ich. But the pearl Gourami is bent - s-shaped and his tail is drooping, and his top fin is clamped part of the time. He is using mostly his front fins to swim. He can swim to the top to get air. I don't see any indication that he is being picked on. He is the biggest Gourami. He was drooping when I got him out of the big tank during the Ich nightmare but did not appear to have Ich. I have the 10 gallon QT tank going, it is already cycled (pH 7.6, Nitrite 0, Ammonia 0, Nitrate 20), and am going to put the pearl Gourami in it tonight. He is not eating much even when the food floats in front of him.
I routinely put in small amounts of high quality, vitamin enriched foods like flakes, Tubifex (dried - aren't those ok? <Yes> I know the lives ones are not.), sinking algae discs and something extra like blood worms (dry/frozen), daphnia, brine shrimp or krill (only on weekends to avoid thiaminase), or dried earthworm. Occasionally, I put some fresh peas or green leafy veggies. The Gouramis have been great eaters. Am I missing something for them?
<Not that I can see>
The tanks have small levels of salt, which I increased when the first fish died as well as increased the temp to 82. I have added Boyd's liquid vitamins a few times a month.
30 gal tank water parameters: Nitrite 0, Nitrate 30,
<I'd keep these under 20 ppm>
pH 7.6, Ammonia <0.25;
<Has to be 0.0>
temp 81. Water is clear. What do you suggest?
<Reading re NH3/NH4OH and NO3s>
I will have him in the 10 gal QT tank tonight. Please advise as to what I should do. I have Lifegard/Tetra All-in-One tablets on hand. Thank you all so much for helping! I do try and research the problems myself but it's so reassuring to have your input! I've learned a lot!
<Really, just time going by, the cessation of any med., salt usage. BobF>

Re: Pearl Gourami   3/16/11
Summat bacterial? What is that? Thanks!
<Something that resounds w/ the likelihood of bacteria involvement. B>
Re: Pearl Gourami   3/16/11
Ahh - gotcha, you are using slang on me. :) The LFS was using the Copper Power or All-In-One to treat Ich on the rope fish.
<An exceedingly poor choice...>
They said I caused the Ich by lowering my tank temp (the temp dropped to 75/76 due to the room temp being cooler in a cold spell but I turned the heaters up) or having poor water (but they said it was ok), and that I killed my fish by using ParaGard (Seachem) and not copper. But I had scaleless fish and a 'rubber eel' so Ich treatments were risky.
<... why don't people read, research before acting ignorantly?>
The owners of the LFS were extremely hostile.
<What? Why would they act so?>
I haven't had a major issue in my tank in years.
Since you think it could be bacterial, do I need to treat the pearl with anything - you said cessation of meds but I have not been treating it with anything in a few weeks? It sounds like you feel time will heal, correct?
Just 1 tbsp/10 gal of salt for him, right?
<This, these fish/es will heal or no/t>
Not sure why the ammonia was up slightly, it has been 0 for the last several days. I'll do a water change. Oh - we had a power outage and I combined the fish from the little QT tank into the 30 gal the day before, so the bioload increased. That is the issue. I'll watch it closely until it catches up.
I plan to disinfect the big tank with diluted bleach (was reading this on your site) unless having it sit dry for a week or so adequate to kill any bacteria? I'm assuming I should use diluted bleach on all the equipment and décor? Now that you know so much about my tank and I'm starting over basically with stocking, is there a colorful fish on the larger size that you think would thrive in a 150 gal community tank? Just wanting to add some interest to the tank but want something compatible.
<Keep reading. B>

Re: Pearl Gourami   3/18/11
Quick question - I have the pearl Gourami in QT with salt and he appears to be worsening. He is sitting on his tail and does not appear to be able to swim any longer. It breaks my heart to watch him suffer. Is there hope of him recovering?
<Mmm, some; but not much>
I know they are supposed to be able to get air at the top but he can't. I have an airline/air stone near him. Should I euthanize him or just wait longer? I don't want him to suffer needlessly.
<This decision must be made (as in nothing is decided until it is done) by you. Do read here re:

White Spots on Fins Pearl Gourami  3/12/10
<Hello again,>
I am gaining much knowledge from the friendly folks on bb. I am only contacting you now because I am up against the weekend and I would like your opinion on these "bumps".
<Looks like Finrot to me, perhaps Lymphocystis. Can't really tell without a proper photo. So, please send photos if you can, and keep photos to 500 KB or thereabouts.>
It doesn't look like Ick to me because it appears to be extruding from and not burrowed in as such. Mind you I never heard of Ick until a couple weeks ago. The lumps or bumps are fairly uniform. I don't see any actual tares or whatnot.
<Finrot will typically be pinkish because its associated with congestion in the blood flow. Finrot is usually caused by physical damage and/or poor water quality. Lymphocystis is typically off-white to coffee coloured, and the surrounding tissue looks perfectly healthy. Lymphocystis is viral, but the virus only causes these cysts when conditions allow, typically poor water quality or the wrong water chemistry. It takes a long time to develop, rather than overnight. Exposure to heavy metals is a cause that's been identified in the wild. There's no cure for Lymphocystis, but it does go away by itself given time.>
Last night there was less no ammonia, no nitrite and less than 5 on nitrate. Still cycling hopefully at the end but I wouldn't be surprised to see different kinds of readings today. Regardless, I will do a water change.
Here's the latest video that shows 4 bumps or w/e and some more aggression.
It's odd that the females don't seem to be as scared of him today as they were yesterday. The non sick/injured fish has tolerated him pretty well but the sick fish has pretty mulched stayed in the cave. The last two hours she's been swimming with the other female even though her condition seems to have gotten worse.
<I see.>
There were two bumps yesterday but last night only one. Today there are four. None on other fish. Temp is 78 as I was assuming Ick and began to raise the temp. I also have removed most decorations assuming again that Ick would have attached.
<Pointless. Ick will be throughout the system, so removing one object while leaving another will make no difference at all. Stressing fish by
rearranging their habitat and removing shelters won't help either.>
Since all pearls are now pretty much free swimming maybe they aren't as stressed as I am. If things keep improving daily, and what we're seeing is NOT injury from him, I may hold off on a trade for a couple of days and get the plants back in and probably add more and likely skip the log because he's using that as a tool.
I'd appreciate your opinion on these bumps. This is my first illness/injury.
I'll try to get some pics with pro camera if you think it helpful.
<Yes. But keep to our size limit, please. Bigger than 500 KB and you're blocking up our e-mail quota, stopping other folks from sending their stuff.>
Greg in Charlotte
<Cheers, Neale.> 

Pearl Gourami observations and playing the fool  4/1/10
Thanks again so much for your help. I am pleased to report that within a few days the fin fungus on one of the girl pearl Gourami cleared up. I think everyone that recommended medicating the tank had good intentions but your advice (do nothing) was the best. One thing I have learned from this site is the less potions in the tank the better!
<It's a good rule. But the other good rule is medicating early when a disease is treatable beats medicating late when the fish is at death's door. So sometimes you can't win either way!>
The male pearl spends much of his time trying to build a nest, moving sand around and chasing girls.
<What more is there to life?>
I've just seen the first few bubbles on the huge floating plastic plant I added. He pretty much doesn't chase the other species EXCEPT the platy do not learn that they must stay out of this one section that he has claimed for his nest.
<Correct. Platies are extremely dumb.>
He has been doing the sand thing again where he scoops it up and now drops it on top of the floating plant. I'm not sure how he's doing that and I hope to catch him on video. But when a platy bumps into the plant it starts snowing sand!
<I bet!>
The ladies seem to be playing hard to get. On the one hand they want to spend all their time around him but if he begins to "check them out" more carefully they scurry away and he gives chase.
<They don't share parental duties, so all the male wants are her eggs. If she isn't "ripe" with eggs, he will scoot her away, for fear of wasting time with her when a ripe female swims by.>
If he gets more orange I'm going to rent him out as a nightlight.
<Indeed! Sexually mature Gouramis are generally very obvious. This species especially is a very beautiful species. Subtle, but lovely.>
The platys may not be in the best mixed environment with the soft water, but they have been in for months and seem fine.
<Can adapt, and if they're okay now, don't worry too much. I have Limia in 50/50 rainwater and hard water and they breed like, well, livebearing fish.>
Unless you tell me otherwise, I'm not going to try to change the water hardness as they do not seem to be under stress. In the medical world, I think this is called "treat the patient and not the test results".
<Something like that. But in fishkeeping, and I'm sure in medicine too, if you're new to something, going by the numbers is important.>
Anyway, thanks to you and everyone for the hand holding during the extended cycling and I'm pleased to say I've already passed on a lot of tips to others about water quality etc. I invite you to bookmark my YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/simplefishtank
which contains a short Flying Pearl Gourami video which shows the grace and intricacy of what those fins have to do to keep that fish floating.
<Real nice. Do try moving tall plants to the back, short ones to the front.
Often that looks less cluttered.>
I won't be able to sneak in links on the dailies since I fear I won't be needing as much help. Like the fire department I'm glad you're here but I hope I don't have to call often.
<We can only hope.>
Greg in Charlotte
<Cheers, Neale in Berkhamsted.>
Now, considering the date a few foolish questions:
Dear Neale,
I have read with fascination about those that have switched to a sand substrate. I decided to take the plunge but wanted a wider color palette.
Therefore, I chose for my sand substrate, TetraMin Tropical Granules "The Rich Mix".
I have a three inch base and at first the fish seemed very excited about it. Even the Rasboras found a way to enjoy burrowing into this "sand".
But after a couple of days the fish seem a little wobbly and the downstairs smells like the market.
Should I switch back to gravel?
<Yikes! Let's hope no-one reading that thinks it's a good idea!>
Dear Bob,
Why do fish do that?
<Only Bob knows.>
Dear Crew,
I would like to breed Swedish Fish but do not want to get caught up in any patent fights. I didn't see a patent number when I brought the first batch home but I did see a registered trademark symbol. I'm not even sure of their scientific name but they seem very close to a mono color platy.
Any advice on breeding and selling these would be appreciated.
<Like the guy who kept his Oscar in a trash can and wondered why it died.
Or the gal who thought her seahorse would eat seagrass. Anyway, that's for sharing! Cheers, Neale.>

Kissing Pearl Gourami. T. leeri beh.    3/6/10
OK, I tried a search on this both on here and Google. It's a tough query because I'm not talking about Kissing Gourami but Pearl Gourami that are kissing.
I introduced 2 females as per Neale's recommendation (I asked the LFS for their opinion and they agreed before I told them what Neale said but I think they read here too LOL).
So, I'm sure it's a natural behavior but I wanted to ask what they were doing. The male chased them for a while. He is quite a bit larger right now. But now all three of them are doing this kissing thing.
<Arguing. They're testing one another's strength, I suppose.>
One of the things I thought and I know this is going to sound stupid, was maybe since the females are so timid that they aren't going to the top as much yet, that the male is helping out :')
<He's probably pleased to have the company. Always nice to be a frisky male in a target rich environment...>
Must find books but this seems rare enough in Google that I'm not sure which one would mention it if any.
Greg in Charlotte
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Kissing Pearl Gourami   3/6/10
Big man found a way into little cave. Where's there's a female there's a way.
I wanted to thank you for the suggestion of the floating plants. The girls are hiding in the cave most the time but it has settled down the Harleys and Platy. There is still plenty of free space but Harleys have slowed down and the Platy are the ones that have taken advantage of the extra hiding space so far. Even though plastic it gives a rich and unique look to the tank.
<Glad your aquarium is settling down now. Cheers, Neale.>

Anything else I should know? (pearl Gourami beh)  3/11/10
NEALE! Long time no write.
Anything else I should know about fish?
<Lots! It's easy to be surprised. But there are some great books on labyrinth fish out there, so if you're suitably motivated, either "Bettas, Gouramis and Other Anabantoids" by Jörg Vierke or "Gouramis and Other Anabantoids" by Hans-Joachim Richter would keep you amused for hours.>
It's amazing what's programmed into their little heads. I guess some of what must be breeding ritual just isn't listed on many websites. I suppose more videos are in order to show others some of this. I suppose this is mostly commentary but chime in where you please.
So last night I noticed sand on top of the cave and some floating about. I figured I had some sort of filter failure. Made me mad because I want to make more videos. All the cups of the fake flowers were full also.
Then I saw it. Or I should say HIM.
Ends up my male Pearl is building a landing zone in case. . . well I assume as some kind of net for the nest that doesn't exist yet. With the floating fake plants he's pretty much sticking to one zone for his territory but the platys aren't smart enough to stay out of there when there's so much room elsewhere.
<Platys are dumb.>
Anyway, he's going to the bottom of the tank and scooping up sand then swimming the 18" to the top and spitting it out so it rains down on top of the cave. Since that's his zone (well the whole tank is his kingdom but he's moderately slowed down and other fish can hide in the plastic vegetation) I assume that the nest is going to be built. Above the cave. I do not understand how that little brain can figure out that if eggs fall on the cave they might get hurt so he's padding it. Once the top is covered then it will be as soft as the substrate. I bet if I moved the cave he'd stop moving the sand around.
<Interesting. Generally, Gouramis don't build nests on the bottom of the tank, so why your specimen is doing this I cannot explain.>
Feel free to shoot this theory down. I really can't find any notes about this accept for one line on one site.
<There are some odd occasional observations that are for real, even though not often seen. A famous example is how some gouramis spit water at flies, just like Archerfish, but you hardly ever hear it talked about.>
I'd like a good book on this fish
<See above. I have the Vierke one.>
(and the Cory's too)
<Many, many good Catfish book, and some serious Corydoras books in particular. Hit Amazon, and almost anything by a German author is bound to be good value, e.g., "Corydoras - The Most Popular Armored Catfishes of South America".>
but would prefer something more than an atlas that just gives a pic and tells you where each species comes from.
<The Ian Fuller book is pretty well this, and while his book is very well regarded by collectors, it's not perhaps the best book for someone interested in what they do in the wild and in captivity. I have an old book called "Keeping aquarium fishes: Corydoras Catfish" by David D. Sands that is surprisingly good for its 98 pages and well worth tracking down second hand. It's a cheap and easy to read book, but covers just about everything you'd actually want to know.>
If you are aware of one that actually mentions this sand phenomenon please let me know as it would seem technical enough for what I'm looking for.
<No idea about it.>
It is hard to search on (pearl Gourami) and "sand" here on the WWM because of Sandy being part of the Crew. I tried but failed to get through all the search results.
After adding two smaller females there was a lot of chasing. At first I thought it was all because Mr. Territorial was showing who's boss. That of course was part of it. But now I think the females are to blame. Oh and he turned orange right away. No hiding intentions. Good for him. He is quite striking at the moment.
<They do have lovely colours.>
But they are testing him or something. The females will swim up underneath and feel around him and sometimes head butt him in the side. Just now I saw one push him up against the glass where the braver of the little girls was pushing against his lower fins several times. He tolerated it. He only gave chase once she stopped and ran away first. Surely they aren't playing hard to get but the females seem to be the ones that start it.
<Yes, there's a certain element of testing potential mates. In the wild females choose males, rather than the other way around, so yes, the females will instigate various tests to decide whether the male is adequate.>
Finally what almost seems brilliant (I know it's instinct) is that she will swim into the log to get away from him but he won't follow her in even though he will fit. Instead he swims to the other end of the log to catch her coming out.
I can imagine after several days of NOT seeing him move the sand around what it would look like and how much troubleshooting one could do to figure out what is wrong with their tank. Never in a million years would I have guessed a fish was doing that.
<Indeed not.>
I hope this post has some value for future readers. I'm interested to learn more about the behavior like I said without one page per variation that's mostly in a picture book. Maybe a future searcher will get a hit on this and find it helpful when they see the same strangeness.
Pictures and videos soon.
<Cool. Do introduce yourself to the WWM forum folks while you're around these parts, if you're after a bit more feedback than just me. Lynn and Andrew run the place and they're nice people, and I'm sure you'd feel at home. Cheers, Neale.>

Aggressive Pearl Gourami, Corydoras sel.  3/4/10
Since we talked before I wanted to share a short video on my pearl being aggressive. I know as a new hobbyist I neglect to consider all is not peaceful in the animal kingdom but my poor catfish just can't seem to catch a break.
<One problem is you don't have enough catfish. Keep a group of 5 or 6, and then the Gourami won't be able to chase any one of them too much.>
Have you seen aggression at this level before?
<With Gouramis? Sure. They're territorial. This is what they do. Once you have a school of Corydoras instead of one, the problem will essentially fix itself.>
Note the platy fish will actually swim backwards to keep an eye on the pearl while getting out of his way. So far he hasn't picked on the Harleys too much but they are very fast and small still. I did see him go after one today though.
<Really, this is what happens. It's a new tank, everyone is figuring out who's friend and who's foe. Gouramis like to be top dog, and they will throw their weight around a bit. But after a few weeks this should all settle down.>
Now, I remind you that this tank is cycling which I know is terrible. I was trusting other people to test the water and am now using my own kit along with what I've learned here. We've also discussed that this might not be the best mix of fish, but that advise came from LFS after getting away from the big chains and the evil you know what's. I'm starting to feel like a catfish.
<In the sense of wanting more catfish? Sure. Add a group of Corydoras as soon as you feel water quality warrants it. These catfish are so much more fun as a group.>
They do not show signs of injury but I'm still worried about them being stressed.
<Wouldn't worry too much.>
My theory is he goes after the catfish more because he's figured out that where there's a catfish happy at the bottom of the tank there is probably food underneath.
<Perhaps. But I think it's more about territory. Wild Gouramis will stake a claim around a patch about 30 cm/12 inches square. That's a good size chunk of your aquarium. They rightly view catfish as potential egg eaters, and react accordingly.>
But that doesn't explain the platy chases but that is rarer and seems purely to be when they are "in his way" versus the catfish that seems more opportunistic.
<The Gourami will rank its aggression according to which fish it perceives as more of a threat. Who knows how the mind of a Gourami works! In this case, it seems the catfish is seen as a potential threat.>
The tank is finally showing nitrites. I made a bad assumption when switching filter brands which I will run by you later.
<Have read, replied.>
What I'd like to know foremost is if there's a chance that his behavior will improve as the water does.
<Not related at all.>
Right now it's at about .5 ppm ammonia and .25 nitrites (may be on the wrong scale there, it's the first one after "0" on the color chart) and I am doing 25% to 50% daily water changes.
The catfish are mostly being nocturnal that buys them some peace but not much. That's when they do most of their paired swimming etc.
<These catfish really do need to be in schools, not pairs or singletons.
Get six. Trust me on this. Six Peppered Corydoras will be fun to watch, live a long time, and best of all, breed really easily. Until you've
watched them spawn, you haven't kept fish! It's really very neat.>
My thought is to hang on until the cycle is done and see if he gets worse or better but of course I value your feedback.
<Hang in there.>
<My pleasure. Cheers, Neale.>
PS: I find the unsigned note about taking over the world troubling. I hope my ammonia levels are good by the time you succeed. I don't want to be the first against the wall :')
<No idea what you're talking about here. Possibly one of Bob's subtle side-swipes at US foreign policy? He's fond of adding such codas to some of the Daily FAQs!><<Darrel's bit I believe here... re SW turtle sel. RMF>>
Re: Aggressive Pearl Gourami 3/4/10
Aha! Twas Bob then! <<Nah, not this time/incidence. See here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/turtleselfaqs.htm the second resp. down today>>
<Would seem so.>
Well I think you'll make a great justice minister when the time comes! And I do hope the humor translates over the water. Sometimes my smart remarks don't translate here either.
<Always a risk.>
I did forget to mention that there are six catfish.
<That's good.>
The stand the tank is on is designed for 46 gallons so maybe a slight upgrade at some point in the future. But the important thing is your reassurance.
<I think 46 gallons should be fine for this collection of fish. Indeed, if the Gourami is a male, adding one or two females might give him something to do. Usually, Pearl Gouramis work very well in community tanks, and it's rare for them to become a nuisance.>
He wasn't like this at first but I think I can relax for now.
<He is settling in, and it takes time for fish to become territorial.>
Or at least try. The harlequin Rasboras desperately seek the other side of the tank from where they are regardless of their current space in the tank (normal). And last night the catfish seemed happier and hyper. Between watching the two under fake moonlight I was becoming dizzy.
I think we can close this chapter for now. Thanks for the hand holding!
<Always glad to help. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Aggressive Pearl Gourami
Oh darn that brings up another question. I went single because everything I read talks about having to separate them after eggs are laid and I really do not want to be in the business of taking care of fry.
<Well, let's start by sexing the one you have. Pearl Gourami males and females are quite similar, but males tend to have much longer dorsal and anal fins, usually with more raggedy edges as well. Males also tend to be more orangey around the throat, but this varies.>
If the two would be safe in the tank post bubble nest, and if the fry were likely to be eaten then fine. Otherwise I don't want to start a farm. And I imagine the catfish would be in more trouble if caught near a nest.
<You'd have thought. But the thing with Corydoras is they're incredibly dumb. They just don't learn how to avoid trouble.>
I've tried to find a FAQ that addresses this. Your thoughts or a pointer for someone that wouldn't mind having a pair but doesn't want to open a nursery would be appreciated.
<Generally, unwanted breeding of Pearl Gouramis isn't an issue in community tanks.>
Sorry, didn't intend to continue the thread. And I should have said 44 gallon with a 36 gallon currently. Not much of an upgrade but it's $200 for the swap. I'm sure the 36 would make a nice quarantine tank but geesh! I'd need another stand too!
<Likely so.>
So to avoid me bugging you on this, the second question raised would be female OK in this tank or after the upgrade which would add plenty of inches for here.
1 Pearl G.
<I suspect adding a female would be okay in a tank this size, especially if there are plenty of floating plants so the line of sight between the male and female would be broken up. Plants at the bottom of the tank are good too, but less useful, since Gouramis are air-breathers and need to spend much time at the surface. Adding two females rather than one might be better as well, since that way you can't have any one fish being bullied all the time.>
6 Cory cats
4 Platy
6 Harleys
The Harleys are the only babies with everyone else appearing full grown.
<Cheers, Neale.>

RMF RE: Aggressive Pearl Gourami 3/4/10
I feel suitably admonished: I shalt not take the Lord's name in vain again! Cheers, Neale.>
<<Nah, not this time/incidence. See here:
http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/turtleselfaqs.htm the second resp. down today>>
<Perhaps a lesser demigod... Cheers! BobF>

Re: Aggressive Pearl Gourami 3/4/10
Neale, I say "male" and the LFS says "male" and we know they don't make mistakes. Can you tell from the videos at
http://www.youtube.com/simplefishtank or do I need higher res pics?
<Can't really tell. Do look here:
The fish in the front is a male. Note the long, raggedy anal and dorsal fins.>
Recommendation for plants for the top when I add a female or two?
<Indian Fern and Amazon Frogbit are the two best value.>
PS: I prefer to call the Cory cats "unawares" versus "dumb" but I've yet to purge all the human feelings that us newbies like to place on our pets. I know they don't read the FAQs and they don't have feelings enough to be
hurt by being called dumb. Humans though are strange.
<You may well be right. Perhaps better to state that Corydoras don't understand about territories, being fish that move in huge schools across very shallow streams. In the wild, territorial cichlids wouldn't be an issue where they live. In aquaria, their lack of understanding means they rarely seem to cotton on to no-go areas in an aquarium, with the result they are often harassed by territorial or nippy fish. Cheers, Neale.>

Bubble Nests go on the Top Right?  2/18/10
I have a single male pearl gourami, some Cory catfish, platy and harlequin Rasboras in a 36 gallon tank. Everyone has been getting along great for about a month since the Rasboras replaced evil Serpae tetras.
<A good replacement.>
Starting yesterday the pearl has started doing "something" at the bottom of the tank and I haven't figured out yet. As far as I know the only change is three plastic 12" plants are more densely packed together at the back and bottom of the tank. When he's doing this behavior he goes up to get air in small gulps, returns to the bottom to the same place and kind of looks like he his rummaging for food on the substrate but he isn't.
<How odd.>
Anyway he's gotten aggressive to the catfish and is nudging them away if they come within a certain radius . I've never seen him chase anyone that didn't get in his way. He's definitely gone territorial.
<Is in their nature to do so.>
As far as I know bubble nests float at the top and not at the bottom.
<Usually, yes.>
He's a bit odd because he spends some time down there checking out the cave but that's where the catfish rest and I need to know what to do if this continues. I'm thinking spread out the plastic plants and maybe re-arrange where the cave and stuff are but things have been going so well this is kind of depressing.
<I wouldn't lose any sleep over this. He's happy. If it's not doing any harm, let him build his nest wherever he wants. It may be water current elsewhere is too strong, and this particular niche suits his tastes.
Stranger things have happened.>
<Cheers, Neale.>  
Re: Bubble Nests go on the Top Right?  2/18/10

Thanks Neale! Is it usual for this fish to build a nest when he's the only one of his type around?
<Yes. In the wild they build then nest, and then entice the female, rather than the other way around.>
I hate to break it to him but Ms. Perfect is not going to come swimming by anytime soon.
<Quite. That's why it's not a big deal. If there were eggs, then there may be more of a problem, because the newly hatched fry will need access to the air.>
And I'm not worried about him as much as I am the catfish. So far it looks like he's just nudging them away but he like goes on patrol in his little circle to get them to move on even though they are not directly in "his space". I don't know how much harm a pearl can do.
<They'll figure it out. If all else fails, add another hollow ornament, and one or other will move in.>
If I disrupt what he's doing is he likely to forget about it for now or is he likely to become stressed?
<Oh, if it's annoying, by all means disrupt the nest. That'd happen all the time in the wild.>
Thanks again!
<Cheers, Neale.> 

Longstanding Gourami Illness  11/22/09
Hello My name is Vincent and my female pearl Gourami has a few problems.
I have a well established ten gallon tank that has been housing this fish for about 3 years and her roommate, another male Gourami, for 4.
<This is rather small for Pearl Gouramis.>
I have never had any problems with water quality nor have there been any pH spikes things of that nature.
The water in the tank is kept at 70-74 degrees F and is carbon filtered as well as filtered by the resident Java ferns.
<Too cold. Pearl Gouramis should be at 25-30 degrees C, 77-86 degrees F.>
My female pearl is my favorite fish so I have always paid close attention to her. The weirdness started about a year ago when I noticed a white spot developing on her ventral fin.
<Often, long term exposure to environmental failings allow these sorts of small, seemingly minor issues to become established. Because the immune system is weakened, the fish's health is slowly reduced.>
I watched it but it did not seem to do anything or harm her so I chalked it up to her fin's natural growth. Then I started noticing her swimming, it became weaker, more spastic, like she had to devote more energy to swimming than a normal fish would.
<Indeed. Is "spastic" a word people still use in the US? Over here in England it's considered very inappropriate. Actually, just had a quick look on Wikipedia, and while in British English it is considered (by linguists) "one of the most taboo insults to a British ear" apparently Americans use it much more freely. Interesting. Anyway, carry on...>
Her dorsal fin and tail fin have since been drawn in and folded and she maintains her body at a strange bent angle as if she is constantly avoiding something to one side.
<Sounds very much like chronic exposure to poor conditions have now tipped the balance against her. These are fairly generic symptoms of overall poor health and weak metabolism.>
Her pectoral fins, the ones that look like feelers, are no longer straight and are kinked at odd angles to the point of not being straight or rearward oriented. The fins adjacent to her gills are torn and have small lumps on them and one of the fins looks bloodshot.
<Again, classic symptoms of a weak immune system allowing a bacterial infection.>
I have tried several different treatment regimens, first under the assumption that it was ich then fungal infection then fin rot but nothing has worked.
<Medications *won't* work if the underlying problems remain. It's a bit like going to AA meetings while you're still downing a bottle of Scotch every night...>
I have tried myricin and Trisulfa to no success, with the carbon removed.
The only thing those did was devastate the bacterial community in the tank until the ammonia levels spiked.
I have no idea what this thing is at this point.
<I have a very good idea what's wrong.>
I know that it is slow acting and does not prevent her from feeding or reduce her appetite but other than that I have no idea. Please help.
<A bigger, and certainly warmer aquarium is required. With luck, she'll recover if given good water quality, a balanced diet, and some type of antibacterial or antibiotic treatment to stem the infection. Otherwise, she's doomed. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Longstanding Gourami Illness -- 11/23/09
Thanks for the assistance.
<Happy to help.>
I do have another tank that could house the fish, the only problem is that the tank is maintained by my parents at home while I am away most of the time at college.
<I see.>
As such I am hesitant to place her there as there since they are far too preoccupied to actually invest the care that this fish needs and she would likely die there as well.
<Oh. Well, she won't do well in a cold aquarium, and I'd put her in a heated tank and hope for the best.>
I going to remove the tank mate when I go home for Thanksgiving break raise the temperature and hope for the best since I cannot entrust her to the care of people who have no experience with fish.
<Perhaps not.>
At any rate thank you for identifying the problem and I appreciate the quick feedback. I only asked this because I did not see any other references to this on your site and because all of the other fish I have been fine in the tank and have suffered no problems.
<"Complex variables" as scientists say. Some tropical fish actually like fairly cool conditions, like Neons, Corydoras and Platies, and these are best kept around 23 C/74 F. But others, like Gouramis, do need things a bit warmer.>
For a bit of lighter news yes I am American and spastic is not an insult here rather a way of describing a motion that looks uncontrolled or sudden or caused by pain.
You can use it as an insult though it is far down the line in terms of offensiveness. We do not use the word to insult developmentally disabled persons nor to connotate retardation. Spaz, the colloquial term, refers to a clumsy or inept person and is not a slur.
<"Two nations separated by a common language" is what Oscar Wilde (I think) said of the Americans and the Brits.>
Yours Truly
<Good luck with the Gourami. Cheers, Neale.>

Trichogaster; cotton-like growth on mouth 9/7/09
HI, I have a 23 gallon community tank and one of my male pearl gouramis has a cotton like growth on his mouth. It seems to making him act very differently and not eat properly.
<Cotton-like growths can be one of two things, Mouth Fungus (actually a bacterial infection known as Columnaris) or true a true Fungal infection.
True fungus looks like fine off-white threads. Columnaris can look like threads, mould, or something in between. Use Google to compare images of the two if you don't have a fish health book to hand. Some medications such as Seachem Paraguard (in the US) and eSHa 2000 (in Europe) will treat both, so if you can't tell them apart, then such medications would be the way forward. Avoid tea-tree oil medications such as Melafix: these are unreliable.>
All the water levels are fine.
<I doubt this. Both Columnaris and Fungal infections are caused, more often than not, by water quality issues. So even if you *think* the tank is fine, review stocking density, filtration rate, water changes, etc. Physical damage can be another trigger, so check your fish haven't been fighting.>
Please help!
<Cheers, Neale.>

Gouramis and angel fish   8/22/09
Hi, I have a question, please. I currently have 5 medium sized angel fish and 6 panda cories in a 75 gallon tank. I was thinking of adding some gouramis with them (partial to the pearl). Would this be OK or will one or the other pick on the other's finnage?
<Yes, Gouramis should mix with these fish... though dependent on the species. Make Three-spot Gouramis (Trichogaster trichopterus) can be aggressive at times, though in a 75 gallon tank I doubt that'd be much of an issue. Still, if you can do without these fish, sometimes sold as blue, golden, or Opaline gouramis, so much the better. The prime species for your consideration are Pearl Gouramis and Moonlight Gouramis, both of which are consistently reliable. You might also think about Banded and Thick-lipped Gouramis (Colisa fasciatus and Colisa labiosa). Both of these are hardy and generally peaceful. Their normal colour is similar to the Dwarf Gourami, but an all-over orangey-red form is available. The Dwarf Gourami (Colisa lalia) is of course an option, *provided* you can get hold of good quality stock, which is easier said than done. Finally, consider Climbing Perch, the African equivalents and close relatives of the Asian gouramis.
Ctenopoma acutirostre is a stunning fish and very easy to keep. Although it has no interest in dried foods, it readily takes wet-frozen and live foods such as bloodworms, and in terms of temperament, is shy and not in the least aggressive. I've kept pairs in tanks as small as 30 gallons without issues. Sometimes known as the Leopard Bushfish, it's a good addition to community tanks where the other fish are not so small (e.g., Neons) they could be swallowed whole.>
If I can use gouramis is the pearl a good choice and how many females should I get with one male?
<In the case of Pearls and Moonlights, pairs are fine provided the tank has lots of space and ideally floating plants. For Trichogaster trichopterus, you would want to keep just one male if at all possible. They're tricky to sex, but males have longer dorsal fins than females.>
Thank you for all your help. God bless.
<Hope this helps, Neale.>

Re: Gouramis and angel fish -- 08/23/09
Thanks, so in the case of the pearl I can get just one mail and one female, or more than both also?
<One male, one female will work. If you want, add additional females.
Cheers, Neale.>

Update - Re: Are Galaxy Rasboras really being captive bred? Pearl Gs 3/31/09
Hello Neale,
<Hello Sandy,>
How is Miss Olivia Jane? Beautiful, and a genius already, I'm sure.
<Apparently not so much. Seems to be exhausting her parents now the novelty has worn off.>
Thanks for your thoughtful response and that link. I will press on with trying to ascertain the origin of these Galaxy Rasboras.
<Okey dokey.>
In the meantime, I had to return the Diamond Tetras that I had gotten for my 37 gallon tank with the Blue Gourami and Swordtail. They were like fish on crack all over the tank and just wouldn't let her get near any food, despite the size of the Gourami in comparison to the Diamonds, and she would come out even less than she did before.
<Diamonds are certainly feisty fish. I have a lone survivor in a busy tank alongside such thugs as Glassfish and South American Puffers, and he's definitely the dominant fish.>
I added 3 beautiful Pearl Gouramis - what I thought were 1 male and 2 females - I now suspect they might be 2 males and 1 female, or quite possibly - eek - 3 males.
So I may have to look for some more females. One is definitely a male and the others could be less mature males. They are all the same size - about 2 inches and all have very similar coloring - with the orange-red underbelly (suspiciously male?).
<Males certainly have more red, but that doesn't mean females have no red at all. It's the combo of coloration and the longer dorsal fins that seal the deal.>
One has the male's distinctive pointed dorsal fin and trailing anal fin. He is also the most dominant of the three and a little territorial with one of the other Pearls. One has much shorter fins, but with a definite point on the dorsal fin, unlike most of the pictures I have seen with the female's dorsal fin being definitely rounded.
<On the males, the dorsal fin can reach as far back as the tail fin, so the length difference is considerable. The dorsal also tends to be somewhat ragged along the trailing edge, and trait repeated somewhat on the anal fin too.>
The other could be rounded, or could be pointed, and is just immature.
I'll have to wait and see which it turns out to be.....unless you can tell by my description....
<Not really, no.>
In retrospect, I think this LFS had primarily males as their colors were all spectacular. The other store was not a LFS, but a high pressure pet store with only females, and poor lighting, which made them look even more drab. Quite a number of their tanks had Ich, and the Pearls just didn't look well, so I was hesitant to buy any livestock there. I waited until I found these at a dedicated LFS.
<I see.>
The Gourami and Sword are both out and about much more now than they have ever been and don't even scurry away when the kids run by anymore. The Pearls are very peaceful and that seems to suit them much better.
<Generally, Pearl Gouramis aren't bullies, and you may be fine with even three males.>
I think the Galaxy Rasboras may do better in this tank since it is cooler than the Betta tank at 76 degrees - and has a little current from the Eheim outflow.
But I wonder if they might send Miss Gourami back into hiding....
<No; too small to bother her. There's a fine balance between small schooling fish that act as dither fish (making benthic fish feel safe) and boisterous, bigger schooling fish (that simply terrorize them). In general, you want the smallest, least offensive dither fish you can get, but not so small they're "live food".>
You had suggested Celebes Rainbowfish, but I can't find them locally and they are quite pricey for special orders.
<Shame. On the plus side, they're quite long lived, once settled in (much like other Atherines).>
So I'm back to thinking about another schooling group of small fish for this tank, or else I will leave as is for now, since I'll probably be adding one or two more Pearl Gouramis.
If I can set up a small tank for our Betta, I would put 5-7 Galaxies in the 10 gallon tank by themselves. I could lower the temp and hope for some happy spawning.
Best to you,
<By the way, I forwarded your messages to the proud parents, who I'm sure appreciated them. Cheers, Neale.>

Pearl Gouramis Re: Update -   4/1/09
> Hello Neale,
> <Hello Sandy,>
> How is Miss Olivia Jane? Beautiful, and a genius already, I'm sure.
> <Apparently not so much. Seems to be exhausting her parents now the novelty has worn off.>
I am laughing at this - tell them welcome to the world of parenthood - read: NO SLEEP..... Tell her to take the baby into the bed with her - it will change her life - for the better - it's how all the animals do it, why shouldn't we?
> Thanks for your thoughtful response and that link. I will press on with trying to ascertain the origin of these Galaxy Rasboras.
> <Okey dokey.>
> In the meantime, I had to return the Diamond Tetras that I had gotten for my 37 gallon tank with the Blue Gourami and Swordtail. They were like fish on crack all over the tank and just wouldn't let her get near any  food,
> despite the size of the Gourami in comparison to the Diamonds, and she would come out even less than she did before.
> <Diamonds are certainly feisty fish. I have a lone survivor in a  busy tank alongside such thugs as Glassfish and South American Puffers, and he's definitely the dominant fish.>
They were lovely, but I don't miss them.
> I added 3 beautiful Pearl Gouramis - what I thought were 1 male and 2 females - I now suspect they might be 2 males and 1 female, or quite possibly - eek - 3 males.
> <Hmm...>
> So I may have to look for some more females. One is definitely a  male and the others could be less mature males. They are all the same size -  about 2 inches and all have very similar coloring - with the orange-red underbelly (suspiciously male?).
> <Males certainly have more red, but that doesn't mean females have no red at all. It's the combo of colouration and the longer dorsal fins  that seal the deal.>
> One has the male's distinctive pointed dorsal fin and trailing anal  fin.
> He is also the most dominant of the three and a little territorial  with one of the other Pearls. One has much shorter fins, but with a definite  point on the dorsal fin, unlike most of the pictures I have seen with the female's dorsal fin being definitely rounded.
> <On the males, the dorsal fin can reach as far back as the tail fin,  so the length difference is considerable. The dorsal also tends to be  somewhat ragged along the trailing edge, and trait repeated somewhat on the  anal fin too.>
His is definitely ragged on the trailing edge. The other two are not at all.
> The other could be rounded, or could be pointed, and is just immature.
> <Quite.>
> I'll have to wait and see which it turns out to be.....unless you  can tell by my description....
> <Not really, no.>
Oh well, we'll have to wait and see then. Will I have too many in this 37 gallon tank if I add 2 more (confirmed) females?
> In retrospect, I think this LFS had primarily males as their colors  were all spectacular. The other store was not a LFS, but a high pressure  pet store with only females, and poor lighting, which made them look  even more drab. Quite a number of their tanks had Ich, and the Pearls just  didn't look well, so I was hesitant to buy any livestock there. I waited  until I found these at a dedicated LFS.
> <I see.>
> The Gourami and Sword are both out and about much more now than they
> have ever been and don't even scurry away when the kids run by anymore.
> The Pearls are very peaceful and that seems to suit them much better.
> <Generally, Pearl Gouramis aren't bullies, and you may be fine with even three males.>
I'm trying to be a bit more patient these days - will only add more female Pearls if I can confirm the others are indeed male.
> I think the Galaxy Rasboras may do better in this tank since it is  cooler than the Betta tank at 76 degrees - and has a little current from  the Eheim outflow.
> <Agreed.>
> But I wonder if they might send Miss Gourami back into hiding.....
 <No; too small to bother her. There's a fine balance between small schooling fish that act as dither fish (making benthic fish feel  safe) and boisterous, bigger schooling fish (that simply terrorise them). In general,
> you want the smallest, least offensive dither fish you can get, but  not so small they're "live food".>
> You had suggested Celebes Rainbowfish, but I can't find them locally and they are quite pricey for special orders.
> <Shame. On the plus side, they're quite long lived, once settled in (much like other Atherines).>
> So I'm back to thinking about another schooling group of small fish for this tank, or else I will leave as is for now, since I'll probably be adding one or two more Pearl Gouramis.
> <OK.>
> If I can set up a small tank for our Betta, I would put 5-7 Galaxies in the 10 gallon tank by themselves. I could lower the temp and hope for some happy spawning.
> <Certainly.>
> Best to you,
> Sandy
> <By the way, I forwarded your messages to the proud parents, who I'm sure appreciated them. Cheers, Neale.>
> I'll send them something else in another email.
Thanks again.

Re: Pearl Gouramis Re: Update -   4/1/09
His is definitely ragged on the trailing edge. The other two are not at all. Oh well, we'll have to wait and see then. Will I have too many in this 37 gallon tank if I add 2 more (confirmed) females?
<Could be a bit busy, but you might be okay. Wait and see, really. Pearl Gouramis are really fairly mild fish.>
I'm trying to be a bit more patient these days - will only add more female Pearls if I can confirm the others are indeed male.
Thanks again.
<Good luck, Neale.>  


Is my Pearl Gourami wasting away? -- 04/07/09
37 gallon tank
1 female Blue Gourami
3 Pearl Gouramis - 1 male, 2 females
1 male Swordtail
1 Rainbow Shark
3 Otos
Ammonia, Nitrite and Nitrate are all "0". pH is 8.
Of the 3 Pearl Gouramis I got a week ago, the smaller of the 2 females seems to be wasting away from I don't know what. I noticed 2 days ago that she was always hiding - way in the back corner under the plants - even at feeding times. Yesterday, still hiding.
<Could be social, bullying. Unusual in this species, but not impossible.>
The other 2 seem just fine - chasing each other, eating well - on a weekly variety of good quality flake, algae/Spirulina wafers and live brine shrimp from the LFS. Today, I noticed the small female on the bottom of the tank having a hard time orienting herself.
<Ah, not a good sign.>
She had mouth down and tail up, with body curled up as if spawning, but quite alone. She was trying to pick up food or something off the substrate in an unplanted area of the tank beside the bogwood.
If she came out into the open, the other two pearls seemed to chase her back to her "spot" which is very near where the Blue Gourami lives. The Blue would then "nudge" her as if to move her out of the way.
<The nudge will certainly be a territorial behaviour.>
The other two pearls are very aggressive with her and she seems too weak to swim well enough to get away from them quickly. They come at her hard with their mouths directly on her sides, and sometimes from both sides.
<Have seen similar; not nice.>
There also seems to be a small, but not obvious injury to one side of her gill cover. I had to really look for it - maybe 1mm and slightly red. She is also very thin compared to the other two - this is noticeable from both
the head on and profile view. While they are pretty flat to begin with, she is obviously thinner than she was when I brought her home a week ago.
I can see that her belly is slightly sunken. A week ago, she was eating fine - not today. Her color is pale and she is very stressed - was laying on the bottom under some plants almost fully on her side for minutes at a
time before she would struggle to right herself. She seemed to have to prop herself on the plants to keep herself more upright.
<Likely a systemic bacterial or perhaps viral infection. Not really much you can do in the latter case; in the former, treating with Maracyn might help, but a lot of these "wasting diseases" (Mycobacteriosis) are very
difficult to treat.>
I finally separated her and put her in a breeder net in the same tank with some floating plants and turned the lights out. I don't have another tank in which to isolate her, or else I would. I fed her a few brine shrimp so
see if she would eat and no luck at all - she noticed them, but didn't seem to have the energy to even try to catch any. I put in 2 small flakes of food and she wouldn't eat that either. The other fish sucked the flakes
through the bottom of the net, which is very fine to begin with. Hours later now, she seems to be faring slightly better - upright and swimming a little more, but not much.
Tank temp was 76, which I have raised to 78 to see if this will make her feel more like eating, but it might take a few hours for the tank temp to come up fully. What can this be and what can I do for her?
<To be honest, doubt you can do much at all; could well have been very sick prior to purchase... farmed gouramis reared intensively, perhaps with much use of antibiotics. Maracyn catches a fair number of bacteria, but if it doesn't, Maracyn 2 should catch a lot of the others.>
If this is just stress, I will have to find a new home for her and keep just the other 2, who seem to be doing fine. The male is even trying to blow a bubble nest - unsuccessfully though - too much surface movement.
No problems amongst the other fish whatsoever.
Thanks again,
<Honestly don't expect this fish to live for long, not because I know what the problem is, but because the syndrome is one I've seen few recoveries from. Do see my article on WW re: euthanasia, and act accordingly. Sorry can't offer anything more promising. Cheers, Neale.>

Need to do anything for the others? Re: Is my Pearl Gourami wasting away? 4/7/09
Still no interest in food at all and still no improvements on her activity or swimming ability. She is extremely thin. I am very worried that if she has a bacterial infection that it may soon affect the other fish. What is the likelihood?
<Not much you can do now, since they've been exposed, but in practise the risk is probably small. Would certainly remove, euthanise this fish if you don't have a hospital tank.>
Or do you think that they would have exhibited some symptoms by now if they were going to succumb as well?
<Impossible to say.>
I am getting a little (half gallon) hospital tank from a friend tomorrow and will isolate her there for another day or two at most and then will have to let her go if no improvement.
<Of marginal value; a fish this size won't likely get better even in ideal conditions, and the inevitably poor conditions in a half-gallon tank (!) will simply speed up its demise. Tanks below 10 gallons aren't worth spending money, time or electricity on.>
We're all so sad to watch her languishing. If and when we have to euthanize her (thank you for the link you sent), I have access to clove oil. I have been told by a LFS that they don't recommend clove oil because they don't know how much to recommend for fish size.
<Just use lots! 30 drops in a litre should do the trick.>
They suggest Baking Soda, which I always have around the house.
<Don't do this; it's old school, and not recommended by vets.>
Any thoughts? I know crushing or decapitation would be instantaneous and most humane.
<Effective and humane if done correctly, but I agree, not pleasant to do.>
I just can't bring myself to do it. No problem with the Red Snappers from the fish market, even hooking live mullets for bait, .....but not our little pets.....maybe I just have to get over it.
<Quite normal reaction; good old human inconsistency. We happily eat pigs here in the West, while looking down on Asians who eat dogs, despite the fact every scientific experiment ever done clearly shows pigs are (much) cleverer than dogs.>
I plan to watch them very closely for the next few weeks before taking any precautionary measures and medicating by trial and error....I assume I will have to be vigilant about water changes and water testing until I'm sure we are past this.
<Good water quality is important, regardless of the context.>
If there are precautionary measures you feel would be wise to ensure the health of the rest of the tank, please let me know.
Thanks again,
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Need to do anything for the others? Re: Is my Pearl Gourami wasting away? 4/8/09
You are correct, as usual - she is looking worse today - Have scrubbed plan to put in .5 gallon prison - I am on my way to pick up the clove oil and will do the deed today - have been preparing the kids - they have their ceremony all planned with song and all.....
<Sorry how things have turned out; but it's a good lesson to share with children than part of the responsibility of looking after animals is easing their passing.>
We have Chamber of Commerce weather today here in sunny Orlando, so it should be nice.
<Never heard of "Chamber of Commerce weather"!>
Thanks ever so much,
<Cheers, Neale.>

Bloated and listless female pearl Gourami   1/29/09 I have a bloated and listless female pearl Gourami. Rests upright on the bottom, goes to the surface regularly for air, settles back down. Has not taken assorted food for 3 weeks. My 110 gal., drip filter, community tank has a healthy large male pearl and a female. I've had the three for about a year and a half. Water quality is good, changed 15% overnight dechlorinated, and treated with Kordon Amquel, every two weeks, I vacuum the bottom have pea size gravel barely covering the bottom. I rinse three filters frequently, use a turkey baster to remove sediment from the bottom of the filter sump. I keep the PH close to the tap water 6.3 - 6-8 with a small nylon bag of crushed lime under the bio balls in the filter. I treated the male successfully for internal parasites 6 mos. ago with metronidazole in quarantine, tried it with this female with no improvement. I have now treated her with "Jungle" Lifeguard all-in-one (1-chloro-2,2,5,5-tetramethyl-4-imidaxolidinone) for 5 days with no change, as recommended by the local fish store. This fish is in a 2.5 gal barren hospital tank, 80 degree, small filter with no media to maintain oxygen. I started a 25% water change today in the 2.5 gal tank and am extending the "Lifeguard" treatment cycle. A friend who formerly owned a fish store told me the three Hatchetfish I recently lost (after 6-8 mo.s, one every couple weeks), typically can arrive infected with gill flukes. I have three other hatchets with no apparent prob.s, from a different store. All other fish are healthy and behaving normally. 4 Lg Congo Tetras, 1 Lg. Angel, 6 neon, 1 blue ram, 1 dwarf Gourami, 3 hatchet, 4 threadfin rainbow, 2 med. Pleco, 1 Lg spotted African catfish. Would appreciate your advice. Thank you for maintaining your web site, I refer to it frequently, have it "bookmarked" at home and at work. Jeff <Hello Jeff. The first thing to decide is whether the fish has Dropsy or not. Look from above and see if the scales on the body stick outwards, so that it has a bristly, pine cone-like appearance. If it does, then the chances are the fish has severe organ failure and there's really not much hope of recovery. While bigger fish (like Koi) sometimes recover when treated with erythromycin or Minocycline, I've yet to hear stories of small ornamental fish species recovering when so treated. So painless destruction is usually required. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/euthanasia.htm If the fish doesn't have Dropsy, then we can think about other things. Egg-binding is possible with fish, though rare. Since there's a male in the tank, I think we can rule this one out. Another possibility is constipation, which in severe cases causes bloating. This is quite common, and the usual solution is to switch to high-fibre food while adding 1-3 teaspoons of Epsom salt per 5 gallons of water. Tinned peas and spinach are good foods, but failing that, brine shrimp and daphnia work as well. Don't feed any dried foods during this time as they'll have the opposite effect! By all means let your other fish go hungry while treating this Gourami; it will do them no harm. Do avoid randomly adding medications, as you seem to have done here. Unless you can diagnose a problem, you can't treat it, and most medications are poisons at some level, so careless use can cause problems. As you've discovered, scattergun approaches rarely lead to cures. Cheers, Neale.>

Will Pearl Gourami's broken ventral fin grow back?   1/2/08 HI, You have a wonderful site and I'd like to ask a question about my Pearl Gourami. <Fire away!> This Gourami joined my fish family about four weeks ago and seems very happy and seems to be thriving--except one thing. This week, one of his beautiful ventral fins (1 of 2 labyrinth fins that goes length of body), is broken off about midway--now it's roughly half as long as it used to be. I'm fairly certain another fish didn't nip it off because all the fish seem so nice to each other in the tank; except for the Cory cat and neon tetras, the larger fish frequently join each other's 'school' and swim together. <Hmm... likely nipping; fins don't "fall off" by themselves.> None of the tank-mates ever show aggression. <Often don't while you're by the tank: since you're a source of food, the fish are more interested in watching you. But the rest of the time, if they get bored or hungry, nipping can occur.> I think the ventral fin may have gotten "caught" in the filter intake and he yanked it out and maybe it broke at that time--that's what I think, but who knows? <Unlikely.> Here's my question. Will that ventral fin grow back to its normal length or is my Pearl Gourami injured for life? <Will grow back.> If the latter is true, will this injury affect him negatively; affect his ability to sense things, to take in oxygen, etc? So far he seems OK. <No long term harm. Do look out for signs of Finrot or Fungus, and if necessary treat, but otherwise not a major problem.> It looks to me like he uses the uninjured ventral fin for feeling/tasting things (normal use), and seems to use the broken fin for balance. He still seems happy and remains social but I really hope the fin will grow back. Please let me know the odds on that happening. Tank information. 50 gallon tank: 19" high, 48" long, 12" wide; Ph=almost 7 on the acidic side; Lots of hiding places-huts/caves/arranged stones; Lots of fake plants of differing texture, height and density; No live plants; Filtration=two Aqua Clear filters, each for 40-70 gallon tank; Tank is cycled/mature with ammonia-nitrite-nitrates under control; Temp: 79 degrees; Food: Daily, Aqueon tropical flakes and Hikari tropical micro pellets; weekly, frozen brine shrimp; most days, spinach, romaine lettuce or other nutritious greens hung on a 'green/leaf clip'. Fish in tank. 1 Pearl Gourami 3 Silver Dollars <Generally well behaved.> 8 Neon Tetras <Likewise.> 3 Buenos Aires <Well known "fin nippers"> 1 Albino Cory Catfish 3 Rainbow Tetras <Are these Nematobrycon lacortei? They're not normally reported to be nippy. But if these are artificially coloured Gymnocorymbus ternetzi, then definitely on the table as possible fin nippers.> Thank you for helping us. Nina <Happy to help. Do bear in mind some of your fish need to be in bigger groups, certainly the tetras and catfish should be in groups of 6+ specimens. Besides being happier, these fish will interact with one another and be less prone to nipping tankmates. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Will Pearl Gourami's broken ventral fin grow back?  1/3/09 Hi Neale, Thanks for all the great information! You are really wonderful to take the time to assist novice aquaria-ists like myself. <We're happy to help.> Thanks for setting me straight about the foul play in my tank. I really was going to chalk up the broken fin to a filter intake injury. <Ah.> I think you might be right about the 3 Buenos Aires fish probably being the fin nipping culprits. I've always thought the Buenos Aires fish were a "little" active. Unlike the other fish, they zoom around the tank at top speed. This habit seemed somewhat reckless and my nickname for them was ..."the gang". <A "gang" is a good description of how these -- and many other medium to large characins -- behave. This species, Hemigrammus anisitsi, is an excellent starter species, doing well in subtropical and tropical tanks across a range of water chemistry values. But in small groups it does tend to be nippy. Oddly enough, in bigger groups the fish tend to chase one another and ignore their tankmates. This isn't always the case with nippy fish, but certainly with this one and a few others.> Well, my priority is to have a peaceful tank so the gang will have to go. <You might try keeping a school of 6+ first to see how things go. But if you prefer, trade them in for something else. Among the larger tetras, things like Congo Tetras, Lemon Tetras, X-ray Tetras and Rummy-nose Tetras are reliable community fish.> My "fish-guy" at the LFS is going to be surprised when I return them. The bright side is that their return will give me the opportunity to take you up on another of your suggestions, that I increase the group size of some of the other fishies. <OK.> You asked the following of my 3 Rainbow Tetras. My rainbow tetras are Dwarf Neon Rainbowfish , Neon Rainbowfish, Praecox. <An excellent species.> Two of the three look like this stock web photo; red fins and full-body iridescent coloring . The third looks a little different-fins are clear; I'm thinking this third fish is a female or maybe an accidental mix-bred. The rainbows are no angels themselves. The two with the red fins are always chasing the clear finned rainbow fish. Also, tonight I noticed that the two red-finned rainbows do a type of dance with each other. Red-finned Fish #1 one will position himself side-by-side with his head to the Red-finned Fish #2's tail, then Fish #2 will reposition itself so it is eye-to-eye with Fish #1 , then one of them will flip so that they are side-by-side eye-to-tail again. They go back and forth with this play for several minutes. What's going on with this flipping play--is this aggression over the [presumed] female? <Yes; Melanotaenia species across the board are best kept in large, mixed sex groups. The males are feisty (though rarely nippy or aggressive towards other fish). Keeping fish from both sexes tends to get the best behaviour and the best colours, the males colouring up nicely to impress the girls. I'd always recommend keeping at least 3 of each sex. Do remember, Melanotaenia rarely get their best colours when young. These are fish to invest in for the long run -- they colour up nicely as they mature, and tend to live a long time too.> Oh, I forgot to mention that I also have 3 emperor tetras. They're peaceful, not fin nippers, right? <Usually very gentle towards other species, though feisty amongst themselves. They do tend to require soft or at least not rock hard water, and a shady tank with lots of plants is definitely a help. A challenging species, but very worthwhile, with colours to match anything else in the hobby. Since you have a big tank, I'd keep a decent sized group, at least 6, and ideally more. Cheers, Neale.>

Today I woke up and my pearl Gourami looked faded and his spots were slowing turning gray. -- 07/21/08 My other Gourami has been looking a little gray also. Oh I almost forgot, their eyes are looking gray and bigger than usual. How can I prevent this from spreading to my other gouramis? <Almost certainly the problem here is water quality. When multiple fish get sick from seemingly random symptoms (as these are) then the issue is environment, not a mystery disease that snuck in through the night. So whip out your nitrite test kit and establish whether there is any nitrite in the water (it should be zero). Also reflect on maintenance and the size of the tank. These fish need an at-least 20 gallon system, with a decent filter and water changes of 25% per week. Overfeeding is obviously a bad thing and makes a poorly maintained aquarium even worse, so stop feeding until you've established the nature of the problem. Send us some details of the aquarium, filter, water chemistry and water quality test kit results and we can try and help you further. In the meantime, your fish sound very sick and you will need to treat with some antibacterial or antibiotic such as eSHa 2000 or Maracyn (but not Melafix, tonic salt, etc.). Cheers, Neale.>

Pearl Gourami  3/30/07 Ok I have a question I have a pearl Gourami and for over a week now it has been laying on it's side. <Bad behavior... some Gouramis do "lay about" quite a bit, but not this genus, species> I believe she is pregnant as she has gotten very big.  She's not acting any other way except to be laying on her side.  It's almost as though she has no ability to stay upright.  If any of the other fish in the aquarium try to pick at her the male comes and protects her.  My question is what would make her lay on her side and why would the male be trying so hard to protect her, could it be because she possibly might be pregnant? also do they have live births or eggs? <Lay eggs... are bubble-nest builders... akin and kin to the more popular Betta (splendens)...> Any information would be helpful. Thank you <Mmm, please read here:   http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/anabantoids.htm and the linked files above... Something is amiss here... I suspect your Gourami is not "filled with eggs" but suffering from "bloat"... Read on. Bob Fenner>

Another (different) Gourami question Hi all, <Hello!  Sabrina here, today> My wife has a 3 inch sub adult male pearl Gourami. He is currently in her 10 gal. community tank. He is very nippy and aggressive to his tank companions. <Wow.  That's a touch unusual for this, the most peaceful of the large-ish Gourami.> She is planning on moving him into a planted 20 gal long tank with Cory cats. She would like to know what other fish would make good tank mates? She has read of the pearl being kept with paradise fish or angel fish, would one or both be ok? <In a 20gL, angels will really be pushing it; not a good choice for a small tank at all.  But paradise fish would be an excellent choice!  If you end up getting a male paradise fish, do keep an eye out for any aggression between him and the pearl.  Another neat option would be to get a couple of female pearls, instead; that could be a lot of fun.  Enjoy!  -Sabrina> thanks,  Dave & Kathy

Pearl Gourami Hi my name is Sandy and I have recently acquired a 55 gallon freshwater aquarium. I was over feeding my fish per the local fish store. Blood worms shrimp brine and flake food. I have two pearls fairly large 3.5 to 4 inches long. I purchased test strips a canister filter came home tested my water did a 1/3 water change hooked up the canister along with the aqua Clearwater filter and the nitrate nitrite levels in control. The nitrite was up the first night and I got it so the strip doesn't turn any color now and the nitrate still turns pink but below 40. < Ideally you would like to keep it at 25 ppm or below. 50 ppm would be somewhat high to where I would start to think about doing a water change soon.> My water is hard and the alkalinity is off a bit but Ph is fine. However I have lost one blue neon dwarf Gourami he actually started bulging on one side I put him in the freezer and helped him out of his slow death. I then lost a pink kissing Gourami how seemed to stay at the top of the tank for a long time like a week same spot would try and move around a bit would eat very little but seemed to lose color and get very thin. Then she/he just went and lay down on a rock behind a plant and died after a day or so. I now have one of my large beautiful peaceful pearls doing the same thing saying in one spot staring off looking small and thin. She's running her mate off obviously upset I don't know what to do. So far I have only lost Gourami' is there an illness that I can treat for them is this something I need to treat the whole tank. I have a lot of fish and I am really worried. Please help. I don't wan to sit and watch another hoping it will just get better. Thanks if you can reply or help in any way. Tanks about 78 degrees did a water change partial 9 days ago test strips look ok? Sandy Kores < If your tank is new then I would continually test for ammonia to make sure that it does not read at all on the test kits (Zero Reading). Ammonia is the biggest killer of fish. If the ammonia is under control then the next item to check is nitrites( Also a zero reading). These are not as deadly as ammonia but they do stress out fish to where they die from diseases that you are describing. The third is the nitrates(25ppm, 50ppm max, in some fish 15ppm is too high!). These are the least toxic of the three and still need to be kept in check. To keep these levels in check I would service the filter every other week no matter what it looks like. On the weeks that you do not service the filter I would vacuum the gravel while doing your water change. When you do this you would be amazed at all the junk in the gravel. Don't do this all at one time or you will remove all the good bacteria that convert the wastes to nitrates. Watch the feeding too. You should only give them enough food that they can eat it all in a couple of minutes. You are feeding a very rich diet that can be too much of a good thing. Make sure that the filter is moving at least 150 gallons an hour. More is better. If after all these things are in check for a couple of weeks and you are still losing fish, then we can talk about treating for diseases.-Chuck.

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